Saturday, January 18, 2014


This is the sermon summary of the message presented at Prairie Chapel, January 12, 2014.
We are all subject to the human condition.  Some may operate closer to the edge and experience it more acutely.  Some may experience it in the pain of love for others; but we all feel rejection, loss, abuse, depression or we have an equally hurtful list, maybe dozens long.  Economic status, social status, status high or low has nothing to do with it.  We have needs that need to be filled.  We all suffer from the human condition

Jesus met a woman at a well.  It was a divine appointment.  She didn’t know she needed Jesus until she came to know him, to know him as a prophet, to know him as Savior.  She didn’t know she needed Jesus until her needs, her social impoverishment, met “who Jesus is.”  We find we need Jesus when “who we are” intersects with “who he is.” 

At the well, Jesus crossed all sorts of boundaries in talking with a women, a Samaritan, a woman of questionable lifestyle, a person of another denomination.  Jesus crossed all sorts of boundaries because all sorts of people need Jesus.

But we don’t know we need Jesus until we come to know him, “who he is”: Son of God, Creator, Image, Good Shepherd, Savior, Resurrection Lord who gives us hope, King, Grace, Friend. 

Then we find what’s at stake in accepting him: Salvation, relationship, joy, happiness, freedom, life-together.  Do you want to miss that?  Do you want your friends to miss that?

And the last thing at stake is transformation, change.  Yes, Jesus loves us just a we are, but he doesn’t leave us there.  He fills our needs and leads us forward.  Bottom line: We need Jesus because Jesus is the answer to the deepest longings of the human heart.*  We need Jesus.

*Adam Hamilton.  Leading Beyond the Walls.  pg 22


Thursday, January 9, 2014


Sermon Shadow from Prairie Chapel UMC (Fulton, MO) 12/29/13
Luke set out to write an orderly account in which he emphasized the Nativity and within that included the “shepherds.”  We’ve mythicized them over the centuries when they were at best the hired hands, really of no account.  Not the kind you would invite to your Christmas party directly from work, or call to come the hospital to see and hold your new born.  Yet God chose them to be the first to hear the good news. 
We find throughout the Gospel that God favors the poor the oppressed.  What is it? What virtue do they have that we must emulate to gain God’s favor?  Author John Dickson, Humilitas: The Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership would suggest “humility”; not groveling, not humiliation, but humility.  In fact, there must be a certain element of self-worth to love others, to do so humbly.  We define humility as “holding one’s power loosely for the sake of others.”
And there is a practical aspect of humility in our relationships, in our businesses, within our families.  A man was beset on a bus by three youths but did not react.  On departing the bus, he handed them a business card reading “Joe Louis, Boxer”; holding his power loosely for the good fortune of the three.  Compare that to Mohamad Ali.  Which do you find more attractive? 
In business, Stanford professor Jim Collins, Good to Great, finds that the leaders of great companies universally marked by a paradoxical mix of professional will and personal humility.  In many cases they are self-effacing, reserved, even shy.  They deflect praise from themselves to their subordinates but stand ready to take the blame. 
In personal relationships we have the power to hurt those we love the most.  Good partners hold their power loosely for the sake of others.  Humility is a treasure in our relationships with one another.
How is it we become humble? It must be a desirable goal, thought of as a thing of beauty or it will be just another un-kept resolution.  Then we should “act as if.”  It is the only way to exercise our humility muscle.  Finally, we learn to be humble by spending time serving the shepherds among us.  In person, if possible, but if not, with thoughtful charity.
Do you see the trait of God here, holding his power loosely for our sake?  Do you the trait of Jesus here, holding his power loosely, in fact nailing it to a cross, for our sake?  Do you see the traits of those God chooses and uses?  Make humility a beautiful thing.  Act as if.  Serve the shepherds among us.