Big News

This week we took a look at the story of the announcement of Jesus’ birth through the eyes of someone who experienced it first hand. Just what can we learn from Mary’s reaction to the news of God’s plans for her? Keep reading to find out.

Big News

In a season when busyness seems to be the name of the game, sometimes it’s hard to remember just what exactly it is we are supposed to be celebrating at this time of year.  Many of us know the story of Christmas well enough, but when we’re running to and fro trying to get everything done on time, we don’t stop to give it much thought.  As we continue in this season of Advent, of waiting and preparing for the coming of Christ, we want to help you remember just what exactly all the hype is all about.  We’d like to help you see the Christmas story through the eyes of some of the folks who experienced it firsthand.  This morning we’re going to hear from someone who had a bit…higher…perspective on the whole affair than most of its participants had.  So, sit back, relax, and enjoy our guest, but make sure you listen closely all the way to the end—he’s got something to share you won’t want to miss.

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A Good Story

The season of Advent is finally here! For the next month followers of Jesus around the world will be setting aside some time to give special attention to preparing for the arrival of Jesus. Our celebration is not simply for His birth, though, but for His return when He will make all things new. With that in mind, I want to help you get ready for the arrival of Jesus into your lives. Each Monday will bring a new sermon exploring the story of His arrival through a different lens. Each other week day will bring a new reflection on the Advent season that I hope will set your season in the right terms. Blessings to you as you preparing for the coming King!

A Good Story

That was a moment right there, wasn’t it?  I don’t know about you, but that song is one of my favorites.  There is power in this proclamation, “it is well!”  There is strength in being able to declare that though sin or storm or suffering may loom dauntingly large in front of us, nonetheless, “it is well with my soul.”  Maybe you are in a season when that declaration is little more than a faint whisper, but nonetheless, to stand…perhaps to sit…maybe even to simply fall to your knees and with even a mustard seed-sized faith in the God who alone has the power to push back the darkness and, with defiance in your spirit, breath out, “it is well with my soul,” can have the effect of throwing on a floodlight in a dark room. 

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You Are Loved

In this final installment in our series, Hard to Love, we land with both feet on the biggest and most consequential truth there is: God loves you. Read on and marvel with me at how great our God is that though we didn’t want Him, He loved us still. Let this love fill you to a fullness you’ve never known before and pour out of you onto the people around you…even the ones who are hard to love.

You Are Loved

Have you ever watched somebody get something they didn’t deserve?  How’d you feel about that?  Did it inspire you?  Did it sicken you?  Were you pretty well ambivalent about it?  I would guess that most of us, depending on the exact details, would tend toward feeling inspired by such a story.  This becomes especially true when the person goes on to live up to the expectations of the gift.  Perhaps the most classic example of this is from the beloved story by Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, which Lisa and I actually got to see on stage back at the beginning of the month.  It was absolutely amazing.  The hero of the story, Jean Valjean, is set down the path of righteousness he walks all the way to the end of his life by the wildly unmerited gift of a Catholic priest.  The 2012 film adaptation starring Hugh Jackman captures this scene really well.  Take a look

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The Hard Truth

In this second-to-last part of our series, Hard to Love, we finally have to come face-to-face with a hard truth. I said last week that the goal of this series is twofold: To help us understand how to love the hard to love people in our lives, and to give us the motivation of the wonder of God’s own love for us to give us some impetus for loving them. We’ve taken care of the first part. In these final two installments we’re going to tackle the second. But, before we can marvel in wonder at the love of God, we have to understand why it’s so wonderful. That’s not so easy. But, it’s absolutely essential. So, take a deep breath, and keep reading. You won’t want to miss this because it’ll make next week even better.

The Hard Truth

Have you ever heard of “face-palming”?  It’s typically used as a humorous expression of shock or exasperation at something that strikes you as surprising or, more often, idiotic.  Just so we’re all on the same page here, for a proper face-palming you start with your hand open wide.  You then bring your hand up and your forehead down simultaneously such that your palm smacks audibly on your forehead.  This is followed by slowly moving your hand down the rest of your face as if wiping something off of it.  The expression has become commonplace enough in our culture that there is a face-palm emoji, and if you were to do a YouTube search for “face-palming,” you could actually find quite a few entries.  I know this because I did it…and found this little gem from the movie Naked Gun 33 1/3

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Love’s Transformation

Knowing we’re supposed to love the hard to love people in our lives, even knowing the theological reasons for that, is one thing. Actually seeing it in practice is something entirely different. This past Sunday as we continued in our series, Hard to Love, we took a look at a remarkable story of the kind of transformation that can take place when we let love loose into our hard to love situations. You don’t want to miss this.

Love’s Transformation

Let me start this morning with a tough question.  In fact, I want you to close your eyes in order to answer this one.  How would you respond if your child was murdered?  That’s an emotional question, I know, so go ahead and feel that emotion for a minute.  Let me show you a picture.  This is a picture of Mary Johnson and her son.  In 1993 Mary’s son, Laramiun Byrd, was 20 years old.  One night he went to a party with some friends.  As perhaps many young men are wont to do he did a little bit of fronting at the party to the benefit of his ego and his image in front of his friends.  Now, this might not be such a big deal on a normal night, but this particular party was also attended by a 16-year-old young man named O’Shea Israel.  O’Shea took up Laramium’s challenge and did a bit of fronting of his own.  After all, he couldn’t be made to look bad in front of his own friends.  Things digressed from there and the next morning Mary got a call asking if Laramiun had come home the night before.  He hadn’t.  Not long after some officers arrived to let her know that he had been murdered at the party.  In an instant—perhaps just as you imagined—her world completely fell apart. 

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