Return of the Podcast

Woo hoo!  After being out of commission for several months, the CrossWay Church Sermon Podcast is now back in action.  I’m trying to catch up on uploading the backlog.  Unfortunately some recordings didn’t turn out.  But at least now we can start getting the weekly messages back online.

However, this did present me with a difficult challenge.  A couple weeks ago I preached a message called “Born Again.”  After preaching my heart out for half an hour, I got to the very end of the sermon and committed one of the worst verbal faux pas of my preaching career.  So I was faced with the question: Do I leave it in there for the sake of keeping it real, or edit it out?  I decided to leave it in there for two reasons.  First of all, it would have been tricky to edit it out without there being an obvious gap in the message (I know–I tried).  Second, there is something to be said for the integrity of keeping a message intact, embarrassing blunders and all.  Otherwise it’s kind of like a photograph in a magazine that has been tampered with in PhotoShop.  Anyway, just a warning for any downloaders of that sermon!

You can access the podcast site by clicking here or clicking on one of the podcast links on the right of this screen.

embarrassing

Published in: on September 18, 2009 at 5:01 pm  Comments (1)  

Philemon

We concluded the Postcards series yesterday at CrossWay with a message on Philemon.  This is a fascinating letter that the apostle Paul wrote to a slave owner named Philemon on behalf of the runaway slave Onesimus. 

It’s a masterpiece of persuasive writing, but even more than that, it gives us a clear picture of what Christ has done for us.  In Philemon 17-19, Paul writes: “So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.  If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.  I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back…”

We’ve all done things wrong, and we have a debt to God–called sin–that we can never repay (Romans 3:23).  But Jesus Christ died to pay for our sins, so that we can have eternal life through faith in Him (Romans 6:23).

Thank You, Jesus!

It’s been real challenging but also a lot of fun doing an expository preaching series like this one.  I’m looking forward to the next one!

(By the way, the podcast might actually be up and running again this week.  I’ll be glad to have it in full swing again.)

Published in: on July 20, 2009 at 5:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Postcards

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged!  I’m going to try to get back into it, though I’m amazed that anyone with kids can ever keep up with a blog.  But I’ll give it a shot.

The past couple Sundays at CrossWay we’ve been in a series called “Postcards,” where we’re studying the little one-chapter books in the New Testament: 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and Philemon.  All four books are short letters with huge significance.

Last week we walked through 2 & 3 John.  In these letters, the apostle John highlights hospitality as an important display of commitment to Christ.  He teaches the importance of partnering with Christian workers by supporting them with hospitality; on the flip side, he explains how anyone who extends  hospitality to false teachers “shares in his wicked work” (2 John 11).

Yesterday we studied Jude.  This is possibly the most severe book in the New Testament, but with good reason.  Jude begins by saying he wanted to write about the joy of salvation, but instead of celebrating with the recipients of his letter, he felt instead the need to issue a dire warning against false teachers who had snuck into the church.  He totally reams them out, and describes them in great detail so that Christians who want to walk in truth can steer clear.  He ends the letter on an up note, giving praise and glory to God our Savior.

Next week: Philemon….

During the month of June we had guest preachers at CrossWay.  They all did an excellent job, and we’re grateful for their ministry!  It’s nice to be preaching again.  As demanding as it is to do every week, I sure did miss it!

Published in: on July 13, 2009 at 10:21 am  Comments (1)  

Praying for Sermon Impact On an Individual Level

This morning on the way to the office I heard a great podcast about preaching and praying.  Every week I pray over the sermon and I pray about my preaching and I pray for the people at church.  But what this podcast was talking about is the power of praying specifically by name for the sermon to impact each individual at church.  This might seem obvious, but it never occurred to me!

In other words, if the sermon is about money, I can pray for Hank that God would provide employment, for Susan that she would be generous with her huge new raise, for George that he would get his debt under control, for Rachel that she would trust God enough to tithe, etc….

What an awesome idea!

Published in: on May 5, 2009 at 11:58 am  Leave a Comment  

What’s A Sermon?

Just now I went to the kitchen here at work to get the goods to make some coffee.  As I passed one of the classroom doors, a boy came over and asked what I was doing.  “Writing a sermon,” I said.

He asked, “What’s a sermon?”

If you ever want to force yourself to bring clarity into your life, get a preschooler to follow you around for a day and ask questions.

When he asked this question, I realized I had about two seconds to clearly and succinctly explain my life’s calling.  Preaching is the central task not only of my job, but my vocation (the distinction between the two will have to wait for another post).  Suddenly I was faced with explaining in simple terms what exactly it is that I do.

So I told him, “A sermon is where you study the Bible and then share with people what you learn.”

I’m grateful for that encounter and that penetrating question because it forced me to return to my task with renewed purpose, intentionality, and clarity.  A sermon is where you study the Bible and then share with people what you learn.  That means a sermon is not:

  • a chance to tell that story I’ve been itching to tell (which, of course, could somehow be squeezed into the sermon disguised as an “illustration”).
  • a platform for airing my opinions, frustrations, and personal biases.
  • an opportunity to relive my childhood dreams of being a performer.
  • an avenue for telling my favorite jokes.
  • a channel for voicing the latest trends in church ministry.
  • a way for me to tell people what I think… supported, of course, with Scripture.  (If anything is supported with Scripture rather than based on Scripture, that should be a red flag.)
  • the time to try to impress people and get them to like me.
  • for the purpose of showing everyone how spiritual or knowledgeable I am.

Now obviously it’s okay–and often even helpful–to tell stories, crack jokes, share personal illustrations, implement effective speaking practices, and so on.  But all of these things are secondary to the biblical text.  The point of a sermon is to share what God says, not what I say; it’s about God’s Word, not mine.  If I begin with my ideas and simply wrap it in Scripture like a Bible fajita, where the meat is my ideas instead of God’s, I’m not preaching a sermon.  An authentic sermon begins with God’s thoughts and expresses them through the preacher.  It will look different with every preacher, just as the sunlight looks different shining through different stained glass windows.

By the way, after giving my definition of a sermon, the boy merely said, “Oh,” and ran off to play.  Sometimes that’s the same response I get after preaching a sermon, but again, that’s for another post….

Published in: on March 18, 2009 at 10:55 am  Leave a Comment  

And Now It’s Snowing Again

Yesterday I drove up to Pennsylvania for a couple meetings and a two-day class.  This morning I woke up in Oxford, Pennsylvania and saw this out the window:

“A nice little dusting of snow in rural PA,” I thought.  “How quaint.”

It stopped being quaint about a half hour into my drive northeast, when the dusting became a full-fledged snowstorm.  This picture doesn’t really show it, but here it is anyway:

A better picture would’ve been the one with the cows standing in a field with the snow drifts going halfway up their legs, but it wasn’t exactly stop-say-cheese-and-snap-a-memory kind of weather.

Anyway, to make a long story (and a long drive) short, I couldn’t get anywhere near Frazer where the class is.  After slipping and sliding and skidding in traffic that averaged about 0.352 miles per hour, I stopped at a gas station to ask about an alternate route to Frazer.  Their response was pretty much along the lines of: “You’re not getting even close to Frazer.  Anywhere else you want to go?”  As I returned to Oxford I passed miles and miles of traffic just sitting there, with several cars parked at weird angles off the side of the road.

Well, at least I got to hang out with some people.

November weather in Lancaster County sure is different from Ocean City!

Published in: on November 21, 2008 at 11:39 am  Leave a Comment  

My Summer Preaching Cave

This summer I’m trying a big experiment that I’m really praying will work.  Here’s the deal: I have set a summertime goal of writing preaching outlines for all my sermons up through the spring, and writing sermon manuscripts through the end of 2008.  It’s a big goal, to be sure.  Here are some reasons I’m tackling it:

  • Sermons in a series are more cohesive and have more depth when you study for and write them all at once, in advance.
  • Written weeks and even months in advance, there is more time to add creative elements to sermons, such as props, graphics, themes, videos, music, giveaways, etc.
  • I’ll have more time to collect quality illustrations, and my mind will be alert to catching stories and quotes that apply to upcoming messages.  It’s always better to have a collection of illustrations to draw from, rather than try to come up with some the week before a sermon is to be presented.
  • The sermons will have a chance to work their way through me.
  • It will take off a lot of the week to week pressure.
  • During the rest of the year, I’ll be freed up to tend to the countless other things crying out for attention.
  • Personally, I just work better when I can crawl into a cave for awhile and study and pray and write, rather than try to do a little here and a little there scattered throughout the year.
  • With the Training Station Preschool not in session for the summer, it’s the perfect time for a study break.  My schedule is more flexible during the summer because I don’t have to be in the office most days.  That works even better because my time working at home is by far my most productive time.
  • Preaching is my primary ministry, and this ensures it gets the time and attention it deserves.

This is my second week of the experiment.  So far I’d have to rate it a moderate success.  On the positive side, I’m surprised how much more I can accomplish in less time using this approach.  On the negative side, I’m discovering how much daily and weekly stuff there still is to deal with.  It’s also a little frustrating to discover how long it takes to do enough studying for a whole series before I can jump into the writing part.  Hopefully that positive will balance out the negatives.

Last week I was able to do most of the preaching outlines for the “Play Ball!” series, and this week and next I’m aiming to do the outlines for the next series called “Freedom.”  We’ll see how it goes….

Published in: on June 11, 2008 at 5:05 am  Comments (2)  

CrossWay Church Sermon Podcast Scores Mennonite Mention

Last night I was reading the latest issue of The Mennonite, which is the national publication for our denomination. The table of contents mentioned an article called “Sermons Heard ‘Round the World.” When I turned to the article, I saw that it was about Mennonite churches that are podcasting. I was surprised to see us mentioned in the article! That was pretty cool.

You can read the article here or listen to it at this site.  But just so ya know, CrossWay only shows up in a sidebar in the actual magazine, and is not mentioned in the online article.  Oh well.  It’s still an interesting piece about podcasting Mennonites, especially since so many people don’t think we even use phones.

Oh yeah, that reminds me–I need to update the podcast.

Published in: on June 6, 2008 at 5:32 am  Comments (2)  

Summer 2008

This summer is shaping up to be a very exciting one!  Our plans for the summer include exactly three things:

(1) Work hard.

(2) Play hard.

(3) Rest hard.

Work hard:

Okay, so Carolyn’s not planning to work too hard, although she probably will anyway because she doesn’t like doing nothing.  She’s helping out with Vacation Bible School at CrossWay, and she always helps out a lot with church stuff during the summer.  So even though she won’t be working at her job, she’ll probably work hard.

My work goals for the summer are pretty ambitious: I’m aiming to complete all my sermon outlines up to summer 2009, and complete sermon manuscripts through the end of 2008.  This will require lots of study and lots of writing, but it’s the target I’m aiming for.

The beginning of the summer will be an intense four-week series called “Play Ball!” that we’re doing with several other churches in June, culminating in a Shorebirds game.  The very next day we kick off Vacation Bible School.

Play hard:

We’ve got some pretty exciting plans for the summer!  They include:

  • A Nationals game at their new stadium.
  • A Yankees game in the Bronx.
  • Something special for our fourth wedding anniversary, perhaps a short getaway to Lancaster, PA.
  • A cookout with all the Hyde clan at my parents’ house.
  • A performance of In the Beginning at Sight & Sound in Strasburg, PA.
  • A couple weeks in Costa Rica.

Rest hard:

Whenever I’m not doing any of that stuff above, you can find me either lying on the beach at Assateague or on the couch with a good novel.

When September rolls around, we’ll get back to normal life.

Published in: on May 2, 2008 at 5:47 am  Comments (4)  

Weekend Stuff

Stuff from the weekend:

  • On Friday and Saturday I took a class in the Lancaster, PA area.  The course is called Anabaptist Leadership, Polity, and Effectiveness.  I’m still not sure exactly what polity is, but it sounds pretty complicated.  Our instructor is very good–knowledgeable, funny, personable, and good at both imparting information and facilitating discussion.
  • While in PA I stayed with Michael & Kristen.  Michael recently acquired some cool coffee-making toys.  He makes a mean latte!  His homemade lattes are much better than any I’ve had even at Starbucks–in spite of the fact that he uses what he calls “raw milk” (unpasteurized or something like that).  Michael had told me that he was “having a few people over to play some games” on Friday night.  I felt kind of bad about crashing the party until I found myself in the middle of the biggest party I’ve been to since high school.  It was a lot of fun!  Michael & Kristen have a very interesting, diverse, fun, and nice–and vast–collection of amigos.
  • On the way to class on Saturday morning I was frustrated because I got stuck behind a slow-moving eighteen-wheeler on those winding, hilly Lancaster roads.  At least I thought it was slow-moving, but I was wrong.  I discovered that slow is not being stuck behind a huge truck on Lancaster roads.  Slow is getting stuck behind a huge truck that’s stuck behind a horse and buggy on Lancaster roads.  However, this discovery did nothing to relieve my sense of urgency.
  • At CrossWay yesterday our worship pastor, Josh, preached an excellent message addressing the question: Is the Bible for Real?  He did a great job but also kicked it up a notch with some excellent visuals.  Challenging as it is, I’d like to keep meeting that new standard each week.  It really enhanced the worship service.  It was pretty impressive to see a guy work all night with the fire department, then come to church and set up the video projection, lead the worship music, and preach the sermon.
  • Also in the worship service yesterday we had a “human video” by a youth group from Greenwood, Delaware.  It was to the Aaron Jeoffrey song “He Is.”  It was excellent!
  • After church we held our monthly leadership meeting.  I didn’t get a head count, but it was easily the best turnout we’ve had.  The food was really good too (we always eat lunch together before the meeting).  Someone made some serious cupcakes… mmm….
  • Yesterday marked week three with me behind the drums at church.  Josh made a recording of each song and sent it to me a week in advance, so I was able to practice a little bit.  That was a huge help!  Even so, I butchered one song.  I started it off wrong, and then I couldn’t figure out how to change it!  After the service I was greatly relieved to observe that one of our youth, Levi, is making enormous strides in his drum playing.  Hopefully it won’t be long before he’s riding the stool on Sunday mornings!  I really enjoy playing the drums, but I also enjoy singing.  Unfortunately, enjoyment and ability are not always linked.
Published in: on April 7, 2008 at 9:54 am  Comments (2)