Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta Falcons’

Sermon 02-12-17: “What Reward Do You Have?”

February 16, 2017


If last week’s sermon was about the sinfulness of anger, this week’s sermon is about its ultimate cause—which is implicit in Jesus’ question in verse 46: “What reward do you have?” Not counting “righteous anger,” which we don’t often feel, we usually get angry when someone messes with our “reward,” or our “treasure.” This sermon, therefore, explores that seldom mentioned motive for serving the Lord: that we will receive a reward. Is there something wrong in working for Christ’s reward?

Sermon Text: Matthew 5:38-48

[To listen on the go, right-click here to download an MP3.]

If it’s true that there are five stages of grief, this past week I got hung up on the second stage—anger. I’m referring, of course, to the anger that arose within me around 10:15 or so last Sunday night, when the Patriots broke an NFL playoff record and overcame a 25-point deficit to tie up the Super Bowl at the last minute. The anger I felt wasn’t kick-the-couch kind of anger. I’ve shared with you before how, back in the mid-2000s, when my children were very young, I got so angry when the Georgia Bulldogs took a last-second lead in the annual rivalry game with my Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and I responded by kicking the couch in frustration. Deeply shameful incident, which I had hoped my kids were too young to remember… but they enjoy reminding me—it’s hysterical to them—of that time when they saw their father kick the couch in frustration. Because of a football game.


No, the anger I felt last Sunday night wasn’t that kind of anger. It was an anger that expressed itself as disgust… Resentment… I felt an urge to disown this team, which, mere minutes earlier, I was cheering for. “Who are these losers?” I thought. I didn’t want to be associated with their city!

I know some of you felt the same way. The difference is, no one in this room besides me preached a sermon about anger a mere twelve hours earlier! Seriously, I was sharing my frustration about the game with one of you on Wednesday night, and you rightly pointed out—in a joking sort of way—what a hypocrite I was. And you’re right!

Anger! Where does it come from? Why is it so pervasive? Why is it so hard to overcome?

In today’s scripture, which has to do with not retaliating against enemies but loving them instead, our Lord has given me an opportunity to take a second bite at that apple concerning this emotion of anger. Because let’s face it, if someone insults us, or physically assaults us, or persecutes us, or takes advantage of us, or steals from us, or exploits us, or mistreats us in any way—as Jesus describes in this text—what is our natural emotional response? Anger! And we retaliate against them, and we fail to love them, because we’re acting out of this anger.

So what is it that makes us angry? Why did I get angry at the Falcons last Sunday night—instead of feeling great compassion and pity and sorrow for them. While it’s true that they lost that game through any one of about two-dozen different mistakes, it’s not like I haven’t made plenty of mistakes that have cost me victories in my life. And it’s not like the Patriots had nothing to do with it! They are a great team!  Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 02-05-17: “Are We Committing Spiritual Murder?”

February 15, 2017


Jesus’ uncompromising words against anger in today’s scripture puts us on the defensive: “Yes, in most cases, anger is sinful and unjustified, but not in my case!” We often feel perfectly justified in our anger. What if we’re wrong? What makes anger sinful? What do we need to overcome anger in our lives?

Sermon Text: Matthew 5:21-26

[To listen on the go, right-click here to download an MP3.]

Big game today. Passions are running high. Even churches are getting into the spirit. Some of you may have seen on “Fox 5” news report that the St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Carrollton posted the following message on their church sign: “Even Jesus rose up. Rise Up, Falcons.” I know the pastor there! Then, the church sign in front of First Baptist Church of Sandy Springs reads, “God has no favorites, but this sign guy does. Go Falcons!”

Remember those happy days before the Super Bowl?

Remember those happy days before the Super Bowl?

And I’m excited, too. In fact, this week I even let myself get into an online argument about the Super Bowl. It started innocently enough: A Facebook friend posted his prediction for a Falcons victory. He said he really thinks the Falcons are going to win. And I replied to his comment—voicing my agreement, and offering a few reasons why I thought it would happen. A lot of it has to do with our team’s offense. And then one of his friends—someone I don’t even know—replied to my comment: “It’s easy to have a great offense against teams that don’t have a defense.” Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 10-04-15: “Bless the Lord, O My Soul”

October 19, 2015

Fight Songs

This sermon explores the meaning of praise. It’s as essential to Christian living as cheering is to a football game. Praise is nothing less cheering for God. Can you imagine sitting in the stands, watching your favorite team play, and being unable to cheer? You wouldn’t be able to enjoy the game nearly as much! Is it possible that we’re not as happy in our relationship with God because we’re not praising him as much as we should? This sermon, I hope, gives us reasons to cheer!

Sermon Text: Psalm 103:1-19

[Please note: Inexplicably, my sermon video is not on my iPhone. I have no idea what happened! It was definitely recorded. Sorry!]

The following is my original sermon text.

Did any of you see the YouTube video that went viral a couple of weeks ago of the rat carrying the slice of pizza down the stairs of a the New York City subway? I’ve never thought of a rat as “cute” before. But look at this thing! He comes pretty close to cute. Look how determined he is! That pizza slice is twice the rat’s size! He wants it so badly! But he gives up on the third to last step and scampers away. And I’m like, “Don’t give up, little rat! You’re so close!”

The truth is, the rat probably got scared away because there was this guy who was standing over it with his smartphone, filming it!

I think this is a fitting metaphor for us when it comes the subject of today’s psalm: “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” David says, “and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” To “bless” the Lord means to “praise” the Lord. This is what we gather each week to do here, at Hampton United Methodist. It takes work to wake up early on Sunday morning, which for many of us might be our only day off, our only opportunity to sleep in. When the alarm on our smartphone or clock went off, we had to fight the temptation to hit the “snooze” button or turn it off entirely and go back to sleep. But we fought that temptation and didn’t go back to sleep.

Read the rest of this entry »