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Showing posts from January, 2015

In The Beginning - Week Four: "Sibling Rivalry"

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This week we are concluding the sermon series that we've been working on for the past several weeks, a sermon series entitled, "In The Beginning."  The idea behind this series was very simple:  This new year isn't just a chance to make a new resolution, it's a chance to be a new creation.  And in order for us to learn what it means to become a new creation in this new year, we decided to go back to where everything started--back to the beginning, and the first four books of Genesis.

Our focus this week is on the first few verses of Genesis chapter 4 and the story of Cain and Abel--perhaps the most famous story of sibling rivalry in the history of the world.

I was an only child so I never really had to deal with sibling rivalry.  The only person I had to be jealous of was myself--which might seem crazy on the surface, had I not been such a smug little so-and-so growing up.  I tell you when my mom showed me favoritism over myself--it really chapped my hide.

But I …

In The Beginning - Week Three: "Falling and Rising"

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This week we are continuing our sermon series entitled, "In The Beginning," a study on the Creation account in Genesis that is meant to help us prepare for the possibilities and potential of this brand new year.

As we've discovered, making and keeping resolutions for a new year can be a tricky proposition.  Very few of us actually keep the resolutions that we make.  In fact, I would venture to guess that several of you---other people--have already broken resolutions that you made so hopefully on January 1st!

To that end, we've identified a theme to this series that we've been coming back to each week:  This year isn't just a chance to make a new resolution, it's a chance to be a new creation."

Last week we left the story of Creation at the conclusion of Genesis chapter 2 and the introduction of two trees and a choice.  Genesis chapter 2 tells us that God placed two trees in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good …

Adventures in Perpetual Education

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This past June I graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary with a Doctor of Ministry degree after spending three years of reading, writing, sweating, researching, more sweating and even more writing before finishing my dissertation/project.  So why am I back at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary this week taking another class?

Well, it's not because I enjoy freezing my tuckus off in 16 degree weather.  And it's not because of the Primanti Brothers sandwiches--although they do stand for a pretty good argument.

I am, in fact, taking a weeklong seminar with the goal of obtaining an Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising from the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, which is part of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

In English:  I am learning how to develop generosity in church congregations, and to develop my own leadership skills when it comes to stewardship/giving/fundraising in faith communities.

As part of this certificate, I not o…

In The Beginning - Week Two: "Creation Part 2"

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This week I'm going to be continuing the sermon series that I started at the beginning of January--a sermon series entitled "In The Beginning."  It's the beginning of a new year, with new possibilities, and this should give us a tremendous sense of hope.

But sometimes at the outset of a new year we find ourselves torn between our longing to be better people and the reality that most of our efforts fall short.  In the end, we tell ourselves, we won't keep that new year's resolution.  We'll mostly do what we always do, and things will mostly be what they've mostly been.

Still, there is a longing deep inside each of us that we can't shake--a longing for a world where the same old same old doesn't really exist.  We long to be better people, for sure.  We want to be thinner, smarter, more efficient, better-connected, more patient, grace-filled, full of energy, you name it.  We want to be better husbands, wives, children, sons, daughters, church m…