Tag Archives: Spiritual Growth

Sent Stability

Biblical Text: Mark 6:1-13
Full Sermon Draft

As I was preparing for this sermon this week I kept bouncing back and forth between two parts of the text. Jesus visiting his hometown is just a fascinating text, especially for someone like me who has lived a few different places in his life, but my kids have only really lived in one. But I was also pulled toward Jesus’ directions to the twelve apostles right after that hometown seen. He is sending them out two by two, but one of the restrictions he puts on them is if a place receives you, stay. The other restrictions, basically go out with nothing, would feed into that stability. After bouncing around it ended up a meditation on a paradox of the Christian life. The Christian life has a motion and a direction to it. We are sent. We are not at home here. The Christian life is one of stability. It can be lived anywhere it is received. How do we reconcile that paradox of sent stability? That is what this sermon ponders. How the spiritual life of the Christian moves out from the childhood home and can’t really stop until we reach the New Jerusalem, but it also it a spiritual life full of stability. I hope it might be a fruitful meditation on living the paradox for you.

God’s Work; Our Growth

Biblical Text: Mark 4:26-34
Full Sermon Draft

The year preaching on the Gospel according to Mark is one of the most interesting. Mark’s gospel has the most cryptic and odd parts. It is no wonder that the current reigning academic model puts Mark as the earliest. It makes sense that some thing like today’s parable or last Sunday’s visit by Mary would be smoothed out later. It makes sense, but I’m not personally convinced. Of the four gospels Mark simply seems to have a sense of the absurd. How crazy and paradoxical and wonderful at the same time life and the God of life actually is. This sermon attempts to ponder the odder of the seed parables. “The earth produces by itself.” It invites you to think of it as a parable of the work of the Spirit. God doesn’t seem to know what he is doing – “he sleeps and rise night and day”, “he scatters everywhere” – but the plants grow and produce a harvest. The Kingdom of God can be absurd that way, but it is God’s work. And he grants us the growth.

Silent Growing

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Biblical Text: Luke 2:40-52
Full Sermon Draft

The text is our only glimpse of Jesus from the infancy narratives until his baptism. This time is traditionally called the silent years. Because this is the only text of that time, it bears a lot of weight. What was important in the silent years? That is what this sermon looks at largely from a devotional perspective. By devotional perspective I mean how can we apply it directly to our Christian life.

And no, I didn’t have a challenge to work Pride, Prejudice and Zombies into a sermon. It just seemed like a good example of a difference between this text and the “childhood Jesus” apocryphal stories. One you can ponder for devotional purposes, the other is just good clean fun.

The Cost of Discipleship

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Text: Luke 14:25-35
Full Sermon Draft

Luke 12 to 14 is tough to preach on in the current context. Even the “easy” text of Luke 12:22-34 if you are preaching it in context is not so easy. I think most of us here those words and immediately think – “ok, this Jesus thing isn’t going to mess up my life, don’t worry, I can still have my stuff.” And that is almost exactly the opposite of the intention. A disciple is to be a fearless witness (Luke 12:4-12), and the assumed context of witness is persecution. Jesus is heading to Jerusalem and the cross. In the midst of that, don’t worry, your Father takes care of the sparrow, right? So keep walking. All these things that might be taken away here, will be added in abundance in the Kingdom. (Luke 12:31-34)

Then you careen through “not peace, but division (Luke 12:49ff)”, “the barren fig tree”, “the narrow door”, “Jerusalem’s hardness of heart”, “the great banquet – where the invitation are cast off for meaningless excuses”, and it culminates in this text.

Sometimes Jesus sees a crowd and his gut is churned because the are like sheep without a shepherd. But just as often Jesus gathers a crowd, he turns and says something that causes most to flee or go home. I’m importing that more full account from John 6:52-71, but you can take Luke and observe the lessons Jesus teaches when he turns toward the crowds. This would seem to be one of those second crowds. We are on the way to Jerusalem, to the cross, he thinks we should know.

Why it is tough, it because of the quote from Dr. Beck at the start of the sermon. The church today operates on a different model than the early church. The church today gathers crowds and tries to keep them no matter what. Oh it tries to encourage them to places and things where spiritual growth can occur, but what it never does intentionally is what Jesus does – spell out our spiritual state. That is left for you to intuit. The church at different times would force a counting of the cost first. Are your priorities Kingdom priorities? If you don’t hate the best things in your life (wife, husband, family, job) when they get in the way of your walk with Jesus, you can’t be a disciple.

In that counting is also the grace. Like Peter realized when others turned away – “Where shall we go, you have the words of eternal life.” This is Jesus at his most Protestant. You have a choice to make – the hard narrow path to life or the easy path to destruction. And once you choose, don’t turn back – because what good is salt that has lost its saltiness? Where can it be re-salted?