John’s sermons are not ones that you make reams of notes on, but we certainly enjoy them. They often tend to be more evangelistic (he is an evangelist, especially to young people), and the reminder of God’s loving compassion was still able to bring us close to tears.
The personal stories he includes are always delightful. This sermon was all about thinking of God as Father, and he began by saying that he’d realized recently that he may be building an image that would make his daughter (a Brand-New Teenager), not want to bring home any of her boyfriends (though that is a few years away yet). Because of course, he teases about the typical "don’t-touch-my-daughter" type of father. However, she hasn’t got to that stage yet, and we love this image: apparently she requested that on her first day of high school, her daddy would drop her off with his motorcycle. :-)
The other neat story he told was how his life was changed at the movie theatre, when he watched Cocoon Two. That day he searched for a church where he could attend an evening service before going to the theatre, just because he felt he should go twice on Sunday. The service he found and went to, really portrayed an attitude of legalism… but then he realized that he himself was being legalistic by insisting on finding a second service. And it was the movie that actually inspired him to be an evangelist (he now travels extensively, with speaking engagements). Remember the part where the grandfather is telling the child that he should be happy for him, because of the wonderful place he is going to? John realized that he is going to a place like that, and he should be telling others about it so that they can go there too.
He also shared how negative experiences in his life had blocked his relationship with God, and reminded us how to tell if God is convicting us about something, or it’s just the Devil trying to bring us down: God’s voice is NOT condemning, but one of loving correction. Important, because we so often do need that correcting… "I’ll show you how to make it right, and help you do it…" is what God says.
After all, in 1 John 3, it’s as if the apostle stops in his discussion and says "Imagine that!" We really ARE children of GOD!
(Oops, we didn’t make a lot of notes, but we sure did remember lots! :P)
"God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change." (Romans 2:4b)