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First United Methodist Church
Plymouth, Indiana

Sermons and Messages

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Imagine Abraham as a Middle Eastern sheik. One of those Arabic sheiks you’ve seen on TV in flowing white robes, head gear held by a gold braid. That is, after all, what Abraham was. He and Sarah were wealthy. They had many servants, camels, sheep and goats, and a large homestead in what today is southern Israel. In the middle of that land they had pitched their tent under a huge spreading oak. And if there’s a tree, there’s water. Their tent is as big as a house, the sand inside covered with luxurious...
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The city of Jerusalem was packed full of people. The streets were crazy—crowds of folks moving along elbow-to-elbow, restaurants overrun, long lines at the check-outs, bathrooms in dire need of a simple, routine cleaning.  Everyone was there. It was a Jewish festival, a harvest festival, celebrated 50 days after Passover, bringing Jews from all over the civilized world to the temple in Jerusalem. They had to go. They wanted to go. It was one of the 3 obligatory feast days of the year...
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In this morning’s gospel lesson, we remain at that table with Jesus and his disciples as Jesus prepares them for his departure. Maybe it seems like we’ve spent a lot of time here at this table with him, and if you look in the Gospel of John, you’ll see how many pages and chapters his teachings there encompass.  My Red letter edition is a sea of red from Chapter 13 through 17.  It’s not until chapter 18 that they go across the Kidron valley to the garden where Jesus is arrested...

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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...
I've seen it as I've traveled from place to place, but you don't have to go very far to see that some of us have more than others of us. There are times when we can attribute that difference to work ethic: some work harder and longer or more efficiently to get what they have, while others...
I doubt that very many of us look forward to a tough conversation. Avoidance would perhaps be our preference! People invest significant amounts of time and money in counseling sessions to make up for conversations that should have taken place but never did, to try to repair hurt feelings from conversations...
It's easy to get caught up in thinking that there isn't anything too big for science, technology and innovation to solve. Living in the United States my entire life, surrounded by progress, being raised in an entrepreneurial household (my dad started 3 businesses in my growing up years), and growing up being told that if you work hard for it you'll get it/you'll succeed...
Believing makes all the difference, doesn't it? When you know something to be true—you can rest in that knowledge…lean back in that knowledge. You can let that have the final word, no matter what else happens, because you already know the bottom line. Whatever happens, the conclusion is clear...
"For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake." As I read and thought about this text over this past week, several things came to mind. I thought about the controversy when I was in seminary over whether or not the congregation should...
So, what about love? What is it? I would say that love is perhaps the most painful, sought after, hoped for, fought over, sung about, cried over, celebrated and comforting experience that you and I will ever have. Love. It's defined in all kinds of ways...
Muir Woods is about 15 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and several people had told me before we headed off to California that we needed to go there to see the redwoods. We were told how beautiful it was, and we were really looking forward to it. So on Tuesday, we headed that direction...