Sermon Illustrations


John Ortberg tells of a man in a church he once pastored whom he called Denny. Denny was not a happy man. He had attended church his whole life, but he had never been happy. Even the expression on his face was perpetually negative - so much so that one day a deacon asked him, "Denny, are you happy?" Denny answered, "Yeah." The deacon replied, "Then tell your face."

Now, one of the MANY things Denny did not approve of was contemporary music in the church. He often complained that the music was too loud. But no one realized how far he would go until one day a man came to the church office, flashed his badge, and announced that he was from OSHA. He was under orders to investigate a complaint someone had made about the decibel levels at church services. Of course, it was Denny who had registered the complaint. The staff could only laugh--and the agent could only join them.

But actually, Denny’s attitude is no laughing matter. Listen to John Ortberg’s observation as he looked back on this situation:

"Denny is not changing. He is a cranky guy. He has been cranky his whole life. Not just about church - he does not effectively know how to love his wife; his children cannot tolerate him; and he has no joy. He’s been going to church his whole life, sixty years. And nobody in the church is surprised that he stays cranky year after year. It is as if we expect a bad attitude - that’s just Denny. Nobody is expecting him to be more like Jesus year after year."

(John Ortberg, The Life You’ve always Wanted. From a sermon by Joel Smith, "A Crash Course in Character" 1/14/2009)

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