First United Methodist Church
Plymouth, Indiana

Sermons and Messages

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I read something this week that suggested that one of the reasons Jesus was put to death was to stop all the stories he kept telling! When Jesus told stories, he had this annoying tendency to make the wrong people either the heroes or the bad guys. Two people go up to the temple to pray, one a pious, biblically learned religious leader, the other a compromised, evil collaborator...
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Wow!  This is a text that grabs your attention, isn’t it? It starts out telling us that large crowds are traveling with Jesus, but after hearing what he has to say, we can’t help but wonder how quickly some folks might have responded by backing away, not wanting to hear another word! This is another one of those times when our first response is: seriously, Jesus?...
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In my experience with Jesus, he’s not one to avoid answering tough questions. We pastors, on the other hand, learn through experience that one ought be cautious in responding to tough questions. “Preacher, what does the Methodist Church have to say about… gambling… the death penalty… euthanasia… human rights… immigration...

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Sometimes it happens.  You don’t ask for it, you don’t plan for it, you don’t expect it. It may happen in the midst of something pretty ordinary. You experience it in a new way, hear it in a new way, believe in a new way.  And you walk away changed. That’s what happened to Isaiah. It happened the year King Uzziah died...
Sometimes we misunderstand.  We get things wrong. We mishear, we misread, we miss the inflection behind the voice, behind the words. Perhaps we'll receive an email or a text message that is puzzling to us. A friend or relative or coworker sends a few sentences off to us with a twinkle in their eye and the hint of a smile but...
They had traveled a great distance, seeking, searching. They were star-gazers; not men of faith, but men of science. Those two things are not mutually exclusive, mind you, but these men had come because they had seen something in the sky that had captured their attention so completely that they left everything behind to come and see...
The news of Mary's pregnancy had to have set off a minor scandal.  It nearly leads to the breakup of her relationship with Joseph.  Even worse, In Mary's world, an unmarried woman found to be pregnant could have been executed by stoning at the entrance of her father's house (Deut. 22). Under these circumstances...
It’s the Third Sunday of Advent, 9 days till Christmas, and you’d think we’d be sitting on top of the world.  Feeling good. Excited.  Ready! Some of us are, but a whole lot of us, aren’t. When I was a little kid, getting ready for Christmas was a whole lot different than it is now.  I had shopping to do.  Every Christmas Eve, I’d go to...
A voice is heard, crying out in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight… It's a voice that perhaps you can hear off in the distance as you make your way through the crowds in the stores. Maybe you can hear it as you set up your Christmas decorations, or as you think through your "to do" list, as you listen to the radio...
I know. We were looking forward to moving out of the series we've been working through and doing something different. The season of Advent seemed to be just the right thing! Preparing for the coming of Jesus…scriptural texts that calm our minds and soothe our souls. We can't help but think of Christmas...
Since September, we've been talking on Sunday mornings about what it means to be a missional church. The purpose of reading through and talking about Shaped by God's Heart hasn't been to "fix" us; it's been to help us see a little further out, and to help us think about how we might more effectively reach out...
So often we lose track of what's of ultimate importance. We get distracted with "real life" and "real needs." These "distractions" aren't insignificant. We have to deal with them. There are bills to be paid. We can be so careful, and then something unexpected happens, and there you go! You've gotta figure it out...
This morning we are looking at Mission Practice Number 8, from Milfred Minatrea's Shaped by God's Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches. That practice tells us that we are to Measure Growth by Capacity to Release, not Retain. As a parent of 3 children...
Some of you may remember that moment in the movie "City Slickers" when the old cowboy (played by Jack Palance) tells the visitor from New York City (played by Billy Crystal), "you've got to know the one thing." "What is that?" the young city slicker asks. "Oh," Curly says, "that's for you to find out." We all need to figure out what our life is all about...
This morning our worship order is different than usual, because the message has been divided into several sections. As we continue through our series on Shaped by God’s Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches, we are talking today about Missional Practice # 4: Rewrite worship every week. The purpose of the order...
I've had two really good friends over the years who have been quilters. I used to sew, but now I only sew to mend. But at one time, I thought I’d like to quilt. Both friends said they'd teach me. Carol and I went out and we both bought the things we needed for each of us to make a simple Christmas quilt to hang on our walls. It was a good first project...
Somewhere along the way, you wanted to fit in, but you weren't sure you did. You didn't want to stray too far away from the dress code, the hair length or style of the day, or the words you chose to use. You wanted to be sure you used your very best manners. You went home that night and realized that your face muscles hurt because you had pasted on that smile...
Doesn't every fisherman have some kind of a story, about the one that got away? Or, I 'caught one "this big."' Well, today's scripture is a pretty good fishing story. It's about some ordinary, everyday guys who catch more fish than they would ever have imagined, and then make the decision to give up this life they know to follow...
How would you define church? Some of us would describe a physical place. We could say it's a brick and mortar building where we come to worship God. We might describe this downtown building of ours, or we might think of those beautiful little churches in the countryside or in the hills that we see...
It all begins with the recognition of how blessed we are. We are so incredibly blessed. I am so incredibly blessed. The knowledge of that doesn't come to my awareness often enough. I take too much for granted. From the beauty of creation around me…my family, my friends, all who love me...
Scott's father was born on leap day, February 29, 1920. We only have a leap day every 4 years, so although Dad was on this earth for 93 years, he only had 23 birthdays. It was fun when he and our middle son celebrated their 21st birthdays in the same year. They kept saying they were going to go out...
I read a letter last week that a woman wrote to her daughter as the young woman prepared to enter high school.  It was a beautiful letter filled with love, encouragement and practical advice that she wanted to be sure her daughter heard before beginning this new adventure. The letter began...
I look forward each month to meeting with the members of the Marshall County Ministerial Association. I've enjoyed coming to know the pastors who serve in these different churches, and it's always interesting to learn how our various denominations "do" things...
There are certain, special people who you and I have in our lives who we might call "prayer warriors." They are people who you can call when you have a particular need, who you know will dig right in, and give it all they've got to intercede on your behalf—to lift you up in prayer, to ask God for healing...
The Berlin Wall, dividing the East from the West, was erected on August 13, 1961. On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan addressed the leader of the Soviet Union, referring to the Berlin Wall, saying, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."  On November 9, 1989...
Though I hadn't thought of titling the past several weeks of messages as a series as we looked at Paul's letter to the people of Corinth, "Difficult Conversations" would have worked very well. There were some things happening that Paul had to address in order to correct and then heal and restore the relationship...
How do you respond when you're feeling attacked or criticized? I don't remember what it was about anymore, but I do remember someone saying to me, "You're being defensive!"  And I thought, well, yeah, it makes sense when you're coming at me like that.  I am defending myself...