“Where’s My Jesus, And What Have You Done With Him?” August 23, 2020

Posted by on Aug 25, 2020 in Sermon Archives

“Where’s My Jesus, and What Have You Done With Him?” Matthew 16:13-20 I’ll never forget my first job. I had somehow managed to get my Junior Lifesaving certificate from the YMCA and so, at the age of 14, I figured I was more than qualified to be a first class, bona fide life guard. As luck would have it, we lived close to an old run down dance hall and resort called Greter’s Lake. Now, this place had seen better days, but folks still came out in the summer and paid their money to bask on the beach while their kids splashed and played in the not-so-pristine waters of this 5 acre reservoir. I never questioned why they would hire a 14 year old kid to be responsible for the lives of their customers, but hey – at 50 cents an hour, I was willing to give it my best shot. I figured if I could last the season, I’d be rolling in dough. Now my boss was a guy named Ray, and Ray fashioned himself to be somewhat of a ladies man. He wore his hair all poofed up like a Southern Baptist preacher and by the smell of it must have went through a bottle of cologne every week. One day, he came by to chat with me looking especially dapper: white polyester shirt on black polyester trousers and the shiniest  shoes I’d seen in a long time. “So tell me,” he said, “ain’t your boss about the best looking guy that ever walked the planet?” I was speechless at first, but I recovered and told him that, yea, he looked pretty doggone sharp, which was not quite the truth. Truth is, I thought he looked kind of ridiculous. Anyhow, we chatted for a while longer then he had to take off for some important something or other. And he had a big smile on his face. I always felt bad that maybe I had sent him off feeling like a million bucks when all I saw were cheap pants and a bad hairdo. Now, if you’re wondering what this has to do with anything, our theme for this day is “identity.” We’ve all got them. We all have some kind of identity that we identify with; some sort of self-awareness of who we are and what makes us tick. And by the same token, we’re bound to judge those around us – how they dress, who they hang out with, how they talk. We look to understand how they identify themselves. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing; it’s just what we do. So when Matthew tells us about Jesus casually asking his disciples, “Who do people say I am?” we’re right there. We can relate; we can identify. If you’ve ever been involved with sales, you know the value of a well-placed...

Read More »

“It’s a Big Table” August 16, 2020

Posted by on Aug 25, 2020 in Sermon Archives

“It’s a Big Table” Matthew 15: 21-28   It’s a known fact that there will be things in our lives that are guaranteed to trigger certain memories. It happens every time. These memories might fade with time, but they will always be there. Every time that I smell Ivory soap, for example, my mind immediately goes to the big old cast iron bath tub at Grandpa John’s house with the crusty old fixtures and a worn out stopper on a rusty old chain. Every time. Our gospel message today has one of those trigger mechanisms that, for as long as I live, I swear I’ll never be able to shake. As best I can figure, it was probably 6 years ago about this time of year when I was trying my best to make sense out of why Jesus treated this woman they way that he did. Now, if you’re trying to work something out – if you’re wanting to find some kind of discernment- in a particularly tough scripture, it’s usually not a good idea to do that in the middle of a sermon. But that’s what happened to me and I swear that every time I even think about the Canaanite  woman, this memorable Sunday morning in the sanctuary of Sheridan Methodist comes to mind. But before we get into that, let’s revisit this rather weird story. I want to paint as accurate a picture as I can so that you won’t walk away this day believing that I was a total jerk. For the last few weeks, we have followed Jesus on some pretty wild adventures. Upon the news of the death of John the Baptist, Jesus and his disciples (Matt 14:13) withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. “a deserted place by himself…” It was time for a break, it was time to get some rest; for Jesus, the son of God and son of man, it was time to come before the Father in prayer. But the crowds figured it out and hiked around the lake to meet him – thousands of them – and Matthew tells us, (vs. 14) he had compassion for them and healed those who were sick. If you recall, he ended feeding the whole bunch as well. Next, Jesus sent the disciples ahead in a boat while he stayed behind to spend time in prayer. That almost ended in disaster as the waves kicked up and the boat just about went under. Once again, Jesus had to walk out to and fix that near disaster. In chapter 15, the Pharisees and big shots come all the way from Jerusalem to check out this Jesus of Nazarene, only to throw a hissy fit that the disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating according to the law of Moses. Jesus gets a little short with them here, reminding...

Read More »

“Step Out of the Boat” August 9, 2020

Posted by on Aug 25, 2020 in Sermon Archives

“Step Out of the Boat” A sermon based upon Matthew 14:22-33 Let me tell you about Clarence Palin. As far as I know, Clarence had worked in the woods of W. Montana all his life since he was just a kid. There wasn’t a piece of equipment that he couldn’t run and run well. To us youngsters that didn’t have 20 years’ experience under our belt, Clancy was considered an old timer – and I mean that in a good way. The thing is, if you do anything long enough then sooner or later something will occur that defines you in the eyes of the world. Some goofy or scary happenstance that folks end up talking about for years whenever your name comes up. For Clancy, it was the day that he showed fear. Now, the way it was told to me was that Clancy was padding a 78 Link Belt crane down a logging road on his way from somewhere to someplace else. By way of explanation, a 78 Link Belt was basically an 80,000 pound construction crane that had been converted to use skidding logs up the hill. Also, by way of explanation, these cranes were usually machines that construction companies had sold off because they were getting too old and worn out. Add to that the constant beating these cranes took and the sometimes sketchy maintenance, and you can guess where I’m going with this story. Anyway, Clancy was negotiating this mammoth piece of equipment around a tight corner when he lost his steering. The brakes were never that good in the first place, so over the bank he went. Thankfully, it was a crash that could be heard a long way off and when some other members of the crew showed up, they found the crane laying on its side about 100 feet below the road. All thoughts went to the same thing: “Is Clancy all right?” They hollered and screamed as they made their way over the bank and down through the busted trees and smashed brush. By the time they made it to the machine, however, it was quiet – too quiet. “Clancy,” somebody yelled, “You all right?” Nothing. They hollered again and again until they noticed the bent up door on the side of the cab trying to come open. Everybody pitched in and soon they had Clarence out and standing on solid ground. “You OK?” they asked. “O, yea,” he said casually. “Are you sure,” they asked again. “Yeah….yeah, I’m good.” And it was at this point that the amazement started to happen. There was no heavy breathing, no skin drained of its color, no fast beating heart. After this terrifying, mortifying, and death-defying crash Clarence Palin stood there as calm as a cucumber. It was unbelievable. Unbelievable, that is, until he reached into his pocket for a cigarette. He put...

Read More »

“That’s What Love Does” August 2, 2020

Posted by on Aug 25, 2020 in Sermon Archives

“That’s What Love Does” A sermon based on Romans 9:1-5 & Matthew 14:13-21 In our reading today from the epistle of Romans, Paul makes a statement that almost slipped by me. Now chapter 9 of the book of Romans starts out as a lament; that is obvious. Verse 1 from the Living Bible reads, O, Israel my people! O my Jewish brothers! How I long for you to come to Christ. My heart is heavy within me, and I grieve bitterly day and night because of you. Even though we know that Paul preached in a big way to the Gentiles of his time, he still just couldn’t help himself. He was still a little partial to the Jewish people, but I’m not throwing any blame here. The nation of Israel were his people after all. They were family, and you’re always going to have a soft spot for your family. So when the religious leaders and gossipers took to spreading the word that Paul was betraying his faith, it had to hurt. It had to hurt, but he didn’t get mad. He didn’t plot his revenge or look to fight back. No, he only wished upon them, and that leads us to the statement that almost slipped by me. (vs. 2 CEB) I have great sadness and constant pain in my heart. I wish I could be cursed, cut off from Christ if it helped my brothers and sisters, who are my flesh-and-blood relatives. They are Israelites. See what I mean? “I wish I could be cursed, cut off from Christ if it helped my brothers and sisters…” Unbelievable. Now, we know enough about the Apostle Paul to know that he would give his right arm to advance the Kingdom of God. He constantly put his life in danger and spent more than his fair share of time in prison. Yet he endured all these things without batting an eye. But this – this is different. This, to Paul, would be the ultimate sacrifice. It’s no wonder it almost slipped by me because it’s so hard to believe. It’s hard to believe that for the love of his people, Paul would be willing to sacrifice the one thing that he treasured most; the one thing that enabled him to endure the beatings and prison and scorn; the one thing that brought him joy like he had never known. It’s hard to believe that for the love of his people, Paul would sacrifice his salvation. But you know, that’s what love does. I have to confess that I have always been a little jealous of folks who have the kind of single-minded determination that Paul possessed. It just baffles me. I think back on kids I knew in high school that knew exactly what they wanted to do with the rest of their life. Are you kidding me? I...

Read More »

“The Kingdom of God – So, What’s That Like?” July 26, 2020

Posted by on Aug 25, 2020 in Sermon Archives

  “The Kingdom of God – So What’s That Like?” A sermon based on Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52   Wow… Wow, wow, wow. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, the kingdom of heaven is like yeast, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure found in a field, the kingdom of heaven is like finding a precious pearl or a net full of fish.” When my daughter was quite a bit younger, she took up the habit of (like) saying the word “like” (like) all the time. I used to keep count in my head as she rambled on about this and that and when she was through I would give her the tally: “Sixty seven,” I might exclaim. “Sixty seven what?” she’d reply.                                                                                                                        “Sixty seven times that you said the word ‘like’ in the last 5 minutes. Good job; you’re really (like) upping your game!” This was usually met with a flat denial followed by some awkward moments that led to a general atmosphere of sulking. Now, it was never my intention to be mean by doing this. I was simply calling attention to this somewhat annoying habit she had developed and was having a little fun at the same time. But looking back, I have to say that I could have handled things differently. I could have – I should have – been kinder and more understanding. What I mean is that we, as adults, too often forget that kids are learning the ways of the world all for the first time. We, who pretty much know it all, lose track of what that is like – like, you know? Seriously though, when we are exposed to something new and unique and perhaps totally bizarre we have to process it somehow. And to process this totally unique and different thing we draw upon what we already know. That’s what we do. We need to be able to compare this new thing to something – anything – to make it real; to make it believable; to begin to understand. In short, based on what we already know, we try to imagine what this new and strange thing is like. It’s funny, but with that being said then the habit of using the word “like” every 8th word in a conversation…well, it makes perfect sense. And that is what I believe Jesus is doing by telling this series of parables one after another. He is trying to explain a new and unique and perhaps totally bizarre concept to...

Read More »
WIDGETS:
Array ( [0] => WP_Widget_Pages [1] => WP_Widget_Calendar [2] => WP_Widget_Archives [3] => WP_Widget_Media_Audio [4] => WP_Widget_Media_Image [5] => WP_Widget_Media_Gallery [6] => WP_Widget_Media_Video [7] => WP_Widget_Meta [8] => WP_Widget_Search [9] => WP_Widget_Text [10] => WP_Widget_Categories [11] => WP_Widget_Recent_Posts [12] => WP_Widget_Recent_Comments [13] => WP_Widget_RSS [14] => WP_Widget_Tag_Cloud [15] => WP_Nav_Menu_Widget [16] => WP_Widget_Custom_HTML [17] => UMC_Content [18] => Conference_Content [19] => Upper_Room [20] => WP_Editor_Widget [21] => AboutMeWidget [22] => AdsenseWidget [23] => AdvWidget [24] => CustomLogoWidget )