Michael’s Sermons

 

Living With God During Anxious Times

Living With God During Anxious Times Philippians 4:6-7 Matthew 6:25-27 Everywhere you look, anxiety is running high. Anxiety is characterized by feelings of tension and worrying thoughts. Some people feel a sense of impending doom. When people are anxious, some overeat. Others have no appetite at all. Others smoke or use alcohol or drugs. Some people feel stressed out, and some even have panic attacks. Have you ever had something on your mind that bothered you, and you just couldn’t stop thinking about it? It seemed to consume your every waking minute. Anxiety can be felt in various places in our body: headaches, a nervous stomach, eating disorders, increased blood pressure, or skin issues are a few ways anxiety affects our bodies. Sometimes are anxieties are so high we can’t sleep or we dream about the things that bother us. Recently a nurse told me she kept having this reoccurring dream that she died and I did her funeral at the Pendergrass Flea Market, but not many people came, not even her husband. I didn’t think to tell her the funeral must not have been on a weekend because there would have been thousands there.  But I did tell her I thought she was having that dream because she was thinking a lot about death.  She works in an ICU where there are Covid-19 patients and so she must be thinking about her own mortality. We are social creatures. We are often affected by the anxieties of others. That’s why our leaders need to remain calm during a crisis. Have you ever wondered how a crowd could turn into...

Living With God Through the Exile

Living With God Through the Exile March 22, 2020 Jeremiah 24 Since we met last Sunday the Covid-19 virus has been labeled a Pandemic.  There are now 316, 506 cases with 13,599 deaths and those numbers change by the hour. This crisis is unlike anything we have seen since the early 1900s. We are being told to shelter in place, to maintain social distance, and to keep any gathering very, very small. Instead of our churches swelling in attendance in response to a crisis, our churches are empty. There is no school, no church, no sports.   Restaurants, bars, stores, concerts, conventions, are all either canceled or scaled back in hours.    We are all in a self-imposed exile.    We have been carried away from life as we know it, and this may last for some time. We don’t have any way of knowing when life will return to normal. Some people are freaking out. Some people are angry. Some people are grieving. Their graduation, a chance to play for a championship, or their dream wedding has been canceled.   Some people have been laid off from work. Some are worried about paying their bills, their 401k’s, and of course, their health. Some people are ignoring the warnings. Some people are showing their greed and panic and purchasing more than they need.  Some people are acting like this is the apocalypse. Me? I’m listening to Hank Williams Jr., who sings “A Country Boy Can Survive.” “I got a shotgun, a rifle, and a 4-wheel drive, And a country boy can survive, country folks can survive.”  That’s my philosophy.  If you...

Irrational Faith

Isn’t Faith Irrational? Luke 9:28-36 March 15, 2020 Every week it seems that we there is something new in our world to digest with the Coronavirus, wild stock market swings, social distancing, and people being quarantined. In many cases, all we need is a little rational thinking, a little more common sense. What we don’t need are people trying to take advantage of people’s fears. Last week the New York Attorney General ordered televangelist Jim Bakker to stop promoting an alleged Coronavirus cure by selling a product called “Silver Solution.” Most rational people would know that such a product was a fake, but why would a preacher be selling a product and falsely claiming it would do something that it could not do? There have always been those people claiming to be who they were not and claiming to do what they could not do.  Was Jesus one of those people? By the ninth chapter of Luke’s gospel, the physician informs us that the ministry of Jesus was in full swing. He had trained his disciples and sent them out with power to drive out demons and to cure diseases. He sent them out to preach about the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He sent them out with instructions to take no staff, no bag, no food, no money, or an extra tunic. They carried light loads and heavy hearts, heavy for the people whom they desired to bring into the kingdom of God. A buzz had developed around Jerusalem because of the work done by Jesus and his disciples. Herod, the tetrarch thought he had put...

‘Ole Time Religion?

‘Ole Time Religion? Matthew 10:34-42 Several years ago, I sat on a swing with my father-in-law looking across a dirt road into a field that he used to plow with a mule when he was a boy. As we sat in the shade, he asked, “Can you imagine walking behind a mule all day in weather as hot as this?” as sweat beaded on top of his bald head. Between bites of his tomato sandwich, he told me how he and his siblings grew up on that farm in the 1940s. Along with his father and four brothers, he got up with the crowing of the rooster, ate breakfast, and worked in the field until 11:30. The dinner bell would ring to indicate that his mother and sister had lunch ready, and the mule would pick up the pace, knowing that a break for the farmer meant a break for him too. After a hearty meal and a brief nap, it was back to the field until sundown. As Papa told me of the hard work, I had to admit that I could not relate to physical work that hard as a way of life, year in and year out. Looking out across that field, I visualized him and his brothers stacking bunches of peanuts by hand on a pole to dry. I could see the old stationary peanut picker that had been pulled in the middle of the field, awaiting the boys who would bring the dried peanuts on a sled pulled by the mule. Into the loud combine would go the peanuts, pulling the nuts into a...

The Importance of One Life

March 1, 2020 Acts 9:36-42 If you are looking to take a cruise of the Mediterranean, you might look up Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas. It’s one of the largest cruise ships in the world. The ship is almost 1/4 of a mile long, measuring 1,184 feet in length. It has a gross tonnage of 228,081 across 18 decks. She can accommodate 6,680 passengers. There are 22 restaurants, four pools, and 2,759 cabins. Facilities include a children’s water park, a full-size basketball court, an ice-skating rink, and two 43-foot rock-climbing walls. There is also a ‘central park’ which contains over 20,000 tropical plants. That’s a lot of ship! You may have been wowed by its description as I was. But when compared to the ocean, its size is insignificant. It’s just a cork bobbing in a big pond. Someone once told me that if you take the largest ship out of the ocean, the void it would leave would be filled so quickly by the water that would fill its place no one would notice its absence. The first time I heard that analogy, it depressed me to think that if I were taken away from the roles that I have, the world isn’t going to miss a beat.   It’s going to keep on turning. Occasionally you hear of a church that folds or because the pastor leaves or dies.  But we are Baptist.   You’d just fix casseroles, say some nice words as the funeral, “I never thought he’d stay as long as he did,” and you’d have someone preaching next Sunday. Businesses, schools, banks, clubs,...

Dust and the Resurrection – An Ash Wednesday Homily

February 26, 2020 Dr. Michael Helms In 2012, several four of us from Trinity Baptist Church in Moultrie joined several other people from Cooperative Baptist Fellowship churches around the state of Georgia, and we went to New York City to help process claims from victims of 9-11. We were interviewing those who had lost their homes or jobs when the Twin Towers fell, and we’re assisting them with claims. While I was there, I met Dan Puissegur. Dan had been in the same hot dog vendor line as one of our team members from Hartwell and overheard his Southern accent, and they stuck up a conversation. My friend Bill found out that Dan grew up in Moultrie, so he sent him my way. Later that day, Dan walked into Safe Horizons Volunteer Center and introduced himself to our group. Dan was not a typical Moultrian. He is a Cuban American. He graduated from Moultrie High School (now Colquitt County High School) in 1969. His father came to this country from Cuba as a boy and ended up settling in Moultrie as an employee with Swift and Company. That’s how Dan ended up as a student in Colquitt County. As we sat and talked, our conversation oscillated from answering his questions about people he grew up with to him answering my questions about his life in New York City before and after the terrorist attacks. Dan’s successful life as a realtor had landed him an apartment overlooking the Hudson River. Through his window, Lady Liberty greeted him every day. His story of the infamous day was typical of those who...

Eating From the King’s Table

February 23, 2020 2 Samuel 9:1-13 During the 1996 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, the torch was carried into the stadium and it was passed off to a man named Antonio. At a young age, Antonio contracted polio. It affected both legs, and it disabled him for life. However, as he grew, he found a sport in which he could excel, archery. Antonio wasn’t just sort of good. Antonio was one of the best marksmen in Spain. He was chosen from a field of 200 to fire a flaming arrow to light the Olympic cauldron. I remember watching that night as he shot the flaming arrow from hundreds of feet away as it lit the cauldron to the gasping amazement of the audience and millions from around the world. Few people were even aware that a disabled man fired the flaming arrow. It wasn’t his legs that people were looking at, but his amazing ability to put that arrow on its mark. We have gifts, achievements, skills, and knowledge. Still, we are all wounded by things that have happened to us in the past: sexual abuse, divorce, addiction, depression, a miscarriage, betrayal, abandonment, fear, panic attacks, PTSD, cancer, bankruptcy, sin. We limp into the day after a sleepless night. We tell people we are fine when we are not. We put on a fake smile, and we push through our work. We run through our day, but inside we are a mess. We work very hard to hide our issues from others. Who wants to know anyway? It’s so unbecoming. We had rather people see the part of us that...

Faith Finance 101

Faith Finance 101 February 16, 2020 1 Timothy 6:6-19 My seminary training was an enjoyable part of my life. Not only did I get an excellent introduction to the Bible and other subjects to prepare me for ministry, but as newlyweds, Tina and I begin to explore how to do life together as husband and wife. Part of that experience was learning how to earn and manage money. Tina earned a Ph. T Degree, (that’s a “Put Hubby Through” degree), during our three and a half years in Louisville, Kentucky. Tina graduated from college with honors in accounting in three years.  Now that’s how you save your parent’s money. Actually, she wanted to finish college at the same time as I did so we could get married and she did. With Tina’s excellent credentials, she landed a nice job with the STM Development company, a company that developed upscale housing subdivisions. Soon she was working on some of their large accounts. I landed a job driving a school bus, and we paid our bills and saved some money during those years. While there, we had some opportunities to rub shoulders with some wealthy people from Tina’s work. One of the partners in the company owned a horse racing track in Cincinnati, Ohio. One year, he leased a bus and carried the entire company to Cincinnati. He seated the employees and their spouses in the luxurious box seats that overlooked the track, fed us a delicious meal, and gave us some money to place some bets. I was told it wasn’t a sin to bet someone’s money, so I placed...

He Lost It While Holding On

February 9, 2020 Matthew 25:14-30 To date, the Coronavirus has killed over 600 people with thousands of other being infected.   Health experts say that if it gets into Third World Countries where nations are not equipped to screen and quarantine, the virus could become a pandemic. The world has known massive loss of life due to pandemics in the past like the Black Plague that killed 25 million people in the 1300’s, almost a third of the continent’s population. Perhaps such events inspired one of Edgar Allen Poe’s most famous pieces of short fiction entitled, “The Masque of the Red Death.”  It is set in medieval Europe while a deadly plague is sweeping the land with devastation. The principal character is Prince Prospero, a wealthy and unusually light-hearted landowner who is terrified of the power of the Red Death. To protect himself and his loyal subjects, he decides to lock himself and a thousand of his serfs in one of his castles and wait out the plaque. To break up the boredom of weeks and weeks of being locked in the castle, Prince Prospero threw a masquerade to amuse and lighten the hearts of his guests. But to the Prince’s utter demise, a figure is noticed during the celebration dressed as a victim of the plague.  Though the entire party is full of ghoulish costumes, the majority of the party members find this costume utterly offensive. Poe writes: “There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion.  Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters...