IMG_9816.JPG

March 11th, 2020

God's Presence 'With Us'

Lament is the path that takes us to the place where we discover that there is no complete answer to pain and suffering, only Presence.

IMG_9810.JPG

Feb 18th, 2020

Lost in a Green Desert

Laments, we must realize, are God's Word.  Why are so many biblical characters shown as disappointed and angry with God?  Do we seek to learn from all the other facets of their lives but this?

IMG_1530 3.jpg

Jan. 28th, 2020

The Most Frustrating Verse

The Gospel is not meant for our enjoyment or to satisfy our curiosity but that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ and thereby have life in His name.

IMG_0601_edited_edited.jpg

Jan. 15th, 2020

The First Day

They were embarrassed at how difficult it was to say good-bye, though they had just met Jesus a few hours ago.  They walked out into the dusk. 

The excitement they both felt seemed to fill the air around them; they were numb with it and filled with it.  And this was only their first day.

IMG_8632_edited.jpg

Dec. 11th, 2019

Good News

 At this they tore their eyes from the holy light that was the angel's face and looked into each others' faces.  Each seemed bathed in a new light all its own.  Wide-eyed they began muttering to themselves, "Christ, He has come! Messiah!"

IMG_6268.jpg

Nov. 20th, 2019

"The Character of Creativity"

In most cases an integral part of giftedness from God is not only the mechanical ability to paint or sing or dance but a deeper call. This call can be seen as part of an aesthetic value system, a system that helps determine what is beautiful and what is not.

IMG_6263.jpg

Oct. 30th, 2019

"Creative Community

in the Bible"

There are practical as well as spiritual reasons why creativity flourishes in community.  Today's "industrial" approach to music and art by and large goes against this common-sense approach.  The best way to view this stark difference is to compare the gifts of community to creativity against industry's denigration of the same gifts.

IMG_4251.jpg

Oct. 9th, 2019

"The Reluctant Reconciles - Saying 'No" To God"

What an earthquake this caused in Peter's soul!  It was a direct assault on one of his most basic beliefs.  But Jesus had come to shatter and redefine everything. Certainly it is a shattered Simon who makes his way, for the first time in his life, into the Gentile dwelling.  He will find there men and women, like himself, who want nothing less than to eat the true bread of heaven. 

IMG_4243.jpg

Sept. 18th, 2019

"Back To Fishing"

  As they made their way down the narrow alley, past the synagogue to his home, Peter remembered the last time they were here together.  He remembered the excited crowd pressing into the courtyard just to catch a glimpse of Jesus. 

5 of 6 The Hidden Face of God.png

August 27th, 2019

"Confusion and Clarity, Poverty and Presence"

That final end-of-the-world state of confusion we read about in Matthew sheds an enormous amount of light upon our present state of confusion.  The call of Jesus becomes crystal clear precisely at the meeting of these two states of bewilderment.  We are to provide food, drink, clothing, hospitality, and visitations to those in prison, realizing that we will never reach the bottom of the bottomless needs of the world.  But in so doing, we can enter redemptively into the suffering of the fallen, confused, and hurting world, there to find...Jesus Himself.

Hidden Face of God 2.png

August 8st, 2019

"Isaiah's Unimaginable Image"

The scars were allowed to remain on Jesus' otherwise perfect resurrection body.  He would be recognized by them.  They were His identifying mark, not His brown eyes or the freckle on His cheek.  Jesus was recognized by the scars He had incurred on the cross.

IMG_2235.jpg

July 17th, 2019

"The Stumbling Block"

  A stumbling block.  A scandal.  Few of us ever think of Jesus in those terms, yet both the Old and New Testaments present him that way.  The prophet Isaiah understood, perhaps better than any of the prophets, that when the Messiah would come, he would be an offense, a scandal.  That is why he said, in another place, that the Messiah would be despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.

IMG_1199.jpg

June 26th, 2019

"Listen to the Word"

 A listening stance before the Word means keeping your mind as quiet as possible and letting the Bible finish its sentences, its stories.

IMG_9682.jpg

June 6th, 2019

"Known By The Scars"

"That phrase - "the scars I have incurred" - played over and over in my mind as we drove back to his house.  I had the feeling of escorting a warrior who was familiar with the scars and tears of the battlefield."

IMG_9688 2.jpg

May 15th, 2019

"A Lifestyle of Listening"

"Like parables, our lives also often lack closure.  But this should not be seen as a frustration; rather, it should be understood as an invitation to listen!  For it is still Jesus who is creating the story as you live day by day."

57908949_2775396542502581_89212719528788

April 24th, 2019

"How to Amaze Jesus"

 The person who understands the lovingkindness of God is always ready to persistently seek, ask, and knock on the door that opens up to a world they have done nothing to deserve. As we come to understand God's hesed we will have a growing confidence that he is delighted to give us his blessings. Like the centurion, our attitude will become "Just say the word..."

IMG_3888 (2).jpg

April 3rd, 2019

"When Dinah Held My Hand"

Not a welcome or a greeting, and certainly not an affectionate holding of my hand. But if she didn't love me, who else was going to? In that old, simple church over twenty years ago Dinah Smith taught me what it means to become the object of hesed.

50899056_2595881353787435_40337402983612

March 14th, 2019

"Protect and Sanctify the Eleven" John 17

"According to his prayer, what sets the disciples apart is the truth and the word that is truth. Since they are being sent out into a world that is hostile to the truth, the Father must protect and sanctify them."

IMG_9806.JPG

March 4th, 2020

A Newer and Truer Worship

Job desperately clings to such a God, one who encourages us to offer everything to Him, every joy and every sorrow.  All our broken hearts.  All our contrite spirits.  Because He is worth it.

IMG_1530 3.jpg

Feb 11, 2020

The Disciple Jesus Loved

Maybe Jesus loved him because  of his youth, for he was the youngest of the disciples.  Jesus loved him perhaps because he was the most childlike of the Twelve.  There might be a thousand reasons why Jesus loved John; of these we can only guess. 

IMG_1527 3.jpg

Jan. 28th, 2020

The Most Frustrating Verse

The Gospel is not meant for our enjoyment or to satisfy our curiosity but that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ and thereby have life in His name.

IMG_0603_edited.jpg

Jan. 8th, 2020

The Creator-Christ

The One who is Life and Light, who was from the beginning, is the One through whom the Father created time and space.  The Creator-Christ is also the Re-Creator, the source of new creation as well as the old, the One in whom all creation is sustained and held together.

  The purpose of John's sermon is to set the tone for the rest of the Gospel.  The Light came to the darkness, but the darkness could not, would not, understand.

IMG_8201_edited.jpg

Dec. 2nd, 2019

Mary

As much as anyone could understand, that first Christmas, Mary was given to understand.  The Life had come.  A baby from a virgin's womb.  A child that belonged less to her than to the whole world... But for a time, He was hers!

IMG_6271.jpg

Nov. 13th, 2019

"North Star People

But Jesus has always remained there, rooted to the same place in the universe, unmovable.  He constantly calls out to us to turn around and behold the dazzling dimness of his light, as it shines in this present world - to find our way to it, and then to find our way by it.

IMG_6256.jpg

Oct. 24th, 2019

"Singing A New Song"

When God's Spirit moves, he leaves singing in his wake, and in particular he leaves new songs, songs that embody his truth and are an obedient response to his beauty.  These songs are a spontaneous and joyful response to the great truth that it is in fact God who is doing something new!  He is coming, and his approach is meant to be strewn, like palm branches, with new songs!

IMG_4248.jpg

Oct. 2nd, 2019

"The Fearless Water Walker"

There is one certain way to know if you've had a brush with that other impossible new world.  You will find yourself doing what the disciples did when they got Jesus back into their boat: you will find yourself worshiping him.  Worship is the language of our new reality.  But we must never forget that it always begins with a cry for help.

IMG_4244.jpg

Sept. 11th, 2019

"So Much More Than A Nickname"

Not by any virtue of character or accomplishment but solely because of the call of Jesus, Simon will serve as the representative of the Twelve whose head and leader is always unquestionably Jesus.

  After Jesus returns to the Father, Simon will be the vital bridge between two disparate worlds: the world of a physically present, perfect Leader and the other world of diverse and decidedly imperfect leaders.

Hidden Face of God 6_6.png

August 21st, 2019

"Fellow Prisoners" 

 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them.  They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword.  Their weakness was turned to strength.

Hidden Face of God.png

August 1st, 2019

"The Gulf Between Faith and Correctness"

As we struggle in our search for the hidden face of God, lament encourages us to never give up, to never quit the conversation.  We may kick and scream if we must, and when we don't have the words, the Bible will provide them.  But never, never, never let go of God.  Never walk away.    

IMG_1715 2.jpg

July 10th, 2019

"The Gift of His Spirit"

Jesus teaches us that what we ask for in prayer is rarely what we need.  We usually ask for provision, when the God who knows how to give good gifts is ready to give us His presence through the Holy Spirit. 

IMG_0773.jpg

June 19th, 2019

"The Mysteries of God"

Then I heard someone refer to the mystery of Christ, I assumed that Christ was a mystery only to non-believers. I have since learned that the mystery of Christ is reserved for those who do believe. To “know” the mystery of Christ is to realize that it is indeed just that, a mystery.

IMG_9688 2.jpg

May 29th, 2019

"Everything Begins and Ends with Prayer"

"Together the two of them presented a poignant picture.  Both men of faith - one older; the other pitifully young - both dealing with their individual ordeals with amazing faith and courage."

IMG_9682.jpg

May 8th, 2019

"Under Authority"

 "But Bill was a man under authority of a different kind.  He had learned that this kind of authority cares for its own and can always be trusted to give a compassionate response."

IMG_3908.jpg

April 17th, 2019

"I am hesed [hasid]."

The context of Jeremiah specifically and the Prophets in general is one of stubborn disbelief and disobedience among God's people and of his persistent reaching out to them because of his hesed. In light of our inability to keep any of the covenants, God will graciously grant to us a new covenant, based solely on his faithfulness.

IMG_3903 (1).jpg

March 27th, 2019

"Why hesed?"

"Hesed: When the person from whom I have a right to expect nothing gives me everything."

51308637_2608922122483358_40366094138243

March 6th, 2019

"A Joy No One Can Take" John 20

"Jesus had promised them this moment, a time when they would experience the transforming joy that no one would ever be able to take away from them. This is that moment!"

IMG_9831.JPG

Feb 25th, 2020

Torn Between Two Loves

Caught between the obstinate disbelief of the people who refuse to listen to the Word of God that burns in his bones, and the almighty outrage and consuming bitterness of the betrayed Bridegroom, Jeremiah finally exhausts himself against God. 

IMG_1529 3.jpg

Feb 5, 2020

Faith and Doubt

Through the story of Thomas, John preserves the legitimacy of doubt as the partner of faith.  As Pascal said, only he who doubts can truly believe.  Throughout the ministry, Jesus has sought followers who have the faith to believe without seeing

IMG_1531 3.jpg

Jan. 22nd, 2020

Fighting on Behalf of the Poor

In John's Gospel, Jesus will rarely answer questions.  This situation is no exception.  He gives no explanation precisely because He alone has the authority and owes no one an explanation.  Instead Jesus prophesies.

IMG_8630.JPG

Dec. 18th, 2019

We Will Find Him

Lord, we would be seekers of you. We would be the ones who embrace your Wisdom. But it is you who have sought and found us. It is your Wisdom that has embraced us. It is you who begin and finish it all.

IMG_8201.JPG

Nov. 29th, 2019

The Promise

A promise. Most of the other promises in the Bible - if you look closely at them - are only a variation on that same theme.  They concern Jesus, who would come to be known after all as the "Promised One." 

IMG_6260.jpg

Nov. 6th, 2019

"The Singing Stars"

 I am continually learning from songs I have written. Sometimes we need to write and sing songs to help us remember important truths we tend to forget with time.  Other times, songs enable us to put words to painful feelings, and just by singing them the hurt can be forgotten. So songs help us to forget as well as remember.

IMG_4234.jpg

Oct. 16th, 2019

"The Path of Sovereign Sorrow"

It was a shadowy path that began outside the garden.  It meanders through all our lives, inevitably leading us through the darkest valleys of our fallen experience.  But we must never forget that it is a path, that it is going somewhere.  There is a final destination somewhere outside the gates of a city.  But I'm getting ahead of myself for now.

IMG_4255.jpg

Sept. 25th, 2019

"The Despairing Denier"

Though we can know for certain that he was completely forgiven, one wonders if he ever completely forgave himself.

6 of 6 The Hidden Face of God.png

Sept. 4th, 2019

"The Lonely God of the Garden"

These incidents hint at something that is both extremely sad and also wonderfully encouraging at the same time.  Perhaps Jesus, even Jesus, lived His life, as we all do, within the context of the silence of God.

Hidden Face of God 3.png

August 14th, 2019

"Good News to the Poor"

We don't need to be fixed, we need to be re-created. The only way we, all of us, will ever experience that re-creation is to open the door of our lives to the poor, to enter redemptively into their suffering, and to discover through it our suffering as well. 

IMG_2547.jpg

July 25th, 2019

"To Whom Shall We Go?"

He is the Bread of Life, the true Manna that has come down from heaven.  The words that fall from his lips are alive and life-giving, no matter what scandalous effect they may have.

IMG_1482 copy.jpg

July 3rd, 2019

"An Artisan for God"

The little-known individual named Bezalel is the first person in Scripture who is said to be filled with the Spirit. Bezalel becomes an artisan for God, equipped by the Spirit to create a place for God to dwell among his people.

45965109_2438631282845777_33476061731749

June 12th, 2019

"Called to Complete"

 While the call may be to write books or sermons or poems, the deeper call will always be to give ourselves away to others whom God places within our reach.  Besides a few words scribbled in the sand, as far as we know, Jesus never wrote a single line.  Instead He wrote the Living Word across the pages of those twelve unlikely men who changed the world.

IMG_9675 2.jpg

May 23rd, 2019

"The Discipline of Being Silent Together"

"This is the kind of time He desires with us.  Not busy, but slow time.  Time not necessarily filled with words, but always with His presence.  For those of us who need it, what could possibly be more affirming than to be invited to take a walk with Jesus - not because of our intellect or our ability to ask or answer questions, not because we are pretty or fun to be with - but simply because He desires to be with us?"

IMG_3933 (3).jpg

May 1st, 2019

"The Monumental Nature of Kindness"

God commands his people to do justly and to love hesed. We struggle with both. If it were simply a matter of doing justly or loving hesed, we might be able to come up with a formula, a set of rules to follow. But the two must function together.

IMG_3879.jpg

April 10th, 2019

"God of my praise, do not be silent."

The significant lesson we learn from David and Psalm 109 is that we do not take our anger and outrage to the streets or to Washington first, but to the One we hope and trust and believe cares more deeply for the poor than we ever will, even as at the same time he cares for our enemies.

51308637_2608922122483358_40366094138243

March 20th, 2019

"The 'Witness/Martyr'"

John 1

"It was God's perfect preparation for the coming of the light to make people aware of the depth of the darkness in their own lives."

2019 - Covenant Artists LLC - Street Level Artists Agency - Harvest Productions INC. Michael Card Music.

-

1340 Burlington Street, North Kansas City, Missouri, 64116

-

For booking, email booking@streetlevelagency.com