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Love Jesus Totally

This was originally a sermon I preached on January 17th, 2021. Two weeks ago, we discussed God’s grace. Far from being some intangible, nebulous thing grace is a very tangible and very practical reality we encounter from God. Grace trains us to grow in righteousness and godliness. Last week we discussed idolatry. While we specifically focused on the idol of politics and love of country over love of God and neighbor, the same general discussion could be had about any idols we face.              When preparing for those previous two sermons as well as this one, I was unaware that I would end up preaching three times in a row. If I had I probably would have made them more overtly connected, but one thing I would not have changed is the order. Too often we treat grace as merely a response to sin and, while it is certainly that, it is much more.              God’s grace always comes first, before any human action can even take place. It is God’s ever-present grace that gives us life and
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Repent from Idolatry

This is the manuscript of a sermon I preached on January 10th, 2021. We have a profoundly serious problem in the church today. This problem has infected every person and threatens to destroy everything we Christians ought to stand for. It not a problem with the outside world, for we cannot expect righteousness from there. This is a distinctly Christian problem, and it is not a new one. All of us are guilty of breaking the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.” We have all committed the deadly sin of idolatry and continue to do so. Each and every one of us has turned our backs on our true God and savior so that we may instead devote ourselves to hollow idols. We all need to repent. The problem with talking about idolatry in a general sense is that no one ever thinks you’re talking about them. We are all masters of rationalizing our way through these kind of things, convincing ourselves that we are innocent of the sin. It is therefore necessary when confronting

2021: A Year of Grace

 If there is one thing 2020 proved is that we are all in desperate need of grace. We all need to change, to grow closer to God and more like Jesus. We need both God's grace and to show grace to one another. So we should endeavor to make 2021 a year of grace. What exactly is grace? I often think we don't really know what grace is. We say it is "unmerited favor," but that definition doesn't really clarify what exactly grace is. Really we define grace by what it is not. We know that grace is not works. It comes from God and has nothing to do with us. In the end grace has become a sort of nebulous, mystical force that we know is there but aren't really sure what it does. Titus 2:11-14 makes it abundantly clear what grace does. Grace trains us to resist ungodliness. Grace trains us to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. Grace is given by Jesus to transform us into a holy people zealous for good works.  Grace is transformative. Grace always brings with i

Reflection on COVID-19

First of all I want to thank everyone who checked on me and prayed for me while I had COVID-19 this past month. Your love and concern helped me to feel the love of God even while I was sick and generally feeling terrible. So, thank you. The pandemic has left us all in a pickle. As Christians we are torn between our desire to gather together as we have always done and our desire to not spread this virus. We feel the call to love our neighbors, but we aren't entirely sure how to live that out. There is no easy option. On the one hand, the virus is real and it is dangerous. I didn't even have it that severely, but what I experienced I sincerely wish no else endure. As people who love our neighbors, those who are called to see others as more valuable and better than ourselves, if there is something we can do to keep them safe we should leap at the call to do it. This is true even if that something involves inconveniencing ourselves and laying down our desires and comforts. On the o

Is Jesus Less Human Than Us? - Looking at the Incarnation, pt. 5

This one isn't based on any particular verse or passage, but rather a misguided assumption. Since Jesus is God and didn't sin, then he must be not quite fully human. To put it another way, Jesus was special in his humanity in a way we are not. While I obviously absolutely defend the uniqueness of Jesus as being fully God and fully man I do not think Jesus was some sort of superhuman. We look at Jesus and see all the wonderful things he did and the fact that he lived a perfect life and just assume that he wasn't quite as human as the rest of us. After all, to err is human. Part of what it means to be human from our experience is to fail, but Jesus never failed. So, he must be something unique. The truth of the matter is it isn't Jesus who is less than human but us. God created human beings in his image, to live with him and for him. We routinely fail to live up to our own design. God sets the standard for what it means to be human, and it looks like we have all failed. F

Did God Need to Understand Us Better? - Looking at the Incarnation, pt. 4

As we've been looking at the Incarnation I think that there are underlying theological issues that lead to many of our misconceptions. The last two weeks we have looked at basically one issue; the hypostatic union. That is technical theology talk for the fact that Jesus is fully God and fully human at the same time. As we've seen many have trouble with that basic concept of these two, different natures coexisting in one person. So, in order to simplify the mystery, we tend to diminish either Jesus' divinity or humanity.  This week is a little different. The misconception we will examine this week is that God became a man in order to understand and relate to us better. This is usually drawn from the book of Hebrews in the discussion of Jesus being our great High Priest, something we discussed last week.  "For we do not have a high priest that is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." - Hebrews 4:15 Many t

Did Jesus Stop Being Human After the Ascension? - Looking at the Incarnation, pt. 3

I remember a couple of years ago seeing a post on Facebook where a young mother was explaining to her child what happened to Jesus after he went back to heaven. The long and short of it is that the mother explained that Jesus transformed from being a human being back to being God. It's a common enough error that I see all over the place that is related to our discussion from last week. If you assume that whilst on Earth Jesus stopped being God in order to be a human being, it only follows that when he returned to heaven the reverse happened. However, many that would deny that Jesus' lost any divinity on Earth would also maintain that he ceased to be human following the Ascension. In essence, they make the Incarnation a thirty year or so stint as a human being. The truth is far more impactful. The Incarnation wasn't a short term role played by God for only thirty years. It was a permanent addition to the Son's nature and identity. Just as he never ceased to be God during