Sermon Preview: Overshadow

transfiguration

Do you ever feel like you are missing out? Or perhaps you really just want in?

When I think of the emotions those questions bring to mind, only one thing really sticks out.

 

The classic truffle shuffle. The embodiment of adolescent entry.

This Sunday in worship we are joining with Christians all over the world to celebrate Transfiguration Sunday. It’s a holiday in the church season. Happening each year before Lent, this Sunday lets each of us begin preparing for a season on introspection and examination.

Last week we talked about how large the gospel is. How God is on a big mission and he asks us to be part of it. This week, we are going to talk about the gospel…but how it is narrow.

It’s a paradox, what is large is also small. But I think what makes it so large is because it is very small. In the gospel of Luke Jesus told people to “work hard, because the door to the kingdom is narrow.” It takes a group of committed people to move the gospel forward.

Our scripture is taken from Mark 9:2-8

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus.

Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them.

This story is one of inclusion and exclusion. We find Jesus bringing His inner circle of disciples with him to a special meeting. At this time they are allowed a Holy vision of what the world is really like. For the last several years they have been contemplating who Jesus really is. Even getting the answer right at times. But it is at the transfiguration they are able to see the real truth. They find out God has been protecting them from his own majesty because it is a truly terrifying thing.

The disciples learn something very special during this special moment. They learn what it is like to be overshadowed by God. To be taken over, part of his changing of the world. Just as Luke spoke about the narrow door, the keys to the kingdom are given to those who allow themselves to be overshadowed by the Holy.

See you Sunday for worship. It will be great.

What is a sermon preview?
Sermon previews are released on Friday’s. They are to give YOU a short glimpse of what the conversation is going to be like on Sunday morning. On Monday, the preview is updated with some discussion questions, scripture guide and an mp3 of the sermon. I do these for 2 reasons. The first is so God can continue working in your life throughout the week. The second is for you to share this with a friend. I invite and encourage you to share the preview on Facebook/Twitter and through email.

Chad Brooks - Nov 3, 2013

The Awkwardness of Abundance

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Productive Pastor 10: How To Get Out of a Slump

productive pastor

I am excited about this episode. No matter what you do, everyone has been in a slump. I have a problem with slumps because they are life stealing. They steal for us as individuals, those we work around and those we minister with. I want to share with you three ways to get out of a slump.

The List:

Six Incredibly Simple Things Highly Productive People Do Daily: Bogden Kipko
What Multitasking Does To Our Brain.

get out of a slump

How To Get Out of a Slump:

If you listen to the podcast you know I am a fan of goals. I love goals for one reason. Goals help people move towards a preferred future. It might be personal, family or organizational. I believe this is the key getting out of a slump. Here are three tips to help you move forward.

Recollect: 
Circle your wagons. Collect your goals, worksheets and anything else you have half-way done. Get it all in the same place so you are able to actually get an accurate picture of where you are and where you aren’t. Realize what is the biggest distraction or negative emotion that is causing you to slump. Give yourself a few minutes to just relax, let your mind wander or chase those distractions. 15 minutes to do whatever you want and then you are officially starting again.

Refocus:
Have you actually stated why you need to be doing this? Is it just a mindless task or can you attach a distinct “why” to it? If you can’t, I would begin asking some serious questions about this actually being worth doing.

Reflect:
Think about the future outcome. Yes, you might be in the dreaded middle zone of a project, to deep to remember the beginning but not close enough to the end. There will be an end though. And at the end is the future everything is pushing towards. Reflect on what this preferred future looks like. Find a way to keep it in front of you. Add it to your prayer time, chase the vision with your team.

Listener Tips on how to get out of a slump:

Charles Meeks: Change location, Change Music
Jonathan Andersen: Change your attitude. This is huge
Steve Lamotte: Change things. Tell his wife to tell him to get his act together.

Toolbox Tip:
Nerd out. I really get into my tools. I have found if I really like a certain tool (I recently bought myself this fountain pen), I will find myself being really productive just to use it. Find the most enjoyable way to work. Get a nice pen, invest in some good paper or a digital tool you know will be worth it.

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Pink Floyd, Earbuds and The Holy Spirit.

listenTURN IT DOWN!!!

The phrase uttered more by my parents in my youth than anything else. In adulthood, it still happens. My wife has wonderful hearing. I, through years of loud rock and roll and motorcycle exhaust, have less than stellar hearing. To keep up with my love for near constant music or podcasts I keep a pair of earbuds in close range.

Earbuds. The cheap (and sometimes not cheap) accessory that seems everywhere now. I imagine most homes have a drawer full of them.

Audiophiles speak of “headphone” albums. These are recordings that should be listened to use headphones or earbuds. In High School I burned through several copies of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on headphones. I think it is the perfect example of a headphone record. The modern proximity would be the complex music released now with the production realizing people will be consuming it most using earbuds. These recordings are crafted to create auditory environments and textures only harnessed by a close listen. Modern Electronic music is amazing with a great pair of headphones or earbuds.

Life is important enough to warrant a close listen.

Earbuds help the listener hear the details. Instead of music heard from a distance, a poor quality source or distorted by environmental noise-you can concentrate on it. The little things come out clearer. We can learn to focus and contemplate.

I think the Holy Spirit calls us to this sort of attention to life. To get lost in the moment. To find space to pay attention to what might have been overlooked. To completely immerse ourselves in something for a brief moment.

When we only live life with the details at a distance, we miss out on what makes it truly great. Learning to be tuned into the Holy Spirit is much like putting earbuds in, queuing up a favorite piece of music and relaxing. Often, the most profound and foundational elements can easily get lost inside the everyday.

When was the last time you looked for the details the Holy Spirit might be trying to put right in front of you?

4 Church Leadership Lessons Learned From Playing Risk

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I am a geek. I freely admit it. I once tried to conceal it, but over years I have learned to love being quirky.

Strategy games are a component of my inner geek. The biggest being the classic Risk. With my iPad, I can play risk anywhere. Let’s just say I go through phases of playing enough risk I could be considered a digital Douglas MacArthur.

I have found several leadership lessons from Risk I think speak volumes about church leadership. I want to share them with you.

1. Have a plan
Starting a game of Risk without a strategy never ends well.  Players are scattered throughout the map at first, and to truly succeed you need to have an idea of where you are strong, weak and where your greatest possibilities lie. You need to figure this out quick.

Many churches struggle with size. Size matters and affects many different variables. What I have seen the most are churches just big enough to be dangerous. These churches are resourced enough for ministry to be scattered among different groups of people and organizations.  The problem lies in the area of possessing a unique sense of vision and mission appropriate to your context.

This leads us to our next lesson

2. TAKE AUSTRALIA
Within your first few games of Risk you learn how valuable this continent can be. It is easily defended, with only one way in and out. It only has a few territories, so it can easily be taken. Australia gives you access to more energy very quickly and it can be relied upon when things get tense.

The distinct vision of the local church will be your Australia. It can be counted on for energy. It gives you a home base where everything else can revolve around. When times of redirection are needed, having a known sense of mission and vision provide a safe foundation.

3. Don’t abandon movement
A newbie mistake in Risk happens often when making quick gains and abandoning the territories allowing you to move in and out of continents. The wise player will keep a few armies there in case one needs to come back or another player tries to move in. Sometimes this also manifests itself in strategic build up. You might not be planning movement using that territory during the current turn, but you know you will in an upcoming turn.

In the local church, we hopefully will always be growing in mission. It is important though to look at sustainability, especially in volunteer leadership. Always have people on deck to step in for a season if necessary. Likewise, if you are able to start a presence in an area you anticipate future ministry, it would be wise to think about keeping some energy there until it can become a focus point. Two important concepts to always be aware of are intentional and sustainable.

4. Use your cards wisely
In Risk, you are given a card at every turn you conquer a territory. These can be saved and turned in for more armies. You can either be an erratic player with no idea when and how these are coming or you can plan for it and have a strategy ready.

Anyone in Church leadership should be looking ahead. How can we best anticipate where we think future movement and ministry might happen? Have the conversations with people that will help you know who might be able to help with something before it even happens. Make sure to have plans for energy use and use it wisely.

I was surprised to see how much Risk taught me. What of these helps did you find the most surprising?

Sermon Preview: A God Sized Mission

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Have you ever learned a lesson about something small and inconsequential playing an important part in the larger picture?

I am sure many of us can tell a story like this.

When we suddenly have a realization something is potentially going to cost us, whether it is in resources, time or money. Hopefully, we find out there is a simple solution to keeping everything moving smoothly.

At St. Paul’s we have been in a larger conversation about our mission and how we choose to talk about it in terms of Living, Learning and Loving. This Sunday we are going to finish up the series and talk about Loving. We use the term to describe our mission, outreach and evangelism.

We are part of God’s work in our world.

I don’t think anyone would argue with that.

The great privilege we have been given as God’s people is participating in what he is doing. This has been going on since the beginning. We start our discussion with God’s covenant to Isaac, the son of Abraham.

The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt, but do as I tell you. Live here as a foreigner in this land, and I will be with you and bless you. I hereby confirm that I will give all these lands to you and your descendants, just as I solemnly promised Abraham, your father. I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars of the sky, and I will give them all these lands. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed. Genesis 26:2-4 (NLT)

We can look at this passage and get plenty of warm fuzzies. It sounds nice-but there is another story being told.

The basic definition of “nations” in the Old Testament is a definition of distinct barrier. Nation means not us. This prophecy isn’t as appealing as read it in our current world. God is telling Isaac his blessing will be reaching out to the people he is different from, not necessarily his own people or ancestors. It will even be given to his enemies. Blessing is defined not by what Isaac and his family will have but rather by what they will do.

Let’s go forward in scripture to see how this ultimately will play out.

I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city. Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Revelation 21:22-27

Here we find our nations again. And even here we still see them defined as the “not us”. Funny thing, they are even seen in Revelation as more viotile as in Genesis. Just a few chapters back these kinds and nations are warring against the Lamb (Christ). But we find salvation offered to all. John isn’t talking about universalism. He is talking about the availability of God to all people.

So here we begin a conversation about mission. It’s much bigger than us and it is not done in bits and pieces. Our participation in God’s mission is a daily activity.

What we do every day matters more than what we do once in awhile.

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So come and worship this Sunday. We have some awesome things going on (3 baptisms!). Come and hear about what it looks like to live this life of mission.

What is a sermon preview?
Sermon previews are released on Friday’s. They are to give YOU a short glimpse of what the conversation is going to be like on Sunday morning. On Monday, the preview is updated with some discussion questions, scripture guide and an mp3 of the sermon. I do these for 2 reasons. The first is so God can continue working in your life throughout the week. The second is for you to share this with a friend. I invite and encourage you to share the preview on Facebook/Twitter and through email.