Thursday, February 18, 2010

Amos: Moo of Destruction

Last week, we began our series from the book of Amos. Several of you told me that, yes indeed-y, that was the first sermon you had ever heard from that book. This week, we'll take a look at Amos 4:1-3, in a sermon I titled "Moo of Destruction." Yes, I got a little goofy with that title, but it could've been worse: Originally, it was "A Cow-tastrophe at Hamburger Hill." If you're wondering what's up with the bovine theme, Amos in our text criticizes a group of women he calls "cows of Bashan." We'll talk more about what that means, but he's not critiquing their appearance or weight. Instead, it's about their insatiable appetite for consumption. Or to put it in plain terms, the selfish, materialistic attitudes of the jet-set. You may think this is an odd time to preach on such a subject, when the economy isn't exactly booming, but the love of money doesn't discriminate based on net worth. Are you and I infected with the same "affluenza?" We'll examine the symptoms--and more importantly, the cure--this Sunday.

Friday, February 12, 2010

New Series: Amos

A while back, I told the church about my favorite explanation of the role of a prophet. I got this from John Ortberg:

Imagine that you have perfect pitch, musically speaking. You can hear the slightest deviation from the proper sound when someone is playing or singing. Now imagine that you live in a world where no one can sing. The sounds of their songs are the most offensive noise you have ever heard, yet they are blissfully ignorant of their own awfulness. They sing constantly at the tops of their cursed lungs, all the while thinking they sound like Pavarotti or Susan Boyle. How would this make you feel? A little cranky, perhaps? Would you feel compelled to speak out?

In Ortberg's analogy, the prophet was someone who had perfect SPIRITUAL pitch. They weren't sinless, but they were acutely aware of the will of God and painfully sensitive to what our sin does to His honor. Yet they lived in a spiritually tone-deaf world, where people sinned wantonly and thought of themselves as morally upright. Prophets had no choice but to preach. They weren't fortune-tellers, although God sometimes gave them insight into the future. Instead, they were the whistle-blowers who refused to let society go down in flames on their watch. Being a prophet didn't pay, and it often ended up costing them their lives. After all, armchair opera singers like you and I don't like being told how we really sound.

Keep that in mind as we begin a new series on the book of Amos. He was an especially cranky guy, even by prophetic standards. Yet his book is particularly applicable to our times. He preached to an Israel that was affluent and secure, and their "affluenza" had produced religious hypocrisy, injustice, and all manner of loathsome characteristics. Amos was a farmer from the southern region of Judah, and he didn't endear himself to his elitist northern neighbors with his preaching. But he had a loving purpose; destruction was coming upon Israel, and they had precious little time to avert the disaster through repentance.

From the outset of this series, the question each of us has to address is this: Am I open and willing to hear what God has to say to me? Do I want to know if I'm headed in the wrong direction? That's what we'll talk about this Sunday as we look at the first two chapters of Amos. The answer to those questions could make all the difference in our lives.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Chili Recipe

Our chili cookoff yesterday was a rousing success. I always enjoy getting the church family together for any reason, but 42 pots of chili (and some AMAZING desserts) on a cold night was a terrific idea. Thanks to Randy and Karen Mitchell for putting this all together.

Just in case you're interested in trying a different chili recipe this winter, here's my favorite:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
3/4 pound beef sirloin or stew meat, cubed
1 (14.5 ounce) can peeled and diced
tomatoes with juice
1 cup strong brewed coffee
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1 (14 ounce) can beef broth

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans

IF you like your chili spicy:
4 fresh hot chile peppers, seeded and
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onions, garlic, ground beef and cubed sirloin in oil for 10 minutes, or until the meat is well browned and the onions are tender.

2. Add remaining ingredients.

3. Simmer for at least an hour and a half, but the longer, the better.


3. Put all ingredients in a crock pot, let it cook on low all day.


3. Put all the ingredients together the day before, let the flavors mingle as they sit in the refrigerator overnight. Start cooking them first thing in the morning, let it simmer until supper.