Sermon Notes

“Sharks in the Aquarium” Ephesians 4: 7-16

Before Jimmy Johnson offered pregame commentary on Fox NFL Sunday, he was quite a successful football coach at both the professional and collegiate level.  As coach of the Dallas Cowboys, he led his team to two consecutive Super Bowl victories.  A few years ago, I read an interesting tidbit about Coach Johnson: he collected and enjoyed exotic fish.  He enjoyed them so much that he had seven saltwater aquariums in his Florida home.  Notice that I said salt water.  By the way, I also found out that the plural of aquarium is either aquaria or aquariums.

“Hospitality as Discipleship” Matthew 10:40-42

Before my first anniversary as your pastor, I talked to the Church Council about having church-wide opportunities to show Christian hospitality on grand scales and that we would provide this ministry on even-numbered years and have revivals on odd-numbered years.  Church-wide hospitality initiatives allow us together to focus on ways we can serve, and  some might call this the “outward journey”; revivals allow us together to focus on personal renewal, and some might call this the “inward journey.”  The primary objective of extending Christian hospitality was not a membership drive or marketing campaign; instead, we simply wanted to follow the directive of Jesus “to give a cup of cold water” to others.  We extend hospitality to others to show that God loves them but also to express our appreciation for them.

“Which Is More Important?” Luke 18:18-30

We are given choices all the time.  Making decisions is a critical component of everyday life, although some decisions are certainly more important, more reaching, and more pressing than others.  In placing decisions in a balance, we sometimes become so engrossed on “What’s in it for me?” that we lose sight of the bigger picture.  The eyes of society have blinked with dollar signs for so long that some simply cannot see anything else.  Cost and profit constitute the bottom line.  Our New Testament Lesson speaks of making a decision and also indirectly speaks of greed, which is contrary to the Christian lifestyle.  This has nothing to do with working hard nor feeding your family.  Yet this sermon has everything to do with being a disciple of Jesus.  In church life, today is Stewardship Sunday, which also involves individual decision-making.  Today I pose a question, “Which is more important, money or God?”

“It’s About Time!” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

“It’s about time!” is a phrase I have heard most of my life.  My Dad would regularly use an abbreviated version, “’bout time!” when referencing an action which he thought was overdue.  For instance, if the University of Georgia were playing a football game and had numerous penalties, once the referees called a “face-mask” or “pass interference” penalty on the opposing team, my Dad would declare, “’bout time!”

“We All Need Rest” Matthew 11: 25-30

Labor Day is a legal holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Canal Zone, and the Virgin Islands.  The celebration of Labor Day, in honor of the working class, was first suggested by Peter J. McGuire, founder of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.  In 1884, the Knights of Labor held a parade on the first Monday of September and passed a resolution to hold all future parades on that day and to designate the day as Labor Day.  Ten years later, the U.S. Congress made the day a legal holiday.

“What Kind of Block Are You?” Matthew 16:21-28

In gaining a better understanding of our text, I’d like to set the scene by describing what happened in the previous verses.  Jesus and the disciples had gathered at Caesarea Philippi, which was a resort community; Jesus and the twelve had gone on a retreat.  He asked the twelve followers, “Who do you think I am?”  Answers included John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.

“Being Called to See” Matthew 9:35-38

Robert Parham, former Director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, contrasted blindness and seeing.  He wrote, “Blindfolded Lady Justice symbolizes fairness without prejudicial considerations.  Behind the statue of Lady Justice is the idea that seeing clouds decision-making and corrupts actions.  Equal treatment under the law, for example, can only be achieved through blindness.  So, we talk about a color-blind society.  Politicians protect themselves from the perception of impropriety by setting up blind trusts.  Blindness is an American virtue.  Seeing is a biblical virtue.”

“Solving the Problem Can Begin with Us” Matthew 14:13-21

We all know that Jesus was the Son of God, which means that he was fully divine, but Jesus was also fully human.  He laughed and cried; he was affected by the stress of his workload.  He got tired.  Our passage began with Matthew telling us that Jesus received news of the murder of his cousin, John the Baptist.  Bad news affected Jesus; bad news affects us.  Sure it sells newspapers, and it entices advertisers for the evening news cycles, but we are affected by bad news, and when we aren’t, we become less human and more robotic.