Sunday, November 27, 2011

advent 1 word cloud

word cloud of today's Advent 1 sermon to be preached at St. Marks Presby in Altamonte Springs, FL

Wordle: Advent 1 sermon

Sunday, October 3, 2010

World Communion Sermon word cloud

I never intended for this blog to be so dominated by word clouds of sermons. But those guys over at, who I give credit to, just do the neatest things with my words. Here is my sermon from II Timothy 1:1-9a.

Wordle: World Communion Sunday sermon from 2 Timothy 1

click on the square above to see it larger and at the site.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sermon on prayer and humility from Luke 18:9-13

Here is a word cloud from the good folks at

Wordle: Sermon on Prayer 2

This is kind-of outline form, I added to this as I walked around the sanctuary and talked about it. Maybe I can adapt the recording for play in a podcast. I liked this one.

sermon on prayer and humility
by Walk Jones
September 19, 2010 based on luke 18:

Let's talk about humility and sportsmanship.

Bobby Jones was not only a consummately skilled golfer but exemplified the principles of sportsmanship and fair play. Early in his amateur career, he was in the final playoff of the 1925 U.S. Open at the Worcester Country Club. During the match, his ball ended up in the rough just off the fairway, and as he was setting up to play his shot, his iron caused a slight movement of the ball. He immediately got angry with himself, turned to the marshals, and called a penalty on himself. The marshals discussed among themselves and questioned some of the gallery whether they had seen Jones's ball move. Their decision was that neither they nor anyone else had witnessed any incident, so the decision was left to Jones. Bobby Jones called the two-stroke penalty on himself, not knowing that he would lose the tournament by one stroke. (quoted from the Wikipedia article on Jones)

When he was praised for his gesture, Jones replied, "You may as well praise a man for not robbing a bank." The USGA's sportsmanship award is named the Bob Jones Award in his honor.

Nobody gets much reward for being honest.

I hope I don't get in trouble for telling this story. Long ago I saw a sign over a desk in an office: Doing a good job is like wetting your pants in a dark suit. It gives you a warm feeling and nobody notices. Doing a good job.

Jesus told a parable about two men who went to the temple to pray publicly. They were praying in front of everybody. One made a show because he was so good and the other because he was so ... sorry for what he had done.

Parables are goofy.

The Kingdom of God is like a Pearl found buried in a field
Like a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep in the wilderness to search for one
An unjust judge
a man who would give his child a snake after he asked for a piece of fish

These are weird and goofy

Both of these men are characteratures; they are extremes, and examples. To be successful charactures we have to be able to recognize them.

Like a stuffy old politician, an anorexic model , Donald Trump with his hair, Rush Limbaugh with his cigar. They are recognizable extremes of themselves. Maybe some of you think president Obama is arrogant. I've heard him described this way. You can think of this pharisee that way.

This guy is really Ned Flanders, Homer Simpson's do-gooder, church-leader, obnoxious neighbor. Doesn't he say, "Hi diddly ho, neighbor." He's a good guy, good parent, and the foil to Homer Simpson's sloppy yard-keeping. HOmer says, "Hey Flanders, can I borrow your lawn-mower?" "Yes, it is in your garage from when you borrowed it last time." In the cartoon world of the Simpsons, they are good parents too.

So let me try to rehabilitate this Pharisee a little bit in our sermon this morning.

Going to the Temple was a good thing. Praying in the first person is very biblical. In Deuteronomy 26 each Hebrew was to go to the temple every 3 years and pray a first person prayer about himself and his God. What God had done for him.

Living a righteous life was admirable (See psalm 1)
1 Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
3 They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
we don't need to be adulters or thieves or rogues

So, if you are picturing this man as the president or Ned or someone else: he's a good guy. He's Bobby Jones. He's kept the rules.

The sinner here was a real dog. He was a traitor, a tax-collector for the occupying Roman army. He may also have stolen and taken bribes. When you are out of the community and working for the occupiers who knows what else

He has betrayed his country. I would like to think of treason as an ancient crime, but just this week some workers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory were arrested for trying to sell nuclear secrets to Venezuela. Whether it is John Walker Lynn or other spies selling secretes to The Soviet Union or Israel or wherever.

Recently I've heard both political parties toss around terms like treason and anti-American to describe their opponents. That's not true and its not fair and it is the reason so many of us feel alienated by the political process. This tax-collector was aligned with the Romans, he was stealing for them.

Both these men are publicly praying in the temple. It is only when the praying Pharisee opens one eye and spies around the Temple that he gets in trouble.
"I think you that I'm not like that man" is what he did wrong.

Jesus is talking about humbling ourselves.

The Pharisee’s sin is his arrogance; he hasn't done anything wrong until he looks around and compares himself with other people.

We've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Where this story is about prayer, it is a positive story. Jesus has constructed a parable where people pray: that's a good thing. It is taken for granted and given that people would pray to God. Honest, deep, faithful prayers.

Like Deuteronomy 26 or Psalm 1 or Psalm 65.

I think we should encourage each other to pray. The one worry I have about our 90 Days of Prayer in this congregation that begins tonight is that it will divide this congregation into two groups: pray-ers and non-pray-ers. I worry (pause, grimice) that half of this congregation will be profoundly changed by this exercise and half of us won't. I worry that some will look around and say, "Thank you Lord, that I'm not like this one." Don’t do that.

As we enter the 90 days of prayer there are at least four things I want you to know:

It can be too late to say you are sorry. Don’t wait to seek forgiveness. Don’t wait to say you are sorry to someone.

It is never too late to say you are sorry, and to do so publicly.
Never too late to join this 90 days of prayer.

God will forgive you

Prayer changes things
Prayer changes Everything.

Remain humble in your new life in Christ. You're still a sinner; you and I still fall short of the glory of God.

Even the great golfer Bobby Jones was a little arrogant in his humility. "You wouldn't praise a man for robbing a bank." No, just tell the truth and don't try to be a comdeian.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Another Sermon Word Cloud

Many Thanks to the guys at! Here is a cloud of today's sermon on prayer. Sorry, but you have to click it to go to the wordle site to see it bigger. (worth it)

Wordle: sermon on prayer

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

a word cloud of Sunday's sermon from Philemon

I think you can click on the picture to open it as a bigger (readable)one from the wordle site. I give credit to them (

Wordle: Sermon on Philemon

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Belhar Confession

This fall and winter the presbyteries will debate adding the Belhar Confession from South Africa to our Book of Confessions. A copy of the Belhar can be found here.

You'll have to make one more click from that page to get a pdf file of the confession. I plan to quote it Sunday, Sept 5, 2010.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"Fake Christian Young People"

Sunday I quoted extensively from a piece on CNN online. I don't think there is video of it, but if a reader has a link, please share in in the comments.

The article is "More teens becoming 'fake' Christians" on and is found here.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

word cloud of yesterday's sermon

Wordle: sermon on faith (Hebrews 11)

click on the word cloud to be taken to a bigger image on wordle's web site. I give them credit for the program and project.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On Faith

Sunday, Aug 8, I will be preaching on faith.

Brian McLaren had an interesting take on Anne Rice's announcement she is leaving the Christian Church is his own blog. His thoughts are here.

I'm also intrigued by the book Called to be Human by Michael Jinkins, the new president of Louisville Seminary. He has a lot to say about faith and being human as the purpose of Christianity. I will probably quote him Sunday. A like to the book is here. I'm looking forward to getting to know Michael once he moves to Louisville in September and I go to Board meetings with him.

I will add a few more thoughts as Sunday approaches.