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June 24, 2012. Living Hope Church in St. Michael-Albertville, MN.  Sunday night service.  This message follows the death and funeral earlier in the week of our congregation’s dear friend Jeremy Erickson.  Many in our church prayed hard for Jeremy’s recovery.  We asked for a miraculous healing, but Jeremy left us for heaven even so.  The death of a loved one raises many questions…

Does God exist?  If so, can he hear our prayers?  Is He simply so HUGE that He doesn’t bother with our little lives? And who is to blame for this loss?  Didn’t we pray hard enough, or correct enough?  Was it sin in Jeremy’s life that caused him to suffer and die?  Or was that God’s plan?  And if he can do anything, but he didn’t choose to heal Jeremy, how can he be good?  Even more to the point… is his heart good towards me?

So many questions.  This message wades into the deeper water, where our theology is tested in a sea of grieving.  In the deep water, God comes to us.

Click on the tab below to stream the audio…

Jeremy Erickson. Entered heaven on June 10, 2012. Thank you, God, for his life and friendship. Jer, I’m looking forward to seeing you again.

through water and fire

November 1, 2011 — Leave a comment

October 30, 2011. Living Hope Church in St. Michael-Albertville, MN.  Sunday night service.  This message is taken from Isaiah 43:1-7. It’s a message to Christ followers who are going through extremely difficult circumstances… times the old testament writers would refer to in poetic, idiomatic language… “going through water and fire.” In these desperate times, Isaiah 43 brings us this encouragement:

Don’t be afraid, because God is with you!


VIDEO NOTES: The video here begins a few minutes into my message after I had talked about my dear friends Jeremy and Jenny Erickson. You can see their picture on the screen behind me as the video starts. Jeremy was in the hospital awaiting news of a bone marrow scan that would eventually reveal a pre-leukemia disorder, and Jenny had just received word that her dad had died in a car accident. That is going through water and fire. I had the Ericksons in my mind as I prepared and delivered this message.  Ongoing prayers for their family are deeply appreciated.

Also on this video, we decided to include some of our closing song. If you are interested in finding it for use in your own church, it is called “Covenant Song,” written by Aaron Senseman, copyright 2000 Stuntman Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)

We ended our service Sunday night in a prayer huddle around Pastor Bob’s son, Joshua Halvorson, who is a Marine being deployed to Afghanistan this week… through water and fire. We will keep Joshua in our prayers, too.



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“through water and fire” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

sin

August 11, 2011

August 7, 2011. Living Hope Church in St. Michael-Albertville, MN.  Genesis 3  ::  James 1:13-15  ::  Romans 5:8-11

What is the consequence of minimizing the gravity of sin?  That’s the question we sought to answer with this week’s message at Living Hope.  The truth is, “sin” is sidelined by the culture outside the church, because it presumes a normative moral standard.  Our culture is instead more comfortable with Postmodernity’s individualism and moral relativity.  Even inside the church, we want to make our own rules.  Even in churches where SIN is preached without pulling punches, it sometimes seems to hardly make a difference in the lives of those in the pews.  God forgives, right?  Is grace so commonplace, so cheap, that it has dulled us to the effects of sin?

SHAME.  FEAR.  BLAME.  PAIN.  DEATH.

If we minimize the gravity of sin, we won’t be reliant upon God for the grace of sanctification and transformation, and we will not be holy.

Click on the tab below to stream the audio…

 


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“sin” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

superchristian

August 11, 2011

June 5, 2011.  Living Hope Church in St. Michael-Albertville, MN.

If anyone can be considered a Superchristian, it’s the apostle Peter, right?  He was a man of action.  He was a hero.  And we need heroes, don’t we?  But we are risking a lot when we expect our heroes to be more than men.  We are risking a lot more when we set ourselves up as a Superchristian to be looked up to by… the regular Christians out there.

Even Peter was an embarrassment.

A man of action.  A hero.  An embarrassment.  And then… REDEEMED.   The world needs a hero.  Are you that hero?  I hope you know better…

Click on the tab below to stream the audio…


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“superchristian” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

the hour has come

August 11, 2011

May 29, 2011.  Living Hope Church in St. Michael-Albertville, MN.

Dinner is over.  The most memorable dinner of their lives.  Jesus has washed their feet.  Sent Judas out into the night.  Instituted the first Communion.  And something BIG is happening.  The disciples know it.  Jesus’ prayer proves it.  The hour has come.

Click on the tab below to stream the audio…


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“the hour has come” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

snark·y

adjective / ˈsnärkē /  sharply critical, cutting, or snide

 

Fresh tomatoes have their place.  And that place is not in my mouth.

Mexican restaurants are the worst perpetrators, probably because they are simply awash in fresh tomatoes.  They put fresh tomatoes on and in everything.  Therefore, even when I order my burrito with “NO TOMATOES,” I still routinely find rogue stow-away chunks of tomato pulp hidden among the tender folds of my flour tortilla.  I can’t escape them. So I’m forced to eat my Chipotle burritos with great caution, carefully scanning each bite for refugee tomato chunks that have slipped in among the pinto beans unannounced.  Sure as shootin’ if I eat my burrito with abandon and blind trust… BAM. I’m going to bite into a chunk of unwelcomed tomato pulp and get a case of the jigglies*insert shudder here*

Here it is: my distaste for fresh tomatoes parallels my feelings about snark in the Church.  I have been known to enjoy hurling a sarcastic tweet into the wild now and again.  I admit it.  And I admit it with some degree of regret, because I recognize it as a part of my fallen nature.  More often than not sarcasm cuts deeper than can be justified.  I’m trying to change my ways in this regard.

Now when I’m listening to a brother or sister in leadership, or reading from a fellow Christian blogger or columnist, when I run headlong into a face-full of snark, it puts a bad taste in my mouth.  Like a chunk of fresh tomato. Uninvited.  Unappreciated.  Unwanted.  Ineffective.

Mark Driscoll just got a talking to from his elder board. Mark is a guy with whom I agree on a broad spectrum of theological issues.  I’m in his camp most of the time.  And I love his passion to minister to and engage the 20 and 30 something MEN of the Church.  No doubt, we need strong voices calling men to be leaders and fulfill their biblical calling to be the head of the home they are made to be – and to lead the Church with a mix of Spirit-led confidence and humble grace.

However, Mark does have a cocky side.

The dark side of strong leadership gifts is a propensity toward pride and rash decision-making.  As much as I have loved brother Mark over the years, this was a foolish thing to do.

Earlier this month, Driscoll posted the following question on Facebook:

Yep, he did. Yuck-o.

Now blogger/speaker Rachel Held Evans has publically taken him to the woodshed.  His elders have taken corrective action.  And Mark responded with a non-apology, but an acknowledgement that he lacked judgement and is glad to be under the authority of elders who will reign him in when necessary.

All of this is like a big, gnarly chunk of tomato in the proverbial burrito of my Mark Driscoll relationship.

I have written about this kind of “since I’m right you’re not worthy of respect” attitude in the Church before – check out the related links below this post. It matters to me because it matters to the church.  I don’t bring up the Mark Driscoll junk in order to join any bandwagons, or to make this debate about Mark and his ministry.  Rather, this is an example.  A real time example.  Mark has lost some credibility in my eyes.  His snark has a cost. He may have important things to say to the men of the church.  But this snarky tone is unwise.  Uninvited.  Unappreciated.  Unwanted.  Ineffective.

Because of an overload of pride and snark, Driscoll has lost the opportunity to effectively share the Gospel with thousands of people who will now write him off as an unkind, homophobic chauvanist.  I mean, there are plenty of people who already had come to that conclusion.  Now even more will tune him out, and that’s a net loss for the Kingdom.  When he speaks of the saving power of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross on our behalf, he is clear, he is potent, he is offering the only hope we have of eternal life.  But now, how many will ignore (or worse, discount with prejudice) whatever he has to say about Jesus Christ… all for a moment of snark?

When you are a Christ-follower, and a leader in the Church, no less, the consequences are eternal.

Snarky = sinfully caloused to the spiritual reality that we are ALL sinners who need the grace of Jesus.  No exceptions.  There is a place for watchdogs in the Church, calling out “Danger! Danger!” when false teachers are threatening to steal from God’s flock.  Wolves among the sheep.  However, I am wary of those who make “watchdog” their identity – if they wear the title with pride – and wield their opinions with more snark than love.  We are to be motivated by awe and love, yes, rather than sarcasm and guilt?  Snark is unkind, and it raises defenses. A kind word turns away wrath, and even those we disagree with are more likely to listen if we engage them with respect.

My world will be that much closer to heaven when I see less snarky barbs being hurled between brothers.  If you intend to hurl tomatoes at other brothers and sisters in the Church, I’ll ask you to consider a less caustic approach to dialogue. And I’ll ask you not to get any of that pulpy mess in my Tex-Mex, thank you very much.

Talk to me…

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“yes, i’d like some sound biblical teaching with a side of discernment and extra intergrity… hold the snark” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

“Hustle! Hustle! Hustle! Hustle!”

I was 11.  I heard this word more than any other word during my Little League days under the summer sun in Bemidji, MN.  Coach Whitey Anderson could say HUSTLE more times in a minute than anyone I’ve ever known.  I loved baseball.  Still do.  In large part, thanks to Coach Whitey.

“Skogerboe, you’re a ball player, son.  You’re a ball player.  You can play this game right here.  Yessir.  Skogerboe’s a ball player.”

Coach Whitey was like encouragement on steroids for a young second baseman who otherwise wouldn’t have considered himself much of a ballplayer.  I was moderately athletic, but overshadowed by the up-and-coming superstars.  I could hold my own in the field and maintained a somewhat below average track record in the batting box, but I kept in the game year after year, growing better in my skill-set and deeper in love with the game.  Coach Whitey fueled me to keep getting better, to learn why “hustle” had more to do with a healthy competitive attitude than just physical “hurry-up,” and he helped build into me a deep love of baseball that has never gone away.

Now I have a 10-year-old out there under the lights.  I see his coach picking up the mantle from Coach Whitey for the next generation.  I see him FEEDING encouragement and high expectations to the young men under his charge.  And the boys are thriving.  When Isaac talks about baseball, his eyes flash.  Coach Haberlie is not just getting the bases covered, and he’s not just getting results…  he’s building baseball lovers.

I just got an email from Coach last night, asking me to encourage Isaac, that he was so proud to have Isaac on the Team, and he is consistent in saying, “He is made for this game.”  I hear echoes of Coach Whitey… “You’re a ball player, son.  Skogerboe’s a ball player.”

These guys are both great leaders, and I hold them both in high regard.

The consistent ingredient in great leadership isn’t enthusiasm.  It isn’t deeper, better, higher knowledge.  It isn’t the ability to control outcomes.

The consistent ingredient in great leadership is this:  INFLUENCE.

Coach Whitey literally changed my life.  My childhood years are full of great memories, and I was a ball player.  I believed it to my core.  And now I see Isaac out there making plays, wrecking the knees of his baseball pants, and it’s better than the Twins.  He’s hungry for baseball.  Isaac’s gone from casual to passionate.  THAT is INFLUENCE.  And Coach Haberlie has been clear from the beginning:  His goal is to help shape these boys into young men of character first, great athletes second.  He’s not only influencing the boys… he’s influencing their dads.  That’s great leadership.

All kinds of people read this blog.  Friends and family, Pastors, Ministry leaders, Worship leaders…  All kinds of people in all kinds of leadership roles.  Here’s where ball meets bat, rubber meets road, hammer meets nail on the head…  LEADERSHIP = INFLUENCE.

This has implications for two groups today.

First of all, if you don’t consider yourself a “leader,” you are WRONG.  Think about your circle of relationships.  Certainly among those relationships are a handful over whom you have some kind of influence.  If you have influence, you have leadership.  You may lead badly, of course, and influence those around you to make bad choices, to turn away from God or from wise counsel.  But make no mistake:  if you have influence, you are a leader.  Lead well.

Secondly, if you THINK you are a leader, or if you are a leader by position, this is a good measuring stick for you.  Are you herding a group, or are you leading?  Are you steering outcomes, or are you leading?  In other words, are you truly INFLUENCING the lives of those you lead?  If you are in a position of authority, take a cue from Coach Whitey and Coach Haberlie… don’t just steer.  LEAD.  Don’t just point people.  INFLUENCE people.  Stop, pray, and think about how you can not just get the job done, but how can your influence lead to changed lives.  If you are a leader, then LEAD WELL.

The consistent ingredient in great leadership is INFLUENCE.  If you don’t have influence, you’re not really leading.  And if you think you don’t have a role as a leader, invest in those you have influence over.

We only get one life.  Wield some influence and change some lives, because time is short.  And in the spirit of Coach Whitey… HUSTLE.


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“leadership focus :: if i build it will they come?” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

It was like a punch in the gut.

I couldn’t breathe.  I just sat in the pew next to her with my jaw clenched.  There were eternal consequences here, I thought.  I couldn’t belive this was happening.  I could feel her retreating from the church – retreating from Jesus.

He was a potential candidate for the now vacant Senior Pastor position in the church where I served as the Worship and Arts director.  He was being seriously considered for a call, and this was his day to preach.

She was a relative of a relative.  Visiting our church.  She NEVER went to church.  But this was her day. Prayers, the Spirit, and circumstance brought her here.  Could have been the most important day in her life, and she didn’t even know it.  She was wounded, hurting, lost.  She needed Jesus.  She needed “Come to me, all who are weary…”

He was a jerk.

It is one thing to preach the Law in all of it’s sterness to awaken the souls of the complacent and pierce the hearts of the defiant IN ORDER THAT they might receive the life-giving Gospel truth: Jesus has already paid our penalty, we have hope, it is finished.  It is another thing to revel in the preaching of the Law.  To wield it like a clumsy weapon, clubbing the saints and the searching alike.  As if guilt were a better indicator of healthy spiritual life than love.

I realized early in the message she would never come here again.  Truth be told, I had decided early in the message that if he took the call, I would not come here again, either.  But now I felt hope slipping away and angry walls being built, brick by brick.  He was railing. Railing against those who would defile their body with tattoos. Spit in the face of God by piercing their bodies, His temple.  Those who would wear their sin proudly like a badge of honor in their dark clothing and Doc Martin boots and heavy eye make-up.  How shameful they were. How disgusting their vanity and rebellion must look to God.

She shifted uncomfortably, uncrossing her legs to lower her Doc Martins under the pew.  Her plaid flannel sleeves weren’t long enough to cover the ink spilling down her forearm and onto her wrist.  She was ashamed.  Then she was angry. Then she was gone.

I have never – NEVER – forgotten the lesson of that day, but I’ve never written about it.  Here I am in a Lutheran Seminary, learning how to divide all of scripture into two distinct categories:  LAW and GOSPEL.  God has given us the Law to kill our self-reliance and to point us to the cross.  And as a fifth (sixth… more than that?) generation Lutheran, I’ve been taught that the Gospel without the Law is cheap grace.  People need to be confronted with their sin before they are ready to receive the Gospel.  True conversion involves repentance. We die to self before we are reborn.

But…

That “but” has big implications.  I have feared pushing against centuries of Lutheran orthodoxy and thousands of Spirit-led theologians who would warn me that in this regard, there are no “buts.”  Law, then Gospel.  LAW, then Gospel.

But…

Sometimes, people already know they are broken. Sometimes, people are aware that they don’t measure up. Sometimes people come to church expecting God to view them the way this clumsy, angry, mean-spirited preacher viewed them.  And to them Jesus says, “Come…”

Why is this? It is because He created us to be in a relationship with Himself, for His glory and our enjoyment.  It is not unholy or selfish to seek to enjoy God.  He crafted us with a longing to be satisfied.  And NOTHING satisfies like the enjoyment of God Himself.  As we express that enjoyment in worship, thanksgiving, service, obedience, and praise, God gets glory.  And the two great longings in the universe are simultaneously met.  Man hungers to be satisfied, God desires to be glorified.  And God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

So I look at the great God-story of the Bible.  And I see how it all points to Jesus.  And I believe it is the GREATEST truth in all of time – and that people everywhere need to hear it.  And I look at the beginning of the story.  And I see God there, “In the beginning…”  And I see the beginning of man.  And I notice something important…

Adam was created in God’s image, bearing His likeness in a personality and a desire for relationship… and God said it was very good. They walked together in the garden and had face-to-face relationship.  It was very good.  And this is the relationship mankind was created to have with God.  This was God’s intent from the start, and it is His desire now.

And all of this is solidified before Genesis chapter 3.

Why is it we start out as preachers and street evangelists, wielding our bullhorns and pointing our fingers from the pulpits, and we start at Genesis chapter 3?

“She took of its fruit and ate, and she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.”

Tragedy.  Horror.  Shame.  Separation.  Judgment.  Brokenness.  Pain.  Death.

It is true.  Because of that day, and because of all of the days between then and now that man has spent serving himself instead of our gracious creator God, everybody takes their first breath on earth as a sinner.  Disconnected from that “walk in the Garden… and it was very good” relationship.  We are hopelessly broken and unable to make our way back to God.  And that is why Jesus’ death on the cross is the centerpoint of history.  And that is why people need Jesus – to be rescued from themselves.  And that is why well-meaning evangelicals swing their clubs of condemnation.  They want people who don’t even realize they need saving to be saved. So the Law must do its heart-breaking work.  To break up the hard-packed earth of the hearts of men, so that the Gospel seed might take root and grow and bear much fruit.

But…

Sometimes people are broken and they know it already.  Must we always skip over the first two chapters of Genesis?  Must it always be LAW, then Gospel?

The message I have heard for so many years often sounds like this… (1)  You are a sinner. Your sin is ugly, and it separates you from God.  There is nothing you can do to avoid eternal judgment.  You are condemned by your sin. (2)  Jesus came to pay the price for that sin. On the cross, your sin was crucified with Him.  When he rose from the dead, He announced once and for all that forgiveness has triumphed.  Because of Jesus, we are forgiven, and we can be with Him in heaven forever.

You know what?  This isn’t the whole story. I submit that when we LEAD with the LAW, we beat up already wounded souls.  Not every time.  But often. Way too often.  I propose proclaiming a message, over a lifetime of biblical preaching, that looks more like this:

(1)  God loves you.  He created you for a purpose. God is zealously pursuing a relationship with you, and He will rejoice over you when you turn to Him.  This is what we are here for.  To enjoy the love of God.  God is a pursuing God, and you are made in His image.  He wants to restore you to your created purpose.

(2)  Sin mucked it all up. God is Holy and can’t be around sin.  He is righteousness, and He cannot tolerate sin.  Therefore, your sin separates you from Him, and nothing you can do can change that.  You will never be “good enough” for God.

(3) In light of Genesis 1 & 2 – in light of your created purpose – God made a way to redeem your soul.  Jesus death on the cross was payment for your sin.  Repent of your selfishness and self-reliance.  God has been pursuing you because He longs to be in relationship with you.  Jesus is the answer.  There is hope for even you.

Evangelicals will face judgment for the souls they have driven away from God with their clumsy handling of the Law.

Yes, the proud need to be broken.  But not by us.  By the truth of the Word and the work of the Holy Spirit.  And not all who hear us preach believe they don’t need God in their life.  Some come to hear because they simply have no idea how to find Him.  Some come to hear because they already consider themselves a screw-up.  Those people need to hear Jesus call, “Come, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest…”  And they need to know God is pursuing them.

Some of you are clenching your jaw right now.  You feel this is dangerous ground, and that I stand at the precipice of a slippery slope.  We cannot soften the full weight of the Law.  We cannot compromise. We cannot settle for “gospel-light” just because it’s what people want to hear.

I submit that your uncomfortability may come from the evangelical culture you have been steeped in.  What I am saying is rooted in scripture. God created us as deeply valued sons, born with a purpose first.  THEN sin broke the ideal.  First God created and it was very good.  THEN sin separated us from Him.  Some people will reject God because the church FIRST reflects His judgment rather than His love.  I believe more souls will be willing to hear the truth of their sin and their need for Jesus if they FIRST hear the truth that God loves them, considers them deeply valuable, and that he is pursuing a restored relationship with them out of his zealous love for us.

It’s not all about us.  It’s about Him. And when more souls are saved, and more hearts are set free and restored to their created purpose, God receives more glory.  He loved first.  It has been this way since Genesis 1 and 2.  Not just since the 3rd chapter, when we stood condemned by our sin.

So back to that day in the church pew, with my jaw clenched, and the tat-covered, lip-pierced girl sitting next to me…

I wonder what would have happened that day if the message surprised her, instead of confirming her suspicions.  “Yep, I am rotten.  Yep, the church is all about making sure I know that.  Yep, I thought this would be uncomfortable.  No way am I coming back to hear this stuff again.”

What would have happened if she would have heard how valuable she is to God?  That there is hope for her, and that she has been created by a God who knows her personally with all of her failings and rebellion, and still pursues her.

Tomorrow (Friday, May 13), a number of Christians on Twitter will be using the hashtag #4Giveness to connect with those outside of the church who have been pushed away from God by His people.  If this post resonnates with you, read this from my friend Chris Goforth, and join us tomorrow.

Too often the people of God have beaten people up with the Law as if WE don’t need it anymore, and it is meant to be applied as judgment to the sinners “out there.”  Too often we have stiff-armed people, making the gospel difficult to reach by way of a long trail of guilt and shame.  Jesus says “Come…” It is simple.  It is very good.

It is time to tell people that God is loving God who is pursuing them.

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‘we don’t need to beat up the broken and stiff arm sinners :: can i still be a lutheran?” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

“What?  Shut up!”

Needless to say this seemed totally inappropriate.  I wasn’t even talking to her.

“I am not!  You always do this.  Get out of my…  No.  YOU are the one who…  No.”

I just want to get through this grocery line, man.  Buy my bananas and loaf of bread and diet tonic water. I just want to get through the day without arguing with a crazy stranger.  It’s kind of a goal.

“Stop it!  Stop it!”

She’s not looking at me.  She’s looking glassy-eyed straight ahead.  This is at first a relief.  Then it only ratchets up the weirdness.  She’s not talking to me… but there’s no one else around… so…

“This conversation is over.  I’m hanging up.  Goodbye!”

*facepalm*  BLUETOOTH. Couldn’t see the tiny receiver tucked into her ear under her hair.  I don’t like it, man.  The world is full of people talking to themselves, and it’s getting harder to tell who hears little voices in their ear because of technology and who hears voices because they’re a few pickles short of a jar.  I’d like to propose that bluetooth earpieces come with a little stick that extends over your head with a small, tasteful bright orange flag flying, so as to alert the world that you are hip, not simply nuts.

So we’ve established that there is “bad” talking to yourself.  If you’ve ever been around true (as in, non-bluetooth enabled) talking to yourself, we can agree… it’s unnerving.

But there is another kind of talking to yourself that I am sold-out for, passionate about.  It’s the kind of crazy we need MORE of in our churches. Last month I wrote two posts on sermon preparation (here and here).  One of my friends left a comment and shared this quote from John Calvin:

“If the preacher is not first preaching to himself, better that he falls on the steps of the pulpit and breaks his neck than preaches that sermon.”

Amen!  I mean, as it applies to me. I wish no ill to befall my fellow pastors trying to serve their congregations with fresh insights from the Word of God week after week.  I mean no harm to the Sunday School teachers who wrestle their gaggle of 13 fourth graders to attention each Sunday morning.  In no way do I want injury to befall the bazillions of small group leaders who are trying to lead Bible studies week to week with no formal training, wondering if they are qualified to serve but gladly doing it anyway because they love Jesus.

I am you. All of you who handle the Word of God and try to share it’s power and insight with other people.  So I’m writing as a fellow crazy person, believing that somehow God can use me and my limited intellect and wavering allegiance to teach His people.  It’s crazy, because, who am I to be a leader, a teacher, an example?  I’m a broken mess.

And therein lies the mystery and the genius of God’s Church. His Word is alive, and it speaks today.  His Spirit is the true teacher. We human preachers and teachers and Bible study leaders…  we’re just His servants, serving other servants.  Not higher than.  Not holier than.  Side by side.  All sinners in need of grace and all being reformed into Christ’s image for the sake of God’s reputation, not ous.

So as a fellow servant… who happens to teach the Bible some times… I want to let you know something about me.

I talk to myself.

I’m a rookie preacher, you know.  A first year of Seminary under my belt in the next couple weeks.  So as a preacher, I’m got a lot of learning to do.  We all know the difference between a preacher who seems to be “up there,” just doing his own thing, and those preachers who are talking right to you.  Like the Bible is piercing through the religious veneer and the “I’m at least as put-together as the guy next to me” front we wear to church, and messing with our heart itself.  I only have one life, after all, and it’s already half spent.  I don’t want to waste a minute giving random religious self help talks, or even disconnected exegetical Bible lessons that fail to pierce the fog between the pulpit and the pew.

I’m praying the the voice of God and the nearness of His Spirit are unmistakable when I preach.  And that’s crazy. I’m nobody.  But God uses nobodies all the time.

Maybe it’s because the “have-it-all-together” crowd doesn’t feel that reckless desperation for God to be behind the wheel.  I don’t know.  But I do know that God has tons of refining work to do in me.  And the times, it seems, when my teaching makes the deepest impact or resonates with the greatest connection between my notes and the people facing me are the times when what I am teaching has grown out of a deep realization that God is working this truth out in ME.  When His Word has broken through my walls and reached my inner self and shined the light on my dark corners… then I am ready to teach.  When God has spoken to me, then I’m ready to speak to my fellow servants.

So if you’re me… a fellow teacher in the Kingdom, trying to rightly handle the Word of God and realizing how daunting that responsibility is, rember this:

It IS as crazy as you think it is that God would speak the truth of His Word through cracked pots like you and me.  Lunatic fringe crazy.  But that’s part of the genius of His plan.  He knows that we’re a mess, and that leaves lots of room to teach us about His character and power and grace.

Don’t spend this one life you have making religious speeches.  Get into the Word where God can break our heart and make it soar.  Be moved and changed… and THEN teach.  Not before. The church needs more preachers and teachers and Bible Study leaders who think it’s crazy that God would use them.  That crazy keeps us desperate.  And His power is made perfect in weakness, not in self-reliance.  That’s why when I get get up in that pool of light in front of my friends and fellow servants, notes in one hand and Bible in the other, I pray and pray and I remember that I’m not up here simply to talk the talk in their direction…

I’m talking to myself.


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“i talk to myself :: keeping the crazy close” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

May 1, 2011. Living Hope Church in St. Michael-Albertville, MN.  This message picks up where we left off last week, Easter morning, with the account of Jesus walking with two of His disciples on the way to Emmaus later that day.  The principle text is Luke 24:13-35.

Core ideas:

(1)  Jesus crucified, buried, and risen again is our only hope of freedom from sin and an abundant life with God.

(2)  Jesus meets us and walks with us in our low places.

(3)  Incomplete understanding and wrong expectations of God lead to discouragement.

(4)  Jesus reveals Himself to us through His Word and in real relationship with us.

(5)  When Jesus’ disciples see Him revealed, the natural response is a burning heart.

You can stream the audio here >>

I concluded the message with a list of just a few of the pictures of Jesus we see in the Old Testament.  I’ve included that list below.

Types of Christ in the Old Testament

Jesus is Adam: firstborn son of God representing all men, with headship over a new creation.

Jesus is Noah: the only righteous one, rescuing all mankind in an ark of wood, pointing to the cross that will save mankind.

Jesus is Abraham: father of all the family of God.

Jesus is Melchizedek: whose name means “King of Justice” the great high priest who intercedes for us before the Father.

Jesus is Isaac: long-awaited promised only son of Abraham, taken to be sacrificed on the mountaintop.

Jesus is the Ram in the thicket: God’s provision, and the blood sacrifice that took Isaac’s place.

Jesus is Joseph: Hated without a cause, ridiculed, plotted against, stripped of his robe, sold for silver, lied about, placed in captivity with two guilty men, unrecognized by his own people.

Jesus is Moses: the prophet of God and servant leader of Israel.

Jesus is the Pillar of Cloud and the Pillar of Fire: in the midst of His people, leading them out of slavery.

Jesus is Joshua: the victorious warrior, leading His people into the Promised Land.

Jesus is David: Reigning on the throne of Israel, born in Bethlehem, a prophet and a king, returning to reign in Jerusalem gaining victory over his enemies in the name of God.

Jesus is Solomon: son of David, ruling in wisdom.

Jesus is Jonah in the belly of a whale: swallowed by death for three days before his resurrection.

Jesus is Jeremiah: a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

Jesus is Daniel: accepted by the Father, silent before the lions.

Jesus is Nehemiah: passionate about the Holy City and the reputation of God.

Jesus is the Dove: sacrificed as a sin offering on the altar in the Tabernacle.

Jesus is the Eagle: carrying Israel safely to God’s presence in Exodus 19.

Jesus is the Lion in Hosea roaring in victory, and the Lion of Judah in Revelation, victorious champion of heaven.

Jesus is the Sheep without blemish: sacrificed in Leviticus.

Jesus is the Lamb led to slaughter: silent before its shearers in Isaiah.

Jesus is the Scapegoat in Leviticus 16: sent away bearing the sins of the people so that they will not bear it anymore.

Jesus became sin for us as the serpent – the symbol of sin and death – lifted up on a pole in the midst of a tormented people, that all who look to him will be saved from death.

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”  ( John 3:14)

Jesus is the garments of skin for Adam and Eve: given by God, covering our shame.

Jesus is our sacrifice on the Day of Atonement.

Jesus is Manna in the wilderness: God’s provision, the Bread of Life.

Jesus is our passage through the Red Sea: our escape route from slavery to sin, and our entrance to the Promised Land.

Jesus is the burnt offering, which points to Christ’s willingly offering himself.

Jesus is the meal offering, which points to his purity and sinlessness.

Jesus is the peace offering, which points to his accomplishments on the cross.

Jesus is the sin offering, which points to his dealing with sin’s guilt.

Jesus is the trespass offering, which points to his dealing with sin’s injury.

Jesus is the Passover Feast, which points to Calvary.

Jesus is the Firstborn son, who belonged to God and died in all the homes of Egypt because of their sin

Jesus is the blood on the doorposts of Israel: a covering and a protection, proclaiming our debt paid and our belonging to God as His chosen people.

Jesus is the Passover Lamb who was slain: whose blood paid the price for my sin, and for your sin.

Jesus is the rebuilding of the temple in three days.

Jesus is the indwelling Presence of God in the new temple, His Church.

He is JESUS CHRIST, the LAMB of GOD, the KING of KINGS, the Kinsman Redeemer, the Champion of God, the Lord of Hosts, and the Resurrected Savior.


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“burning hearts inside us” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

NOTE: The message artwork above was done by the great team at gracewaymedia.com.  If you are not familiar with their work, I highly recommend them for worship background images and PowerPoint support for messages.  Living Hope Church has been a subscriber for years.