This past Sunday I had the privilege of speaking at Creekside Church. We are working through a series called “Can You Trust the Bible.” On Sunday I talked about how to read the Bible as a narrative. Too often I think people approach the Bible with the wrong motives or assumptions about the text. My understanding of how to approach the Bible is that it is the story of God rescuing his people. As a Christian I understand that Jesus (his sacrificial death on the cross and resurrection) is the ultimate way that God rescues his people. I’ve been influenced by N.T. Wright and the book The Drama of Scripture.
I encouraged Creekside to read the Bible as a narrative and to understand that we have a part to play because God’s story is not finished. You can listen to the sermon here or get the video here.
I also used lego images from BrickTestament.com to help illustrate my message. I have been asked to post my presentation so here that is as well. Narrative of Scripture presentation.
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to speak. My portion of Scripture was 1 Cor 16.5-24. This chunk is Paul’s closing statements to the church in Corinth. It’s kind of a hard type of text to preach from because Paul uses a lot of short ideas, expresses greetings and prayers, and stuff like that. It’s hard to have a big idea so I was a little nervous about how this whole thing was going to go over.
In verse 9 Paul says: ” . . . a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”
I keyed in on this verse for a time talking about how when you are called to something that does not mean it’s going to be easy. I then followed my wife’s advice and talked about my youth ministry experience and the opposition that we experienced when we came on staff at Creekside Church. This is not something that I have ever really talked about openly with the congregation.
These kinds of experiences are a challenge for me to talk about publicly because I don’t really want to deal with people feeling sorry for me. But It was a very authentic time in the sermon. And I think it helped people understand me better, but to also understand that their calling may be challenging and that’s ok. Don’t bail.
The point of this whole post is really just to realize that people want the real thing. And if you can embrace who you are, your story, and what God’s called you to do, people will respect that. But if you try to cover up who you really are and put on a show for people, that’s exhausting and people will find you out.
Be the real deal. Be authentic. Tell the truth.
I have had more responses to this sermon and my story than almost any other sermon. God honors vulnerability. And God can use your vulnerability to encourage others with their struggles.
August at Creekside usually means that Don, our lead pastor, is travelling. He is an avid fisherman, and he uses August as a month to go and wrangle some fish. For the past few years I have been picking up the majority of the Sunday morning preaching. This year I’ve had all of August to write and preach every Sunday. Two services. 35-50 minutes, talking, and hours of prep-work before that.
It takes a lot out of you. It’s hard to stay creative for every sermon. It’s really challenging to keep the sermon fresh for the second service. It’s really challenging to meet my deadlines for our pre-preach. It’s also a challenge to balance all of that preaching and prep-work with my normal responsibilites.
This month has just reminded me that I need to stay to keep control of my calendar or else I will be pulled by other people’s plans.
I’ve also been reminded that Creativity is a discipline that can be developed. The people who make a living on their creativity to not wait for their creativity to strike, instead they put creativity on the calendar and make it work for them.
I’ve also seen that you don’t have to preach the same way everyone else preaches. Take some risks. Have fun. If you are bored as a communicator, guess what, your audience is even more bored. Try something new, add a new element to your sermons. Bring in other voices. Mix it up.
This month has been challenging but incredibly rewarding for me. I have one more Sunday and then I’ve got a good long stretch off. I better go start my research and prep.
Today has been all about sermon prep. I’m privileged to get to teach for the month of august, but it definitely puts a different kind of strain on my week.
I like to listen to music while I write. I need to be just distracted enough to focus on anything. So I like put music on that helps me to keep my brain a little bit busy.
Lately when I’ve been writing I’ve been gravitating to two artists that alway challenge me
The first is Dave Bazaan, (Pedro the Lion, headphones). Bazan used to be a Christian but he has drifted away. His music expresses his doubts and his frustrations with God, the church, Christians, his family, etc. It’s incredibly honest and listening to him helps me remember that I don’t have all the answers, but what matters are the questions. I’ve been listening to the album “Curse Your Branches” and it moves me deeply. Because vie had those same kind of doubts and frustrations. I’ve come to different conclusions than Dave but I need to be reminded that those questions are real and valid.
The second artist is Derek Webb. I love all of his albums but I’m particularly fond of the album “I See Things Upside Down”. Derek is a christian who has frustrations and believes that the church can be the force for change that the gospel commands us to be. Not through political action or strict moralism but through truly living out the gospel. His songs make me cry. The churchman be so much more.
So whenever i preach I listen to these guys because I need to be reminded that there are quest s and frustrations that deserve to be heard and the church can be a force to help set people free and provide the way to find peace in Christ.
Derek & Dave thanks for challenging me.
If you are interested. As always I am open to feedback. leave a comment. Thanks.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
It seems like I have been handed some of the more challenging passages of Scripture over the past four years. I love being a part of the teaching team at Creekside Church, but so far I have talked about Circumcision, Talking Donkeys, and the like. Last sunday was no different. I spoke on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 a large part of that section of scripture is about the Return of Christ and the rapture. Many people have said many things about the return of Christ, and growing up I was terrified of Jesus coming back. Paul wrote this passage to talk encourage the Thessalonians and to show that the return of Christ should inspire hope. So here is the sermon from last sunday morning:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
A very helpful resource on all this stuff was from Mars Hill, when Mark Driscoll did a series going through Revelation. This series was different than any other Revelation sermons I had heard before because it focused on Worship throughout the book of Revelation. Check it out.
Los is back with a great post here.
of particular note is #4.
I wonder if modern day Christian leaders are more concerned about becoming famous than becoming Jesus?
And here’s a quote from Will Wilimon
“The gospel is not simply about meeting people’s needs. The gospel is also a critique of our needs, an attempt to give us needs worth having. The Bible appears to have little interest in so many of the needs and desires that consume present-day North Americans. Therefore, pastoral care will be about much more than meeting people’s needs. It will also be about indoctrination, inculturation, which is also- from the peculiar viewpoint of the gospel- care. Our care must form people into the sort of people who have had their needs rearranged in the light of Christ.“
And from Ben Arment
Next time we complain about our audience not bringing their Bibles or not laughing at our jokes or not taking us seriously or listening intently, we have to remember… we raised them that way.
Just some thoughts from the blogosphere.