Jul 25, 2014

The Confidence of Knowing

On July 15, 1986, Roger Clemens, major league pitcher, started his first All-Star Game. In the second inning, he came to bat, something he hadn’t done because of the American League’s designated-hitter rule. He then looked out at his forbidding opponent, Dwight Gooden, who in the previous year had won the Cy Young Award.

Gooden wound up and threw a white-hot fastball past Clemens. With an embarrassed smile on his face, Clemens stepped out of the box and asked catcher, Gary Carter, “Is that what my pitches look like?”

“You bet it is!” replied Carter.

Although Clemens quickly struck out, he went on to pitch three perfect innings and be named the game’s most valuable player. He later said that from that day on, with a fresh reminder of how overpowering a good fastball is, he pitched with far greater boldness.

Sometimes we forget how powerful our witness can be, and the gospel has that power, when we speak it with confidence.

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Jul 18, 2014

The Truth Will Set You Free

Lloyd H. Steffen wrote in The Christian Century how when King Frederick II, an eighteenth-century King of Prussia, was visiting a prison in Berlin. The inmates tried to prove to him how they had been unjustly imprisoned. All except one. That one sat quietly in a corner, while all the rest protested their innocence.

Seeing him sitting there oblivious to the commotion, the king asked him what he was there for. “Armed robbery, Your Honor.”

The king asked, “Were you guilty?”

“Yes, Sir,” he answered. “I entirely deserve my punishment.”

The king then gave an order to the guard: “Release this guilty man. I don’t want him corrupting all these innocent people.” Every now and then one understands the truth and the truth will set that person free. We, as Christians, should and can be people of the truth!

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Jul 11, 2014

Never Give Up

In June of 1965 Winston Churchill gave the commencement address at a British university. At this time he was physically infirm and had to be helped to the podium. Then he held on to the podium for an exceptional amount of time.

He stood with his head down. But finally, with the voice that had called Britain back from the brink of destruction, sounded publicly for the last time: “Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”

With that, Churchill turned and went back to his seat.

I’m told there was silence, and then, as if one person, the whole audience rose to applaud him, because he was a man whose life and words were together. Throughout Churchill’s career, he had known setbacks. Three times, his career apparently over, he was sent off to oblivion, and yet somehow he had a sense that there was still something left after the worst.

We all need a sense of hope and that is the gift that today’s church can offer a culture and a society on the edge of despair. So let us give the world our hope.

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Jul 10, 2014

Before On-line Dating

July 6, 2014 - Sanctuary from FUMC of Arlington on Vimeo.

Dr. David N. Mosser's sermon "Before On-line Dating" from July 6, 2014.

Sermon transcript available for download here.


Jul 4, 2014

The Fourth of July

This weekend is the Fourth of July weekend. As originally conceived, Independence Day was a day of national celebration to remember the signing of the Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776. We as a nation have also traditionally celebrated the day to recall our memory of the principles for which someone, somewhere founded us as the United States of America. I say this because we are at least as much of an ideal as we are a nation.

The Fourth of July has also become a much needed oasis in the midst of a long, hot and, unusually, dry stretch of calendar (especially this year) between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The Fourth is frequently a day for picnics, family reunions, and fireworks (depending on burn bans). 

It is usually one of the hotter days of the year and many of our friends and relatives “let slip,” yet again, some of their well-worn stories about how they did this or that and, by the way, much better than anyone else! We call this bragging or boasting. It seems when people get together, they love to top each other’s stories. We all know those who tell stories that sound like bragging and boasting. Some of us are prone to the activity ourselves! Time for confession: I am the worst offender of all!

But at least genetics wired this character flaw into me. As a child, I recall hearing some of the whoppers my Grandpa, who ironically was born on 4 July 1901, used to pull out. My Grandmother would be beside herself, thinking that young and impressionable grandchildren might actually believe anything he might say. One of my cousins said he was surprised to learn that our grandfather was actually born on Independence Day—he had thought it was part of “his routine” for all those years.

This 4th of July I pray for all of you that we might, as Paul suggests in his epistle “love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). Perhaps we can all leave the bragging for another day.

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