Called Out

Colossians: A Little Letter to a Church Just Like Yours

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I preach in a town of about 800 people. In fact, I’ve lived here my whole life.

It’s easy to feel like God misplaced you when you’re in a small town. Every conference I attend has speakers from big cities. Every preacher whose books I read is from a church that has more people attending than we do in our entire town. In the meantime, there are days when counting the dogs that randomly walk into the building would be tempting.

Who am I fooling? We’ve done that. Continue reading

Wake Up! A Christmas Sermon Series

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Sooner or later in preaching you struggle with the issue of how to keep Christmas sermons fresh. The selection of Christmas texts seems limited to Matthew and Luke, unless you get a bit more creative. How many times can you tell the same story over and over again?

It turns out you can do it a lot, actually. It helps, though, to find fresh approaches and new themes rather than simply retell and rehash the same old stories over and over again.

This year I received an email from Sermons.com offering several different Christmas and Advent series for the coming season. I found an intriguing title that I thought would be fun to explore this year. It was a series by a user who goes by “King Duncan” (apparently a Macbeth fan) called “Wake Up!” I’m not one to spend money on a sermon series, but based on the title and the passages highlighted I was able to put together a decent Christmas series. Continue reading

Audio

Famous Last Words: My God, My God, Why have You Forsaken Me?

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What would it take? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself this week. From time to time our kids disappoint us. We are at times upset about their choices. But as disappointed as we can be we would never abandon our children . . . would we?

And yet God the Father did exactly that. Jesus cried out those words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” because for the first time in all eternity he was truly alone.

The day after I preached this sermon a friend of mine messaged me as he was listening to it and contemplating adapting it for his own Easter sermon. It wasn’t until we began chatting about the message that I remembered the huge influence John R.W. Stott’s The Cross of Christ had on me and this message when I originally wrote it in 2009. Stott’s book was one of those transformational tomes that I read years ago and have never seemed to put down.

Rather, it’s never put me down.

In chapter three, Stott dissects the different views of Jesus’ “cry of dereliction.” Quoting John Calvin, Stott concludes:

As Calvin put it, ‘If Christ had died only a bodily death, it would have been ineffectual . . . Unless his soul shared in the punishment, he would have been the Redeemer of bodies alone.’ In consequence, ‘he paid a greater and more excellent price in suffering in his soul the terrible torments of a condemned and forsaken man’. So then an actual and dreadful separation took place between the Father and the Son; it was voluntarily accepted by both the Father and the Son; it was due to our sins and their just reward; and Jesus expressed this horror of great darkness, this God-forsakenness, by quoting the only verse of Scripture which accurately described it, and which he had perfectly fulfilled, namely, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.’

I was amazed again at the timeliness of this message. Even though it was written six years ago it spoke directly to many needs currently in our congregation. I credit that to the wonderful way God works through his word and, unfortunately, the universality of the feeling of abandonment.