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In or Out?

When our children were younger, we used to listen to audio recordings of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, the pen name of Daniel Handler. Snicket likes to poke fun at our culture's fascination with what is "in" and what is "out." Esme Squalor, one of the more colorful characters in the series, has her heart set on being the "inest" person in town. She is f...

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Finish the Story

Kerra (my wife), is an English teacher who also teaches several other subjects. But at heart, she is an English teacher. Recently she assigned her class to read an incomplete short story. That was part of the assignment. The other part of the assignment was to write an ending to the story. This is essentially what Jesus is doing with those who are listening to the Parable ...

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Is Sin Basically Breaking the Rules of God or Breaking the Heart of God?

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus speaks to the relationship problems we have with God. For some of us, it is obvious that we are deeply alienated from God. But for others, our estrangement from God is much more subtle. It's not only the "younger brother" types who are alienated from God; "elder brother" types are too. The parable of the Prodigal Son is a dramatic...

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Wastefully Extravagant

Charles Dickens called it "the finest short story ever written." We know it as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It is a story that is deeply embedded with Western Culture. But have we really understood what Jesus was speaking of when he told the story of the parable? Maybe not. The fact that we call the story "The Parable of the Prodigal Son" suggests that we have not unde...

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Lost and Found

I lost my glasses the other day. I do that often. I put them down somewhere, then forget where I put them. I sometimes I do the same thing with my keys. My glasses are important to me. So are my keys. So, when I lose something of vital importance to me, I search diligently for that which was lost until I have found it. This week we begin a new sermon series titled, Lost...

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Why Sing Psalms?

For a while now, I've been chewing on the idea of incorporating Psalm singing into our worship services. I've introduced a couple of Psalms settings by singing them as we gather before the service starts. You might be wondering, why sing Psalms? While it is practiced in some churchesand there are even some churches that only sing Psalmsmost churches today do not regularly ...

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A Crisis of Faith

This morning I read where Hillsong worship leader Marty Sampson has decided to walk away from the faith. A few hours later, I saw that Sampson had retreated from that announcement a little by saying he hasn't totally walked away, but his faith is on shaky ground. Sampson's announcement follows on the heels of high profile pastor Joshua Harris' announcement a week or so ago...

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The Case of the Invisible Heart

We can't know what's in someone's heart." I read that all-too-familiar sentiment expressed on social media recently. A Christian ministry had released a video that attacked some other Christian leaders, associating them with demonic opposition to the gospel. Many people rightly rebuked those responsible and called for an apology. Predictably, though, someone came to their ...

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Where Does it Say, “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves?”

In the Bible? If you said "yes," you would be in the majority. According to a Barna Research Group survey in 2000, 75% of Americans and 40% of Christians believe this popular phrase is a truth found in the Bible. A more recent survey says that 68% of Christians believe this statement is in the Bible. So, the majority of those around us believe this phrase can be found in t...

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The Honeymoon Is Over

When we start something new, such as a new marriage or a new job or even a new church, there is typically a "honeymoon" phase. The honeymoon phase is when we're excited about new opportunities and optimistic about the future. Everything seems perfect. Then the honeymoon ends. We find out that we're all sinners. Our relationships with others don't have to grow very deep be...

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