Re:Sermon | Changing how and what I pray

The following is taken from the sermon on Matthew 6.5-14:  Jesus on God-glorifying PrayerImage

Jesus teaches us that prayer is not a means to manipulate our good God into doing the good things we want.  Prayer is not our chance to vent to God, argue with God, or beg from God.  Prayer is not even about fixing problems, fulfilling needs, or even changing circumstances.  We don’t pray to impress God and be admired.  We don’t pray to control God and be blessed.  Both rob Him of glory. We pray to remember God, forget self, and be a changed in order to give Him more glory.  

Consider the following “revision” of the Lord’s prayer to reflect the heart oriented away from self and toward God:

Father, help me know your Glory

Help me adore your glory

Help me seek your glory

Help me desire your glory

Help me to depend on your glory

Help me to confess my self-glory

Help me to become more glorifying

Re: Sermon | Stop Tooting Your Own Horn

Taken from Jesus on Self-Promotion | Matthew 6.1-4

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

“Being noticed is not evil; but trying, expecting, or wanting to be noticed may be.  And this is where all of us live.  Our culture is all about being noticed for the good, bad, or weird thing you do.  While its unlikely you’ll post a YouTube video that will go viral, you can still try and get noticed by others on Facebook, or FAKEBOOK.  If Jesus were on earth today, I think instead he may have said “what comes out on Facebook proceeds from the heart.”  Of course, you don’t believe you’re on there to get noticed…but you are.  I will contend that most of what men/women put up on Facebook is motivated out of a desire to make other people think a certain way about THEM—usually positive.  Whispering wasn’t invented for compliments and Facebook wasn’t invented for confession.

FAKEBOOK is all about making your life appear better than it actually is. We upload “artistic” profile pictures so people think we’re good looking.  We wish our brides happy anniversary to make people thing we’re good husbands.  We report the dates we go on with our daughters so that others will think we’re good Dads.  We post pictures of our food so people will think we are good cooks.  We post quotes from books we haven’t read so people will think we have good brains.  We like organizations so that people will think we are good citizens.  We friend people we’d never talk so people will think we are loving. We like comments so that people will think we are good friends.  We post rants so people will think we are good consumers.  FAKEBOOK is all about making your life appear better than it actually is—its’ a giant APPROVAL machine where we pretend to be someone else so that others will like us.  FACEBOOK is the biggest trumpet we have today—it’s a one billion person brass band!”

Wanted: “Older” Men to Help Us

The current display of men’s brokenness on the internet is grievous Old Man Prayingfor many reasons.  For better or worse, everyone has a story, or an opinion, and a Facebook account to share it on.  There is no absence of voices or words.  Among all of the stories, confessions, and calls for repentance, there is one thing missing.   Almost completely unnoticed is the  absence of godly older men who lead like godly older men should.

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness… Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Titus (2.1-8)

It is certainly possible that many of these older men tried to speak up and were silenced (or ignored) by younger men.  If Adam’s example is any indication of our sinful tendencies, it is more likely that they silenced themselves.   I can’t help but believe that much of the sickness being uncovered is a result of a bunch of younger men who were never taught to be self-controlled, dignified, and a model of good works.   Perhaps it was never modeled for them by older men.

As I grieve, I find myself wondering if any of these sinful mistakes could have been avoided through the presence of older men.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But now I find myself hoping  that we will be able to avoid any further sin through the leadership of older men.  Immaturity abounds.  The only antidote is for younger men to stop asking for help from each other and start seeking out the wisdom of mature older men.

I am not talking just about more aged men.  I am not talking about more experienced pastors.   I am not talking about older men who lead churches by filling an office at all.  I am talking about courageous older godly mature men in the church who lead  by knowing their Lord, loving their wives, leading their families, and serving their churches.

I am talking about older, wiser, courageous men who will show us what it means to be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to be angry.  I am talking about older, wiser, courageous men who will show us what it means to lead by love.  I am talking about older, wiser, courageous men who will obey God and instruct younger immature (and older immature) men in all godliness.

Stand. Speak.  Encourage.  Admonish. Lead. Love.  We need you men, now more than ever.


RE:Sermon: God is Coming (Malachi 2.17-3.5)

If there is one thing I am notorious for doing in my sermons, it is trying to say too much.  I write too much and I talk too fast.  As a result, there are often a fewmalachi notes of truth that get lost in all of the noise pouring out of my mouth.  Below, are a TEN of these “notes” that may have been missed in my last sermon. They do not represent thunderbolt-like truths you’ve never heard of but are probably more akin to 42 character quips you could twitter out–clever phrases that say so much…but so little at the same time.   If my sermon were a textbook, these would be the bold or italicized words you would pay attention to while working to ignore everything else that you know won’t be on the “test”.  Enjoy.


  1. “Our obedience does not ever dictate our relationship with God; but it always reflects it.”
  2. “As we saw with our first parents in the garden, Adam and Eve, what begins with doubt about WHAT GOD HAS SAID always ends with lies about WHO GOD IS….[and] refusing to take the blame for our sin will eventually lead us to blame God for our problems.”
  3. “[When God is silent] We are always much more demanding for God’s immediate judgment on the evil of the world than we are for His judgment on our own.  For that we are the ones who are usually silent. “
  4. “God is not fair. That might seem like a strange thing to say about God, or even a bad thing to say about God, but it is exactly what we need Him to be. ..He doesn’t give us what we fairly deserve.”
  5. “…the judgment of God results in condemnation of the world, the judgment of God results in redemption for His people…Before the judge destroys all evil in the world, He destroys the evil in the hearts of his people.  “
  6. “Removing our sin is painful for us, but NOT before it was painful for Him. “
  7. “The cross changes HOW WE LOOK, because it changes WHAT WE LOOK AT.   It is not enough to see our sin cleansed by the sacrifice of Jesus, we must also see our sin as the reason He is on the cross in the first place.

  8. “Knowing that God is angry, and that there is a coming judgment of the world (but not those in Christ) helps me to know that what feels like judgment now is actually refinement—it should lead me to grow and worship, even in pain.”
  9. “Until you see that someone innocent took your guilt, became a victim for you, you will continue to accuse God and play the victim—you will always have something to complain about. “
  10. “…once you see the cross as the place where the judge, after justly declaring you guilty, took off his robe, stepped down from the bench, took your place as the accused, and was executed in your place—you will realize you have nothing to complain about.  “

The best sermon I have ever heard.

I don’t listen to many of the sermons of my contemporaries.  For the most part, this is because I can’t help but play the “comparison” game with them–a game I usually lose . Such is not the case with Tim Keller.  I figure I’ll never be able to preach like him, and that is a good thing.  I enjoy Tim Keller’s preaching immensely.  His sermons are deeply intellectual but, like CS Lewis, easily accessible.  Bottom line, he is an older man I respect and his sermons are smarter and shorter than mine will ever be.  He can accomplish in one 30 minute sermon what would take me 30 sermons. 

Below is a link to, quite possibly, the best sermon I have ever heard from anyone. It is about our Covenant God and, unlike most “sermons” preached today, it proclaims the gospel boldly, clearly, and simply.  Enjoy.

RE:Sermon | Relationships as Worship (Malachi 2.10-16)

Recently, Pastor Mark preached Malachi 2.10-16 | God is Faithful.   I am grateful that God has blessed our church with several men who can preach.  Each worshippastor brings his own experiences, style, and presuppositions to the text.   I once feared sharing the pulpit with anyone.  Over time, God has shown me the beauty of what different perspectives, styles, and voices can bring to a given text.  Though each sermon may sound and look different– God is always glorified and they always preach gospel truth.

I have found it difficult to worship when I don’t preach on a Sunday. This is not a good thing (blog on this coming soon).   Unfortunately, when I don’t have the privilege of preaching on Sunday morning, I often find myself meditating on how I might approach the particular passage being preached.   In no way am I suggesting that my approach is better (or worse) than another preacher–just different.   Nevertheless, I have found it difficult to just sit on what amounts to an “un-preached” sermon…so I blog.   Like a good old-fashioned Monday-Morning Preacher, here are my thoughts:

Relationships Matter

Malachi has spent the better of two chapters (1/2 of the prophecy) condemning unacceptable temple sacrifices.  The worship at the temple has become worthless in the eyes of God.  They cannot fool God with their religious appearances–He knows their hearts are far from Him.   As Mark indicated, their refusal to honor God as Father, or obey Him as Master, was a refusal to take the covenant of God seriously.  Upholding the covenant of God meant continuing in relationship with God.  The covenant was a relational agreement between God and His people–it was a promise.  Interestingly, one of the primary aspects of the covenant was the prohibition of marriage to foreign wives.  This law was not simply God’s suggestion for Israel, it was an integral part of maintaining the covenant relationship with God.  And while this might seem strange for us, we learn that God’s primary motivation for this prohibition was that these foreign wives would lead them to worship false gods.  In other words, God declares that our relationships matter that they are, in fact, an essential part of how we worship and relate to our God.  

Marriage Relationships Matter

Relationships with others are, in some way, a part of our worship.  This is no more true than in a marriage relationship.   Marriage was created as the deepest relationship two people could share with one another.  God gave marriage, ultimately, to reflect the kind of relationship He would have with His people, made manifest in the New Covenant.  But we have much to learn from the Old Covenant.  God connected the purity of marriage with the purity of worship.  Our the nature of our love for our spouses revealed the nature of the love for our God.  The people of Israel did not love their the wives of their youth, they divorced them.  The emphasis of the passage is not so much on divorce, as it is on their failure to love as they ought.  The people should have loved their wives in the same way the priests should have loved their God.  The failure in their marriages has the same result as unacceptable sacrifices:  “the have profaned the sanctuary of the Lord.”  Marriage is an act of sacrificial worship.   It could be said that our relationships with others reflect our relationship with God. If their covenant with God was solid, then their marriage covenants would have been solid.  They profaned both.  Their marriages should have reflected three things: 1) PRIORITY  2) FIDELITY  and 3) INTIMACY.   These are the same things that any right thinking husband or wife would desire from their spouse.  These are the same things that any right thinking God would want from His people.  God connects the marriage relationship with one another, to His covenant relationship with us, because one reflects the other.

Child Relationships Matter

But God does more than that.  The main purpose of marriage is to bring glory to God. That is the primary, but not single, purpose for anything God creates.  Additional purposes for marriage include companionship, completeness (think helpmate), sexual purity, and procreation.  In Malachi, God warns Israel that their failure to hold to their marriage covenants will impact their offspring.  God goes so far to say that, through marriage, God seeks “godly” offspring.  God does not want more babies simply to populate the world.  Like marriage, God has a greater goal for childbearing–to fill the world with His name.   We can give many things to our children including food, shelter, clothing, gifts, protection, love, etc.  But out of all of the things that we can give our children, there is only ONE thing that will last in eternity–the truth of our covenant God.  In part, this occurs through teaching them to remember the covenant; but it also happens as we live the covenant before them in our marriages.  In other words, our marriage relationships impacts our relationship with our children in that they either display truth or lies about our relationship with God (Wow…long sentence).

Church Relationships Matter

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, our relationships to one another matter in the church.  Malachi begins this section by reminding the people of God that their faith is personal but not private.  He asks, “Have we not all one Father?  Has not one God created us?  Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?”   It seems as if Malachi wants Israel to understand that they are in covenant together.  What one Israelite does in their marriage relationship, for better or worse, impacts them all.  This echoes the perspective of the blind priests who didn’t consider how their failure to lead would impact others.  In the same way, we must consider how our relationship with others, especially our wives and our children, affect our worship.  And if it affects our worship individually, then it affects our worship corporately.  IF we are a family of families, then how you lead your family impacts mine–and vice versa.  This is what it means to be the church–we are in relationship with God and worship Him together; even if we are not always assembled together to worship.  

Beautifully simple church

Last night marked the first official gathering of Damascus Road Church in our Snohomish Imagespace.  This original historical timber frame building was constructed in 1882.  In its 131 years of life, it has functioned as a general store, a livery, a Pontiac Car lot, an office space, and even a Billiards hall.  But last night, for the first time, it served as a dwelling place for God among His people.   We prayed thanksgiving to our Lord.  We worshiped Him in song.  We proclaimed His Word publicly.  We made much of Jesus in a place where, quite probably, not much of Him has ever been made before. 

After the gathering, several of us were struck by the beautiful simplicity of it all.  Wires are exposed.  Rooms are unfinished.  Plumbing is disconnected. We had no bulletins.  We had no hospitality team.  We had no welcome desk.  We had no kid’s program.  We had no visual media.  We had no stage.  We had no sound.  We had no chairs.  And yet, we gathered as one family of families  to worship our one Lord with one voice.  

Our flesh can make an idol of simplicity as easily as it does with complexity.  In other words, I have no desire to pursue self-righteous simpleness.  I am challenged, however, to reconsider what a church really needs to worship the King.




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