Archive for September, 2021

God Looks at You! 9-26-2021

Sunday, September 26th, 2021

I have found in coaching Football – sometimes the players get a
little apathetic – get the blazes, go through the motion, seem to be doing
everything in slow motion. It becomes necessary for the coach (so to
speak) to jump-start those players to light a fire under them; to get them
going again in full speed.
To do this, you must get their attention. It may take a glare -some
loud words, an appropriate tirade, and as one Southern Coach said; you
may have to “pitch a fit” to get the players focused again and moving in
the right direction.
I believe someone in the 2nd
Scripture reading is trying to get our
attention, – to get us focused. They use some very strong language.
Woe to you rich, your fine clothes have grown moth eaten, – your gold
and silver have corroded and their corrosion shall be a testimony against
you. Weep and wail over your impending miseries.
Some of us here – might be quick to say to ourselves – that does
not apply to me. I am not rich. I have trouble paying my bills. I can’t
save any money. I am on a fixed income. I believe there is a challenge in This Scripture is for all of us no matter
what our economic status in life is.
I would like to lay that challenge out – in just a few well chosen
words and allow each one of us the opportunity to think about it for
ourselves this week.
1. Does whatever amount of money we have; a lot or a little, –
whatever possessions we have acquired, are they controlling us?
2. Do we have certain possessions, clothes, money, cars, CD’s,
DVD’s, TiVo, smart phones, objects, – that we treat with more
tenderness, care and concern than we do people (even our own
3. Have we sometimes forgotten the saying:
“The world uses people and loves things;
Christians love people and use things.”
I close with this story: –
Once upon a time there was a little rich boy. His grandparents made millions of dollars in constructing big machinery. His parents were bright, beautiful, and wealthy. The little rich boy grew up in an
88-room mansion with pools, a tennis court, a basketball court and a
nine hole golf course in the back yard. There were cooks to cook,
butlers to serve, nurses to supervise, maids to clean up afterward –
chauffeurs to drive the little rich boy to school.
But the little rich boy was ashamed, embarrassed – he couldn’t
handle his family’s wealth. He ran away from home; he never invited
any of his friends or classmates to visit; and he dirtied up new shoes or
clothes – so he could be just like everybody else.
The little rich boy didn’t find out until he grew up that it isn’t how
much you have but what you do with it, that a lot of middle-class people
are more hung up with money than the rich, that real wealth is freedom
from self-centeredness and real poverty is being so attached to whatever
you have – lots or a little – that it controls your life.
We need to remember:
God doesn’t look at your bank accounts.
God looks at us. What will God see?

Those Glass Balls 9-19-2021

Sunday, September 19th, 2021

If you are like many people in our society today, you have a strong
desire to succeed in your chosen career. Never before have we had a
generation to whom success is so important. We want to be at the top of
the pyramid. We want to be number one. And there’s nothing wrong
with that.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be successful. Personal
ambition is a gift God has bestowed upon us to cause us to be our best.
When I have surgery I want a doctor who is dedicated to being the very
best doctor in town. When I have my car repaired I would like to think I
have the best mechanic in town working on my car. There is nothing
wrong with striving to be number one. As someone has said:
“Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.” Striving to be
number one can be healthy as long as we are able to put it into
Notice that Jesus didn’t scold the disciples for wanting to be
number one. What he tried to do was help them put it into perspective. Some anonymous writer put it like this: “Imagine life as a game in
which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them: work,
family, health, friends, and faith and you’re keeping all of them in the
air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it,
it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends,
and faith are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be
scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never
be the same.”
That is powerful imagery. Work is a rubber ball – but the other
important things in life – family, health, friends, and faith are made of
A pastor shared with me a story about a man who came to see him.
The man said “Pastor, I need to talk. I feel so empty – so dried up inside
– I’m scared.” His voice began to quiver just a bit. He said “Pastor, I
have just come from the doctor’s office – and he told me that I have only
six months at best to live. After I left his office I realized that I have no
spiritual resources, no inner strength to cope with this. There is nothing to fall back on, to lean against. Many people would be surprised to hear me say that, for I have made lots of money, and people think I am a
success not only at making money but at being a strong powerful
He then fell quiet, and the pastor waited in silence for him to go
on. Finally the man said, “You know I’m poor in the things that count
the most. I see it now. I’ve put my faith in the wrong things, and the
truth is I am destitute, spiritually destitute. I could pick up the phone
and call any bank in Houston and borrow any amount of money to do
whatever I wanted to. Just on my name, Reverend, just on my name!
Do you understand? I could borrow it on my name only.” The man then
leaned forward and put his head in his hands, and said softly through
tears, “I guess there are some things you can’t buy or borrow.”
There are some things you can’t buy or borrow. Family, friends,
health and faith. Those glass balls.
It’s interesting that Jesus put a child in their midst as a means of
helping his disciples to adjust their priorities. Children often remind us
that our priorities are out of whack. And love for our children can help us motivate ourselves to get our lives back in their proper focus. There was an article in People magazine about a man who
regained his focus thanks to his love for his daughter. Anyone who’s
ever tried to lose weight knows what a frustrating, impossible battle it
can be. Researchers report that of the few people who ever do lose
substantial amounts of weight, most regain the weight within a few
years. It seems so hard to find the motivation to lose the weight and
keep it off. But Randy Leamer didn’t have a problem with motivation.
He knew if he didn’t lose weight, his little daughter might die. At only
eighteen-months old, Meagan Leamer was diagnosed with severe kidney
disease. No matter what treatment the doctors tried with her, the toddler
just kept getting worse. By the age of five, Meagan desperately needed
a kidney transplant.
Meagan’s parents, Randy and Genie Leamer, were more than
willing to donate an organ to their daughter, and both were found to be
good matches. But Genie’s family had a long history of kidney
problems and high blood pressure, so an organ donation would be risky
on her part. That left Megan’s dad, Randy as the only possible donor. There was only one problem: Randy weighed over 300 pounds.Doctors were afraid that in Randy’s condition he wouldn’t survive the
surgery to harvest his kidney. So Randy, determined to lose over 100
lbs., in order to prepare for his daughter’s surgery.
He began exercising and eating a low-fat diet. Friends at work
cheered him on, and even brought in their old clothes for Randy when
his clothes became too big for him. Within eight months, Randy had
dropped to 194 lbs. Megan’s kidney surgery was performed. Both
Randy and Megan have recovered fully from the surgery.
Because of his love for his daughter, Randy took a needed action
that may in the long run give him a longer life. It is amazing how love
for our children can help us regain our focus in life.
I close! There are some things you can’t buy or borrow. Family,
Friends, Health & Faith. Those Glass Balls!

The Church Downstairs 9-12-2021

Sunday, September 12th, 2021

The pastor calls it the “church downstairs”. They have a good
problem: they need more chairs.
For years, Alcoholic Anonymous has met in the church hall every
day of the week, sometimes twice a day. The supportive pastor started
thinking of those meetings as the “church downstairs” after a new
parishioner told him how she came to join the parish after first going
“downstairs” for several months.
The priest occasionally sits in on the meetings and it has helped
him understand what it means to be “church”. Three things about AA
have struck him:
First, there is a “genuine and low-key sense” of welcoming. But it
is not simply a matter of a designated greeter shaking every new hand.
In fact, “AA is at its most hospitable after the meeting is over. No one is
bolting for the door when the last word is pronounced. Instead, people
stay around for another cup of coffee, especially if someone new has
joined them”. The second thing the pastor has noticed is how the “church
downstairs” rallies around the weak, the powerless, and the hurting.
“Even those some might relegate to the social fringe are met with
acceptance in the group, not least because a common denominator—We
are all powerless over alcohol—remains central”.
And the third thing that Alcoholics Anonymous groups
demonstrate so well, the pastor admires, is “the belief that everyone has
a story to tell and a right to be heard. This belief is essential not only to
the Twelve Steps, but to the sense of commonality and communion that
is generated in the group. Everyone can learn something from another
person’s story…”
Welcoming strangers. Lifting up the weak and struggling.
Listening to what everyone has to say. Maybe that’s why they need
more chairs at the “church downstairs”.
This is what Christ calls us to be a church: a community that
readily takes up our own crosses in order to help others bear up theirs; a
family of brothers and sisters who instinctively put aside their own individual needs and hurts to bring healing and hope to the other members of the family. In being members of such a faith community,
we answer the question that Jesus poses in today’s Gospel; every
decision we make, every action we take, proclaims who we believe this
Jesus is and what his Gospel means to us. Sometimes our answering
that question demands that we put aside our own concerns, needs and
fears, to say to ourselves and confess to the world: You are the Christ;
You are the Anointed One God has sent to teach us his way of humble
gratitude, joyful service, and just peace.