"Returning with Thanksgiving"
Text: Luke 17:11-19
Their faces were drawn. They had been sick for so long that their skin had taken on a grayish, ashen color. Their eyes were sunken; no sparkle in them, only desperation and hopelessness. We are reminded of those powerful scenes in a film about the Holocaust called “Schindler’s List,” as the camera panned the skeletal faces and bodies of men and women emaciated by abuse and neglect; faces which had forgotten how to smile; eyes which had cried themselves dry.
"Hearing Jesus' Call"
Text: Mark 2:13-17
1 John 1:5-10
There is a massive church in an upscale suburb of a major American city. We’ll call it “Church of All Saints.” For those who have been on my Confirmation Class field trips, think of East Liberty Presbyterian, on steroids.
"Suffering, Hope and the Holy Spirit"
Text: Romans 5:1-5
Pastor Joel Osteen. My impression is that he’s a good guy, and that his heart’s in the right place. He is definitely charismatic and engaging. He incarnates the positive thinking model of Norman Vincent Peale. And he touches more lives than perhaps any other modern evangelist. My problem with Joel is that for all the times I’ve listened to his preaching, I’ve never heard him once seriously engage the matter of suffering. Maybe he has, and I’ve missed it.
"God's Highest Calling"
Text: Proverbs: 22:6, Timothy 1:5
In our rapidly evolving culture, motherhood – a mother’s care; a mother’s guidance; a mother’s nurture; a mother’s example – is one of those givens we too often take for granted. Even moms themselves, under mounting pressure from groups and causes seeking to redefine the structure of the American family, often fail to recognize the infinite value of who they are and what they do.
"Stripping Away the Layers"
Text: 1 Peter 2:1-10
How many here have ever refinished a piece of wood furniture? Maybe it was a once-magnificent dining room table our grandparents received as a wedding gift, or a hutch which had been stored in the barn for three generations, or an ornate headboard which caught our eye at the Hartville Flea Market.
Text: Philippians 4:4-13
1 Timothy 6:6-10
There is an old Yiddish folktale about a poor, malcontented woman who lived with her husband and five children - along with her mother-in-law - in a tiny farm cottage. The children were noisy, and the cramped living conditions often led to loud arguments. In summer, when the family spent much of its time outside, life was bearable. But when winter arrived, the family felt trapped because the small house was filled with crying and quarreling. One day, when the woman could not bear it anymore, she ran to the village’s wisest teacher for advice.
"Getting Just What We Ask For"
Text: 1 Samuel 8
Proverbs 8:1-5, 12-16, 33-36
In a few minutes, I’m going to read for you the entirety of the 8th chapter of the Old Testament book of 1st Samuel. Just to set the stage, a fellow by the name of Samuel had been serving the dual role of judge and prophet for the nation of Israel for a long time. All indications are that Samuel was a good and righteous leader; a true servant of God, and a true servant of the people.