August 7, 2005

12th Sunday after Pentecost

"Do You Have Beautiful Feet?"

(Romans 10:5-15)

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn


INTRODUCTION:

A teenage boy kept begging his father to let him drive the car to school which was only three blocks away. Exasperated his father replied, "Drive to school? Why do you think God gave you two feet?" The boy answered, "One foot is to put on the brake. The other is to put on the accelerator." (1)

One day a grandmother noticed something wrong her five year old granddaughter's feet and said: "Honey, you've got your shoes on the wrong feet."

The little girl looked down and then said: "But Grandma, these are the only feet I've got!" (2)

Feet. We all have them. You've probably wanted someone to tell "Take a load off your feet" because felt "Dead on your feet." I'll bet you've heard parents tell you to "Get the lead out of your feet" or quit "Dragging your feet" or it's time to "Stand on your own two feet."

And you've probably felt "ten-feet tall" and gone to "Jump in with both feet" but found you had "Feet of clay" and "Got cold feet" and been "Knocked off your feet" so you had to "Get back on your feet" while keeping "Both feet on the ground."

But I'll bet no one has ever asked you. "Do You Have Beautiful Feet?"

I'm not going to have contest, I don't want to embarrass anyone. But that's the topic for discussion this morning. "Do You Have Beautiful Feet?" The clue to understanding what that question implies and how to answer it is found in Scripture reading for this morning.

Romans 10:5-15 (NRSV)

[5] Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that "the person who does these things will live by them."

[6] But the righteousness that comes from faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down)

[7] "or 'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

[8] But what does it say? "The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);

[9] because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

[10] For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

[11] The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame."

[12] For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.

[13] For, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

[14] But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?

[15] And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"


I. GO:

A. Now having heard the Scripture, let me ask you again: "Do You Have Beautiful Feet?" Are you one of those who brings Good News? Are you one through whom the Good News of Jesus Christ is heard so that others can believe? "Do You Have Beautiful Feet?"

Or are you like Edwin Carp one of the fictional characters from radio days brought to light by the old TV sitcom the Dick Van Dyke Show.

In episode 89, Season 3, Rob comes up with the idea to bring back some of the old radio stars and build an episode around them. And the key player happens to be Edwin Carp. Without him the show just won't make. He finally agrees and this is one of the poems he recites on air in the show.

FEET by Scoutmaster Allen

A Poem glorifying the pedal extremities.


You need feet to stand up straight with,

You need feet to kick your friends,

You need feet to keep your socks on,

And stop your legs from fraying at the ends.

You need feet to stand on tippy-toe,

Or to dance the hootchie-koo.

Yes, the whole world needs feet for something,

And I need feet to run away from you.



B. I'd dare say that when it comes to the word "Evangelism" most of us turn into Edwin Carp, "And I need feet to run away from you."

I don't know why that word evokes such fear in everyone. Maybe it's because of the years of the buttonholing style of evangelism we were taught. Maybe it's all the fervent flaming fundamentalists who have beat people over the head with the Bible, using God's Word as a weapon rather than the book of love and grace that it truly is. I don't know. But the core of who we are called to be as Christians is to be evangelists. As baptized Christians we have been given our marching orders to "Go, into all the world, making disciples."

When Jesus said: "Go into all the world" He was calling each of us to be an evangelist. The call is to GO into the mission field of our world. The world or people you know and like and who know and like you. The world of your family. The world of your friends. The only command is to: "GO!" Not to run away.


II. HOW:

A. So how do you go? How do we "get a foothold." How do we "Put our best foot forward" and Get a foot in the door" so we don't "Get off on the wrong foot" and "Stick a foot in our mouth" with this whole Beautiful Feet thing called Evangelism? Well, I'm glad you asked that question.

The ushers can pass out the packets now.

This morning as a way to Beautify our Feet and help us "Stand on your own two feet" financially, I'd like to ask each of you to be a part of both a 40 day prayer ministry called Faithful For Forty.

A portion of this is called 3 X 5 Evangelism. In your packet you will find three 3 X 5 cards. If you don't have enough or the got left out, the ushers have extra they will pass out. What we would like you to do is this:

1. Take the first card and write the names of five different people you know who aren't going to church anywhere. It might be a neighbor, a friend, a relative, a co-worker, or someone who used to attend but for some reason has quit; just five people you know who aren't attending church.

2. Copy those five names onto the other 2 cards.

3. Turn to the person on your left (you can walk across the aisle if you need to or turn to the pew behind you) and give that person one of your cards with the five names on it. Trade, take one of theirs.

4. Put that card along with one of your cards in your purse or in your pocket.

5. Now the third card, we want you to it lay face down in communion rail when you come to take communion later.

6. You should have two 3 X 5 cards and ten names. Some of them may be the same but that's OK. That just means that you and the person you swapped with are on the same wave length.

7. Now for the next 40 days, we would like you to pray for those 10 people on your cards as you enter into the Faithful For Forty emphasis. Set aside a time either in the morning or the evening when you can spend more than just a second or two in prayer for each person.

8. Carry the cards with you and whenever you get a chance, pray for them. Ask God's blessing in their lives. If you know specific needs in the family, lift those as well.

9. Finally, the cards you laid on the altar will stay there for the next 40 Days. Every week Leslie and I will be praying through them. She will be praying on Wednesdays and I'll be praying on Thursdays. And every Sunday, for the next 40 Days, we will lift them up to God. God knows who they are.

10. And while you praying for others, don't forget to pray for yourself, too. Draw upon the same energy and resources Jesus drew on for His life and ministry.

B. Then follow the Stewardship Prayer Emphasis as well. We are asking that everyone "make a sacrifice" during this time of prayer because sacrifice enhances prayer. The suggested amount is detailed in your packet. But if just 40 people undertake the minimum we will not only grow the church but raise an extra $4,000. If a hundred people choose the minimum it will be $10,000.

But the point is to take time to energize your life, energize the life and stewardship of our church and to energize the life of others through prayer.

I ran across a letter to God. It says: DEAR GOD, If you do all these things you are pretty busy. Now here's my question. When is the best time I can talk to you? I know you are always listening but when will you be listening hard in Troy, New York? Sincerely Yours, Allen. (3)

I can tell you, God listens hard all the time and everywhere. It doesn't make any difference when and how you pray. But it does make a difference IF you pray. So, pray. Rev Timothy Peck in a sermon titled: How To Share Your Faith Without Being a Jerk says: "We have no right to share with people we haven't prayed for."


CONCLUSION:

Let me tell you about a friend of mine. I'm proud to call him my Christian brother. I've met with John and others once a week in an accountability group for the last eight years. About a year ago, John took a new job. Like many people he'd been looking for a long time. He'd been an executive, a District Manager for a company. Now he's working in warehouse and thankful he has a job. John is a dedicated Christian man and it shows in everything he does, though he's not one of those preachy kind of guys. You just know from his actions that he not only believes in God but John honors God with his life. He talks about his church and his faith freely.

At work, the other workers listen primarily to a rap station but every chance John gets, he turns it to KLTY. John rarely if ever swears. And that was the first thing most of the other workers noticed. And the day John was having a really bad day and slipped, it was probably the first time any of those other men had heard someone apologize for swearing. But John did because John has Beautiful Feet.

John's lifestyle has had an impact on that warehouse. I know that John prays for each of his coworkers and prays that God will use him as a positive influence. And it has worked on at least one man. This guy asked John if his church had any black members, and it does. Then he told John that he and his wife, who is Filipino, might visit.

Sure enough, they attended the next Sunday. They sat with John and John introduced them around. At work, John thanked him for coming. They came again. They missed a Sunday but it was because they were out of town. Two weeks later this black man and Filipino wife joined St. Barnabas United Methodist Church and gave testimony to John and his lifestyle being the reason that they came. Now the wife's sister and her husband are attending and are planning to join in the near future.

John didn't stand on a corner with a Bible. John didn't stand in the middle of the warehouse and preach. John didn't put the other guys down for their language. John simply chose to love them, pray for them, be a positive influence and honor God. And God honored John be allowing him to see the fruit of his faithfulness. That my friends is Evangelism. "Do You Have Beautiful Feet?"

You can. Pray for those on your 3 X 5 cards and live your faith. That's all it takes and a willingness to talk about your faith when asked. And that shouldn't be a problem because the Holy Spirit promised to guide you.

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.

______________________________

Bibliography

1. Pastor's Story File (Platteville, Colorado: Saratoga Press) October 1996 Adapted from Better Families, August, 1995

2. Parables, Etc. (Platteville, Colorado: Saratoga Press) December 1993

3. Parables, Etc. (Platteville, Colorado: Saratoga Press), May 1984

4.

Other References Consulted

www.SermonWriter.com (Copyright, Richard Niell Donovan, 2000)

www.SermonMall.com

www.deaconsil.com

www.rockies.net/~spirit/sermon.html (Richard Fairchild Lectionary Resources)

Homiletics, (Communications Resources, Inc., Canton, OH)

Lectionary Homiletics, (Lectionary Homiletics, Inc. Midlothian, VA)

Dynamic Preaching, (Seven Worlds Publishing, Knoxville, TN)

The Clergy Journal, (Logos Productions, Inc., Inver Grove Heights, MN)

Preaching Magazine (Preaching Resources, Jackson, TN)

Circuit Rider, (The United Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, TN)

The Interpreter's Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1953)

The New Interpreter's Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1995)

Lectionary Preaching Workbook, Cycle A, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 2002) SermonPrep Version.

Preaching the Miracles, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 1998) SermonPrep Version.

Preaching the Parables, Cycle A, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 1997) SermonPrep Version.