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HolyWhat?

Friday, October 19th, 2018

I come from a tradition where talk of the Holy Spirit was almost nil. He was hush-hush. I’m not sure if that was because of ignorance or it was because of fear. My first exposure to someone raising their hands in worship (something I had never been exposed to but had read about) was at a youth conference I was attending. The worship leader was leading us in a song when several around me raised their hands. I kid you not: I broke out in a cold sweat wondering what was next.

I survived. Now I are one (as they say). But seriously, why was that even as issue? Why are there still people today who will not raise their hands because of a “theological problem” with it?  More importantly: why are we so closed off to that type of expression to the praise and glory of God?

There is an even greater problem underlying many churches and pastors today. We are afraid.  We are afraid to allow any semblance of emotion to be expressed. I’m not talking about excess. I’m not talking about the whooping and hollering and the devil-inspired jerking, rolling around on the floor, and barking like a dog we hear about. That is not godly. But we do have an elephant in the room. You see…there are two extremes (as I see it). Some pursue experience in the Spirit apart from the Word.  They listen for voices or seek “signs” from God. They seem to be always talking about what God “said to them.” At the other extreme is the one who seeks to know and obey the Word without any interaction with, or real dependence on, the Spirit. These people are often void of emotion and can become legalistic in their thinking.

My sermon this Sunday is entitled Jesus, Continued. I borrowed the title from a book I read several year ago.  As you might have guessed, the sermon is on the Holy Spirit. I’d appreciate your prayers for this message and those who listen. And, of course, the one who is bringing it. 🙂

TheRock

Friday, October 12th, 2018

No…this sermon is not about the “actor”  or any of his movies. It is about the One who is The Rock.  Do you remember ever reading or hearing this from many moons ago?

All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on earth as much as that One Solitary Life.

That is just part of the poem/story told about Jesus. It is amazing how much Jesus is mentioned in our culture, but not necessarily out of respect. He’s in the world of fashion. (Who could forget the infamous “Jesus is my Homeboy” t-shirts many celebrities wore?) He shows up in movies. He shows up in music, both good and bad. He shows up at award shows (again both good and bad).  He shows up in the world of sports.  He shows up in the religions of the world (Don’t get me started on that!).

I recently finished reading Superheroes Can’t Save You by Todd Miles ( a great book where he took different superheroes and related it to how Jesus is perceived by many).  Todd wrote this after talking about his stagnant spiritual life which came to life while a student at Oregon State University:

Jesus Christ is the most compelling, interesting, and remarkable person who ever lived.  He is exactly who he claimed to be, precisely who the Bible teaches that he is-God in the flesh, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” (p.3)

Who Jesus is, according to the Bible, is a non-negotiable. That is where I choose to Stake My Claim this Sunday. If you live around here, please join us. If not, you can listen via podcast. In any case, please pray for me and for the folks this coming Sunday.  Thanks.

BigGod

Friday, October 5th, 2018

If there was ever a question asked that has yet to find a complete and correct answer it would be the “Why?” question. I seriously doubt there a person on this planet who has not asked that question sometime in their life.  As I was studying for this first sermon in my new series Staking Your Claim I ran across this quote:

A god small enough to be understood is not big enough to be worshiped.  Evelyn Underhill

That statement blew me away. I began to think, “Who am I to question God?” Another question: “Who am I to think God owes me an explanation for His dealings?”

Years ago I read a small little book with a big message: Your God is Too Small by J.B.Philipps. I have come to the conclusion that we in the American church have sort of “dumbed down” God. We may have not done it intentionally. I don’t think we purposely said, “I think I’m going to put God in a box and He will not operate outside of it.” I have not done what Thomas Jefferson did, i.e. cut out of my Bible parts I don’t agree with or believe in. I have never called God my “buddy” or “my homeboy.”

But if we diminish God in any way, such a God cannot sustain faith. You see…what we think about God determines everything else in our lives: what we value, what we pursue, and how passionately we pursue it.

That is why I have entitled my sermon The Bigness of God. Grasping that God is a being of unfathomable magnitude, wisdom, and goodness is one of the non-negotiables of having a living, vital faith.  Your prayers would be appreciated.

Avoid!!

Friday, September 21st, 2018

General George C. Marshall once said, “Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.”

If the truth be known, we are all tempted from time to time to put the best possible spin on things related to us. We don’t really want people to know who we are. We might open the door a crack. But totally? We aren’t quite ready to do that.

As followers of Christ, we tread a fine line. We shouldn’t withdraw from the world because that leaves us with no influence. But at the same time we shouldn’t fall lock, stock and barrel into walking lockstep with them either. We need what is called D.I.S.C.E.R.N.M.E.N.T.  Frankly, there are people we ought to and need to avoid. While an addict may feel strong, hanging around with his old buddies is not the wisest choice.

Proverbs 6:12-19 is a rather hard-hitting passage. I’ve divided it into two sections:

  • Stay away from the insincere (6:12-15)
  • Stay away from frauds (6:13-19)

This is going to be my last sermon in the Proverbs series. Ryan will be preaching next week. My soon-to-be 12 year old grandson plays football and the only games I could make it to are played on Sunday. So Jo, Tami, and I will be leaving next Saturday, staying the night, then watching him play on Sunday at noon. So Ryan has graciously said he would preach for me.  He will finish the series using Proverbs 3: 1-8.

One more note: I started a post here on Tips which came from a book called Being There. I’ll include the second installment next week. That way my millions of readers will have a chance to read and comment.  🙂 🙂 🙂

 

Control

Friday, September 14th, 2018

As not in…being a control freak.

BUT

As in losing control…

As in anger management…

As in flying off the handle…

You get the drift. Sunday’s sermon is entitled “Don’t Lose Control!”

There are times when anger is valid. But we also know there have been times when anger is nothing more than a selfish reaction to something not going our way rather than a justified response. Proverbs says a lot about anger and losing control.

“Fools have short fuses and explode all too quickly; the wise quietly shrug off insults.” 12:16 (MSG)

“Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.” 12:18

“Short-tempered people must pay their own penalty. If you rescue them once, you will have to do it again.” 19:19 (NLT)

Ephesians 4:27 is the coup de grace of verses. As I said, there are time anger is valid but way too often it is nothing more than a “flash” or heated response to something that happens or something said. As I was studying for this message a phrase came to mind, a little catch-phrase. I’d like to say it was my idea but who knows?  I’m sure someone else has thought of it.

DON’T NURSE; REVERSE!

“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” 29:11

I like what someone said: “You can’t put your foot in your mouth when it is closed.”

And finally. My prayer? “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Ps.141:3) The New Century Version (NCV) puts that verse this way: “Lord, help me control my tongue; help me be careful about what I say.”

SayWhat?

Friday, September 7th, 2018

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” So says Proverbs 18:21.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” How ridiculous is that?

Oswald Chambers once wrote: “The great test of a man’s character is his tongue.

“A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.” (Ben Franklin)

All sorts of thoughts about our speech.  All from different sources but all are rather telling. The words we use affect others. Here is another: “I tell you, on the Day of Judgment people will give an account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.” Jesus in Mt.12:36-37

Much of the strife in our families, offices, churches, dorms, schools, and our nation can often be traced back to our words. Gossip has sent whole churches into meltdown. It can destroy morale at work. Ill-timed or angry words can send a team or player into a tailspin.

James talks about the tongue and says, “Can salt water and fresh water come from the same source?” It is quite damaging to our witness when our tongue is out of control. This Sunday (as I bet you can guess) my sermon is about the power of words. I’m going to do a contrast by showing:

The Power of Words-Used Wrongly

and

The Power of Words-Used Correctly

 

The story is told of a woman who complained to a Puritan pastor about the clerical bands he wore with his robe. Saying they annoyed her greatly because they were too long, she asked his permission to shorten them.  He quietly acquiesced and handed her the offending bands. Armed with her scissors, she shortened them according to her tastes and handed the fragments back to him. Unruffled, he thanked her and said, “Now, my good woman, there is something about you that is altogether too long that has annoyed me greatly. And since one good turn deserves another, I would like permission to shorten it.”

“Certainly,” she said, “you have my permission and here are the scissors.”

Whereupon the wise pastor said, “Very well, madam, put out your tongue.”

‘Nuff said.

Advice

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Several thoughts go through my head concerning advice. It is warranted? Is it kind? Harsh? Does it come from someone who cares about me? Is it solicited or unsolicited?

It’s not always easy listening to someone else, whether they have our good in mind or not. None of us like to be someone’s verbal punching bag.  Admittedly, the hardest advice to take is that which is corrective. The passage of Scripture I’m speaking about this Sunday is one of those: Proverbs 6:1-15. I’ve titled it Pull Up a Chair because I want it to be like we are asking someone to come sit with us for a spell and chat.

There is so much practical advice in this passage of Scripture!  Here is how I’m approaching it:

Don’t get entangled.  (Verses 1-5)  Some very practical advice tangled up in things we need to avoid. In particular, co-signing on a loan. There is a lot to say about getting ourselves tangled up.

Don’t be lazy. (Verses 6-11)  No one wants to be compared to a slug let alone be called one! Laziness is something to avoid.

Don’t be divisive. (Verses 12-15).  There is no doubt we get our fair share of snakes in the grass. Divisive people are charming on the outside but snakes on the inside. We are being warned against them.

These are all common everyday issues. Solomon gives some very wise advice. I’m praying I share it with loving candor, sort of like pulling up a chair and having a heart-to-heart chat.  Your prayers would be appreciated.

Contrast

Monday, August 27th, 2018

My last post was to mention my sermon for this past Sunday was on the Wise vs the Otherwise (Foolish). I thought I would pass along to you the contrast I showed between the two.

The Wise

  1. Wise people listen to wise instruction. Pr.1:3
  2. Wise people fear the Lord. Pr.1:7; 3:7
  3. Wise people choose good company. 13:20; 12:26
  4. Wise people are not “edgy.” (They don’t see how close to sin they can get without giving in).
  5. Wise people watch their words. 16:23; 10:19
  6. Wise people seek to influence others to trust God. 11:30  “The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends.” (NLT)

The Otherwise (Foolish)

  1. Fools won’t learn from God’s Word.
  2. Fools can’t control their speech. 15:2
  3. Fools can’t control their temper. 12:16; 29:11
  4. Fools are proud and self-confident. 28:26; Jer.17:9
  5. Fools create problems not solve them.

The choice is easy is theory. In theory. But in reality? A bit harder. But worth it.

 

Fools?

Friday, August 24th, 2018

Years ago there used to be a “comic book” TV series that had a character that was fond of saying, “You fool!” (Can you guess what it is? Virtual high five if you do).

Charles Schulz and his cartoon strip “Peanuts” was a staple as I was growing up. Charlie Brown was the “fall guy” for so many pranks. Linus was his faithful blanket-carrying sidekick. One of Linus’ most famous lines was “I love mankind. It’s people I can’t stand.” Playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “If the other planets are inhabited, they’re using the earth for their insane asylum.”  Now that is funny!

Proverbs talks about a lot of different kinds of individuals but the most common are those who pursue wisdom (the wise) and those who pursue foolish things (the fool).  I’m calling this week’s sermon The Wise and the Otherwise because I intend on showing the difference between the two types of people. I am taking a little bit different of an approach as well. Rather than hunt all over Proverbs from passage to passage, the Scripture will be printed out for them in the expanded outline and will also be on Power Point. This sermon is saturated with Scripture and the limited time we have on a Sunday morning needs to be used wisely. My plan is to share those with you in a series of posts next week.

I’d appreciate your prayers for me/us this week. Thanks.

Purity

Friday, August 17th, 2018

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “Now this is gonna hurt.” We usually consign that to a dentist or a doctor or a surgeon…someone who inflicts our body with pain. It isn’t usually associated with a pastor who loves his people.

Well….

I think that perception will change Sunday. Can you think of any subject more avoided than sex? I’m pretty sure I don’t remember ever hearing about it growing up. Nope. It was avoided like the Bubonic Plague. And the fleas which helped spread the disease.

But Proverbs is filled with references to sex. To Purity. One of the benefits of preaching through a section of a book in the Bible is one can find the Bible itself raises topics normally skimmed over. The Bible is not shy about sex, and its message is clear: sexual sin destroys, sexual wisdom satisfies, and Christ is better than the best sex.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Do not bite at the bait of pleasure ’til you know there is no hook beneath it.” Wise words. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed, they did not know how to blush.” (6:15)

Sunday’s sermon is simply titled “The Call for Purity.” It is something many struggle with, more than I suspect we even realize. I’ll be saying some strong words (in love) this Sunday. If you have never prayed for me, please do. If you do, thanks and keep up the good work.