Showing posts from April, 2014

Would You Say We Have A PLETHORA of Rob Bell Posts?

In which I post that I am journeying Way Out West, not to set up like a Cowboy (pointless Kid Rock reference), but to attend CraftLab a creative jam session with the Rev. Rob Bell--author, speaker, pastor, a man who is on-tour-with-Oprah... 

And in which people ask, "Hey, isn't that the guy who says there isn't a hell?"  

To which I reply... 

"Read these blog posts--blasts from the past that will explain all, reveal all, and probably not make that much difference at all--at least to the very few people who would rather hate than appreciate."  

In which I comment on Rob Bells's provocative book: "Love Wins"

In which I review Rob Bell's provocative book:  "Love Wins"

In which I comment on an obnoxious Christian my wife met in a Bookstore

In which …

"You Gotta Have Faith" The Mission: Week One

This week we'll be celebrating a very special Sunday: The Sunday after Easter.  I say "celebrating" because it sounds better.

But we all know what's about to happen.

My church had a record number of people attend worship last Sunday--both in person and online.  I have a new tattoo and a haircut to prove it (see previous posts if that last sentence messed you up).  Now comes reality.

Welcome to "Low" Sunday as it has become known.

Or if you prefer, "Black" Sunday, because the incredible shining mood everyone felt when the church was full on Easter will be undoubtedly replaced with a darker mood when it's not full the Sunday after.

Or my favorite: "Cannonball" Sunday--so named because you can fire a cannonball in the sanctuary and not hit anyone... allegedly.

Here's the thing--it wasn't always like this.  The Greek Christians of old used to call this "Holy Humor" Sunday or something like that.  They would tell …

This Is Not The End - An Easter Sermon

Several years ago, I went to the Holy Land Experience amusement park in Orlando.  It's a strange place, to be honest.  I'm not sure just how much of the amusement park itself is representative of the Holy Land... but it's an experience, so there's that.

At the Holy Land Experience amusement park there is a replica of the Empty Tomb of Jesus.  This is a photo of the inside of the tomb:

Yes. That is a door in the back of the Empty Tomb.  I have used this before in a sermon, but it's just too good to not use again.  I can't tell you how many deep theological problems this back door to the Empty Tomb creates.  But there it is.

I've had the opportunity to go on two different pilgrimages to the actual Holy Land in Israel, and am preparing for a third trip a year from now.

As part of the trips I lead, we visit an area just outside of the Old City of Jerusalem that is believed by many to be the site of the garden where Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb.  It i…

The Sealed Gate - A Sermon for Palm Sunday

This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week.  At our church we'll be celebrating this special day by singing hymns and praise songs at the top of our lungs while children run around our church waving palm branches.

Christians know how to party.

The story that we essentially reenact every Palm Sunday is found in each of the Gospel accounts.  This week we'll be studying Matthew's version, which is found in Matthew 21:1-11.

Before we open up the text and start reading this story--a story that is often called "The Triumphal Entry" of Jesus into Jerusalem--I need to tell you about a "triumphal procession" that took place before this one. It was initiated by none other than Pontius Pilate himself--the Roman governor of the region.  At each of the major feast days in Jerusalem, Pilate would process with his soldiers from his headquarters at Caesarea Maritima on the coast, across the Judean wilderness and into Jerusalem.

Pilate's stated purpo…

A Review Of The Movie "Noah" or "I Wish I Had Those 2 Hours Back"

Last night I finally went and saw the movie Noah.  I wanted to go see "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," but since I'm a pastor... and since people ask me about biblically-based movies, I felt I should go.  Listen, if I thought there was a chance that anyone had asked me what I thought theologically about Captain America--I would have so gone to see it.

I wish I had.

I've read the negative reviews on Noah from Christian leaders, pastors, reviewers, bloggers, etc. They far outweigh the positive ones, to be honest. But you know something is up when even neutral reviewers without a "dog in the fight," so to speak, don't have very good things to say about it.

The director of Noah, Darren Aronofsky, is not a Christian.  He is, in fact, Jewish, and more secular than religious, by his own admission.  This isn't "The Bible" mini-series, and it's not "The Son of God," in other words.  Those recent projects were created by Chri…

One Way? Week Six: "The Lazarus Effect"

This week I am continuing the sermon series that I've been working on with my church for the past several weeks--a sermon series entitled "One Way?"  Throughout this sermon series we've been discussing how followers of Jesus can demonstrate with their lives all the ways that Jesus is the way to God.

We're doing something a bit differently this week.  I'm starting off by diving straight into the text.  As I teach, however, I want everyone to hold on this one big idea, which is going to loom large for us as we dig into the story:

Jesus is the One Way to God that shows us what God is really like.  

Let's get moving--we've got a lot of ground to cover. This is the story of how Jesus raised a man named Lazarus from the dead.  The story of Lazarus being raised from the dead only appears in the Gospel of John.

In Luke's Gospel Jesus tells a parable about a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus, who die and go to opposite places, if you know what I mea…

Leviticus, Tattoos & Red Letters

I made a crazy challenge to my church a little while ago.  
I challenged them to break the attendance record for Easter Sunday this year--to exceed 850 in attendance online and in person at all three of our services.  And if we did this... I vowed to get a tattoo of our church's logo on my leg, and get a haircut.  
A local newspaper ran the story a few days ago... 
Then a local television station did a story that aired in the Orlando area... 
I realized before I issued it, that my challenge might be considered by some people as a "stunt."  I get that.  Overly church-y people, as a rule, are rather joyless about such things.  They think that people should just come to church because they ought to come to church.  
Their outreach strategies are working so very well, by the way.  
I also realized that the "pitchfork and torches," wing of the overly church-y crowd might have something to say about my particular approach to outreach. They've made their presence k…