Heart-Shaping Habits

Heart-Shaping Habits

Why is it that we, as Christians, can give an enthusiastic ‘amen!’ to a sermon we hear on Sunday, but then find it nearly impossible to apply those lessons in our life the very next day at work or school? Why do many youths raised in the church go off to college and quickly lose their faith? Why is our faith so fickle? There are certainly a number of reasons in each individual case, but let me suggest one general answer you might not have thought of: The reason our faith is fickle is that the church is great at training brains, but we forget to train hearts – because we think that the heart is submissive to the mind. But it isn’t.

The Faith that Jesus Praises

The Faith that Jesus Praises

The story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman is one of the most difficult passages in the Bible. It seems to depict our loving and merciful savior treating a mother in need in a way that is rude and even racially biased. As such, it provides us a powerful example of why the church needs to be very wise in how we interpret Scripture. With the help of historic interpretations of this passage and careful analysis of the biblical and historical setting, we will see that this story challenges the church with a powerful and humbling paradigm of racial inclusion through the grace of God. 

Believing Is Seeing

Believing Is Seeing

The story of Abraham and the binding of Isaac is a story that gives us a daunting picture of what true faith looks like. Where does Abraham get the eyes of faith to see a way forward when he receives one of the hardest of all callings from God? What does Abraham see with the eyes of faith that we cannot? And how can we come to see with the eyes of faith like that? 

Sermon: God of Judgment, God of Grace

Sermon: God of Judgment, God of Grace

The story of Noah has long captured the American public imagination, but we have often gotten the story wrong. We tell the story in such a way that it leaves out important elements, or we focus in on questions of historical accuracy at the expense of seeing the point of the story. Maybe we do that because we sense that this ancient tale is telling us something we do not want to hear, and asking us a very pointed question, that we do not want to answer...

Loving Our Weakness (Sermon)

Loving Our Weakness (Sermon)

Paul said to the Corinthians, “I boast in my weakness.” What a statement that is! And it’s not just a throwaway line. He truly does boast in his weakness. Are you able to do that? Like Adam and Eve, who found themselves naked and immediately looked for coverings, we tend to hide our weaknesses. We cover ourselves with our strengths, or we pretend our weaknesses are actually fine clothing. But in doing that, Paul says that we are cutting ourselves off from what would be our greatest strength, the power of Christ working in and through us. How then do we get to the place where, like Paul, we can boast in our weakness?

Sermon: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

Sermon: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

How do you know what is good? This is a problem that is basic to human experience. It's a problem of wisdom. Job 28 says: “[Humans can explore the inner places of the earth; they bring hidden things to light. But where shall wisdom be found? It is not found in the land of the living.” The story that Genesis 2-3 tells is very much about wisdom. And that is quite fitting. Proverbs and the Psalms tell us that God made the world with wisdom and that a central problem for humanity is a lack of wisdom. We’ll see that Genesis 2-3 shares that perspective, but has something unique and very important to say about it...

Sermon: Sharing in the Vocation of God

Sermon: Sharing in the Vocation of God

In Genesis 1, God creates humanity with a divinely appointed vocation. Questions of vocation are very important to human life: Is my work contributing something to the life of my community or the world? Is there a larger goal that my work accomplishes? Am I succeeding? How would I know? Genesis 1 will help us to answer these questions and challenge many of the assumptions that people in our culture make about the nature of human vocation and self-worth...

Sermon: Unpacking Genesis 1

Sermon: Unpacking Genesis 1

The Bible tells us that the Israelites were always tempted to engage in the worship of foreign gods – usually the Canaanite gods. This tells us something important about Gen 1. This creation story did NOT exist in a vacuum. The Israelites were well aware of the stories and theology of their neighbors. We’ve known that for a long time, but until relatively recently, we didn’t know much about what those alternate beliefs, stories, and practices were. But now, thanks to the work of archaeologist, translators, and scholars of ancient literature, we can read Genesis in context with its ancient cultural milieu.  So, let’s take a look at that context...

Sermon: The Good Shepherd

Sermon: The Good Shepherd

Americans and American Christians have long had a deep ambivalence in our feelings about leaders. We are deeply suspicious of leaders and power, but we also idolize charismatic and powerful leaders in politics, business, and church leadership. But it’s interesting, that this ambivalence is not reflected in the Bible. The Bible’s attitude toward human leadership of other humans is, from start to finish, highly skeptical and typically negative. Not because of any biased pessimism, but because of the Bible's extreme realism about the human heart and the temptations of power...

Is Reformation Anglicanism Still Relevant?

Is Reformation Anglicanism Still Relevant?

We are now nearly 500 years down the road of history from Thomas Cranmer and the early reformation of the English church, and it's fair to ask if our tradition is still as relevant for people today as it was then. As someone who has come to Anglicanism from the outside, I would say, it absolutely is. Though, if you asked me about it over a cup of coffee, I certainly wouldn't be able to explain it as well as Ashley Null has in this recent article in The Gospel Coalition blog...