Sermon 10-30-2022: “Imitate the Wee Little Man”

November 7, 2022

Scripture: Luke 19:1-10

Friends, I think I’m getting a reputation. Not in a bad way. But I think I’m getting a reputation around town as the “skateboarding pastor.” Technically, my skateboard is called a “longboard,” because it’s built for riding, not for jumping and doing stunts… But as far as I can tell I’m the only skateboarder in town, and more than a few people know that I’m also a pastor at Toccoa First Methodist. If it promotes the church around town, I’m all for it. But it’s a scary reminder to me to be on my best behavior when I’m on my skateboard—since people are beginning to associate me with our church… So, for instance, if someone driving a car veers too close to me, or someone runs a stop sign in front of me, or someone pulls out in front of me without giving me ample room to maneuver, causing me to swerve—I need to be careful not to give the driver a dirty look, or yell at them, or gesture at them in a rude way! Not that I would ever do that

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Sermon 10-23-2022: “The Scandal of Grace”

November 7, 2022

Scripture: Luke 18:9-17

Have you heard of the phenomenon of humble-bragging? Humble-bragging is when you say something that sounds “humble”—because we all want to sound humble—but you also want—at the same time—to send a signal to others that says, “Look at me! I’m really something special.” That’s humble-bragging. In case you still don’t know what I’m talking about, one website has collected some real-life examples of humble-bragging on Twitter, mostly tweeted by famous people. I won’t identify them. But they authentic tweets.

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Sermon 10-16-2022: “To Pray Always and Not Lose Heart”

October 17, 2022

Scripture: Luke 18: 1-8

I’m excited this morning to talk about a parable that, frankly, I have misunderstood for most of my Christian life: the Parable of the Unjust Judge… or the Parable of the Persistent Widow—depending on which character you choose to emphasize. 

I must caution you from the outset: this parable shares some themes with a parable we looked at over the summer from Luke 11—the Parable of the Friend at Midnight. As in the case of that parable, I need to remind you: just because God is being compared to an evil or unflattering character—in Luke 11 to a grouchy neighbor or in today’s scripture to an unjust judge—doesn’t mean that God is like those people! Not at all! In fact, in both parables, Jesus says, if even these badly flawed human beings will eventually give in and do the right thing, well… you can be sure that God your heavenly Father will always do the right thing!

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Sermon 10-09-2022: “Mustard-Seed Faith”

October 11, 2022

Scripture: Luke 17: 5-10

Let me start by reminding you of a recent date in history: June 1, 2022. Our Atlanta Braves were behind the New York Mets by 10-and-a-half games in the National League East… a lead that seemed insurmountable, at least to many Mets fans. And some of them were happy to say so, on Twitter, on sports radio, and on cable TV. Take, for instance, one particular sports radio personality from New York, Sal Licata. On May 31, he said the following:

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Sermon 10-02-2022: “Paul’s Legacy… and Ours”

October 11, 2022

Scripture: 2 Timothy 1:1-14

When I was a senior in high school, we had the equivalent of a beauty pageant, the “Miss Henderson” Pageant. “Henderson” was the name of my high school in Chamblee, Georgia. It doesn’t exist anymore. It’s now a Middle School, but… Go Cougars, anyway! 

But the Miss Henderson pageant was divided into three parts: beauty, talent, and an interview with the judges… public speaking. And I’ll never forget one of my classmates, named Kim, who competed in this pageant… And of course Kim was sufficiently talented and beautiful in the first two portions of the pageant, and if she could only do well in the interview portion, then she would have a real shot at becoming “Miss Henderson” of 1988. She surely had high hopes… that is, until the judges asked her the following question: “What would you like your legacy to be?” 

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Sermon 09-25-2022: “The Length, Width, Height, and Depth of God’s Love”

October 5, 2022

Scripture: Luke 16:19-31

An article in the Los Angeles Times last week estimated that the total cost of the queen’s funeral was more than six billion dollars. Of course, that includes literally everything—even, for instance, the cost of all the banks in Britain closing down for a bank holiday, not to mention the cost of all the security for the world leaders who attended the funeral. 1

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Sermon 09-18-2022: “God Loves Shrewd Stewards”

September 26, 2022

Scripture: Luke 16:1-13

Congratulations! You’ve come to church on a Sunday in which we are studying what is often regarded as the single most difficult parable of all of Jesus’ parables. One indication of its difficulty is that commentators can’t even agree on what to call it: Is this the Parable of the Shrewd Manager or the Shrewd Steward or the Wise Steward… or is it the Parable of the Dishonest or the Unjust or the Unrighteous Manager or Steward? It’s been called both, depending on which aspect of the man’s character you choose to emphasize!

To say the least, in this sermon, we need to figure out, as best we can, what’s going on in this parable—what it means… what it’s about. I’m going to say three things: First, it’s about salvation. Second, it’s about stewardship—which, I promise, is much more than money. And, third, best of all, it’s about our Savior, Jesus.

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Sermon 09-11-2022: “God’s Lost and Found”

September 14, 2022

Scripture: Luke 15:1-10

My favorite TV show is The Office. I’m sure at least some of you love it, too. Regardless, you may know that Dwight Schrute is a salesman for Dunder Mifflin—the company whose regional branch office is featured on the show. In later seasons Dwight purchases the office building itself. And he’s always looking for ways to make money off the tenants who lease space in the building—by opening a gym, for instance, and a coffee shop, and a daycare… As part of this effort to make more money, Dwight even sponsors a “harvest festival”—a carnival for families to enjoy… and to spend lots of money at.

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Sermon 09-04-2022: “How to Do the Impossible”

September 13, 2022

Scripture: Luke 14:25-33

Let me preface what I’m about to say by asking if anyone here works for a pharmaceutical company. No? Good… Because I’m about to poke fun at them—or specifically, I’m poking fun at their television commercials. One popular drug to fight insomnia and help you get a good night’s sleep literally spends more than half the commercial warning you about possible scary-sounding side-effects. Listen to what the narrator says—and I promise I’m not making this up:

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Sermon 08-28-2022: “The Poor, the Crippled, the Blind, the Lame – And Other People Like Us”

September 2, 2022

Scripture: Luke 14:1, 7-24

As a preacher who needs to come up with new sermon material every week—with fresh illustrations that keep me from repeating myself too often—I’m delighted than an item in the news last week perfectly illustrates a point I want to make in today’s scripture. And let me preface this by saying that while this news event relates to politics, I am not passing judgment—one way or another—on the politics of this news item.

I’m referring, of course, to President Biden’s announcement about the forgiveness of up to $20,000 in student loans. It’s clear, from my little corner of the social media universe, that many people have strong opinions about this. And many, many people do not like it. Which is perfectly fine… 

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