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The People in the Background Tell Our Story
Scripture: Matthew 1:1-17
The use of Jesus' genealogy to illustrate the different kinds of people God used to bring His Son to the world. He uses all kinds to bring the message to the world today.
Home Church SMBS - Joshua 23:1-24:33 - “Joshua Dies in the Land, the Promise of Rest Lives On”
The Transforming Power of Giving Thanks
Scripture: Psalm 107 1-9, and verse 43, I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Central Idea: While giving thanks glorifies God, it also transforms our relationships.
Psalm 107 1-9, and verse 43, I Thessalonians 5:16-18
A Perfect Aim
Text: 2 Corinthians 13:11
As a hopeless golfer always in search of a better game, I have read more than my share of golf instruction books and watched way too many golf instruction videos. Even if you’re not a golfer, you can appreciate someone with an obsession to be better at something who laps up everything he or she can get their hands on. That would be me. And now that I’m moving into retirement, I guess I won’t have a church to blame my weak golf game on. I’ll have to find some other excuse.
This thought came to mind as I was going through my library the other day, trying to decide which books I wanted to keep and which I wanted to throw away. So, when it came to the few golf instruction books I have turned to over the decades of my fixation with getting better at golf, the one book I made sure I could get to without having to hunt it down was the famed golf instructor Harvey Penick’s classic, Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf. As most of you golfers in the congregation will attest, Penick’s little book is filled with gems of golf wisdom, perhaps none more valuable than his simple, but essential maxim, “Take Dead Aim.” By that, of course, Penick meant that without an aim that is clearly focused on the target you’re swinging toward, you will never strike an acceptable shot, unless of course you happen to hit one out of pure luck. And so Penick instructed all his students, “Take Dead Aim.”
Come to think of it, that’s not bad instruction for anything you hope to accomplish in life, wouldn’t you agree? What’s the old saying, “Aim at nothing and that’s precisely what you’ll hit.” In other words, without a goal in mind or a direction to point to or an outcome to accomplish, not even luck will bail you out.
Perhaps that was something of what the Apostle Paul was getting at in this passage I’ve read for you from his second letter to the church at Corinth. As you know from time spent in Sunday School, the church at Corinth was about as unfocused and distracted and dysfunctional a church as you might find. I often say any problem that could conceivably exist in a church today existed in the church at Corinth. Paul’s first letter addresses each of them.
But despite Paul’s Holy Spirit inspired instruction, the church at Corinth evidently didn’t get better; if anything, it got worse. So much so that they turned on Paul and began accusing him of all kinds of uncharitable things. “Paul’s full of himself, you know. Have you noticed how he’s always boasting about his credentials. And when you think about it, when did Jesus ever call Paul to be an apostle? I’m not so sure that he’s not going around trying to advance himself with false credentials. And what bothers me most of all is that he’s always talking about money. I’ll bet if you follow the money you’ll find Paul somehow materially benefitting from his ministry.” I promise you that I’m not making this up. Read the letter and check me out.
And yet, to Paul’s credit, he doesn’t give up on the Corinthians. Paul saw in them too much promise and too much possibility so that instead of bawling out the Corinthians or even worse bailing on them, Paul patiently addresses each of their concerns, and then ends his second letter with what I think is the most hopeful and uplifting exhortation any minister could offer any congregation. He tells them not just to take “dead aim” as they focus on their future, but to take “living aim,” which is even clearer and more lofty. “Aim for perfection,” Paul tells this remarkably imperfect church. “Encourage one another. Agree with one another. Grow with one another. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”
On this my last Sunday as your Senior Minister, I can’t think of a better word to leave with this congregation – not because you are a flawed and dysfunction people, but because you are anything but.
Home Church SMBS - Joshua 22:1-34 - “An Altar of Remembrance, an Unforgettable Altercation”
Home Church SMBS - Joshua 20:1-21:45 - “Cities for Justice, People for Worship”