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Goodness Grace Us: A Sermon on the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18: 9-14)

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[I preached this at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Pearl River on August 20, 2017. It is based on a sermon by my friend Dedie Kelso. I recorded the video the day before while I was practicing.]


Goodness Grace Us: A Sermon on the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18: 9-14)

The opening number of the Broadway musical Wicked has the citizens of Oz celebrating the death of the Wicked Witch of the West. “No one mourns the wicked,” they sing. Later, they sing, “Goodness knows, we know what Goodness is.” But do we? I’m sure there are people who would disagree, but I think the Bible, and Jesus, take life as we know it and turn it upside down. In the Bible, and particularly in the teachings of Jesus, it’s often true that the people most of society thinks are wicked and bad are in fact good, and the people that most of society thinks are good and righteous are anything but. Jesus frequently points out that our idea of “bad” and “good” simply aren’t God’s ideas. Consider the Sabbath. According t…

Blind

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Blind Text: 2 Kings 6:8-23 Northminster Presbyterian Church
February 26, 2017
It was my first day back on campus after summer break, and I was happy to be back. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my parents and I loved hanging out in Metairie, and I didn’t hate my summer job. I also liked this project I was working on: A friend named Mark and I were putting together a musical. It was called Inferno and it was about a journey through hell with a 17-year-old kid who died in a car wreck. It was meant to be performed in a planetarium. Mark wrote the words and lyrics; I was writing the music. I was happy to be back on campus: being on my own again, going to class again, learning dozens of new things every day again, seeing my friends again. This was pre-Facebook. This was even pre-internet. Talking to my friends over the summer would have involved something called a “long-distance call,” and those were expensive, so I didn’t know anything about their summers. Yes, it was my first day back on ca…

God's Rom Com

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[I preached this sermon on August 21, 2016 at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Slidell/Pearl River, LA]
God’s Rom Com Text: Isaiah 58 If you google “why doesn’t God bless me”, a lot of pages come up. Almost all of them say basically the same thing: God doesn’t give you what you want because you haven’t grown up enough, or you're not patient enough, or you have something else you have to work through first, or maybe you’re asking for the wrong thing, like, maybe instead of asking for a car, you should ask for a minivan. In short, if God doesn’t bless you, it’s basically your fault. You’re just not holy enough.
You can google “why doesn’t God bless my church”, but you end up with most of the same pages. I actually think that last question gets asked a lot, but probably not on a public website or forum.
I know this might come as a shock to you, but the internet is wrong.
I know. Who’d a thought?
A lot of our attitude about blessing comes from jealousy, I think. Or maybe self…