Sermons

Summary: In this sermon, we cover the entire second chapter and attempt to understand the methods and motives of false teachers.

Introduction:

A. The picture you are looking at is of Joe Cervantes, who was an officer with the Kewanee Police Department for 30 years.

1. On the desk in front of him is the assortment of stolen goods recovered from the home and office of a man named Roger “Tank” Harlow.

2. The story of Roger Harlow is an interesting one.

3 Most people in Kewanee, ILL., regarded Roger "Tank" Harlow as a shining example of civic spirit.

a. Known for his easy smile and chummy manner, the 47-year-old insurance agent was more than just a successful businessman.

b. Voted Most Likely to Succeed by his 1967 classmates at Wethersfield High School, he had gone on to become an energetic officer in the Kiwanis and Elks clubs and a Sunday-school teacher at Zion Lutheran Church.

c. “He was one of the most community-minded around,” says dentist Doug Tomlinson, who first met Harlow in 1978. “The kind of guy who did the work when you needed things done.”

4. As it turns out, though, Harlow didn't limit his civic activities to what other people needed.

a. Police say that for more than 15 years he was the most accomplished burglar in Kewanee, a tightly knit manufacturing community of 13,000 located 45 miles northwest of Peoria, where almost no one locked their doors.

b. In August of 1994, to the astonishment of local residents, Roger Harlow was arrested and charged with stealing from the homes of even his closest friends.

c. Confronted with the charges, Harlow admitted he was virtually a one-man crime wave, having taken at least $100,000 in coins, collectibles, jewelry and other valuables from his neighbors.

5 Harlow picked his targets carefully, using the comfortable rhythms and routines of small-town life to his advantage.

a. Patrick Murphy, a printing-products salesman, says Harlow invariably golfed alone at the Midland Country Club. “He'd play whatever hole was open, jumping from the 8th to the 15th and back to the 6th,” says Murphy. “We thought that was just Roger, but now we realize he may have been going into houses along the course.”

b. Harlow also had a reputation for being chronically late for meetings, a gambit that police believe gave him time to enter the homes of the people who were waiting for him elsewhere.

6. Henry County prosecutor, Ted Hamer, offered a simple motive: “Greed.”

a. Harlow now faces up to 1,230 years in prison.

b. “To think that someone you knew for 18 years could steal from you is quite amazing,” says Patrick Murphy's wife, Sandy. “It's almost like you don't want to trust your friends anymore.”

7. Roger “Tank” Harlow was truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

B. Let’s spend a few minutes thinking about the story of James Warren Jones, better known as Jim Jones.

1. Jim Jones was born May 31, 1931, in Lynn, Indiana.

2. As a young man he became a minister of a Methodist church but could not meet the Methodist standards for a minister, so he was denied ordination.

a. He left in 1954 to found an independent congregation, the Peoples Temple, in Indianapolis to further his vision of a church that could overcome racial barriers.

b. In the mid-1960s he had a vision of a nuclear holocaust and moved the congregation to Ukiah, California, which he believed would be a relatively safe location.

c. In the meantime, he and the congregation had become affiliated with the Disciples of Christ.

3. After Jones became the subject of criminal investigations, particularly regarding his alleged diversion of cult members' donations for his personal use, he and about 1,000 followers relocated to a commune (Jonestown) that he established in Guyana (1977).

a. The Temple had leased almost 4,000 acres of dense jungle from the government.

b. They established an agricultural cooperative there, called the "Peoples Temple Agricultural Project." They raised animals for food, and assorted tropical fruits and vegetables for consumption and sale.

4. During the late 1970's, Jones had been abusing prescription drugs and appears to have become increasingly paranoid.

a. Rumors of human rights abuses circulated. As in most high-intensity religious groups, there was a considerable flow of people joining and leaving the group.

b. Tim Stoen, the Temple attorney and right-hand man to Jones left to form a group called Concerned Relatives. They claimed that Jonestown was being run like a concentration camp, and that people were being held there against their will.

5. These concerns motivated Leo Ryan, a Congressman, to visit Jonestown in November of 1978 for a personal inspection.

a. At first, the visit went well. Days later, on November 18th, about 16 Temple members decided that they wanted to leave Jonestown with Congressman Ryan.

b. So while Congressman Ryan and the others were waiting at a local airstrip, some heavily armed members of the Temple's security guards arrived and started shooting.

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