The Lord’s Supper

Posted by on September 12, 2010 under Sermons

Listen to “The Lord’s Supper”

In the congregation north of here where I sometimes attended as a teenager, I recall an on-going debate between two of the brothers over the Lord’s Supper. These men were both regarded as leaders and bible students, so before a class or a men’s business meeting, or the pre-worship huddle where we figured out how to get the trays into the end zone, these two brothers had their friendly debate, and everyone else listened in. (Of course it may also have been that the rest of didn’t want anything to do with it or didn’t know what they were talking about.)

One brother would take the position that the bread and the fruit of the vine really was the body and blood of Christ. That’s why he would pray for the bread “We thank you for this bread which is your Body, O Lord.”

The other brother had no problem with that prayer but pointed out that logically the bread and the fruit of the vine only symbolized the body and blood of Christ. That’s why he would pray, “We thank you for this bread which represents your body, O Lord.”

And so it would go and they would make good points until the leader in the pre-worship huddle would say something like: “Let’s figure out who prays which prayers and then you can pray what you like as long as we start worship on time.” Read more of this article »

How Grace Avoids Sins

Posted by on September 5, 2010 under Front Page Posts, Sermons

A quick survey of history or current events informs us that when there is no faith in responsibility, a increase in laws follows. Here’s one of the sillier examples:

Convinced that Happy Meals and other food promotions aimed at children could make kids fat as well as happy, county officials in Silicon Valley are poised to outlaw the little toys that often come with high-calorie offerings. The proposed ban is the latest in a growing string of efforts to change the types of foods aimed at youngsters and the way they are cooked and sold. (Source: Los Angeles Times)

Let’s not limit this illustration or any other we can imagine to the realm of politics. The lack of personal responsibility can take place in any area of human interaction – including the church, and including our own soul. When a community of people are burdened with laws, rules, and policies personal and communal responsibility are no longer encouraged. All that is emphasized is following the rule or conforming to the decision.

Grace may seem like an absence of responsibility. Freedom in Christ may seem like a catch-phrase to say “Do As You Like.” In reality, God’s grace encourages personal responsibility. How? Because the action of God’s grace gives us a new spirit and changes our heart. Graces makes it truly possible to mature in Christ.

Read Galatians 6:1-10

Carry Your Own Load [Individual Responsibility]

  1. Do Good (v. 10)
    • Test your actions – Notice that the individual is encouraged to check his or her own behavior. That may involve turning to others for accountability. It certainly involves going to God’s will – not as a legal code, but as a vision from God for the “new humanity.”
    • Notice that Paul said that circumcision or uncircumcision is not what matter – What matters is the new creation.
    • Don’t compare – Nothing distracts us from growing in God’s grace like comparing ourselves to others.
      1. Looking down on others because we are more righteous than some [Jesus told a parable of a Pharisee and publican who went to pray …]
      2. Looking down on ourselves because we are not as righteous as some [Jesus told a parable about a man with one talent who hid what he had been given …]
      3. Carry your own load – You are accountable to God first and he is not pleased by your ability to compare yourself to another.
  2. Avoid Sin (v. 7-8) – I am amazed that a people of the book can still subscribe to the idea that God is not a fair judge. For some reason the notion lingers among us that God is rather a tricky bureaucrat who will find the spiritual equivalent of a forgotten parking ticket on our record and damn us to hell for not following proper procedure. [Maybe we are the spiritual bureaucrats?] The problem with such views is that sin is not something to be avoided; rather we just have to have all sins properly stamped and processed.An important question for a church that trusts in the grace of God is “How do we deal with sin?”
    • What will you reap? Our actions have consequences. Our actions also have motivations. Are we sowing to please the Spirit or to please ourselves?
  • The consequences of pleasing the sinful nature are destruction. Not simply damnation to hell, but destruction in this life. There may indeed be some pleasure, but it comes with a high price.
  • The source of some pain and suffering in this world is sin – and there’s a direct link to it.
    • The works of the sinful nature come with a high price. Can we remain envious, selfish, jealous, and self-indulgent without there being some sort of negative result?
    • If a man or woman is constantly angry with his/her family and does nothing to manage that anger, is it any wonder that the family is in turmoil?
    • If one has a problem with substance abuse that goes on unanswered is it any wonder that there is brokenness and sorrow in that person’s life and relationships?
    • Even in our church – if we start judging people according to how their righteousness meets up with our standards – do we think that this will not reap destruction?
  • Some sins are more obvious, others are intangible. We can be in denial when it comes to drunkenness, sexual immorality, idolatry even though others may recognize it. But we can be in denial about selfish ambition, envy, rage, hatred, and discord and hide it from others while we are at it.
    • Be the “New Creation” – To reap the fruit of the spirit, let us sow the seed of the spirit. That eternal harvest not only is a source of strength for us, but also our community – our church family too.

Carry One Another’s Burden’s [Communal Responsibility = Our Own Responsibility as Part of a Body]

  1. Restore the Sinner (v. 1-3)
    • Punishment is not the goal, that’s God’s work. Christ has made sure that the guilty pay for their sins – this includes us.
    • Gently – The Law of Christ is to love on another. Gently also suggests that the work of accountability and restoration takes time. There are burdens that must be endured.
      • The Bartender who “confessed” his sins …
    • Watch yourself; no moral superiority
      1. Moral superiority is not appropriate – Can we claim the power or responsibility for saving another? Are we anyone’s mediator to God?
      2. Moral sloppiness is not appropriate either – Sloppy Agape does nothing to restore one who is sowing destruction. Love must be tough sometimes. Otherwise we participate in the sin too.
      3. Restoration is observed as one begins growing in the new creation
      4. No matter what sin was committed: Once I was, but now I am – by the grace of God
  2. Share All Good Things (v. 6)
    1. What will you reap? Support those who teach you how to live and do good. Support the ministries that do good. We reap what we sow.
    2. Do good to others – especially the church family because it sets an example – do good even if they are not so good to you! (The Law of Christ)
    • (Let Us) Be the “New Creation” – If we demonstrate a grace-based way to help ourselves and others avoid sin and also do good, then we will reflect the new creation. Otherwise we are just another organization with by-laws. We are just another sub-culture with unwritten expectations.


Parable of the Wineskins

Posted by on under Front Page Posts, Sermons

Matthew 9, Mark 2, Luke 5

Context of the Parable:

  • Calling of Levi: Jesus calls the tax collector to follow him. The gracious, joyous response of the tax collector is to host a feast in celebration of Christ. The Pharisees and scribes are scandalized because Jesus eats and drinks with sinners

  • Question: Why don’t Jesus’ disciples fast? Isn’t fasting a good thing? Isn’t it godly and pious? Didn’t John the Baptist’s disciples fast?
  • Parable of the Wineskin

What the parable means …

  • Pharisees fasted twice a week (Luke 18:12). Sources indicate that it was Monday and Thursday to commemorate the days that Moses went up to Sinai and when he came down.
  • In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructs his disciples not to fast in order to win approval with others. Don’t put it on display, but keep it between you and God.
  • Is Jesus against fasting? No, but according to Christ’s teaching (Sermon on Mount and this parable) the call to fasting should not be a prescribed ritual, but the appropriateness of the situation. It is not fitting that the guests of the bridegroom should fast. Fast rather when they are grieved. Grief and joy cannot be manufactured

Process of wine fermentation

  • Fermenting wine gives off CO2 which would expand the wineskin.
  • A fresh, stretchable wineskin that can contain the expanding wine should be used.
  • Putting it into an old, cracked wineskin would make no sense. The bag would burst and the wine would be lost.

Wine = Spirit

Wineskin = Form

Old Wineskins = That’s how we’ve always done it. Old Wine – traditions

Why don’t we do this anymore?

New Wineskins = The Way of Christ (It’s always new)

  • Could this be a comment by the gospel writers taking an episode from Jesus’ history and responding to possible criticism of the first century’s church communion with outsiders? (See Galatians 2.) Every communion is a feast in Christ’s honor. And such feasting could be seen as irreverent when fasting might be seen as more pious. After all, first century communion was in fact a meal, not a ritual.

Fall Fest

Posted by on September 2, 2010 under Front Page Announcements

October 25

Blue Jean Sunday

Posted by on under Front Page Announcements

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lions for Christ Open House

Posted by on under Front Page Announcements

September 11, 2010