Showing posts from October, 2010

Discovering Jesus In the Old Testament - Book Review

The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament by Nancy Guthrie; Tyndale, 2010.

Tyndale Publishing's successful "One Year" series of Bibles, and Bible studies has a new addition: Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament.  The author, Nancy Guthrie, has written at least two "One Year" devotional guides in addition to at least two books on the topic of Grief.  With Discovering Jesus Guthrie moves into a difficult and challenging field of study in an attempt to draw the reader into a year-long study of the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) as interpreted through the lens of a Jesus-centered view.  Like the authors of the Gospels and the Apostle Paul himself, Christians throughout the ages have drawn threads throughout the Hebrew Scriptures that weave their way to Jesus.  Guthrie provides the opportunity for the average reader to engage in these conversations in what is described as "do-able, daily devotions."  While Discovering Jesus is not th…

Golden Years - Week One (Age to Age)

For the next two weeks I will be preaching on Aging.
The median age of my congregation is in the high 60's or early 70's--depending on how inclusive you tend to be in calculating it.  Like most mainline Protestant denominations, my denomination--the Presbyterian Church (USA)--has long been identified as a "gray-ing" denomination.
Most churches in my denomination are doing everything they can to try to "attract" younger people.  Mine is no different.  There's a good reason for doing so, quite frankly.  At some point if our churches don't begin to add younger members, they will have to face a serious crisis due to membership loss through attrition.
But there's an unintended result from this necessary action--one that I think is rooted firmly in the way our society thinks and speaks about age.  Our focus on drawing younger people into the church (which we need to do to survive) unintentionally reinforces the our culture's view that newer and you…

Jesus Manifesto: Book Review

Cover via AmazonJesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and the Sovereignty of Jesus Christ by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, Thomas Nelson (2010)

What kind of book would elicit praise from both Ed Stetzer of the Southern Baptist Covention's publishing arm Lifewayand Christian activist Shane Claiborne?  If you were anticipating Jesus Manifestoas the answer, then you were right on the money. 

For that matter, Len Sweet and Frank Viola would seek like an odd pair to write a book together, and they actually acknowledge as much when they mention that there is much they disagree on when it comes to politics, theology and the like.

But in the end, it is their love of Jesus and their deep desire that Christians embrace a Christ-centered life that brought them together and produced this wonderful book that seems to cross "party lines" and get down to the very heart of the matter when it comes to the Christian faith: Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come (is coming…

Balanced: Week 4 "Developing A Plan"

This week I am concluding the sermon series that I've been working on for the past four weeks:  "Balanced: Gaining and Maintaining Financial Stability." 

I have always had a hunch that whenever I have preached on money there are some folks who make the conscious decision to stay away from church.  That got confirmed this week after I heard one of my parishoners told her friends that she wasn't going to attend church during this sermon series.  This was personally kind of icky for me, but honestly I am not surprised.

I am sure that there are lots of ways that people might want to parse it, but in my mind there's pretty much only one reason why Christians don't want to hear sermons on money and how it affects our relationship with God:  Guilt.  Those of us who call ourselves Christians don't want to hear what the Bible has to say about money because we prefer our relationship with God to be separate from our relationship with our cash.

The truth of the mat…

Balanced Week Three: Back in the Black

This week I'll be preaching the third part of a four part sermon series on money.  The focus this week is on debt.  I rather like the sermon title.  It makes me want to rock and or roll.

Just to refresh...  There are Three Laws of Balance:  Reference Point, Constant Correction and Clear Objective

In the first part of the series we learned that we need to "be knowing where our money is going."  I asked our church members to track their spending so that they could pay more attention to where their treasure was going.  Jesus said that where our treasure is, that's where our heart is and the only way to figure out how to get your heart in the right place is to know exactly what you've been spending your money on every week.  This is our "Reference Point" as we seek to stay balanced. 

In the second part of the series we learned that everything we have belongs to God, comes from God is given by God.  To that end, we need to honor God with everything that we …

Balanced Week Two: Reading the Fine Print

This is the second week of the four part sermon series that I am preaching on gaining and maintaining financial stability.  Last week we identified the Three Laws of Balance, which we'll be coming back to over the course of the series: Reference Point, Constant Correction & Clear Objective.  I also challenged our church members to spy on their money for the week--to track their spending and to determine where their heart and treasure seem to be. 

If you are interested, we have a form available for you to track your spending that I didn't have last week.  Hey, it's not too late to start, right?  You can download the form HERE.  It's the one that says "Track Spending." Just click on it and download it. 

The focus this week can be summed up in one very big question:  "If you had to sum up your financial objective/goal in one statement what would it be?"

Some people might say, "I just want to make all I can."  But focusing on making money…

Balanced: Gaining & Maintaining Financial Stability (Week One)

"Opening The Books" 
So, I am preaching about money for the next four weeks.  I know that some folks might question the wisdom of doing such a thing.  "If you talk about money too much from the pulpit, people will think that's all you care about," they might say.  

I say "might" knowing full well that people have said such things when I have preached about money in the past.  

Here's the thing... Lots of Christians are uncomfortable when their pastor preaches on finances, but you can't ignore the fact that Jesus had so much to say about money that you can't be a follower of Jesus and be irresponsible financially.  In fact, Jesus said more about money than he did about heaven and hell combined, and more than any other "secular" topic.  

Also, there is a relationship with the way you handle your money and your devotion to God.  I know no one wants to hear things like that---especially Christians--but it's true.  

Full disclosure... …