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Showing posts from June, 2011

Weird is the new Normal

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Weird: Because Normal Isn't Working by Craig Groeschel


I just finished Craig Groeschel's newest book, Weird: Because Normal Isn't Working.  It took me a while, not because it was a hard read (it's not), but because I was busy doing ministry, going to school, being a father, husband, son and countless other things.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Groeschel, he is the lead pastor of LifeChurch.tv, a mulit-site megachurch in Oklahoma.  LifeChurch also has the distinction of being one of the most innovative, creative and open source-minded evangelical churches in the U.S.  They routinely give away potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of teaching and preaching material a year---not to mention over 2 million downloads of the Bible.  Groeschel is the author of several books, a frequent speaker at church leadership events, a husband and the father of six. 


Back to my review...  Ironically, the sort of busy-ness that kept me from reading Weird all t…

The Greatest Prayer - Week 9 - "Amen"

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This week I will be preaching the last installment of the nine-part sermon series, "The Greatest Prayer"--a line by line study of the Lord's Prayer.  And yes, this sermon is on "Amen."

I debated on whether to preach an entire sermon on one word---after all, common sense would suggest that such an idea would not be wise.  But in the end my common sense didn't win (like it ever does), which in this case I think is a pretty good thing. 

First, I must address something that has bothered me for some time.  On the worship bulletins at my church we put this heading above everything else inside the bulletin: ORDER OF WORSHIP. 

This suggests something that is fairly true for most Presbyterian worship services:  worship is orderly.  Presbyterians do things "decently and in order," which includes their worship services, too, as I've come to understand in my 20-odd years or so as a Presbyterian.  

But should we order worship?  Should we dare to presume t…

The Greatest Prayer Week 8 - "For Thine Is The Kingdom"

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This week I am continuing the sermon series that I've been preaching on the Lord's Prayer by teaching on the eighth line of the prayer: "For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever." 

The fascinating thing about this line of the prayer is that it wasn't part of the original prayer that Jesus taught his disciples.  It was, in fact, added in later---possibly around the end of the first century or perhaps at the beginning of the second.  The Didache (or the Teaching of the 12 Apostles) was a guide of sorts for the early church that was used during the first and second centuries and it included this line of the prayer.

Interestingly, many early church leaders in the first and second centuries were suspicious of the Didache and it's teachings and some even branded it as heretical. 

When the King James version of the Bible was translated in the 17th century, it included the line even though scholars now know that it wasn't part of earlier tra…

Why I am Glad Lebron LOST

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I know that as a pastor I shouldn't revel in the failure of another.  I know this, and yet in the case of Lebron James, I feel I should get some special dispensation.

For those of you who have no idea who Lebron James is, let me give you a primer.  James was a basketball phenom who entered the NBA Draft right out of high school.  As a 19 year-old, he was one of the highest paid, lavishly lauded, most watched basketball players in the world.  Lots of players over the years have been given the monicker of "the next Michael Jordan," but in James' case it actually looked like it might be true.  He was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers and returned to his home state to lift the under-performing Cavaliers and the entire city of Cleveland on to his shoulders and forward into history.

Only it didn't work out like that... exactly.  Lebron spent seven grueling seasons in Cleveland making the playoffs, the NBA finals (the Cav's lost to the Heat, ironically) and general…

The Greatest Prayer - Week 7: "Lead Us Not Into Temptation"

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This week I am continuing the sermon series that I've been preaching on the Lord's Prayer, entitled "The Greatest Prayer."  We've been going line by line through the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, and this week we are studying "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil..."

Throughout each of the sermons I've preached in this series, I've lifted up how each of the lines of the Lord's Prayer is full of meaning that we tend to gloss over on our way to other things.  As a result, we end up "saying" the prayer rather than "praying" it. 

When we pray "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"  I think what we are actually praying is, "We are forgiven but not completed."  We'll come back to this in a moment...

How would you define "temptation?"  Most of us would say that temptation is what happens when you are given an opportunity to fulfill a desire---one that…

The Greatest Prayer - Week 6 "Forgive Us Our Debts"

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This week I'm preaching the 6th installment of the sermon series, "The Greatest Prayer." I'm focusing on the most difficult line, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." This is the line that seems to hang so many of us up as we try to truly pray this great prayer that Jesus taught his disciples. For starters, not many of us really know which word to use when we are praying it. But I will get to that in a minute.

I believe that when we pray "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," what we are essentially affirming is this: Our ability to forgive is evidence of God's grace in our heart.

So which is it? Debts, Debtors, Trespasses, Those who trespass against us, Sins, Sins against... what's the absolute right way to pray this line of the prayer? Well technically us Presbyterians with our "debts/debtor" language have the most literal translation of the word which is opheilamata, which means... debts.

Now bef…