Preaching Connection: Conversion

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Movies for Preaching

The Mission (1986)

Written by Robert Bolt, Cinematography by Chris Menges, Music by Ennio Morricone, Starring Jeremy Irons, Robert De Niro, and Ray McAnally. 125 mins. Rated PG. There, finally, at the top of the spectacular Iguaza Falls, after days of treacherous, barefoot climbing up and up water-slick sides of rock and mud, arrives Rodrigo Mendoza (Robert De…

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Reading for Preaching

The Collected Sermons of William H. Willimon

Willimon is struck by how nonautobiographical C. S. Lewis’ autobiography (Surprised by Joy) really is. There is nothing in it to account for his conversion—which seems to come out of the blue. He says he was “the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England . . .brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting...
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Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith

Norris tells of a woman from a small Methodist church in Montana. She had been a drunk and a “cocaine whore.” “Her self-esteem was so ragged,” said her pastor, “that he suspects she was sleeping not only with anyone who could provide her with booze or cocaine, but also with anyone who simply showed her...
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Additional content related to Conversion

Luke 19:1-10

Both Zacchaeus and Jesus are depicted as seeking in this story. In fact, seeking, or seeing, is a central and repeated theme in the passage. Zacchaeus wants to see, Jesus is seeking, the crowd sees. We readers are even pulled into the story through seeing: Luke starts with giving us details about Zacchaeus, but does…

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Philemon 1:1-21

A colleague recently told me that he sometimes feels like members of his church think of him as a UPS package that’s all wrapped up and labelled. Ironically, however, those members don’t agree on what his label says. My colleague says they variously think of him as too liberal or conservative, lenient or intolerant, modern…

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Acts 16:16-34

It was certainly an interesting day! In this story we get a little occult, an exorcism, some political intrigue, an earthquake, and in the end the exuberant joy of the gospel! Your average Lord’s day it was not. As Luke narrates it for us in Acts 16, Paul and Silas’ experiences in the city of…

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Acts 9:1-6 (7-20)

Acts 9 is one of those stories that has proven to have a pretty wide reach.  Mention the phrases “Damascus road experience” or “scales falling from your eyes” to most anyone—even to people who are not regular churchgoers—and they’ll know what you mean for the most part.  And to the minds of some of those…

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Acts 10:34-43

Comments, Observations, and Questions When you are a devout person who wants nothing more than to serve God, then there are few shocks to the system quite as great as spiritual shocks.  Just ask the apostle Peter.  He knows all about this kind of thing.  Because unlike some of our religious customs and taboos today—the…

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Acts 8:14-17

Familiarity may, as the old cliche goes, breed contempt. But sometimes it also breeds a kind of blindness. I’ve written a sermon commentary on Acts 8:14-17. I’ve preached on it multiple times. My familiarity with it hasn’t yet dimmed my fascination with one of the Scriptures’ most mysterious and intriguing stories. However, my relative familiarity…

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Acts 2:1-21

We have come to the conclusion of our fifty day celebration of Easter.  It is fascinating to me that our exit from Dr. Luke’s account of the spread of Easter faith is the on ramp to that whole story.  With this Pentecost story, we loop back to where it all began.  Even as Luke tells…

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Acts 16:16-34

TANSTAAFL is an acronym for the old adage, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch,” reportedly coined by Robert Heinlein. Quite simply, it means even if something appears to be free, there’s always some kind of catch. So your friendly neighborhood lobbyist (or pastor) may buy you lunch or dinner. However, she’s probably…

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Acts 15:1-21

I’m going to start with the obvious observation that talking about circumcision is not simply an abstract theological conversation. The core of the discussion might be theological principles that are rooted in the biblical story, but the consequences of it are painfully practical. In the case of people new to the faith, being informed that…

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