Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Discussion thoughts on February 25 2024 Sermon

 I'm still experimenting with PulpitAI to create supporting content for the sermons...here are some discussion questions it generated from February 25th's sermon:

1. In Mark 10:35-45, James and John seek positions of honor beside Jesus, yet Jesus teaches a lesson on servant leadership. Reflect on a time when you sought personal advancement. How does this passage challenge your understanding of true greatness in the kingdom of God?

2. Jesus describes His mission as giving His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). What does the concept of ransom mean to you, and how does it deepen your understanding of Jesus's sacrifice?

3. The sermon speaks to the value that God places on us, suggesting that we are worth more than the greatest treasures of the world. How does this notion of divine worth influence the way you see yourself and others?

4. How can we practically live out servant leadership in our daily lives? Consider Philippians 2:3-4, which encourages us to value others above ourselves and look to their interests. Discuss ways you can embody this scripture in your community.

5. Discuss the importance of gratitude and praise in our spiritual walk, as mentioned in the sermon. How can cultivating a thankful heart impact our perspective on life's challenges?

6. Reflect on the historical context of ransom and redemption. How does understanding the weight of this concept in ancient times enrich the meaning of Christ's sacrifice for us today?

7. The sermon suggests that many remain unaware of their spiritual liberation. In light of Matthew 28:19-20, how can we as a church body work to share the message of freedom found in Christ?

8. The sermon concludes with a call to spread the life-changing message of Christ's liberating sacrifice. How can you, as an individual and as part of a faith community, contribute to this mission? Consider Acts 1:8 as a starting point for this discussion.

9. In your own journey of faith, how has the idea of living as a servant leader transformed your relationships and approach to leadership within your family, workplace, or church?

10. The sermon emphasizes that through Jesus's ransom, we are liberated from sin and death and can return to the Father. How does this assurance of spiritual freedom and divine acceptance affect your day-to-day life and decisions? Reflect on Romans 8:1-2 as you discuss this question.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Sermon Recap for February 25 2024

 So, here's the sermon recap from yesterday, followed by a lovely instrumental presentation of "The Solid Rock."

Monday, February 19, 2024

Sermon Recap for February 18 2024

 It's Monday again, so here's the recap of the sermon. We were in Mark 10, looking at the story of the rich young man--often called the rich young ruler, but we don't have a definite thing he "ruled." He was possibly part of the ruling elite of his day, but Mark does not tell us that. It's important to read the text and notice what is there and also notice what is not there. We tend to pick up traditions and interpretations from preachers and books along the way and they are not specifically bad, but they are not clearly evident. And yes, I have and still do sometimes repeat things without working on this.

Meanwhile, here's the sermon from yesterday:

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Addendum for Wedding

 Yesterday's post was the wedding ceremony that I use. I thought I would address a little bit more about it here.

First, yes, I use the same wedding. This isn't laziness--and I will adjust, for example, if there are specific, relevant things to add. Or to take away--a second marriage of a couple in their 50s-70s might not include the lines about having children. Also, some weddings call for a personal request, like a specific Scripture reading before a song, the unity candle idea, etc., and those go into the ceremony overall. 

But I like to keep it the same thing: it's a reminder that marriage is a combination of the uniqueness of the two people coming together and the repetition of a relationship that is as old as time itself. Your marriage is yours, uniquely, but it also belongs with all the marriages across the ages.

Second, I really do believe that marriages work better within the community of believers. We tend to think that it's just about the bride and groom. And yes, without those two it doesn't work. 

But the relationship requires mentors and teachers and examples and companions. You need to see other people struggle, sweat, smile, survive, and thrive in their marriages so that you can see that it does happen, it does work. 

Additionally, there is value in taking vows crafted from the fabric of history, Scripture, and tradition. Why? Because you do not know what you need to promise in your marriage. Oftentimes, marriage is entered by young folks who are madly in love and think life is going to run fine--maybe there's a head nod toward "it's not always perfect" but that is far different from really understanding that you're vowing for both the rich days and the poor days--and the poor days aren't just when you only have basic cable.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Sermon Recap from this last weekend: Wedding!

 Well, it's a trick headline. I didn't preach Sunday because I was doing a wedding. However, I thought it would be worth sharing the wedding ceremony I use here. Partly because we aren't usually listening at weddings anyway, so it might help to see it in print. Partly because it gives me a backup location where I can find this next time I do a wedding. 

This is, with names redacted, the same file I use for a wedding. What I will do is put the bride and groom's name in at the appropriate locations, and then read it throughout. On an iPad, highlighting shows up clearly in a way it won't here, but realize some of this is direction, some is "repeat after me" text. In all, it takes about 20 minutes to go through. (18 minutes at normal talking speed, to be precise).

“Dearly beloved:

     We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony. The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people."

"The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God's will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Therefore, marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God. Yet neither should we come today with hearts too heavy, for marriage is also given by God as a gift to be enjoyed. That is one of the glorious mysteries of marriage: that a lifetime covenant should be a thing of joy and excitement rather than a dreary burden.

“Marriage further reminds us of the temporary nature of life, but the foundation of the promises of God. J and S come today to covenant that no matter what changes life brings, they will stand to face those changes together, bound with each other in the Lord Jesus Christ.

“A wedding, though, is not just about the couple being wed. If it were, none of you needed to be here, and all the decorating is in vain. Rather, the wedding ceremony carries with it reminders to the rest of us that here:

“First, to those who have walked this pathway and taken similar vows: that we will not only abide by our vows, but find joy and strength in the keeping of them. Let the happiness of a new couple now send you home to remember and live in the happiness you have together.

“Second, this is a request for help by this couple. J and S, realize you cannot make it through your marriage with just the two of you. Realize also that you don’t have to. You stand here today asking your family and your church family to lovingly help you glorify God through your marriage. We stand with you, willing first of all to show by our actions how marriage glorifies God, and second to speak words of encouragement and blessing to you as you grow. We also long to watch you and see the ways God works in your lives through your marriage.

“Finally, this is a challenge to all of us: to some, to commit to whatever God has for you. For others, to live up to the commitments we have made. For all of us, to remember that in all things, love is a glorious thing to have.”


Exchange of Vows:

The Celebrant says to the Bride:

"S do you take J to be your husband; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and cherish him, in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want, through mountains and valleys, forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?"

The Bride answers "I do"

The Celebrant says to the Groom:

"J, do you take S to be your wife; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and cherish her, in sickness and in health; in plenty and in want, through mountains and valleys, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?"

The Groom answers "I do”

The Groom, facing the Bride and taking her right hand in his, says:

Repeat after me: USE SHORT 5 WORD GROUPS

"In the sight of God, I, J, take you, _S_____, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow."

"In the sight of God, I, S, take you, J, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow."

May I have the rings?”

“The giving of rings symbolizes the commitment of marriage.  A ring forms a circle, with no end, made of rare and precious metal, showing the value of marriage, and worn on the left hand, closest to the heart.”

Ask God's blessing on a ring or rings as follows:

"Bless, O Lord, these rings to be a sign of the vows by which this Man and this Woman have bound themselves to each other; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Repeat after me: USE SHORT 5 WORD GROUPS


The Groom places the ring on the ring-finger of the Bride’s hand and says:

"S, I give you this ring as a symbol of my vows, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

The Bride places the ring on the ring-finger of the Groom's hand and says:

“J, I give you this ring as a symbol of my vows, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Foundation of faith, fidelity commitment---interrelation, shared life though still individuals

Then the Celebrant joins the right hands of husband and wife and says:

"Now that J and S have given themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands and the giving and receiving of a ring, I pronounce that they are husband and wife, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

“You may now kiss the bride”

“Gathered family, friends, and guests, I now introduce to you:

Mr. and Mrs. J and S”

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Sermon Questions February 4 from Pulpit AI

 So, I used PulpitAI to generate questions about the sermon from Sunday. Here's the list of questions it created--if you were at church or listened to that sermon (find it here), see how well it did.

1. Reflecting on Mark 9:35, where Jesus says, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all," how can we apply the principle of servant leadership in our daily lives and within our church community?

2. In light of the sermon's discussion on George Liele's legacy of faithful servitude, what are some practical ways we can follow his example in dedicating ourselves to the Gospel and serving others?

3. The sermon emphasized the importance of authenticity in our faith journey, especially when sharing the Gospel. How can we ensure our motives are pure and aligned with Jesus' teachings as found in Mark 9:36-37, where He speaks about welcoming a child in His name?

4. Mark 9:42 warns about causing others to stumble. What measures can we take within our church family to protect the vulnerable and prevent ourselves from becoming a stumbling block to others?

5. Discuss how personal ambition can sometimes interfere with our service to God and others. How can we navigate these feelings and keep our focus on the Kingdom of God, as Jesus instructed in Mark 9:33-50?

6. Reflect on the metaphor of salt in Mark 9:50, "Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other." How can we maintain the 'saltiness' of our faith while promoting peace and unity within our community?

7. Considering the sermon's message about dedication and collaboration in God's kingdom, how can we better support one another in our individual callings and work together to advance the mission of the church?

8. In the sermon, the importance of setting aside distractions to pursue eternal values was highlighted. What distractions do you currently face that may be hindering your spiritual growth, and how can you address them based on the radical teachings of Jesus in Mark 9:43-48?

9. How can the example of Jesus embracing a child (Mark 9:36-37) inspire us to practice humility and genuine care in our relationships with others, both within and outside the church?

10. Share personal experiences or insights on how living out the teachings of Jesus with 'salt and peace' has influenced your interactions and relationships with others, as mentioned in the sermon.

Monday, February 5, 2024

Sermon Recap for February 4 2024

 Here we are, in February! We're continuing onward through Mark, with this week looking at Mark 9:33-50.

Here's the video:

Here's the audio player:

I'm experimenting with a service that might produce a transcript...among other things. I'll share the results when I have them. I don't really have the time to transcript it myself, but we'll see what the AI system does.

Sermon Recap for July 14 2024

 Good morning! After being at Praiseworks Arkansas last week, I'm back.  Here is yesterday's sermon, where I am proud of myself for ...