My sons and I returned early this morning from The Northmen. It was a great week filled with good friends, good food and some good preaching.
To be completely honest, I didn't agree with everything I heard from the pulpit. I found some of the men's sermons to be offensive, even. That is always the case for me and the Northmen. There are some pretty far-right preachers who come there. But even those guys, when I've sifted through the chaff, give me plenty to think about and several grains of truth.
Here are a few kernels:
Referencing Isaiah 6, Kerry Allen preached, "Sometimes worship isn't a warm, fuzzy; sometimes worship is a painful experience that results in reformation." He also said, "Kingdom people, sometimes, never hear the voice of the King, and that is tragic."
From Greg Dill: "We don't have a right to change the message; our job is to deliver the message."
Fred Rodkey, Preaching Pastor of Chapel Rock Christian Church preached "You look like Jesus when you're searching for the lost, more than any other time in your life."
Ron Otto, the former minister at South Lansing gave, in my opinion, the best sermon of the week. He told us that 1 out of every 1000 doors we knock on results in a conversion to Christ. 1 of every 9 people we invite to church becomes a Christian, but 1 of every 3 people we invite into our home will make Christ their Lord.
Dick Chambers preached, "Salvation is free, but discipleship costs you everything you've got."
On Thursday morning, Harry "Bud" Yoder told us, "You can teach people how, but until you teach them why, they'll never be disciples.
J. Allen Cook delivered one of the best sermons I've ever heard on the parable of the prodigal son. he told us, "Your church reflects either one of two spirits. It reflects the prodigals willingness to celebrate and come home, or it reflects the older brother's spirit of judgment." He also said, "Prodigal sons sin gregariously; older brothers sin tastefully. They both sin. Prodigals are just on the accelerated plan." He concluded by preaching, "Older brothers, don't forget you have a past; prodigals, don't forget you have a future."
Of course, Mike Kjergaard preached a dandy. Speaking on the parable of the unmerciful servant, he said, "As a forgiven people, we need to be a forgiving people."
The week was rounded out by Lee Mason. I don't always agree with what Lee writes, but I've yet to hear him preach a clunker. He did not disappoint last night, either. He preached, "A man's life does not consist of what he possesses, but of who possesses him." He also told us a Spanish proverb that puts material possessions in the right light: "There are no pockets in a shroud."
All in all it was a great week, and I look forward to returning to the North woods on August 5-7, 2008.