The Blessing of Sacrifice

The Blessing of Sacrifice

September 1, 2019 Romans 11:33-36 – 12:1-2 In the “Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” Mark Twain created a scene that has been recreated many times in theatres for the enjoyment of us all. Young Tom Sawyer is caught breaking the rules by his Aunt Polly, and as a punishment, she tells him that his job is to paint the picket fence. This picket fence is thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. That’s 800 square feet of fence to paint. Tom is about as happy about his opportunity to bless his Aunt Polly painting the fence as a boy is to hold his mother’s purse while she shops. As Tom paints the fence, one of his friends comes along and teases him for having to do that work, but Tom makes out like what he is doing isn’t work at all. “Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?” he asks his friend. He made whitewashing a fence sound as exciting as going to a circus. Soon, Tom had convinced his friend to try whitewashing the fence instead of going swimming. Tom was such a great salesman that he wasn’t just going to let his friend do it for free. Instead, his friend had to trade his apple for the chance to do the work. Before the day was over, Tom had talked so many of his friends into whitewashing that fence that he collected a kite, twelve marbles, part of a jews-harp, a piece of chalk, a tin soldier, six firecrackers, a kitten with one eye, a brass doorknob, and a dog-collar. Did I...
The Cost of Doing Nothing

The Cost of Doing Nothing

August 25, 2019 Matthew 25:14-30 Many years ago, when I was a pastor in Moultrie, a young physician and his family visited our church. A few weeks later, I had a meal with him at a local Mexican restaurant.  The young doctor had a beautiful family which included  a wife and three small children.  He had purchased a home in a nice neighborhood across the street from my youth pastor and his family. This young doctor and his family were looking for a church to find community and to help instill Christian values in their children. A few days after our meeting at the restaurant, my youth pastor called me and told me that he had just left the home of the family.  The doctor’s wife woke up that morning and discovered that her husband wasn’t breathing and she called 911. Later, word came that he had died in his sleep.  An autopsy revealed that he died from a heart attack.  He was only in his thirties. Within a few months, the realities of death compiled the grief for this young widow.   She discovered that her husband had not purchased any life insurance.  She was not going to be able to afford to live in their newly purchased home. Soon, everything was boxed up, and they were forced to move back to Alabama to be closer to their family. This family made a lot of good decisions.  He had prepared for a life of helping people through a worthy profession.  They searched for the right home and were searching for the right church.   The had based their marriage on the Lord Jesus.  But because...
Don’t Miss This Window of Opportunity

Don’t Miss This Window of Opportunity

August 18, 2019 Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 Two economists are walking down the street.  The first one looks down and exclaims, “There is a $20 bill on the ground.” The other one turns to him and says, “That’s impossible. If it were there, someone would have picked it up already.” https://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/the-three-windows-of-opportunity So goes the great debate about opportunity.  If opportunities are so attractive, more than just one person will recognize it, some say. (Ibid) It’s like when you are looking for an excellent place to eat.  Where do you go?  Do you go to a place where there’s one or two vehicles or do you go to a place where you can’t find a parking place? You go where you can’t find a place to park because everyone knows where the good places are to eat. But there was a time when the crowd wasn’t at those places. Someone had to be the first ones to discover how good the food was. It could have been on a night when you said, “Let’s try something new. Let’s try something different.”  Then you found out the food at that place where there are only a few vehicles is really good and then you started spreading the news. Our openness to change, to new possibilities and opportunities has a lot to do with whether we just follow the crowd or whether we are willing to take some risks. There are always risks, and risks often hold people back.  Rarely is there anything we do in life that is risk-free. Some people throw caution to the wind, but the wind usually wins. Throwing caution to the wind is what...
Living With a Contagious Grace

Living With a Contagious Grace

August 11, 2019 2 Kings 7:3-9 Did you know you cannot win the lottery anonymously in Georgia? If you want to win the lottery and remain anonymous, you need to buy tickets in Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Carolina. Most states want their lottery winners to make media appearances because that’s good for business. They want others to see how the lottery changed the lives of people living off welfare, or how the common laborers at a local plant pooled their money to buy a bunch of tickets to win. They even want you to hear about that wealthy person that wins to show you that people in all economic brackets purchase tickets. They want you to identify with the winners and go out and buy tickets. I’m still waiting for that Baptist preacher to win and now has to explain to his congregation his theology about winning the lotto. He might have to begin with, “Well, the Lord said the devil had that money long enough.” Of course, the lotto system never shows you the numbers of poor people versus other economic brackets that purchase lottery tickets or the number of people that are addicted to buying lotto tickets. The debate will rage on about its good verses its destruction. This sermon isn’t about whether you should or should not purchase lotto tickets. I suppose if you are buying them, and you win, I hope God helps you manage your life and the money wisely because it’s been shown that your good fortune could destroy your life instead of making it better. When I read...
Living With a Contagious Story

Living With a Contagious Story

Acts 26:12-19 August 4, 2019 From the moment we were conceived, we have had a story. The earliest parts of our story were dictated to us by our birth parents.  Things like our physical characteristics, whether we were loved, or were taught to love of God. So there are parts of our story that we had nothing to do with. Then there are those parts of every story where we begin to take control of our own lives, and our own decisions begin to affect who we are and who we are going to become.  That happens at different ages for different people. We can’t change whether God was spoken about in our homes as a reality to be trusted and loved or as a God to be ignored and rejected. At some point, we decide whether the God of the scriptures is our God. We must begin to decide whether the God who scooped up a handful of clay and shaped us into human beings and breathed into us the breath of life is our God. We must decide if the God who led the children of Israel out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses, through the Red Sea and into the Promised Land, is our God. Is the God who came to the Virgin Mary and told her that she was with child, the promised Savior of the World, is our God. We must decide if Jesus, miracle worker, crucified Jew from Nazareth, a man raised from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven forty days later, is our God. We must decide...
Living with a Contagious Faith

Living with a Contagious Faith

A Genuine Contagious Faith John 4:27-38 July 28, 2019 A few weeks ago, I got into some poison ivy when I helped my son John load some wood. I got it on my arms and even on my legs, which was surprising because my legs were covered. I read that the poison from the vine will travel on your sweat and end up in areas of your body that the vine did not touch. For over a week, I was in some itching misery. I learned that even if you were to burn the vine, the smoke from the burn could cause you to break out. That’s one more contagious vine. While the vines that I touched while working that day were highly infectious to me, I had to convince my wife that I was not contagious to her. While she was caring and compassionate in treating my wounds, I noticed she still took plenty of precautions, like staying as far away from me as possible. Have you ever had some issue and you had to convince other people that you were not contagious? How exactly do other people know you are not contagious? They don’t know until a day or two later, right? By definition, a Christian ought to be contagious. What I mean by that is that we should rub off on other people in positive ways. Our faith should make a difference in the lives of others. Hopefully, we influence people enough that we leave a good impression on people that Jesus makes a positive difference in people’s lives. There is no way our faith can...