Life is filled with messages. At best, most of them are forgettable. Plenty of them are confusing and anxiety-inducing. Filled With Messages are the sermons of Ruth Farrell, the lead pastor of a church in Chicagoland. If you want to fill your life with encouraging, transforming messages, listen in.
When we’re suffering, it’s natural to ask God “why?” Oftentimes, in response to our heartfelt questions, God invites us to see the world and our pain through a different perspective which helps us trust God even if the pain continues.
Throughout our lives, we face difficult moments when we are filled with questions. How do we faithfully, respectfully, lovingly, but also honestly respond to God when those times come? Listen in to hear how Mary handled a moment just like this.
Most “important” people don’t act with gentleness, humility, mildness. They milk their glory for all it’s worth. But Jesus - himself God - willingly laid aside his glory mildly and invites us to do the same.
We know we should practice gratitude, but sometimes it’s hard. Perhaps our temperaments aren’t given to it. Maybe we’re crazy busy. Possibly we’re going through a really tough time. But there are practical steps we can take to develop gratitude in our lives and implementing these things will bring us more joy.
To be human is to experience anxiety at times. It can be so hard to find peace when we are worried. But if we choose to connect deeply with God when we are stressed, then we will be lead to God’s peace and joy.
Some days, we find ourselves lacking confidence. On those days, Christians are encouraged to turn not just to family, friends, trusted professionals, even ourselves to find courage and hope, but to also turn to Jesus and in him find supernatural confidence.
It is so tempting to argue and complain about life. Certainly, God doesn’t want us to ignore our problems and pain, but rather encourages us to share our frustrations honestly, while giving thanks. When we do, we shine like stars and bring joy to others, God, and ourselves.
Some days it is hard to rejoice, but when we are surrounded and supported by a healthy community, they empower us to rejoice in our God always. Listen in to hear more about how we can rejoice in community.
Sometimes we think that a change of scenery will solve all our problems. If only we could find a new job, move to a new town, go on a trip, we’d feel so much better. But rarely do these geographical changes solve all our problems. The Good News is that God is bringing healing and goodness and solutions right here to us in the real world, our goal is to learn to see heaven all around us.
A lot of us are afraid of the dark, especially of the times when life feels dark. But there are wonderful things that can only happen when it’s dark and oftentimes, in the darkness, we see God more clearly as other distractions are diminished.
Recently, it’s kind of felt like we’re living in a time warp, in Groundhog’s Day, repeating the same day over and over again. Following God’s example and creating contrast out of sameness can help us get through weird and strange times.
Most of us are exhausted, weary, carrying heavy burdens. Jesus invites us to rest, not necessarily by taking a vacation or even a nap, but by taking on his way of life which leads us to places of freedom and peace.
We have such a hard time seeing the beautiful things about ourselves. There are so many forces in our lives (family, friends, culture, work, even our religious traditions) which focus in on the things they want to change about us. But God loves us exactly the way we are right now and wants us to learn to love the awe-inspiring and wonderful people he created us to be.
George Floyd’s friends described himself as someone who was the change he wanted to see in the world. God calls us to follow Mr Floyd’s example and work to ensure black lives matter in our homes, communities, and world.
When life is moving at its normal pace, it can be difficult to see what needs to change in our lives. But the Holy Spirit is always wanting to blow and burn things out of our lives that are no longer good or useful so she can bring us to beautiful new places of freedom and purpose.
When we’re feeling anxious, struggling to feel grounded, mental health professionals recommend thinking about a happy place or person or memory. Jesus taught that God was one such person to whom we can turn for help. Listen in to hear more about how God comforts and care for us.
Thomas is often labeled “The Doubter” as if doubt is a terrible thing. But really, Thomas was just honest and vocal about his needs. Jesus heard Thomas’ demands, met them, and will surely do the same for us.
Most of us tend to give way more (time, energy, money, etc) than we actually have. When we give beyond our limits, we hurt ourselves or we hurt others. How can the Holy Spirit help us find a better balance?
It’s important to be empowered and have agency, but sometimes things are out of our control and sometimes God asks us to follow his lead. How can we reframe those times in life when we’re feeling like things are unraveling out of control and in doing so find God’s hope and new purpose? Listen in to hear more.
There are a lot of disappointing messages in our world and we can become pessimistic and bitter because of all the disappointment we experience. But God is always at work brining us hope and joy. Listen in to be reminded of the ways our loving God brings light to our darkness.
One of the messages we hear often is that our county and world has a growing mental health epidemic. How did Jesus interact with those struggling with their mental and emotional health and how does he call us to support them? Listen in to hear more...
Ben Franklin famously said there are only two things in life that are certain: death and taxes. So what do we do when things we were certain about start to unravel? Or what do we do when we realize things we are certain about need to be unraveled? How do we seek God when life is unraveling?
At any given moment there are people in our lives who are suffering, grieving, experiencing pain. We want to support these people, but how can we do that well? What wisdom does God have for us on this matter? Listen in to ponder these questions together.
One of the messages we often hear, especially in Christianity, is that we should be happy and joyful at all times. But when we’re suffering, it can feel disingenuous to be cheerful. How does God want us to feel and act when we’re (or someone or something we love) is in pain?
One of the messages a lot of Christians hear is that we should keep our faith to ourselves. Certainly it’s very important to be respectful of other people’s belief systems, but is there anyway we could boast about God respectfully and carefully? Listen in to hear more...
To whom do you listen when you’re in need of wisdom? There are so many “experts”, self-help gurus, programs which promise wisdom that it’s hard to know who to listen to. This message considers how the Psalms encourage us find wisdom.
Our world is filled with messages encouraging us to speak early and often. But if we learned to listen well, might we be able to bring more peace into our hurting, angry, violent world? Listen in to ponder the idea. (This episode contains quotes from The Listening Life by Adam McHugh. Many thanks to him for his words and work.)
So many of the messages we hear are hopeless, perhaps because there are so many things in this world that seem to be falling apart. Are there reasons to hope that our broken world won’t always be this way? Listen in to find out.
Our culture is filled with stories of GOATS (the greatest of all time). The subtle message behind these stories is that all of us should try to be the greatest of whatever we do (parenting, friendship, work, etc). But as Christians, is greatness the goal? Is that the message Christ speaks into our lives? Listen in to hear more.
When I listen to the world around me, I hear a lot of messages that might not contain actual "swear words," but are filled with curses. God, though, calls those of us who seek to follow him to bless others. Listen in to hear how we might do that.
Barbara Brown Taylor's book An Altar In the World is quoted several times in this sermon. Many thanks to her for her thought-provoking work.
One of the messages that comes across loud and clear today is that waiting is bad. In our Instagram world, we should be able to have anything we want instantly. But this sermon, based on Jeremiah 29:1-14, reminds us that God sometimes asks us to wait, perhaps even as long as 70 years. IT was preached October 13, 2019 at St. Peter United Church of Christ in Lake Zurich, Illinois. The guided spiritual practice at the end of the sermon (Welcoming Prayer) was found in Beth Ann Estock's book Discernment.
Sometimes it seems as though one of the messages of Christianity is that those who trust God aren't supposed to cry. We're supposed to be brave and say "It is well with my soul", even when life is awful. But is that really what God asks of us? Is it ok to cry at the sad parts of life, even if we believe that God is working all things together for his glory and our good? This sermon, preached at St. Peter United Church of Christ in Lake Zurich, on October 6, 2019, explores these questions through Psalm 137.
This sermon was preached at St. Peter United Church of Christ (Lake Zurich, Illinois) on September 22, 2019. Rev. Ruth Farrell is preaching. The text is Luke 16:1-13 which is either titled, "The Parable of the Shrewd Manager" or "The Parable of the Dishonest Manager." Listen in to hear how God is calling us to live shrewdly not just during life's crises, but all the time.
What brings a church together? What makes it thrive? Simple answer: Jesus. Jesus tears down the fences that divide us building us into an amazing home where God feels completely at home (Ephesians 2:19-22).
This sermon was recorded at St. Peter United Church of Christ (Lake Zurich, Illinois) on March 17, 2019. The Rev. Ruth Farrell is preaching. The scripture text is Mark 5:21-43 and the quote about labyrinths at the end of the sermon is from Barbara Brown Taylor's book An Altar in the World. This was sermon 2 (even though the episode says it was sermon 1) in a Lenten series entitled "Everyday Spirituality: Becoming more like Jesus through our everyday activities."
This was the first sermon in our Lent 2019 Series entitled Everyday Spirituality: Becoming more like Jesus through our everyday activities. The Rev. Ruth Farrell is preaching. The scripture text was Matthew 4:1-11 and the sermon also contains quotes from Barbara Brown Taylor's An Altar in the World and N.T. Wright's commentary Matthew for Everyone.
This sermon was recorded at St. Peter UCC (Lake Zurich, Illinois) on May 5, 2019. Rev. Ruth Farrell is preaching. The texts are Matthew 28:16-20 and John 20:24-29. The two quotes are from Rob Bell's What We Talk About When We Talk About God.