New Sermon Series: “The Forgotten Series”

TheForgottenSeries

In the Protestant Canon there are 66 books:39 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament. Found with in the sacred pages are words, stories, sayings and teachings that have inspired billions of followers of Christianity spanning millenia.

The church today proclaims the teachings of the Bible through the giving of the message or sermon. Ministers from all walks of life go to the Bible to pull out a message from God about what it means to live a faithful life today. People turn to these words everyday as a way to hear the story of God anew and/or have a new hearing on familiar words.

However, over time the some ministers (myself included) have left out some books when it comes to these proclamations, either intentionally or not.  We tend to gravitate to certain books time and time again.  By doing this we have shrunk our canon from 66 books to only a handful.

Because of this I have decided to preach sermons from books that many people have more than likely never heard a sermon from before.

I am calling it “The Forgotten Series.”

Over the next five weeks, we will be exploring some of the lesser preached from books of the Bible to see what messages we have been missing.

The series will include (in no particular order):

  • 2 John
  • Philemon
  • Titus
  • Lamentations
  • Obadiah

I will be posting the Sermons page each week if you would like to follow along.

 

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Photo Credit: “Old Spines” by Tom 7 via Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License 2.0.
Words added by Haley D. Work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License..
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Sermon Series: Disciples 101- Freedom of Belief

DisciplesUniversity

Today I preached  part four of a six part series about the Disciples of Christ focusing on the primary tenets and beliefs.

We looked at Mark 9:17-24 and how as Disciples of Christ we have “Freedom of Belief”(Check out this page for more information)

Disciples are called together around one essential of faith: belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Persons are free to follow their consciences guided by the Bible, the Holy Spirit study and prayer, and are expected to extend that freedom to others.– disciples.org

(Recorded by Voice Record Pro by Bej Bej Apps for iOS)

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

And One More Time… Camp: Part III

Here we are again… I am going to my third camp of the summer but at this one I will not be speaking at it.  I am looking forward to this particular camp because it will be held at the camp I grew up going to as a youth, Disciples Crossing in Athens, Texas.

This camp is the Leadership Seminar for youth servant leaders from around the states of Texas and New Mexico.

When I attended this seminary back in High School it was great to meet people from all over the state and hear how they were running their camps and how they were being a part of the body of Christ.  I hope to have the same expereince as an adult leader.

Be sure to check out my twitter page (click here) for updates along the way!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Mission Trips For The 21st Century

Here is my latest article for the Orange County Record.


When I was in High School I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. and New York City.  This was no ordinary trip; it was not a family vacation or a school sponsored trip, rather it was a mission trip hosted by my denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  High School students from Oklahoma and Texas met in Dallas to begin our adventure.  The theme of the trip was “Poverty and Homelessness in the Big City.”  During our trip we were going to meet with people and organizations that had devoted their lives to the cause of serving the poor and the homeless in DC and New York City.  This was no ordinary mission trip; it was something that I still remember clearly to this day.

During our week long journey, we served meals to people from all walks of life; we talked with them about their life, listen to their stories of hurt, pain and even struggle with addictions.  Coming from a medium sized town, I was not exposed to the homelessness on the scale that I witnessed in New York City.   Sure I knew that they more than likely existed but it wasn’t something that I thought about.  Because of this trip, I became more aware of the people in my city that needed assistance.

Now that it is the summer, churches are gearing up (or already have) for mission trips.  Generally the appeal of mission trips to go different places to see a different part of the country or even the world.  Mission trips, especially for youth and young adults, are essential when it comes to faith development.  These experiences, memories, discussions and connections provide a foundation for what is means to be a follower of Christ in the 21st century.  Seeds of faith are planted as a result of these trips.

In 2007, I was blessed to go to the continent of Africa, more specifically the country of Malawi.  I was there for about two weeks, touring the country, visiting with local missionaries and church leaders.  I saw people who lived in one of the poorest countries in the world cling to their faith in God.  At one of the churches I visited, one of the leaders showed us an area in the back of the church.  It was a small room but it was filled with bags of corn, wheat and flour.  It was recently harvest time and the members of the church donated ten percent of their crops to the church so that the church could use it to serve other people.  When the group I was traveling with return to the United States we had conversations about our experiences.  Many of us agreed that we went to Malawi to find a way to help the people in that country with some need that had rather it was water or sanitation, but all returned changed.  The people of Malawi through their generosity and bold faith in spite of what was going on in their life transformed us; we were not the same people when we returned.  Our hearts were filled with the goodness of the people, our souls were renewed by the faith that was expressed and our eyes were opened to a culture and people full of life and devotion.

Mission trips in their inception were started by people who wanted to share the message of Christ to those who had not heard it before.  Missionaries would risk their lives going into areas where the story of Christ had not been told before.  But now, mission trips have evolved.  There are not areas where the gospel has not been spread to, there not places were missionaries have not already been, so what are the point of mission trips now?

Mission trips have the power to impact those attending the trip just as much as those who are being served.  These trips have a way of exposing us to things that we rather not see or talk about.  If we are going to be followers of Christ in the 21st century then the idea of mission trips has to change.  The idea of swooping into a place and announcing that you have all the answers is not what people are looking for.  Anyone can build a house with Habitat for Humanity or even feed the homeless.  The focus of the mission trip should be on what God is doing the world and how we as followers of God can join in.  Missionaries of old believed they were bringing God to the people, but now the mind set should be finding God where we go, knowing that God as been there for a while now.

On most of the mission trips I have been on it wasn’t always the big service projects that made the most impact.  It might have been a nightly devotion or story of why a homeless shelter was started.  So as many churches send their members off to serve others, let us remember that God has been on this voyage long before we arrived, let us be open to the transformation that is possible when we open ourselves up to what God is doing and has already done.

“What Does Your Church Believe?”: Part IV- Baptism

This is the fourth installment of my “What Does Your Church Believe?” series.  So far I have looked at the importance of open communion to DOC theology (post link), the notion of freedom of belief (post link) and the belief in the oneness of the church (post link).  Today we will look at Disciples of Christ’s belief in baptism by immersion.  This does not mean however that if someone has been baptized as a infant that their baptism is invalid.  The Disciples of Christ recognized and affirm all baptisms.

Baptism for many is a seen as an act that symbolizes one’s commitment to the teachings of Christ and by making a physical, public act; they are stepping out in faith to make an outward sign of what a deep spiritual commitment.  In the Disciples of Christ Church our practice is to do this when a person believes that she/he is ready to join God on the journey of faith– there is no specific age requirement.

The Disciples of Christ believe that “Baptism, as a gift of grace, received by faith, expresses its meaning in a variety of images: new birth; a washing with water; a cleansing from sin; a sign of God’s forgiving grace; the power of new life now and the pledge of life in the age to come. The meaning of baptism is grounded in God’s redemptive action in Christ, it incorporates the believer in the community in the body of Christ, and it anticipates life in the coming age when the powers of the old world will be overcome, and the purposes of God will triumph.” (via disciples.org)

The practice of immersion is one that is full of symbolism.  The general belief is threefold.  First, when one enters the waters of Baptism they are coming as they are, ready to receive the cleansing and grace found in God.  Next, when they are immersed they are symbolically dying to their old ways and past sins and when they arise out of the water they are rising with Christ to be God’s servant in the world.

Baptism is a beautiful act that the church does.  It is full of symbolism and faith.  For centuries the faithful of God have traveled to churches, rivers and fonts to enter into the covenant with God and to start their life as a follower of Christ.

Some believe that one must be baptized to be “saved” or inherit the goodness of God.  The Disciples of Christ do not believe that baptism is absolutely necessary, rather an outward sign of an inward reflection.  Many theological and church debates have happened over the concept of baptism. Whether sprinkled as a child or immersed as an adult, all signify the faithfulness of followers of Christ throughout the centuries.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan