The Gospel and Lamenting

Copy of Misrepresenting the GospelYesterday morning I wrote a post. Then I turned on the news and saw what happened to Alton Sterling. This morning I woke with the thought that maybe I should hold off on my post. Then I turned on the news, saw what happened Philando Castile, and knew that I needed to write something different.

My friend and fellow Westbrook pastor Caleb Trimble preached this last weekend about the Gospel and lamenting. It was almost prophetic that he should choose to focus on lamenting as he preached through Acts 16. If you have the time, you should go and listen to it. Continue reading

The Next Big Thing

The NextIf you are like me, you like new and exciting things. I am an Apple fan so almost anytime they make a presentation I watch or follow along as various tech blogs live tweet the event. I want to know what their next big thing will be. I want to know what will the next Mac OS or iOS be like. What features will they have? When will the next iPhone or MacBook be out?

You may not be into Apple or even tech, but there’s probably something like that in your life. We’re looking for the next big fad. So many of us want to belong, want to be in the know, or want to be equipped with the latest and greatest.

That was Simon in Acts 8. Typically when we read this story, we think of sorcery or Simony, which is paying for a position in the church. While those are applicable to this passage, I’m beginning to see Simon in a new light as I’ve been reading and reflecting on his brief episode in scripture. Continue reading

Is it really Good News?

Good (1)

So much of what we talk about in church revolves around this idea of Gospel or good news.

Mark opens by saying that his writing is the Good News about Jesus Christ. Matthew 4 says that Jesus traveled around preaching the good news about the kingdom. In Romans, Paul said that he is not ashamed of the Good news of Jesus Christ and just a few verses earlier he defined it this way,

God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. [1]

Continue reading

Waiting on God

waiting on God

In Acts 1, Jesus leaves the disciples waiting. It was just a few days, but I’m sure that for a few of them it seemed like it would never happen. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come on them, so now they waited. No Jesus, no Holy Spirit, just waiting.

It can be hard to wait, but here we find out that waiting on God is essential to the mission of Jesus.

I found myself waiting in seminary. I knew that my time in school was wrapping up, so I started looking for ministry. After perusing online job listings for hours upon hours, and sending my resumé to various churches, I found myself at graduation with no prospects for ministry. So Lindsay and I waited. Over the next year I had a few promising interviews, but nothing turned up until the summer of 2013. That’s when I started interviewing at Westbrook, where I am now serving in ministry. The few years that I waited felt like a long time. On top of that, those years came with their fair share of disappointment.

While the disciples did not wait for the Spirit with disappointment, I’m sure it wasn’t easy for some of them. Jesus didn’t say how long, he just said to wait. And then when Holy Spirit comes, they would be his witnesses, but not before. Continue reading

Jesus washed Judas’s feet

MaundyMost of us had the same morning on Tuesday. We got up and at some point we turned on the news, checked social media, or listened to the radio. It wasn’t long before we found out about the attack in Brussels. Another bombing. Another day that we woke up to tragedy. The news progressed in the same fashion that it does when covering these kinds of stories. They interviewed experts, reviewed the actual events, speculated as to the cause, and got reactions from the various politicians and candidates. Some of the reactions condemned those who committed the act and many offered up condolences, thoughts, and prayers for victims and their families.

After some time in shock and disbelief, I got ready for my day, ate my breakfast, made my coffee, packed my things and left for work. This is probably where my day differed from yours. I turned on my car, and started of the CD that is currently living in my car’s CD player. Brother by The Brilliance began to play. Continue reading

Why I’m worrying less about my Bible Reading Plan

Photo Credit: Brett Jordan via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Brett Jordan via Compfight cc

At the beginning of the year, I joined with a group of people from Westbrook in a Bible reading plan. We are following a plan that if done right would take us through the Bible in one year. It’s a fantastic plan and a fantastic goal. The problem, however, is that I’m not going to make it. I’m very behind in my reading and will now finish sometime in January.

Instead of panicking about being behind in my reading plan, I’m choosing not to worry about it any more. When I was only a few days behind I was able to pick up the slack over the course of a few days and catch up. Then I began doing worse and worse and now I’ve basically given up on catching up. Continue reading

A Culture in Need of Forgiveness

I believe that as a culture we’ve entered into dangerous territory. If you don’t believe just watch the news. Whenever something bad is done by someone, see how people react. Most of the time now, the reaction is the same. People want swift justice and without forgiveness. What we have seen in South Carolina is exception to the rule. The victims chose to forgive Dylann Roof. Their actions, however, are rare. Typically see the opposite reaction.

Photo Credit: ivoras via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: ivoras via Compfight cc

A little while ago, the news broke that a college fraternity was caught on a video singing a song with racist lyrics. This was discovered because video showed up on the internet. Whatever station I was watching was interviewing students on campus. They asked an African American student a very important question and his answer showed that we have crossed a line.

The reporter asked him if he would forgive the students involved if they asked. His answer was, “No.” Continue reading

Remembering that the Bible is full of real people

noahIn the past couple of months I watched Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings. Now I know that both of these movies came with controversy and the Exodus movie received poor reviews, but I think that there is something that both movies can bring to the table. While neither of these movies entirely lines up with the narratives found in Genesis and Exodus, they reminded me that Noah and Moses were real people with real struggles and real frustrations. Noah showcases his drunkness at the end of the movie and Exodus: Gods and Kings shows a Moses who struggles to accept his past and wrestles with God’s decision to kill the first born of Egypt. Continue reading

Speaking the Truth about God

I’ve been on a journey this year through a chronological Bible reading plan. The plan takes you through Genesis and then into Job. There are a lot of things about the book of Job that are very striking, but this time through Job what really struck me was his “friends” and how easy it is to be just like them.

1024px-William_Blake_Job's_Tormentors_c1785-90_this_state_1800-25_British_Museum_LondonJob is inexplicably stuck with disaster and disease. From the human point of view, there seems to be no rhyme or reason for all this devastation after having lived such a good life. Job begins to lament and question why God would do such a thing to him and his friends are ready with an answer that goes like this, “Obviously, Job, you have done something wrong and you have earned punishment from God. Everyone knows that God punishes people for their sin.” Continue reading

Waiting on Redemption

100_1768Come Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in Thee
Israel’s strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart
Born Thy people to deliver
Born a child and yet a King
Born to reign in us forever
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring
By Thine own eternal spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone
By Thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne 1

It’s probably a bit strange that I would say I am waiting on redemption because I have already been redeemed. When Jesus came, he saved us. His life, death, burial, and resurrection have released us from the power of sin and death. I have been forgiven. James Bryan Smith writes about this in his book The Good and Beautiful God. He says that as Christians we are in Christ. This means that, “Christians are not merely sinners but a new species: persons indwelt by Jesus, possessing the same eternal life that he has. The New Testament is unambiguous on this issue. Several Bible passages affirm this.” 2

Smith goes on, however, to talk about how while sin no longer reigns over us, it still remains. This is the reality that we live in now. Sin has no power over us anymore, but it still exists in this world. This is why I am waiting for redemption. At the heart of all that is broken in this world is the power and presence of sin. We live in a world broken an marred by sin. Sin causes violence, hatred, division, and suffering. When Jesus returns, this will all change. The world will be restored, people will be reconciled, and we will be redeemed. In the words of Andrew Peterson, “The world was good, the world is fallen, the world will be redeemed.” 3

As Christmas quickly approaches, we celebrate the one who came to save us and who will come to make all things new in the end. Together we wait for our savior to return. While we wait let us be about the work of reconciling, restoring, and proclaiming the redemption that he has given us.

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come
among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver
us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and
the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.4

1. From Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
2. James Bryan Smith. The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2009), 154.
3. “All Things New,” Andrew Peterson, Resurrection Letters Volume 2 (Centricity Music, 2010).
4. From the Book of Common Prayer: http://www.bcponline.org/Collects/seasonsc.html#advent