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Luke 13:18-21: “What is the Kingdom like? A quantitative and qualitative analysis”

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On Sunday I preached for our sister church, Christ Presbyterian Church, Fairfield again as part of their sermon series on the parables of Luke. I preached on Luke 13:18-21 where Jesus, challenged by the religious leaders, responded by pointing out that their expectation of what the Kingdom of God would be like was too small. The leaders were looking for a kingdom that was basically more of the same, but better for them: a kingdom that looked like their ethnic/religious/tradition/political tribe, but with power (rather than being subservient to Rome). Jesus’ Word continues to speak into our context to challenge our expectations that God’s Kingdom will fit our expectations of looking “like us, but but with more stuff” with the reality that His kingdom is quantitatively and qualitatively better, bigger, fuller, both here-and-now and in eternity.

A source of American religious consumerism:

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In the churches of Puritan New England, “Sunday after Sunday, week after week, year after year, even generation after generation, the same underlying narrative provided the interpretative horizon for reading and hearing the Scriptures. The narrative of Scripture was found in the order of salvation. Salvation, however, was not understood as individual participation within the biblical narrative that told how the God of creation made a promise to Abraham that was fulfilled in Jesus in order to bring about a witness in the life of the church as a foretaste of the new creation. Instead, salvation was limited to a story of the individual moving from sin to salvation to service in preparation for eternity in heaven. The spiritual movement of an individual’s life became deeply encoded as the meaning of Scripture within the emerging European-based North American culture.”

— John W. Wright, Telling God’s Story, 55.

Luke 10:1-21: Jesus’ Authority and Ours

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On Sunday I preached for our sister church, Christ Presbyterian Church, Fairfield again as part of their sermon series on the parables of Luke. I preached on Luke 10, about Jesus authority and our authority as authority is a major theme in Luke’s parables. Jesus both claims, and bestows enormous authority in this passage. We should note, however, that the enormous authority given to his followers is to be wielded within the same framework of constraints Christ places on his own authority: whether used in the Church, or in our vocations, it is to be exercised in humility, not for the sake of the wielder, and always for the building of the Kingdom.

Luke 3.21-4.13: Who is Jesus? What can he do?

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On Sunday I preached for our sister church, Christ Presbyterian Church, Fairfield as part of their sermon series on the parables of Luke. I preached on Luke 3 as an overview of the book, looking at what Luke is saying about Jesus: In this passage the Father identifies Jesus as the Son of God, the ideal Adam, the ideal Israel. Jesus then goes into the wilderness to prove his faithfulness where Adam failed, and where Israel failed, showing his victory against Satan over fear, in identity, and in trust. Because Jesus shows His victory over the fundamental human struggles of faith in Israel’s history, He offers victory over those same struggles in our lives.

Preaching the New England Way:

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“Private Bible study, family devotions, and neighborhood discussions were all important activities, but they were not converting ordinances; the primary work of the Holy Spirit came in hearing the sermon. Without that voice of guidance, an ordinary saint would drift like a ‘ship without a compasse.'”

— Harry S. Stout, The New England Soul

The New England Puritan’s view of preaching may go a little far… but is humbling!

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I got to preach for our sister church, Grace Pres. in the Hamptons on Long Island at the end of December. I preached on Isaiah 66 and, thinking about New Year’s resolutions, how we often want simple rules to follow so we can feel like we’ve taken care of things ourselves; so we can feel like God needs to relate to us on our terms. But God demands humility and obedience, and will produce these in us Himself.