Tag Archives: sermon

Captivated By God

This is a brief response to a question that was asked in a sermon by Jason Heppner, preaching June 29, 2014 @glenpres // #3 in our GPC@TheMovies Sermon Series.

There was a moment in his sermon where he asked this question. I started to just write down the question, because it’s a good one, but before I knew it, I had filled a page of my journal.

When was the last time you were captivated by God?

The times when I have been most captivated by God have always been when I see God at work in the lives of the people around me. I want it to be the surreal and miraculous personal moment, but it doesn’t ever seem to be the case. It might be that I don’t notice, possibly because I’m always going, always thinking, always asking, always listening, reading, talking. Maybe the miraculous is actually something that is the greater part of my life.

When I notice the hand of God at work in my life is when I see it clutch the heart of someone standing close by. When I notice the breath of God blowing through the world around me is when I hear it catch in the voice of my neighbor because they have in some way seen the face of the living God.

I notice that.

It’s possible that I’m so drawn inward that I simply can not see the miracle moments as they happen to me. That, or what I experience is so normal that I don’t know I’m experiencing it.

I rely on the reaction and the response to the “With God” experiences of others to deepen, to broaden, to multiply the profound nature of my experience.

That captivates me.

vacuum

Faith Makes A Mess (or Jesus Doesn’t Suck)

This is the intro to my sermon last Sunday on “Messy Faith.” Complete with Vacuum Salesman voice, this part went over pretty well. All the way through the split personality conversation between me and Jesus, the drama of it started things well.

Let me know what you think!

“Hi, I’m your door to door, no more chore one stop shop for vacuums, vacuum salesmen. I can’t believe I got that all out. Today I’m going to show you a product that is so revolutionary, so unbelievable it will change the way you live. That’s right! One hour with this little baby and you will get days added into your week, weeks added into you month and guaranteed, your back will feel 20 years younger. If you’re under twenty, that may feel odd.

I’m just going to perform for you right in front of your eyes, the no mess vacuum test. This vacuum’s the best of the best and you can forget the rest! In this bowl, I have the worst offenders of most household carpets: Dog hair, Cat hair, Uncle Jimmy’s hair. Dirt, dust, and coffee grounds. Dried peas, old cheese and carrot shavings. There’s mold and cold, ants and plants with just a little bit of salt and pepper added for flavor.

Do I have your attention?

(Dumps bowl out)

Now before you cry foul, let me tell you that I’ve done this in over a thousand homes, for kings and queens, celebrities and dignitaries — this is the first church (looks up) — but never you mind, the No Mess Vacuum Test never fails to impress. Now watch, I’ll crank this baby up and (runs vacuum over mess), Shazam…Wingardium Leviosa, So Clean It Sparkles. You could eat on it’s so clean. So beautiful your children will cry! (SFX: Schwing)”

Sometimes, faith is peddled like a vacuum isn’t it?

Sometimes we talk about Jesus, hear Jesus talked about, like this vacuum cleaner salesman that if you let him into the door, he will suck all the mess out of your life and you will sparkle like a floor so clean, it’s Mr. Clean (SFX: Schwing). But life isn’t a floor and if you’ve walked any distance at all with Jesus, you know better than any that there’s still dog hair on the tile, mold under the sink and cheese on the carpet…at least in my house.

Sometimes faith is talked about like a product guaranteed to make everything shine. And occasionally it does, but if gloss and shine was God’s best plan, then Christianity would be a cleaning service and not a global, historical faith. I think that’s one of reasons that so many walk away from the church, people of God, the body of Christ. I think that’s why so many get so hurt by the Gospel that is meant to save and heal.

The reality is faith makes life messier, not cleaner. It makes things more real. Makes us more sensitive, more open to pain and much more capable of joy. Take the No Mess Vacuum Test. If we used this to pitch true Trust In Christ, it would sound more like this:

Me (Dumps bowl of offending particles): OK, Jesus. Make it clean.

Jesus: (staring at the dirt) I noticed you have some other rooms in the house. You want to add to the pile?

Me: Nope! Make it clean. Turn on the Jesus Vacuum and get rid of the dirt in my life.

Jesus: We could do that. Sure, but you’d just have another pile next week.

Me: So you can come back and clean that up, too. Please.

Jesus: I’m not a vacuum cleaner. I am God.

Me
: Right, sure but, don’t you want to make me clean and holy?

Jesus: Absolutely, but that requires making more mess.

Me: More?

Jesus: What’s in that room?

Me: No one goes in there anymore. It’s too…

Jesus: Messy. Can I at least open the door?

Me: Then everyone will see and they’ll know.

Jesus: Hey, I see. I know. I love you.

Me: It’s going to make me feel so uncomfortable, I’d rather not.

Jesus: OK.

Me: So, we’re just going to leave it?

Jesus: I’m ok with mess. I was born in dirt and straw, walked miles through the desert, healed with spit and mud, bled and sweat a very impressive amount. I even stayed a couple nights in a tomb once. Doesn’t bother me a bit.

Me: Well, it bothers me. When do you think you might clean it up?

Jesus: I don’t know. Would you prefer a vacuum cleaner?

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Nothing Is Impossible With God? Really???

  • When’s the last time you took your foot off the pedal and let God be God?
  • Do you tend to micro manage the Creator of the Universe and then get huffy because he didn’t do it like you told him
  • Then, do you give up because God is apparently “Out of Order?”
  • Perhaps if we just weave in a little Buddha, that’ll fix him just right.
  • There is this amazing moment in the Luke 1 passage where the angel that is speaking to Mary says, “Nothing is impossible with God.”

    Let that drop like a quasar on your soul.

    The truth is this: what is true for Mary is true for you.
    But the reality feels like this: My situation, my problems are to big for God.

    How is it that this promise has become so diluted in our faith culture? I think that we should be able to hang all of our hope on the knowledge that what is spoken here is true, as a statement and as testimony to a historical event:

    The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

    Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. (Luke 1:35-38 NLT)

    I think this picture might illustrate the problem:

    Jesus said, “I am the Light.”
    This is a powerful statement.
    It means that into the darkness a light has shined.
    In the deep darkness of our lowest moment, Jesus is there.

    But we aren’t really comforted by that.
    We don’t want a God who is in control.
    Instead we want a god that we can control.
    We don’t want a Lord who is the light of the world.
    We want a lord who is a flashlight in our hand.
    One we can use to lighten our way…whichever way we choose.
    Or, perhaps, one that sits comfortably next to the Buddha (who promises to enlighten our way).

    But that’s not Jesus.
    Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life.
    Jesus is the Light of the World.

    “In him was life, and that life was the light of all people.
    The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. [Jn 1:4-5]”

    It’s true that nothing is impossible for God.

    Fred Craddock writes, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” That’s the text, and it is a preacher’s delight, because you don’t have to go into who said what to whom and bring up Samuel or Saul or Moses or Paul or anybody. It’s just one of those statements that’s true without context. Nothing is impossible with God. You can put it in a bottle and toss it in the sea and have it wash up on a distant shore, and it’s true. You can put it on a banner and have an airplane carry it across the sky, and it’s true. You can write it on a slip of paper and put it under your pillow; it’s true.”

    Don’t settle for an LED Jesus when the Light of the World is breaking into human history.

    What is true for Mary is true for you!

    Merry Christmas

    Rob Bell: Beloved Fundamentalist Sweetheart

    Almost a year ago, Kurt Willems posted Rob Bell’s first sermon at the brand new church plant, Mars Hill. This is really interesting. I would say that there are undertones of a more fundamentalist, Bible church Rob Bell, but they aren’t undertones.

    Definitely not the Rob we know and love today. Not that any of that is bad. It’s cool to hear a sermon I’ve heard him preach again since, but through a rather different theological lens than he has these days

    Take a listen and tell me what you think!

    In case you missed the link cleverly hidden in the above sentence:
    Click Here!

    **you can check out Willem’s original post here. Thanks, Kurt!