Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Museums ------- we don't need no stinkin' museums.

Following Jesus

Acts 2.42: "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers."

Like many of you know ------ I have been commissioned to start a new faith community (we are calling it The Anchor) in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina.  Many times I find myself in the midst of a conversation that starts with a question like: "How are things going with the new church?"  While I am in the midst of that conversation I often times find myself having to create a new paradigm of church for the person that I am talking to.  The reason for that is due to the fact that The Anchor just doesn't make sense to the large majority of Christians ------ and that is because we do not have any land, any building, any money, and we do not have a worship service.  Because of this lack of churchy type of stuff (we do not have committees either) ------ I have to explain this new paradigm of making disciples.  Recently I had a revelation in the midst of one of those explanations, and I wanted to share it with you all.

Before moving to Wilmington, I served for seven years at a local church here in North Carolina.  This is an awesome church where the people truly desire to be followers of Jesus.  While serving as the pastor, I oftentimes found myself pleading ------ even begging ------- for people to participate in some sort of Bible study.  We did really well and had about 50% of the congregation willing to participate in some sort of Bible study.  I also found myself pleading ------- even begging ------- for people to participate in some sort of mission.  That could be locally, nationally, or internationally.  We did really well and had about 30% of the congregation willing to participate in some sort of mission.  Lastly, I found myself pleading ------ even begging ------- for people to be in fellowship with one another.  To have a meal together (even with people that we do not know), spend time with one another (not just because we are family), and have fun together.  We did really well with that, and I would say around 75% participated in some sort of fellowship event.

Interestingly, as the new faith community called The Anchor ------ we have 100% participation in these three areas.  We have begun with Missional Communities and all of us study scripture together, participate in mission together, and fellowship together.  This is a radical departure from the paradigm of church that holds as the standard land, buildings, money, and committee meetings.  In many ways it reminds me of Acts 2.42.

What if the paradigm for the church was the standard of mission, study, and fellowship?  I believe we then would not have to spend as much time convincing folks to come into our air-conditioned buildings ------- because it will be natural to come together and celebrate the living God who has called us out of darkness and into his wonderful light.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Luke 14.1-14

This Sunday I will be preaching at Goshen Baptist Church in Leland, NC.  I will be focusing on Luke 14.1-14.  In this passage we once again see Jesus mess up a perfectly good meal by noticing how guests at the meal were trying to take places of honor (v7). 

In this passage we learn that Jesus is going to battle with the culture of reciprocity.  A culture that tries to win favor with neighbors and influential people so that favors might be reciprocated.  Instead, Jesus says that we are to invite people into our homes and hearts that cannot reciprocate.  Jesus says: "But when you have a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind."

When we live outside of the culture of reciprocity — the culture of back scratching — Jesus calls us blessed. He says that we are blessed when people cannot repay us. That when we give of ourselves — and we give to those who cannot repay us — that we are blessed. We are blessed by who we sit with and we are blessed by the God who repays. 

And this is the kicker — the blessing is found in the God who repays. It says at the end of verse 14: “for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” God is the one who is on the repayment side of the equation. This is God's responsibility — and this is God's good work. That Jesus has called us blessed when we surrender our all to him — and allow Jesus to use us for his glory in the earth.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Luke 12.32-40

This coming Sunday I will be preaching at Long Memorial United Methodist Church ----- 226 N. Main Street - Roxboro.  I will be focusing on Luke 12.32-40.  In the very last verse Jesus says: "You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour." 

A proper understanding of the end times (eschatology) is to inform our current circumstances and situations.  Here Jesus says there is to be a readiness on our part ------ a readiness that allows us to be prepared for the end.  This end will come like a thief in the night ------- we do not know when it will happen ------ but we do know that it will happen.  Therefore, we are to be vigilant in efforts to live the totality of our lives for Jesus.  We are to be ready for action ----- ready at an unexpected hour to welcome Jesus (v36). 

In this proper understanding of eschatology we begin to see that we are to live holy lives devoted to the one who is worthy of our time, attention, and preparation.  For this readiness is to involve the totality of our lives, for it is all consuming, because we await our master's return (v36).  How are you making yourself ready for the unexpected hour of our master's return?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Luke 12.13-21

This coming Sunday I will be speaking at Faith Harbor Church in Surf City, NC.  We will be focusing on Luke 12.13-21.  In this passage we have Jesus share with us a parable.  Jesus has someone call out in the crowd that he should settle an inheritance dispute.  Interestingly, the man who calls Jesus out regards him as teacher ------ but then proceeds to make demands. 

Jesus goes on to tell the man that life is not about the abundance of possessions (v15) ----- but instead life is something more than that.  That is when we are introduced to the parable of the rich fool. 

The fool is really a good business person.  He has a bumper crop one year ------ and because of his bumper crop he decides that he should build bigger barns to store all of his grains and goods (v18).  Rather than being considered an apt business man ----- Jesus describes him as a fool.  He is a fool because that very night his life is required of him. 

At the beginning of the parable we do not see a clear direction on where Jesus is going to tie this parable into the inheritance question.  But at the end the connection is clearly made.  Storing up treasures on earth is a false form of being rich ------ instead true riches are found in the Lord (v21).  The key turning point for the business man ------ is when he talks to himself (v19).  Instead of consulting the Lord on what to do with the grain and goods that he has accumulated, he only consults his own soul.  For the Lord had something else in store for him, and all the wealth he had accumulated will go to someone else. 

In what ways have we accumulated wealth and possessions, but have not consulted the Lord about what we are to do with those things?   

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Go and Do Likewise

I do not get to preach very often ------- so I thought I would post this sermon that I preached a couple weeks back.  It was delivered at Grace United Methodist Church in downtown Wilmington.  Check them out here.  Here is the sermon:

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Community on Mission

The nature and mission of a missional community is to get messy for Jesus Christ. We are to be recklessly excellent in living out our cruciform life in love with God and loving our neighbors.

During the summer of 2008 my wife and I visited London. If anyone visits London, they will notice that they end up visiting many churches. The thing is, when you visit these churches, you are not going to worship—instead, these churches are becoming more and more like museums—ornaments of the past. Just a small handful of people attend worship on Sundays—but they pay their staff and their bills because they are treated as a museum. They charge strangers [they like to call them tourists] money to go into their doors—and people want to go there to see where so and so murdered such and such at a certain place in the 11th century. The Churches in Europe are dwindling to such an extent that they are nothing but places that tell of what they used to do in ministry. They have become museums that used to be about the work of God—but now they are just playing Church. This is a terrible tragedy—houses of worship that used to do awesome things for God are now more concerned with making sure the cobwebs stay off their pews. From this dilapidated position, I want to ask what is the nature and mission of a missional community?

When we turn to scripture we find a particular God—the God of Israel. This God creates in God's self one new humanity and reconciles both groups in one body through the cross (Ephesians 2.15-16). When we turn to scripture we see that the God we serve is a God who sends, the God who acts, and the action is missional because it is the action of salvation for the world. As a result of this revelation we now know that the God we serve is a missionary God and that we are to be missionary people.

As the church we have forgotten who we are—much like the tiger who has been brought up around goats and thinks that he is a goat. In many ways we have turned our buildings into museums and funded our salaries by charging strangers [tourists] to come see the remains of our institution. The church is to be about mission—because the God that we serve is a missionary God. It would help a great deal if we were to stop calling our local churches, “churches”, and instead call them mission-outposts. Mission-outposts that look at themselves as constantly reaching out to the people that surround them—and transforming the world around them. The church is to be missional—and the church is to affect the cosmos by transforming the world for Jesus Christ.

The mission and nature of the missional community is to get messy for Jesus. We get messy by being disciples that make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The church is missional and that is going to be messy—and from this dilapidated vantage point it is almost as if God is looking at the mess and calling it good.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Man of Steel

Last night I went and saw the Man of Steel movie.  I really enjoyed it and there was one quote that stuck out to me that I still am ruminating about.  Clark went into the local church in his hometown and the priest asked him what was on his mind.  As he started sharing the complexity of his problems and his befuddlement about what he was to do ------ you could tell the priest didn't know what to say.  So Clark just got up from the pew and was beginning to leave.  The priest then said: "Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith first.  The trust part comes later."

Isn't that so true with relationships in general.  As Christians we have to be the initiators of relationship ------ we have to take that leap of faith.  For we find ourselves in a world that is oftentimes skeptical of anyone that is gracious and merciful.  But when we are the initiators and allow ourselves to be vulnerable to the world ------- oftentimes the trust will come. 

But that notion of vulnerability is a tough word for us.  For we oftentimes want to build walls ------- so that we have proper "boundaries".  When we use that word "boundaries" ------- we mostly say things like that so that we will not be hurt any longer.  Thank goodness that Jesus did not focus on proper boundaries.  Instead, he offered himself to the world ------ by laying down his life for others. 

Now may we go and do likewise -------- as we lay down our lives for the benefit of the world. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Luke 10.25-37

This Sunday I get the privilege to fill the pulpit at 5th Avenue United Methodist Church.  I will be focusing on Luke 10.25-37.  In this passage a lawyer confronts Jesus -- so as to test him.  He tests Jesus in how he answers the question of obtaining eternal life.  Essentially the lawyer answers his own question by saying that one obtains eternal life by loving God and loving neighbor. But, wanting to justify himself (v29) he then asks who his neighbor is.  Jesus then answers that question with a parable ----- the parable that has come to be called the "good Samaritan". 

We are all familiar with this story ------ sometimes too familiar.  The Bible never calls him good—but we have labeled the story the good Samaritan. I would make the case that there really was nothing that good about him. All he really did was meet the minimum requirements for obtaining eternal life—and that is loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. The reason we like to call him “good” is because of what he does. It seems as if he does something that is beyond the call of duty—and we think that we could never do the same. This Samaritan essentially helps someone that hates him. And maybe hate is too strong of a word. Here are some less strong synonyms: despise, look down upon, abhor, have contempt toward, curse, scorn, loathe—however you cut the mustard—it's bad. And this Samaritan helps the beat up person—regardless. This Samaritan embodied hope for the one who had been beat up and left for dead.

Jesus tells the lawyer ------ and us ------ in Luke 10.37: “Go and do likewise.”  Go love our neighbors. Go and embody the hope that is found in Jesus Christ. Go and be the hands and feet of Jesus to a lost and dying world. 

What are ways that God is calling you to embody hope to the community? 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Vacation Bible School 2013

We would like to invite all of the children of Person County and the surrounding areas to Kingdom Rock.  This will be held at Warren's Grove on July 7th-11th from 5:30pm-8:30pm.  Come on out for a great time to learn about God's great promises that we find in Jesus Christ.  We will have Bible stories, skits, crafts, snacks, recreation, and music.  Each night we will also have a meal right at 5:30pm.

Lastly, invite your friends and family to the commencement program that will be on Sunday, July 14th at our 11am worship service.  This is a time for us to discover God's life-saving love.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Revelation 7.1-17

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on Revelation 7.1-17.  In this passage we read about the 144,000 that are sealed by the angel that ascends from the rising of the sun (v2).  We continue to see who these saints are ------ and they come from some of the tribes of Israel.  Then our attention shifts to a multitude from every nation (v9).  Apparently, this multitude has gone through the great ordeal (v14).  Because of this great ordeal their robes have been washed by the blood of the lamb and now God has promised to be their shepherd and to lead them beside the springs of water (17). 

Martyrdom is our scene in this passage.  Utter devotion to the lamb of God has caused this multitude to die for their faith.  Their blood has been spilled at the hands of sinners ------ and now the blood of the lamb has washed them clean.  This scene of the martyrs seems so different then Christianity in America.  The real question for us is ------ does it feel different because we have sold ourselves out to a culture that opposes Christianity?  or is this what a time of peace for Christians is to look like?  The answer to these questions is the one that I struggle with in the 21st century.  I am afraid that the first question is the one that more represents our situation. 

Come Lord Jesus, Come!  Make things right in this world!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Revelation 5.1-14

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on Revelation 5.1-14.  In this passage we begin by seeing a scroll that is in the hand of him who sits on the throne.  This scroll has seven seals and an angel begins proclaiming that there is no one who is worthy to unseal the scroll.  John begins weeping at this terrible news ----- but then one of the elders comforts him by telling him of the conqueror who is worthy to unseal the scroll.  That conqueror then appears on the scene.  This conqueror is "a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth" (Revelation 5.6).  The lamb takes the scroll ------ and at the sight of this all of creation begins singing!

What a awesome glimpse that we are given the pleasure to behold ------- a glimpse into the very throne room of God.  Christopher C. Rowland comments on this passage by saying: "The identification of Christ with the lamb, made throughout the book, suggests that an act of witness, at great cost, has turned the world upside down.  The victim is shown to be in the right, and the demonstration of that witness shakes the fabric of the cosmos and its institutions to the core."  In the slaughtered lamb we see Jesus ----- the one who is the conqueror of death and the grave!

Jesus is the one who is worthy to unseal the scroll ------ but with this unsealing there is a shaking of the entire universe.  Everything that can be shaken will be shaken.  True authority and power is found in the one who conquered by giving of his own life.  This shakes our systems and institutions to the core ------ for we see the slaughtered lamb ------ who overcame the world through love.  Now, we can do nothing else then sing of this great love that is found in Jesus Christ!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Book of Revelation

During the months of April, May, and June we will be focusing on the Book of Revelation. Concerning the book of Revelation M. Eugene Boring writes: “Although every biblical book is subject to misinterpretation, no other part of the Bible has provided such a happy hunting ground for all sorts of bizarre and dangerous interpretations.”

We see this all around us: people predicting the end of the world, preachers hollering about the dragon and the false-prophet, and name-calling based on weird interpretations of the book of Revelation. What we are going to do is look at what Revelation meant to those in first century Asia — but also what the Lord wants to say to us in the 21st century.

In Revelation 2.10 John writes: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Let us delve in to the book of Revelation so we can learn what it means to lay down our lives for our faith. This teaching series will be during our 8:45am & 11am services at Warren's Grove. All are invited!

Below you will find a listing of what passage we will be focusing on each Sunday:

April 14th, 2013: Revelation 1.1-8
April 21st, 2013: Revelation 1.9-20
April 28th, 2013: Revelation 4.1-11
May 5th, 2013: Revelation 5.1-14
May 12th, 2013: Revelation 7.1-17
May 19th, 2013: Acts 2.1-21 (Pentecost Sunday)
May 26th, 2013: Revelation 11.15 – 12.12
June 2nd, 2013: Revelation 19.1-21
June 9th, 2013: Revelation 21.1-8
June 16th, 2013: Revelation 21.9 – 22.10
June 23rd, 2013: Revelation 22.11-21

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ephata Choir

In 1997 ten young people of the United Methodist Church in Friedrichsdorf/Germany founded a Choir with the help of some adults. More and more people joined the group, which now has about 50 members at every age and regularly sings during Sunday worship.
Searching for a name we found the Bible story where Jesus healed a terminally ill man (Mark 7, 31 – 37). "Ephata!", he said, which means: "Open up!"
The Choir Ephata would like to invite people to open themselves to Jesus Christ and for a new life in Christian discipleship. Music helps our hearts to be opened for God.
In July 2000 we made a first Choir tour to the USA. It was a tremendous experience of Christian fellowship in so many congregations and families. So, we decided to venture other tours. After being present in the USA a second time and tours to England and the Czech Republic, our plan to visit the Republic of South Africa became a reality in the year 2008. This tour deeply moved us as we met many unique and impressive ambassadors of God’s love, caring in particular for the poor and the disadvantaged.
The opportunity to be guests in so many churches and to meet so many people is the most important gift for us when we give concerts and meet other congregations in our country or abroad.

We would like to extend an invitation for all of you to come to this awesome concert on Sunday, March 31st at 5.30pm in the sanctuary at Warren's Grove. Immediately after the service feel free to stay for a covered-dish supper. All are invited!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Confess Your Sins

James 5.16: “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”
During the season of Lent we would like to invite all of you to come and be intentional with living into this injunction from James. This is an intentional time to lay before another person some of the sins that have haunted us and the darkness that has kept us from living into God's best for us.
We will be setting aside time Sunday afternoons during Lent where you can come and meet with either Philip Chryst, Jason Knott, or Lisa Reynolds. This will be confidential — and will be treated with the utmost respect and love. We are not going to be putting up screens and hiding in booths, instead we are going to do this in a way that the Bible tells us to do — and that is to confess one to another and pray for one another.
In our heart of hearts — we know that we struggle with sins. Yes, we think sometimes that we are not as bad as some people, but when we look into the depths of our heart we realize that we are sinners in need of a savior. We scratch just below our surfaces and find resentment, bitterness, jealousy, laziness, greed, arrogance, lust, gossip, anger, rage, envy — and that's just to name a few. We are truly sinners in need of a savior.
Below you will find the dates for this time of confessing our sins to one another. Please go to the downstairs entryway of Warren's Grove and either put your name in a time slot or just mark through a time slot (for confidentiality). This way we will be able to plan for how many people will be coming. If you have any further questions please see Pastor Philip Chryst (336.592.3400 or pchryst@nccumc.org) or Pastor Jason Knott.
Sunday, February 17th from 2pm-4pm
Sunday, February 24th from 2pm-4pm
Sunday, March 3rd from 2pm-4pm
Sunday, March 10th from 2pm-4pm
Sunday, March 17th from 2pm-4pm
Sunday, March 24th from 2pm-4pm

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Luke 5.1-11

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on Luke 5.1-11. In this passage we see the calling of the first disciples in the gospel of Luke. Jesus does not have enough room on the shore to preach ----- so he asks a fisherman to take him out a little way and let him preach from the boat (preaching from a boat would have to be cool). Once the message is done, Jesus then turns to Simon the fisherman and says ------ let's go out and catch some fish. Simon then has to make a decision ------ he has been out all night fishing and the preacher / miracle worker / carpenter has told him to go and try again. He can either act on this advice ----- or say no way. When Simon does what Jesus tells him to do he catches so many fish the boat(s) begin to sink.

Interestingly, when Simon has this happen to his boat ------ he doesn't begin running around talking about how much money he has just made. Instead he falls to his knees, at the feet of Jesus, and says "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" The miraculous blessing elicits a response from Simon ----- the response of confession. Simon confesses his own inadequacies and his own sinfulness.

Is there a time in your own life where the Lord has revealed himself to you ----- and you felt inadequate and ill-prepared? If so, what did you do?