I’ve spent yesterday and today looking at the devastation that has wrecked my former home of Birmingham, Alabama and the surrounding cities. I find it hard to process the sheer magnitude of it all. For some reason I can look at pictures of tsunami damage in Japan with a comfort of remoteness, but when I see places that I’ve been, streets I’ve driven down, and people I care about afraid, my heart aches and I struggle to find meaning. It is universally human to look for deep meaning in the face of tragedy, and the good news amidst the darkness is that there is meaning indeed. Jesus tells us there is meaning, and that those who suffer do not do so in vain.
Hopefully this short sermon can be a comfort to those hurting, and those looking for answers.
Tornadoes don’t last forever, Jesus does.
You can help the victims of this disaster. CNN has a great guide here.
My first 100% new sermon in over a year! The first in the series, “When God Doesn’t Want to Go To Church,” a sermon based on Malachi 1.
A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ 7 By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. 8 When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. 9 And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. 10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. ~ Malachi 1:6-11 ESV
My first “new” sermon series…
When God Doesn’t Want to Go to Church
An expositional series exploring the concept of “godless” churches… no, seriously.
Strange as it may sound there are several passages about God not wanting to have anything to do with the church. A professor during my undergrad years proposed doing a series on the subject, but of course said it could not be done without offending the people who pay you, so it will never be done. Since I have a few months(?) left before moving into a formal ministry position, I thought it would be the perfect time to do the series.
I was recently asked to provide a preaching sample to a church. I found this old sermon among my files. It was prepared for my professor Dr. Kent Hughes, a preaching legend and someone I believe to be one of the best expositors of God’s word alive today. The class was a short Jan term course of the exposition of the book of Philippians. I caught strep throat and highly medicated during the entire class (which was only a week long), but still managed to produce a sermon for him. I got an amazingly kind letter from him a few weeks later complimenting the work, which to this day gives me goosebumps. I am my toughest critic, but I do think I did a good job explaining a relatively tough text, a task which I believe I have been called to. It’s fairly short, there are no jokes, and I am indeed reading my manuscript, but I wish more preachers would just explain God’s Word and leave it at that. Comments welcome, but be kind or be better!