“490”

“490”

John 20:19-31 Sermon Audio A few years back my wife and I attempted to introduce our then 6 year old daughter Michaela, to the Star Wars universe. We could tell even before Luke met Obi Wan that she needed a few more years before she could handle that much awesomeness. We decided to try it again during her spring break this year, and I am proud to report that she has made it through the original trilogy. Personally I have some reservations about showing her Episode 1, because it will be just my luck that she actually likes Jar Jar Binks. Now I am sure a lot of you are scratching your heads because you have never seen any of the movies or care one bit about it. And that is ok because this is not a Star Wars sermon. All you need to know is that at its core, the story of Star Wars is the story of the struggle between good and evil, darkness and light, hatred and love. I will never forget snuggling with Michaela when she discovered that the ultimate...
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A Pint With The Pastor

“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon;’ the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” Matthew 11:18-19 Odds are better than good that there are some of you who read about our pub theology ministry “Doubt on Tap” in the bulletin every week and you silently shake your head. “How in the world could the pastor think it’s a good idea to invite people to a bar? Doesn’t he know there’s alcohol there?” Indeed I do know that there is alcohol there, and I think its not only a good idea, but a necessary one. First and foremost, if Jesus were here in the flesh, I believe that the bar is exactly is where he would be (a whole lot more than once a week for an hour or two). Jesus would...
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Deny the Resurrection

Deny the Resurrection

A few years back, I was very excited to get to meet an author I admire, a man named Peter Rollins. Rollins is a post-modern philosopher from Belfast and a fantastic theologian (though he calls himself a pyro-theologian). He has written many books with titles like “The Fidelity of Betrayal,” “The Idolatry of God,” “The Divine Magician,” and “The Orthodox Heretic.” I have had the pleasure of hearing him speak several times, and I even got to sit and chat with him for a while one great night about a year ago. Rollins is brilliant and humble and challenging in what he says and in how he lives his life. As I thought about what I wanted to write in this space for Easter Sunday, I kept coming back to the following excerpt from a talk Rollins gave in Grand Rapids, MI. He is responding to the question of an audience member who commented that Rollins doesn’t speak about the resurrection much,...
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Road Maps

Road Maps

“How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word. I’m single-minded in my pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.“ Psalm 119:9-10 (The Message)      As Methodist pastors who will move several times in the course of our careers my wife and I thought it a good investment to outfit our cars with GPS units. All we had to do was punch in an address and let it direct us to our destination. They worked pretty well for a couple of years and then they started getting things wrong. It tried to tell us to get off the highway onto off ramps that were no longer there or to take us the long way around when we knew there was a shorter way. It didn’t take me long to figure out that the maps the GPS unit used were out of date. Apparently I was supposed to hook...
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“Idle Tales”

“Idle Tales”

Luke 24:1-12 Audio Those who know me know that I love to laugh. I will laugh at just about anything, even the things I probably shouldn’t. I try to find the humor in every situation because I believe, in my heart, that when God spoke the universe into creation the sound, the language, that came from God’s lips… was laughter. So I was overjoyed to discover that Easter fell on April Fool’s day this year. I mean its awesome enough when April first falls on a Sunday but to also have it fall on the highest of Holy Days, on the day we celebrate Jesus turning the tables on death itself, I can hardly contain my excitement. My pathological need to laugh, to find the humor in any given situation, is genetic, I come by it honestly, I get it from my father, who is, without a doubt, one of the greatest pranksters of modern times. As a kid, his first prank was a classic; kids this might be a good place to take some notes. While over at his grandmother’s house he wrapped...
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The little things

The little things

“Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 2 Kings 5:13 Naaman was a commander for the armies of the king of Aram, and was well liked. He caught a case of leprosy, and there was no healer in his land that could help him. The king of sent him to Israel because he’d heard of their God and of his prophet Elisha. When Naaman got there, Elisha wouldn’t even come out to see him. Naaman, used to being an important man, was insulted. Elisha did, however, send out a messenger with the command for Naaman to wash himself in the Jordan River seven times and he would be cleansed of his disease. Naaman was not pleased at all. He there was going to be a show. He had expected Elisha would come out and call on the name of...
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“Underdog”

“Underdog”

Luke 10:25-37 Listen (Theme from Underdog) Another classic am I right? Who doesn’t love a show written almost entirely in rhyming couplets? Shoeshine boy and Polly Purebred and all those dastardly villains. In this show it is the very humble and self-deprecating nature of the main character that makes it an underdog story. Sure, as Underdog, Shoeshine Boy has massive powers, but those powers often caused lots of collateral damage if only that every episode ended with Underdog not paying attention and flying into a brick wall. Underdog could defeat the villains, but in the process, often he would cause more damage than the villain had. It’s a cute cartoon and something to have a laugh about, but there are real underdogs in life, aren’t there?, with real underdog stories. I am sure you all could think of a time when you were the underdog. When life had landed you right behind the eight ball or stuck you with a 7-10 split. The odds impossibly stacked against you. One of my most memorable underdog moments was in my freshman year of high school. For me, the only sport I...
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The Table

When Bri and I got married we didn't have much in the way of furniture (didn’t have much in the way of anything, actually). Most of the furniture we did have, though, was inherited from her mom. My mother-in-law did a lot to help us out as we began our life together: a nice couch, an old, slightly-used car for a song, but to me, the greatest inheritance from Bri’s mom was our kitchen table. This table was well-loved when it came to us. During our first move, part of the pedestal broke, and the movers spent an hour or so fixing it. For our second move, the one that brought us to Ypsilanti, something broke on it again, and this time the repair made it impossible for us to remove the leaf extension. We had our first family dinners around that table. Michaela stubbornly resisted eating a single grain of rice at that table when she was two, to the point...
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Identity

Identity

Galatians 3:23-28 John 15:9-12 Listen “Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look! Up in the sky. It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Superman! Yes, it's Superman - strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman - who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.” How many of you remember that show? The great George Reeves as the man of steel. Rescuing kidnapped aunts, foiling armored car robberies, battling sea monsters and super villains of all sorts. When I was a kid, it was only on in re-runs, but I still remember the thrill of those opening lines. Many of us may remember that thrill and think that it comes from the idea of such a great hero existing, with all of the speed and the strength, and the ability to fly. And there is...
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Self Deception

Self Deception

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Luke 1:3-4 Back when I was just starting out as a youth pastor, one of my friends (who was also a volunteer in my youth ministry) dropped by my house. When he came into my living room, he noticed that I had a program on the television that was less than wholesome. It was a popular show among teens and young adults at the time, but it demonstrated tremendous disrespect of parents and glorified dangerous stunts that, under no circumstances, should ever be tried at home. My friend asked me if this was something I should be watching as a youth pastor. I proceeded to explain to him that I had to watch it, because the youth I was trying to reach...
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