A Growing Community

(Message given at Newberg Friends Church on September 14, 2014)

NFC-lettering_wallpaper“A growing community.”

What does that look like? Why is this an important part of our vision for our church?

It’s impossible for me to underestimate how important community and friendships and relationships have meant in my life. Others have shaped me, and shaped how I see the world, in profound ways. What I also notice as I look back is that the shaping community has been more than just friendships: it has been community that is intentionally formed around Jesus Christ that has truly made the difference.

In the fall of my sophomore year in high school, a friend invited me to her church. My family hadn’t gone to church consistently since we moved to Oregon three years before. On the outside, the trauma of that move looked like it had faded away by that point. I had friends, I looked like I was content and well adjusted. But on the inside, scars were still there. Continue reading

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Our Vision Statement

(Message given at Newberg Friends Church on September 7, 2014)

My dad would sometimes, out of the blue, say: “Brylcreem: a little dab’ll do ya!” I don’t really know why, other than I know he heard that slogan a lot listening to the Lone Ranger radio broadcasts he loved while growing up.

Company slogans, company jingles. We like to think we’re immune to advertising, but I’m guessing if I give some slogans, you’ll be able to name the company. Well, some will be age dependent, but I’m guessing with our combined wisdom we can get them all.

How about “Breakfast of Champions?” (Wheaties). “Just Do It.” (Nike)  “Give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that ___________”. “Good to the last drop.” (Maxwell House) “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” (M&M’s)

This is going back there a ways… “The Pause that Refreshes” (Coca-Cola)  Continue reading

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(Message given at Newberg Friends Church on August 31, 2014)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

All through this series on the Sermon on the Mount, I’ve been wondering how in the world Jesus got a universal reputation as a great teacher. Even people who don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God, who don’t claim to follow Jesus with their lives, still say that Jesus was a great teacher.

How in the world do people say that? Have they read this stuff? It is crazy! If Jesus is universally acclaimed as such a great teacher, I wonder why it is that our world doesn’t look much like what he taught as truth.

For us who DO say we follow Jesus…have we wrestled with how radically against the grain Jesus’ teaching actually is? Continue reading

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Consistent and Faithful

(Message given at Newberg Friends Church on August 17, 2014)

Matt. 5:33-37

My wife Elaine has been watching TED talks. She’s working her way through the list of the all-time most watched TED talks. Mostly that’s a cool thing, because she’s learning a lot and she shares a lot of the cool stuff with me.

It does have its downsides, though. Like when she told me I should watch the one called, “How to spot a liar”…and then looked at me with this look, like a “You’re toast now, dude” look.

Ok I just made that up. Did you all spot that I was a liar right there?

I tried this opening joke on my family last night, and I was real good at spotting my daughter’s fake smile as she tried to humor me into thinking I’d made her laugh. Continue reading

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Sexuality…in Context

(Message given at Newberg Friends Church, August 10, 2014)

We’re in this series on the sermon on the mount, and today’s section has adultery, sexuality, gouging your eyes out, divorce…really not many places you can go wrong there, right?

Whose bright idea was this series anyway? If I was a smarter man, I’d have asked someone else to teach on this section of the Sermon on the Mount.  Continue reading

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My Responsibility

(Message given at Newberg Friends Church on August 3, 2014)

I made this great pitch two weeks ago about how great it was going to be to study the teaching of Jesus in the sermon on the mount.

Then Elizabeth did a great job last week affirming how we are salt and light in the world. Now this week, things start getting challenging. Today is where the rubber meets the road a bit, and we’re faced with this tension, this difficulty when we look at this in community. Continue reading

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“You don’t understand”–Finding a Path in an Era of Religious and Political Extremism

“You don’t understand…Hamas wants to wipe Israel out of existence, off the face of the earth. I have no compassion for Palestinians.”

“You don’t understand…you can talk about love all you want, but if you don’t let gay people live out their sexuality to the fullest, you are spreading hate.”

“You don’t understand…Islam is not a religion of peace. Their only solution is to kill all infidels, and we saw the result on 9/11. You’re crazy if you think you can negotiate with a terrorist.”

In some unexplained freak loss of good sense, in a two week period I used social media to post about Israel/Palestine as well as human sexuality. Continue reading

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