Category Archives: sermons

The Responsibility of Influence

InfluenceThe young adult was walking through a local store wearing a t-shirt with a simple message – “Not a Role Model.” No other images, just the words standing out in bold type on his chest.

It wasn’t too long ago that NBA great, Charles Barkley made that phrase popular.  Barkley was known for his inappropriate behavior including on and off-court fights, breaking a man’s nose during a fight after a game with the Milwaukee Bucks, throwing a man through a plate-glass window after being struck with a glass of ice, and mistakenly spitting on a young girl in March 1991. Continue reading The Responsibility of Influence

The F-word

The f-wordGrowing up in a straight-laced family had its benefits:  conscientious parents, good enduring friends, hospitality, stability, and protective morality.  Hard work and integrity were DNA-like in their influence.  The thought of disappointing others was as compelling as the fear of going to Hell.

But the same things that functioned as a moral compass could also morph into something ugly.  Call it legalism or self-righteousness, it is the tendency to become superficial in regard to the big, nuclear virtues like love, compassion, and faithfulness.  Jesus called it “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel.” Continue reading The F-word

No Pockets in a Shroud

Shroud 02Job was a wealthy man, but in a course of quick and awful events he lost it all.  Everything — children, livestock, servants, and property.

Job’s response to the loss was to say, “I was born naked, and I will leave this world naked,” Job 1:21.  More modern versions of this saying are, “There are no pockets in a shroud,” or “There’s no U-Haul trailer behind a hearse.” Continue reading No Pockets in a Shroud

Great is Diana!

Artemis 02

Ephesus was a city in ancient Turkey, and it was the location of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, a colossal temple to the goddess Diana, also called Artemis.

Having a temple to one of the gods in your town was like being near Yosemite or the Eiffel Tower.  People flock to such sites fora variety of reasons – religious and secular.

Around the Diana/Artemis’ temple various sorts of tourist vendors cropped up peddling likenesses of the many-breasted Diana.  “Get your genuine statue of Artemis.  You’ll love having this silver ornament on your mantel for all your guests to see.  Pray to her when you’re about to give birth or go on a hunting trip.  The goddess of women and hunting will help you.” Continue reading Great is Diana!

I notice that you are very religious…

Idolatry 01I’ve noticed that there is a common desire on the part of humans to have a divine imprimatur on everything we do, be that a car purchase or a job selection or a person married.  On the face of it, this seems like a good thing – to want to make divine choices.

But sometimes we just want God or god/s to approve our choices and leave us alone.

This god-desire may be found across the breadth of human opinion and experience.  Conservatives and liberals, southerners and northerners, religious and non-religious, believers and unbelievers – all want to believe that something or someone affirms them. Continue reading I notice that you are very religious…



“Sue” was a woman I used to know. Unattractive mole-like bumps grew all over her face making her very unattractive, and I wanted to look away when she talked to me.

It was not a mature reaction on my part. Visceral and primitive, yes. Mature, no.

What I was experiencing was the psychological phenomenon of disgust. Richard Beck, Abilene Christian University psychologist calls disgust a boundary psychology, originally designed to protect people from noxious foods and such.

Continue reading Disgust

I’m the greatest!

I am the greatest hat.The woman was invisible.

She was the server waiting on a group of business people (mostly men). She served them well by keeping glasses filled, taking care of special requests, and serving the various courses of the meal.

But no one saw her. No one said thank you or acknowledged her presence. The most that anyone said to her was, “…more coffee over here,” or “That’s not what I wanted.” Continue reading I’m the greatest!

Flattery will get you nowhere.

FlatteryThe child rearing program called Systematic Training for Effective Parenting teaches parents to help their children internalize values and make choices accordingly rather than depending on external forces such as rebuke, rules, and laws.

What this means is that, for example, a child learns to treat others with kindness out of respect (internal value) rather than because s/he will get in trouble with the teacher (external force). People who are incarcerated are so because they failed to internalize and personalize values. Continue reading Flattery will get you nowhere.

How Seeds Are Like the Human Heart

The SowerAncient sowers did not know what they were going to get when harvest time came.

Without multi-row cultivators, GPS, and high tech pest and weed controls they didn’t know what challenges lay in the soil. Out the sowers marched, row-by-row, scattering seed by hand. Only time, sun, and rain would reveal which seeds would grow and which would not. Continue reading How Seeds Are Like the Human Heart