Archives For Theology

On December 18, 2012

Names #6: Changing Names

CT PreachingThis is the last post in this short series about names in the book of Genesis. I know that whole idea might sound strange, but it’s something I’ve been rolling around in my mind for a while, because I’m convinced that our names matter more than we think they do. I think our language to describe the world and ourselves matter a lot to God.

That why Genesis talks a lot about names. Because a name is a story, and if we don’t name well, we might not tell the story we are wanting to tell.

For example…

Did you ever wonder why God changes people’s names? Does this strike anybody else as bizarre? And it happens all the time in the Bible, especially in Genesis. Like when God comes to Abram and Sarai, these people who’ve had their names for 70 years, and he’s like “Let’s add an H” in there.

Or what about Jacob? God comes to this guy who is one of the worst heroes in ancient literature (He’s kind of a jerk, he’s selfish and he’s always trying to get ahead) and God tells him that he’s going to change his name to Israel.

To which I would say, can’t we go with something that sounds more normal like…Gary or Robert?

But I’ll come back to this.

Continue Reading...
On December 4, 2012

Names #4: Curses and Poetry

So this is a short series about names in Genesis, and more specifically about why the Bible seems to make such a big deal about names and the language we use. It’s why names matter more than we think they do.

The other day I was talking with another preacher friend of mine, who is a minster in another state, and we were talking about church work and about the different ways that church volunteers serve. And ultimately the conversation turned to how bad preachers are at getting people to volunteer. Not that we can’t get people to volunteer, that part is easy, but that preachers aren’t that good at getting people to volunteer in ways that help the volunteers just as much as the people they are serving.

The temptation of preachers, or bosses, or anyone who cares about a certain project is to use people.

I’m going to let you in on a dirty little church leadership secret. If you have pride…I can get you do almost anything. But it will almost never turn out well.

Let me explain:

One of the more interesting things about the book of Genesis is how it starts. If you’re familiar with the Bible at all, then you probably know that Genesis chapter 1 is the story of God creating the world. But what you might not know is that Genesis 1 is written as a poem. It’s got a rhythm, it’s got beat and a cadence.

Genesis 1 is about God doing the work of creation, but he does it with a song.

He makes the universe like he’s writing a poem.

And then the crescendo, the climax of this song is when he makes Adam and Eve. God passes on to them things that he doesn’t give the other parts of his creation, he asks them to name and create with him. In other words, he let’s them sing along.

Now if you are familiar with this story, you know that this doesn’t last long. Adam and Eve are placed in the Garden of Eden and they are given permission to do anything they want, the only prohibition God gives them is that they can’t eat from one tree. They can do anything, and remember they’re naked at this point, it’s like God is making it easy on them to think about other stuff. But they do the one thing we probably all would do, they disobey, they fail to trust God.

And this is the story that we’ve been living out ever since.

Continue Reading...
On July 12, 2012

More Than a Fish

I just finished a series on Jonah at Highland, and it’s one of the most surprising series I’ve ever done. We’ve developed all these ways to keep Jonah at arms length, we pretend that it’s a story about a guy and a whale, and try to reduce Jonah to some Veggietales story, but it’s not. It’s a story about national idolatry, and racism, and arrogance, and unforgiveness, and a story about people who speak for God but don’t really like God.

Continue Reading...
On June 27, 2012

The Testimony of Weakness

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is doing back to back chapters filled with miracles. He’s healing servants and daughters, raising the dead and giving lepers their lives back. And tucked right in the middle of like 9 miracles, is the story of Jesus calling and forgiving Matthew, the Tax Collector. As if Matthew is winking at the reader to let us know that for him this was just as much of a healing as any dead person or leper had experienced. Because Matthew now knows that there are lots of ways to be sick.

Continue Reading...
On May 16, 2012

The Song of Moses

A good preacher friend of mine made the point recently that the first thing we read that the Israelites took with them when they left Egypt was a tambourine. Not snack packs for the road, or camelpaks, a tambourine. So they’re not the best campers in the world, but they were right about this. When you realize how big what God is up to in the world actually is, then the most appropriate response is to worship.

Continue Reading...
On April 12, 2012

The War in Heaven

f I had to summarize Revelation in one sentence it would be that what happens on earth matters in Heaven, and what happens in Heaven matters on earth. God is fighting a cosmic battle, he’s dealing fully and finally with evil in all it’s forms. And part of the point of Revelation is that we aren’t just spectators, God’s people are warriors…but in a very different way, in a very different war.

Continue Reading...
On March 22, 2012

The Wounds of Triumph

At the Cross something fundamentally changed with the way things can work. The Cross is not just how God saves His people, it’s how His people can go about bringing that salvation to the rest of the world. Not by adding to, but by participating in. The church preaches Christ best, while crucified.

Continue Reading...
On March 15, 2012

The Victory of the Lamb

In High School when I read Revelation, I remember being struck by how violent it all was. But Revelation is doing war against violence itself. It is subverting the very thing that our human condition is built upon. Might makes right, Power is Victory. Revelation tells us the Gospel doesn’t agree, and it’s subverts violence itself.

Continue Reading...
On March 1, 2012

What Plagues Us All

I’ve been in ministry long enough to know each of us brings our own unique sets of brokenness to the table. And that we each try to pretend that it isn’t there. So we discover ways of emphasizing our strengths and talents and ignoring our flaws, but in our quieter moments we know just how deeply broken we each are. And Revelation is telling us that what is true of us on the inside, is true at a cosmic level as well.

Continue Reading...
On February 16, 2012

The Anger of the Lamb

When was the last time you saw a mad baby sheep? Yes, God acts with a gentle authority, yes He wins through sacrifice, But the book of Revelation also wants us to know that this Lamb is Angry.

Continue Reading...