Archive for the 'Sermons' Category

SERMON = The secret of ministry with internationals (Genesis 18)

Sermon = The secret of ministry with internationals
Text = Genesis 18
Second Sunday of Pentecost (A)

Note = After 18 years of serving as pastor of Church of the Nations… this is my very last sermon.  

Theme = Secret of ministry with internationals is it is not different or separate from ministry with Americans.

Google Slides presentation 


  • June 1999
  • Seminary student and his wife and 2 young children
  • Travel from Virginia
  • To visit a church in Baton Rouge
  • Probably the church will vote and call this person to be their pastor
  • That Sunday was 2nd Sunday of Pentecost – year A
  • Bible reading was Genesis 18
  • Bible reading for 1st sermon
  • Same as Bible reading for last sermon
  • And the Lord appeared to Abraham… when he is sitting at the entrance of the tent during the heat of the day
    • Last December in Christian life magazine
    • Article about a global perspective of Christianity
    • About different churches + people
    • Who minister with internationals
    • At the end of the interview
    • I tell Susan Brown
    • Deep beautiful powerful secret of ministry with internationals
  • Almost everything that is important, that works in ministering with internationals applies to ministry with Americans
  • Many American churches and Christians do not realize this
  • What is good for internationals
  • Is good for Americans
  • Slow down
  • Speak simply
  • Come to my house for lunch
  • Let us be friends
  • Does UBC show CON the life + work of the Christian church?
  • As much as CON shows UBC this is how you do church
  • Perfectly? No – but in many ways
  • This is Christianity
  • What CON is and does is what every Christian church should be and should do
  • We see much of that in our Bible story from Genesis 18

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SERMON = The gospel according to animals (Genesis 1)

Sermon = The gospel according to animals (or) The intrusion of heaven, part 2
Trinity Sunday (A)
Text = Genesis 1 (and 2)

Google Slides presentation 

Theme = Purpose for which God made humanity + places us in the world and how our relationship with creatures reflects the gospel and salvation in Christ

Ed.Not the most biblically or theologically precise sermon I have delivered. To a large extent I was having fun. On a more serious note – the reason I love animals so much is largely because of the theology outlined in this sermon.



  • Two? Two different Beanies Boos?


  • I can only eat one Happy Meal
  • I mean… my daughter can only eat one Happy Meal at a time
  • The manager laughs and smiles
  • Because she knows
  • Two weeks ago I begin a quest
  • To collect all the Beanie Boos
  • That McDonald’s puts in the Happy Meals for children
  • 15 different small Beanie Babies
  • Of different animals
  • Including a rhinocerous!
  • So I go to McDonald’s every day
  • For 2 weeks
  • And try to collect all the different Beanie Boos
  • For my daughters
  • And then a worker tells me
  • She has all 15
  • What? How? How did you do that?
  • She just buys the toys
  • You do not have to buy a Happy Meal
  • You can buy only the toy for $2
  • Oh

26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind[a] in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth,[b] and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

Continue reading ‘SERMON = The gospel according to animals (Genesis 1)’

For Sunday = Purest thing in the world

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SERMON = Building the temple / Household of God (1 Peter 2)

Les trois mages (three wise men), Jesus Mafa (website no longer available)

Presentation_1Peter2_Household_05EasterA_20170514 (PPTX)

Sermon = Household of living stones
Text = 1 Peter 2

Theme(s) = (1) Peter challenges us with vital understanding of church as household of God (2) need to grow living stones that God builds into temple

Link to recording of message


  • Oh yeah? When I was growing up we do not take off our winter coats during worship!
  • Eight years part of Ithaca Baptist Church
  • Meets in old community center
  • Two rooms = upstairs + downstairs
  • Walls are orange and brown
  • A few broken windows
  • Old metal chairs
  • During winter turn on the heat
  • By time worship begins… 40 degrees
  • We wear our winter coats
  • It was a very beautiful church
  • How about Comunidad Cristiano Emanuel
  • In San Jose, Mayabeque, Cuba
  • Small town 30 kilometers from Havana
  • Church building is a house
  • Pastor Emanuel Delgado tells us when first the church buys it
  • Full of termites and falling apart
  • Bible study for youth meet upstairs on the roof
  • Pastor’s office is the space under the stairs
  • A very beautiful church
  • Why? What makes a church beautiful?

Like new babies desire pure spiritual(?) milk so that by it you will grow up into your salvation now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him the living stone – rejected by human beings but chosen by God and precious to him – like living stones let yourselves be built into a spiritual house(hold)…

  • Our Bible reading this Sunday < 1 Peter 2
  • Peter writes people who live in place not their home (! like internationals?)
  • From different places and backgrounds
  • Born anew through resurrection to a living hope into an inheritance kept in heaven for them
  • Peter writes to encourage them because new faith in Christ
  • In a way 1 Peter = welcome! Introduction! So you are a new Christian!
  • Experience hostility from surrounding culture
  • Neighbors + friends + even family do not understand what is wrong with them
  • Why must you be different?
  • Peter writes also to teach them about their new life as followers of Christ
  • In Christ God creates – or invites them to safe(?) place for those who do not have a place
  • Place is not a building
  • Place is a community
  • Not a social club – not simply a collection of people who are friends and do things together
  • The divine family we call the Christian church

Continue reading ‘SERMON = Building the temple / Household of God (1 Peter 2)’

Sermon = How we recognize Christ (is) among us (Luke 24)

“Jesus at Emmaus”, Vie de Jesus Mafa (The Jesus Mafa website is gone! Why? One of the best websites for pictures of Bible stories)

Sermon = How we recognize Christ (is) among us
Text = Luke 24
Third Sunday of Easter (A)

Theme = The walk to Emmaus shows how we encounter the risen Christ in two times two ways. Every day activity / life in the home and family / Scripture / and eucharist/worship.


  • I think I know that person
  • “You think you know everyone who is Chinese”
  • Two weeks ago Armetta suggest we go to the park and take a walk
  • We do! We walk around the park
  • I think I know that person
  • “You think…”
  • We are finished and before we leave we sit on a bench and rest for a minute
  • And here comes two women who…
  • I look at her / she looks at me
  • (Name)! Ni hao! “Rick! Armetta!”
  • Her family was in Church of the Nations for a few years
  • They bought a house
  • This is her first time to visit this park
  • They are active in their church family
  • And open their home every week
  • For youth ministry / for young families to enjoy dinner then Bible study
  • She does not work too hard on dinner
  • Because food is important
  • What people want / what is most important is the word of God
  • One times Jesus said… Do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from God
  • I have been tired and a little discouraged
  • Does my work – does my ministry – have any value?
  • She says you taught us about God
  • Sometimes we see a little bit before Jesus appears again
  • Saturday evening… go to the park… take a walk… I think I recognize that person

That same day two of them are going to a village called Emmaus about eleven kilometers from Jerusalem. Talking with each other about all these things that happened. While they talk and discuss Jesus himself comes near and walks with them. And they are are stopped from recognizing him.

Continue reading ‘Sermon = How we recognize Christ (is) among us (Luke 24)’

Sermon = The Servant Option (Isaiah 50)

(Vie de Jesus Mafa – a wonderful resource of pictures of Bible stories presented in a west African setting)

Presentation_Isaiah50_ServantOption_PalmPassionA_20170409 (PPTX)

Sermon = The Servant Option
Text = Isaiah 50 (and Matthew 21)

Theme = Palm Sunday challenges the Christian church to learn from and practice the Servant Option

  • One of my best friends lives in the same paragraph as the pope
  • Rod Dreher is a writer how now lives in Baton Rouge with his family
  • I have met him and see him sometimes
  • Last month his new book is released
  • Called The Benedict Option
  • We did not expect it to become so popular
  • Number seven on New York Times best seller list
  • Starts a huge conversation
  • Some agree… some disagree…
  • Dreher makes two key points
  • Modern society in the West is post-Christian and becoming more hostile to traditional Christian faith and practice
  • Therefore Christians must be ready and learn from the early church and the example of Saint Benedict
  • How to resist with faith and creativity
  • How to live and practice the Christian faith as families and in community
  • And not surrender to the false gods of this age
  • Last week drive to the bookstore and fine his book
  • In the back of the book who does Dreher thank
  • Thanks to Clint Barron and others who read early versions of this book… and expresse gratitude to Joseph Ratzinger Pope Benedict XVI…
  • Clint is one of my best friends
  • And he lives in the same paragraph as the pope

The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught that I may know how to sustain with a word the one who is weary… Behold the Lord God helps me. Who will declare me guilty? Behold all of them will wear out like a garment. The moth will eat them up.

  • Our Bible reading for today from Isaiah 50
  • Magnificent Bible reading
  • One of the Servant Songs in book of Isaiah
  • Probably written during the Babylonian Exile
  • When people of God live in another country surrounded by a different culture and religion
  • This servant is someone through whom God will comfort and save his people during a difficult time

Continue reading ‘Sermon = The Servant Option (Isaiah 50)’

Sermon = Go<-TRUST-Leave (Genesis 12)

[add graphic later]

Sermon = Go<-TRUST-Leave (or) Come up, go in… and be saved, part II
Text = Genesis 12

Louisiana? Why would anyone want to move to Louisiana?

– 1999

– Richmond Virginia

– finishing my 2nd master’s degree at seminary

– starting to look for positions

– envelope comes from church in Louisiana

– we have never been there / no friends / no family

– we do not want to move to Louisiana!

– from “University Baptist Church in Baton Rouge”

– throw it in trash

– do not see what is inside

The Lord says to Abram, Go from the land of your birth, from your people, from your father’s household to a land that I will show you. (Bible reading for this morning Genesis 12 – one of most important in entire Bible)

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Sermon = Subamos, entramos… y seamos salvos (Go up, go in… and be saved) (Exodus 24)

HESDIN of Amiens (C. 1450-55) from a “Biblia Pauperum” (Bible of the Poor) (manuscript “Den Haag, MMW, 10 A 15”)

Sermon = Go up, go in… and be saved
Text = Exodus 24

Theme = Sinai experience invites us to go up and enter and be saved as we enter the season of Lent



  • Jewish people are afraid of our own mysticism
  • Rabbi and professor Elliot Wolfson
  • Cornell University
  • 1987
  • Today one of the most important scholars of Jewish religion in the United States


  • When he says this I wonder
  • What? What does he mean? Today I understand a little
  • Mysticism is a difficult word
  • Means something like direct knowledge or experience of God
  • So this famous and brilliant Jewish scholar tells his students
  • Jewish people are afraid of that part of their own religion
  • That emphasizes how we know God and experience God directly
  • Know about… think about… talk about… read about God… debate theology…
  • Many Christian people seem comfortable with that
  • And less comfortable with even the idea that we can know God and experience God directly
  • [Someone in UBC once said “we don’t know very much about God” – how sad]
  • Is the Christian church afraid of our own mysticism?

Continue reading ‘Sermon = Subamos, entramos… y seamos salvos (Go up, go in… and be saved) (Exodus 24)’

Sermon = Welcoming (the) fire (1 Corinthians 3) (delivered in San Jose, Cuba)

(Not entirely happy with this choice of picture. Will keep looking.)

Presentation_1Corinthians3_07EpiphanyA_20170209 (PPTX)

Sermon = Welcoming (the) Fire
Text = 1 Corinthians 3

Nb = Delivered at Iglesia Bautista “Comunidad Cristiana Emanuel” in San Jose de las Lajas, Cuba, Sunday, February 19, 2017. Did not use presentation because (1) seemed distracting (2) did not have access because it was composed on my Chromebook, not having regular access to internet meant more difficult to access my Google Drive. Got good feedback. Improvised a couple times to make clear the “warning” was not directed toward this church or its pastor – I was simply talking through the text and tried to focus on encouraging these dear friends in Christ.


  • Most of their home was ruined by the flood
  • It is difficult and deeply painful
  • Some people welcome the chance to make changes and build again
  • Some know about the great flood of 2016
  • One weekend during August last year
  • Great storm over south Louisiana
  • It rains + rains + rains…
  • Many areas in Baton Rouge and the towns around Baton Rouge – are under water
  • Many homes + businesses + churches are flooded
  • UBC is working with Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church in Baton Rouge
  • Church buildings flooded – including the large building where they gather to worship
  • Ministers and families work together to tear out everything that has water
  • We meet with them to talk about how they can build again
  • We talk about plans and building materials and contractors
  • That church family lost so much
  • They are still a church family
  • Now they think about how they can build again
  • 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled[a] master builder (architect) I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
  • 10 Según la gracia que Dios me ha dado, yo, como perito arquitecto, puse el fundamento, mientras que otro sigue construyendo encima, pero cada uno debe tener cuidado de cómo sobreedifica. 11 Porque nadie puede poner otro fundamento que el que está puesto, el cual es Jesucristo.
  • The apostle Paul was talking about food and farming
  • Suddenly he talks about building (verb) and buildings (noun)
  • He speaks to the Christian community
  • And says you (plural-Ustedes) are the building of God
  • You (plural-Ustedes) are the temple in which the Spirit of God dwells
  • Seven years ago I go to a conference for biblical scholars
  • I see a friend who now has a doctorate and teaches at a seminary
  • His dissertation is about how the New Testament describes the Christian church
  • What the temple was… the Christian community is
  • God does not live in a place but in a people

Continue reading ‘Sermon = Welcoming (the) fire (1 Corinthians 3) (delivered in San Jose, Cuba)’

Sermon = Trust and seek, part 2 (Psalm 15 and 1 Corinthians 1)

Sermon = Trust and seek, part 2
Texts = Psalm 15 and 1 Corinthians 1

Google Slides presentation on Psalm 15 and 1 Corinthians 1

Theme = Trust and seek are twin emphasis in light of which we hear and respond to our Bible readings for this Sunday

  • You are the strength of my life… I lift my hands in praise of you… Amen
  • Thursday night
  • River Center in Baton Rouge
  • Thousands of people gather
  • From different church communities
  • Different racial and ethnic backgrounds
  • To worship / to pray / to hear the word of God in Scripture / to bear common witness to the kingdom of God
  • Was beautiful and powerful
  • Represents something
  • What God is doing
  • As the choir sings
  • God the Holy Spirit says to me
  • This… This
  • Do not completely understand
  • So many different people come together in one place
  • They praise God
  • They bear witness to his rule over all creation and to his saving work in us and among us
  • You are the strength of my life… I lift my hands in praise of you… Amen

Continue reading ‘Sermon = Trust and seek, part 2 (Psalm 15 and 1 Corinthians 1)’