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Category: Sermon (page 1 of 2)


ColossiansThis morning I was reading Colossians 2 and verse eight stood out to me. This verse has been highlighted in my Bible for years now. Many years ago, as I spoke with a friend who was leaving his wife this passage came to my attention as my friend used all manner of worldly thinking and ideology to justify and explain to me why he had suddenly lost interest and was no longer in love with his wife. He used philosophy and so-called wisdom based on the elemental principles of the world as his basis for why what he was doing was not only ok to do, but the only right thing to do. I believe was taken captive by a philosophy which was unable to provide any legitimate substance or foundation for rational thinking.

We have to tendency to lean towards philosophies or ways of thinking that allow us to justify our actions. We tend to use our desires and actions to interpret Scriptures, rather than allowing Scripture to interpret how we should live. This is what my friend did. This is why Paul cautions us to not be taken captive by hollow, empty, deceitful philosophy. That sentence was very loaded. Let me try to break it down.

Paul warns us to not be taken captive. In the original Greek language, which Paul would have written this, the idea is to not be robbed. He says, look out, keep watch so that you may not be robbed. Don’t let your clear, rational thinking be taken captive or robbed from you. Do not let your thought processes be hijacked and stolen from you. Use your critical thinking and rational thought skills (which I would argue are inherent, built-in aspects of our existence thanks to being made ‘in the image of God’ who possesses critical thinking and rational thought) to see through the empty philosophy.

Paul says, what has taken us captive is empty or hollow. The word is empty, meaning there is nothing to it. No substance. Hollow. Valueless, no merit, nothing inside. As I glance across my desk I see my coffee mug. It is empty. There is nothing inside it. Right now, that has no value. It has nothing in it. At 0646, the mug might as well be dead to me. The mug has zero value to it, because the value it brings is contingent upon Empty mugwhat fills it. Philosophy, a word we get by through the combining of one of the Greek words for ‘love’ and the Greek word for ‘wisdom’, so the loving of wisdom must have substance to it. The philosophy or the train of thinking about wisdom have be full of something, not hollow or it is useless.

Paul goes on to describe the philosophy which has taken us captive as deceitful. In the original Greek text, the words empty and deceit follow each other. The text literally reads, empty deceit according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world. There is much here, but I want to focus on the deceitful aspect. What makes it deceitful? Its emptiness. The fact that it is hollow and promises what it can not deliver. Just like my coffee mug is deceiving into thinking it has value, when it does not because it is empty. So is the philosophy which has bewitched us. It promises big, but delivers nothing. It is deceit because it has no value or substance to it.

It would be presumptuous for me to speak for you, but I don’t want to be taken captive by anything let alone anything which is empty or hollow. Imagine waking up one day, years from now and realizing you have been chasing a hollow, empty dream. Your whole life, everything you put into that pursuit is wasted, all for nothing. Paul is giving us a wake up call to pay attention to the things we place our trust in and what we rely on. Are we trusting in philosophies which are empty and deceitful because they are empty? Are we placing our trust in something of value, something which is not empty? Clearly, Paul is making a subtle argument for placing one’s faith and trust in God and relying on him to find the values and meaning we need to navigate through life. Trust in God is the only thing in the end providing the lasting meaning we crave. There is no other philosophy or tradition providing meaning and purpose equal to what God provides, because God has no equal.

We need to heed the warning and not allow ourselves to be taken captive by empty, deceitful philosophy. We need to place our faith, hope and trust in God each day. We need to allow the Word of God to light our path and direct our steps. (Bet you didn’t expect a theology lesson this morning!)

What empty, deceitful philosophy do you let creep in and distract you?

Bible is lightsaber

Listening Ears

dog listening

I consider myself a pretty good listener. I try to cultivate a slow tongue and hear what you have to say. I make a conscious effort to allow you to speak, to allow you to communicate your point of view your side. I would like to think I make rational decisions after having weighed all the facts and heard all that needs to be heard.

Granted, I’m not always like this. Ronda will tell you I am an interrupter. And I am… at times. There are moments when I don’t want to listen. When I don’t feel like I need to listen. I honestly don’t believe those times dominate my ears. In my judgment, I listen pretty well.

The other morning, I was having a conversation with a professional who was not a good listener. She interrupted me multiple times and would not stop until I closed my mouth and heard what she was saying. This didn’t stop throughout the entire conversation, even after the second time I said, ‘as I was trying to say’.

This was very frustrating to me. I felt as though this lady would not allow me to get a word in edgewise. Do you ever feel this way? Do you ever feel as though people are some consumed with getting their voice heard, that they don’t hear yours? It almost doesn’t matter what you have to say, because they don’t want to hear it. They are sure what you have to say doesn’t matter. I find it annoying when I encounter people like this.

I have been reading through the book of James a lot lately. At my church, we are going through series of sermons in the book so I have taken this opportunity to study the book as well. This morning I read from James chapter 1, where James encourages us to be ‘quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger’. These are great words of advice for several reasons. I think our interactions with others would be improved if we would make a reasonable attempt to live this out… not just because the Bible says so. Here are three reasons why it is a good idea to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger:

  1. When we don’t listen to others, we dismiss them. Not only do we risk dismissing a potentially good idea from them, but we are dismissing them. Not just their ideas or thoughts, but them as well. When we are dismissive of others, it communicates they don’t matter. We communicate to them they are important, their voice isn’t worth hearing. We communicate t them they have nothing to add or say of value. Nothing that could be important or beneficial to hear. When we are slow to hear, we are dismissive of others and being dismissive doesn’t build relationship it tears it down.
  2. When aren’t slow to speak, we often end up putting our foots in our mouths. We’ve all been there haven’t we? We open our big mouths and say something we think to be informed by the truth, only to find out we don’t have all the information and we were wrong… and we look like fools, idiots really. I always think about the apostle Peter when I think about putting my foot in my mouth. On one occasion, Jesus was telling his disciples he was going to have to suffer at the hands of the religious leaders. When Peter heard this he was, “There’s no way I’m going to let that happen to you! I will take them out! I will introduce them to my little friend!” Jesus responds with the classic, “Get behind me, Satan!” Open Peter’s mouth, insert foot. Peter didn’t fully comprehend what was going on, opened his mouth and Jesus likened him to Satan because to stop the imminent suffer would have been akin to stopping God’s perfect plan. Being slow to speak allows us to gather enough information to speak with wisdom when we do speak.
  3. When are are quick to anger, it has a tendency to be unrighteous anger. Ephesians 4:26 reminds us to not sin in our anger. For me, this is a prescription to not be angry… because I don’t seem to be able to be angry and not sin. I’m a work in progress to be sure. Either way, if we easily anger there’s a pretty good chance we aren’t being angry in a sinless layabout things we should be angry about. Short fuses rarely lead to righteous anger. Again, it is a matter of having enough information to know whether our anger is justified or not, whether it is something ‘worth’ getting angry about. I suppose we need to understand what would qualify as ‘worth’. In my mind, righteous anger is warranted when the issue at hand would also anger God. If it is an injustice or situation where God would be angry, then we can be angry as well. Too many times we et angry quickly, when choosing grace and mercy would have been better choices. If we are slow to anger, consider and think rationally through the feelings of anger we are feeling we will better equipped to be angry at the right time about the right things.

We should be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger… essentially because it promotes the most healthy and best relationships with others. It is the best way to interact with others. I don’t always get it right. I miss the mark, often. James encourages us to slow down and make more of an effort to get it right.

Christmas Eve devotional thoughts


Luke 2:1-20
1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to their own town to register.
4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Here’s a couple questions to consider as you go into the Christmas Eve activities:
What is Christmas about?
What is your favorite thing about Christmas?
Does your family have any special traditions they do?
The most important question… what kind of cookies are you leaving for Santa tonight?

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. Doesn’t everybody say that at Christmas though?

Let me tell you why I like it so much… presents! We get presents every year. I am like a 7 year old boy when it comes to presents. I just love them. I love getting them, I love unwrapping them, I love the suspense and the thrill.

As a dad, Christmas begins to change and be a little different than before i had kids. I still get presents and i love getting them… but the presents at Christmas aren’t about me anymore.

It is about our boys… it is about family.

There is different kind of joy I will feel tomorrow morning as the boys wake up and open their presents on Christmas morning. I will feel a greater joy than when I open my own presents… at least thats what I tell myself.

No, seriously. I have learned as a dad, one of the greatest experiences in life is watching your kids do stuff for the first time. To experience things first hand. To watch them in that moment when they have a new experience. Nothing in the world beats it.

Can you imagine what it must have been like for God?

I mean really, think about it.

That first Christmas night when Jesus was born… when God himself entered into humanity, to be a human, as C.S. Lewis said, The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.

Think of the joy we experience as our children, our family, our friends open the gifts we so thoughtfully got them and we see the look of excitement on their faces… God must have had that same kind of look on his face when Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, later the wise men, and throughout history as we have opened the gift of Jesus.

This is one of the things i like the most about Christmas… gifts. Giving loved ones something they couldn’t or didn’t get for themselves. As humans we were created in the likeness of God and the joy we feel as we give gifts reminds us of our father and creator who gave us the ultimate gift. Not just the little 8 lb 7 oz baby Jesus, not just the grown man Jesus who died on the cross in our place for our sins, but the Jesus who defeated death offering us eternal life… life everlasting… life that never ends in Heaven with him.

I have said often my favorite birth story of Jesus is the one we find in John 1:1-5. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5 NIV)

Jesus didn’t start when he was born a human. Jesus was there at the beginning of everything. It was through him all things were created. This Jesus whose birth we celebrate tonight & tomorrow is the eternal God who loved us to death. Ronda’s grandma sometimes says she loves us so much she could just die. Jesus loves us so much he did die. On the cross for us. In our place. Instead of us. 

Christmas marks the beginning of the chapter in the story of humanity’s history where God entered into his own creation to repair what we had broken and bring us home to him.

I want to close with an Irish Christmas blessing –
“The light of the Christmas star to you,

The warmth of home and hearth to you,

The cheer and good will of friends to you,

The hope of a childlike heart to you,

The joy of a thousand angels to you,

The love of the Son,

And God’s peace to you.”

The Lie of Worthlessness


Many of us can relate to feelings of worthless.

We can can’t we?
It may look a little different, but we can relate. We’ve had similar experiences of feeling worthless.
We are in week 2 of our series The Lies We Believe and today we are going to tackle the Lie that I believe most easily, and maybe you do too… it is the lie of WORTHLESSNESS.
John introduced us to this tries last week and he reminded us that we are WAR! Everyday we fight a battle to be free… free from the lies that Satan tries to convince us are truths about who are. They are not TRUTHS, they are LIES.
But the lies feel so right, don’t they? The feel like truth… They feel like they fit.
And they feel so right because Satan is so good at lying
And this makes sense that they are lies because Scriptures teach us that Satan is:

  • The father of lies-John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. “
  • The Deceiver-Rev 12:9- “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” Martin Luther said – “Due to his great intellect, extensive experience, ability to present evil as something beautiful…his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.”
  • On 35 different occasion in Scripture he is referred to as “the devil” which means “slanderer”
  • And 52x, he is referred to as “Satan” which means “adversary.”

He is a powerful enemy that we need not fear. John referenced 1 Peter 5:8, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. And then went on to say he was a toothless lion because he has been defeated.

Today, as I said we are going to unpack the CORE LIE of WORTHLESSNESS:
What do we mean when we say that something is worthless?
  • it has no value
  • it isn’t worth my time
  • it is unwanted
  • it is unnecessary
Now there are some things that actually are worthless.. the Buell Blast. They make me angry… I don’t know why.
There are many things that give us value, make us feel worth in our lives…
  • family
  • friends
  • work
  • hobbies
  • cars we drive
  • things we own
  • money
  • skills/talents
  • God is the ONLY real source of value –
These other things we use for finding value fade away, disappoint us but God is the only thing that can stand the test of time and really offer us value and worth.
How much are we worth to God? God was willing to die for us. Romans 5:8 –
Unfortunately, Satan is adept at using good things in our life, twist them and use for evil purposes.
2 Corinthians tells us – “for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”
There are at least four steps in overcoming the lie of worthlessness. Let’s take a look at them.
STEP 1 – The Source
  • The first step in beginning to overcome and buy the lie of worthlessness is finding the source
  • Where did this lie creep in?
  • Was it through family relationships?
  • Friendships?
  • Was it when you lost a job?
  • What was it for you?
  • For me it was a downward spiral that started with a bad church experience (elaboration on this)… this church experience left me feeling as though I was not worth the fight… my skills/talents weren’t worth it… I couldn’t do it… I couldn’t cut it in ministry… I was nothing…
  • Once this lie got its hooks in, the downward spiral became a rapid define in self-worth, self-value and belief in my abilities to accomplish anything that let me depressed and hopeless.
  • It became such an ingrained part of who I was that I accepted it as truth, as reality.
It is not reality. I am not worthless. But I believed it anyway.
Theres something insidious that happens when we begin to believe the lie… we begin to benefit from it. We start gain from the lie.
STEP 2 – The Benefit
  • What do you get from believing the lie?
  • How does it serve you?
  • It serves me by not making me responsible
  • Here’s how it works – if I am worthless, then no one expects anything from me… which is great because if they don’t expect anything from me, they can’t be disappointed in me when I don’t measure up…
  • Sometimes it feels good to be worthless – no one ever expects anything from me
  • No expectations, no failures
STEP 3 – The Cost
  • What would it cost to no longer buy the lie?
  • What would it cost me to no longer live in this false reality, this fake identity?
  • What did it cost God to save me from this lie?
  • His Son…
STEP 4 – Real Value
  • Matthew 16:26 shows that the soul is more valuable than the whole world because it’s eternal…but that’s probably valuable to us. And here it gets crazy when you think about our value, it doesn’t make sense.
  • Matthew 6:26 says we have more worth than birds, but hey, that’s not saying much. (Have fun with that)
  • David asked in Psalm 8, when he saw the beauty of the stars he didn’t get why God would set His love upon humanity.
  • Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus went to the cross to defeat Satan. We went there to save us from the LIES Satan tries to convince us are truths about our identity.
We don’t need to buy the lie because Jesus bought us with his blood.
What happened at the cross: by paying for our sin, Jesus disarmed Satan, triumphing over him and publicly displayed his power, purchasing our freedom.
We can be free!

Stand in the Gap (Vintage Post)

I wrote this as a sermon when I was working as a campus minister at Christian Campus Fellowship at UGA just out of Bible college. Ezekiel is on of my favorite Biblical characters, so I thought you might enjoy this.

Israel was in turmoil.  Babylon has already taken many captives and Jerusalem is desolate.  The people are worshipping false gods and the numerous false prophets are prophesying that peace is coming soon.  The people are not looking to God.

You can see a connection to the USA today but also to the world.  The world is in turmoil, and the devil has already taken many captives.  The world is desolate.  People are worshipping false gods like self, drugs, sex and many others.  No one is worrying about the impending doom of the world.  The people have forgotten about God.

The situation is grim.  Things are definitely not looking good for Israel (or us for that matter).  Israel was a sinful nation and God was in the process of punishing them.  They had suffered greatly already, but guess what?  The suffering was not over.

Look closely with me at what was happening: God’s chosen ones the priests and the false prophets were leading the people astray.  They were making no distinction between holy and profane (Ez. 22:26).  Profane means ordinary or common, anything but holy, separate, different or special.  It is not as though they had no idea what they were doing, they did it on purpose.  They just didn’t care what they were doing.  The “spiritual leaders” were kind of like the psychics that we see today, they were telling the people exactly what they wanted to hear.

I want you to notice how offensive to God this is.  God says that the ‘leaders’ are like a roaring lion tearing its prey (Ez. 22:27).  I don’t know from first hand experience, but I’m guessing that a lion makes quite a mess when it tears its prey.  I’m sure it is fairly graphic and not very pretty.  This is what Israel’s leaders were doing to the people…they were tearing them, pulling them away from God and leading them astray.  If you may recall, in 1 Peter 5:8 refers to the devil as a roaring lion searching for someone to devour.

In all that is happening God is being profaned or disgraced.  It is kind of like when someone comes to your house and insults all of your prized possessions.  They have disrespected you.  God was being disrespected by His servants.  One Christmas we had a family friend came to our house and noticed our small Christmas tree.  It was artificial and it was not the nicest tree there is.  But she said it was a nice Christmas shrub.  That really made me mad.  She had disrespected my house and me.

God was calling out for someone to stand up among the people, who would intercede for them like when Abraham pleaded with God not to destroy Sodom.  You remember he pleaded if there was just 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, or even just 10 righteous people would God not destroy Sodom.  Or like when Moses pleaded for Israel at Mount Sinai.  We must not think that Ezekiel was the only righteous man in Israel.  He was among the precious few.  Jeremiah and his scribe Baruch were in Jerusalem at the time.  What God was saying was that, as a whole the nation was not listening to Him.

God was pleading because He knew He must punish Israel and about five years later in 586 B.C. Jerusalem was destroyed.  Israel’s sin was idolatry and He allowed them to be taken prisoners by the Babylonians and Assyrians.  When Jerusalem was destroyed the Temple was also destroyed.  When Israek was taken captives in the exiles, this fixed their problem of idolatry.

The same thing is happening in America and the world today.  We have so called spiritual leaders that are guiding their followers down the wrong path.  I’m sure you can think of some of the televangelists that have have been caught in affairs or swindling money.

Not too much has changed in America and the world.  The world still worships idols.  No we don’t have many little statues in our homes here in America, but we still worship idols.  Things still get in the way of God, sports, friends, hobbies, work, and families.  And many other things.  What is the number one priority in your life?

God Has not changed much either.  He is still calling out for someone to atnd in the gap.  Matthew 28:18-20 is this call.  As you are going into all the world, make disciples teaching then to obey all I have commanded you and baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  What does this mean for us?  It means that we need to embrace true spirituality and form a relationship with God so that we can stand in the gap.  As we do our everyday things, stand in the gap.  This world is full of lost sinners and the tool that God uses to save them is us.  Think about this, on any given day you could be the only God that they get to see.  Does Christ shine in your life?

Are we going to stand in the gap?

Are we going to save the lost?

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