So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.James 3:5-8
I’ve worked a couple of stints helping my brother do commercial HVAC. Building automation has been a growth industry for at least 10 or 12 years now. The average homeowner can lock and unlock doors, turn lights on and off and adjust the thermostat from a mobile app. I knew about text and email alerts to warn about dangerous or undesirable conditions, but it never occurred to me to consider the usefulness of these things in terms of insurance. Church Mutual Insurance Company sent us a box full of sensors a year or two ago with installation instructions. There was an incentive, in terms of our premiums, to install them. We now have space temp sensors and wet floor sensors in our church building, connected through a wireless router to a monitoring service. If the temperature inside the church drops to near freezing, or water is detected by the water heater or under the kitchen sin, I will get text alerts and a phone call. It’s cheaper for the insurance company to give away the sensors than to fix major damage that can occur if problems go unnoticed. Insurance is all about calculating risk. It’s the same thing with companies that offer auto insurance rates based on your driving habits, which they will monitor when you install their device to track those driving habits.Continue reading
This was originally published as “Illustrations Can Come from Anywhere” on March 22, 2018. I don’t do a lot of reruns but hope you enjoy this one.
If you are a preacher, know a preacher, or for that matter have ever listened to a preacher, you may have heard the oft repeated statement illustrations can come from anywhere. It’s a truism that may cause us to smile but seriously; a funny thing a child says, a misunderstanding in the supermarket line, words said in anger that have to be eaten later, literally anything a professional speaker hears about could become an illustration for a point being made. Be careful sharing those funny anecdotes around your clergyman. You may hear them again from the pulpit.Continue reading
Anytime one prepares a presentation, much like a written report, article, blog post or thesis paper, there are several iterations that could become the final product. Some ideas don’t go anywhere, better ideas take their place, maybe some good talking points came from brainstorming that ended up not being developed. You may even produce more than one version and have to make a decision but in any case there are always things researched or outlined that are left out of the final product. If lines or scenes are cut from a film you might find out about them in the director’s cut or by playing the DVD commentary. Since my goal is to post new material to my blog once or twice a week, I have a creative outlet for unused sermon material. Continue reading
There is a lot to learn from reading the Bible but a few predominant themes run through the whole book. One lesson we learn that is reinforced many times is that God knows what he’s doing.
…the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment… 2 Peter 2:9
I sometimes puzzle over statements people make such as looking for God. It’s our nature to make things more complicated than they are or should be. God is not hiding. He has not put up boundaries and obstacles so that only a few are able to succeed. The Hunger Games, the Labyrinth, Survivor, American Ninja Warrior; the Kingdom of God is not like any of those things. The Apostle Paul, speaking to a Greco-Roman audience, often made analogies to the sporting world and athletic competition. He talks about competing according to the rules in order to not be disqualified (2 Timothy 2:5) and to the Philippians he says that he presses forward toward the prize (Philippians 3:13-14). The prize is Jesus and he wants you to win! Continue reading
So if you’ve been paying attention to the Satur-deja Vu you may have noticed I ranted about fall two weeks in a row. I honestly did not realize I had addressed that topic the week before. It’s not the season of the year I was ranting about so much as everyone excited about it while we’ve got some summer weeks left to go yet. I don’t want to rehash all that a third time but rather consider this topic: Why do we have seasons? Continue reading
I may not be a great man of God but I am a man of a great God.
Paul says in 2nd Corinthians that we possess a great treasure in jars of clay. I’ve seen a lot of proposal videos where the guy gets down on one knee or choreographs a big event to pop the question. The woman is always interested in the ring. I have never seen one check out the box it came in. That is not what matters. We as believers are the temple of God. That is where his Spirit chooses to dwell. So you may not think that I’m much to look at. That doesn’t matter because 1) my wife thinks I’m adorable, and more importantly 2) every believer is the dwelling place of God. We that are baptized in Christ have put on Christ. John the Baptist said “He must increase, but I must decrease.” When we are conformed to the image of Jesus, when we let our light shine, it really should be Jesus that the world sees. We must make more of him and less of ourselves.
God uses things that are small, weak and broken. I’ve said that many times so you may have heard it in a sermon, lesson or read it here. Every person in the Bible that does anything for God was flawed in some way, perhaps fatally so. Abraham believed God and God counted it to him as righteousness; but he still lied, twice, about Sara not being his wife. David was a man after God’s own heart but committed not only adultery but murder in an attempt to cover up the previous violation. Noah got drunk and naked, Lot was comfortable surrounded by sin, Samson was a pompous jerk and so forth. Continue reading
If you listen to my Sunday sermon (it’s linked in the left-hand sidebar) there are numerous references to Peter and other disciples fishing. Jesus called Peter by telling him that he would become a “fisher of men.” Peter left his nets behind and that’s an important detail to keep in mind.
When we go fishing it’s probably not on a commercial fishing vessel. We go for recreation or even for sport which probably means a rod and reel for most people. We use bait, either live bait like night crawlers and crickets or else some type of lure or fly. Sharing the Gospel message is like casting a net, not like using bait on a hook. When Jesus first met Peter his crew had been out all night and not caught anything. Same story in John 21. We cast the net of the Gospel and many times come back with nothing. But we keep throwing it out there. If we were trying to attract cell phone or cable customers to sign a contract then bait and switch or bait and hook tactics might do the trick. But we are called to build the Kingdom, not generate profitable sales figures. Go out into the world and be wise as serpents but innocent as doves. Don’t forget the innocent part.