I work really hard to keep sport analogies and illustrations out of my sermons because they are so overused. However, my friend Joe Chambers (@josephochambers and Field Notes on the Jesus Way) posted some thoughts on his Facebook page that got me thinking. If one wanted to, it would be fairly easy to preach a series of sermons based on the four football games of the NFL Wildcard Weekend.

  1. Laces Out–This sermon is from the Vikings perspective. Sometimes you do almost everything right, but things fall apart at the end. Things like character, determination, and community are what get you through the hard times.
  2. Keep Your Cool, Don’t Bungal it–The Steelers/Bengals game is the picture perfect example of losing control of your life.
  3. Wide Left–When you get what you don’t deserve, it is called grace. The real life story of the 2015 Seattle Seahawks.
  4. That Awkward Moment When . . . Racism–Sometimes culture lulls you to sleep and you find yourself forgetting to be transformed. This is what happens when we root for the team from Washington and yell out racial epithets that we don’t even think about.
  5. Frozen–The flames of hell can be frightening, but it is hard to move around when your relationships are frozen because the temperature (of the heart?) is below zero. Another possible sermon here is “Mission Trips to Minnesota in January Might Not Be A Good Idea.”
  6. Houston, We Have A Problem–The sermon, of course, is about being a poser. Some people/institutions/churches look like the real deal, but when it comes crunch time, they produce a goose egg, at home.
  7. Thou Shalt Not Steel–The Steelers may have won, but everyone saw their soul (and yes, I Remember Super Bowl XL )
  8. It’s Just A Game–Some people get too wrapped up in sports, and really need to go for a walk or read a book. Never feel sorry for people who make a living playing a game. Remember, most of those athletes on the field are people who picked on and bullied you in high school.


There you–those are free of charge to anyone who wants to use them.


Next Sunday (December 2) is the first Sunday of Advent.  Although I am a Baptist by conviction, I am a liturgist by affection.  The longer I live (yea verily now I am in my 40th year–or in biblical metaphor, this is the year I kill an Egyptian) the more I see the need to emphasize over and over again a Christian view of time and to seize back our precious holy days from the marketplace.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter belong to us!  Take that Target, Wal-Mart, Sears and Amazon!  Ha!

For at least the past 15 years I have used the four Sunday’s leading up to Christmas (otherwise known as Advent) to emphasize either doctrinal aspects of the Christian life or to teach about the role of Christ in the world today.  This year I am focusing on Jesus’ work from the Gospel of Mark as he launched his ministry with confrontation in Mark 2.  There are five accounts of confrontation:

  1. 2:1-12–a confrontation about forgiveness
  2. 2:13-17– a confrontation about mingling with sinners
  3. 2:18-22– a confrontation about fasting
  4. 2:23-28– a confrontation about the Sabbath
  5. 3:1-6–yet another confrontation about the Sabbath that leads to the desire to have Jesus killed

I hope to emphasize the work of God in our world today in these sermons–how Jesus would confront both the culture around us, but also, how he would confront the church and its ways.  We who go to church each weekend and say our prayers regularly resemble far too much the Pharisees and other factions who opposed Jesus at every opportunity.  I just don’t think the biblical Jesus would have the same priorities that most churches or Christ-followers have now.

What I haven’t decided yet is whether or not to finish the series in 4 or carry the last confrontation over into another sermon on the 30th of December.  Right now I am leaning toward lumping the two Sabbath offenses into one sermon.  We will see, though.  I always reserve the right to change my mind.  Here are the tentative sermon titles:

December 2–The Day They Discovered Exactly What Jesus Was Up To (2:1-12)

December 9–The Day They Learned that Jesus Really, Really, Liked Parties (2:13-17)

December 16–The Day They Complained that Jesus wasn’t Religious Enough (2:18-22)

December 23–The Day Jesus Proved He Knew The Days of the Week, and Oh By the Way He Knows Some Theology Too (2:23-28 or 3:6?)

I’ve been in the Old Testament the last two and and a half months, it will be great to get back into the New Testament again.




I thought about blogging today about how I intend to celebrate International Worker’s Day, or as it is known by communists, May Day.  Instead, I decide to celebrate it by actually going to work.

A big part, indeed,  the most important part, of my work is preaching.  The best sermons are always rooted in Scripture and flow from an exposition of the meaning.  However, it is good communication to find culturally meaningful ways to communicate this truth.  To that end I’ve been playing around for several years with a sermon series that is based on the titles of popular, mostly retro, songs.  I’ve written this before.

Retro Songs Make Great Sermon Titles

More Retro Songs Make Great Sermon Titles

But today I’ve got some new songs that I might incorporate.

1.  “Changes” by David Bowie.  The key line from the song that will preach well is “time may change me, but I can’t change time.”  It is ontologically true that we change and that the world changes.  The sermon could illustrate the different ways that that church and theology have adjusted through the years and then prognosticate how it needs to further adapt.  And then, in a brilliant twist, the sermon can go to Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  So much about us changes, but the one universal constant is Christ.

2.  “We are the Champions” by Queen.  Text:  Romans 8:37.  Motif:  God is with us, therefore regardless of circumstances we have victory.  Purpose:  To move hearers to live in the confident assurance that we have victory over evil and sin.  Yeah, I definitely think that will preach.

3.  “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee.  I am very ashamed that when I hear this song on the oldies station, for some reason it always makes me smile.  I think the sermon could pivot in one of two ways.  One way it could go is to highlight the phrase “don’t go breaking my heart” from the perspective of God.  When we sin or walk away from him we are breaking his heart.  It could also pivot on the concept of loving one another–from say, 1 John 4.  By neglecting our responsibility to the church and the Kingdom of God we are breaking hearts.

4.  “Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison.  I know what you’re thinking, WHAT?  But pay attention–The sermon would be some kind of exposition of Proverbs 31.  Then it would finish with the biblical definition of beauty–an inward beauty rooted in integrity, modesty, commitment, industry, and above all, a deep spiritual and rich love of Christ.  That is true beauty that lasts forever and cannot be bought in a jar.

5.  “Can’t Buy Me Love” by the Beatles.  Alright, now I’m just cheating and piling up.  I actually used this on Sunday to open my sermon about resurrecting our financial lives.  I didn’t use it to build the entire sermon, but I certainly could have.  What is interesting to me about the Beatles is the wealth of sermonic ideas in their lyrics.  They were not particularly spiritual in their early songs, but they were relational.

As you consider my songs, please notice that there are no Guns-N-Roses, U2, or Led Zeppelin entries.  I also want you to notice that there are no ’80’s songs.  That means I kind of worked hard on this one, because as a Gen X’er the 80’s is my native tongue, but these are from the 60’s and 70’s my friend and I did it without the Doors or CCR.  See how hard I worked, all for you.


#4 on the countdown of 2011 most viewed Greenbean blogs is one I wrote about sermon titles from songs.  I also wrote another blog on the topic this year–MORE RETRO SONGS MAKE GREAT SERMON TITLES, but that one didn’t get the number of hits this one did.  On a tangential note I think a whole series of exclusively Elvis song titles could be coming.  Enjoy!


Each December I plan my sermon preaching schedule—text or topic and series emphasis—for the entire coming year.  But I work on it all year, writing down ideas for the upcoming year.  So, I’m already thinking about what I might preach in 2012.  One of the things on my mind is the possibility of a series of topical sermons that have titles based on retro-songs.

1.  “Love Shack”—This B-52’s classic is a great title for talking about the way in which Christians should love one another.  Then the sermon could take a turn to describe exactly how this love is shown in the context of messy church life.

2.  “Living on a Prayer”—Bon Jovi sang about desperate times.  I’m thinking I could craft the sermon to be about how our everyday lives could be guided by prayers all along the way.  Waking prayers, devotional prayers, prayers said while grooming, prayers for work, prayers for noontime, prayers in the afternoon, prayers at dinner, and nighttime prayers.

3.  “Beat It” –The first music video I ever saw was Michael Jackson’s cautionary tale about fleeing from a dangerous situation.  I think this would be a great sermon about how to avoid sin and temptation.

4.  “Suspicious Minds”—Okay you know I had to get Elvis in there.  This could be a sermon about how trust is necessary in human relationships, particularly marriage.  I can easily see, though, extending it out to include parent-child relationships as well as to friendship.

5.  “Stairway to Heaven”—This one is easy.  First, some time could be spent unpacking some theological imagery already inherent in the song and then talk about how Jesus came to earth and that the cross sort of makes a stairway to heaven which allows us, through Christ’s sacrifice and our following him, to enter into heaven.

6.  “With or Without You”—Okay, I freely admit I could preach a sermon based on many U2 songs because many of them are theologically rich with obvious biblical connections.  But this one is the only one I would use in this series.  What I would do is focus on how God’s will and plan is doing with or without us.  Our greatest joy is to participate in his work and be a part of the celebration.

7.  “Welcome to the Jungle”—No retro list would be complete without something from G-N-R, right?  So this sermon would feature a description of the world as a spiritually dangerous place in which we must be careful.  Perhaps 1 John would be the best place to jump off of.

Whether I preach these or not I do not know.  Regardless, it was fun thinking about it.  Maybe its time to push play on my 80’s playlist on the old iPhone.