"Not A Rose Garden, Minus The Thorns"
Text: Acts 2:1-13
Back in the late 1980’s, the Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation was going through a difficult period of labor disputes which were threatening to close the company’s doors. Over a three-year span, there were five walkouts. In one instance, production ground to a virtual halt, forcing key customers such as General Motors, Westinghouse, and Peterbilt to seek the flat-rolled steel they needed elsewhere, including offshore. During those three years, Allegheny Ludlum recorded losses in excess of sixty million dollars. It lost almost a quarter of its customer base. And labor and management couldn’t even be brought to the same table.
"Moving Off Square One"
Text: Luke 12:11-12, 22-31
Psalm 55:1-7, 22
In the four years leading up to my entering theological seminary, I experienced perhaps the greatest period of anxiety in my life. As I tried to accept the fact of God’s claim on my life, and wrestled with God’s call for me to pursue Christian ministry as my primary vocation, I worried about every possibility and implication of God’s claim and call.
"The Lord Had Blessed Us Reeeaaaal Good!"
Text: Revelation 5:1-14
Brother Dave Lombardi, pastor of Trinity Gospel Temple in Canton, ends all his radio broad- casts with these words: “The Lord has blessed us reeeeaaaal good! Amen, and amen!” While Brother Dave and I have our theological differences, on this Founder’s Day 2017, I must echo his words and sentiments: “The Lord has blessed Central Presbyterian Church reeeeaaaal good!” And to that, we can all add a hearty “Amen!”
"What Can We Learn from Rahab?"
Text: Joshua 2:1-21
Hebrews 11:1-3, 30-31
Here’s what I’ve been told of my pedigree. On my dad’s side of the family, my grandfather Lawrence was born in the village of Pacentro in Central Italy. My grandmother Margaret was born in America, but her father immigrated to the U.S. from the city of Sulmone, just a few miles from Pacentro. On my mom’s side, things are a little less clear.
"Game of Blame"
1 John 1:5-10
There was once a manager of a minor league baseball team which was on a lengthy losing streak. He identified the center fielder as the root of the team’s problems. At one exhibition game, the manager became so frustrated and disgusted that he ordered his centerfielder to the dugout and assumed the position himself. The first ball that was hit into centerfield took a bad hop and hit the manager in the mouth.
"Don't Pull the Weeds:
Text: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Those of you who know me well are aware that I am to be counted among that portion of the population which drives the remaining portion of the population crazy. I am a neat freak. The American Psychological Association has a category for people like me: obsessive-compulsive. I prefer to put it this way: I like a place for everything, and everything in its place.
"Seesaw of Faith"
Text: John 20:19-29
1 Peter 1:3-9
This is the Sunday after; the Sunday after all the “Gloria’s” and “Alleluia’s” have returned to our liturgies and hymns; the Sunday after the brass musicians have returned to their respective homes and churches; the Sunday after the extravaganza of lilies; the Sunday after a filled sanctuary; the Sunday after the antiphonal greeting: “Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!”
"No Final Buzzer!"
Text: Matthew 28:1-10
2 Corinthians 4:13-18
In a book entitled Just As Long As I’m Riding Up Front, Baptist minister Ray McIver tells of belonging to the San Marcos, Texas chapter of Kiwanis. It was a very lively group, says McIver; all except old Roger Shelton. Roger came to meetings late, always sat off by himself, and hardly ever spoke a word.
"No Skipping Over"
Text: Luke 19:29-40
As the Kowalski family sat and stood around Stanley’s bed in the ICU of Memorial City Hospital during the last hours of his earthly life, a lot of thoughts were racing through their minds. Something all of them were thinking -- but were hesitant to speak aloud in the early hours of their vigil -- was this: Stanley….. dad…..granddad has been suffering at home for months. Why must he continue to suffer here? Why won’t the good Lord take him? What is He waiting for?
Text: Mark 10:46-52
It was late autumn, 1974. Word was all over the front page of the local Beaver Valley news- papers that Antonio (a.k.a. “Tony”) Lalama -- a prominent attorney and real estate broker – had been indicted on half a dozen counts ranging from numbers, to racketeering, to extortion. His ties to organized crime in the valley had long been suspected.