Archive for ‘Preaching’

Preaching Ephesians: The Fourfold Fountain of God

by   |  06.14.20  |  Preaching

“Preaching Ephesians: The Fourfold Fountain of God” was originally a presentation at the F. Furman Kearley Conference for Biblical Scholarship: Biblical Ecclesiology: Text, History, and Culture, October 18, 2019. The audio is found on Youtube Link

The print version is published here: “Preaching Ephesians: The Fourfold Fountain of God” Restoration Quarterly 62 (Second Quarter 2020): 81-97. More »

The Body of Christ

by   |  05.02.20  |  Class Teaching, Preaching, Sermons

Recently, I was asked to teach the adult Bible class at the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene. Highland is my home church and I regularly teach the Living in the Promise class. Covid-19 has moved our class online.

1 Corinthians 12

The Body of Christ

Video Link

 I am glad to be with you, Highland church, even if it is within this limited virtual media. 1 Corinthians 12 is a loved text that describes us, the church, as the unified body of Christ. While not Paul’s only metaphor for the church, the body is Paul’s best-known image of the church, especially when Paul speaks of unity within diversity. [READ TEXT]

Within our one community, God has unified the body. From the wholeness of God, God gives a variety of gifts to people which produces diversity in the body of Christ. Within this one community there are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; and there are different ministries but the same Lord; and there are different activities but the same God. The wholeness of God, by one Spirit gifts the one body of Christ for the purpose of (v. 7) the common good.  Paul will double down on the purpose of building up the body of Christ in chapter 14. And in the middle of the discussion of spiritual gifts in chapters 12-14, Paul will encourage us all to pursue the common good by a more excellent way, the way of love. More »

Timely Quote

by   |  01.29.19  |  Lectionary Text, Ministry, Practical Theology, Preaching, Reflections

While preparing for my sermon I read the following.

Today people are fundamentally consumers: they want what they want when they want it, even in the church. If they do not like what is happening or what they hear, they leave and start shopping for a better deal. Meanwhile, the pressure is constantly on preachers to increase attendance, to raise the budget, to grow a church–to do whatever it takes to improve market share. Be nice; be funny; make promises; do not offend. There is an inordinate desire for approval, for applause, for appreciation on the part of pastors today. To Paul’s queston, “Am I seeking human approval, … am I trying to please people?” (Gal 1.10), many preachers today would have to answer, in all honesty, yes. When preachers are captive to public opinion, when churches too easily become purveyors of gospel gimmicks, offering the religious goods and services people want, what is sacrificed is the ability to be a slave of Christ in service to his unchanging gospel. More »

Graduate Chapel, August 2016

by   |  08.24.16  |  Preaching, Sermons

A Word of Exhortation

Hebrews 13

Call to Worship

Welcome to Grad Chapel. Our text today, for those of you who grew up like I did, always brings a smile to my face. I grew up at church. My grandfather was an elder, my father was an elder, my mother was a Bible school teacher four quarters out of four both Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. I grew up in a home where babysitters came to my house so that my parents could go to Cottage Meetings to watch filmstrips. I started preaching when I was 13. Anytime I had a sermon and the preacher okayed the message, I could preach on Sunday nights at Elmwood Avenue Church of Christ in Lafayette Indiana. So if you grew up like I did, and I know some of you didn’t, there emerges insider language. I’ve used quite a bit of insider language already. Our text today makes us insiders smile for it is the text about entertaining angels in their underwear. And for a little kid, an angel wearing boxers or briefs is funny.

  • I didn’t grow up where the insider language, “our text for today,” referred to a lectionary, a set of Sunday readings laid out not only for your church but also for all the churches that embraced the Christian Year as its liturgical calendar.
  • Continuing for the fourth year, Grad Chapel is going to follow the lectionary in order to provide us a rhythm that for all of you who come regularly to this place through the academic year can worship our God and in the words of last Sunday’s lectionary text you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.
  • The Lectionary does not follow the academic year. The academic year begins towards the end of the Christian Year, during the season of Pentecost, Ordinary Time of Year C, Proper 17. And our text for this coming Sunday is Hebrews 13.
  • Our text exhorts us with “a word of exhortation” to welcome you here in mutual love, for who knows, there might be angels among us… And they might be wearing their underwear.

Message

22 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. More »

Sermon– Available Powers

by   |  09.28.15  |  Preaching, Sermons

Available Powers

Reading: James 5:13-20 More »

Preaching Bibliography 2015

by   |  09.11.15  |  Preaching, Research, Resources

Preaching Bibliography 2015

NOTE: The following bibliography has several sections. It begins with several annotated entries compiled in 1994 as a class assignment at Duke University. Afterwards, there is a list of resources, journals, and websites. Finally, I have compiled a list of books that I have read since 1994. More »

Graduate Chapel

by   |  03.18.14  |  Lectionary Text, Preaching, Sermons

Gleaners 2.0

 

  1. A quick Google search for “being holy” reveals the cartoon caricature of a sanctimonious person wearing more than one halo, a prudish glare, and primly pious look of someone who is holier than thou. Or it reveals a guru on a mountain or shaman in a cave who is far removed from people. What could God possibly mean when God speaks, “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy”?
  2. Today’s reading from Lev 19 is the only occurrence of Leviticus in the Common Revised Lectionary. In the words of Kimberly Clayton, “If you have never preached from Leviticus, and most of us have never preached from Leviticus, this may be just the opportunity you were not looking for.” Lev 19 presents God’s vision for loving community where civil and just dealings dictate how we relate to one another whether they are in community or sojourners. I check my identity papers, my baptismal certificate, that identifies me as a citizen in God’s kingdom, a family member in God’s household, and it states a fundamental criterion for my life. I am created in the image of God, re-created in the image of Jesus, and called to be a reflection of God’s image, to be holy as God is Holy.
  • Holy Living: define here as a call to imitate God in terms of everyday, often mundane, and a Ten Commandment kind of way. For example, allowing the most vulnerable in the community access to your property in order to glean. And that is in the context as neighbors dealt with honestly, wages paid promptly, disputes settled fairly whether it is in the field, home, business, friends, sojourners, worship, or courtroom. When I’m holy, I insure the welfare of others. Whether you are inside or outside, highbrow or outcast, politically acceptable or socially taboo, God’s holiness calls us to love our neighbor. My holiness will be defined by my love and not according to my pedigree, genetics, official papers, or portfolio. Being holy is the condition of our head affecting the conduct of our relationships. To be holy is to roll up your sleeves and express active love.
  • Churches that practice the art of providing for the gleaners are not limited to food. While organizations like gleaners.org are worthy of imitation, other areas of life call for holiness too. There are voices in our nation today that are saying there are some who are not entitled to mercy; not entitled to the gleanings. Who gets medical care? Who gets mental health assistance? Who gets a job? Who gets a place to live or something to eat or a fair wage? Who has equal access to education? When you get out of jail or prison, who really gets a chance? These voices are determining who is eligible to be a gleaner. And I thank God the church operates differently.
  • For example, the woman who accused an elder of adultery. She didn’t point the finger and say, “You are the man” but used innuendo and insinuation to spawn her malicious gossip. He was the one giving an African-American woman a ride to church. And you can connect the dots…
  • And again, what about the prison parolees who had difficulty finding a place to worship after their release? They were given a Christian halfway house not only to meet their needs to integrate back into society but also to be a place of worship on Sundays so that the full house of God could maintain etiquette and decorum; decency and order. And you can connect the dots…
  • And the church that did not want to reach out to poor children in the community because 1) they would be disruptive to the classroom, and 2) they would contribute to the wear and tear on the facilities. And 20 years later I heard the same rationale, “You just ask the school teachers here at this church. They will tell you how disruptive those kids are in the classroom.” And you can connect the dots…
  • Connect the dots…Loving the neighbor, the sojourner, and in Jesus’ community, loving your enemy… do the dots connect to the holiness of God? Or do we keep the gleaners in our fields at arm’s length?

I am reading Mark Scandrette’s Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love. An apt description of the holiness of Lev 19. Scandrette is advocating an activist form of spirituality. Doing kingdom work activates a person’s spiritual formation. He encourages holiness by asking people to join together in experiments of practice. The first he describes is “Have2Give1.” I thought about the 3 sets of clubs I own and lack the ability to use one. Even the rules of golf won’t let me use more than 16 clubs. I claim that I’m a lowly schoolteacher, but I still have the luxury to dabble at an elite game. You see, I have these fields that are well cultivated in order to produce a harvest for the stewardship of my home. But where do the borders of my fields invite practices of love, hospitality, inclusivity, and mercy? Where do I engage the most vulnerable, the sojourner, the orphan and widow, so to embody my love for one another, for love of my neighbor, and for love of my enemy? I’m trying to connect the dots for my own practice. In Scandrette’s words, Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love. More »

Teaching Preaching

by   |  07.02.13  |  Preaching, Reflections

Recently on the GST Blog site, I posted the following note about Teaching Preaching.