Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Cubs’

Sermon 08-06-17: “God Has Given Us This Life to Receive the Gospel”

August 22, 2017

This sermon is unusual for me because it’s about one verse, 1 Peter 4:6, which includes strange words about the gospel being “preached to those who are dead.” What does that mean? One thing it doesn’t mean, as I argue in this sermon, is that people get a second chance to hear and respond to the gospel even after they die. No, the time to receive God’s gift of salvation is now. 

Sermon Text: 1 Peter 4:6

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In one of the two sermons I preached last Sunday morning, when I was talking about verse 1 and the connection between suffering and “ceasing from sin,” I said, “This is one of two difficult verses in this passage.” I didn’t have time to talk about the second difficult verse in last Sunday’s sermon. So I want to talk about that verse now, and next week we’ll look at verses 7 through 11.

Verse 6 says the following: “For this is why the gospel was preached to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.” The gospel was preached to those who are dead. What does that mean?

Let me begin by taking about two things it doesn’t mean.

First, it doesn’t mean that Peter is talking about those who are spiritually dead. That has been one way of interpreting this verse over the years. While it’s true, of course, that apart from Christ, we are spiritually dead, Peter has just said, in the previous verse, that God is going to judge the “living and the dead.” He gives no indication that he’s switching gears and using the word “dead” in a figurative way. No, when he refers to “preaching to the dead,” he’s talking about people who are now physically dead. Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 11-06-16: “Generosity, Part 4: Generosity and Ministry”

November 10, 2016

generosity-sermon-series-graphic

A few years ago, the newly crowned World Series MVP, Ben Zobrist, said that if you spend your life chasing championships, “there will always be a next thing.” In other words, we will never be satisfied. In today’s scripture, by contrast, Jesus challenges three would-be disciples to be satisfied… in him alone. And so he challenges us. Is Christ enough for us? Or do we want or need something else?

Sermon Text: Luke 9:49-10:2

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Well, he was only off by one year—I’m referring to the screenwriter of Back to the Future II. As you may have heard, he nearly predicted the World Series victory of the Chicago Cubs. The movie, if you recall, showed it happening in 2015 instead of 2016, but still… Pretty close. Of course, it makes me feel old either way. Because I saw Back to the Future II in the theater when it came out, and like everyone else of my generation, 2015 seemed like a long, long way off! Where did the time go?

But great win for the Cubs. Great win for World Series Most Valuable Player Ben Zobrist, whose one-out, opposite-field double down the third base line in the tenth inning helped put the Cubs ahead for good.

Ben Zobrist, 2016 World Series MVP

Ben Zobrist, 2016 World Series MVP

Aside from being an outstanding utility infielder who’s now won not one but two world championships, Zobrist is also an outspoken Christian. In 2013, he gave his testimony at Lipscomb University. He said that up until he got to the Major Leagues, his life was “all about sports. Even though he was a Christian, baseball was number one in his life, not Christ. “The bottom line,” he said, “was I needed to repent of this great need that I had to achieve and succeed at this earthly level.” Because, he said, if your goal is winning championships, “there’s always going to be a next thing. I don’t want to be like that. I want to rest and be at peace. That peace only comes from Christ.”

Did you hear that? Apart from Christ, we will always have a next thing—something else, out there—some new goal, some new award, some new achievement, some new recognition, some new relationship—that keeps us striving, keeps us worrying, keeps us restless, keeps us doubting ourselves… unless or until we attain that thing that our heart desires. At which point, we’ll find it’s not enough. We’ll find that there’s still something else that we need. “We will always have a next thing,” Ben Zobrist said. And he’s exactly right. Read the rest of this entry »

Seeing the world in color for the first time

November 28, 2012

I’ll have to remember this quote from Bill Murray the next time I preach on this text, for instance. From an interview in today’s New York Times, Murray describes a recent extemporaneous speech he gave at a minor-league baseball hall of fame:

I spoke about the first time I went to Wrigley Field in Chicago, and I was a big Cubs fan, and I watched all the games on TV, but when I grew up, TV was in black and white. So when I was 7 years old, I was taken to my first Cubs games, and my brother Brian said, “Wait, Billy,” and he put his hands over my eyes, and he walked me up the stairs. And then he took his hands away. [He begins to get choked up.] And there was Wrigley Field, in green. There was this beautiful grass and this beautiful ivy. I’d only seen it in black and white. It was like I was a blind man made to see. It was something.