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Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

“The Matrix” was one of the most significant movies of the 1990s because it blended avant-garde special effects with a rich mix of spiritual ideas which created a film into which the viewer could easily read his or her own religious beliefs. The special effects created a thing of beauty. The spirituality created a thing of wonder. The delicious mix of beauty and wonder inspired a generation to explore the question of what is reality, and, perhaps more importantly, can I know reality? (more…)

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Thesis: We are the tools God will use to reshape the world in which we live.

The reason God interacts with the world is to draw all of mankind toward a relationship with him. One of the primary ways God builds relationships with people is through those who already have a relationship with God. God calls each of us in relationship with him, regardless of our earthly past, to reach out to the lost of this world. God promises that all who seek a relationship with him will find it and God is a faithful God who will never go back on his promise.

Neither you, nor I, nor anyone else on earth is righteous; rather righteousness is something that God develops within each person once we are in a relationship with God. As God grows this righteousness it will affect how the world sees us. As God shapes and changes us we must bathe all of our activities in prayer. The work we are called to do, as children of God, is to reveal God to the world around us. We can be confident in this work that God will save all those who turn to him. (more…)

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A Sermon

“Friends: The one with the gardener”

– John 15:9-17

The intended audience is a rural Friends church of about 65 in eastern Illinois. The Society of Friends (more commonly known as Quakers) was founded by George Fox in seventeenth century England. It was founded on the principle that all persons had the ability to directly experience God; a priest or other church officiant was not required to communicate with God.

The Society of Friends took their name from John 15:14. In that passage Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” Friends would later be branded with the name Quaker. This pejoratively intended name was first used in 1650, when George Fox was brought before Justice Bennet of Derby on a charge of blasphemy. According to Fox’s journal, Bennet “called us Quakers because we bid them tremble at the word of God.” (more…)

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Throughout this paper I hope to focus through the lens of worship on the two ideas of (1) Spiritual development and (2) the dichotic need for both solitude and community in a healthy spiritual life. In this paper I am going to suggest that worshiping through Fowler’s stages of faith might be an effective way of meeting our spiritual needs.

There is a certain integration that naturally occurs between Fowler’s stages and the ideas of the dichotomous need for both solitude and community. Approximately half the stages tend to lead us to worship more in community and half lead us to worship in solitude. If we are able to worship through each of the stages, rather than just the stage we find ourselves in, then we become able to meet our spiritual needs for both solitude and silence. (more…)

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One only needs to read the phrase, “In the beginning was the word,” to realize that the Gospel of John approaches the story of Jesus in a manner that is truly unique. The gospel of Mark may represent the first unpolished record of the gospel message, and Luke may have finally written “an orderly account,” but it is the author of the gospel of John that truly delves into the theological implications of God coming to earth and dying for humanities transgressions.

There are many times throughout the gospel of John where Jesus tries to make it clear to his disciples that he is God incarnate, who has come to this earth as their savior; as their messiah. Jesus also tries to make it clear that he will die; unfortunately, the disciples never fully understand. One of these occasions occurs near the oratorical climax of the text, while Jesus and his disciples are eating what will be their last Passover meal together. Judas has just left the room to setup his betrayal and Jesus tries to explain to his disciples what is about to happen. The vast majority of John’s account (13:31b-36) of this event is entirely original and holds no semblance to any part of the other three gospels. (more…)

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One of the greatest problems I have observed in churches has to do with the issue of generational transitioning, that is, how you transition the next generation into positions of leadership. Most churches take one of three routes in attempting this. The first is the funeral method; when someone dies his or her leadership chair is filled by the next person in line, death is the only way into leadership. The second method is the coup; the group out of power works to destroy an individual in power and replace that individual with one of their own. The third method is the ostrich method; the group in power blinds itself for the need for the next generation to have a leadership role and pretty soon the problem resolves itself – the younger generation leaves.

I would argue that none of these methods is an effective way for transitioning power between generations. This brings up the question that will be addressed in this paper: how do generations effectively transfer leadership? (more…)

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Evangelism

Evangelism is a journey. This journey starts when an individual is introduced to the concept of sin and comes to the realization that they have sinned. As Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Sin separates us from God and introduces us to death. Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NIV).

The second part of Romans 6:23 tells us that God loved us, and wanted us to be with him so he sent the gift of eternal life into the world in the form of a man named Jesus. This Jesus was fully God and fully human. Jesus lived a sinless life but chose to die. Death, however, had no right to claim him, because he had not sinned, so Jesus came back to life. Because he chose to die when he did not have to, Jesus can substitute his death for the death we deserve, if we ask. John 3:16-18 says:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (NIV).

After Jesus left this earth, God sent a part of himself to live in whoever is willing to humble themselves and ask God to take leadership of their life. This part of God is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives guidance and offers direction to those willing to listen. (more…)

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