Month: March, 2014

Feeling blessed by these sermons online

We don’t have an orthodox Anglican church close by either our home on the Island or here in Phoenix. So we appreciate hearing the gospel preached online. This week the sermons friends and family have sent me as well as the one we heard at Christ’s Church of the Valley have a common theme. They ask the question, what does it mean for our every day life to know and follow Jesus?

While in Phoenix we attend Christ’s Church of the Valley’s (CCV) Peoria Campus. CCV is so big and has so many locations that the pastor now appears via video recorded the previous evening at the 10:30 service we go to. This link will take you to either just the message or the full service. For an experience of  3000 people worshiping at once,  click on the service link. To go straight to the sermon, click on that link. What I find amazing is that we two recently retired folks are the old ones at this service. The average member appears to be in the 30s with kids. Their focus is on getting men in the church doors. To that end, this Sunday they hosted a car show on church property that featured over two hundred collector vehicles including a very rare Jag D-Type. Pastor Don of CCV is preaching a series on encountering Jesus. How would we react being face-to-face with Jesus? In this week’s sermon he is looking at Simon Peter’s relationship with Jesus. He compares Peter’s denial of Jesus (three times) with Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus. Both expressed remorse over their last encounter with Jesus before his crucifixion. However, while Judas expressed sorrow over his action, Peter also repented for his. Both ended up dying violently, Judas by his own hand and Peter for standing up for his faith. Are we ready to defend Christian values in the marketplace? Will you decide for tolerance over truth? Or will you stand up for Biblical truth and values? After you encounter Jesus, what difference has it made in your life?

The other sermon I watched this week was sent to me by my daughter under the subject ‘Smoking hot sermon’.  It is by Andy Stanley from Atlanta who like Pastor Don in Phoenix is head pastor of a network of many churches. His sermon, available under this link, is about what it looks like to follow Jesus. Following Jesus is about making a difference, not making a point. For someone who loves to debate, this is a challenge I need to ponder. Pastor Andy calls us to ‘clothe’ ourselves in kindness and love. The difference is made in our community when they experience from us a genuine compassion and humility. Pastor Andy exhorts us to ask God to bring to mind opportunities to loan our strength to other people. Jesus did not come here, he says, to make a point. He came here to make a difference. That difference is expressed by loving people the way our Heavenly Father loved us through his son, Jesus Christ.

A new friend and neighbor here in the sunny south sent me a sermon he found on a blog he subscribes to that expresses a point Pastor Andy would agree with. While I don’t have a link to it, I would like to share its salient point. The sermon starts by quoting the Sherma from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 which begins “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One”, and then goes on to ponder Jesus’ attitude towards religion.

Jesus thought that the circle of God’s children could not be closed by religious stricture. So he opened it up. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. He called women to be his followers and witnesses in a time when women could not testify in legal cases. He embraced children, a clear taboo in the patriarchal society of which he was a part. He called people from all walks of life, even those with questionable trades, to be his followers and to sit at table with him. Everywhere he went he reached out to people expressing to them that God’s embrace is large indeed, very large indeed. The Temple might have limits. God’s embrace holds the universe.

 These three sermons focus on our personal relationship with Jesus and what it means to be His follower. How we encounter Jesus will reflect in our encounters with our family, neighbors and colleagues. Our relationship and interactions with Jesus will guide, direct and inform our relationships and interactions with one another.