Tag: church

Summary: The Acts of the Apostles often proves to be a challenging book for preachers. Acts contains so many larger-than-life stories that it can leave congregations incredulous and dismayed. In this article I offer advice for preaching from Acts. Preachers do well to embrace the wonder, adventure, and hyperbole that pulses through Acts, for those features are part and parcel of the book’s attempts to celebrate God’s commitment to bringing new realities into being. Acts is a book whose mood matches the magnificent claims of Easter. It is a book that aims to unleash imagination. In doing so, it provides a vital counterbalance for our more cautious and prudent tendencies. It corrects us when we mistake the status quo for God’s true intentions for humanity’s flourishing.

Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers

When I think about the church and all its flaws, I’m often prone to be cynical. The book of Acts urges me to take a second look, though. Acts depicts Jesus in relationship to the church in ways that challenge me and sometimes inspire me. That’s one of the reasons why I wrote the book Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel: Encountering the Divine in the Book of Acts. Follow this link to read a short excerpt from the book, in which I talk a little about Jesus and his church.

Books and films

Summary: The story of Ananias and Sapphire, about two people who attempt to defraud the church in Jerusalem, raises a number of questions. It’s an extremely disturbing and problematic story, because their punishment (death) exceeds the severity of their misdeed. Why does Acts treat their fib as such a big deal? One reason is because their deceit reveals more than greed or financial duplicity; it shows a willful disdain for the community’s generosity and mutuality, a disdain able to wreck the fragile, new church. In the end, this isn’t a story about money and lies as much as a story about God’s intimate relationship with the church.

Read the full article on The Huffington Post.

(Portions of this article are adapted from a chapter in my book Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel: Encountering the Divine in the Book of Acts.)

Bible commentary: general audience The Bible and Christian practices

Summary: It’s easy to expose and mock the lies behind the so-called prosperity gospel. The New Testament does not teach Christians to grow their faith by donating money with confidence that it will be repaid in greater wealth or improved health. But what, then, does the New Testament say about being generous with money and possessions? Why should we? One of the most interesting perspectives we find in the New Testament concerning wealth is in Acts 4:32-37, in which members of the early church sell their possessions and land and use the proceeds to support their whole community. It’s important to notice that this passage’s primary focus is on depicting the church as a community of unity and belonging. People give money to support and express that identity. Community and care for the neighbor come first.

Read the full article on The Huffington Post.

(Portions of this article are adapted from a chapter in my book Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel: Encountering the Divine in the Book of Acts.)

Bible commentary: general audience The Bible and Christian practices

Summary: Pentecost, which falls on the fiftieth and final day of the Easter season, is the day when Christians celebrate the gift of God’s Holy Spirit. The story of Pentecost, as related in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, tells of the Holy Spirit coming to fill and inspire Jesus’ followers. This Spirit makes the community of Jesus’ followers a community of prophets, people who dare to describe what God makes possible for the world.

Read the full article on The Huffington Post.

Bible commentary: general audience The Bible and Christian practices

Summary: In this biblical passage, the resurrected Jesus gives final instructions to his followers then ascends into the sky. His followers respond by returning to Jerusalem, where they wait and pray.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: This biblical passage concludes the Pentecost story in the book of Acts. Once Peter’s sermon ends, the gift of the Holy Spirit creates a community of believers engaged in mutual care and worship.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

 

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: This biblical passage continues the Pentecost story in the book of Acts. Peter’s audience responds positively to his sermon. Peter instructs them to “repent and be baptized.”

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary