Monday, October 29, 2012

WE Pray - Sermon

A sermon on prayer.

Philippians 4

Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner,[b] to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Friday, October 26, 2012

WE Pray - Column

In 1755, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, first prayed what would later be known as his Covenant Prayer. This prayer was formally published in 1780. Here is the prayer: 

I am no longer my own, but thine. 
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. 
Put me to doing, put me to suffering. 
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, 
   exalted for thee or brought low for thee. 
Let me be full, let me be empty. 
Let me have all things, let me have nothing. 
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. 

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 
   thou art mine, and I am thine. 

So be it. 

And the covenant which I have made on earth, 
   let it be ratified in heaven.


The prayer is simultaneously powerful and beautiful. Consider praying it regularly. A few years ago I wrote a modern version of this prayer. It is a prayer WE will pray in worship this morning: 

I was once mine. From this point forward, I am yours. 
Make clear my purposes in life. 
Place me among my loved ones and expand my heart to love all. 
Help me to think the things you want me to think, 
   say the things you want me to say,  
      and do the things you want me to do, 
      even if it means I am belittled, ignored, or criticized. 

Give me people to encourage, serve, and love. 
Give me times of peace and rest so I can love and be loved by you. 
Let me be a light to a dark world so people can see you working in me. 
Make me humble and remind me that everything I have is because of you. 

Thank you for times of happiness and prosperity 
   they are a gift.
Thank you for your presence and promise in days of sadness and hardship 
   I emerge stronger and wiser. 

Let me discover, embrace, and fulfill your will for my life. 

With joy and in fullness, 
   I give my possessions, my time, and my energy 
   to you and to your purposes. 

Almighty, holy, and blessed God: 
   Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 
   you are my true love and I am yours. 

And so it is. 

Let the covenant I am making here on earth be acceptable and pleasing to you.


In the remaining weeks of our WE imagine campaign – I encourage you to pray either version on a regular basis. And I encourage you to join me in praying the prayer WE have been praying throughout this campaign: Lord, what do you want to do through me? 

The best is yet to come… 


Monday, October 22, 2012

WE Believe - Sermon

A sermon on faith.

Matthew 14

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Friday, October 19, 2012

WE Believe - Column

The Greek word generally used in the Gospels for the English word faith is πίστιν which means “to be persuaded.” Persuasion implies a change in attitudes or behaviors. It is a movement of convictions based on reason and emotion.

Faith is best thought of as a verb and not a noun. Something we do and not something we have. James 2:17 tells us without action, faith is dead. Faith is a journey and not a destination. And it’s a gift from God – we can’t create it – we can only receive it and respond with it. (1 Corinthians 13:13) Faith is being persuaded to take the next step even though we don’t see the finish line. 

Risk is part of faith. To be persuaded that an uncertain future is better than a current reality. Refusing to take an adventure for something extraordinary is a guarantee for achieving something ordinary. Risking (acting on faith) means possibly losing one's footing for a moment or two; not risking means losing oneself. 

Possibility is part of faith. Being persuaded the best is still to come. Faith is believing the possibilities and not accepting the limitations. Hope is the painting; faith is the painter. 

Dependence is the beginning of faith. At times in our life we have been pushed and will be pushed to our limits. Here is the world: bad things happen and so do terrible things. We’ll discover, sooner or later if we haven’t already, that independence from God doesn’t work out. And dependence is the beginning of faith. 

Trust is the maturity of faith. The trusting disciple just doesn’t believe in God, but also believes and trusts God. The disciple trusts that God can do more with six of our days depending on Him than he or she could do in seven days independent of Him. The disciple trusts things like praying for our enemies. This makes no sense but the disciple does it because it’s God’s idea therefore it is a good idea. 

Last Sunday, The Water’s Edge, demonstrated faith. It was by far our biggest step of faith we have ever taken. A persuasion that buying land was the next step in our journey together with God. It is a risk. A big risk. A 23 acre risk. But we believe extraordinary is now a better possibility. We have faith that God has a sacred and holy use for this land. We have faith that people will get to know God and get to know God better on this ground. We have faith that new friendships will be formed and existing relationships and families will be strengthened on this land. We have faith that hurting people, marginalized people, and broken people will be served on this property. We unanimously decided to depend on God and depend on each other. And we trust that God will provide. After all, it’s His church. 

The best is yet to come…