I haven’t preached many sermons before, but when I do, even if it’s not for class, I like to manuscript them out because I’m more of a writer than a speaker. I don’t woodenly follow the manuscript, but writing it out helps someone like me crystallize my thoughts. To create more content on this blog, I figured I’d share a manuscript here, though that is risky because that might mean that I may have less opportunity to recycle this sermon later (and I preached it in class, so very few people have heard it other than a modified version in Sunday School). Still, while I don’t like listening to myself after sermons (and in fact, I’ve never done it, even though I have recordings), I will read what I have written in the past, which can be amusing because you can critique yourself and see yourself writing dumb things.
I’ll keep my critiques of my own sermon to myself for now, though I do think I got the main idea. It’s also funny to see how unlike this is from how I teach normally in Sunday School, where it is a lot less organized and tons more sarcastic. I admit I intentionally avoid letting too much of my sarcasm seep through in sermons since I’m also preaching to much older people, and in this case, this was for a seminary class so it has even less of my typical throw-away remarks. And maybe that is a good thing :). I really respect the professors at my seminary, but many of them tend to be pretty old-fashioned, so I’d prefer not to get on their bad side by making smart-aleck remarks throughout a sermon.
Anyway, on to the sermon. I like this one not because I think I did a great job but because I think it’s a very profound parable, even though it’s a short one. I think the warning against self-righteousness and the reminder of grace is something conservative Christians need to hear regularly, not just nonbelievers who need salvation.
As I have written before in old posts at another site, I am perpetually puzzled by the popularity of Bruno Mars’ songs. Is he musically talented? Obviously. He can play the piano well. However, his lyrics are so juvenile, shallow, emo, and irrational that it is difficult to see how people beyond the age of 14 are actually moved by his songs. Girls just loved his supposedly deep song “Just the Way You Are”… I exposed it as sweet-talking in order to get a guy laid, and I also pointed out how stupid it was to sing that to an attractive actress in his music video. Yeah, I’m sure Bruno Mars has a history of dating hideous girls for their personality because they’re amazing just the way they are, and not, you know, Latin models are something. He’s definitely one of those rare guys who doesn’t care about how his girl looks. Girls are dumb.
“Grenade” was even worse. People thought it was soooo romantic because it showed his willingness to mutilate and harm himself for a girl, but I showed that if you analyze his lyrics closely, you don’t get a charming romantic; you get an emotionally disturbed, delusional, and creepy dude whose logic doesn’t make a lick of sense (and even illustrated it for clarity). Sure, go ahead and catch grenades and step in front of trains, dawg. That’ll make a difference! I wrote this in conclusion:
We know that Valentine’s Day is a special day. We know this because females in our culture tell us it is, and they tell us that it is because they want to feel special via chocolates, flowers, and cards. Thus, it is a special day. It matters not that it is named after a Christian martyr because he probably didn’t do anything important or sacrificial; it only matters that girls get what they want. And happy girls lead to happy guys.
But we must make sure that we do not let the surrounding culture dictate to us what is true love. Instead, we must look to biblical principles, particularly what is taught in the oft used 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, which is assuredly not about general community love but instead about romantic love because we hear it all the time at weddings. Thus, here I will use that passage to show how a Christian guy should write an encouraging letter to his special girl to help her mature spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually.
This semester, our college ministry created a campus organization so that we could try to more effectively reach the students at the University of Texas at Arlington. For the first meeting, we even got free catering from a nearby Asian restaurant to help attract people. However, we are very wary of HOW we grow, not that just we get numbers. If we just wanted 50 random Asian people to show up, we would have just advertised that we were offering free Asian food at a room at UTA. Instead, we clearly said that there was Bible teaching on campus first, and then we were going to actually move to church to have our prayer meeting, and THEN we were going to have food at church. From a pure marketing perspective, that’s not the smartest thing to do if you want to nab those college students who are always on the lookout for free food (and we know there’s a lot of those). We basically made any newcomers go through our program in order to get to the food. To top that all off, after our prayer meeting, I did the announcements and said something like this:
“We won’t always have free food every week. It’d be nice but it ain’t gonna happen. What we WILL have every week is teaching from Scripture and prayer and praise. We welcome anyone, whatever ethnicity you are or whatever worldview you hold. We want to get to know you and converse with you. But this is who we are, and we are going to be upfront about it. We are going to be about Christ.”
As I’ve written on an old blog, I like superhero movies. However, I fully recognize how ridiculously stupid the logic of the storylines often are. If you are to grant that there are beings who have superpowers, it is utterly silly that they struggle with the things that they do or that a regular Joe like Batman can even hurt them. This College Humor video does an apt job describing how useless Batman would really be in a super-powered fight. I know Batman fanboys will blow a fuse because many of them are apparently dumb enough to argue that he can logically take down the entire Justice League by himself (or really defeat Superman), but that’s just the truth. And I like Batman a lot.
Here’s how I described how overpowered Superman would really be if the comic writers had any semblance of consistency about his abilities:
Given the full range of Superman’s powers, he could read every piece of literature on the planet in about ten seconds (and remember all of it since he has photographic memory), read everything that the planet Krypton knew that is provided by his Fortress (making him smarter than everyone else since Krypton was one of the most advanced civilizations in the universe), and make an army of robots that would take care of everything for him while he chills in his Fortress watching football. And this is only taking into account the natural gifts he has regarding his intelligence, not all the more famous powers associated with his strength.
With all this in mind, it is absolutely ludicrous that Superman struggles… at all. Heck, it is even stupid when he is facing Metallo, one of his more famous enemies who is a cyborg with a kryptonite heart. He should be Superman’s match, right? Except that he doesn’t move as fast, doesn’t have heat vision or cold breath, and can’t fly, among others. Superman could just fly high and roast him with heat vision in the blink of an eye, but you never see this happen when they fight. Superman, for reasons unknown, sticks around to be weakened by kryptonite and fights Metallo with his fists. Maybe he just has a sense of sportsmanship?
Basically, if comic book writers didn’t make Superman an idiot who conveniently forgot about certain abilities at certain times, he would basically end all crime on earth in a day and barely break a sweat.