August 2020

Reflections on Sermon 16: “The Means of Grace”

I once received a gift for Christmas with some assembly required. It was packed in twist ties and styrofoam inside a glued and stapled box, inside wrapping paper, inside decorative (evidently steel-belted) ribbon, with a list of instructions in four languages, none of which used words commonly spoken in central Illinois. Putting this gift to use was clearly going to require some effort on my part, maybe even the help of a dictionary.

Was it still a gift? Was I earning the gift or paying for it by expending the effort necessary to cooperate with the gift-giver?

Reflections on Sermon 57: “On the Fall of Man”

The opening line of John Wesley’s sermon, “On the Fall of Man,” poses a question nearly as old as humankind and proposes an answer that would have sparked no controversy in his day and great controversy in ours. “Why is there pain in the world; seeing God is ‘loving to every man, and his mercy is over all his works?’ Because there is sin.”

Sin. What’s the big deal?

Reflections on Sermon 58: “On Predestination”

“On Predestination” may seem to have less obvious devotional appeal than any of John Wesley’s many other published sermons. However, if we can begin to fathom the eternal glory for which Wesley says God has predestined us, we will be glad we bothered to wade into these deep waters.

Reflections on Sermon 125: "On Living Without God"

In his sermon “On Living Without God,” John Wesley tells a scientifically implausible story about a frog who lived its life trapped inside a tree. Evidently, there was just enough moisture and sustenance in the tree to sustain this unfortunate frog’s life. Upon being released from its living tomb, the frog hopped away with all of its sensory organs fully intact but inoperative from disuse. This poor frog is analogous, for Wesley, to a human who has everything he or she needs for life but who deprives him(her)self of seeing, hearing, touching, or otherwise experiencing God. 

Christ's Mission, Our Commission

In March 1972, my family moved from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Merriam, Kansas. I had just turned 1 year old. My parents had had a rocky start in their marriage. For my mother, a new Christian, and my father, still running from God, our move to Kansas City was both a new start and a last chance. Three weeks from the day we moved in, we received a knock on the door.

Neighbors Mike and Cindy Couch had walked across the street!