Category Archives: sermons – inspirational

Salad Sermon


Today we had a salad sermon. Take some chopped up business principles. Add some pop psychology. Throw in a handful of Bible verses. Sprinkle liberally with pithy sayings. Voila! A salad sermon.

The title was Artificial vs Authentic Leadership and was supposed to be based on John 13:1-17 where Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. First he showed pictures of several famous or infamous people and asked what they had in common. He had to tell us the answer – influence. Then he had to define leadership as having influence on others. Rambled on a bit about many people don’t have position and title so they don’t develop their leadership skills. Then he defined artificial leadership as hiding behind fear, timidity, and wanting to be served. (Huh?) The artificial leader draws people’s attention to himself. But a Christian should draw people’s attention to Christ and should be a 1) mirror of leadership (mirroring Christ presumably?) and a 2) model of leadership. Then a longish discussion of models and some verses about not conforming to the world, being renewed in image of creator, being conformed to image of Christ. [I think cognitive dissonace hit me here and I started feeling like, what? what!!?] Then he started listing 7 principles. It was discombobulating as some of them seemed to be the same.

1.Submits to God’s timing.
2. demonstrates whole hearted love (followed by an almost incomprehensible discussion of partial love and that in verse 1 Jesus showed the full extent of His love as if somehow it really was connected.)
3. secure in God’s authority and not his own. (Huh?)
4. God centered and not man centered. Corollary – so we should value relationships above all else. (Say what??????!)
5. practices what he preaches
6. walks in holiness before God (and that doesn’t apply to ALL believers?)
7. models the Master

Interspersed were various pithy sayings such as “What we worship is what we are becoming” “Don’t give up, give in to God” “God’s not calling us to make butt prints, but foot prints” etc, etc. (He really liked that last one as he must have repeated it about 5 times.)
I quit taking notes at this point because I was ready to cry or scream or something. And he kept repeating the butt prints – and had to explain what it meant.

It use to be that people went to church to learn about the Bible and how God views things. Then we were supposed to go out and try to apply that to our lives in the world. But now it seems we bring the world’s view of things into the church and try to fit it into the Bible.
And I come out feeling confused and, well, cheated – cuz I wasn’t challenged to think of God or His glory, nor His amazing grace, love, or power. At all.


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Idly spent and squandered away

Do we  think that when the day has been idly spent and squandered away by us, we shall be fit to work when the night and darkness come – when our understanding is weak and our memory frail, and by long custom of sinning obstinately bent the wrong way what can we then do in religion? What reasonable or acceptable service can we then perform to God? When our candle is just sinking into the socket how shall our light “so shine before men that they may see our good works”? …I will not pronounce anything concerning the impossibility of a death bed repentance, but I am sure that it is very difficult and, I believe, very rare.

John Tillotson (1630-1694), Sermons

Have times changed???

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Ten Shekels and a Shirt

The other day I saw a link to an article called “Ten Shekels and a Shirt”. Since I had just read through Judges last week it caught my eye so I clicked on the link to check it out. Wow!

 The passage was Judges 17-18 about a Levite who went off to seek his fortune and ended up being invited by a guy to set up a shrine. The salary offered was room and board, ten shekels, and a suite of clothes. Some time later the Danites arrived and they made him an even better offer, one he couldn’t refuse.

 The rest of the sermon was basically contrasting two world views:

  … let me summarize. Christianity says,”The end of all being is the glory of God.” Humanism says, “The end of all being is the happiness of man.”

 And one was born in Hell, the deification of man. AND THE OTHER WAS BORN IN HEAVEN, THE GLORIFICATION OF GOD! And one is Levite serving Micah, and the other is a heart that’s unworthy serving the living God, because it’s the highest honor in the universe.

 Which world view do you have? You might be suprised, even shocked. He shows that it is not just society at large but churches, missions, and we as individual Christians have drunk very deep at the well of humanism and probably don’t even know it.

 This sermon was preached over 40 years ago but is far more relevant today than it even was then.




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One of those Sundays

Today was one of those Sundays where you arrive at church, look at the sermon title and wish you hadn’t come. It was “Couples’ Sunday” and the sermon was entitled “Spirit-Filled Couples”, just the sort of topic that singles love to hear – not! I mean, granted it’s probably a need for some people, but you kind of wish you had been warned. But, having already come in and sat down I was stuck, so I resolved to make the best of it. After all it wouldn’t be the first time a sermon was a washout. At least the songs looked good.

But was I pleasantly surprised! In fact, of all the sermons I have ever heard on this topic, this was probably the best.

Pastor Kenny Gan was the visiting speaker. He is Singaporean but lives in London. He looked about middle aged, had longish hair and glasses and works with OM. He started out explaining that he has a burden for broken families, both in the church and outside. He said most people try to have good families by the world’s standards. For the Chinese at least, the men work to succeed at their jobs to provide a house, good food, clothes, and things for their families. Women learn to cook, sew, and take care of the house and the kids. But there are many pressures in life and often couples end up splitting up.

The problem is that we focus on God’s secondary will – we try to be good in our career or good spouses and good parents. But actually God’s primary will is that we be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. So I shouldn’t strive to be a Christ-like husband or doctor or whatever. We can be a positive influence where ever we are but Jesus needs to be first. Ephesians 5:1 says we are to be imitators of God. Our primary goal is to imitate God. Ephesians 4:17 says that we are to no longer walk as the Gentiles and Romans 12:2 says that we are not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed.

We should use our time wisely. People try to improve themselves in their careers and in their education. But we have lots of excuses for not improving our Christian life. We should not allow things to rob us of time spent with the Lord. In his travels around the world he says that less than 5% of the congregations, including pastors and seminary students spend ½ hour a day with the Lord.

It will be difficult to live a Christ-like life on our own. We get tired and disappointed. We try to be a good parent and spouse and we get exhausted. The flesh takes over. We get impatient, irritated, angry, and we fight. The easiest thing is to turn on the television. Drown it out. More and more kids are having fellowship with their computers.

We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. There is no such thing as love at first sight. You learn to love after you are married. We all have weaknesses and struggles. You learn all about your spouse’s weaknesses after you are married, not before.

People often divorce because of “irreconcilable differences”. But love bears all things and is patient and kind. If we are Spirit-controlled we don’t have the need to insist on our own way. The Holy Spirit convicts us that impatience is not from the Lord.

Pastor Kenny has a principle: any time he blows his top, he recognizes that it is not from the Lord. And he must apologize to those who witness it. We must be subject to each other because the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of humility. The husband is the head of the house, but that does not mean authoritarianism. There is only one Master, the Lord. We are not really submitting ourselves to each other but to the Lord.

If your spouse has become your enemy, well, praise the Lord! Why? Because Jesus said to love your enemies! He didn’t say to kill them or divorce them. If they are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them to drink – and don’t put poison in it! In Proverbs 16:7 it says that when a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord He makes even his enemies live in peace with him.

Maybe we spend too much time complaining of our wives’ weaknesses instead of encouraging them in their strengths. We need to learn to be thankful for the good things.

Today’s generation is perhaps more outspoken. He told of a friend who came to him one time. The man and his wife had been separated for three weeks and the man had a litany of complaints about his wife. After listening for awhile Pastor Kenny said to him, “What does the Bible say husbands are to do?” The man answered, “Uh, well, it says husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:25)” The pastor asked if he had done his part. The man was quiet. The pastor said, “If you haven’t done your part then I don’t want to hear about your wife until you have done your part.” That couple soon reconciled and for the last 10 years have been leading home Bible studies. God will enable you to do your part.

Husbands and wives are not just meant to be loving physically and to produce physical children but they are to produce spiritual children. Therefore we should not excuse ourselves if we have been walking in the flesh. He gave an example of a kid in a passing car squirting him in the face with a squirt gun. He blew his top and yelled at the kid. But then he realized that it was not the Holy Spirit that was blowing His top. He immediately apologized to his wife and daughter who were with him. We should not excuse ourselves. We need to learn to be humble before our kids, especially if we don’t want our kids to imitate our tantrums.

We want to be Spirit-filled couples because we want to be an inspiration for our kids. We should walk in the Spirit for the glory of God and for the blessing of the church.

Why was this the best? Because it focused on the real problem: walking in the flesh instead of walking in the Spirit. And in fact it wasn’t really about married couples – it was about all of us in all of our relationships.

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In the beginning

Sunday, while driving gingerly home in a wild and windy snowstorm, I was pondering the pastor’s Christmas sermon. Matthew showed Jesus’ geneology from Abraham, Luke took it back to Adam, but John took it back to the beginning:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

Jesus was from the very beginning, He was face to face with God. He was God.

3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood a it

He created all things and He is the source of life.

9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Though not everyone recognizes Him or believes that He is who John says He is, yet whoever does is given the authority to become children of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

THIS is what we celebrate: God incarnate come into the world to bring us salvation. Thanks be to God!

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