Posts

Advent Upheaval

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I wasn’t raised in a so called “liturgical” church.In my ignorance, I always thought that Advent was just a “traditional” way of celebrating the Christmas season...sort of a way of “putting Christ back into Christmas.”True.It does that.I also thought that it was a way of telling the complete story of Christmas.Yes.It does that, too.
But Advent is more than just a prelude to the celebration of Christ’s birth.Advent developed along similar lines of Lent in that it was to be a time of spiritual introspection and cleansing.Sort of a recalibrating of our lives.It couldn’t come at a better time when our culture is fixated on consumerism.It is true that we do seem to consider giving and love more easily during the Christmas season.But our capitalist system (and I’m generally a fan) is eager to leverage any situation for financial gain.It’s hard to say whether or not “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” or “profit and bottom line” is the dominant theme from October 31 to December 25.
In such a…

Christ the King Sunday 2018

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Christ the King Sunday focuses our worship on the cosmic character of Christ’s rule and reign over all the world.It reinforces the theme of Ephesians 1:10, “to bring all things in heaven and earth under one head, even Christ.”
Christ’s rule and reign are universal but it must be personal as well.This Sunday is the last day of the liturgical calendar.Next Sunday is the beginning of Advent – a season of reflection and realigning of our lives to God’s purpose.Today, we’ll ask a tough question: “Are you following Jesus in obedience and doing what he has commanded you?”As we’ll see, the consequences are eternal.
This is a great day to celebrate because the Lord reigns!He has called us to be agents for his Kingdom here and now.Will you take up his charter and follow to your reward?I pray that the Spirit will move all of our hearts to say, “Yes!”
Find the audio file and sermon manuscript at http://www.fbcgalesburg.org/messages

A Life that Matters

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Deep within every human heart is the unquenchable urge to live a life that really matters.  Though there are many privileged people in the world, when it comes to making your life count, the playing field is level.  Everyone can live a life that impacts others.  You don’t have to be especially gifted, rich, beautiful, or a spiritual superstar.  Jesus said, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit” (John 15:5). 
Spiritual fruit comes in many varieties: souls brought into the Kingdom, others who are positively impacted through your influence, financial generosity, godly character traits, and other actions and qualities that make an eternal impact on people around you. As followers of Jesus, we have the privilege and calling to bear much fruit.  

Brother Lawrence was a simple man.  He had no earthly ambition.  He was disabled.  He wasn’t highly educated.  And yet, he learned the secret of abiding in Christ in every thing he did in every moment of his day.  The example o…

All Saints Sunday 2018

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Today is the day in which many churches celebrate All Saints Sunday. I’ve been waiting for this day all year. I didn’t grow up observing All Saints and it is new to us as a church as well.This celebration recognizes the “Communion of Saints” around the world and throughout time.After rehearsing the inspiring stories of many of the Old Testament believers in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews (the “Faith Hall of Fame”) the author encourages us with this inspiring admonition: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2a).The passage gives a description of those who have gone before us as cheering us on from heaven’s bleachers as we run the race of faith.Those who have died in the faith, after all, are alive now in Jesus’ presence.We are connected to them.What an …

Prayer for a Political Season

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This is a political post.Can’t help it.We live in a highly politicized and polarized society right now and if faith can’t speak into our public angst, what good is it?Before you fold the paper and move on to something else, however, let me assure you that while this is political, it won’t be partisan.
My heart is heavy.Americans are not listening to each other.Our bullhorns are locked bell-to-bell blaring our Left and Right narratives at each other into a sickening cacophony of political poison. Public discourse is virtually dead.And the dysfunction that is on display in media and capitol buildings has spilled over into our local gathering places as well.I’ve had heated exchanges with good friends and family members that leave me deeply troubled.As Victor Davis Hanson asked in a recent article in National Review, “Are we on the verge of civil war?”I certainly hope not.But the basis for my hope is not found in our broken political process. As I have written before in this column, it is…

Saturate Your Life in the Word of God

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Words have power.They can destroy or build up.They can stir hope or breed despair.Some time ago, a ministry colleague said something to me that shook my confidence and dogged me for years.On the other hand, the words of assurance that my mother planted in my soul as a child have served to reinforce my calling throughout my adult life.Promises made by people of integrity have always steeled courage and planted hope in people who were facing troubling circumstances..
Jesus told his disciples to remain in his word.Two thousand years later, Christ’s admonition still rings true.If we want to bear fruit – make a positive impact in our world and in the lives of other people – we have to “abide” or remain in Christ.If we saturate our minds with his word, we will, indeed, abide in him and make an eternal impact in the lives of other people.Following the link below, I unpack the power of Jesus’ word and consider practical ways in which we can soak our lives in it.Words have the power to change a…

Connected to Jesus

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Sunday, September 16th, marked the beginning of our sermon series on abiding in Christ.I am both excited and humbled to begin this journey with you.I’ve not preached through this topic before though I believe it will be one of the most important and transforming series of messages that I’ve prepared and delivered.Please keep me in your prayers.Before I can preach it, I have to live it…and I am such an imperfect Christian.I think more than anything, I am looking forward to my own personal transformation as I dig in, study, and reflect on what it means to be in Christ and abide in him.
Through the study, our primary text will be John 15:1-8, but we will also consult the writings of the Apostles Paul and Peter who address the same topic.Paul frequently reminds believers that we are “in Christ.”Peter has the boldness to write that we are “partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4).
Along with Scripture, I am also reading two classic books on abiding in Christ:The Practice of the Presenc…