Sermon Preview: The Last Words of God

Go and Tell

Evangelism has slowly turned into a dirty word among many people in our culture. Even those who follow Christ shirk away from what we consider to be “modern” styles of talking to others about Jesus.

A few weeks ago I asked Facebook to tell me the first thing they think of when they hear the word evangelism. The answers were sobering. Some had a positive view, but many didn’t. You can read the comments here.

While we can try to dance around the idea, I believe we have a Biblical mandate to practice evangelism. Matthew 28 gives us these words of Christ.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

One thing is unchangeable, the gospel of Jesus Christ. But the vehicle, the medium, is part of an ever moving contextual adventure. The Holy Spirit is with the church has we prayerful discover the best ways to talk with people about the love of Christ. The job of the church is to be part of this task of deliberate sharing of the gospel in ways that resonate with the individual cultures they are part of.

Join us Sunday at 11am.  If you are interested in a deeper look into the scripture passages, you can read the rabbit trail posted tomorrow. Below is our sermon preview video. Feel free to share it with your friends.

Beginning

Beginning

There is power in new beginnings. New beginnings provide the opportunity to evaluate the past and to state the future hope resting and operating in the present. New beginnings are a chance to take hold of what is rightfully yours and to imagine possibilities.

This new website is exactly that, a new beginning.

For over six years I blogged at outsideisbetter.net on a variety of topics. Sometimes it was personal, at other times it was my version of an academic blog. I thought out loud about worship on its own, and about worship as a prefiguring of the end of times.

What most people seemed to enjoy the most was how I discussed the intersection of culture and faith (like what pastors can learn from Kim Kardashian about Twitter).

It was fine and good.

But it wasn’t great.

It wasn’t much of a priority either.

Over the last few months I felt it was time for a new beginning. To wipe the slate clean. To not worry about the tiny niches of Google search rankings. To begin again. Jeff Goins challenged me to do this, as he has experienced it himself.

So this is my new beginning.

I will keep the same focus and zero in on the idea of “Worshiping a God Who Comes to Our World.” I used to describe this idea with three words: worship, society and the inbreaking kingdom. But since then I have spent two years outside of academia and in the real world, preaching weekly and attempting to lead and live the Christian life alongside others. I am coming to the realization that worship, culture and the inbreaking kingdom is a big thing, but I want to talk about it in a much simpler way.

The first few posts of this new blog will be about why worship, the world we live in and a God who comes to us is important. From there, I will use these themes to talk about life as we live it now, with Jesus.

Many of you have been with me for a while and I hope you will stick around for this new blog. For those who might be encountering my blog for the first time, you can expect me to share about many different things…one of which is a sincere desire to find Bigfoot.

Thanks for being part of my journey, and for allowing me to be a part of yours.

Why I Became a Methodist

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Over the last few years as I have been in the ordination process in the United Methodist Church I have been asked the question “Why did you become Methodist?”. Given my background I can see why it would be a puzzling questions. Growing up the son of a Southern Baptist preacher in a large church doesn’t provide the best incubator for someone whose theological influences are The Wesley brothers, church fathers and desert monks and prefers slow church. I want to share with you the three reasons I became Methodist.

Even more so, why did I decide to make a career transition from a “growing” church style to one in the midst of decline? It is because I believe the Wesleyan framework of salvation and discipleship is best poised to draw people to Jesus Christ in the 21st century.

Entire Sanctification
I remember being a confused college student and participating in a bible study on Romans 6. One evening, in a moment of early adulthood angst the comment was uttered..”Are you trying to say it is possible to NOT sin?” You could easily hear a pin drop in the room as the leader started explaining a wesleyan understanding of holiness and Christian perfection.

In that moment…years sorting out, struggles, questions and false spiritual disapproval were gone. Instead of taking a “Cowboy Up” approach to sin, the task was to focus more on Christ. To fill life up with holy things and allow Jesus to take over.

As I entered into seminary coursework, the more academic renderings of Sanctification continued to be fruitful. I started to read Wesley’s sermons and other publications. I became part of small groups that mutually were holding each other to sanctification.

It also related well to my own Father (who had been my youth minister at one point in time) to let Jesus do the things he needs to do…and not you. It felt like it was already part of me, just articulated better.

It’s odd to think a doctrine can make such a difference, but it did.

Sacramental Awareness
As a child, when my pastor said “This is the body and blood of Christ” when we took quarterly Lord’s Supper I believed him. It was only when I hit college at a conservative Baptist University I was told this wasn’t so. I never had a view of presence reaching the Catholic sense, but I felt something was going on because this HAD TO mean something.

Baptism was much the same. I remember being frustrated at how high we treated it, but explained it as a simple follow through. The build up happened and then it was never mentioned again. Baptism lasted just a few seconds.

In both senses, the Wesleyan understanding of sacraments as being something God does, and not us, appealed to my heart. It pushes these sacred acts to the forefront of Christian life. We learn what it means to revolve around the presence of Christ, to realize the power that we have in our baptism. The Christian life ebbs and flows around these holy mysteries where God has shown and given himself to us. It gives us the power to live on the journey of a sanctified life. God is with us and God is powering us.

A tradition of Faith
In college (a public University by now) I took a class on the history of the Christian Church. I was memorizing the Apostles Creed for the class and in frustration I hurled it across the room exclaiming “No one has said this thing in a thousand years…I don’t want to memorize it.” My then girlfriend, sitting on the couch next to me, turned as started immediately saying, “I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth…..”

I was floored. When I asked for an explanation I found she grew up saying it every Sunday in worship. I then realized my faith carried a much greater legacy than imagined. Soon afterwards I poured into the writings of the Church Fathers and found so much I had been looking for. I remember carrying a printed out copy of “The City of God” on a tour that summer. The preachers of the Christian camp had a kick out of the sound guy reading Patristics after set up.

In the Methodist church I found the practice of a Historic faith that also encouraged continuing to forward movement in contextualizing worship in the 21st century. I also found a spiritual home in the legacy of John Wesley. I had descended from something and someone. I could trace my spiritual Fathers and Mothers. I found a faith with defined boundaries, with statements about what it meant to belong.

As I often tell people, I feel like I was born Methodist. What I found was a family of faith who put better words to what I had felt and thought for years. I was a closet Methodist. I am part of this tradition now. I am a Methodist.