Perseverance Required

Perseverance Required

If you haven’t noticed, yet, I love to watch sports. Baseball is probably my favorite, because it is a cerebral game that forces you to think three or four batters ahead. Football, though, is probably the sport that gets me the most animated. I’ve been told that I can get a little loud and crazy when we’re not winning or the referees make a call that I do not appreciate.

Most of the time, though, I am watching the games in my home office and with the door closed to give some protection to the family. We don’t go to as many games as I would like, primarily because of cost and the challenges of taking Noah to an event with a large crowd. The last time I went to a home college football game was probably 2007. I probably haven’t been to a college football game, in general, since West Virginia last played Louisville at Cardinal Stadium in 2010.

The one thing that I miss about going to games in person is the pageantry. You don’t get a good feel for the crowd noise, especially before a game, by sitting on your recliner with a Diet Coke and a bag of chips by your side. Those moments before a game are special. You have the band playing. You have the anticipation from the crowd for what will come. You have the players getting ready and jumping around in the tunnel. All of this rises to a point that it runs over with excitement and jubilation when the team runs out onto the field.

I love that moment. It gets you excited. Now, can you imagine if the pregame ritual was kind of “eh.” Imagine what it would feel like if you sat in the crowd and the entire stadium was discouraged or despondent. Imagine if the band stopped playing. Imagine if the team walked out with their heads down believing that there is no way they could win. How would we respond? We probably wouldn’t be too excited about the game, and probably would turn the channel or go home early believing that there is no way our team would win.

Imagine if that is how we treated our faith in Christ. Imagine if instead of players running out on the field, it was us going into our mission field of Huntington. What if we were despondent, discouraged, and detached from it all? Would we be growing in our faith in Christ? Would we be able to share the love of Christ with others in such a way that it would encourage people to come along side us? Continue reading “Perseverance Required”

Sunday Sermon: Run the Race

Today’s sermon will be a little different than normal. This morning, I want to specifically speak to our five youth who were confirmed today. In doing so, I hope I might say something that will impact each of our lives, and that includes my own.

This is a momentous day in each of your lives and in the ministry and life of this congregation. What each of you have done is to make several public proclamations. By your presence, you have proclaimed your thanks for those who have walked with you through the years and have taught you about faith, about Jesus, and about what it means to follow the Lord. You have proclaimed your desire to live for Christ with your every word and breath. Finally, you have proclaimed your intent to be a witness of Jesus Christ through your example and actions in this world.

It is a huge responsibility and blessing you have committed yourselves to today. It is not something to be taken lightly. For as all of us can attest, living for Christ and seeking to be his witness every day are some of the hardest things we will ever attempt to do. That is why stories like the rich young ruler, who wanted as little of Jesus as he could without the Lord wrecking his life, speak to us. We want to proclaim our faith in Christ without the life Jesus desires for us ever messing with the life we want. Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: Run the Race”

The Journey to Golgotha

It is almost ironic.

Here we are on this day where the imagery, symbolism, and tradition takes us to the city gates of Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago. It is the day we remember Jesus’ arrival at the start of that fateful Passover week proceeding his betrayal, death, and resurrection. Yet, our passage takes us beyond the gates and to the courtyard of Pilate’s headquarters. On this day when we want to join the crowds in their exaltation and shouting of “Hosanna!,” we find ourselves in the midst of Jesus’ pain and anguish.

It is ironic, however it is also appropriate. As we have seen throughout our current sermon series, Holy Week is about more than palms and celebrations. It is about finding ourselves in the midst of Jesus’ journey and experiencing the stories in a way that opens our eyes to the depths of God’s love and our need of Christ in our lives. Our tendency, though, is to stay among the crowd and shout “Hosanna!,” and rush through the pain of the week and what it teaches.

The reason is that we want this day of Palm Sunday to be both the beginning and ending to the story of Jesus’ narrative in Jerusalem. We want to stay in this place where Jesus is heralded as the beloved Messiah. Doing so gives us the “Hollywood” story and ending that we desperately desire. Where everything is neat, tidy, and comfortable. Yet, life is never a “Hollywood” story and neither is the journey Jesus has been on throughout his ministry. Continue reading “The Journey to Golgotha”

We Cannot Stay on the Mountaintop

It was a big moment.

After some time spent together and witnessing amazing acts of healing and teaching, Jesus’ disciples are having an important conversation with Jesus. This wasn’t the usual conversation. Jesus asks his disciples a very direct and personal question: “Who do you say that I am?”

The question came after Jesus asked them about what the people saw in him. It was Peter who would speak for the entire group, as was the case many times in their three-year journey with Jesus. He announced that Jesus is, in fact, the long-awaited Messiah. The One who would redeem the people and establish God’s kingdom.

This was a big moment for the disciples and Peter. It signified that they were beginning to understand Jesus’ identity and the work he came to do, even if they didn’t understand fully what this meant. Jesus celebrates Peter’s affirmation by saying he would build his church upon his confession. He also takes the opportunity to further explain what his Lordship meant. Jesus said he must go to Jerusalem, be rejected, crucified, and raised to life three days later. Peter refused to hear this, which led to Jesus’ rebuke of Peter standing in the way of Jesus’ movement towards the cross.

Fast forward now six days later. That conversation and moment may still be fresh on the disciples’ minds as they approach Mount Tabor. This is the traditional setting for what Matthew describes for us in Matthew 17:1-9. What takes place is a high moment in Jesus’ ministry, and one that would leave his disciples amazed. Continue reading “We Cannot Stay on the Mountaintop”