These last few years have driven us all to the brink of our faith, in one form or another. I’ve done a lot of reading over these many months and I’ve wanted to pass along a list of those books that have shaped my faith. But let me start with an affirmation of my own faith:
While I can’t explain the Mystery that is “god,” I still believe in God, and I believe God is the architect and creator of all that exists. I believe Jesus of Nazareth was and is God’s Son, God incarnate. I believe he died on a Roman cross as an innocent Lamb and took on all the sin and evil of this world, and died to set us free.
I believe Jesus Christ rose again from the dead and overcame death for all of us. I do believe human history took a redemptive turn with the resurrection of Christ and his enthronement as God’s King of a new kind of kingdom. I believe God is moving things toward a grand climax where love has finally overthrown evil and that we can survive the suffering of this present age because of the faith and hope made possible by that promise.
My faith is, perhaps, stronger than it has ever been after reading the books on this list. But I’m still growing and I’ve got more to learn.
Here is my list:
If you’re walking through a season of deconstruction and re-evaluation of your faith, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions.
In the meantime, for those who continue to faithfully proclaim the gospel…
Sermon Ideas Based on the Lectionary
For July 17, 2022
Year C – Sixth Sunday After Pentecost
First Reading and Psalm
Working Title: How to Survive a Spiritual Drought
The consequence of ignoring or disobeying God is that we eventually lose the sound of his voice, and we go spiritually hungry.
Remember that Amos was directing his prophecy to a particular people in a particular historical setting. Our question today is, how do we avoid ending up in the same kind of downward spiritual spiral that Amos was addressing?
We stay nourished!
In the final two verses, David gives us three answers:
- Trust the love of God like never before.
- Thank God for what he has done.
- Proclaim God’s name and character to others.
All three actions represent the fruit of bold intentionality about keeping God’s name and character at the forefront of our minds even when times are crazy.
Alternate First Reading and Psalm
To get real, it’s one thing to host friends for a dinner party. It’s quite another to intentionally see God’s image stamped upon every person who crosses our path or needs our help.
In our present culture, this story ought to inspire us to re-evaluate the way we receive and treat the immigrant, the refugee, the person of another nationality, ethnicity, religion, or socioeconomic position. Everybody deserves to be received, provided for, and loved.
The psalmist gives us some practical examples of a life of DOing. They speak truth. They refuse to slander others. They refuse to do evil to their friends. They keep their word and honor their commitments. They don’t take advantage of others. And they’re incorruptible.
That is, those who take the high road and uphold their commitment to Christlike ethics are the people who will outlast all the others.
Paul ends the passage with the promise that the gospel has already been proclaimed to ALL creatures under heaven and has, therefore, been the instrument of God saving all that remained lost in this world.
The remaining question is, will we receive the saving work God has done in Christ for all things? For all creatures? For all people?
There’s a huge lesson here for each of us – that it’s always more important to get to know the God who created us than to work hard to please him. It’s important to recognize him as our personal God than to see him as one who needs to be appeased by our performance.
A Creative Sermon Series Idea
This series was originally preached during the early spring before Easter, during Year B of the Revised Common Lectionary. Each week’s gospel reading became the principle text as we journeyed through the life and teachings of Jesus.
Creative Sermon Series Ideas from MinistryPass
My favorite resource for sermon series and message ideas, complete series graphics, and video bumpers (but NOT full notes or sermon outlines) to get you started is MinistryPass! Each week, I’ll feature a series I would recommend checking out for the upcoming season of the church year. This week:
From the Description:
This is a series on the Old Testament Minor Prophets. Each week will focus on one prophet and their story or message. Common themes will run throughout these twelve prophets in Israel’s history, and a primary theme is restoration. Though the prophets often brought words of judgment, they also spoke words of hope and ultimate renewal.
Books, Links, and Resources for Pastors and Church Leaders
- Lane Sebring has some good advice: Preach Better Sermons by Eliminating these Words.
- Ron Edmondson offers 4 Suggestions to Survive Toxic Leadership.
- Pastor Rick Warren writes about How God Turns Around Ministry Failures.
- Scott Monty addresses The Heavy Burden of Anger.
- Michael Bird has some insights on The Christology of Hebrews.
- Scot McKnight addresses why so many have been Scandalized by the Church.
A Conference for Church Communications Leaders
The Church Communicator Conference is specially designed for the accidental church communicator, the one that wears many hats and may have stumbled upon this role without a plan. Lead pastors and executive pastors will also benefit from this conference as it will introduce principles and concepts that will assist with creating a unified communication strategy that aligns with the vision and mission of the church.
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About the Artwork: Brooke, Richard Norris, 1847-1920. Pastoral Visit, Virginia, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.