Posts Tagged ‘U2’

Sermon 05-28-17: “What Is Jesus Worth to You?”

June 22, 2017

“Long for the pure spiritual milk,” Peter writes—by which he means the “milk of the word,” as the King James puts it. In other words, as God’s children, we should long for the gospel, for God’s Word, and for God’s kingdom. As I discuss in this sermon, we can’t fake “longing for” something. Either we do or we don’t. And if we don’t, then that’s a symptom of a spiritual problem. See, when Peter tells us to “put away” these various sins in verse 1, my temptation is to preach a “try harder”-type sermon: “Try harder to be a better Christian. Work harder on the ‘spiritual disciplines.’ Pray more. Study the Bible more.” But as I make clear in this sermon, our problem isn’t that we’re not trying hard enough; our problem is that we’re not believing the gospel wholeheartedly enough. We need to learn to apply the gospel to the problems in our lives. This sermon talks about how to do that.

Sermon Text: 1 Peter 2:1-10

My sermons are now being podcast! My podcast is available in iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher.

There was a lot of heartbreaking news last week: First, there was the terrorist bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England—an attack designed to kill children, and  teenagers, and their parents. Twenty-two people died. Many more were injured. President Trump referred to the terrorists as “evil losers,” and I couldn’t agree more! Evil losers. I like that. When we hear about this sort of thing, it is perfectly good and even Christian for us to remind ourselves of Paul’s words in Romans 12: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”[1] We can thank God for that.

We can also thank God, especially on this Memorial Day weekend, that God has called men and women in our armed forces to be what Paul describes in Romans 13 as “God’s servants”—avengers, he says—who carry out God’s wrath on wrongdoers.[2] And on this weekend especially we thank God for those who gave “the last full measure of devotion.”

By all means, we Christians are supposed to live our lives as peace-loving and peace-making, inasmuch as it depends on us, but we do so with the certain knowledge that in the end, God will ensure that no sin, no evil, will ultimately go unpunished. There will be a Day when justice will be done—completely and perfectly. God will see to it! And for those of us who have trusted in Christ, we are thankful that on the cross, God in Christ has taken the punishment that we deserve for our sin and our evil. Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 03-19-17: “Dealing with Doubt”

March 30, 2017

Do you ever have doubts about your faith in Jesus Christ? In today’s scripture, John the Baptist, surely one of the most headstrong of Bible heroes, expresses doubt in Jesus. He sends his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you the One”—meaning “Are you the Messiah”—”or should we expect someone else?” How could John, of all people, ask this, unless doubt is a normal experience for Christians? Nevertheless, God doesn’t want us to remain in a state of doubt. This sermon explores reasons we often doubt and potential traps we may fall into while we’re doubting. If you’re in a season of doubt, I pray that this message encourages you.

Sermon Text: Matthew 11:1-15

My boys and I have been bachelors this weekend, since Lisa and Elisa are out of town, which means we’ve had the TV all to ourselves. On Friday, we watched that recent Tom Hanks movie Captain Phillips. It’s based on a true story about a cargo ship that got taken over by pirates off the coast of Somalia in 2009. It was good—suspenseful—and Tom Hanks, as usual, was outstanding.

Last April, Hanks gave an interview to Terry Gross on the NPR interview show Fresh Air. He said something that may surprise you. He admitted that he was plagued by self-doubt. He said,

No matter what we’ve done, there comes a point where you think, ‘How did I get here? When are they going to discover that I am, in fact, a fraud and take everything away from me?’…

There are days when I know that 3 o’clock tomorrow afternoon I am going to have to deliver some degree of emotional goods, and if I can’t do it, that means I’m going to have to fake it. If I fake it, that means they might catch me at faking it, and if they catch me at faking it, well, then it’s just doomsday.[1]

I guess I’m naive. I thought that acting was supposed to be about faking it, but what do I know?

Tom Hanks is one of the most successful and critically acclaimed actors in the history of Hollywood. He’s starred in some of the most beloved movies of the past 30 years, which have earned $8.5 billion worldwide. He’s won two Oscars and two Golden Globes—and he’s been nominated for a ton more. Literally a ton, if you could add up the weight of all those trophies. In 2014, President Obama awarded him a Kennedy Center Honors medallion.

If someone like Tom Hanks can doubt something—in spite of all this evidence to the contrary—is it any wonder that we Christians will sometimes also have doubts—about God, about Jesus? Read the rest of this entry »

Bono: “I’m holding out for grace”

June 20, 2013
I love the fact that this very young Bono is playing a Fender Lead II. That's my guitar!

I love the fact that this very young Bono is playing a Fender Lead II. That’s my guitar!

Last week, Frank Viola blogged about a biography of Bono written by an author named Michka Assayas. I loved the following excerpt from an interview, in which Bono articulates the meaning of the Atonement about as well as anything I’ve read.

Michka: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Michka: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Michka: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Michka: I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

Michka: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Sermon for 11-22-09: “Christ Our King”

November 26, 2009

Sermon Text: John 18:33-38a

Today is a special Sunday known as Christ the King Sunday. It is the last Sunday of the Christian year. It’s sort of New Year’s Eve, if you want to think of it that way. Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. While we don’t have noisemakers, party hats, or champagne, we do have good reason to celebrate because Jesus Christ is our king.

Speaking of royalty, when I was 15, my family and I took a two-week trip to the British Isles. We spent a week in England. While we were in London, we had just finished visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral and were walking around the streets of London when something remarkable happened. We stumbled upon a parade and saw the queen. She was about as far away from me as this front row of chairs is. We took Read the rest of this entry »