Posted: 13 March 2011 / Luke 23:43
On his cross, Jesus responds to a request of a dying rebel: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43). Writer Max Lucado says: “The only thing more outlandish than the request was that it was granted.” Just try to picture that scene: a political terrorist getting his just reward asking God’s son for eternal life. But as absurd as it may appear, that’s exactly what happened. He who deserved hell got heaven, and we are left with a puzzling riddle. What was Jesus trying to teach us? What was he trying to prove in pardoning this man who had done nothing to deserve it? This is what we are thinking about at Vine Church this afternoon.
Posted: 09 March 2011
Last Sunday we began a new series for Lent (Ash Wednesday (today!) – Easter) titled Gravitas, in which we will look at the seven words Jesus spoke from the cross. Though very few in this city follow what you might call a religious calendar, and that’s OK. But we figure that many follow Christmas and Easter, so why not Lent, which is meant to reflect on our sin and frailty? Lent is a season that is supposed to make us hungry for Easter – hungry for Christ’s death – as forgiveness and cleansing for my sin, and thirsty for Christ’s resurrection as victory over sin and decay. By looking at Jesus seven words from the cross we come to understand what exactly he thought was...Continue Reading
This Sunday at Vine Church we come to the last of six sermons on Jesus parable of the two lost sons. In Jesus’ parable the younger brother goes off into a distant country expecting a better life but is disappointed. He begins to long for home, remembering the food in his father’s house. So do we all. The philosopher Heidegger described this experience with the german word unheimlichkeit. The word translates as “eeriness” or “uncanniness” but literally it means “away from home.” Heidegger is referring to the anxiety and spiritual nausea that comes from never feeling at home in the world. An English word which captures the longing element of this, but not so much the...Continue Reading
Posted: 20 February 2011 / Luke 15
The March, 1965 edition of Life Magazine tells the true story of a young man who was a U.S. soldier missing in action during the Vietnam War. When his family could get no word of him through any official channels, his older brother flew to Vietnam and, risking his life, searched the jungles and the battlefields for his lost brother. It’s said that despite the danger, he was never hurt, because those on both sides had heard of his dedication and respected his quest. Some of them called him, simply, “the brother.” I don’t know what your older brother was like growing up, but this Sunday we get to learn about our true older brother who risked his life to come and find his lost...Continue Reading
Posted: 11 February 2011 / Luke 15:25-32
Blase Pascal, the French Mathematician and philosopher said,
All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end… This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.
This Sunday we come to the topic: “The Two Ways to Find Happiness”. We are are looking at how younger-brother types seek to find happiness with drugs sex and booze, while older-brother types seek to find happiness in religion, law, and prayer. In the parable of The Two Lost Sons (Luke 15) Jesus explains that both these ways are dead end streets to happiness. Pray with me that as we meditate on Luke 15 this Sunday our...Continue Reading
Posted: 06 February 2011 / Luke 15:14-20
This Sunday we continued our series on Luke 15 by looking at ‘All of Life is Repentance’.
In his novel Popcorn, Ben Elton, through the voice of Bruce, comments sarcastically on our inability to own our faults. He says,
Nothing is anybody’s fault. We don’t do wrong, we have problems. We’re victims, alcoholics, sexaholics . . . Victims! People don’t fail any more. They experience negative success. We are building a culture of gutless, spineless, self-righteous, whining cry-babies who have an excuse for everything and take responsibility for nothing.
As far as I can see, there are only two groups in Australia, who, when they get together, the first thing they do is own...Continue Reading
Posted: 28 January 2011 / Luke 15:11-13
This Sunday we continue our series on Luke 15 by looking at what my friend Justin Moffatt calls, ‘The Lure of Distance’. The story of the two brothers is about a search; a desire for a better life in a distant country; an experience; a thrill; a fantasy. It is about the lure of distance. I wonder whether you have had the experience sometime in the last week, where you have daydreamed about leaving, of getting away, of searching to find a better reality than you currently have, of getting away from responsibility. Why this lure of distance? Come on Sunday and let’s have a genuine conversation about why we do this. Don’t just come to hear what I think, but bring your own...Continue Reading