Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Sermon 09-05-21: “How to Fulfill the ‘Royal Law'”

September 15, 2021

Scripture: James 2:1-13

Malcolm Gladwell is a bestselling author, and some of you have probably read his book Outliers. At least one of my kids had to read it for school. Outliers is the book that says you have to practice at something for 10 thousand hours before you become really, really good at it… before you master it. So, for example, the Beatles became the great band that everyone knows them to be today because they spent 10 thousand hours playing live music in the clubs of Hamburg, West Germany, in the early ’60s… long before invading America.

But here’s some bad news… for me, at least: By my rough calculation, yours truly has only spent about 700 hours of my life preaching sermons… so… that explains a lot, doesn’t it?

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Sermon 08-29-2021: “Hearing and Doing God’s Word”

September 2, 2021

Scripture: James 1:17-27

Some of you saw this on Facebook, but Lisa and I moved my son Townshend into his dorm room at Georgia Tech last Saturday. Saying goodbye to him wasn’t quite as hard as our experience three years ago, dropping our daughter off at her college in central Florida for the first time. But she was going to be nine hours away! 

But dropping Townshend off was still hard. I miss him! But we dropped him off last Saturday, and I’m happy to say that he had already made a reservation to visit a nearby church in Atlanta the next day—you have to make reservations to go to this church because of seating limitations due to Covid… Anyway, he liked the church a lot, and he made an appointment to have coffee with the associate pastor. So I’m excited for him. I’m eager for him to find a church home near Tech’s campus. 

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Sermon 08-22-21: “The What, Why, and How of Spiritual Warfare”

August 26, 2021

Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-20

Last week, when I baptized Parker, I asked him the following question as part of our baptism liturgy: “Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin.” Note those words: spiritual forces, evil powers. This is a reference to the very thing that Paul himself describes in today’s scripture when he speaks of rulers, authorities, “cosmic powers” and “spiritual forces.” 

These aren’t human opponents, because Paul prefaces these words by saying, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood”… Instead we wrestle against these invisible spiritual forces that are not flesh and blood.

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Sermon 08-15-2021: “For New Disciples: One Warning and Three Encouragements”

August 19, 2021

Scripture: John 6:52-71

Brothers and sisters, this morning we’re going to celebrate that John Parker Carey, who went on the youth mission trip in June, responded to the call of our Lord Jesus Christ and made a decision for himself to become a faithful follower of Jesus Christ… for the rest of his life. Three other young people on the trip publicly reaffirmed their faith.

On a day like this, I can’t help but think of my own profession of faith, my own baptism, which happened when I was 14. So I’ve been thinking, “What would I have benefitted from hearing back then… back when I was just beginning my life as a young disciple of Jesus Christ?” 

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Sermon 08-08-2021: “The Cure for Complaining”

August 10, 2021

Scripture: John 6:35-51

Do you remember manna in the Old Testament? We use the expression today—“manna from heaven”—to refer to some unexpected gift that arrives at just the right moment. But it comes from the experience of Israel, when they were wandering in the wilderness for those 40 years, before entering the Promised Land. God fed them each day with this miraculous bread that fell from the sky each morning. In today’s scripture, Jesus intends for us to see parallels between Israel’s experience wandering in the wilderness and the crowd’s experience having witnessed Jesus’ miraculous feeding earlier in the chapter. He makes this comparison explicit in verses 49 and 50. 

So that’s what this sermon is about: I want to talk about how the crowd’s response to Jesus in John 6 is a lot like the response of ancient Israel in the wilderness—and a lot like our response to Jesus the “bread of life” today. Then I want to talk about how Jesus the “bread of life” is like manna—and what that means for us today. 

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Sermon 08-01-2021: “Do Not Work for the Food that Perishes”

August 10, 2021

Scripture: John 6:22-35

I want to begin today by talking about two separate but not entirely unrelated events in the news. First, over the past couple of months, two of the wealthiest men in the world spent billions of their considerable fortunes to do that thing that children of my generation believed we would all be doing by now… I’m referring, of course, to entrepreneurs Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos launching themselves into outer space. And they did so in rockets that their own companies designed and built. As a former engineer, I think that’s kinda cool! And don’t get me started about Elon Musk’s Space X program. I love it!

Of course, if you had asked the seven-year-old version of me, in 1977, whether or not space travel would be as commonplace as air travel by the year 2021, I would have said, “Of course it will!” And I would have been disappointed if you told me back then that by age 51, I still wouldn’t have gone up in space. But at least a small handful of civilians so far have now done so… So we’re a little behind schedule, but we’re making progress.

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Sermon 07-25-21: “Leave the ‘How’ to Jesus”

July 29, 2021

Scripture: John 6: 1-21

If you have a dog that likes to play fetch—like a certain spaniel that you’ve heard me mention before—then you’ve probably had this experience: Your dog wants you to throw the ball to him. But you don’t have the ball. And so you’re pointing to it. “It’s over there, dummy!” And what does the dog do? Instead of following your finger to where it’s pointing, the dog stares at your finger. The dog doesn’t understand the point of, well… pointing. Our dogs easily get confused.

And in today’s scripture we see that humans aren’t so different.

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Sermon 07-11-2021: “Do Not Fear, Only Believe”

July 16, 2021

Scripture: Mark 5: 21-43

I’m a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, the “master of suspense.” My favorite movie of his is Notorious, from 1946. It’s set just after World War II. Cary Grant plays an American secret agent who is trying to uncover a secret chemical weapon, which is hidden in the wine cellar of a Nazi played by Claude Raines. Raines is conspiring with other Nazis to use this new weapon to revive the Third Reich—unless Cary Grant, the spy, can stop him.

So Grant gets himself invited to a party at Claude Raines’s house. And at some point during the party, Grant sneaks down into the wine cellar in order to find the chemical weapon.

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Sermon 07-04-2021: “Strength through Weakness”

July 7, 2021

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 2: 1-10

Many of you have asked about our beach trip last week… My family and I had a wonderful vacation… at Englewood Beach, in Florida, south of Tampa. We enjoyed some perfect or nearly perfect days there. So thank you, Lord! The only thing that detracted from the trip at all is that, somehow, I forgot to apply an adequate amount of sunscreen on Day One at a the beach, so I had to manage a sunburn for the rest of the week. No big deal, though! 

But getting sunburned reminded me of a traumatic experience one summer, when I was 11 or 12, when the Whitewater Water Park opened in Atlanta. Do any of y’all know Whitewater? The summer it opened, there was a big marketing campaign to promote it. And the TV commercials showed this fair-skinned kid whose skin tone was unnaturally pale. I’ve always been fair-skinned—prone to sunburns, unable to tan—but even I wasn’t like the kid on TV; they added some special effect to make him appear ghostly white. And there was a jingle that went along with the commercial. The kid sang these words: “I used to be the whitest/ I looked just like a ghoul.” A ghoul—like a ghost or phantom. And they rhymed “ghoul” with “cool”—as in “staying cool at Whitewater.” That was the tagline.

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Sermon 06-20-2021: “The Victory that Overcomes the World”

June 22, 2021

Scripture: 1 John 5:1-5

This won’t come as a shock to those of you who’ve been married for a while, but you and your spouse don’t have to share all the same interests or hobbies in order to have a happy and successful marriage. But… I do think it’s important for married people to support their spouse’s interests and hobbies. For example, I absolutely cannot stand jigsaw puzzles. Lisa, in the their hand, adores them. But I love purchasing these puzzles for her whenever special occasions come around… You know how you can get family photos turned into jigsaw puzzles. I like doing that, even if I don’t enjoy these puzzles.

But here’s the thing: I do enjoy solving some other kinds of puzzles—especially puzzles in the Bible… which is good because today’s scripture presents a puzzle that we need to solve in order to understand what John is saying in today’s scripture.

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