Monday, August 25, 2014

Find Your Life---Sunday, August 31st, 2014

This Sunday, the sermon will be focused on Matthew 16: 21-28. Jesus just praised Peter for his faith, understanding, and his testimony. He handed the "keys" to the kingdom, but in this passage he rebukes him for focusing on "human" things rather than "divine" things. Then Jesus talks about to find your life, you must lose it for his sake. Focusing on Christ is life-giving. You become your best self when you set focus on "things above" (Colossians 3:2).

But it's not about you, it's not about me, it's not about any of that "human" stuff. It's about losing your life for Christ's sake, taking up your cross, and following him. I find a lot of my own personal story wrapped up in these words, this good news for us. My journey to get here meant a lot of change and re-focus.

What about you? Where do you see yourself in these words? When have you sacrificed something because you were following Christ? When have you felt like you were on the right track, like Peter, only to be "set straight" by God? Christ reminds us that he desires a mind set on him. See you Sunday!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Who Do You Say I Am?---Sunday, August 24th, 2014

This Sunday's sermon will come from Matthew 16:13-20.

Jesus asks Peter "who do YOU say I am?" I am putting the emphasis on "you" because I think that often, we have faith because we think it's the right thing to do, or because someone taught us to have it, our community has it, our friends have it, etc.

Are we owning up to what we believe about Jesus? Peter answers saying, "you are the Christ, the Son of the living God" not because he thought it was the right thing to say or someone told him that's who Jesus was. He said it because he knew it, he saw it, and he believed it.

So who do YOU say that Jesus is? Faith confesses, by word and deed, who Jesus is for YOU.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Great Faith---Sunday August 17th, 2014

This Sunday, we will continue to explore examples of faith in the gospel of Matthew.

The faith of the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28) is one of persistence, and Jesus calls it "great." What's so great about it? This woman seems annoying to me, like someone that just won't leave Jesus alone. There are reasons for this woman to stop persisting after Jesus, but she doesn't...

What keeps us from having faith like the Canaanite woman? Are we afraid of annoying Jesus, who is the very one who invites us to come to him? Are we afraid that our needs will not be met by God, who continues to provide for us? I hesitate to bring things to Jesus because I'm afraid that Jesus and I don't agree about what I want and need. If I bring something to him, I will just be disappointed in myself; God will tell me that I'm wrong. Even though I know that God will take care of me, my own lack of confidence gets in the way of my faith. That is what keeps me from persisting after Jesus, what is it for you?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Stormy Seas----Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Metaphorically, life can be compared to a sea, can't it? Whether the water is warm, cool, calm, or stormy depends on the seasons, the winds, the weather....Matthew 14:22-33 tells a story where Jesus and the disciples are on the water, and the sea is raging. This causes fear, maybe even confusion. It may have overwhelmed Peter to be out on the water that day, let alone try to walk on it. Jesus' call for Peter to join him on the stormy sea beckons him to step out onto the water. But that does't last long, he sinks because he doubts and loses faith. Jesus calls him out, saying "you of little faith!" This seems harsh; like Jesus was scolding Peter, and perhaps he was. But Jesus also encourages the disciples, saying "do not be afraid." 

I wish it were that easy...We know that we aren't supposed to be afraid; our faith and trust in Jesus is supposed to prevail over doubt and fear. But can you blame Peter? Life is scary, tragic, chaotic...we doubt, we sink...It's not easy to let our faith and trust prevail, but pursuing Christ isn't supposed to easy. Jesus calls Peter out on the stormy sea, not the calm sea, knowing that it's stormy...Jesus calls us towards himself, towards faith, towards a sure trust and confidence in him, no matter what we are facing. Praise God for that, because that's when we need Jesus the most....

See you Sunday!