Michael’s Sermons

 

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...

Resetting The Margins

Luke 12:15-21 Whenever you read a book, or look at a computer screen, or an I-Phone or I-Pad, one thing all of them have in common is a margin. You could make the argument that margins waste space. Just think how many more words you could get on a page if you didn’t use margins. You could put more words on a page. Just think of how many pages you could cut out of a book. If you were printing thousands of books, think of all the money you would save. What if you removed the spaces between the words and the spaces between paragraphs? That would save even more space. Wouldn’t that be good stewardship? Wouldn’t that be a good use of resources? It might save paper, but that’s about all. Without margins, we would experience information overload. Without space around the edges of our page, in between words and paragraphs, it would make it more difficult for our eyes to process the information. Margin and space make reading possible. It allows our brains to process information quicker and easier. Removing margins from books might save paper, but we would lose time, waste energy, and increase stress. Margins in books of all languages teach a universal lesson: we need to build margin into our lives.  If we do, that’s good stewardship. Let me give you a couple of practical examples. A lot of people have a problem being chronically late.  They never seem to be on time. If you are one of those people that run late, why not build some margin into your schedule? For example, if you...

Salvation and Stewardship Should be Inseparable

Salvation and Stewardship Should Be Inseparable Mark 10:17-31 Twenty years ago, on the Mediterranean island of Malta, conjoined twins Mary and Jodie were born.  The twins shared a heart and lungs.  Their parents carried the twins to London. There the doctors determined that the twins would eventually die.  The only way to save the life of one would be to separate the babies.  Such an operation would mean immediate death for the other. Mary would eventually die, but Jodie was given the chance of a full life. None of us may ever be faced with such an agonizing ethical decision. Jesus once presented a man with a life and death decision I want you to contemplate. Once a man came to Jesus and asked him, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may (have) eternal life?” (Mark 10:17) This question is a good one. Most people I have met want to go to heaven when they die.  This man was no exception.  How did Jesus respond? You would think that Jesus’ response would be one that we have all been taught to use when someone asks us this question, but to my knowledge, no one ever responds to this question the way Jesus did. How do we usually respond to this question? Children that attend Vacation Bible School are taught the A, B, C’s. A is for Admit.  Admit that you have sinned. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 6:23) NIV B is for Believe. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”...

Our Responsibility for the Earth

January 19, 2019 Romans 8:18-28 In Genesis one, God began a relationship with the earth and with the inhabitants of the planet before he started a relationship with us.  With everything God made, God said that it was good. The streams, rivers, and oceans were good.  The valleys, meadows, hills, and mountains were good. The animals that inhabited the land, sea, and air were all made just the way God intended.  The vegetation that grew in the sea, deserts, rainforests, meadows, forests, on mountain faces were all good. From microscopic animals to the largest ones to walk the earth, God made them all and said they were good. In Chapter one of Genesis, beginning with verse 26: 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all...

God’s Value System

God’s Value System January 12, 2020 Luke 7:36-8:3 I have in my hand two bills of different values.  Same weight, same material, same production costs, but different amounts.  So why is one bill more valuable than the other? We have determined that one of these bills will trade for more goods and services than the other. One of these bills is worth more because the treasury department says it’s worth more. It has been assigned a higher value than the other. Just as we assign value to money, we also assign value to people’s time. Our society has determined that an hour of a doctor’s time is worth more than an hour of a cashier’s time, unless you happened to be standing in the line of a cashier. An hour of a teacher’s time, unfortunately, is worth much less than it should be, which is the reason it’s becoming more challenging to attract people to the teaching profession. An hour of my veterinarian’s time is worth more if my dog is dying than if my dog just needs a yearly vaccination. We’ve determined what people’s time is worth based on which skills we value most, and which skills we need the most at any given time. We value people’s time on how much we have to pay for it or how much intangible benefit it brings. Can you place a value on the time of a friend, a parent, a child, or a grandparent? When we only value people for their profession, power, or money, we’ve left out some of the most important values like love, wisdom, friendship, companionship,...