Thursday, March 25, 2010

Using a Sermon for Spiritual Growth

Growing Into Christ, and Christ Growing Into You.

Did you know that the weekly message from Covenant is almost always available in print the following week and usually posted to the internet by Sunday afternoon, and sometimes the prayers, too?

Take advantage of these offerings and grow into Christ, so that Christ can grow into you.

That reading should be one of the principle avenues for spiritual growth comes as no surprise. Words are at the center of the Christian faith.

By words, God created the heavens and the earth.
By words, God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and via the many words of theTorah, God shaped his people into a nation.
When Jesus came to us, he was and is the Word of God.
With words, Jesus healed and helped and challenged and chastised; with words he offered comfort and guidance, counsel and wisdom.
With words, he invites fishermen to become disciples.
With words, he infuriates the temple officials.
With words, he gives us God!

Words, words and more words.

We are a creature of words. By words, we understand our world, and with words, we shape our world.

With words, we tell someone, “I love you.”
And though we might show our love a thousand different ways, the beloved longs to hear those three magic words.

We are creatures of the Word.

So, by the Word, we grow into Christ and Christ grows into us.

One of the simplest avenues of growth is the preaching of the church.
Hearing the Word of God read and proclaimed.
And in many a church, the message of the day is available.

As in our case, in print or via blogsite.

Other churches offer video or audio.

Take advantage of these resources to keep on growing in Christ.

Pick up the message the following week or go to the internet, and print it out, if you can.
Read the Scripture of the day and then read the message.
Read it aloud if you can.
Use a pen to underline.
Talk to it, question it, ponder it.
And if you want, call me, talk to me. I’m always game for a cup of coffee or a hamburger!

Some churches have study groups around the Sunday message.
Think of it as an outreach tool.
Invite people into your home to study the message of the day.
Read Scripture aloud to one another and ask questions.
It’s a tool to grow into Christ so that Christ can grow into us.

Most preachers, including this one, work pretty hard to produce a good message. Some Sundays are better than others, no doubt, but every message reveals the heart and the soul of the preacher and the preacher’s desire to say something important about God, and what God means for us.

So, keep on growing into Christ, and Christ will keep on growing into you.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Encouragement is oxygen to the soul.
~ George M. Adams

All of us remember those magical moments when someone believed in us! Oxygen, indeed. Our chests swelled with hope as we breathed deeply, and we walked down the sidewalk with a kick in our steps. Someone believes in us, and we can climb Mt. Everest, barefoot!

Question of the day: Is there someone in your life who needs an oxygen boost?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Who or What Are We?

Who are we?

Notice, I didn’t ask, “What” are we?

As for the what, there’s a lot of pressure on us to be a what. A consumer! And sadly, so many Americans wear that label proudly. That we refer to ourselves as an “American Consumer” is, or so it seems to me, a contradiction in terms.

Would Washington or Jefferson have nodded in agreement with this?

Or Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Would Jesus?

1957 Cadillacs were consumers, and so are garbage disposals and slot machines.

But people?

The boys and girls in charge of consumerism don’t want us to think about this. They want happy spenders digging themselves deeper and deeper into a financial hole, living for the day and ignoring tomorrow. When 9/11 happened, we were told to go shopping, when we might better have been told to take a few days for family prayer and reflection, or study-up on the Middle East or seek out a Muslim neighbor and find out how they’re feeling.

We used to be a nation that saved.
We paid for things in cash.
We bought stocks for their long-term dividends.
We were slower and more relaxed.
Our homes were smaller and so were our cars.
We ate out less and spent more time with our children.
The gap between top and bottom was smaller.
People sat on their front porches and knew their neighbors.
Kids played in the neighborhood and every adult was their parent.

We were not consumers. We were people.

Our Founding Mothers and Fathers worked hard and sacrificed for us to be people.

And to be people is how God created us, and the reason why Jesus paid us a visit.

He died, of course, because the powerful and the wealthy in Jerusalem were afraid of the people figuring out how badly they’d been duped.

Yet when Easter came, we knew the truth.

We are people! 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What Is Lent?

Lent isn’t supposed to be easy, but who said life is easy anyway? 

Nor should Lent be silly, like giving up chocolate for a few weeks, or broccoli – talk about triviality. 

What is Lent? 

It’s a time to think deeply about Jesus, and why he said what he said and did what he did, and why some folks thought they’d be better off if he were dead. Lent isn’t for sissies, but then neither is life. 

Lent is for deep thinking and quiet pondering and soul-searching and a time to say, “I’m sorry”-  to God, to the world, to family and friends – to creatures great and small, and to the farthest star, for whatever pain or sorrow or hurt or shame or sadness or distress or stupidity we’ve brought to our world. 

It’s the sheer honesty of Lent that makes Lent so important, and behind all of Lent, woven into it like a golden thread, the safety of God for those who are honest. “Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Honesty and safety – powerful elements in our journey through Lent!