A Sermon for Vacationers – “Work and Rest” by Timothy Keller

Most of you know that I went on vacation with my family earlier this month, and it was great. I needed a week out of the pulpit to recharge and to study God's word without the immediate need to teach it, when all I was doing was enjoying it. I loved getting to witness the beauty of God's creation first hand in fish, otters, sea turtles, a manta ray, dolphins, and birds, birds, birds. 

Still, I know that I often idolize vacations. I look to them like a week of salvation, a week that will fix every problem, that will calm all my anxieties, that will restore my soul, that will restore my sanity, that will rejuvenate my sagging will, and will automatically make me more joyful and content. But like all idols, Vacations are a great thing, but they make terrible gods. I still remember my first vacation after becoming pastor at Oakland. I expected a week at the beach to do all I listed and more. I looked to it for salvation from compassion fatigue and mental fatigue and faith fatigue. I went on vacation like a worshipper travels to a shrine, and I found a dead god. I spent little time in prayer that week and littler time in the Bible. I wanted to completely disconnect, and in so doing, I willfully disconnected myself from God. 

I came back more exhausted, more overwhelmed, more baffled, and more desperate for rest than I did when I went. My vacation was actually vacuum. And I have heard many of you say some form of the sentence, "I need a vacation to recover from my vacation." Sometimes your joking about doing too much on vacation, but I still cannot help wonder if it is indicative, that we as Americans (and especially country music listeners) are prone to idolize Vacations. 

This summer, I tried something different. I went on vacation in much the same spot - tired. But I intentionally tried to stay connected to God, to rest in God, to rest in his unchanging assurances. I did take a break from heavy reading or spiritual self-help books or church-development books. I did let myself sit and listen to conversations or silence rather than try to think of the next right question a real pastor would ask. But I didn't disconnect from God like last time. I didn't look to food, sun, and saltwater to fix me, but I thanked God for each of them, and I spent a lot of time just trying to be awe-filled in this awesome universe. 

I got back and listened to this sermon, and I think it summed up much of what I was trying to practice. Maybe as you go on vacation it will help you to find retreat rather than idolatry. 

 

 

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SERMON – An Extra Sermon on Christ’s Uniqueness – As God’s Final Word

Body builders will tell you, "If you want to get big, you gotta eat big!" The same is true spiritually. If you want your faith to grow, you have to feed it with faith-inspiring, gospel-centered teaching.

On Sunday, April 24, 2016, I preached on the exclusivity and the uniqueness of Jesus, arguing that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation open to human beings. Here is another sermon by one of my favorite preachers, Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, that is connected to our theme. I pray that my preaching inspires and illumines you like his does me. 

If you want to download the podcast episode on your phone or iPod, here is the PODCAST LINK

An Extra Sermon about Judgment

As a personal discipline, I listen to multiple sermons each week. Some of these I listen to in order to prepare for a specific sermon. Other’s I simply listen to in order to be fed. I want to start sharing some of these sermons from other churches to help you in your walk with the Lord. I pray they will be helpful to you.
A few weeks ago, I preached on the Parables of the Weeds and the Parable of the Fishes. In the Parable of the Weeds, an enemy sows weeds among a farmer’s wheat crop. In the Parable of the Net or the Fishes, Jesus says the Kingdom is like a great net let down into the sea that pulled up all kinds of fish. At the end of each parable there is a judgment and a separation, which represents the final judgment that will take place when Jesus returns again and his Kingdom comes in full.
In our culture Judgment and especially the Final Judgment is often rejected as unloving, intolerant, narrow-minded, etc. The thinking goes, “If God is all loving and all forgiving, then God would not submit people to the humiliation of judgment or to the punishments of Hell.” But Jesus believes and the Bible teaches over and over again that there will be a Judgment Day and that some will be welcomed into the Kingdom of God and others will be sent away into Hell.

So the main question is: WHAT IS THE GOOD NEWS OF JUDGMENT? HOW IS JUDGMENT A GOOD THING? or more to the point: HOW IS JUDGMENT DAY GOSPEL?

I think this sermon is a neat starting place. It was preached by Timothy Keller, the Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He is one of the best teacher/preachers I know about, and one I listen to regularly. I hope you enjoy.