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Showing posts from April, 2012

Life, Abundantly, a sermon on the contraception debate, April 29, 2012

Romans 8:18-30
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know w…

Contraception Study Guide

This study guide will accompany the message "Life, Abundantly," which will be delivered at Oak Lawn this Sunday. I will post the sermon here later.
When do you believe human life begins? At conception? When an egg becomes a fetus? When the fetus is viable (able to live outside of the womb)? At birth?

The CDC reported recently that teen births fell 9 percent in 2010, to 34.3 births per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19, the lowest rate since such records were first tallied in 1940. The Los Angeles Times reported a general downward trend in recent years, with the overall teen birth rate down 44 percent over the past two decades. 

Highest teen birth rates:
Mississippi
New Mexico
Arkansas
Texas
Oklahoma

What do the United Methodist Social Principles say about contraception?
“People have the duty to consider the impact on the total world community of their decisions regarding childbearing and should have access to information and appropriate means to limit their fertility. We affirm the right of m…

“Separation of Faith and Life?” Discussion Guide

This study guide accompanied the "By Faith..." message delivered at Oak Lawn 4-22-2012.
What first comes to mind when you hear the words, “political” or “politics”? What connotations are there for you?
The word “politics” comes from the Greek word polis, or city. It refers to groupings of people. Anywhere folk gather together is, therefore, political by its nature: the country club, a Rangers game, a city council meeting. Yes, even churches are political entities. In fact, the word religion is derived from the same word for ligament—a connection. So when people say, “The church is too political,” or “The church should stay out of politics,” what are they saying?
What are the benefits—as well as the risks—of the church having a voice in the political arena? Should Christians be silent when it comes to their faith, or does being a person of faith obligate us to express ourselves?
Since 2010, more and more people want the church out of public life: even 40% of those who self id…

"By Faith..."

The first in a series of messages on relating faith to issues in the news.

"By Faith..."
Romans 5:1-11

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.


You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


Since we have now been justified by his blo…

"Holy Conversations: Seeking Unity in a Divided World"

This Sunday at Oak Lawn we’ll begin a new sermon series, “Holy Conversations: Seeking Unity in a Divided World.” We’ll explore some of the moral issues we’ve been hearing about in the news recently—and how our faith speaks to them.Every Sunday as I stand before you to preach, I am aware of, and thankful for, the great trust you give to me. You trust that the words I speak are not merely my own, but are inspired by God, and have come about through faithful study and prayer. 
This series will make folk uneasy. It should. But not talking about such issues in the context of a trusting, loving family of faith is worse. I preached two series like this in Prosper during 2008 and wrote my doctoral project on the experience. It will be very clear that the goal is not to endorse one party or the other, nor to accept the pastor’s conclusions as ultimate authority. Instead, we’ll encourage folk to examine what they believe—and why—and share it in community. Following each sermon there will be an o…