Pastors' Notes

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Lessons from the Xi’an Stela

In the 1600's AD, Roman Catholic missionaries forged their way to China, seeking to reach this massive "unreached" people with the gospel. To their great surprise, they learned that they were about 700-800 years late. The Xi'an Stela (a stela is a stone monument, often with an inscription), erected in 781 AD, records the positive reception of the gospel by the Chinese empe...

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The Complexity of Dependence on Threats

Two moments in my past week speak to one important issue. The first was a conversation over the Bible with our intern Josh Hix. He simply read a famous passage in context, and as he read, a new, path-cutting connection was made for me. The second happened at Home Depot⁠1. I was on the verge of giving up and paying for an expensive sprinkler repair, when another custom...

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Sweet Dissolution

The sign of an old book that's great is that we forget how old it is as we read it. I've experienced that repeatedly as I've finally read Augustine's "Confessions"⁠1, written around 1600 years ago. One such section comes in Book 3, chapter 16, as Augustine processes through his own past, youthful rebellion. His thoughts still apply today, because he so closely tracks wit...

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Led by a King, Living Like Kings

In the past few weeks we've heard from the pulpit the characteristics and roles of leaders in the church (1 Tim. 3:1-7; 5:17-25). These ancient words map back on to yet still-more ancient words. For instance, Deuteronomy 17:14-20. When Israel anoints a king, he needs to do one thing negatively (put in three parts), and one thing positively. The negative: he is to keep him...

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Privileging the Living

The disease of our age: to think that we are morally superior to every other generation that's ever lived. "I would never have allowed _________ if I had lived then." To paraphrase Chesterton, we are open-minded to everything and everyone except those who happen to be dead. But is there anything in our culture, or worse yet, among Christians, that we might be ashamed to ow...

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Millennial Primer

A Premillennial Primer (orWhat we are NOT voting about in the special congregational meeting after church this Sunday) This Sunday after church we will be holding a special congregational meeting to discuss and vote on one issue: "Should our church vote 'yes' on the proposed amendment to our denomination's Statement of Faith at the upcoming national conference?" You alr...

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Our New Redemption Group

Beginning in June, we will be providing a "Redemption Group". I want to share more of what this is all about. It is not a Community Group, and not a Discipleship Group. But as you will see, it feeds into both. It is not group therapy; we are not licensed for that in Utah. It is not, per se, group counseling. So what is it? It is a small group where participants tell thei...

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Our Response to the Culture Wars

A statistic, and an observation. First, the statistic. Most Christians, in 2060, will live in a) United States, and b) Africa.⁠1 If it proves to be true, the reality in Corinth in the first century will exist across the globe: "the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you...

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e·thos: the characteristic spirit of a community.

In our church, we employ two different types of groups. One of them is likely meeting in your area on Sunday: Community Groups. These groups are meant to possess the ethos of a "love feast". It's the same ethos that everyone wants in a family: to be welcomed, to be known, to be safe, to be connected, to be part of something bigger than ourselves. On Sunday, that "bigger t...

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Easter and Oktoberfest

What shall we do with Easter, after Easter is over? To ask such a question is a good sign; it means Easter had its intended effect on us. But the question remains. There are many threats to "keeping Easter". But one of the most dangerous, and the most pernicious, because it is so subtle, is the threat of "trends". Fads are different. For pastors to have or have not facial...

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