Feb 28, 2014

Slow and Steady


Stephen Covey died a few years ago, but had many brilliant insights. He wrote about a useful principle when we observe what it means to be a healthy church. He calls this principle “The Law of the Farm.” What this principle means, he writes, is that “in agriculture, we can easily see and agree that natural laws and principles govern the work and determine the harvest. But in social and corporate cultures [and we might add churches here], we somehow think we can dismiss natural processes, cheat the system, and still win the day. And there’s a great deal of evidence that seems to support that belief” (Stephen Covey, First Things First, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1994, p. 54).

For example, who has not gone to school and not known the occasional and customary urgency of cramming for school? We run out of time, and try to do a semester’s work in one night. We want a passing grade. If our aim is to get a degree, pass the subjects, and graduate, then cramming seems like the best idea in this case of educational emergency. However, if our goal is to learn and acquire and master a body of knowledge, then cramming only delays the inevitable truth that we really did not learn our lesson or lessons.

There are other areas in which we try to “cram” for life. Some stock market investors try to do this, and perhaps they prevail for a time. People, who diet, trying to fit into last summer’s swimsuit, do this cramming by diet. But we all know that physical health follows the dictates of natural law. Slow and steady is the key to healthy growth toward healthy bodies. In the short run “cramming” may appear to work in a social system, or make us look temporarily successful. However, in the long run, trying to short circuit nature and cheat the process only betrays us further on down the road.

Covey asks, “Can you imagine ‘cramming’ on the farm? Can you imagine forgetting to plant in the spring, flaking out all summer, and hitting it hard in the fall—ripping the soil up, throwing in the seeds, watering, cultivating—and expecting to get a bountiful harvest overnight?”

We all know the answers to these questions. Too bad we never seem to learn our lessons. The tortoise had it right: “Slow and steady wins the race.”

Come—worship
Stay—learn
Go—serve

Feb 27, 2014

The More Excellent Way



February 23, 2014 - 9:30 Sermon from FUMC of Arlington on Vimeo.

Dr. David N. Mosser's sermon "The More Excellent Way" from February 23, 2014.

Sermon transcript available for download here.


iTunes

Feb 21, 2014

As we prepare for Ash Wednesday



My guess is that most Christians instinctively know how to handle the needs of the poor, the down-and-out folks who come our way. Many of these people need help because they have been victims of poor education, dreadful family life, and alcoholism or drug addiction. We know that folks like this need to confess their sins, repent, and believe in Jesus’ name. Revivalists yell at people from behind pulpits in tent meetings reminding people that they are nothing but “sinners in the hands of an angry God.” I know of a church where the preacher each week recounts in sordid detail his misdoings as a former pagan. He smoked pot, beat his wife, and generally was a miserable person—in thought, word, and deed. Then he found Jesus and his life was changed. The problem is that not every person who needs Christ can bring to the altar credential of a miscreant. For people in the sin of despair, Jesus as an answer to life’s problems is pretty convincing. However, what is a so-called normal and well-adjusted person to do? Does Jesus have a word for these?

Saint Augustine speaks to us about these kinds of questions. I remember reading his statement that sin comes in two primary forms: the sin of despair and the sin of pride. The sin of despair asserts that our problems are so bad that not even God Almighty can help us out of the mess we have created for ourselves. The sin of pride, on the other hand, suggests that we on our own are self-sufficient and have no need for the grace and salvation that God offers us in Christ. Either way we sin. Augustine said that all sin comes from one of these two attitudes that people possess.

For this reason Ash Wednesday speaks to our needs—either of despair or pride—before God. Come and confess before Almighty God. Let God’s grace work a miracle in your life. The sermon is titled: “The Mandate.”

Our Ash Wednesday services will be at noon and 7 pm. Invite a friend to attend with you and bring him or her to First United Methodist Church, Arlington, Texas.

Come—worship
Stay—learn
Go—serve

Feb 20, 2014

The Catholic Spirit



February 16, 2014 - Sanctuary from FUMC of Arlington on Vimeo.

Dr. David N. Mosser's sermon "The Catholic Spirit" from February 16, 2014.

Sermon transcript available for download here.


iTunes

Feb 14, 2014

Presidents' Day


Who would have thought we could learn a stewardship lesson from a president—after all, next week we celebrate Presidents' Day. Harry Truman teaches us about things that belong to others, and as Christians we know that everything belongs to God. What we have is not our own, but rather a loan from God. We use our gifts until God calls them back at death. As Jesus said, “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded” (Luke 12:48). We do not customarily think this way.

Harry Truman did and instructs us about his unique stewardship. Merle Miller in his book, Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman, relates this story:
As nearly as he could remember, Harry’s last act in the White House was returning a pencil or maybe it was a pen to the desk of the man he had borrowed it from. “Everything,” he said, “all of it belongs to the people. I was just privileged to use it for a while. That’s all. And since it was only lent to me, and by that I’m including the power of the Presidency, such as it is, I had to try to use whatever it was with great care so that I could pass it on to the next fella in the best condition possible. And for the most part I think you can say I succeeded."

Mr. Truman understood that the people loaned the Presidential office to him as a steward only. Stewardship, rightly understood, proceeds not from what we give to God but rather from what God has loaned to us. This is the first principle of Christian stewardship: Everything belongs to God. Thanks, Harry!

Come—worship
Stay—learn
Go—serve

Feb 12, 2014

Upon Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount



February 9, 2014 - Sanctuary from FUMC of Arlington on Vimeo.

Dr. David N. Mosser's sermon "Upon Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount" from February 9, 2014.

Sermon transcript available for download here.


iTunes

Feb 7, 2014

Living With Fear

Last week, I preached in part on the fear of judgment and Micah’s prophecy that opened in a courtroom. Fear is real and has been with us since Aesop, who produced this fable:

Long ago, the mice held a general council to consider what measures they could take to outwit their common enemy, the Cat. Some said this and some said that; but at last a young mouse got up and said he had a proposal to make, which he thought would meet the case. “You will all agree,” said he, “that our chief danger consists in the sly and treacherous manner in which the enemy approaches us. Now, if we could receive some signal of her approach, we could easily escape from her. I venture, therefore, to propose that a small bell be procured, and attached by a ribbon round the neck of the Cat. By this means we should always know when she was about, and could easily retire while she was in the neighborhood.” The proposal met with general applause, until an old mouse got up and said: “That is all very well, but who is going to bell the Cat?”

The mice looked at one another and nobody spoke. Then the old mouse said: “It is easy to propose impossible remedies” (The Fables of Aesop, Macmillan, London, 1979, pp. 159-160).

Our remedy for fear is simply our faith and hope in the love of God. This God, who loved us enough to create us, also loved enough not to leave us as we are. To live in the “fear of the Lord” is to know that our Creator sustains us to the end, as well as receives us into our eternal home.

Come—worship
Stay—learn
Go—serve

Feb 6, 2014

The Almost Christian



February 2, 2013 - Sanctuary from FUMC of Arlington on Vimeo.

Dr. David N. Mosser's sermon "The Almost Christian" from February 2, 2014.

Sermon transcript available for download here.


iTunes

 
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