Monday, September 28, 2015

Papal Fiat

Watch the Sermon VIDEO here

I watched Pope Francis arrive at D.C.’s Capitol Dome to address a joint session of Congress on Thursday…in a Fiat – a Papal Fiat!  Popes are accustomed to issuing fiats – or bulls - orders that must be followed.  This was the first time I saw a Fiat issuing a Pope to the front steps of the United States government!

Now, honestly, I wasn’t going to watch the address, but there’s something about this man’s humble manner that made me want to listen.  It was a well-spent 45 minutes! 

Pope Francis embodies what Jesus said about a leader being the first in line to serve others.

So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.  But among you it will be different.  Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”              Mark 10:42-45(NLT)

If you have ever played darts you know the idea is to hit the center of the target.  Some small places on the target (the bullseye) are worth lots of points, and some are worth a lot less.  One thing is obvious; if you want to play with excellence, you don’t aim at the low scores!

Aiming at the low score is a great definition of the word pusillanimous.  Those who act pusillanimously take whatever they can get without too much effort.  You can throw a dart backwards and get a few measly points! 

By comparison, those who are magnanimous (people of great soul or spirit) aim at the bullseye every time; they’re concerned with excellence – doing their absolute best. 

This is the essence of the living the Christian life as it was intended, doing your utmost in everything, instead of just settling for what you can get cheaply.  That’s taking the low road of self-indulgence.

In Mark’s account, James and John had asked Jesus for a promotion; Jesus told them they didn’t know what they’re getting themselves into.  He reminded them of times he forecasted persecution and hardship, and asked them:  are you able to bear that?  They said “yes,” but they really didn’t understand; their eyes were glued to the prize of being right and left hand men to the King. 

Pusillanimous!  Easy reward!  Instant gratification!

By contrast, in Paul’s letter to the Hebrew Christians he speaks of the magnanimous sacrifice of our great High Priest, Jesus.  It is the incredible upside-down-ness of the Kingdom of God that is presented – where the first is last, and the meek will be mighty. 

It is the King who dies for the sinner; the Master who serves the slave. 


In short, Jesus says, Don’t be Pusillanimous; Be Magnanimous!

But that’s Counter-cultural!

We live in a society that says forget others – get what you can; if you follow Jesus and serve, it means you will swim against the tide. 

That takes work. 

If you’re going to live the way Jesus taught the disciples you will have to wage war on your own tendency towards pusillanimous second-rate living. 

I have to fight that battle every single day.  Consider:

·        When you take a course in school – do you set your sight on learning…or do you just want a grade; beef-up your GPA?

·        When you go to work – are you building, producing, adding to value in society…or are you there for a paycheck?

·        When you are asked to be a leader or worker in the church organization – do you take it seriously, or is it just allowing the committee to plant your name in one more slot?

Pusillanimous living builds a resume; Magnanimous living builds character!

And the choice is ever is to be magnanimous or pusillanimous!

The Application of this Truth – Be a Kingdom person!

To follow Jesus magnanimously means you must keep the Kingdom of God as priority. 

Jesus did, and the writer to the Hebrews said Jesus became the source of eternal salvation. 

For us, individually and corporately as a church body, it means we probably need to scrap most of our schedules and to-do lists in favor of what Jesus told the crowd gathered to hear his Sermon on the Mount:

Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness…Matt 6:33a

Our baptismal covenant points us in that direction in practical ways that are not hard to understand.

This morning we will come to the water to be once-again reminded of why we do what we do; we come to remember and renew our vows of being magnanimous, Christ-honoring people. 

We come to focus on the bullseye of Christ’s Kingdom target!

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

[1] Title Images: via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Jesus Church - Part 5: Wholehearted

Watch the sermon VIDEO here

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.  “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.    Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT)
These are very familiar verses; well, at least the part about God’s plans for our future being good and hope-filled with His promises, and the fact that when we pray JHWH is going to be listening with both ears!  You can buy plaques at the bookstore with these words; we write it on graduation Bible covers.  Good words – God’s plan for us is good…protected…prosperous!

We certainly do like the sound of those words!  Preach it, Lord!

But then, as in many other parts of Scripture, God muddies the waters and puts a spin on what we wanted to hear, which was:  let the good times roll…let the blessings fall down like rain!).  But, if we’re honest, what we are forced to hear (or ignore) is the last part of it:

For God also says:  You know all that about MY good plans for you…hope, prosperity and a good future?  They’re just thatMY PLANS; and if you really want in on ALL MY Promises, you must also hear (and live) the part about coming to ME whole-heartedly!

Ok!  So…what does “Whole-hearted” mean?

1.      Whole-hearted Means Committed

“Commitment” is the all-time favorite word to use if you want to see people scatter!

We use a whole lot of words around the church – Bible words – that tell us what Jeremiah meant about being whole-hearted, or committed to God

Words like:
·        Surrender
·        Loving God with all your mind, soul, strength and spirit
·        Give your life to God

But, the hard fact is many people want all the benefits of being close to God, but more than not we have trouble committing to actually doing it – staying close to God. 

We want to have Just a Closer Walk with Thee when God’s blessings start flowing, but when God finishes the sentence with the commitment He requires of us to stay close – it’s more like we run like a scalded rabbit in the opposite direction!


You cannot have both; you cannot have blessings AND 

be independent of the One who is the Blesser!

Another factor that enters this equation is the difference between being a metaphysical Christian and being genuinely close enough to God to get your hands dirty.

A metaphysical Christian is someone who loves the idea of loving Jesus, loving God, and walking with the Holy Spirit, but somehow his or her Christianity never gets out from between his own ears.  It’s all hymns, cum-bay-ya around the campfire, first in line at dinner-on-the-grounds, and all the feel-good stuff, but the idea of committing to be a servant in the Kingdom requires an appearance of the Virgin Mary in his cornflakes.

Now, don’t misunderstand me – the head/heart/metaphysical stuff isn’t bad…we do need a vertical relationship with God and a prayer life.  But God called us to more than that – he called his church to get together, stay together and work together.  Churches that do that will find they become healthy, strong and connect with many ways in the Kingdom of God to do the work of God.  Churches that refuse to go to work become bloated, sick and in danger of needing a funeral director, rather than a pastor.

Taking the cornflakes out of our doctrinal stance here, let me review with you just what it means to be committed to God in a practical sense (as opposed to just the ethereal and metaphysical “head/heart” relationship).

To be committed is to be part of the Bride of Christ, the church here on earth.  Many people take the high-sounding stance that so-called “organized religion” isn’t for them, because of all the hypocrites and holier-than-thou types.  So….what’s the choice, un-organized religion, where I keep to myself so all those hypocrites won’t contaminate my pure and holy walk with Jesus?

Friend – Jesus never talked about a church like that in the Gospels.  But example after example in the New Testament shows us that God wants us to commit to the earthly expression of His body – the church. 

He wants us to be whole-hearted seekers of him together – which leads to the other understanding of what commitment is all about for a practical follower of Jesus Christ…whole-hearted not only means commitment…

2.Whole-hearted means Community

The community-expression of God’s church on earth is just what you’re looking at – look around at the warm bodies in the pews; we’re it!

And each one of us, when we joined this community of faith, made vows.  Take a look in our hymnal page 38 and be reminded of what it is like to commit to being part of Christ’s church:

As members of Christ’s universal church, will you be loyal to The United Methodist Church, and do all in your power to strengthen its ministries?

As members of this congregation, will you faithfully participate in its ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness?[2]

And so, is that your testimony?  That you are committed to being in worship and discipleship regularly?  That your gifts (tithes and offerings) are brought regularly?  That you offer yourself in service?  That your life away from this building is a witness for Christ?

Or were those vows simply a ritual; you said the words, but nobody really expects you to do all that stuff…do they?

Short answer:  only if you really want to see God and His blessings.  He is only visible to those who seek Him whole-heartedly!

I want to suggest that you think about that whole-hearted thing this week.  Read this sermon online, or take a copy home with you and re-read it. 

Because next Sunday we will have a time to re-focus on those vows of commitment and whole-heartedness as we gather at the baptismal waters to renew those vows.

We will say “yes” to the blessings; it also means we say “yes” to our commitment to community!

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

[1] Title Image: Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
[2] “Witness” added several years ago by General Conference

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Jesus Church - Part 4: Disciplined Unity

Listen to the sermon HERE

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense.  If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.  But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.  If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church.  Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.  “I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.  Matthew 18:15-18(NLT)
I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do.  I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother.  You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame.  And you should remove this man from your fellowship.  Even though I am not with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit.  And as though I were there, I have already passed judgment on this man in the name of the Lord Jesus.  You must call a meeting of the church. I will be present with you in spirit, and so will the power of our Lord Jesus.  Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns.  Your boasting about this is terrible.  Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough?  Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you.  Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are.  Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.  So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth.  When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin.  But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols.  You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that.  I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.  It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.  God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:1-13(NLT)
It may seem a little strange to start off a series on The Jesus Church with a passage like this – all about the church at Corinth, steeped in rampant sexual sins, naming even the detestable couple – a stepson and stepmother living together as a married couple; it’s not quite incest, but too close to ignore!

Now, before you begin squirming, I do not know of a single situation in this church where the sin is that kind of gross and blatantly public. 

On the other hand, it is better to know how to deal with sin when it arrives (not “if” it arrives), than to deal with the consequences in a clean-up operation.  Knowing God’s Word helps us prepare for what the world throws our way; it helps us function as the church, and not a social club.

Admittedly, this is a difficult passage of scripture.  It is tempting to say:  This is too hard to deal with – besides, it’s hot outside – so let’s just do a passage like ‘God is love’ or something not quite so, uh…icky. 

That would be easier for today, and it would also be death to the soul of any church or Christian in the long run.  So, let’s deal with the hard issue.

Paul’s Reaction to Reports of Sexual Immorality

In the first two verses we find that Paul has received some reports that sexual immorality is being tolerated like it is today.  Paul is horrified, even disgusted, that it is so blatant, even the pagans outside the church don’t act that badly. 

We need to remember that sexual immorality among Christians isn’t cute or good gossip – it is sin.

Paul’s Instruction on how to Proceed  

Note the flow of God’s wonderful plan for restoring brothers and sisters in Christ, when they have “blown it”:
One of the most important aspects of true church discipline is that every box (step) represented above flows in the direction of restoration of relationships.  Contrary to the “witch-hunt” stories about kicking people out of church – this is designed to facilitate the growth of the church.

Which brings me down to the title of this message­ – Note:

In the church for which Jesus died, there is not a war between having a healthy church OR a growing church; healthy churches will grow.
If a church isn’t growing, it is either dormant, awaiting a ‘growing season’ – or it is unhealthy, sick, undernourished and in danger of dying.  In such cases, the gardener has no choice; survival is at stake.  The gardener must then be the doctor!

And doctors do not put Band-Aids on cancer spots – they go to the root of the disease and do surgery.

That was Paul’s approach:

Paul’s Warning about tolerating such sin 

Paul pulled from his extensive knowledge of the Old Testament instructions for the Jewish Passover; Paul reminds us that all leaven (yeast) was to be removed from a house.  Leaven, or yeast, is what makes the bread rise.  It only takes a little yeast to make the bread rise.  Without yeast our bread would be quite different.

However, in Scripture, leaven, or yeast, represents sin.

In the 1950’s comedy classic “I Love Lucy,” one episode dealt with Lucy’s lack of cooking skills.  She had no clue how much yeast to use.  She kept dumping it in…one box, two, three.  She left the bread in the refrigerator for a while as she talked on the phone.  When she returned the kitchen was filled with bread!

That is Paul’s picture of sin – if you don’t deal with it, watch it closely, purge it from the church it will evict you!

This morning I want to share four scenarios…three from reliable sources, and one from my personal experience as a pastor. 

Scenario #1

The first scene is from Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family:
“Dear Dr. Dobson, the letter began. Things have always been rocky in my marriage, but a more serious problem arose a few years ago.  My husband, Paul, began to get interested in a beautiful divorcee who works as his bookkeeper.  At first it seemed innocent, as he helped her in various ways.  But I began to notice our relationship was deteriorating.  As he spent more and more time at her house, I began to nag and complain.  That just made him more determined to be with her.  Gradually, they fell in love with each other and I didn't know what to do about it.
I bought a book about this time in which the author promised that God wouldn't allow any wrong to happen so long as I was submissive to my husband. In my panic, I thought I would lose him forever, and I agreed to let the other woman come into our bedroom with us.  I thought it would make Paul love me more, but it just made him fall deeper in love with her.

Now he is confused and doesn't know which one of us he wants.  He says he still loves me and our three kids, but he can't give her up, either.  I love Paul so dearly and I have begged him to turn our problem over to the Lord.  But what do I do now?  Please help me.  I'm on the bottom looking up.  Linda”[2]

Scenario #2

Dan Erickson, a Baptist pastor, shares the second scenario:
Fifteen years ago, next week, I was called to become the pastor of Lakeside Baptist Church, Wentworth, Wisconsin.  As I began my first full-time ministry position, my rookie season, I found myself facing a couple of situations which were probably as difficult as any that I have dealt with the last fifteen years.  The second Sunday I was there, a fellow named Bob was sitting in the front row.  The next Sunday a woman named Linda was sitting beside him.  After a few weeks, I learned that Bob and Linda had recently been expelled from a nearby Covenant Church, where they both had been members.  Bob had abandoned his wife and moved in with Linda.  He rejected the admonition of the Covenant Church leaders to return to his spouse. 
We had a number of discussions at our deacon board meetings as to how our church should respond to the situation, but we never came up with an answer.  A few months later, Bob and Linda got married and they attended Lakeside Church for a few years, but never became members.

The second situation involved a man who, until one year before my arrival, had been the chairman of the church at Lakeside. It came out that he had been having sexual affairs with two women in the congregation. He was asked to resign his position in the church which he grudgingly did, but he expressed no remorse for his actions.  He quit attending worship services, but the church never rescinded his membership.  Some folks in the congregation continued to be his close friends, while others said they would stop associating with him until there was some evidence that he had repented from his sin.[3]

Scenario #3

The third scenario is from an Assembly of God pastor, Rick Roberts:

Now, I believe the key to a sermon is the application. The application to this one is harsh, but necessary.  There are at least two couple[s] in this body living in a sinful state - unmarried but living together.  There may be others living in other sins, but these are very obvious.  I will not call their names. Most of you know who they are. They may get angry with me. That's okay. They may be embarrassed. They should be.
They have been turned down for membership and other benefits because of their sin. They are as welcome to come to this church as much as any other sinner needed Jesus.  But here is the thing - these people are not one of us.  They are sinners who need to be saved.  They may profess Jesus. They may sincerely believe.  They may claim him as Savior.  But they are bringing open shame to Christ by their lifestyles.  They need to repent and change their living conditions in order to get right with God.  I do not believe we will see these people in heaven because they proclaim Jesus with their mouths but deny him with their deeds.[4]
I wrote to pastor Roberts asking him to share with me the outcome of that sermon.  His email came as I was preparing this message:

That was one of the hardest sermons I have ever had to preach.  The couple sat right there and glared at me the whole time - and yes, they did get angry.  She was married to someone else and pregnant with his baby.  They were living together and his mother, who was also there, was consenting. 
This was 2 1/2 years ago.  Shortly after, he stopped coming to church.  He told me he didn't appreciate me embarrassing him.  I told him I didn't appreciate him desecrating the church.  A few months later, she tried to leave him and get her life straight, but he threatened her.  After almost a year, she did finally break with him and got straight.

Scenario #4

The fourth and final scenario is from my own journey as a pastor.  It was more than 30 years ago.  The search committee was good.  The interviews went well.  The church seemed friendly and loving.  And they cooked well!

The trial sermon was not Billy Graham, but God seemed to be all over the whole process.  So, I said “yes” to a strong congregational vote margin; in three weeks we would move to the new church field.

Two weeks and five days later, just before my first Sunday at this new charge, I got a phone call.

“Brother Russell?” asked the voice, timidly.


“This is Lester[5], from your new church family.  We’ve got a little problem.”

There were three other deacons assembled in Lester’s living room when I got there.  It was not a little problem.  Dennis and Darlene had not attended in over two years, but word had gotten around that they were “coming back” this Sunday.

“What’s the problem?” I wanted to know.

Lester began, “Dennis and Darlene are still members.  They used to be married to other people who are members also, but they divorced a year ago, and married each other.  Their baby is a little over a year old.”

I settled in for the rest of it with a deep sigh. My mind wandered briefly, and I wondered if the folks at McIntosh Baptist might consider rescinding my resignation.

Dennis and Darlene had been the church’s volunteer youth co-directors.  They took the young people to camp, but spent their own free time hiking together.  The baby came along nine months later.

“What action was taken,” I asked.

“Nothing,” said Dale, “they just didn’t come once the word got out.  Now they’re coming back after the dust has settled.”

As a young pastor, I often did things that seemed right, but ignored the wiser counsel of Scripture.  Instead of first having a private meeting, I requested that two of the deacons meet me at Dennis and Darlene’s house the next night (Saturday).  (In short, I skipped step one of Mt 18, and went right to #2).

We were received cautiously.  The couple told us they did intend to come to worship the next day.  They wanted to get right with the Lord.  I briefly shared with them that I thought that was really good, and then shared with them what that would require. 

I laid out the principle for them that a private sin is usually best handled in private, between the sinner and his Savior.  However, a public sin, especially one that upended two families, and the entire church family, and brought shame on the name of Christ and the Christian community demanded a public reconciliation.  They – if they were sincerely interested in being right with the Lord – had to make it right with the Lord’s church.  There should be a public apology and request for forgiveness. 

I promised them, on the authority of God’s word, that if they asked, we would forgive, and work through the feelings, relationships, etc.

Dennis and Darlene never showed up – at least in the 6 years I pastored there.  Months later we rescinded their membership.  We did hear, however, from some of our deacons who visited them, that the reason they never came back was that the preacher said we weren’t welcome there.

Lessons we learn from history

Note the four scenarios and their outcomes, and the lessons they teach us about church discipline:
Dr. Dobson – Linda’s letter: 
If you try to accommodate sin you send the wrong message to everyone; that cheapens the church

Linda’s mistake, so evident to anyone outside the situation, was to assume that if she just allowed her husband this indulgence, she would be able to “keep” him.  Linda failed to see that Paul, in his perversion, wouldn’t be worth keeping!

It is so in the church.  Jesus knows we aren’t perfect.  He has, however, told us to move to maturity (Mt 5.48).  That means being willing to give up our sin, not accommodate it.
Wisconsin Baptist Pastor:
If you fail to act you will be left empty, with more questions than answers.  That paralyzes the church’s ministry

Those charter members of Procrastinators Anonymous among us know this feeling well.  We can always give some kind of excuse for inaction, but it will always be an excuse, never a reason.

Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.         James 4:17 (NLT)

Sin in the house of God is an affront to God.  Paul was horrified that the church leadership was doing nothing.  Indeed, they were rather proud of all the other things they had going.  God is not interested in the things you’re doing as a church, if the people of the church aren’t living as the church.
“Cleaning House” pastor: 
If you act self-righteously, bullying people from the pulpit you destroy people.  That is Satanic, not life-giving.

A pastor has a calling to proclaim God’s word, no matter where the chips may fall; he never has the right to attack people personally in a sermon.  It is not only bad manners and poor ethics; it shows a lack of respect for God’s pulpit and people when you destroy people.

On the other hand, the people of God have every right to expect that God’s word – including the painful parts – will be proclaimed faithfully…no matter where the chips may fall.
Dennis and Darlene: 
If you act in a hurry, you lose the power of God’s Word and Spirit to bring about reconciliation.

I knew going in the likelihood of the final outcome – that I would be blamed, or the deacons with me.  I reasoned that it would be better for me to have witnesses.  The problem was that, in skipping the first private meeting (which would have made me quite vulnerable) I went around Scripture as badly as Dennis and Darlene.  I did not trust the Spirit’s power; I was trusting Russell’s reasoning.

Had I had the private meeting first, rather than bringing an entourage, perhaps the couple would not have been so defensive.  They might have broken and asked for forgiveness, and experienced healing.  My rush past the first step may have cost the kingdom dearly.
Paul and the Corinthian church: 
When you do things God’s way, He can heal the broken fellowship.

Later in Paul’s letters (2 Corinthians 2) we read that the church did respond to Paul’s instructions.  They were not happy to get his letter, but they received it, heeded the instructions, and the man in question repented – the fellowship was restored.

What do we do with the lessons?

Not every situation in life ties up as neatly as did the Corinthian church problem.  In fact most don’t.  The reasons are probably legion, but mostly it’s because we, the body of Christ, miss God.  We are afraid, lazy or too steeped in our own sin to do what God said we must do.

Having the lessons down pat is good.  Using the wisdom we gain from our mistakes and the rebuke of the Word is even better.

I said earlier we are not about to embark on any specific discipline problem, and I mean just that.  However, I want you to ponder this passage, this aspect of church life, and come to grips with it for this reason:

I believe that the health of our church is more important to God than the size of our church.  We cannot ignore gross, blatant, open sin on the part of members of this congregation.  It is a stench in the nostrils of God, and a stain on the name of Christ in any community when it is tolerated.
Because of that, I want to offer this as God’s plan for our church to avoid the pitfalls we saw in the scenarios:

#1.  Pray daily for each other, and for our spiritual health as a congregation. 
Corinth seems a long way from where we are; but it’s not!  It is Satan’s job to disrupt our unity and ministry.  He is good at it, so pray hard!

#2.  Be committed to church discipline, knowing that it is the only loving response a community of believers can make. 
When it becomes necessary to enter the process of church discipline, re-read the passages, pray over the process, and support the God-given way of caring for the brother or sister.

#3.  Pray especially for the leaders of our congregation. 
Every Christian is susceptible to sin, and even gross sin.  However, church leaders are vulnerable and visible.  The Scripture tells us leaders are held to a stricter accountability.  When a church pastor, deacon, Sunday School teacher, or other leader falls, it makes news in a hurry.

A few closing thoughts about the Value of Church discipline:

·        I have lived through some church discipline circumstances.  The church was always healthier in the long run, even when the process wasn’t perfect.

·        I have lived through my parent’s discipline as a disobedient child.  I was always better for it, even though they are not perfect.

·        I have lived through my doctor’s discipline.  I had my life saved by it, even though he wasn’t perfect.

·        I have never liked any of the discipline events – doctor’s medicine, parent’s meddling or the church meetings.  But, beloved, it is God’s way of making certain his church gets healthy, and stays that way.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

[1] Title Image: Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
[2](In a sermon on James Dobson, Love Must Be Tough, pg 5.
[3] In a sermon, Dan Erickson, Dare To Discipline
[4] In a sermon, Rick Roberts, Cleaning House
[5] All names are fictitious, the incident is factual.