Brent has had the privilege of preaching for over 30 years in a variety of Church settings.
His sermon titles include…
Chains that Bind
Consider the scene from the classic, “Christmas Carol” and poor Marley, bound in chains, definitely not a happy camper. We’re frightened by his predicament; our heart goes out to his condition, such a pathetic creature. But also consider poor Scrooge. Scrooge was aghast at Marley’s chains but Marley was burdened by Scrooge’s “chains”. Scrooge’s reply to Marley’s comments about Scrooge’s chains should haunt us. Did you hear Scrooge’s words: “I see no chains”. Is it possible that Marley’s portrayed chained status and Scrooge’s hidden chained status are no different than ours? Is it possible that we walked into this worship center burdened with chains, chains that bind. Part of the spiritual warfare we all engage in is found in the desire of our enemy, as Galatians 2:4 states, “to bring us into bondage”. Paul reminds believers in Romans 8:15, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery”. What might these chains look like?
Freedom in Christ
It is the best breed of dogs by far-The Labrador Retriever! For the Amatos, first there was Snickers, a chocolate lab who raised the Amato kids and now, Duke, the chocolate lab who is my son’s “child” and my wife’s “grand-dog”. As one writer puts it, “As American as apple pie, the Lab is a rambunctious, loving creature…beloved for their endless enthusiasm…” Labs teach us a little about freedom. You see, Duke was born to run free, in the fields of life, or at least in the ordained “dog parks” in the Chicagoland area, without collar, leash or any restraints. Jason has taught Duke well and one of Jason’s commands when they are together out in a field or dog park (a command which I’m sure is Duke’s favorite) is the word “Free”, at the sound of which Duke is permitted to run on ahead or to wherever; free, because his Master released him for that delight. “Duke’s Delight” It’s a picture of Christian freedom. What about you-Are you truly free?
Sing to the King
It’s my favorite Psalm because it is concise truth that always drives me back to the basics. It answers two very fundamental questions: “What should I do every day no matter what?” and “Why I should do it?” Singing is not what I do best or even well at all, but I am called to do it! “And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear, and will trust in the Lord.”(Psalm 40:3) What about your “song”? I have some questions for you. Will you learn or remember the “song”
God has given you? Will you sing the “song”? Will you sing the “song” joyfully? Will the “song” cause you to…praise God in a new way? know God in a new way? fear God in a new way? trust God in a new way?
What should I do every day? “Come before Him…enter His gates.” “Worship Him”
Why should I do it? Because of who God is and because of who we are in relationship to God.
Come sing to the King with me!
“A Time to be Silent”
“Shhhh!” Well, how was that? What did you do during that time? Some of you might have dozed off. Some of you might have become distracted, preoccupied with a particular thought, thinking about any of a number of things. Some of you felt uncomfortable, restless.
“Come and listen…” Did you come this morning to listen to God? But before you can listen, truly listen, you need to be silent. Did you come this morning to be silent before God? Listen to God’s words. Turn to Ecclesiastes 3; verse 1 and a part of 7: “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven… A time to be silent”. What if you came to church this morning and the sermon was without words? In obedience to the Book of James, Chapter 1, verse 22, let’s be “doers of the Word” this morning and “Be silent; silent before God.”
Do you know what Scripture says about silence?
1. Silence is in part what God deserves from his people.
(Habakkuk 2:20) “‘But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.’”
(Zephaniah 1:7) “‘Be silent before the Lord God!’” Hush! Listen! (Zechariah 2:13) “‘Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord….’” Hush! Listen!
2. Silence is in part God’s desire for you.
(Psalm 23:2) “…..He leads me beside quiet waters.” Hush! Listen!
3. Silence is an appropriate response to God.
After Job’s rather vigorous vocal debate with God, he finally got it and his final response was one of shutting up. (Job 42:3, 5, 6) “I was talking about things I did not understand…I had heard about You before, but now I have seen You with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” I suspect this episode was without further word.
4. Silence is linked to God’s blessing.
(Lamentations 3:25-26) “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he wait silently…”
(Job 13:5) “‘O that you would be completely silent, and that it would become your wisdom!’”
(Proverbs 10:19b) “He who restrains his lips is wise.”
(Isaiah 41:1) “‘Listen to Me in silence, and let the people gain new strength….”
“A Time to Laugh”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4a “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven…a time to weep and a time to laugh…”
Laughter is woven into the fabric of life. I suggest that it is an ordained part of life as it should be lived. Who here has not enjoyed a time to laugh?
Now I know what some of you are thinking…
Just great-I come to church to worship in song and giving and hear God’s Word preached. This is serious business! And Amato is going to preach on laughing? Or
Just great-That Amato, he’s Italian and Italians are always laughing. But I’m not Italian, so who does he think he’s preaching to? Or
Just great-That Amato, he’s sanguine and sanguine people are always laughing.. But I’m not sanguine, so who does he think he’s preaching to? Or
Just great-That Amato, he’s oblivious to reality. “When you become an adult, you need to be responsible…and we live in a world of reality which includes difficulties…and therefore, we have no business laughing and enjoying life.” (Swindoll) Everyone knows the old expression: “Life is no laughing matter.” What does Ecclesiastes also say? “There is a time to weep”, so who does he think he’s preaching to? Or
Just great-That Amato is going to preach on a topic that finds no place in the serious works of theology. Who here has ever heard a sermon on laughter? So why is he preaching on it?
Now before you force me to close in prayer, why don’t we start with Scripture? Do you know what Scripture says about laughter?
Last Words and The Last Word
“Citizen Kane”-Most movie critics list this 1941 movie as one of the best, if not the best film ever made. The story of a rich newspaper owner. Remember the start of the movie which depicted Kane’s deathbed scene and his last word: “Rosebud”, with a glass figurine with a snowy, winter scene, dropping from his hand to the floor. The rest of the movie is a depiction of his life story, but focused around attempting to decipher the meaning of his last word, “Rosebud”.
Last words are significant and many times by the conscious choice of a dying individual, last words reflect what was most important to the speaker, maybe even reflecting that person’s essence, the most intimate clue as to what made that person tick.
My birthday was yesterday-another of the annual milestones, that keep coming at me with what seems to be increasing speed. When I stop and think the number of years, months, days, hours, minutes I’ve logged…Well, I stop and think. More often, these days, I have been thinking about last words, or in a more general sense, finishing life and finishing it well.
I’ve brought with me this morning six individuals: A rich young ruler, a healed blind man, David, Martha and Mary, and Paul. What do they all have in common? They all have come to preach a sermon to you this morning!
Consider my dilemma this morning. Unlike your Senior Pastor, I’ve only got one shot at you. What should be preached with only one opportunity? I can’t really talk about a lot of things. I probably should talk only about one thing.
And when you think about life, aren’t there too many things? Too many things with your family…too many things in your other relationships…too many things around the house…too many things at work…too many challenges…too many responsibilities…too many things to do…too many things to be. And in our spiritual lives, don’t you feel sometimes there are too many things…too many things to do…too many things to be. How many sermons have you heard in the last year with three points, exhorting us to all sorts of applications…no shortage of spiritual input…Too many things.
Did you know that the Bible talks about “one thing”? It’s what links together the six individuals I mentioned.
One of the challenges of life and the spiritual life is priorities. According to Webster’s dictionary, a priority is “something which we give precedence by assigning a degree of importance to it.” One person has observed, “Most people have not settled the issue of what their priorities should be. Among those who do know, too few live according to these priorities.” Someone has once said, “One of the most difficult things to get people to do is do things in the order of their importance.” Wrong or unwise priorities lead to failure and in some cases to moral failures. Priorities involve focus and concentration which unleashes great power.
Church Between Senior Pastors
In the past, it was said, “There are two things certain about life: death and taxes.” Can I suggest a third thing that you are certain to encounter in your life? Change.
Change is part of a church’s life as well. Possibly the biggest change a church can face is the departure of its senior pastor. And when the pastor has been around for 21 years, it is change with a capital “C”. Our church in its 50 years has had four senior pastors. Sherrie and I have been attending our church since the late 70’s and have experienced the departure of three senior pastors. Looking back, how have you responded to the departure of our senior pastor? We as humans react in a variety of ways (physically, mentally and emotionally) and are, with regard to a senior pastor’s departure, on a spectrum from “This is the end of our church life as we know it” to “No big deal”. Where are you on that spectrum? How are you reacting? What are you feeling? What are you thinking? What are you saying? What are you doing?
How do you react spiritually to change? How should you react from a spiritual perspective?
Let me change the perspective from reacting to preparing. Are you individually ready for our next Senior Pastor? Are we corporately ready for our next Senior Pastor? Are there any “clues” in Scripture about how we should be responding to our current “Senior Pastor-less” circumstances? Individually? Corporately? I believe there are “clues” and that’s where we’re headed.
Brent brings a refreshing approach to our pulpit ministry. His delivery is lively and engaging. He emphasizes specific biblical principles. He is a master of application. Brent can make a bridge between the Christian worldview and the contemporary secular world. I personally enjoy his ministry. He is a frequent and favorite preacher at Medinah Baptist Church.
Rev. Dave Pederson, Ph.D.
Senior Pastor, Medinah Baptist Church