“You Can’t Judge Someone and Love Someone At the Same Time” July 14, 2019

Posted by on Aug 5, 2019 in Sermon Archives

“You Can’t Judge Someone and Love Someone At the Same Time” Amos 7:7-17/ Psalm 82 Colossians 1:1-14 Luke 10:25-37   Many years ago, I found myself and a few friends at the county fair in Missoula, MT. Like most young folks in their 20’s, we were looking stir things up a bit; we were looking for something new, something exciting. And so it was that when we came across a stand that read “The Great Madame So & So, fortune teller” there was a mad scramble to see who would go forward and part with the $5.00 that it cost to catch a glimpse of what the future had in store. Now, I can’t recall how it happened but it ended up being me who sat before this lady who was looking very intently at the lines in the palm of my hand. As she was doing this, she was asking me questions: “Where are you from? What are your hobbies? What is your line of work?” I answered truthfully, I guess, but the truth is that all I could think was that this is nothing but a waste of time and money. When she asked what I did, I told her that I was a musician, which was true enough. What I didn’t tell her was that I was doing all kinds of things to make a living besides playing and singing. Anyhow, she pointed out all the different lines on my hand explaining what they meant and then she dropped the bomb: she looked right at me and said just as plain as day that I would never be truly happy until I found another line of work besides being a musician. Well, I was flabbergasted. I stood up and stormed out telling her something to the effect that she has a lot of nerve and didn’t know what she was talking about. I was angry and I was upset. The truth is, there was a lot of wisdom in what she was saying. The bigger truth is that I didn’t want to hear it. I had to wonder why in the world the incident at the county fair just happened to pop into my head until I realized that the prophet Amos had been on my mind most all week. Now here is a man who understood the dangers of telling folks what they don’t want to hear. Amos, like I said, was from the south country. There was nothing special about him- he was a shepherd and worked with wood- but the Lord had sent him north to prophesy to the people of Israel. The words that God instructed him to say were harsh words. They were words that the chief priest and the King of Israel did not want to hear. (Amos 7:7) 7 This is what the Lord showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall, with...

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“There’s A Little Naaman In All of Us” July 7, 2019

Posted by on Aug 5, 2019 in Sermon Archives

“There’s A Little Naaman In All of Us” 2 Kings 5:1-14/ Galatians 6:1-16 Luke 10:1-11, 16-20   So, let’s talk about this Naaman fellow: a general – a great general of the Syrian army. (2 Kings 5:1) tells us Naaman was a great man and highly regarded by his master, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. (Syria) He had a lot going for him: fame, success, and the respect and admiration of his people. There was only one problem – Naaman had leprosy. We can’t say for certain what that means for Naaman’s time. It could have been any number of skin diseases, and not just Hansen’s disease, as Leprosy is called today. But it was probably still pretty miserable. The word used here is meṣora, and Leviticus spends two chapters on it. The important thing for us to understand is that with the disease he was considered unclean, he was unable to go to worship with other folks, he could occasionally be quarantined, which definitely could interfere with his job of being a general. This had to be a serious issue with him not just physically, but also vocationally and I’m sure his social life was the pits. Now, before we go any further, I’d like to say a thing or two about warfare in the time of Elisha. Unlike today, warfare in biblical times was almost friendly. It was such a normal part of everyday life that folks just accepted it. And it seems like it rarely got personal between those fighting these wars because everyone pretty much believed that the battle was won by whoever had the best god at the time. It reminds you of professional football players who fight it out at the stadium only to get together later on for one of their kid’s birthday party. This brings us to the real hero of the story: the Israeli slave girl that belonged to Naaman. She had been captured in some battle or other and worked in the house. But she had pity on Naaman. Now Naaman, being a man, would never complain or seek out any kind of help for his condition so she knew not to approach him about it. So she mentions to Naaman’s wife that there happened to be a prophet named Elisha in Israel who could cure him of this disease. The wife tells Naaman and he decides it’s worth a shot, so he goes to the king of Syria to get a letter of recommendation, along with a bunch of money and gifts to sweeten the deal, to cross into enemy territory to ask to be healed of this terrible affliction. He and his men travel to Israel and the King of Israel goes into a panic thinking that Syria is only trying to pick a fight, but here’s the kicker – Elisha finds out the...

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“Don’t Look Back” June 30, 2019

Posted by on Aug 5, 2019 in Sermon Archives

“Don’t Look Back” 2 Kings 2:1-14/ Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20 Galatians 5:1, 13-25/ Luke 9:51-62   During Annual Conference this year, Ralph and I got to talking about baseball, particularly that unique relationship between catchers and pitchers. It got me to thinking about Bobby Weaver. Now Bobby was just an average pitcher. What made him good was his ability to distract the batters. Bobby had lots of tricks, one of them being he would do his homework. He would gather up any information he could on the opposing team and then, because I was the catcher, would relay it to me. It was my job to drop these little bombs at the perfect moment. So imagine that you are a teenage boy standing at the plate. You’re nervous, everybody is watching you and you have 2 strikes called on you. O, the embarrassment of striking out in front of your family and friends. So, just when the pitcher is about to wind up for that fateful pitch, the catcher says something about seeing your girlfriend at the mall with some other guy. What? How does he know these things? And could this be true? The ball sizzles by: “Strike three, you’re out!” says the umpire, and the only thing that might make you feel better is if you knew how much time and effort went into the distraction that just caused you to strike out. Then, there’s the story involving Yogi Berra, the well-known catcher for the New York Yankees, and Hank Aaron, who at that time was the chief power hitter for the Milwaukee Braves. The teams were playing in the World Series, and as usual Yogi was keeping up his ceaseless chatter. As Aaron came to the plate, Yogi tried to distract him by saying, “Henry, you’re holding the bat wrong. You’re supposed to hold it so you can read the trademark.” Aaron didn’t say anything, but when the next pitch came he hit it into the left-field bleachers. After rounding the bases and tagging up at home plate, Aaron looked at Yogi Berra and said, “I didn’t come up here to read.” Commitment, staying focused – these seem to be the themes of our scriptural texts today. Last week, we read about how Elijah lost his focus after Jezebel announced to the world that she would have him killed. Now you have to admit, that might tend to rattle a person’s nerves, but God brings him back with the question, “Elijah, why are you here?” and then simply tells him to go back and make things right. The Lord instructs Elijah to appoint a new set of kings for Syria and Israel and to also appoint Elisha to take his place. In chpt. 19 of 1 Kings, Elisha is asked to come with Elijah, which he does gladly. A series of wars and periods of peace take...

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