I am currently reading, rather slowly I confess, through the Gospel of Mark. It is a fast-paced narrative a rooted in oral tradition, something easily forgotten by modern readers. At the beginning of the second century CE this Gospel was affirmed in several texts as the work of Mark. It was also attributed to Peter, who was his companion. Because this writing was based on oral texts it was rooted in stories about Jesus passed around from community to community. But Mark wrote for a definite type of community: Christians of non-Jewish and pagan origin. He desire is to show them the mystery and glory of Jesus. His way of doing this is to relate the words and deeds by which Jesus revealed himself as the “Son of God” to humankind.
Mark’s Gospel does not include an infancy narrative nor does it relate Jesus to Jewish scripture or tradition the way Matthew does. It begins: “This is the beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). Boom! Here it is: the
The kingdom of Jesus turns everything “upside down.” We settle far too easily for a tame and non-threatening gospel where grace does not surprise us. This sermon was preached at Lutheran Church of the Master, Carol Stream, IL, on June 11-12. I share it because I hope it will edify and encourage you if you like to hear a biblical sermon as an audio file.
My very good friend Mark Moore (Plano, Texas) just became a regional director for a mission called International Justice Mission. I am really thrilled for him and thus I am very excited to share this incredibly fruitful mission with you, my online friends. Some of you already know about IJM. Others can learn from seeing this wonderful TED Talk by the founder behind this great movement.
Watch Gary’s talk at the IJM website and learn more here.
When I previously wrote about John Hagee I defended my link and comment by saying that Hagee is misleading multitudes. I believe this is apparent once you read the biblical texts above and then read what Hagee is saying. Then follow his actions on behalf of the state of Israel. (Have you ever seen photographs of his studio/auditorium where his services take place? His platform is surrounded by the flags of both the U.S. and Israel. And have you ever followed the money trail of his Christians United for Israel mission and asked where does Hagee send significant funds to support a nation, not a mission? And have you heard what he says about the gospel and the need for the Jews to believe in Jesus as the Messiah?) To suggest that I should read the entire Four Blood Moons book before I comment on his teaching is nothing short of preposterous. For beginners I have read all of John Hagee that I care to read. His exegesis is terrible, his theology is worse and his public
In the case of John Hagee very few people within the larger culture are paying attention to his prophecies. Last week I scanned a copy of John Hagee’s book, Can America Survive?: 10 Prophetic Signs That We Are The Terminal Generation (Howard Books, 2010), in a Half-Price Bookstore near home. The copy I looked at was called an “Updated Edition.” (I love how these books have to be updated. I wonder why? This is humor dear reader!) The subtitle on this newer edition reads: “Startling Revelations and Promises of Hope.” The cover speaks of “special updates” on: the death of the dollar, a nuclear Iran, the reaction of Israel, and hope for a troubled nation. Hagee writes of the following:
The dust jacket of this same book says, “As a candid conservative Christian leader . . . this bestselling author courageously sounds an alarm to awaken the American nation from the slumber
So what did Jesus teach about his coming again and the End?
“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
Most of you know that these various biblical texts referring to Jesus’ return are in the three synoptic Gospels. Parallel to Mark’s Gospel we thus read in Matthew 24:29-31:
“Immediately after the suffering of those days
Several days ago I posted a comment about John Hagee on my Facebook wall. Hagee is a New York Times best-selling author and pastor from San Antonio, Texas. In this comment I posted a link to a site that was critical of Hagee about his growing predictions of “the end of the world.”
John Hagee is the founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a non-denominational evangelical church with more than 19,000 active members. He is the founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel. (Note this as I will reference it again later.) He is also the president and C.E.O. of John Hagee Ministries, which telecasts his national radio and television ministry throughout America and can be seen weekly in 99 million homes and in more than 200 nations worldwide.
John Hagee graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, then earned his Masters Degree from North Texas University. He received his Theological Studies from Southwestern Assemblies of God University and an Honorary Doctorates from Oral Roberts University, Canada Christian College, and from Netanya Academic
Advent began last Sunday, November 30. I had the joy of preaching, and leading the divine liturgy, at Lutheran Church of the Master in Carol Stream, Illinois. This is the audio of my sermon based upon the lectionary Gospel text in Mark 13:24-37. I pray that this sermon will encourage you in your worship, edification and spiritual transformation during this wonderful new beginning to the church year.
Several weeks ago I preached at the Saturday Vespers service at the Lutheran Church of the Master (LCM) in Carol Stream. The lectionary text was Matthew 25:1-14. This text is the parable of the wedding banquet. This text is also often misunderstood by Bible readers. This particular sermon is quite short. It may help some of you grasp the essential elements of what this account is really about in light of the kingdom of God and the gospel of good news.
I will be leading and preaching at LCM this weekend at the Saturday Vespers at 5 p.m. (November 29). I will also lead and preach at the two Sunday services (November 30) at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Friends in the area are welcome to attend. Lutheran Church of the Master is located at 580 Kuhn Road, Carol Stream, Illinois, 60188. You are welcome to take part in one of these services of worship this weekend. I’d love to see old friends and meet new friends as well.
You can listen to the sermon on Matthew 22 below: