Pastors' Notes

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Do the Next Thing

Recently I came across this poem on The Gospel Coalition website; I had not heard of it before. It was well-timed grace – “low inspiration”, customized by God for a low moment: “From an old English parsonage down by the sea There came in the twilight a message to me; Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven, Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heav...

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Truly Christian Help

You are in your discipleship group, and someone reveals their recent, painful loss. You respond by expressing empathy and grief. But then what? Buddhists and atheists and Communists express empathy and grief. What next, that would be “Christian”? Read Titus 1:1-2, and insert “Paul”, with your name, and “an apostle of Jesus Christ” with ...

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Reflecting on Life with Lucy

It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since God brought Lucy into our life. Three years of joy and exhaustion and recalibrated plans about life. As I reflect on those three “features” of life with Lucy, here are some lessons I’m learning, in no particular order: Sometimes – often – a mom won’t get a Sabbath rest,...

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The Reformation in a Verse

This Halloween is the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, when Martin Luther revealed his 95 Theses, setting off a firestorm of debate, controversy, change, and blessed freedom. Many passages of Scripture could claim to be the heart of the Reformation; Colossians 2:23 is one of them. If you want to understand the Reformation, seek to understand Colossian...

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Addicted to Righteousness

An old Reformer once said, of the Christian’s life, that “unless we are addicted to righteousness”, "we will faithlessly abandon our Creator". That phrase - “addicted to righteousness” - is striking. Certainly the language of addiction applies to our present day, even in our entertainment practices - we don’t just “watch TV”;...

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Hugh and Jake

Sometimes God gives compare and contrast moments that are inescapable. This morning I saw in the New York Times that Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy, had died. Thinking biblically: “. . . you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God . . . becaus...

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Grace for Gracie

Many of you have asked about my family member Gracie, who was shot by a fellow student in her school a couple weeks ago. She is recovering well. Though the bullet literally bounced off her spine (and missed her aorta by a hair), doctors expect a full recovery (though she is not yet walking again). As you read this, please pray for her.  As I understand it, she was sh...

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Earthy Means to Flourishing Community

“Community” is simply being with other people. A flourishing community is one where there is mutual, multiplying joy among the members, as a product of being with each other. This is because we humans are hard-wired for joy. We’re created with this innate desire. The only way that any human experiences satisfying joy is in God. Therefore the only truly fl...

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From Awesomeness to Flourishing

We are a polar people. On the one pole, we love to be exceptional, to be special. You see this sweet narcissism on social media; we post our best and brightest moments, but often the purpose is to demonstrate the singularity of ourselves. But a funny thing happens on the road to awesomeness: we find that being awesome doesn’t result in being loved.  Therefore, ...

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Notetaking During the Sermon

As you settle back into a routine from the summer, it might be a good time to consider how you take notes during the sermon. We like notetaking, and our style of preaching invites it (thinking here about the main points, which often require more than one pass to digest). But notetaking has its pitfalls: - While recording some information that is intriguing, one can easily...

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