Monday, February 17, 2014


This is a sermon summary of the sermon presented at Prairie Chapel (Fulton, MO) on February 16, 2014.

Peter must have been uncomfortable being identified with Jesus at least in the face of conflict and criticism.  Remember he denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed.  Are we comfortable with our faith in a time that Christianity is under attack?  Are we able to comfortably engage our friends who are skeptics? Or are we afraid we will be identified as “one of them?” 

Forty percent of 16 to 29 year-olds have rejected the Christian faith.  It may not be Jesus they reject, but Christians.  Eighty seven percent of them say we are too judgmental especially of their homosexual friends (Had we approached many of Michael Sam’s friends on Saturday, shielding him from the Westboro Baptist Church haters, we might have been labeled “one of them.”  Eight-five percent say we are hypocrites saying one thing and doing another.  I wear my Christianity on my sleeve.  I wonder if my secular friends label me when topics about creationism, or judgmentalism, or bigotry are in the news.  I wonder.

Jesus was critical, in fact judgmental, of those within the faith, tough on the Scribes and Pharisees, but dealt gently with those beyond.  In Matthew 7, he tells us to not judge, least we be judged, to not judge the speck in our neighbor’s eye before we remove the log from our own.  In other words, “nudge, not judge.”

He tells us to not throw our pearls before swine lest they trample them under their feet and turn and maul us.  In other words, don’t force our ideas on others when they are just not ready.

He tells us come along side others, develop relationships with other, respect others, coach others by asking, seeking, gently knocking instead of foisting what we consider sacred on the “dogs.”  He tells us to “ask not cast.” Lastly, he sums it all up saying, "Therefore, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets."  In other words, "Be Gold not cold." Be sensitive, be warm. Build relationships, walk in the other's shoes.  Treat others with the respect that we expect "for this is the law and the prophets."


This is a sermon summary of the sermon presented at Prairie Chapel (Fulton, MO) on February 9, 2014

We’re being followed by a generation of skeptics.  Forty percent of 16 to 29 year-olds have rejected the Christian faith.  They are fueled by a new breed of evangelical atheists who would like to rid the world of religion believing is the cause of all things bad: war, violence, hatred, bigotry, all in the name of religion.  They make good arguments.  Some that science has all the answers and they cringe when “creationists” claim the world is just 6000 years old and want to replace the science of evolution is the classroom with creationism. 

I believe that science and religion can exist in harmony, side by side; that science does not have all the answers.  Francis Collins, head of the human genome project, scientist, medical doctor, Christian (and believer in evolution), and 
author of
The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief  says that science makes no attempt to answer how the universe got here (we have a Creator God), what is the meaning of life (we are called to love God and neighbor sometimes in sacrificial ways and that gives life meaning), or what happens after we die (Jesus tells he goes to prepare a place for us and that give us hope). 

Rather that being a science book, the Genesis story tells about God (who created us, loves us, wants us to love him in return, to calls us to care for creation and our neighbor).  And it tells us about us: “The Lord God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”  And it tells us about our relationship with God.

There is room for the Big Bang and evolution in our understanding.  Wesley said “for those things that do not strike at the root of Christianity, think and let think.”  Creator God, Jesus, and the Great Commandment are the roots of our faith.  We can comfortably welcome the skeptic to explore that faith with us.


The Big “C” Church, the gathering of Christ’s followers (Greek “Ecklesia”) is the Body of Christ, the ongoing incarnation: the hands, heart, hands, feet and voice of Christ on Earth.  The Church is essential to God’s plan.  Can you imagine Christianity exploding from the twelve to half the world’s population without the Church?

We need the Church!  And each church must understand the reasons: 1) In being his incarnation, we become his followers, his hands, heart, feet and voice.  2) The Church is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is uniquely present when two or three are gathered in ways we cannot experience alone.  3) When we meet, we encourage one another.  There would be no Christianity today without the gathering people.  4) We can do far more things, greater things together than we can apart.  We’ve created schools, hospitals; we’ve met crisis and flood; we’ve attacked poverty and injustice, all in the name of Christ.  We could not do it alone.  5) We receive unique gifts of the Holy Spirit, not for our purpose but for building up others.  If we want to realize those gifts, we must be part of the Church.  6) Finally, there are things we cannot learn alone.  We cannot learn to love alone, to forgive alone, compassion, mercy, gentleness.  We need others to learn these things.  We cannot reach our potential as Christians by ourselves. 

In other words (GECKO) (We had a little fun with Church, Ecklesia, and Gather (CEK--Sounds too much like a brew keg) and GEK (which reminded us of the Geico Gecko and helped us remember the reasons we need the Church):

G: To Gather and do Greater things.  
E: To Experience Christ.  
C: To be a Community Commanded to gather and enCourage one another.  
And KO: (Kristos Overall) Because Christ is the head Overall, we are able
to be his deeply committed followers, to be individually members of his
body.  “We are the Church together.”