Sons of God

Posted by on June 20, 2010 under Sermons

  1. Honor the dads – Children distribute keychains with a cross.

  2. What do you get a man for Father’s day? Culturally, we treat it differently from Mother’s Day. Mother’s are honored and revered. There is a certain respect to it … almost as if we are apologizing for all the trouble we give mom during the rest of the year. Dad’s are more like the person in the class that we have to invent a prize for. After Best Dressed, Most Likely to Succeed, Top Student, and even Cutest Smile have all been awarded, there’s that one person that we invent a prize for: Coolest Pencil Case, Best Milk through the Nose trick, Neatest Handwriting, Most Interesting.
    1. Father’s Day is 100 years old and we haven’t improved past the necktie.
    2. Maybe it has become a joke because we aren’t really sure how men and fathers fit into our culture these days …
  3. What are men good for? Some have suggested that if cloning is perfected, then genetically men would be obsolete. If you are a man, that’s not encouraging news. It makes you feel like a telegram in a world of text messaging. But surely a man is good for more than his genetic contribution to humanity. Some people don’t think so and some men don’t think so either by their actions …

    1. Story about English class …
  4. What are men good for? For the last few decades there have been initiatives trying to heal a brokenness, aimlessness and confusion among men

    1. The Wilderness Men’s Movement – Burned out suburban men go into the words and paint their faces and chests with war-paint. They sing and dance in leather loincloths and tell tall tales around a fire. They flee the world of women. It’s all deeply spiritual. We’ve had that for a lot longer in Arkansas – we just call it deer camp.
    2. But seriously, there are some initiatives that have recognized that men and Father’s play an important role in raising children. The impact of a father or father-figure in the life of both men and women is critical to shaping a child’s identity and spirituality. This is one more reason that I applaud Heart to Heart – they are putting together a mentoring class for Fathers. (Abortion and child-rearing are not just women’s issues).

  5. What are men good for? Are they good for church? I want to say yes, but I will confess that sometimes we feminize church and Christianity. Articles have been written about the reasons why men stay away from church. Quote: “It seems like Jesus is the Bearded Lady.” Jesus seems effeminate – he’s called sweet and beautiful. Men find it hard to relate to that. That’s just not who I am or ever can be – I know better.
    1. When Jesus is nothing more than a good boy – a sacrificial lamb to take the punishment for us, then we lose sight of his mission.
    2. Jesus called men and women to follow him. [For the purpose of today’s sermon, we will focus on how he called men. There’s another sermon worth preaching sometime that affirms how Jesus called women].
    3. Jesus called men into a risky adventure. He called men to give their lives for a worthy cause. To fight for something good. To win a prize through pledging loyalty.
  6. This is what is missing in our culture and our church. We have shied away from the reality that men are looking for a battle to fight, a problem to solve, and something to create.
      photo of Gulf oil leak

    1. I think most men would do more of that if they had a mark to aim at, a goal to strive, a vision and a prize.
    2. One of the reasons this fountain of filth is still billowing in the gulf is because we are not calling out heroes – we are only interested in naming villains
    3. Have you noticed that we rarely declare anyone a hero anymore? Why did men fight dragons in stories of old – to be heroes!
  7. Malachi 2:10, 13-17 – I want you to hear this as a Father talking to his sons. The Father is God and his sons are the men of Israel. In this dialogue I think we not only find a way to name the problem, but we also see the first glimpse of the mark and the goal for men and fathers …

  8. The men had broken faith:
    1. With one another – They have one father, they are one family
    2. With their wives (women) – God protects those who are oppressed and abused. He is especially concerned for them. He is willing to have men join him in this mission. But when they do not, when they become oppressors themselves (intentionally or unintentionally) God begins to draw his sword.
    3. With the next generation (their children) – God has entrusted children to their parents. To men and women both. Men have a role is passing on faith to the children just as women do. And I say men, because it isn’t just fathers in a community (elephant herd).
  9. Most men I know would gladly stand up and accept this charge. Men have pledged themselves to lesser things. You don’t need to be scolded, you don’t need stats and facts, you know that you are called to something great and that you are called to keep faith with one another, with your wives and with women, and with children.
    1. But how?
    2. Your mark, your goal, your King is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The best description of a man is a Son of God.
    3. He is the message that will turn the hearts of the children back to the Fathers and the hearts of the Fathers back to the children.
    4. What is a man good for?

      1. A man is good for his brother man’s sake – young and old alike.
      2. A man is good for his sister’s sake – for the women he is called to care for
      3. A man is good for his children’s sake – his children by blood and by the blood of Christ
      4. A man is good for God’s sake! Let that man be a Son of God!

A Farmer Went Out to Sow His Seed …

Posted by on June 13, 2010 under Sermons


  1. A large crowd gathers
  2. Jesus teaches in parables
  3. Tells the parable of sower and seed
  4. He who has ears to hear …
  5. Disciples ask about parable
  6. Isaiah is quoted
  7. Seed and soils explained
Mark 4
Matthew 13
Luke 8
  • The farmer sows the word
  • Some people are like seed sown along, among, on …
  • They hear the word and …
  • When anyone hears the message of the kingdom
  • Receives the seed …
  • The seed is the word of God
  • Hear the word and …
  • Noble and good heart, hear word, retain it and persevere


Parable Image Meaning 1 Meaning 2
Farmer Jesus Prophet/Preacher
Seed Word Word
Path/Birds Satan steals word Satan steals word
Rocky Soil No root No root
Thorny Soil Worry/Deceit Worry/Deceit
Good Soil Produce crop Noble and good heart
Crop ?? ??


Is the seed bearing fruit?

  • See John 12:37-50
  • Especially verse 47
  • Hearing and doing the word
  • See and truly see it!
  • Hear and truly understand!

The First Work of Evangelism

Posted by on under Sermons

Read Matthew 9:35-38.

The Work of Christ

  • Teaching, Preaching, Healing
    • Jesus is preaching the good news of the kingdom in word and deed. The healing is a result of the kingdom of God breaking in to our world. Sickness and affliction no longer have the last word.
    • Take a look at the events that are listed before this summary: a paralyzed man is healed – not only that but his sins are forgiven, a dead girl is raised, a sick woman is healed – she had been sick for a very long time, a blind men given site, a demoniac is healed – a demon that had stolen his power to speak is removed.
    • A tax collector is restored to the kingdom, he is given hope.
    • Jesus preaches that a new age has dawned
  • Christ’s disciples continue his work – In chapter 10, this new age is ushered forth by Christ’s disciples. They will do what he does in his name and by his authority
  • Find where Christ is at work and join him there – It concerns me that we ended the new age of the new wineskins somewhere around the time of the scientific enlightenment. We just decided that God’s power was limited.
    • I think that there is ample biblical instruction, such as the story of Simon the Sorcerer, to suggest that the power of God is not a power that we command or control. We cannot put a claim on God
    • But neither should we be so glib or confident that God’s power is not still as active as He chooses for it to be. After all, what is the Holy Spirit? How dare anyone claim to control God, but how dare we limit God!
    • What shall we say about our own experiences? Many of you have been healed of sins, the demons of addiction, even sicknesses and afflictions. Sometimes that healing is the power to cope, sometimes it is more. If we cannot speak that these are the work of Christ, then what gospel do we have?
    • We need to give God the glory. We go where Christ sends. We join in his work, not the other way around.

The Heart of Christ

  • Sheep Without a Shepherd – We need to be able to proclaim the good news, for just like Christ saw, there are still sheep without a shepherd. What does that phrase really mean?
    • It means that they are people without a defender. They are people without a leader. They have no king and they are abused
  • Harassed and Helpless – And they are harassed and helpless. One of these words has its origin in being skinned.
    • They are passive. Who is doing the harassing? Who is making them helpless?
    • Go back and look. When the paralyzed man’s sins are forgiven, the so-called religious leaders are the ones who call Jesus down for breaking the Sabbath rules and going beyond their limits (not God’s limits).
    • When Christ calls tax collectors and sinners (the sick) who questions him?
    • When the woman who is bleeding comes to Jesus, she had been made helpless by ineffective healers, but here bleeding would have made her an outcast by the religious leaders.
    • When the Jesus comes to raise the dead girl, he has to put the crowd outside because they had more faith in funeral rites than the son of God
    • Woe to us when we seal off the Kingdom of Heaven to those who are seeking God
    • I am tired of religious leaders and religious people being portrayed as those who are hypocrites, but God help us if we haven’t fueled the fire by our lack of compassion …
  • Christ feels Compassion
    • Did you notice Christ’s reaction … He sees them with compassion. Not pity. Not despair. Not contempt or condescension. He sees the lost sheep of Israel who with a king could be all that God wants them to be.
    • How do we look at others? With our own view or with gods eyes?

The Request of Christ

  • Harvest and Workers – I confess that I sometimes skip compassion and move right into weariness and frustration. That’s because I am not paying attention to who has the power.
    • Jesus is not above naming the frustration. He will himself, being human like us, name the overwhelming odds and the immensity of the mission.
    • And rather than encourage us to be arrogant and do our best or take it one step at a time, he tells us to drop to our knees and PRAY.
  • To Disciples: “ASK!” – Ask means pray. Remember who the Lord of the Harvest is
  • The first work of evangelism is prayer – Where we really get it wrong is by not spending enough time in prayer. Our feelings of urgency and our busy-ness. Our reliance on human knowledge and institutional power have encouraged us to downplay prayer.
    • Charles Spurgeon shows visitors his boiler-room
    • Prayer needs to be our first work, an important and intentional work
    • Why don’t we ASK? God provides. Let’s ask about the things Jesus wants us to ask for. Let’s ask about the things Jesus cares about.
    • Not simply private prayers, but the work of the community, the aim of our worship.

Move to the prayer for the harvest …

The Parable of Talents

Posted by on June 6, 2010 under Sermons

[Read Matthew 25:14-30.]

Adventure, Risk and Creativity

This past week, Jordan Romero became the youngest person to climb Mount Everest. The 13-year-old eighth grader called his mom on a satellite phone from over 29,000 feet high. There’s a lot of praise for this young man’s achievement. But it seems to be the curse of our age that his accomplishment and adventure has to be criticized. There is controversy surrounding Jordan’s climb. Those who say it’s too risky. Some claim a 13-year-old lacks the physical and emotional maturity. Scientists and physicians say that an adolescent may be more prone to altitude sickness. Others say that it is irresponsible to take youngsters out of a safe environment to the deadly extremes of high altitude.

So why did Romero make the climb? In his own words, written in his journal just before climbing the summit … “I am happy to be doing something big, if I wasn’t sitting here at base camp, I could be sitting in the classroom learning about dangling participles.”

All of us want to be part of something big. Maybe that’s why so many of us are unfulfilled in our jobs because they offer no adventure. There’s no risk. It’s just a job. In fact, risk is discouraged. We want safety and security. Doing nothing more than earning a paycheck – playing it safe – leads to a loss of spirit.

Knowing that, it seems odd to me that we try to make the work of the kingdom and the nature of the church more like business and politics of the world. We fill the church with committees and programs and pay more heed to policy than the living word of a living God. When did we suppose that models of business (that are failing all around us) fit the kingdom of heaven?
When did we accept the notion that church is all about safety and security. There has been a loss in the vibrancy of the church because we’ve made our mission one in which we have a product to sell. We offer risk-free security and fire insurance. A safety net for eternity. But can we invite people into something big? Can we invite others into the adventure of God? Do we go there ourselves?

John Eldridge diagnoses the problem well in his book, Wild at Heart: He says that Christian men are bored and Christian women are tired. At a men’s retreat, a middle aged man told him that he had worked so hard to be the kind of “nice guy” the church wanted him to be. As a result he became dutiful but separated from his heart. He had learned to be careful and play it safe. Women have been pressured to be good servants. Very responsible, but without any adventure to be swept up into.

We hide our talents for good reason. We are afraid that the church is going to wear us out.

Can you blame this one-talent fellow for not taking a risk? I dare say we would applaud him for being prudent and cautious. He is a belt and suspenders kind of guy. And he may have thought long and hard about putting the talent on loan with the moneylenders. He may have gotten plenty of advice from those who have done so.

  • “Be careful, the moneylenders might steal your money.”
  • “Sure, interest is all right at this point, but wait for about a year as I hear the rate is expected to climb. Now is not the time.”
  • “Why don’t we study that a little? Now did the master really want you to put the money to work or did he want you to keep it safe? Surely he can take whatever he wants whenever he wants. Surely he tasked you to be a guardian.”
  • “It really isn’t your money to play around with. It’s the master’s money.”

I don’t see why this last servant is so reviled. He is prudent, safe and cautious. He is adverse to risk and can hardly be criticized. Well, he’s never done enough to earn criticism. Isn’t he the sort of safe and pleasant fellow we seek out?

But by the standards of the master, the servant is lazy. He is paralyzed by his negative view of the master, by his worry and his fear of failure. As a result he fails in the trust that the master gave him.

Jesus criticized the Pharisees and the teachers of the law for locking up the kingdom of heaven. They kept people out of it. They wouldn’t even enter into it themselves. They had turned God’s ways into a museum. Look, but do not touch. I am afraid that we’ve made the church into a locked-up museum. One that you cannot go into. Our job is to curate it and keep it pristine. But the problem with that view is that if we are not really part of the church just as the Pharisees were never really part of the kingdom.

Christ invites us into a grand adventure. It isn’t safe. It is risky. It is costly. It is not without pain, but it is full of promise. There is treasure and there is reward, but don’t think for a moment that it is risk-free.

You have talents. God has gifted you in some way. It may be a heart full of love. It may be a mind full of wisdom. It may be a strong back or a tender touch. Woe to us when we catalog and discount talents. The amount or value of the talent is not the issue at all – we have said that, but we’ve never practiced it. We have made the up-front gifts the most important. We have made the gifts of mind and head knowledge more important than anything else. Let’s just stop that today.

The issue is, have you buried your talent? The call today is not for you to get involved in a program or stay busy. It is not even to “attend church” as if sitting in this building makes you holy. We do not attend church – we are church. We do not even attend worship – we worship … always. Sometimes by kneeling, sometimes by singing, and sometimes by serving. The call today is for you to put your talent – the one God gave you – into circulation. Put it to work so that God will get some sort of return for His investment. And your faithfulness (not simply the rate of earning) will allow you to share in your Master’s happiness.

“So far from teaching any prudential wisdom or utilitarian morality, this parable sounds the call to a more heroic adventure than any which the Christian church on earth has ever led the main body of its members to attempt. It is the very condemnation of a merely cautious defensive policy which finds its chief aim in survival and security.” – Oliver Quick [Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, 1916]


Posted by on June 3, 2010 under Bulletin Articles

To say the past month has been an adventure is an understatement! Some asked if 56 years of preaching is short. “Yes!” It is amazing how much of it will fit in garbage bags! My oldest son (Jon) is the family historian. He spent 4 days helping us reorganize. He said, “Dad, you have no idea how hard it is on me to throw this stuff away!”

I thought I would conclude my regular bulletin articles by answering some of the common questions asked us.

“When will you officially retire?” On June 3 I will be 70 years old. Retirement begins June 4. We will take some vacation time immediately.

“Do you plan on staying in Fort Smith?” Yes! We plan to be an active part of West-Ark for the foreseeable future. Only family sickness in Crossville would alter our plans.

“What is happening to you health-wise?” The simple way to explain what is happening is this: The part of my brain that controls muscle coordination is shrinking. It expresses itself in balance, reaction to air temperature, and (in my case) speech issues.

“Are you getting better?” The actual condition is so rare there is no known treatment. True improvement of the condition does not exist. I rarely have any pain; I just have frustration. The objective (by doing “correct” things and taking no chances) is to make deterioration occur as slowly as possible. That is working! The irony is this: the better I feel, the less I should do. Go figure that one out! Truly, “Looks are deceiving!”

“Do you think you will enjoy being retired?” I have no idea-even if I succeed in not driving Joyce crazy! She is the one who deserves major sympathy! We both appreciate the many, many kindnesses and encouragements!