It’s the beginning (again), not the end!

beginning is nearWell today is the last day on the ancient Mayan calendar, so I expect there will be a lot of jokes and memes all over social media. Since the doomsday prediction is coming from a different religion, I doubt that the far-right fringe of the Christian community will embrace it. I did see a new phrase that has been coined by the Daily Beast: the Barackalypse, which refers to the way that Obama’s reelection has sealed the world’s fate. I remember when the turn of the millennium was approaching, there was a lot of excitement in the fundamentalist Christian community that some members of my family are connected to. They were stockpiling food and digging private wells, yearning so hard for Y2K to bring about a global computer crash. I’ll bet that more than half of the American middle-class secretly wants for the world to end. We have intractable social problems; we have few authentic friendships; our jobs are tedious; life feels like an exhausting treadmill. The thing is, this world which seems like an inevitable dreariness really can disappear without volcanoes and meteors and seven bowls of wrath. Jesus began a new world a long time ago; it’s just that very few of His followers actually live in the kingdom He created. Continue reading

Isaiah 11: making lions into lambs (a sermon in slides)

I’ve decided to keep things simple. Here is the audio from this Saturday’s sermon:

And here are my slides.

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Jesus come back (’cause we’ve gotten off track)

This is Advent translated into hip-hop for Christians who are able to admit that we don’t always do a good job of taking up our cross to follow Jesus and want to try again to serve our king by marching for His kingdom. Lyrics are below.

Continue reading

Occupy the manger #8: A season of peace?

Yesterday, I had to do the devotional for our church staff meeting so I chose Isaiah 9:2-7 which is the Old Testament reading for this final week before Christmas. This is the passage that describes Jesus as the “prince of peace.” We pondered together what it means to understand peace as the agenda for Christmas. Continue reading

Waiting on God’s revolution (2 Peter 3)

Sermon preached at Lifesign, Burke UMC 12/3/2011
Text: 2 Peter 3:8-15

Have you ever wanted to hit the reset button on life? I remember the original Nintendo had two buttons: power on the left and reset on the right. And whenever my friends would talk too much smack about beating me at a game, I could always hit the reset button so that the score would disappear and we would start over from scratch. I’ve had a similar feeling in adult life whenever my wife and I clean house together and the hopelessness of our clutter makes me want to hit reset. I say, “Honey, can we just burn the whole thing down, collect the insurance, and start over?” (She doesn’t think it’s funny.) Continue reading

Occupy the manger #3: the eternal Word (Isaiah 40)

Isaiah 40 is our Old Testament reading for Advent this week. Isaiah 40 is famous for being the prophetic text about John the Baptist: “the voice of one calling in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord,” etc. But I was drawn to a different aspect of the passage when I read it:

All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them…
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. [Is 40:6b-8] Continue reading

Occupy the manger #2: a landscape of glory (Psalm 85)

The word “glory” is one of those Biblical words that we use a lot without necessarily contemplating what it really means. I know there’s a movie Glory about black soldiers fighting in the Civil War that I’ve never seen. In one of my favorite childhood Disney Channel movies, The Fighting Prince of Donegal, Prince Hugh says before the climactic battle, “The greatest glory shall go to him who takes the greatest risk.” And then of course, there’s the popular church hymn that says, “To God be the glory for the things He has done.” Continue reading