Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Everyone loves a good pursuit. Like in an old western - God pursues us. It’s about time we surrendered!

7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalms 139:7-14 (NIV)


As I was growing up – I enjoyed reading… And my favorite reading was a good western. I believe I have read every book ever published by Louis L’Amour – most of them 2 or 3 times. Another of my favorite authors was Max Brand, and I read a lot of Zane Grey as well.

In nearly every western there is the story of a pursuit. There is a suspected crime, usually a robbery or a shootout, the posse is organized, and the chase is on. And in some of the most respectable westerns, it is the pursuit of a lifetime. Some of my favorite stories were about the Sherriff, or Texas Ranger, or Pinkerton detective that had been on the trail of a criminal for years. And we breathe a final sigh of relief when we hear the good guy say “Come out with your hands up”, and the bad guy surrenders.

In many of the stories, we end up with begrudging respect for the crook. Sometimes we even begin to hope they escape their pursuer…

One such story is “Catch Me if You Can” – the story of Frank Abagnale. Frank ran away at 16, and spent the next 10 years as a professional con artist. He made millions of dollars writing bad checks all over the world. He passed himself off as a Pan Am pilot, he served as the chief of residency at a Georgia hospital, he passed the Louisiana bar exam and got a job as District Attorney, and even taught at Brigham Young University. All of these done by a man that didn’t even finish high school, never flew a plane in his life, and was running just a few steps ahead of the law.

I heard Frank Abagnale tell his own story once. And while we might think the story is glamorous – he shares the dark side of the chase. The loneliness... Never getting a chance to rest… Getting so caught up in false identities that you begin to forget what is real. And Mr Abagnale begins to reveal what may be true for most of those that spend a lifetime running – there is a part of you that simply longs to be caught.

The “Catch Me if You Can” story is actually one of the most gratifying of all pursuit stories… The good guy gets his man, and the bad guy learns his lesson and actually becomes a good guy. Frank Abagnale did his time, repaid all the money he stole by writing bad checks, and has a successful security consulting business – teaching governments and corporations how protect themselves against someone like himself.

It’s Your Story…

Really – we’re all obsessed with stories of the chase. Some of you women are saying, “Oh, no, that’s a guy thing” But it’s not. It’s the substance of every great romance. Boy meets girl. Girl plays hard to get. There are two things that don’t work in a romance novel:

- The guy just gives up

- The girl just gives in

If either of those things happen, we certainly don’t have the makings of a Lifetime movie, do we?

Of course – you can tell I’m a guy, though… Because I titled my message, “Come out with your hands up”, and not “Wait! Don’t get on that plane! I just realized that I can’t live another moment without you!” What kind of a sermon title would that be???

But regardless of the context, we all love stories of the pursuit. Because it’s our story. And all too often we identify closely with the one being chased. Because that’s our role in our story. We have trouble deciding whether to root for the guy or the girl, the good guy or the bad guy. We have sympathies for both, and we’re hoping against all hope that somehow this story will turn out good for all.

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