Sun, 15 April 2018
Oprah Winfrey is an America pop icon. Her rags-to-riches story is remarkable. Her long-time talk show was famous for generous giveaways. While I don’t see eye-to-eye with her on theology and politics, I do admire her giving spirit.
One her most famous giveaways happened when all 276 members of her studio audience were blessed with a new Pontiac G-6 sedan. The cars carried an individual retail price tag of about $28,500.
The last giveaway was to celebrate her 25 years as hostess of the show. Every person in the audience was blessed with an 8-day, all-expense paid vacation to Australia!
Her favorite giveaway was in 2006. Every audience member was blessed with a bank card for $1,000 and a camera. Their assignment was to go home and within one week give that money away in a creative, charitable act and by so doing bless someone else. The camera was to video their respective acts of kindness. That giveaway unleashed some remarkable stories of generosity.
One example was a lady from Illinois named Minnie. She did not know whom she would bless with the $1,000. Upon returning home she learned about a father of nine children who had brain cancer. His name was John Newcomb. She not only was prepared to give that John’s family the $1,000, she rallied other people and businesses in the city to help. Within a week she had raised over $70,000. They paid off the Newcomb’s mortgage, his medical bills, provided groceries, and a two-year college scholarship for their oldest son.
Minnie was blessed to be a blessing. And she complied with that intent!
Did you know that you have been blessed to be a blessing? That is God’s heart and His missiological strategy. He has blessed us so that we might be a blessing.
We are launching today a 4-part sermon series entitled, “Bless Every Home.” Even more than that, what we’re truly hoping is to launch or augment a lifetime of missional living by each of us.
Please open your Bibles to Genesis 12 as we open our hearts to embrace God’s call on our lives to “Bless Every Home.”
Bless Every Home
Genesis 12:1-3, 8b
Now the Lordsaid to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you . . . (12:1).
And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (12:2-3).
. . . And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD(12:8b).
Sun, 8 April 2018
Yogi Berra was a catcher for the New York Yankees. He won 10 World Series and was an 18-time all-star.
But he is probably better known for his “Yogi-isms.” His quotes often mangled the English language in light-hearted ways, but also had a grain of truth in them. Here’s a sampling of five of his finest.
He was so well known for his sayings that sometimes he was given credit for things he didn’t even say. Thus another Yogi-ism: “I never said most of the things I said.”
Here’s one more he said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” The “Yogi-ness” of that quote is that it is redundant. Déjà vu literally means “already seen.” It’s a feeling that you get that you’ve been in place before. You’ve heard this conversation before. So to say, “Déjà vu all over again” is to say the same thing twice. Classic!
This morning “it’s déjà vu all over again.” We’re going to wrap up the “Final Word” by opening our Bibles to the 21st chapter of John’s gospel. In this story the disciples are going to encounter the risen Lord Jesus and hear his final words. They are words they’ve heard before but that bear repeating. In fact, we too need to hear them again.
It’s déjà vu all over again.
The Final Word
“Déjà Vu All Over Again”
Sun, 1 April 2018
“Del pesimismo al gozo”
Sun, 1 April 2018
If you've read any of Mark Twain's famous The Adventures of Tom Sawyer you know that Sawyer was quite the prankster. One time Sawyer convinced friends Huck Finn and Joe Harper to run away. By cover of night, the three left their homes, snuck down to the river, and set out down-river on a raft. They end up on Jackson's Island where have fun pretending to be pirates for several days.
Meanwhile, back at home, their families and the town at large are in state of near hysteria. After a few days they conclude the boys have drowned, and plan their funeral for the following Sunday. Tom quietly returns to town and discovers the plans for the funeral. He returns to the island where he convinces Huck and Joe they should all stay put until the end of the week when they will return to town and march in on their own funerals.
On Sunday almost the entire town gathers at the church building where the preacher leads the sad and grieving crowd in eulogizing and mourning the poor boys whom death has claimed so early in life. The congregation became more and more moved till the whole company broke down and joined the weeping mourners in a chorus of anguished sobs.
At that moment the three boys come through the church doors. They had been listening to their own funeral! The ones who were dead now are alive. Gloom gives way to gladness. Can you imagine attending a funeral and seeing the one for whom you grieve appear in your midst?
That’s exactly what actually happened to the disciples of Jesus. They saw him crucified. They knew that he had been buried. On that first Sunday evening they were gathered in fear, mourning, and bewilderment. Gloom prevailed. But into that room came the risen Lord Jesus and gloom gives way to gladness.
We too can rejoice on this Easter morning because Jesus crashed his own funeral!
The Final Word
“From Gloom to Gladness”
Sun, 25 March 2018
There is a common sight across the southeast region of the United States. It is a trio of crosses placed in a field near a highway or crossroads. They are the work of a man named Bernard Coffindaffer. He was a veteran of WWII and Iwo Jima. When he came back from the war, he came to know Christ as his savior. He became a successful businessman but never lost his gratitude for what Jesus did for us.
He spent his personal fortune to erect more than 1,800 trios of crosses.
But what is the significance of these three crosses?
The Final Word
“The Crosses of Calvary”
Thu, 22 March 2018
Tom Watson Jr., CEO of IBM between 1956 and 1971, was a key figure in the information revolution. Watson repeatedly demonstrated his abilities as a leader.
One example of his skill as a leader had to do with a young executive who made some bad decisions that cost the company several million dollars. He was summoned to Watson’s office. He fully expected that he would be fired. As he entered the office, the young executive said to Watson, “I suppose after that set of mistakes you will want to fire me.” Watson was said to have replied, “Fire you?! Not at all, young man, we have just spent a couple of million dollars educating you” (Source: Edgar Schein in his book, Organisational Culture and Leadership).
Watson was telling the young executive that he was more valuable now than before. His failures were not final.
Let’s face it, we have all failed. The devil would have you think that that your failures are final—that you are of no value to the Lord. But that’s a lie. God is too compassionate, too redeeming for that. He says to us, “Your failures need not be final. There is more for you to do!”
The biography of Peter is a case study of the truth that “failure is not final.” Today we will look at Peter’s life and find encouragement for our own.
The Final Word
“Failure Is Not Final”
John 18:15-18 and 25-27
Sun, 18 March 2018
Sun, 11 March 2018
In recent years our nation has been rocked by a string of mass shootings—Stoneman Douglas High School, Charleston, SC, Newton, CT, Virginia Tech, and the list goes on. From these horrific incidents, some touching stories of courage and self-sacrifice have surfaced.
On December 2, 2015 county employees in San Bernadino, CA had gathered for a Christmas party. Two gunmen stormed the center where they were gathered and opened fire on the unsuspecting crowd. In the melee, coworkers Denise Peraza and Shannon Johnson took refuge behind an over-turned chair. Shannon, an old Georgia boy, wrapped his arm around Denise and said, “I got you.” With that, a bullet struck him. He died while sheltering Denise. She credits him with saving her life.
This morning I want to show you that God in Christ would gladly wrap you in His embrace. Despite all that it cost Him, He still says, “I got you. I got you.” John 18:1-11 shows us plainly that He will die that we might live.
Tue, 6 March 2018
La Carrera de La Fe
2 Timoteo 4:6-8
Sun, 4 March 2018
I’ve always been fascinated by people’s last words. I heard last week about a Union General during the Civil War. His name was John Sedgwick. He was a respected and high-ranking general. In 1864 he led his troops to Spotsylvania, Virginia for one of the last battles of the war.
Confederate sharpshooters had been peppering the area all morning on May 9, wounding, among others, General William Morris. Staff officers cautioned Sedgwick not to approach the road, but he disregarded their warnings in his desire to encourage his men to face the enemy. When his men warned him to take cover, Sedgwick responded by joking, "They couldn’t hit an elephant at that distance." Just then, a sharpshooter’s bullet crashed into his skull, right below his left eye, killing him instantly.
He was the highest ranking Union officer to be killed during the war.
It’s dangerous to underestimate your enemy. Don’t do it.
Jesus did not do that. He understood full well the spiritual battle in which we are engaged. Because of it he turned to a vital piece of our spiritual arsenal—prayer. We have a record of his prayer offered the night of his greatest battle—just as he faced arrest, trial, and execution. This prayer opens our eyes as nothing else to the deepest longings of Jesus’ heart. It teaches us what He values and how we, too, can overcome the world.
The Final Word
“The Real ‘Lord’s Prayer’”