Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Tough one to Define

What is the Kingdom of God?  That's a tough one to define in one sentence. 

I gave it my best shot in the sermon this last Sunday, see what you think:

The Kingdom of God is God’s action and presence in the world through Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the past, present and future to bring humanity freedom from and victory over sin, evil and death.

I think it's pretty good, but it still seems to be missing something.  What would you add or change?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas Series

This Sunday we are starting a new series at Catawba United Methodist Church.  It's called A Kingdom Christmas.

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Christ and at Easter we celebrate the death and resurrection of Chirst, what about the life of Christ?

My angle for the series is that Jesus' life has everything to do with the Kingdom of God.

So what is the Kingdom of God?

Why don't you come to Catawba UMC this Sunday and find out!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Weird Sunday

This last Sunday was weird.  My wife preached Sunday morning then I preached during a joint service at the Baptist church.

My wife Chrys did an excellent job.  She shared a little about her own life, then talked about how Christians should be the change that Jesus wants in the world.  She challenged us to truly live out the gospel by making decisions that make the world a better place to live instead of just believing in God.

It was a weird Sunday, but it was good Sunday.  I guess sometimes weirdness can be a good thing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Animals in Heaven?

I said I would offer some thoughts on the questions posed in the last post.

So here ya go.

Do animals go to heaven?

This was our dog growing up.  Her name was lady.  She was a member of the family.  (Yeah baby, I'm sporting the baseball pajamas!)  So this question has a personal dimension for me.

I want to walk through a few things about this question.

First, I think it's important to recognize that the biblical understanding of heaven is the new creation.  The new heavens and new earth.  In Revelation 21 there's a New heaven and new earth brought about and God says "I am making everything new."

Second, in Genesis 1, on the sixth day, God creates animals and calls them good.  Also, the only two living things that are said to have "the breath of life" in Genesis 1 and 2 are animals and people.  What sets humanity apart from animals is that we are created in the image of God, however, what makes us equal is that we both have the "breath of life" in us.

Third, the last part of Isaiah 65 is a description of the new heavens and new earth.  Verse 25 is especially interesting for this question:

The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the LORD.

Conclusion: It looks like the natural order of things will be transformed.  In this new heaven and new earth there will be animals, but their relationship to one another will no longer be predator and prey; there will be no killing of one another i.e. "they will neither harm nor destroy."

There are other examples as well, this is just one sampling.  Biblically, I think it is clear that there will be animals in the new creation.  Also, if this new creation is better than what we now experience on earth and we have loved a pet on earth, then I don't see why our pets wouldn't be a part of the new creation. 

Biblically, it seems clear that animals are a part of creation, however, the Bible isn't clear about whether we will know the animals that were our pets on earth.  I am speculatively hopeful Lady (my dog in the picture) will be part of the new creation.  If God is defined by love and Lady was a member of our family on earth that we loved, I think it is likely that we will know her and she will konw us.

Maybe it's a little cheesy and mushy.  And maybe it's just a selfish hope, but I do believe that the Bible is clear that animals are a part of the new creation, so why not the animals that were our pets?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Questions Round 4

This Sunday I will be answering several more questions in the final part of a series at our Church called Text Message. 

Some of the questions include:

Do animals go to heaven?

Can a Christian lose their salvation?

Do Christians go directly to heaven when they die?

There are other questions as well, these are just a sampling.

I'll share some thoughts on these questions after this Sunday.  So if I've piqued your curiosity, come back after Sunday!

Monday, November 8, 2010


At the church I serve, we've been in a series called Text Message.

We're in a part of the series where I've been answering questions previously submitted by the people.

While I could have answered all the questions, I decided to call in reinforcements for three particularly tough questions that I needed help on.  His name is James-Michael Smith (you can see his work here) and here's the questions he addressed:

1. What is the church's stance on evolution and intelligent design?

2. What about the parts in the Old Testament where God tells his people to kill everyone, including women and children?

3. Did Judas (the one who betrayed Jesus) have free will?

If you want to listen or download how he answered these questions, you can go here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Randomness within Planning

We've been in a series at Catawba UMC called Text Message. 

These last two weeks have been a time of answering questions that were taken by the congregation beforehand. 

This last Sunday most of the sermon was about the books around the time of the Bible that were not included in the Bible. 

I also talked about different translations and decisions translators have to make when it comes to bringing the original language of the Bible (Old Testament: Hebrew, New Testament: Greek) into English.

The risk with doing a Q & A type of message is that some people may not care about the questions you are answering. 

So, these last two weeks I have had just a few moments within the sermon I titled "Humorous Interjection."  These funny quotes and stories have been random, they've had nothing to do with the teaching.  

It's been a hit.  According to comments, some people have enjoyed the teaching, while others have enjoyed the humor.

While the humor has nothing to do with the teaching, it's been worth it just for fun and kicks.

If you're curious about the answers to the questions or the humor, you can listen or download the last two sermons here.

It has freed me to celebrate randomness and not always try to make every part of a message connect to one another.  Which goes against all of the traditional teaching about how to put together a sermon.

I would rather choose what is effective in a sermon over that which is traditionally taught all day long.

Here's to randomness!