Pressing On

This week finds us between sermon series. We just finished one last week and will start a new one next week (on how to study the Bible, so don’t miss that!). That means this week was a freebie. Well, given that last week was Easter, and given our great tendency to settle back into our old ruts after we make it past a major spiritual milestone like that, this week we’re talking about what to do when Easter has come and gone. With the help of the author of Hebrews, we are talking about pressing on when things get long. Come for the encouragement, stay for the challenges at the end which although specific to my church, can probably be adapted and applied to every church. Thanks for reading and sharing.

Pressing On

Do we have any runners in here? Do we have anyone who used to be a runner? How about anyone who once entertained the notion of being a runner (just before settling in for another doughnut while laughing hysterically at the idea)? Although I dare not claim that title any longer, there was a time when I was a runner. I was okay; not great. But I did enjoy it. I think what I enjoyed most was not the actual team cross country practices, but the weeks I spent running on my own after school once the season ended—especially when it was cold. Those were the days I felt like I could run forever without getting tired. I remember the summer I put in 500 miles so I could get a patch on my letterman jacket. Eight miles was typically about the most I ever ran. I did a few longer runs of eleven miles, but that was about it. 

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Digging in Deeper: Psalm 44:22-23

“Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. Wake up, Lord! Why are you sleeping? Get up! Don’t reject us forever!” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Think for a minute about the last time you felt God wasn’t there. Think about the time you felt He had abandoned you to your fate, whatever it was. If you are willing, feel for just a moment the emotions of that place again. Think about that time you looked around and were briefly overwhelmed by the brokenness of the world around you. You may not want to sit there long because those emotions were so painful. You may not have to work very hard to feel them because they are so fresh. There are times as we go through life when we can’t escape any of that. Sometimes we witness it from afar, but other times it lands right in our laps. What do we do then? The sons of Korah offer us one way forward here.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 11:22-24

“Jesus replied to them, ‘Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, “Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, everything you pray and ask for – believe that you have received it and it will be yours.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever watched a really slick Prosperity Gospel preacher deliver his ace sermon? He will take you on a journey. You’ll be laughing one minute, crying the next, and ready to fork over your whole wallet to do your part to sustain the vital ministry the Lord has called him to do so that you can receive the blessings He wants to pour out into your bank account by the end of it. You will feel empowered to name what you want the Lord to give you, and to claim it boldly in prayer. It is a powerful experience, an encouraging experience, a truly religious experience, and a big, fat load of heresy. Verses like this one, though, would seem to disagree. Let’s talk about it.

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Pushing through the Pain

This weekend we celebrated graduates. Given the chance, I took some time to offer a bit of advice on how to survive a college experience in an environmental that is increasingly openly hostile to orthodox expressions of the Christian faith with that faith in tact. Thanks for reading and congratulations to the graduates!

Pushing through the Pain

Although the number of years between now and then is getting larger all the time, I still remember my first few days at college. I don’t remember every single detail, but I remember some key events and the way I felt during the week. I was excited like any incoming freshman is, but mostly I remember wondering what I was supposed to do now. Fortunately, I met some really great people early on and made some connections that are still paying dividends. 

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 9:22-24

“‘And many times it has thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘”If you can”? Everything is possible for the one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the boy cried out, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief!'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What does it mean to believe something? There’s a nice, deep thought to get you started on your day. It’s worth some pondering, though. It’s worth some pondering if for no other reason than we are on the cusp of celebrating the historical event in which belief grants us eternal life. Or at least, belief pared with a confession of Jesus’ Lordship will. That’s what the apostle Paul said. If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Boom. So, what does it mean to believe? Jesus’ interaction with a father who didn’t here gives us a good opportunity to do some thinking together.

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