It’s a challenging message I have the opportunity to give at The River Church in Chaska, MN on Sunday. It’s one of those sermons that humbles my heart.

The sermon-style at The River is unique… it is not a “teaching” preaching, but rather more of a guided-discussion, with interactive questions and conversation. Currently, the River is going through books of the Bible, one by one– each week summarizing their key themes and pointing to Jesus.

I’ve been assigned the book of Amos, an alarmingly depressing book and, therefore, often overlooked section of the Old Testament. Wading into the soul-gutting judgments of Amos is a difficult task. Getting past the shocking promises of destruction is a slog. When people mention their favorite parts of the Bible, no one mentions Amos. If they did, you’d be concerned about treating a potential derangement syndrome. It is not an enjoyable book. Here’s one example of how Amos knocks the wind out of your soul:

“The people of Edom … chased down their relatives, the Israelites, with swords,
    showing them no mercy.
In their rage, they slashed them continually
    and were unrelenting in their anger.
So I will send down fire on Teman,
    and the fortresses of Bozrah will be destroyed.”

Amos 1:11-12 NLT

The book of Amos is filled with this sort of sin and calamity. The people of Tyre are accused of selling whole villages of Israelites into slavery. Another people group, from Ammon, is accused of “ripping open pregnant women with the sword.” Israel itself has been in a violent civil war between North (called “Israel”) and South (called “Judah”). And it seems that God has had enough.

Amos was a farmer/shepherd/arborist. He was a rancher of herds of sheep and took care of groves of sycamore-fig trees. He seems to have had a stable, successful career. Then God upends his life– calling him to confront those with whom he was most upset.

Should be a “fun” sermon. 🙂 I’m actually looking forward to our discussion and discovery. In a day when culture tempts us to be “happy”, but has sabotaged us with anxiety, the book of Amos actually has much to say to us. We have much to learn about who God is, who we are, and the restorative fight that God engages against humanity’s worst entrapments of sin. Sometimes, being honest and upfront about the most disturbing aspects of our lives is the only way towards accepting freedom and hope.

If you don’t know where you’ll be Sunday morning at 9:30, I invite you to join us!

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