Malcolm Tyree

A collection of thoughts on things that matter

Archive for the category “Sermons”

Praying or Wishing: finding strength in vulnerability

To kick off 2017, I’m leading a series of teachings on a basic spiritual discipline, what it means to pray.

In the first message, I focused on how many of our prayers turn out to be wishes or they are announcements of what we intend to achieve by our own ability.

In reviewing Paul’s prayer offered for the church, recorded in Ephesians 3:14-21, we find that when we pray it is about acknowledging our limitations, vulnerabilities, and inabilities. As we pray, we should seek strength from God because we are in need. It is really hard to pray if we do not acknowledge our need.

Take a moment to pray an emptying prayer and find that God fills you with his strength.

Watch the video and let me know what you think.

The video is about 36 minutes long.

Pastor Appreciation Month: Gene Lanham

I grew up in a typical American family. My parents divorced when I was five. My dad remarried when I was 10. I have two younger siblings, a brother nearly 3 years younger and a sister just over 14 years younger. My Dad served in the Army, was a part of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. My moms worked. My parents had grown up with a bit of church in their lives, but as a family we didn’t go to church, pray, or even really talk much about God and faith. We went about our business of work, school, and living life.

As a high schooler in the early 90’s I was introduced to the theology of Garth Brooks. His music had a way of capturing my imagination and my thoughts of the time. I won’t forget how true I believed the song “Unanswered Prayers” to be. Probably more than any other thing I had heard up to to that point, Garth Brooks was shaping my theology.In my Junior year, my best friend got a bug to try out a church in town. I tagged along, because that’s what friends do. I was probably a bit too pious in my Brooks theology and nearly created a fight in Sunday School when I asserted the wisdom of “Unanswered Prayers” to a class of seasoned church goers. Needless to say, we didn’t go back.

Nearly a year later, I went with the same friend to a different church. He had been attending there for a few months without me. The church’s building was located close to a mile from my house. One day my friend invited me to join him for a Friday night movie at the church. I went; mostly because I didn’t have anything else going on. 

After that night, I found myself returning to the church Wednesdays and Sundays. The 200 or so member church was led by Bro. Lanham. He was a distinguished looking guy with his finely trimmed mustache and silver hair. He would wear short sleeve button up shirts with a tie and a jacket on Sundays. I can’t recall ever seeing him wear a pair of blue jeans. He would preach every Sunday and often sing. He liked a country and western styled Gospel music. His wife, Sister Lanham, was the church secretary and leader of the women’s ministry. She was often found wearing a dress and a big welcoming smile.

On Easter Sunday, 1993, I went forward in the church and prayed. It is that day that I accepted Jesus’ work on my behalf and asked him to change my life.

In June of ’93, Bro. Lanham baptized me, my best friend, and our classmate who had led my best friend to attending that church.

 

picture of the Lanhams

Bro. and Sis. Lanham


Bro. Lanham was my first pastor. 

I can’t recall anything special about what he preached. Nor is there anything special about the way he preached. He made it all seem pretty simple. He would remind us to love and serve God and be holy. Looking back, I think he extended a simple plea for us to be saved and sanctified, week after week. Bro. Lanham was never overly stern. He was gracious and humble. 

Bro. Lanham was brave enough to let me cut my teeth in ministry. It started with mowing the church lawn. I’m sure it was really hard for him to give up that responsibility. Then I asked if I could change the marquee sign. When our youth leader left, I volunteered to teach the lessons on Wednesday. All the time, Bro. Lanham said “yes.” I am sure there is more to these simple memories on his side, but for me that is how it seemed. He even let me “sing” solos and gave me my first opportunity to preach. 

Bro. Lanham had a first name. It was a long time before I knew it. Turns out, he didn’t even go by his first name. My guess is I learned his first name, not long after I learned the name he went by. But for me, his first name was “Brother.”

I am honored to have had Leslie Eugene “Gene” Lanham as my first pastor. His ministry at the First Church of God in Clarksville, Tennessee, shaped me in my earliest days. Like a baby learning to roll over, crawl, walk, talk, and run, Bro. Lanham was like a parent in my faith.

Today, as I sit here typing this out, I am still impacted by his life. You see, what I didn’t mention is that Bro. Lanham began praying for me before we even met.

One Christmas season, Bro. Lanham was working at the mall as Santa Claus. One of the ladies working as Santa’s Helper was a mom to two teen aged boys and a toddler girl. He prayed for that family and the oldest son wandered into the Church of God and moved out of the Brooks school of theology because God answers prayer.

A Taste of Things to Come: a Wedding

(John 2:11)

When you’ve gone to church for a long time, or you’ve read through the Bible repeatedly, it is easy to miss “the first time” something happens. We miss it because we are really familiar with the story. It seems we are so familiar with the story that we focus on the end and not the beginning. 



picture of actors

Members of New Life Bile Fellowship reenacting what the wedding crlebration could have looked like



As Jesus turns some 120 gallons of water into wine, we marvel at the fact that he did the miracle, but we can lose perspective easily, after all what is water into wine compared to the cross?

Did you catch it? 120 gallons! I’m not a wine drinker, I’m pretty much a tee-totaler in my lifestyle, but 120 gallons seems like a lot of wine to me. How many people were at this party? How much longer would it be lasting? Did Jesus really need to make that much more wine or was he just showing off for his mom and these first disciples?

I realize that it sounds heretical to say Jesus may have been “showing off.” The whole testimony of Jesus is that he was “sinless” and showing off seems a bit like pride and that is one of those “seven deadly sins,” right?

It is quite possible that Jesus was showing off, in a good way. After all, looking at his miracles, they’re supernatural. Isn’t that in and of itself showing off?

What if Jesus was showing off so that his disciples and family members, and even those low servants, who knew what had happened, could get a taste of things to come?

Imagine if Jesus is showing off because he gets excited about weddings? He is a single guy, betrothed (we know this because we know the full story) and preparing for his wedding day. Imagine if his participation in the celebration is his way of saying, “just wait, there’s more to come!”

We tend to see Jesus as uptight and unemotional. Allow your imagination to fill out the picture of who Jesus really was/is. Imagine Jesus excited about weddings, grieving at funerals, and enjoying parades. Could it be in each of these, he is helping us get a taste of things to come?

On an application side, if Jesus gets invested in these things, shouldn’t we? Maybe that is what he meant when he later tells the crowd that he has come to give life to the fullest (John 10:10). Let your marriage show off God’s power. May your funeral be a testimony of your commitment to Jesus. Throw a parade celebrating a better day to come! If we live this way, we live as appetizers, giving others a taste of things to come. And maybe, we will be reminded of what it was like to experience Jesus for the first time.

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