Friday, February 26, 2010

Following Jesus (Christian Basics: Week 2)

[Preface: Sometimes, we just need to let the Bible speak for itself. This is one of those times. "Following" is a huge deal in the Bible. Just think about these passages, which will be read by different readers from our church.]

Matthew 14:22-33 (SeongHwan) “Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, ‘It’s a ghost!’
“But Jesus spoke to them at once. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage. I am here!’
“Then Peter called to him, ‘Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.’
“‘Yes, come,’ Jesus said.
“So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted.
“Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. ‘You have so little faith,’ Jesus said. ‘Why did you doubt?’
“When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. ‘You really are the Son of God!’ they exclaimed.”

Numbers 14:24 (Chaplin) “But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”

Deuteronomy 13:1-4 (SooHee) “If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.”

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Gospel and the Church (Gospel Series: Week 4)

February 14, 2010
Isaiah 2:1-5; 1 Peter 2:9-12; Matthew 5:1-16

This week, we are finishing our series on the Gospel. Maybe this is a good time for a little review. First, we need to read the Bible forwards, not backwards. And when we do read the Bible forward, understanding each new step in the context of the building story, an amazing picture emerges. The Gospel is that God is on a mission to heal the whole world, and God is starting by healing us - even though we don’t deserve it. Amazingly, God wants us to help! We can become farmers of the Gospel. Through service to the poor, loving friendships, planting seeds of truth, waiting, and watering, we can help the Gospel grow and take root in our world.
This week we are exploring what it means for us as the Church to live the Gospel. To help us understand this, I need to describe two other communities first.

We usually spend time with Sarah’s family in Iowa every summer. A few years ago, we visited the Iowa Living History Farm. Through volunteers and paid staff, they re-enact what life was like on farms in Iowa throughout history. It’s pretty cool.
We were overwhelmed with sensory experiences. We could see with our eyes what a village street was like. We could hear the sound of our own feet on the village board walk. We could go in and out of different stores: the drug store, the doctor’s office, the post office, the general mercantile, the lawyer’s office, and town hall.
We smelled the cookies baking in the oven. (But they wouldn’t let us have any cookies because then their 18th century kitchen would have to meet 21st century health code standards. That was torture!)
We could smell hay in the barn and touch the hot sweaty side of a horse after he plowed a field. We could stand in the hay and feel it poking at our ankles.
We could taste old fashioned root beer and rock candy.
We could go into the black smith’s work shop and hear the pounding of his hammer on the metal. We could feel the heat of his fires on our skin. Just standing in his workshop made us sweat!
We were also able to get even more personal through explorative action. We discovered that back in the day, one of Iowa’s biggest crops was broom corn. We actually got to use some of their 200 year old machines to practice making brooms. (It was fun, but I think I’ll stick to preaching.)

To continue reading this sermon, click here.