Posts Tagged ‘Auburn University’

Sermon 09-25-16: “Keeping the Promise, Part 6: Our Witness”

September 30, 2016


This sermon is mostly about integrity: Do we believe what we say we believe about Jesus? Have we experienced the gospel as genuinely good news? If so, why wouldn’t we tell others about what we’ve experienced? Yet most Christians would rather undergo a root canal than initiate a conversation about their Christian faith! Why is this? And what can we do to change?

Sermon Text: Acts 1:1-11

Have you heard of Penn and Teller? They’re a comedy-magic duo famous for outlandish and often squirm-inducing magic tricks. I used to watch them on Letterman when I was in college back in the ’80s. They’ve been around a while, and they’re very good at what they do. Penn Jillette is the half of the duo that speaks. His partner, Teller, never speaks.

Penn Jillette

Penn Jillette

Anyway, Jillette is an outspoken atheist. I mean, he really, really doesn’t believe in God, and he wants you to know about it. Which makes it all the more surprising, several years ago, when he posted a video on his blog describing an encounter he had with a Christian businessman who, like other fans, met Jillette after a show. This Christian began by telling Jillette how much he enjoyed his work. He was sincere. And then he said that he would like to give Jillette a gift. And he handed him a new Bible—from the Gideons, I think—and said he really hoped he’d read it.

And I watched the video—Jillette was deeply moved by this man’s gift. So much so that even as he was describing the incident, tears were welling up in Jillette’s eyes. And he said something surprising. This man—who, again, isn’t anywhere close to becoming a Christian, at least right now—said that he doesn’t respect Christians who don’t share their faith with others. Christians who don’t do that thing that all of us Methodists promise to do when we join a United Methodist church. “I don’t respect it at all,” he said. He continued:

If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, or not getting eternal life, or whatever, and you think that, uh, well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward… how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize them? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming to hit you, and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point where I tackle you. And [eternal life] is more important than that! Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 01-12-14: “This Means War!”

January 21, 2014
Flemish painter Simon Bening depicts the first of Jesus' three temptations.

Flemish painter Simon Bening depicts the first of Jesus’ three temptations.

Do you believe in the devil? Jesus did—which is our best for believing in him as well. That we face an Adversary who is constantly working against the good that we try to do certainly makes better sense of our struggles in life. This sermon is about the deadly threat that Satan poses to us. I also talk about the parallel that the evangelist Luke draws between the temptation of Jesus, the second Adam, and the temptation of the first Adam. The nature of the temptation was the same: the outcome couldn’t have been more different. We Christians share in the victory Christ won over Satan.

Sermon Text: Luke 4:1-13

The following is my original sermon manuscript.

Many of us watched the BCS national championship game last Monday, and whether or not our team won, it was a great game! One of the story lines in the game was that Florida State had won all of its games this year so easily, and by such a wide margin, that they had never really faced adversity. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around in the first 13 games they played, they were always so far ahead that they could rest their starters and put in their second- and third-string players. So all the sports analysts were saying that FSU had never been tested.

By contrast, their opponent, Auburn, had been tested repeatedly. They had faced adversity. They knew how to come from behind to beat heavily favored teams, and they knew how to come from behind to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. This kind of experience would give them an advantage.

What if Auburn could force FSU to play a full four quarters of football? Would FSU be able handle the adversity? Would they be able to rise to the challenge? Would they be able to pass the test?

And I guess the answer is yesBut just barely!

My point is, being tested helps us. Facing adversity helps us. These things can toughen us up and instill within us the confidence we need to overcome greater challenges later on. That’s the main thing going on in today’s scripture. God was preparing Jesus for what he would face later on. Read the rest of this entry »