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Posts by David Ellis

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Who am I?

  In my high school, back in the 1970’s, all the cool kids wore athletic letter jackets proclaiming the name of our school and the sport they played. I desperately wanted a letter jacket, because I desperately needed to be cool. The problem was I was small for my age and not very good at sports. A varsity letter in football or basketball was out of the questio...

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Founding Document

  In our country, the validity of laws and governmental practices is always determined by comparing them to the words of the U.S. Constitution. If the courts find that a new piece of legislation contradicts the Constitution, then the legislation is either discarded or changed. The older document (the Constitution) takes precedence over any newer documents that might ...

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Something's Changed

Years ago, the Righteous Brothers recorded a song that went on to become a classic. In the chorus, they sang, “You lost that lovin' feelin' / Whoa, that lovin' feelin' / You lost that lovin' feelin' / Now it's gone, gone, gone.” We don’t know the name of the person they were singing to, but, one thing is clear – their relationship with that person h...

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Authority

Why do you believe what you believe? How do you know what is true? What guiding principles govern your approach to decision-making? Do you believe whatever your parents told you? Whatever your college professors taught? Maybe you are governed by inner hunches and feelings. Maybe you don’t know what to believe Our study of the New Testament book of Galatians helps us...

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Hypocrisy

  This fall at ACC, we are studying the New Testament book of Galatians. In Galatians 2:11-21, the Apostle Paul discusses his response to something heart-breaking that took place in the early church. As the gospel spread throughout the world, it moved from its original monocultural context in Jerusalem into more multicultural settings in the Greek-speaking world. As...

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Faith Alone

  500 years ago, this fall, a Roman Catholic priest, named Martin Luther, produced a list of theological statements that addressed doctrinal concerns facing the church of his day. He reportedly posted the list on the door of a prominent church in Wittenberg, Germany to make its contents available to the public. Translations of Luther’s famous “95 Theses&r...

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Genesis: In the beginning

I know several individuals who have had their DNA analyzed by genetic testing services. It is fascinating to hear them report the findings – the ethnic and regional backgrounds of their long-forgotten ancestors. Some of the results are predictable; some are unexpected. (My daughters were surprised to learn they have Jewish roots.) It’s easy to understand why pe...

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Deliver Us

  The final petition of the Lord’s Prayer is, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The Heidelberg Catechism teaches that, in praying this part of the Lord’s Prayer, we are saying, “By ourselves we are too weak to hold our own even for a moment.  And our sworn enemies— the devil, the world, and our...

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Forgive Us Our Debts

In our current sermon series, we are allowing different psalms from the Bible to show us how to give voice to the various petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. The fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer is “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Psalm 32 helps us to pray this petition with depth and authenticity. In his book on the Lord’s P...

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Our Daily Bread

Jesus taught us, in the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, to ask the Father for “our daily bread.” “Daily bread,” of course, is a metaphor for everything we need from the Lord. This includes requests for spiritual growth and piety, but we should never be embarrassed to ask God for physical blessings, as well. In Prayerbook of the Bible, a...

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Thy Kingdom, Thy Will

The second and third petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are “Thy kingdom come” and “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” What does it mean to pray for the coming of God’s Kingdom? We are essentially praying three things: that the Father would send the kingdom of glory (that Jesus would return); that he would crush the kingdom of d...

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Hallowed Be Thy Name

In our current sermon series, we are learning to pray the psalms through the lens of the Lord’s Prayer. The first petition of the Lord’s Prayer is “hallowed be Thy name.” Psalm 147 is a great psalm for helping us to pray this petition to God. According to the Heidelberg Catechism, when we pray for the hallowing of God’s name we are saying: &l...

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Our Father

In teaching his followers to pray, Jesus instructed us to approach God as “our Father who art in heaven.” This shows us that, as we come to God through Christ, we are to approach God in two ways. First, we are to approach God with a sense of confidence. We address God not at our Master, our King, our Ruler, or our Employer. He is our Father. In other words, si...

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The Lord's Prayer

In the six weeks between Easter Sunday and Pentecost we will be looking at the prayer Jesus taught his disciples often called the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father.” The Lord’s Prayer is generally seen as a template to use to shape our daily praying. It is seen as a template because, though most Christian traditions recite this prayer ...

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Should Christians Tithe?

Ask any waiter in Manhattan, and they’ll tell you – when they see a table full of European tourists, they get nervous. Why? Because in many European countries there is no custom of tipping the table-server when you go out to eat. (In those countries, waiters receive a fair wage in their hourly pay.) Foreign tourists visiting New York have probably been told tha...

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God's Forgiveness

The book of Malachi contains a message from a God who loves his people (Mal. 1:2) even though they have strayed from him, and who is calling them to return (Mal. 3:7). When we reach the end of Malachi, we discover that some of the people who originally received this message responded to it by repenting. Mal. 3:16a says, “Then those who feared the LORD talked with eac...

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Questioning God

Is it ever permissible to question God? Is it wrong for Christians to struggle with doubt? Is there a difference between innocent uncertainty and obstinate unbelief? If so, how do we know when we’ve crossed the line? The third message in our Malachi series looks at some people who were wrestling with questions about God. Described in Malachi 2:17-18, we find them as...

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Covenant God

The second sermon in our series on Malachi looks at a passage that talks about marriage in the context of the covenant faithfulness of God (Malachi 2:10-16). Speaking through his prophet, God expressed concern about the behavior of two groups of people in post-exilic Israel. The first group consisted of Israelite men who were marrying non-Israelite women, despite the fact...

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Malachi: Return to Me

  On March 5 at ACC, we are starting a new sermon series looking at key passages in the Old Testament book of Malachi. Malachi was a prophet sent to speak God’s word to the people of Israel during the post-exilic period of their history. His messages to them were probably delivered between 440 and 420 B.C. Unlike most Old Testament prophets, Malachi has virtua...

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The Book of James

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