Sermon Backing on “The Way of Love”

I thought it was appropriate to finish The Jesus Way series on the theme of love. There are few things as important as love. We need love and need to love. When we are not loved and when we are unable to love—that is about as painful as life gets.

While we long for love, we are afraid of rejection (of not being loved) and so many of us hold back from loving and being loved because we just don’t know if it will last.   Which is why this thought from C.S. Lewis is so powerful.

1 John 4:8 tells us perfect love casts out fear. To become a Christian is to connect with the perfect love of God. To grow as a Christian is to grow in our capacity to live in that love and then to live out of that love.

Christianity is NOT unique in that it talks about love. It is quite unique in what it says about love. Here are five teachings of what Christianity says about love. I’ve provided the biblical texts for you to do a little more study if you like.

ONE: Christianity takes to the highest level possible the overwhelming love

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Sermon Backing on John 20:21-23

In John 20:21-23, Jesus defines our purpose as his missional followers. Jesus is sending everyone, everywhere, all the time, to do his work, his way.

I love to find thoughtful quotes and let them inspire me as they illustrate scripture. Here are some I used on Sunday.

Rick Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life (over 50 million copies sold) says this. He is right on. And not only is NO purpose pointless, but wrong purpose and unworthy purpose are not the real points of your life.

And did God ever answer that prayer as MLK committed himself to a civil rights purpose, suffered for it, inspired millions, and launched change that ripples through the years. The harder and more demanding the purpose, the more we need the life of Jesus.

Helen Keller is uniquely positioned to give us this perspective and it sounds a lot like the words of Jesus: Those who have eyes but who do not see. What purpose do you see that God has given to you?

Parents, once you have done the hard work of getting the child born, one of your great parental missions is to, year by …

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Jesus’ Mission to Tell the Truth (Sermon Backing)

I’ve been hearing from a number of people that they appreciate the sermon recap and additional thoughts that are added here. So, here we go with this week’s sermon backing for Sunday’s sermon.

Here is what we say in a court of law if we are on the witness stand:

I swear by Almighty God that I will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

And here is a version without reference to God:

I solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Imagine if we instead said, “I am going to spin things the way I want them to be and whether you agree with me or not simply does not matter.”

Wedding vows typically have strong statements of commitment. Whenever I perform a wedding ceremony, I always talk a bit about the meaning of binding commitments, where two people, in the presence of God and their family and friends, make an unconditional commitment for lifelong fidelity.

Imagine if couples instead said, “I am going to stay in this relationship as long as you meet my needs and I get the benefits …

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Choices, Commitment, Consequences: Monday SermonBacking

Our OVERARCHING THEME:
We would like to see Jesus!

I want you to see Jesus. The message this week was to see Jesus model a particular way and then respond as Jesus teaches that way to his followers.  That way is the most distinctive, essential core of Christianityit is the sacrificial love of God that redeems, saves, and transforms the world for the better.

In the temptation in the wilderness, Jesus chose to of surrender to the will of his Father in heaven to embrace a mission of sacrificial love for the sake of the world. Jesus certainly had choices, commitments, and consequences on his mind during his wilderness temptation and the Garden of Gethsemane prayer (also see Hebrews 12:2 and the JOY that Jesus saw on the other side of the cross).

The Sunday message focused on Mark 8:34-37 with some references to Luke 4:1-13 (the Temptation of Jesus); Matthew 7:13-14 (the Two Roads); Proverbs 14:12 (a way that seems right but is not); Galatians 6:7-10 (sowing and reaping); and 2 Corinthians 6:2 (the time of God’s favor).

 

Choices lead to Commitments. Commitments lead to Consequences. The Way of Jesus is all about you making …

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Voter Registration

In light of the impending elections and the great passion being generated, I am going to do some occasional posts on citizenship and the public sphere.

The most basic right and responsibility of citizenship is, first of all, to:

VOTE

If you are not registered to VOTE,  the deadline is October 19.

It is easy to register online, just go to: Voter Registration Application

Don’t wait until the last minute. Register as soon as you.

If you feel more comfortable using a paper form, Living Word will have voter registration forms available at our Welcome Center on September 27 and October 4. We will be available to help you with registration on these Sunday mornings.

This is completely non-partisan. We are just doing what we can to help you enjoy your right and fulfill your responsibility of good citizenship.

A second issue of good citizenship is being an educated and informed voter. Thomas Jefferson, our third president, was crystal clear on the need for Americans to be educated and informed. There are a number of things I do to be educated and informed about issues and candidates. I will tell you more about them in another post.

A good resource

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Monday Sermon Backing

An established tradition in the United States is Monday morning quarterbacking. It is the backward look at what just happened on Sunday in the NFL. What went wrong? What should the team have done? And since the quarterback is the figure that controls the flow of the game, how did the quarterback do and what could the quarterback have done differently? By the way, sorry if your team lost.

I feel that way about SERMONS. And usually and I think it could be helpful for some Monday “Sermon Backing” or reflecting after the fact about what the sermon said and didn’t say.

I am not exaggerating when I say that for every 25-30 minutes of preaching, I have left out another 1-2 hours of talking time. Every sermon involves a process of ruthless elimination of most of the content and ideas that have been wrestling with during the previous week.

Every Sunday I get feedback from people about what moved them, spoke to them, bothered them, and their observations and questions.

That is exactly what a sermon should do. It should provoke and activate thinking, feeling, reflecting, envisioning andabove allACTING on what has been heard.

What …

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A Juneteenth Reflection from Pastor Brian Rice

Juneteenth

Imagine This

So, you are a lifeguard. It is your summer job (in any summer other than this one). On any day there are 100 people in the pool. Every person in the pool matters to you. You keep a constant watch over all them. Then, suddenly, there is screaming. One of those 100 people has gone under and not come up. They are drowning. 

Question for you: In that moment, does that person matter most of all? 

Answer: Of course! It’s a no-brainer. That person matters most of all for you at that moment of their great need. And probably, that person matters most for all the others who are aware that a drowning is happening right in front of them.  

Missional Mandate of Jesus

Lost SheepJesus talked about this in Matthew 18:12-14, in the parable of the lost sheep. Read those verses. It is striking. One hundred sheep. One gets lost. The 99 are safe. And for the Good Shepherd, that one lost sheep MATTERS MOST OF ALL. When that sheep is rescued, Jesus says HE rejoices more over that one lost sheep than the 99 that were safe and secure. 

This is priority, this

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Special Message from Pastor Brian

Hey Everyone:

How would you have responded on February 1 if someone would have told you that very soon international flights to Europe were canceled, universities were sending students home, York County schools would be closed, the NBA season postponed, the NCAA March madness cancelled, the entertainment industry on hold, and baseball spring training cancelled? (Well, maybe the last one would not have surprised you.)

How would you have responded if they also said that large churches everywhere are canceling on-site church services, and going to online services entirely?

Yes, me too. I would have laughed.

So here we are today. Six weeks later! And that has all happened.

We’ve just posted a “pastoral video” where I share my thoughts as a pastor about CoVid-19 and how the church will respond to this disruptive experience.

Go to COVID-19: LATEST UPDATES & Click Friday, March 13 • Part II →

I love you guys very much. We have a unique season through which we are now walking. We are in this together. God’s grace is with us. His Holy Spirit is filling us. And we all know, that God brings good out of all things.

Sincerely,
Pastor Brian

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The Laws of God for Human Flourishing (Part 3 of 3)

So, how do you feel about the law of gravity? Do you like that law? Do you enjoy that law?

Newton’s formula for the law of gravity is to the right. No, I don’t understand what it means. I just know the apple fell off the tree and hit Newton on the head, and the formula was the result.

Strange questions aren’t they?

Why would anyone care about how you feel about that law? The law just is. This law is reality. It is how the world works, how the universe works. Your feelings about the law of gravity are irrelevant.

Careful obedience to this law of gravity is quite another matter. It is of crucial importance that you obey this law. You don’t step off the top of a 20-story building into the air without paying the consequences of violating the law of gravity. To violate is to fail to comply with a rule. It doesn’t matter how much you protest your frustration about the gravity law as you are falling toward the ground!

  • You don’t jump out of airplanes unless you have a parachute. That’s the law of gravity.
  • You don’t go on roller coasters unless you believe

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Christians, Law, and GRACE (Part 2 of 3)

Yesterday’s blog post was about law in general and the audience was anyone. Today’s blog post is about moral and spiritual laws and is written specifically for Christians, although I hope anyone who is not a Christian will listen in to this conversation.

I want everyone connected with Living Word to understand the depths of wisdom we have in the Bible about the Christian life.

I want everyone to flourish, and I believe the teaching of the Bible that is fulfilled in, displayed by, and experienced in Jesus is the way to flourish. Jesus says he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

So, we need to talk about this thing called “law” or “commandments” or “instruction.”

My prayer comes from Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight.” And may they be useful for your edification as well.

I find many Christians struggle with the laws of God. By struggle, I don’t mean struggle to keep them. If that is what I meant, I would say ALL Christians struggle with God’s laws about adultery-lust, murder-anger, forgiveness of enemies, generosity, denial of self, taking up the …

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