Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Armor of Light



In the sermon of September 10, 2017, we explored what Paul meant when he wrote to the Christians in Rome that they should put on the armor of light. Paul called them, and all Christians, to stand against the darkness, using one powerful, inexhaustible resource. Listen and find out what that resource is and how it is being used today.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Don't Remain Silent



Sermon delivered on September 3, 2017, exploring  the scripture Luke 18:1-8. This sermon reminds us we must be as persistent as the widow seeking justice from a corrupt judge. See how prayer play into that persistence and what it has to do with us in this day and age.

As time was limited, we didn't get into some of the other ways Christians are working for justice. We prayed for and provided guidance to all interested in helping the survivors of Hurricane Harvey during our announcements and pastoral prayer time.

For another perspective on persistence, see: https://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2017/08/persistence-is-key.html

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Against All Expectations



Sermon based on Matthew 14:13-21, in which we discover just how completely Jesus will defy our limited expectations where we are willing to work with him. There is a challenge here for us all.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Religious In Every Way

Sermon delivered on May 21, 2017, based on Acts 17:22-31, explores Paul's interaction with the philosophers of Athen. Learning how Paul bridge the cultural and religious divide between himself and these philosophers teaches us much how to bridge the gaping divides between ourselves and the peoples of the world all around us. Watch and see.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sea Salt & Bushel Baskets



Sermon based on Matthew 5:13-20, encouraging Jesus' disciples and us to not hide our faith away, but share it, being salt and light, savor and illumination, willing to mix into the culture in positive ways. Sermon delivered February 5, 2017.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Powerful Statement from Our Denomination Following the Shootings in Orlando

American Baptist Churches USA is the most diverse denomination in the United States. Our churches have a great deal of autonomy, we are equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, and we have varying interpretations of particular passages that have been the focus of recent cultural and religious debated.

Yet, in the midst of turmoil, our leadership provided the following powerful message of love. Please follow this link and read: http://www.abc-usa.org/2016/06/17/abc-interim-general-secretary-addresses-orlando-shooting/

A few highlights:
We offer our deepest sympathy to the families and friends of the victims of the horrible tragedy in Orlando. We extend love to those of our family directly affected. We grieve with our American Baptist brothers and sisters who are part of the LGBTQ community. My message to them is, never mistake our debates and disagreements with the depth of our love for you as part of our family. To the rest of the ABC family my message is, even in the midst of profound disagreement, let us love as Christ loved. 
~Interim General Secretary Dr. Susan Gillies


Following Gillies remarks, Rev. Judy Fackenthal said, “As President of ABCUSA, I concur with Interim General Secretary Susan Gillies that any act of violence against any part of the human family is fully outside the vision of God’s gracious love for all people. While American Baptists may not agree on a wide variety of issues, we claim God’s love as a just and all-encompassing love. I pray for the people of Orlando, particularly the LGBTQ community as well as the Hispanic community that has been particularly affected by this horrific violence. May we work together to seek to end hate and the outcomes associated with it.”


“The events of last week hurt me deeply, as a Christian, Baptist and as a Puerto Rican,” said Dr. Josue D. Gómez-Menéndez, vice president of ABC. “At this time I would like to express my solidarity with all the people who are suffering from the effects of violence, misconceptions and separation. In the end what we discover in the depth of love is that we find our essence and human reality, our claim to the dignity of the human being and our real choice to reflect Jesus in every step.”

Friday, June 17, 2016

Two Powerful Statements From American Baptist Home Mission Societies After Orlando

The American Baptist Home Mission  Society describes itself as follows
As part of American Baptist Churches USA, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) answers God’s call to live out Christian faith through ministry that strengthens congregations and connects with communities beyond church walls—ministry that encourages and nurtures disciple-makers who shout the Good News of Jesus Christ and impact our world with God’s love.
In the wake of the terrible shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, a previously safe haven for members of the LGBT community, ABHMS released the following: http://abhms.org/about-us/news/american-baptist-home-mission-societies-stands-lgbtq-community-wake-orlando-massacre/

Further, the ABHMS makes this statement about gun violence: http://abhms.org/about-us/news/abhms-urges-american-baptists-advocate-gun-violence-prevention/

Please read and prayerfully consider.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What Suffering Produces

In Romans 5:1-5, Paul helps his readers, and us, understand what may grow out of our suffering. This sermon is well worth your time, especially if you are going through difficult times. Cautionary note: there is no suggestion here that one seek out suffering. It will come all one its own.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Decisions to Make



Baptists have a long history of taking up Jesus' challenge to change our ways and work for positive change in our society. We are challenged to continue that tradition today.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Recommended Reading for Clarity


There is a lot of confusion out there today about Christianity and the Bible, where the Bible came from, how it is interpreted, what it has to say about specific topics, and more. Here are a few books that will provide some clarity for the truly curious.

For an introduction to the faith, try:

Nouwen, Henri J.M. Life of the Beloved. Spiritual Living in a Secular World. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992.

To come to grips with the powerful love of God for humanity, read:

Nouwen, Henri J.M. The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

To approach the Bible with insight and clarity, the following are suggested:

Brash, Donald J. The Indispensable Guide to God's Word. Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim Press, 2010.
Davis, Ellen F. & Richard B. Hays, eds. The Art of Reading Scripture. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003.

To better understand where the sixty-six book library of the Bible came from and what a great stretch of time is covered in those books, see:

Lightfoot, Neil R. How We Got the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1963, 1988, 2003.

Tackling some of the most challenging passages from the apostle Paul is:

Brauch, Manfred T. Hard Sayings of Paul. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1989.

To understand the complex imagery used in the Bible, and to understand slavery in biblical terms, read:

Ryken, Leland, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III, eds. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery: An Encyclopedic Exploration of the Images, Symbols, Motifs, Metaphors, Figures of Speech, and Literary Patterns of the Bible. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press USA, 1998.

To grapple with the relationship of slaves with Christianity in the Antebellum South, read;

Raboteau, Albert J. Slave Religion: The "Invisible Institution" in the Antebellum South. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978, 2004.

Please see the bibliographies of all of the above sources for additional reference material.

For the history of the American Baptist Churches USA denomination, including our fight against the vile historical institution of slavery in the U.S., read:

http://www.abc-usa.org/what_we_believe/our-history/

To understand how American Baptist Churches USA fights modern day human trafficking (slavery) today, read:

http://www.abc-usa.org/2013/12/12/abhms-endorses-iccrs-statement-against-human-trafficking/

Finally, if you wish to use study Bibles to dig deeper, see:

Coogan, Michael D., ed. The New Oxford Annotated Bible. New Revised Standard Version. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Since there are a number of sermons available on this site, if you would like some understanding on what is involved in creating a weekly sermon, read:

Allen, Ronald J. Patterns of Preaching: A Sermon Sampler. St. Louis, Missouri: Chalice Press, 1998.

and

Tizon, Al. Missional Preaching: Engage, Embrace, Transform. Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Judson Press, 2012.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

God Transforms Us in Surprising Ways

We come to our relationship with God, the Creator, Redeemer, and Spirit, with certain expectations. Often, God sees things differently. If we are willing to believe that God knows what is best for us and promises to remain with us and work for what is best in our lives always, and we go where God leads, amazing changes can happen in our lives. We may discover we become people quite different from what we expected when we started journeying with God. The famous twentieth century author C.S. Lewis put it well in his powerful book Mere Christianity when he wrote:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
Will you follow where God would lead you today? Will you place your faith in the one who loves you best and wants to transform you in ways you never expected? I hope you will. I invite you to give it a try. A lot of time, effort, sacrifice, and pain will come ... but, oh, the places you'll go, the things you'll do, and the joy you'll experience ... if you place your faith in God. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sharing the Joy Found in Our Faith

From time to time, I share the
joy I take from my faith with others
as the Christian clown, Joyful Noise.
In our day to day lives, sometimes we forget that the Christian faith is suffused with joy. That certainly appears to have been forgotten by many who appear in the public and project a far more dour and judgmental version of the faith. Let's look at joy in the Old and New Testaments for a different perspective. 
Joy in the Old Testament had a very public dimension, referring to visible acts of rejoicing. Practical reasons for Old Testament joy included having a loving spouse or wise children as seen in Ecclesiastes 9:9 and Proverbs 10:1. Theologically, Old Testament joy was a celebration of who God is and what God had done for God’s people, including deliverance, steadfast love, and salvation as seen in Isaiah 25:9, Psalm 30:5, and Jeremiah 31:12-13. Furthermore, God’s very self also rejoices, as illustrated in Psalm 104:31.
Moving to the New Testament, its books are suffused with joy. This joy emanates from the inauguration of the new age in which the Messiah has come. The angel’s pronouncement of good news of great joy for all people in Luke 2:10-11 becomes central to Jesus’ ministry in both word and deed. Joy is in the very character of God’s kingdom and once discovered, as stated in Matthew 13:44, the discoverer will sell all he or she has to retain this treasure and will do so joyfully. Paul puts a fine point on the matter when he states that the ultimate source of joy is in Christ and the Holy Spirit (Phil 3:1; 4:4; Rom 14:17). Therefore, if we know the ultimate source of joy, certainly we should share that source with others, and visible acts of rejoicing while doing so would not be out of place, according to the Old Testament. Of course, sharing Jesus with others is evangelism.
This is taken from the article "Joy in Evangelism" published in Witness Magazine and written by this pastor, Jeffrey B. Snyder ... who expresses his joy in Christ every chance he gets. 
Wishing you joy ... a contagious joy you'll share with others. 



Friday, June 13, 2014

Who Is Jesus?

American Baptist Churches USA, our denomination, states, "American Baptists celebrate the fact that belief in Jesus Christ assures salvation and eternal fellowship with a loving God. The events of the first Easter week are the cornerstones of our faith: the death of Christ, in which He took upon Himself the sin of the world, and the Resurrection, which gave proof of His triumph over sin and death. Holy Scripture always has been for American Baptists the authoritative and trustworthy guide for knowing and serving the God who is revealed as Creator, Savior and Advocate."

Henri Nouwen, in this devotional book, Bread for the Journey, gives admirable insight into one facet of Jesus. On page 63, he states,

“Jesus, the Blessed One, is gentle. Even though he speaks with great fervor and biting criticism against all forms of hypocrisy and is not afraid to attack deception, vanity, manipulation, and oppression, his heart is a gentle heart. He won’t break the crushed reed or snuff the faltering wick (see Matthew 12:20). He responds to people’s suffering, heals their wounds, and offers courage to the fainthearted.

Jesus came to bring good news to the poor, sight to the blind, and freedom to prisoners (see Luke 4:18-19) in all he says, and thus he reveals God’s immense compassion. As his followers, we are called to the same gentleness.”

Christians are to follow Jesus' example, approaching the world with Jesus' gentle heart. 

Jesus also guides us to the two greatest commandments, to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. In the parable of the "Good Samaritan," we learn by the kind actions of the Samaritan, an enemy of the people of Israel, when he helped a wounded Israeli, that our neighbors are everyone who needs us. It's a very all inclusive love we are to offer. 

Jesus is a friend of sinners, a blazer of trails for us to follow, a wonderful teacher who used humor to make his points and memorable stories known as parables, a controversial character who had little patience for those who quibbled over the letter of the law while entirely missing the law's spirit, and Jesus is shown as the true shepherd of the sheep, willing to lay down his life for the beloved flock (all of us). Jesus is our savior. Through his actions he closed the gap humanity had created between us and God when we refused  to love God, who loves us. 

Now, I could go on and on. However, I suspect you might find that just overwhelming. There is no end of what might be said about Jesus. Instead, I recommend getting to know Jesus for yourself through the Bible, which tells us best who Jesus is and what he intends for us all. 

The other thing you can do is ask believers for stories of what Jesus has meant in their lives. There you will find some wonderful insights into what Jesus means to believers who have dedicated their lives to Jesus. You can find one example of such a story right here on this blog site: http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/06/statement-of-faith.html

Jesus wants to develop a personal relationship with you, today. Jesus is calling to you. Will you respond?

We also invite you to visit us, worship with us, and come to know Jesus through our community. We welcome you. 

For a post about Jesus changing expectations, see: http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/04/sermon-summaries-palm-sunday-king-of.html