Posts Tagged ‘Peyton Manning’

Sermon 02-14-16: “Living Water”

February 17, 2016

John Sermon Series Graphic

Biblically speaking, men meet their future wives at wells. It happened for Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. Jesus, of course, was never married, but he’s well aware of the symbolism of his speaking to this Samaritan woman at a well. He knows that throughout the Bible, God is often depicted as husband or bridegroom to his people, Israel, his wife or bride. In the New Testament, Paul and the Book of Revelation also pick up this theme. So on Valentine’s Day 2016, we’re studying a scripture that points to the greatest, most romantic love story ever told: that Jesus, God the Son, left his Father and his home in heaven in order to cleave to his bride—the church, those of us who believe in Christ—and “become one flesh” with us.

Sermon Text: John 4:1-18

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

I am directionally impaired. In other words, I’m terrible with directions. I always have been. I confess that my sense of direction gotten even worse in this age of GPS. I use Google Maps almost all the time now! But I use it, not just to know how to get from Point A to Point B, but also how to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. Google Maps does a nice job of directing me around traffic.

Even this past week, I was taking my son Ian to his elementary school, which is just a few miles form our house. You just make one left turn out of our neighborhood. This past week, however, there was an accident blocking the entire road 50 yards from my intersection. I had to make that one left turn, but that one left turn was blocked. So how do I get around it, so that I can get to my son’s elementary school?

Beats me, because, remember, I’m directionally impaired. But not to worry! Because I have Google Maps, which tells me how I can get there by making a right-hand turn instead of a left-hand turn. Only problem, of course, is that by making that right-hand turn, and going around the accident, it took an extra ten minutes to get to the school. But… I got there O.K., so that’s all that matters. Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 02-07-16: “He Must Increase”

February 16, 2016

John Sermon Series Graphic

In today’s scripture, John the Baptist is not like most of us: Instead of being unhappy that his own work is declining in popularity, he’s happier than he’s ever been. Why? Because he understands that what matters most isn’t his own personal glory, but Christ’s glory. He understands that in spite of this apparent setback, God is in control and God is working his plan for him and the world. If this is true for John, it’s true for us as well. God is always working his plan for our lives, even in the face of mistakes, failures, and setbacks.

Sermon Text: John 3:22-36

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

Show of hands… How many in here are rooting for the Broncos? How many are rooting for the Panthers? How many are rooting for the commercials? I am 45, so I’m cheering for the guy who’s very close to my age, Peyton Manning. I’m sentimental; I would love to see him get his long-sought-after second Super Bowl ring before retiring riding and off into the sunset. It would be a storybook ending to his career; it would seal his legacy as one of the best who ever played the game; it would silence all the skeptics who wonder why he wasn’t more effective in the playoffs.

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But what if he doesn’t get the storybook ending? What if the Broncos lose? How will Peyton live with the disappointment, the sorrow, the heartbreak, the failure?

How do we handle these things in our own lives? We all want to be happy, after all, yet doesn’t life often seem to put obstacles to happiness in our way? How do we deal with them, while at the same time rejoicing in the Lord always, the way Christians are supposed to? Read the rest of this entry »

Ash Wednesday 2016 Sermon: “Neither Do I Condemn You”

February 11, 2016

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Sermon Text: John 7:53-8:11

I preached the following sermon at Hampton United Methodist on February 10, 2016.

If you were here on Sunday, you heard me speculate about how Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning would handle it if he lost yet another Super Bowl. Of course, if you watched or heard about the game, you know than Manning’s team won, so it didn’t matter. He finally got his second Super Bowl ring, so his legacy is secure. Meanwhile, a lot of sports writers and fans have been criticizing the way that the other Super Bowl quarterback, Cam Newton, has dealt with the defeat.

There’s a certain script that losing quarterbacks are supposed to follow in press conferences following losses like this one: you go out and you give credit to the other team for the victory; you accept for you role in the loss; you express great optimism about the future, that you’ll be back next year, etc. You’re supposed to project calm. You’re supposed to be even-keeled. You’re supposed to be a good sport.

More than anything, you’re supposed to lie and deceive… If not through the words you say, then through the words you don’t say—and the manner in which you say anything at all. The postgame press conference, in other words, is like being an actor on stage in which you’re awarded for hiding the fact that you’re angry, heartbroken, bitter—for hiding the fact that this loss is eating you up inside. For acting like you’re O.K. when you’re most assuredly not O.K. Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 11-22-15: “The Goat within Us All”

November 23, 2015

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The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats is often used by preachers like me to urge their congregation to be like the “sheep” in the parable. And since most of us are more “goat”-like than “sheep”-like, that means we need to “try harder.” The problem with this approach is that it ignores the context of the parable. Jesus is speaking here of Final Judgment. Salvation or damnation hangs in the balance. If the only difference between “sheep” and “goats” is that one did something that the other failed to do, then are we saying that we have to earn our way into heaven?

I hope not! If so, I’m lost, and so are you!

In this sermon, I’ll offer what I hope is a grace-filled way to understand the parable—one that will inspire us into doing good works rather than guilt-ing us into it.

Sermon Text: Matthew 25:31-46

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

The following is my original sermon manuscript with footnotes.

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Last Sunday marked the end of an era: In the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, a future Hall-of-Famer, who now holds the record for most career passing yards, who has won a Super Bowl, and who is easily among the best to have ever played the game of football, Peyton Manning was benched. His coach put in the second-string guy. I can’t blame the coach: Last Sunday, Manning finished the day with just 35 yards on 5-of-20 passing, zero touchdowns, four interceptions, two sacks and an almost unheard-of zero passer rating. For the season, Manning has nine touchdown passes and 17 interceptions. It’s not good.

Manning went from being a hero to being a goat. It’s not the first time Manning has been a goat, just not usually during the regular season. In fact, the only knock against his career is that while he’s been consistently heroic during the regular season game, he’s sometimes been goat-like during the playoffs—and in two of this three Super Bowl appearances. Of course, football is a team sport, so he doesn’t deserve as much blame as he gets. Besides, this season, one problem is that he has plantar fasciitis, which I know from painful personal experience is just awful!

Heroes and goats… Have you heard that expression before? Sports writers, sports-talk radio show hosts, and sports fans use this expression often. I don’t know where it comes from—but it’s clear from today’s scripture that being a goat back in the first century was no better than being a goat in the twenty-first century! Read the rest of this entry »

God cares who wins the Super Bowl

January 31, 2014
God cares about this play that Manning is calling.

God cares about this play that Manning is calling.

While you’re watching the Super Bowl this Sunday, remind yourself of this deep theological truth:

God cares who wins the Super Bowl.

In fact, God cares deeply about every player on both teams. God cares about both teams’ coaches, trainers, equipment managers, doctors, owners, and cheerleaders. God cares about the referees. In short, God cares. He cares more passionately than anyone on the field, or on the sidelines, or watching at home or at the sports bar.

If something matters to the people on the field, or on the sidelines, or watching at home or at the sports bar, it matters to God.

Granted, many Christians resist this idea. Like Mark Sandlin, a blogger for Sojourners magazine. Just last week, in his list of 10 things Christians shouldn’t say, he complained about Christians who said that they “must be living right” when, for example, they find a desirable parking spot near the entrance of a store (although I’ve never heard someone say this in a sincere way).

These are the same folks who ask God to help them win sporting events. I hate to burst the bubble, but God doesn’t care which team wins…

Really? God doesn’t care? Then I would ask Sandlin if God cares about the job he’s doing at Sojourners, or if God cares whether or not Sojourners exists at all. Why would that matter to God? Sojourners magazine isn’t curing cancer, putting an end to malaria, or solving the crisis in South Sudan. Why should God care about something so trivial as a blog post? Or even someone who makes his living by writing things like blog posts?

So here are these NFL players, pouring their hearts, minds, energy, and skill into this job they do, which they will soon be doing on the most prominent stage on the planet—and literally risking their health and wellbeing while doing it. But God doesn’t care?

You see my point: It’s almost as if we’re saying, “God is too big to be concerned with things like Super Bowls as long as children are starving in North Korea.” But saying that God is “too big” is just another way of saying God is too small: as if every moment God spends helping Peyton Manning convert a third-and-long is one less moment that God has to devote to the non-trivial problems of the world.

As if God isn’t sustaining all of Creation into existence at this moment! As if God isn’t more intimately involved in the minutest details of Marshawn Lynch’s training regimen than Lynch could ever be himself!

The Deists were wrong, remember?

Our God isn’t the great watchmaker in the sky who set the universe in motion and then went to sleep. We Christians believe in a God who is both transcendent (above and beyond this world of time an space) and immanent (closer to us than we are to ourselves). That means that God isn’t one thing among other things in the universe: he is entirely other. Therefore, no one is competing for God’s attention. He can hear and respond to everyone’s prayers—no matter how big or small.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to William Lane Craig. He’s one of the smartest Christians I know, a world-class philosopher and one of the foremost Christian apologists. Just in time for Super Bowl Sunday, Christianity Today asked Craig about God and football. I recommend the whole interview but here are some interesting excerpts:

Recent polls have found at least a quarter of Americans pray for sports teams, and that number is even higher among evangelicals. As a theologian, what do these stats tell you?

I think it shows how deeply committed they are to their teams that they would feel compelled to pray about it! In fact, it’s almost irresistible for someone who is on a team to pray that God would help him to do a good job and to win and to prevail. I don’t think that there’s anything the matter with that type of prayer, so long as one adds the caveat, nevertheless “not my will, but thy will be done.”…

Peyton Manning is a Christian, but he says he doesn’t pray to win games. He said, “I pray to keep both teams injury free, and personally, that I use whatever talent I have to the best of my ability.” Is it wrong or should we feel bad for praying for a win?

No, I think it’s fine for Christian athletes to pray about those things so long as they understand, as I say, that the person on the other team is also praying, and that some of these prayers will go unanswered in the providence of God. Ultimately, one is submitting oneself to God’s providence, but I see nothing the matter with praying for the outcome of these things. They’re not a matter of indifference to God. God cares about these little things, so it’s appropriate…

As football fans prepare for the big game, what thought would you want to leave them with?

I think the overriding thing I want to say is God’s providence rules all of life, even down to the smallest details. Nothing happens without either God’s direct will or at least his permission of that event. That includes every fumble, every catch, every run. All of these things are in the providence of God, and therefore, we should not think that these things are a matter of indifference. These are of importance to God as well even though they seem trivial.