I am deeply troubled by the racial turmoil coursing through the streets of our country. I am grieved over the evil mistreatment and killing of George Floyd. I am angry about justice denied to countless others like him. And I am upset with myself and ashamed to admit that all too often I've been silent or apathetic about persistent racism in our country—racism before my very eyes.Read More
The night before Jesus died he had dinner with his closest followers. That “last supper” gave rise to what we know of as the Eucharist (also called the Lord’s Supper and Holy Communion). Christians have often gathered on Thursday of Holy Week, called Maundy Thursday, to commemorate this important event and its lasting import to us.Read More
This Sunday we launch a new series to begin the season of Lent at City Church.
Lent is designed to help us grow spiritually and prepare for Easter. There's a sense in which Lent should launch us into Easter and the new day of hope we enjoy as followers of Christ. What makes for a productive Lent? Carving out time to hold up Scripture as a mirror to our heart and mustering the courage to let the Holy Spirit speak candidly to us. This inventory-intake process encourages our souls to be honest with respect to our life mission to love God, love others, and love the city. This is exactly what we see in the ancient Hebrew prophets: they hold up the mirror of God's law to God's people.Read More
Can you believe the 2020s are here? The new decade invites us to sharpen our focus—to recover twenty-twenty vision! It’s all too easy, given our fast-paced lives cluttered with distractions, to lose focus, let our vision blur, and even lose our way. As we embark upon the new decade, our first series is designed to refresh our focus on our vision.Read More
Filmmaker David Lynch said, “the whole world is wild at heart.” We’re all then, in a sense, people of the wild. And there’s no better place to turn for help than the book in the Bible written specifically for people who had spent their entire life wandering in the wilderness: Deuteronomy.Read More
Central to being a follower of Christ is being a generous person. This cuts across all of life. Two important areas in particular are money and time—both commodities that seem to be constantly in short supply! While the biblical vision for generosity certainly includes much more than money, it does not include less. The Scriptures give us a blueprint of God’s design for financial generosity. Here are four basic biblical teachings that will help us frame our lives in an open-handed way:Read More
Let’s get practical—don’t you want to grow and develop as a person? Since we only have one life to live, why not look to what can exceed our earthly limits? If you are a Christian, it turns out being formed as a follower of Christ doesn’t just happen. It takes effort. Our new sermon series, which launches June 16, is designed to help us understand and realize this.Read More
This Sunday we begin a new study in the Old Testament book of Daniel, called The Strength of Knowing God. I’m really excited about this series because it will help us consider relevant questions we regularly face in life. In his book on Daniel, Biblical commentator Iain Duguid put it this way:Read More
Lent is a season of spiritual renewal that prepares us for Easter. It lasts forty days and reminds us of Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness (it’s actually the forty-six days before Easter, but Sundays in Lent are not counted). For followers of Christ, all life should be characterized by devotion to him. Lent, however, is an opportunity to give focused attention to soul care. The Old English word, Lent, means spring. Think of it as a sort of spiritual spring cleaning or spring training (go Astros!). It’s a season for sharpening our spiritual senses so we might grow in our knowledge of the Lord.Read More
This Sunday, March 3, we’ll explore the friendship of God in the final lesson in our series, Experiencing God’s Beauty. While friendship is one of the most important and powerful gifts on earth, it can prove to be elusive. Studies show only about half of our perceived friendships are mutual. Life’s sweetest and most sorrowful moments often involve friends.Read More
The season of Advent, which begins this Sunday, December 2, is an overtly outward-facing time of the year. It means “coming” and reminds us that when God decided to know us, he didn’t merely talk about it from a distance. He reached out to us and came near.Read More
Reflecting upon the question “what is the central challenge facing our era?” New York Times columnist David Brooks concluded, “My answer would be: social isolation.” Based on my experience serving as a pastor for over a quarter century, I think he’s correct. We’re a lonely lot. Many of us feel like people don’t really know us, and we long for deeper, safer, more life-giving relationships with others.Read More
According to recent Gallup research, sixty-seven percent of the American workforce is disengaged from their work. This is tragic, not only because of the economic implications this represents for employers and our economy, but also for the individual. We spend so much of our lives at work that when we’re disengaged in our work we’re wasting our lives.Read More
I’m excited to introduce this year’s overarching sermon theme: Knowing and Being Known. Two interlocking ideas animate this theme: the human longing to be known and the gift we’re given to know the supreme being of the universe and be known by him.Read More
I love Eugene Peterson’s translation of a famous expression of the Apostle Paul: “Let’s face it—if there’s no resurrection, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors!” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14, The Message).Read More
Memories and music rush to my mind this time of year. Even my earliest recollections of Christmas seem to be paired with a playlist: Drooling over the kitchen counter as my mother bakes her delicious fudge and Bing Crosby croons White Christmas in the background or shouting Feliz Navidad along with Jose Feliciano as my father and I string Christmas lights outside our home. The older I get the more heartwarming these kinds of moments are to me. For many of us no other season of the year is so richly adorned with vivid stories and songs from our past.Read More
Earlier this year I asked our founding core leaders to engage with me in a process of discernment about the denominational future of City Church. Over the next many months we gathered to pray, study, seek wise counsel, and discuss this. We all came to the conclusion that the best long-term fit for City Church is ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.Read More
“Ah music,” said J.K. Rowling’s Albus Dumbeldore, wiping his eyes, “A magic beyond all we do here!” In my experience music does have almost a magical power. It has the capacity to help us connect with places deep inside our souls. It shouldn’t surprise us, therefore, that one of the most important books in the Bible and Christian practice throughout the centuries is a collection of songs.Read More
City Church’s new ministry year begins this Sunday. I’m really excited about our sermon theme for the new year: Stories and Songs. Most of the Bible is written either in narrative or poetry. Our sermons this year will be comprised of both.Read More
Curious, isn’t it, the New Testament begins with a genealogical record? Christianity introduces itself to the world with what may appear to be an uninteresting, even boring literary form. Often missed, however, are the provocative elements in Matthew’s record of Jesus’ ancestry. Not only is the mere mention of five women unusual, given the paternalistic subculture of ancient Israel, but the particular stories embedded in the genealogy cryptically provide color, drama, and even juicy scandal.Read More
With the election now behind us, I would like to share some things that are on my heart as a pastor.
Our Vote. This has been the most contentious presidential campaign of my lifetime. Equally thoughtful and concerned people came to different conclusions in the voting booth and I respect that. I’m passionate that City Church be an apolitical space. People from across the human spectrum need to be able to explore the possibility of faith and the implications of it without feeling they have to adopt a particular political position. Jesus was, of course, neither a Democrat nor Republican (nor American for that matter!). He said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).Read More
Belief is a difficult thing, especially for modern people. This is a basic assumption for us at City Church. We’re not just a community for the convinced but also for the curious and spiritually conflicted as well. We want to be a genuinely safe place for anyone to process their doubts. Starting this Sunday, we’ll explore some of the most common questions people have about the Christian faith in a new sermon series called Why? Questions About Christianity.
We pray because we’re human. While we all need moments of solitude, studies consistently show that isolation from others is detrimental to our health. If that’s true interpersonally, how much more so with the One who made us? Prayer opens up communication with God and gives us a lifeline to the world beyond the walls of this world.
I have a confession to make: I’m a doubter. I believe in Jesus. I love him deeply. But, if I’m honest, it’s sometimes difficult for me to believe. Because I wrestle with my faith, I find it wonderfully refreshing that Jesus is not put off by those of us with questions, who struggle to believe.
Since ancient times, Christians in the west have recognized the four weeks before Christmas as the season of Advent. From the Latin Adventus, meaning “coming,” it refers to the coming of Jesus into the world. It is an invitation to reflect on the rich origin of Christmas when the long-anticipated Christ entered the world in the humility of a manger in Bethlehem. It also looks forward to his coming again in great glory when the Prince of Peace will usher in universal and enduring harmony.
Jesus is full of surprises. When he was passing through Jericho one day, he stopped and invited himself over to the home of Zacchaeus, a social outcast. This audacious move was deeply offensive to many who despised the chief tax collector: “He’s gone to be the guest of a sinner,” they scoffed. But it dramatically changed Zacchaeus’ life.
In his book, Beauty Will Save the World, Brian Zahnd suggests, “Christianity that is deeply enchanted by Christ’s beauty…has the opportunity to present to a skeptical and jaded world an aspect of the gospel that has been too rare for too long.”
"What just happened?” That’s what my wife, Ellen, and I kept saying to one another after Sunday’s launch of City Church. We know it’s going to take time for us to fully process what it all means, but for now we are simply stunned and in awe.Read More