Thursday, December 20, 2012

Top 10 Things to Say About A Christmas Gift You Hate

10. Hey! There's a gift!

9. Well, well, well ...

8. Boy, if I had not recently shot up 4 sizes that would've fit.

7. This is perfect for wearing around the basement.

6. Gosh. I hope this never catches fire! It is fire season though. There are lots of unexplained fires.

5. If the dog buries it, I'll be furious!

4. I love it -- but I fear the jealousy it will inspire.

3. Sadly, tomorrow I enter the Federal Witness Protection Program.

2. To think -- I got this the year I vowed to give all my gifts to charity.

1. "I really don't deserve this."

Yeah, you can send this Funny to anybody you want. And, if you're REAL nice, you'll tell them where you got it! www.mikeysFunnies.com

Love Never Fails (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Here are a few of my thoughts on what I feel led to talk about on Sunday. I'm still processing and editing all of this. It's such a sensitive topic. It's important too.

Two big contrasting ideas are at work here. 

First, evil is real. Evil exists. The Sandy Hill Elementary School massacre comes to mind immediately. If you're like me, perhaps you've had a little trouble getting your emotions around this. After all, we see evil everyday in the news. Everyday! All it took for my tears to roll was to click through this slideshow of the victims before they were robbed of their lives.  

Victims in Connecticut school shooting slideshow

As far as what scripture comes to mind when I watch that slideshow (and it's the Christmas season), I can't escape the similarities with another massacre of children in Bethlehem about 2,000 years ago.

Matthew writes,

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. (Matthew 2:16 NIV)

 This was a small village so probably around...20 children.

Much of the discussion in the news on the shooting revolves around gun control, mental illness and violent video games. And these conversations are needed along with responsible action. But they aren't the root cause. And the conversation seems to lack this basic idea: evil is real. We ignore this at great peril.

Second, love always hopes.

The Apostle Paul wrote, 

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:6-8 italics mine)

So what is to be done? At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, we need to love one another - like Jesus teaches us to. We need to think rightly about each other and the truth God teaches. When our thoughts and beliefs are rooted in reality and truth, our behaviors will fall into place. 

"Love rejoices in the truth"

When we think rightly about things, we'll use guns responsibly. We'll value life so much that we'd only shoot as a last resort to protect someone. We'd realize that playing violent video games and watching violent movies desensitizes us to violence. Gradually, it doesn't bother us anymore. We eventually become more violent. 

"Love rejoices in the truth" Let's pursue the truth, believe it and teach others to join us as we follow it. (Actually, a Him - John 14:6)

"Love always trusts" Who? Love trusts the source of love (at least the purest and best kind of love--unconditional, sacrificial love). "God is love." (1 John 4:8)

"Love never fails" When we believe that we live it and will become a powerful force for good. It will transform our lives and culture for good.

"Love always hopes" Jesus defeated sin and death on the cross. He rose from the grave and lives today. If he's that powerful, why wouldn't I place my hope in Him? 

Jesus facing evil didn't end when he and his family fled Herod's terror. He faced it over and over again. Ultimately, evil led to a crucified Jesus. But in the end, love never failed. In fact, it was because of love that God allowed Jesus to end up on that cross. Love for us.

Today, it's that sacrificial love from Jesus that frees us from our sins. It makes it possible for me to care more about the homeless than my high score on a video game. His love makes it possible for someone to forgive a murderer. His love is why Jesus will forgive even me.

Yes, evil is real. And we have to learn to deal with it. But let's not forget that love always hopes. Love never fails.

"Deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sermon Ideas for 2013

The following is a list of sermon and sermon series ideas (in no particular order) I'm considering for next year. I'd love your input. Comment on what you'd like to hear (whether you go to GCF or not). Add anything you don't see but would like to hear on too. Thanks for your input! DRG

Evil, theodicy
Roles of men and women
Napkin scribbles - theology+ on a napkin
The point: god makes all things work together for good...live like everything that happens to you is from God (good and bad); rom 8:28; Matt 5:10-12; acts 16:16-34
20/20 vision - spiritual blindness and light
God in the City - Jeremiah 29:4-10
Mountains in the Bible
Mt of olives
Mt of transfiguration
Mt of Golgotha/Calvary
Mt Sinai
Gospel acrostic
what to do when the country is falling apart? Your move; how do we respond to what we learned in this election?
Love summerville & mchuck weekends
Why membership matters
Your move
Desiring God index
My life series built around personal devel
Spiritual gifts
Personal serving
Healthy eating and exercise
Leading yourself
Use it or lose it! Spiritual gifts Matt 25:14-30
"Clutter-free Christianity"
Postures of worship
True worship - Isaiah 58
Who am I? Identity crisis
"It's not easy being green" - creation care for the Christian
Questions that Jesus asked - Matthew
Homosexuality - legit?
The trinity
Cults vs real deal; false religions
What we believe (doctrine basics) - 8 pillars and why they matter to you; apostles creed
Argument for intelligent design; power of ten video
Messages with lions in them
Satan is like a lion waiting to devour
1 Peter 5:8
Daniel and the lions den
David as a shepherd boy defeating lions and bears 1 Sam 16
Beneniah in a pit with a lion on a snowy day
Myth busters: Christians are anti-scientific/anti-intellectual; blind faith
Myth busters: Marriage and family are purely social constructs and therefore are malleable by the current society
What on earth am I here for? 40 days
Daniel fast 40 days
Giving messages to be used around the offering
How to suffer wee - Matt 4:1-11, job, Paul, James 1:2-4, 12
Sexual purity, pornography, romance fantasy
Purity principle
Call to persevere until he's here, Heb 10:19-25 (offense), acts 14:21-22 defense)
Titus 3 - what older and younger people are to do in the church
Heaven and hell; afterlife; eternity
OT book
Heb 11:13-16+ afterlife; see Alcorns notes and books
Cultures biggest lies (Myth busters)
Doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere
Personal significance lies in gaining fame and wealth; the one who dies with the most toys wins
Sex is physical, not spiritual; do what you want
Science is the ult arbiter of truth and determines both fact and meaning
The separation of church and state necessarily means the separation of politics and religion
Churches are man made orgs that u can take or leave, r corrupt and compromise on true spirituality, and the larger they are the more suspect
The Jesus of the nt is a fabrication and not historically accurate; should not be believed
Multiply: Series on how to make disciples who make disciples
1 Corinthians as part of Acts series
"let it grow" The Lorax
Parenting series on Deut 6;4-9
Kingdom of God - Jesus and Paul preached a lot more about kingdom than the church; see cypress noes on kingdom; study kingdom verses
Isaiah 55
Teach basic bible study methods & principles
Sermon on the mount (Portrait of the Kingdom of God)
Journey, path, stepping stones, pressing on for Jan sermon series
Isaiah 58 - worship, fasting
Finish Acts/epistles