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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Agreement/Disagreement (01/19/12)

TITLE: John Tanner's last sermon
By Geoffrey johnstone


This sermon was found in the old cupboard at the back of the church during Spring clean.

The following Sunday it appeared as an insert in our church bulletin. The Pastor's handwritten notes are included as capital letters.

My name is John Tanner and this is my last sermon. In one hour I will be John Tanner Ė retired pastor. POINT TO FISHING ROD.

My text is found in Acts 12:5 ďSo Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.Ē

What has thirty five years of pastoral ministry taught me? It is this. The hardest thing in the world is for God to say no to a church that is in complete agreement.


Our critics say if you lock five Baptists in a room they will come up with seven points of view. But let me tell you a story that may change your mind. It occurred in my first year of ministry.

Little Robbie McArdle was diagnosed with aggressive leukemia. He was only a year old and he wasnít given much hope. The doctors told his parents if he survived the treatment he would never have children of his own.

But we prayed. Oh how we prayed.

That night the church was full.

Each of us had our own reason for being there.

Some people came just to support the family.

I was surprised to hear them say they did not believe in miracles. There were folk like that in Peterís church. When the Apostle knocked on the door they did not believe it was him.

Doubt does not stop God from answering prayer.

Here is the good news. You donít need great faith when you have a great God. PAUSE FOR EFFECT. Just put what little faith you have in the God who raised His Son from the grave.

The second reason people came was because God might just do something.

In verse 2 God does not save James, the brother of John. Herod murdered him.

All of the disciples, except John, would die terrible deaths.


God saved Daniel from the lionís den. God saved Moses from Pharoah. God saved Jonah from the belly of the whale.

And on that night, so long ago, there was a chance God might save little Robbie McArdle

Finally, there was Auntie Pat. SMILE AT PRIVATE JOKE.

Auntie Pat was 5 feet tall and completely unstoppable. She had a stare that could kill a kangaroo at a hundred yards. Her exact words were, ďGod if you donít answer our prayer tonight how are you going to look us in the face on Judgment Day?Ē

She believed if God said it, then that settled it. She constantly told us that Jesus said if you ask anything in His name then you would have it.

Here is some more good news. Your reasons for turning up donít matter. Just turn up!

Do you want to know what happened to little Robbie McArdle? He lives in Melbourne with his beautiful wife and five adorable children. Do you know what happened to Peter? An angel opened the doors of the prison.

We live in a world at war with itself. Tragedy sells newspapers.

But you and I are different. We are Godís people. There is greatness inside of us.

Thatís why we can do the impossible. We can stand before God

PAUSE as one people,
PAUSE as one family,
PAUSE as one voice,

and pray Thy kingdom come and thy will be done, in this place as it is in Heaven!

God bless you.
Calvary Baptist Church

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This article has been read 388 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Janice Fitzpatrick01/26/12
Cleverly written. I enjoyed this. Well done! Humorous teachable message. Good job!!!
C D Swanson 01/26/12
This was so well written, and amazingly entertaining. This was an innovative piece filled with great messages throughout the piece, and a unified voice for all.

Loved it! God Bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/26/12
I really enjoyed this and thought it was a clever take on the topic.

My only suggestion would be in the beginning. While I think it was a unique idea to have a sermon be the focal point of the story, the first paragraph may have drawn the reader in more if you had done something similar to this: John dusted the church shelves. His hand found a crumpled bit of paper. His eyes bulged when he realized it was the last sermon John preached.

It introduces the main part of the story as a sermon but keeps the reader guessing and you show instead of tell the beginning.

I loved the sermon, itself. You did a nice job with writing a piece that held my attention. You also have a nice sense of humor. Nice job!
Judy Sauer 01/27/12
The sermon is great and found the all caps notes to self helpful.

The initial setting up of the story would have grabbed my attention more if it included more character - descriptive wording that gave it more life.

This was an interesting read. Nice job.
Theresa Santy 01/28/12
Clever, fun, and entertaining. I especially enjoyed this paragraph:

Auntie Pat was 5 feet tall and completely unstoppable. She had a stare that could kill a kangaroo at a hundred yards. Her exact words were, ďGod if you donít answer our prayer tonight how are you going to look us in the face on Judgment Day?Ē

Oh my goodness, What a fantastic character sketch. In three sentences I know more about this woman than I do about some of my closest neighbors. (SMILES AT PRIVATE JOKE).

Oh, and I loved the 'caps' effect.
Jenna Dawn01/29/12
When you quote scripture, make sure you identify the source per the Challenge rules. (See below)

If you use any Scripture verse(s) in your entry, you MUST identify the source of the Scripture, i.e. NIV, NKJV, NLT, etc. by including a footnote with that information. The passage(s) of Scripture used MUST BE quoted ACCURATELY (unless using a personal paraphrase, in which case, no reference is required other than a note to indicate this was the author's paraphrase).

Nice writing. :)
Leola Ogle 01/31/12
This was great! Loved it. Good writing, great story! Well done! God bless!
Jody Day 02/01/12
Nicely done. I loved this.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/11/12
Congratulations for placing 7th in level 1!