Why I observe Lent

I had been in an emotional and spiritual struggle for years, processing how the Body of Christ could be so defined, so marked, by division, quarrels, and willful ignorance of each other. My spiritual journey had led me right into the middle of some of those painful internal wars, and I hadn’t escaped without getting hurt. (more…)

Become the righteousness of God

This is an edited manuscript of a sermon I preached at Grand Canyon University.  Watch the whole thing below, or keep scrolling to read through the content.

Has something ever happened to you that changed your reality to such extent that you became almost a different person? I can think of a few examples in my own life. When I got married, for instance, my reality changed!

I went from single, to married. From being a bachelor to being a married man. This changed so much about how I lived my life. Every decision was different and suddenly my priorities shifted. It was a very similar experience to become a parent for the the first time.

Maybe you’ve experienced something like this before, either getting married or having kids or a big move or even a new job or career shift.  Something happened, that changed your decision making process and set you on a new path. Sometimes these are positive experiences, and sometimes they are negative experiences, but they happen to all of us, and it’s what makes life interesting! (more…)

Konstantin Basilika in Trier Germany

Have you been filled with the Holy Spirit?

“…be filled with the Spirit…”

(Ephesians 5:18 ESV)

The celebration of Pentecost is nearly upon us. As we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit in power on that day 2000 years ago, let’s talk about what it means to be filled with the Spirit.

Baptism vs. Filling

To be clear, I’m not talking about what many in the Pentecostal tradition would call “baptism of the Spirit.” What is usually meant by this is a second experience post-conversion, with the required “evidence” of speaking in tongues and the result of a “higher” sort of Christian life. (more…)

4 weird things about Palm Sunday

This is an edited transcript of one of my recent sermons at Desert Mission Anglican Church. Listen here.

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’”

And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it.

And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. (Mark 11:1-11 ESV)

During Holy Week we will through Scripture readings, prayer, and special services walk with our Lord to the cross, and it all starts on Palm Sunday. This is– as you would expect–a rather somber journey, but Palm Sunday is a celebration. I don’t know about you, but this strikes me as a little strange. The whole story of the Triumphal Entry is–if you think about it–a little weird. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon said,

“Christ’s kingdom is a very strange one, totally different from anything that ever has been seen or ever will be seen…”

Palm Sunday - Spurgeon Quote

This story is a perfect example of this. At virtually every turn Jesus is doing something that neither his disciples, nor the crowds that celebrated him, nor the religious authorities, nor even you and I would probably expect.

Now, this story may be strange, but here’s the thing…it’s in the strangeness that we’ll find the significance. We have to go a bit beyond a surface-level reading to see what’s happening here. Are you ready to dive a little deeper with me? (more…)