Central Presbyterian Church

Massillon, Ohio

Genesis 9:20-28

Proverbs 23:29-35

"A Story of Substance Abuse"

      Inspirational author Fredrick Buechner has written of how, when he was ten years old, his

alcoholic father took his own life.  His dad looked in on his two boys, went to the garage, made

sure all the doors were tightly closed, and started the family car.  For years following, Buechner

carried on an inner dialogue with his father.  During the course of that exchange, the son asked

the father, “Could I have stopped you daddy?  If I told you I loved you?  If I told you how I

needed you?”

"Joys R Us"

Psalm 100;  Isaiah 35:8-10

 How many of us grew up in church?  To those of you who raised your hands, the cynical side of me is tempted to say, “You have my sympathy.”  When I was a little guy, I was dragged (some-times literally) to church; Sunday after Sunday; month after month; year after year.  My dad was the Junior Department Superintendant while my mother was a Sunday School teacher; I don’t remember what grade.  So not only did I have to go to big church, I had to go to Sunday School for thirty-nine straight weeks.  If I had a choice between sleeping in, or sitting between Marsha Neely who always had gum in her braces and Rex Weber who was always threatening to beat me up after church, guess which I would have picked? 

"Let Them Come"

Mark10: 13-16

1 John 3: 1-3

      A few years ago at a conference of Presbyterian youth at Purdue University, a group of youth

delegates were asked to generate a list of the top ten things they would change about their congregation’s worship services.  Here are the results in no particular order: sermons fifteen minutes, tops, that talk about real people and deal with real life questions; laptops in the pews to give the preacher instant feedback; sincerity; question and answer session after the sermon; allow youth to help plan, write and participate in the service; intermission with a snack break; coloring books and crayons in the pews for younger kids; more interaction with the congregation, including music that makes them get up and dance, or at least clap; larger portions at communion; and last but not least, rumble pews that move when the pastor makes a powerful point. 

"Peace with God, Peace of God"

John 14:18-27

Psalm 91:1-6


     Two oil paint artists were commissioned to put to canvas their best impressions of what

perfect peace might look like.  Water was to serve as the prominent image.

      The first artist painted what would be called a “pastoral scene.” 

"What Now?"

Mark 5: 24b-34

Psalm 34: 4-10

      I knew her only as “Bunny.”  Every Saturday morning during my seminary years, I was a deli

clerk at the Coraopolis Cash Market.  And every Saturday morning, Bunny would come in for her

Virginia baked ham and hot pepper cheese.  She was, I supposed, in her ‘30’s, but looked much

older.  She once told me the story of her love affair with alcohol.  She had been drinking since

she started sneaking her dad’s brandy out of the liquor cabinet when she was just fifteen.  “I’ve

tried everything,” she stammered.  “I’ve been in jail.  I’ve been to a dry-out farm.  I’ve been in

and out of at least a half dozen different AA groups.  I’ve seen two shrinks.  I know I have a

drinking problem. But no matter how hard I try, that damned bottle keeps calling me back.” 

"A Spiritual; Repeal and Replace"

Galatians 1:11-17

Acts 9:1-19a



This morning, we’ll be sharing a story from the Book of Acts, sometimes called “the 5th gospel,”

as it is actually part two of Luke’s “good news” account.  Most agree, Acts chapter 9 offers the

best-known “conversion story” in the New Testament.  Months had passed since Jesus’ crucifixion,

resurrection, and ascension; maybe years.  The followers of Jesus Christ, who called themselves “the Way,” were multiplying at an exponential rate.  The movement was spreading from its epicenter in

Jerusalem to other cities and regions throughout Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. 

"Stop! Stop! Stop!"

Luke 10: 38-42

Psalm 46

     How many of you know the name Jesse Duplantis?  At the age of 68, Jesse Duplantis remains one of

the most popular evangelical preachers in America.  This Louisiana-based revivalist is blessed with a

rubber face, much along the lines of comedian Jim Carrey.  Duplantis’ smile is radiant.  His style is all

the way down home.  With just a facial expression, he can double an audience of thousands over in laughter.  I guess a good word to describe Jesse Duplantis is charming. 

"Let's Catch Our Breath"

Genesis 2:1-3

Exodus 20:8-11

"God's Astonishing Economy"

Mark 12: 41-44

Matthew 13: 31-32


"A Reflection on Golf and Grace"

Romans 15: 1-7

1 Corinthians 9: 19-23


            Twas a hot, muggy August noon tee-off, the start of the 1986 Col-Fin Specialty Steel 10th annual customer appreciation golf outing.  The venue: the prestigious Beaver Valley Country Club, over-looking the scenic confluence of the Beaver and Ohio Rivers.  Over eighty golfers were gathered from across the eastern U.S.; from Chicago to Boston; from Bangor, Maine to Jonesboro, Arkansas; mostly low handicappers, a few scratch players; maybe a handful of medium to high handicappers just brought in to make the others look good.