“Then You Will Know that I Am the LORD” (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

Sermon for the Festival of Pentecost (5/24/2015)

Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14

Theme: “Then You Will Know that I Am the LORD”

The foot bone connects to the shin bone

The shin bone connects to the knee bone

The knee bone connects to the thigh bone

The thigh bone connects to the hip bone

The hip bone connects to the back bone…

I’m sure many of you are familiar with that children’s song. Be honest though, how many of you know this children’s song is actually an African Spiritual based on our lesson from Ezekiel 37?

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones,

Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones,

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones,

O, hear the Word of the Lord.

It’s a truly fascinating story, isn’t it? In my opinion, Ezekiel 37 is one of the most fascinating stories in the Old Testament. I mean, the imagination just runs wild with this one. Continue reading

I am God’s Watchman. Which Means I need to Repent and I Have Work To Do (Ezekiel 33:7-11)

Sermon for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost (9/28/14)

Text: Ezekiel 33:7-11

Theme: I am God’s Watchman. Which means…

I need to repent and…

I have work to do!

            Back when there was no such thing as FM or XM radio, back when radio stations closed down and didn’t broadcast at night, Lt Kermit Tyler noticed that the radio station was broadcasting as he drove into work in the wee hours of the morning. This was not completely out of the ordinary; sometimes the radio stations did broadcast all night so that aircraft from the mainland could hone in on these little islands in the middle of the vast Pacific at night. “There must be a new batch of planes coming in,” Lt Tyler thought to himself as he pulled into work at the aircraft tracking center at Fort Shafter in Hawaii in the wee hours of the morning of December 7th 1941.

Shortly after 7am, knowing that a squadron of planes was coming in from the mainland, Lt Tyler would say four little words that would secure his place in American history books: “Don’t worry about it.”

Two inexperienced, practicing radar technicians had seen a large group of aircraft headed straight for the Hawaiian islands. They did their duty and called it in. Lt. Tyler, on only his second day on the job, alone in the office except for one private answering the phones said, “Don’t worry about it.”

As I’m guessing you’ve realized by now, that group of planes was not bombers coming in from mainland America, it was the first wave of the surprise Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor that hurled us into WWII.

Pearl Harbor is just one very real example of the importance of watchmen knowing what they are supposed to be doing and doing it.

Watchmen serve a vitally important role. Whether it’s a guy holding a torch on top of a stone wall in the middle east or a guy staring at a radar screen on an island in the Pacific, a watchman doing his job is the difference between being prepared and being unprepared, between victory and defeat, between lives saved and lives lost. People hire and appoint watchmen so they are never caught unprepared… Continue reading

Hell Is Unthinkable… So Is Forgiveness – Both Are Real (Ezekiel 9:1-11)

Text: Ezekiel 9:1-11

Theme: Hell Is Unthinkable… So Is Forgiveness

Both Are Real!

                I have to be honest, I’m not very happy with my sermon this morning… It’s not because I’m not prepared. And it’s not because I really struggled with writer’s block, like I sometimes do. It’s not because the reading from Ezekiel has nothing important to talk about. I’m not very happy with my sermon this morning because this morning I have to talk to you about hell…

Hell, a word that is easy enough to say, but an idea that is almost unfathomable. I mean, I get the idea of suffering for sins, but what I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around is what those first moments in hell must be like, what it means to wake up and realize that “this is never going to end.” I just can’t even imagine what it is like to realize that you are completely separated, forever, from comfort, and peace, and hope, and laughter.

Hell, a word that is easy enough to say, but an idea that makes me cringe, because I know people, I love people, who, if they died today, would find themselves suffering in hell forever. It physically makes me sick to think of all those babies being aborted across our country, knowing that the Bible makes no promises of salvation apart from baptism and faith in Jesus, those babies never had that chance! It’s enough to make me sick, thinking of the billions of atheists and pagans all around the world: mothers and daughters, old men and infants just living their lives diligently and peacefully, but all of them are marching straight down the path to hell.

Hell, a word that is easy enough to say, but an idea that’s so horrible, so unthinkable, that I can’t help but sympathize with the very common complaint, “How could a good God send people to hell?” I read in Ezekiel about a God commanding that his angels “kill without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children,” I read about a God calling for his temple courts to be “filled with the slain,” and I shudder. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to preach about this.

But let’s dig in this morning and see if this gut reaction to the idea of an eternal hell is justified. Let’s look at the record of Ezekiel and Jerusalem again… Continue reading