From Extremist to Evangelist: Paul’s Conversion and Ours

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, From Extremist to Evangelist: Paul’s Conversion and Ours, was given at The Salvation Army Rochester on Trinity Sunday 5 June, 2016. The Reading was Galatians 1:11-24.

Autobiography Titles

I’m doing a lot of reading at the moment. For my 30th birthday, I set myself a challenge to read 30 books in my 30th year – books that I had been meaning to read, or I really should have read, by my 30th. So I’ve already read books like Frankenstein, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and a the moment, I’m Reading Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, titled Long Walk to Freedom. And I was thinking this week about the titles of Autobiographies. And there are some fantastic titles out there. Such as the lead singer of the band KISS, Gene Simmons, who titled his autobiography, Kiss and Make Up. Or Davy Jones’ autobiography – They made a Monkee out of me. One of my favourites that I’ve read – Never have your Dog Stuffed: and other things I’ve learned by Alan Alda. There’s a wonderful spoonerism in Tori Spelling’s book, sTORI Telling. And David Hasselhoff plays on his name with his book, Don’t Hassel the Hoff.

Picking the title of your Autobiography can be quite tough. Trying to sum up your life in a short, eye catching phrase, or in just a few words. I wonder what your autobiography might be called. I’ve got a few thoughts for mine: This is my story, this is my song. Or maybe What’s a Violinist doing in the Salvation Army? Could be an interesting read.

Our reading today is Paul telling the Galatians a little bit of his own story. And I read through it, and I think I’ve got the perfect title for Paul’s Autobiography: Paul: From Extremist to Evangelist. What do you think? Would you read it? Continue reading “From Extremist to Evangelist: Paul’s Conversion and Ours”

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Don’t get stuck in the room

There may be some people who feel like we need to do like the disciples and just stay in our safe place for a while. To stay within our building and to allow ourselves time to work out what has happened. I want to say to you what Jesus said to his disciples – “As the father sent me, so I send you.”

It would be a mistake of us to feel like this building is going to bring people in. Sure, it might. There will probably be a few people who will want to come in and have a stickybeak. But let me tell you that this building isn’t going to turn sticky beaks into Christians. And once the newness of the building wears off, and the sticky beaks have come and gone, how will we be meeting the mission of God?

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Don’t get stuck in the room, was given at The Salvation Army Devonport on Sunday 23 November, 2014, in our first Sunday back in our building following renovations. The Reading was John 20:19-23

Who knows what next Sunday is, in the Church’s calendar? That’s right, the first Sunday of Advent. Hands up, who puts their Christmas Decorations up on the first Sunday in Advent? And who puts them up on December 1? And who’s got them up already?

Here’s a trickier question – who knows what today is, in the Church Calendar? Today, in the Church Calendar, is what’s known as Christ the King Sunday. And it’s this day that confused me for a long time with the set readings for the day.
If you don’t know, many churches use what’s called a lectionary, which is usually a three year cycle of readings that they will use for their services. There’s a few different ones around, but for the most part – particularly for the high feast days, they will have the same, or similar readings. And this day is one of them, where they will usually have a story related to the crucifixion.
Now, I never really got that until recently. It seemed to make no chronological sense – we were right about to get into Advent, the period of time where we prepare for Christmas, and all of a sudden, we’re brought back to Easter.
I didn’t get it for a long time, until a realised that – through the lectionary – we were being reminded that the whole purpose of Christ’s birth, the whole reason we have Christmas, was so that he would eventually die on that cross, and rise again, and be able to invite us all into eternal life. Continue reading “Don’t get stuck in the room”

I knew it, I just didn’t get it

I’ve finally got around to start reading Bill Hybel’s book, “Just Walk across the room” and it’s already got me posting something, and this is only from the introduction!

Bill is telling us of the time when he was seventeen and he accepted Jesus into his heart. He was at a camp, and one night had a realisation that Jesus loved him, and there was nothing he could do to earn that love. He ran back to the dorm to tell his mates, armed with a series of “Guys, did you know…?” questions. They all came back to him saying “Yea, yea, Bill, we know all that.” He said to himself, “I just never got it until now.”

How often have we heard the stories of the bible, yet only really got the meaning of them later. You might read it and get new insight, or have it explained in a different way and suddenly, it all fits. We can know, but sometimes we just really don’t get it.

For me, I had one of those moments on a spiritual retreat, Chrysalis. I heard the story of the Prodigal Son explained in a really simple way, and it just clicked. That story that I had such a hard time relating to for all those years, suddenly I could see myself in every character in the story. I knew the story, I just didn’t get it. Now that I get it, I can take that knowledge into my life, and live accordingly.

Have you had a light bulb moment, where you suddenly understood something that you’ve known for a while?

Evangelism for those uncomfortable with it

There are many dirty words around. Often referred to by the first letter, there’s one word that Anglicans don’t like: The E word. Evangelism. Coming from an Anglican background, it’s something that I’ve never been comfortable with. the thought of going out there and telling someone why they should be a Christian is something that fills me with dread. Unfortunately for me, as I want to become an officer of the Salvation Army, this is something that I am going to have to get over. Continue reading “Evangelism for those uncomfortable with it”