Archive for the ‘25th Sunday’ Category

Those Glass Balls 9-19-2021

Friday, September 17th, 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
perspective.
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
glass.
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
person.”
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!

All Are Welcome 9-20-2020

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

Listen – One and All. Salvation is a gift. There are no first or
second-class citizens in the kingdom of God. We are all God’s children
and God loves us all the same. And isn’t that the way it ought to be?
There are enough ways of measuring status in this world without having
first and second-class citizens in the world to come.
Every society, from the poorest to the richest, has some way of
measuring status. Back in the days when the stagecoach was the
primary means of transportation in the American West, one sign of
status was the class of stagecoach ticket you bought.
It was common for a stagecoach to breakdown, or to get stuck on a
rocky or muddy path. Passengers with a third-class ticket were required
to get the stagecoach going again. They removed the rocks or tree limbs
that blocked the path, they cleared the mud from around the wagon
wheels, they unloaded the heavier items from the stagecoach. If the
stagecoach load was too heavy for the horses to pull up the hill, second-
class passengers had to disembark and walk up the hill. First-class passengers were not expected to do any work. No matter how messy the
situation was, no matter how stuck the stagecoach was, a passenger with
a first class ticket was under no obligation to help on the journey. He or
she simply benefited from the work of others.
Friend, forget such distinctions in the Kingdom. God plays no
favorites. And that’s good. It would be my luck to go into the Kingdom
right behind Mother Teresa or Billy Graham. But, here’s the good news,
it won’t matter at all. My robe will be just as white as Mother Teresa’s,
because it has been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. And my crown
will be radiant – though it may slip off a little to the side. Whether
we’ve served seventy years or seven minutes in the fellowship of Christ,
the reward is the same – the presence, and power of perfect love. We
shall see Christ face to face.
There’s an old story told about a little church west of Winchester,
Virginia. One Sunday morning their minister was rather preoccupied.
His sermon did not make as much sense as it usually did. As the
congregation listened, they became concerned about him. At the close of the service, before he pronounced the benediction, he said, “You know that my wife and I have a daughter that we haven’t
seen in awhile: She was leading another kind of lifestyle, one that we
didn’t exactly approve of. She left  home and we hadn’t seen her….
“Until we found her the other day. She was in apartment with no
heat, no warm water, and no electricity. We also found her with our
grandson, three months old. We asked her if she wanted to come home,
and she said that, yes, she would.
“Many of you in our congregation will not approve of someone
like that living in your parsonage. But she’s our daughter and we love
her.
“There are two doors to our church. I feel that some of you won’t
be able to shake my hand this morning. And that’s okay. I’ll
understand.” And with that, he went to the back of the church,
pronounced the benediction, and waited.
You know how it is on Sunday. For one reason or another, people
are always slipping out the other door so that they can get away quickly.
But, that Sunday morning, every member of that church went out the front door to shake the minister’s hand. And it went further than a handshake. The people opened their
loving arms wide, and accepted the young mother and child in their
congregation. Clothes seemed to materialize out of nowhere. A job was
found so that the young lady could make her own way. Babysitters just
seemed to appear out of the congregation so she could go to work. In
short, this congregation began to take the Lord Jesus Christ’s message of
forgiveness seriously.
There were those in the community who began to talk. “Did you
hear about the minister’s daughter who is going to church now? And
they are letting her in! Sinners worship in that church!”
Yes, sinners did worship in that church. In fact there were people
who were members of that church who had not been seen in years, but
now began to attend services. They had not felt good enough to attend
before. But now they realized that not being good enough was exactly
the reason they ought to attend. And attend they did. A church and
community were changed forever when a lost daughter and her child came home.
I close with this. I wonder how the people in this community think about this church? Do they see this as a place of grace? Or do they see
us as a people who play the same kind of meaningless games that the
world outside plays. I hope they see this place as more than that
cathedral on Church Street in Monterey. I hope they see us as a place
that welcomes sinners in the same way that Christ welcomes sinners. I
hope they know that regardless of where their feet may have traveled
through the years –even if — no, especially if they have wandered, there
is a home for them here. Hear this one more time and pass it on – to at
least one more person today – this week. It makes no difference if you
came to Christ seventy years ago, or if you come to Christ today. He
loves you just the same. Do you know anyone who needs to come
home? To this home? Let them know they are welcome here!