Christian faith is reasonable, based on facts, not feelings; the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted despite your changing moods. Christian faith is humble; the coming to the end of myself and believing that Christ alone empowers both my beliefs and my best actions. Click this link to download
Looking forward to heaven is more than escapism or wishful thinking, it's what we were born to do. In this message we look at three questions about heaven, inspired by Scripture and drawing from C. S. Lewis' reflections on Christian hope: What is heaven and how can we get there? Are there signposts that point us to a life beyond this one? Does thinking about the next world mean we care nothing about this one? Click this link to download
In the words of C. S. Lewis, “Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind….Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense." It's the scariest sin of all, which is why in this message we explore Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector where Jesus says that "all those who exalt themselves will be humbled; but all those who humble themselves...will be exalted." Click this link to download
Some see marriage as a curse to be avoided. Christians see it as a gift to celebrate…and a crucible, in which they are tested and changed for the better. In this message we explore C. S. Lewis' thought on Christian marriage and its biblical foundations in the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul. We learn that Christian marriage is the miracle of a total union; the courage to make a lifelong commitment; the promise to love, not just feel 'in love'; and a gift (among others) to be treasured. Click this link to download
God’s word does not tell us to deny our desires, but to discipline and redirect them. There are at least four distorted ideas about desire in our contemporary culture that hinder the fulfillment of our deepest longings. In this message we learn (i) that putting limitations on our desires is not harmful, it's essential; (ii) that God is pleased by and works through our imperfect efforts; (iii) that negative attitudes about sexuality, the body, and pleasure are unbiblical; and (iv) that the center of the human being is not our sexual identity but our identity as children of God. Click this link to download
For many people, “morality” (the idea that there are standards of right and wrong behavior) stands for everything that gets in the way of freedom, it represents all that interferes and keeps us from having fun. In truth, morality (at least from the Christian perspective) is not what prevents us from playing and having fun, it’s what makes it possible to play at all -- much as a football game is not much fun if players have no teams, no field goals or boundary lines, and no referees to call the game. To be more precise, Christ reveals three essential reasons why behavior matters….There is a need for harmony between us, harmony within us, and harmony with the One who made us. Click this link to download
If Christ was not a deranged lunatic or an egomaniacal liar, but God come in the flesh...why, and for what purpose did he come? His first followers are unanimous in telling us that Christ came not only to show us how to live but, most surprising of all, to die. How has Christ's death helped us? How is his life spread to us; and...how will we respond? Listen to this third message in a series based on C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity and its biblical foundations. Click this link to download
There is nothing which reveals the similarities and differences between worldviews and theologies more than the problem of evil…and our dreams of justice, goodness, and setting the world right. In this message we explore the rival conceptions of God and the shocking nature of Jesus' message and ministry as it addresses the problem of evil. Click this link to download
What did you dream about this week? On this anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack, many are dreaming about peace, the end of terror, war, and the triumph of good over evil. When C. S. Lewis first gave the BBC radio talks that he would later publish as Mere Christianity, it was the height of WWII; as many dreamed about the same thing: the triumph of good over evil and a world set right. Could this desire for justice, decency and fairness itself be a clue to life’s meaning? Lewis certainly thought so...and Scripture confirms it. For "God's law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within [us] that echoes God's yes and no, right and wrong" (Romans 2: 14-15 / The Message). Click this link to download
One of the great theologians of the 20th century, Karl Barth, said in a Time magazine interview: “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible" (Time Magazine, Friday May 31, 1963). In Luke 13: 1-9, Jesus does just that as he responds to bad news stories in his own day; and so helps us respond to discouraging news in our own time. Click this link to download.
Last weekend, I was given a brochure in Little Tokyo that described Buddhism and its relationship to Christianity and other religions in a most interesting way. “Christians and Muslims believe that they will live in eternity with God if their life on earth has been spent in worthy and useful pursuits…. Buddhists on the other hand…believe that life is an everlasting cycle of birth and rebirth, that what is done during a lifetime determines the kind of life one will have in a future incarnation unless a person liberates him or herself from the cycle.” According to this leaflet -- Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism have something very significant in common…we are all redeemed by our good works. Now this is my question to those of you who profess to be Christians: Is this the gospel message? Does this accurately describe the message of Jesus? I’d like to return to Little Tokyo a bit later…but for now, let’s go to the house of a Pharisee in Luke 7: 36-50 where Jesus is treated with incredible disrespect on the one hand and surprising love on the other...it’s where we learn the one sure sign that we’ve truly understood the message of God's saving grace...and received it. Click this link to download.
Every generation claims to be radical, rebellious, and revolutionary, but in the end what they share is a common struggle with sin and death, and a thirst for meaningful, purposeful life. In The Story of the Wineskins (Luke 5: 33-39) Jesus presents himself as the truly radical and revolutionary one who offers that life to us as the first born....of a new generation (Romans 8: 29). Click this link to download.
The well known words of The Declaration of Independence state that “All men are created equal.” But as Jesus’ much older story of "The Workers in the Vineyard" indicates (Matt. 20: 1-16), this is only the first way in which we are equal before God…for we are also equally in need, equally responsible, and equally blessed with God's gracious invitation. Click this link to download.
In The Story of the Dishonest Manager, Jesus takes us on a walk through the badlands, the back alleys and the crooked streets of this world to tell a tale of a crook...who is also a role model. Learn what it means to get your hands dirty as you use the things of this world for a holy purpose; to use your time wisely, influence intentionally, and give strategically. Click the link below to download.
A parent’s love is one of the great forces for good in this world. But the love of every parent in this world combined still pales when compared to the Heavenly Father’s love for the spiritually lost. In The Story of the Father and His Two Sons, Jesus gives us hope -- whether we number ourselves among the prodigals or the proud -- that we can come home, and begin to love as our Heavenly Father has loved us. Click the link below to download.
Are you an extreme idealist who wants to create heaven on earth, a perfect church, or even a perfect home? Or have you lost all idealism, feeling discouraged and beaten down by failures, suffering and opposition? In his story of The Weeds & the Wheat, Jesus has a word that can help us understand and respond to this messy world and our messy church with determination, hope, and love. Click the link below to download.
We cannot truly follow Jesus until we decide that life with him in his kingdom is more valuable than anything else. In his story of The Builder & the King, Jesus recommends a process for making that decision: sit down...figure the cost...and consider the benefits! Click the link below to download.
In Luke 12: 13-21, a man approaches Jesus, asking him to play the role of judge -- not an unusual thing to ask a rabbi in the first century. “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me” he cries. No doubt the father left his possessions to his sons in a lump sum -- which might not be a problem if there was peace between the brothers, but there wasn’t. So the man approaches Jesus like a judge on The People’s Court and asks him to enforce his right to his share of the inheritance. Jesus refuses to play that divisive role, however "legal" his claim might have been. He knew that his most important problem was not the division of his father’s property, but the division of a family over material possessions. “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” Jesus says. "Now let me tell you a little story…” Here is Jesus’ signal that he wants to help the man, and anyone in earshot, understand that there are ways to be rich that are far more important than having great material wealth, and he does this by telling us how a greedy farmer who thought he was rich was really poor. Click the link below to download.
In The Story of the Friend Who Wouldn't Quit (Luke 11: 5-13), Jesus reveals that we never need give up on hope or on the God who calls us his friends. As God's needy friends, we will boldly request his help; and as his real friends, our requests will proceed in the manner of a dynamic relationship. Most important of all, as our Mighty Friend God's desire is that we ask for and receive his greatest gift - the Holy Spirit. Click the link below to download.
To be “talented” in today’s culture means that you've been recognized as having gifts in a particular area, but in large part the emphasis is upon a select group of people with exceptional abilities. It may come as a surprise to know that the idea of having "talents" and using them originates with Jesus' two thousand year old Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) where he teaches us that every one of us, not a select few, has not only been given a talent but the opportunity to use it for the glory of God. Click the link below to download.
In Jesus' story of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 24-37) we learn that Jesus' ministry has no borders, limits, or loopholes; and that the question should not be "Who is my neighbor?" but "To whom will I become a neighbor today?" Click the link below to download.
If you think that parties are the domain of the fraternity house, the Friday afternoon office, or the tailgate -- but definitely not the circle of Jesus' followers, think again....because Jesus teaches us in Luke 14: 1-24 that the invitation to life in God’s kingdom is more like the invitation to a great dinner party; a party to which all are invited, but sadly one that not all will choose to attend. Click the link below to download.
Jesus' "Story of the Sower" is his most important - because it's the key to understanding all of his stories, and our own as well. In this story we learn the mystery of the kingdom - that God's rule and reign grows through the Messiah Jesus like a seed that is sown. We also learn the mandates of the kingdom: to gather around the kingdom Sower, to pray and seek to be good kingdom soil, and to trust in the power of kingdom seed. Click the link below to download. http://media.monkserve.com/EKK/2218/the-sower-the-soil--the-seed.mp3
With his wrists in chains, the Apostle Paul told the story of how he met the Risen Jesus before a Roman governor and a secular Jewish King…a compelling testimony that ends with a prayer: “that not only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am – except for these chains” (Acts 26: 29). After 2000 years, God continues to answer that prayer in the lives of those who hear his awe-inspiring words. Click the link below to download.
Jesus had no formal education, he was raised in a poor family, he had no political power, he left behind no writings of his own, he was crucified like a common criminal...and yet in three short years he emerged as the dominant figure not just for the next twenty years, but for the next two thousand years of human history. Only the resurrection of Jesus can sufficiently explain his immense impact on the course of our world. In his letter to the Corinthian Church, Paul gives four reasons why Jesus’ resurrection should deeply matter to us as well. Click the link below to download.
"I have learned to be content with whatever I have...." The Apostle Paul doesn’t quite fit the profile of what we would assume to be a contented man. After all, he wrote many of his letters from a prison, facing possible execution. What was Paul's secret? At the conclusion of his letter to the Philippians, Paul thanks them for their generous gift…yet he also reminds them that while he is grateful, he does not depend upon it. "I can make it through anything," Paul says, "through the one who has made it through everything, even death on a cross, for me." Click the link below to download.
The peace or "shalom" of the Bible means “wholeness” in all dimensions of life; wholeness of relationship with God, with other people, with the earth, and with one's self. How do we achieve such peace? As Paul addresses the main conflict in Philippi from a prison cell (Phil. 4: 2-9), he teaches us that peace flows from a community that reconciles and rejoices in the Lord; from the heart that prays about every aspect of life; from the mind that is focused on God's goodness, and from the lives of those who continually practice what they have learned concerning...the Prince of Peace. Click the link below to download.
Is it possible to actually live the Christian life? And if we're saved by Gods' grace alone, should we even try? In Philippians 4: 14 Paul says, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” He’s talking here about the goal of spiritual maturity. As followers of Jesus we know we're not there yet. Paul certainly knew this...but in Philippians 3:12-4:1 he shows us how to "press on" toward that finish line. Click the link below to download.
What do you seriously believe will get you through this life, not to mention beyond it? Is it your professional or academic accomplishments? Is it your good grades, your degrees, or your excellent job? Is it your family background, your good genetics, or your social position? Paul had every reason to be confident in his resume, but his strivings brought him nothing but misery and despair. Then, he met Jesus...and discovered that while trusting in one's accomplishments is a dead end, trusting in what the Messiah has done for us brings life and true joy. Click the link below to download.
How many true friends do you have? In the age of Facebook, when the sheer number of friends we have is a kind of status symbol, this is a relevant question. In his letter to the church at Philippi, the Apostle Paul mentions two dear friends, Timothy and Epaphroditus who are important both to them and to him (Philippians 2: 19-30). These are among the most personal remarks in his letter where we learn four powerful principles that will help us to be ‘friends beneath the surface’. Click the link below to download.
Paul's challenge to 'shine like stars' in Philippians 2: 12-18 is no small task, for it involves the kind of self-emptying humility that was in Y'shua (Jesus). Yet the promise is that God is working in us even as we work to reflect the character of Jesus in our world...for the sake of humankind and the glory of God. Click the link below to download.
How much do we value the community of Jesus’ followers, and to what lengths would you go to keep it? In his letter to the Philippians (2: 1-11), Paul urges us to treasure this gift, alerts us to what threatens it, and reveals the essential mindset of Jesus that makes it grow and flourish. Click the link below to download.
What hill would you be willing to die on? What principles and ideals, what traditions, what causes or people would you be willing to lay down your life for? In Philippians 1: 19-30, Paul says that his desire is that "with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body whether by life or by death." His words and example of fearless living inspire us to live above mediocrity as we stand firm in one spirit for the sake of Christ and his mission, regardless of opposition or hardship. Click the link below to download.
In America, the constitution guarantees us the right to pursue happiness by whatever means are available or legal; but this week I can't help but wonder what it means to pursue happiness in Haiti….in a country which has been flattened by a 7.0 earthquake and where nearly 100,000 people have been killed? For me, the answer came in Paul's letter to the Philippians. There we discover that the Apostle Paul says nothing about the pursuit of happiness, but he does say a lot about how prisons of adversity are transformed into sanctuaries of God’s presence by the gift of joy. Click the link below to download.
Encouragement is the assurance that we really do matter to God and to others. It’s essential to our life in the Spirit and growth in Christ-likeness. The relationship between Paul and the Philippian church was one of mutual encouragment. In Philippians 1 1-11, we learn that encouragement comes through faithful parternship, through affirmation, through compassion, through prayer, and through the God who promises to finish the good work he began in us. Click the link below to download.