Average Joe with An Extraordinary Story

Summer Sermon Series

This summer I will be preaching a sermon series that parallels our Vacation Bible School for Grown-ups. I have titled the series “Average Joe with An Extraordinary Story.” It will begin June 11 and run through September 3.


During this series I will use some of the lesser-known Bible characters and tell their extraordinary stories that happened in their lives. The plan is, I will play the character for that week!

Here is the summer schedule:

June 4 – Pentecost Sunday and Communion Sunday. This week we will look at the traditional Pentecost story, Acts 2:1-21, 37-47. The sermon title is “We’re On Fire.” Wear your red clothes or something with flames on it! We will also honor our pianist, Greg Wiggers for his 25 years of service to FUMC Sweeny with a reception following worship.

June 11 – First Sunday after Pentecost – This is the actual beginning of the sermon series. We will begin with the Son of the Widow of Zerephath and his encounter with the prophet Elijah and see how God provided for the widow, her son and Elijah. The Scripture lesson will be 1 Kings 17:8-24. The sermon title is, “The Widow’s Son.”

June 18 – Second Sunday after Pentecost – This week we will meet Naaman, general of the army for the king of Aram. Naaman contracted leprosy and would have to give up his position in the army and leave the community. Naaman traveled to see the prophet Elisha. Through Elisha’s instructions God healed Naaman. The Bible lesson will be 2 Kings 5:1-16. The sermon title is “The Aramean General.”

June 25 – Third Sunday after Pentecost – This week we will have a visit with the tax collector Zacchaeus and learn how Jesus found him! The sermon title is “The Wealthy Tax Collector.” Our Scripture lesson will be Luke 19:1-10.

July 2 – (Communion) – Fourth Sunday after Pentecost – On this Sunday we will look into the other time in the Bible that God parted the waters for the Israelites to cross. This time Joshua led them. The sermon title is, “He Led Them Across.”

July 9 – Fifth Sunday after Pentecost – There was a Pharisee who wanted to learn from Jesus and came to visit him at night. His name was Nicodemus. After this visit, Nicodemus had quite a story to tell. The sermon title will be, “He Came at Night.”

July 16 – Sixth Sunday after Pentecost – As Jesus was headed to Calvary he reached the point he could go no more. The Romans grabbed a man from the crowd. His name was Simon of Cyrene. Our sermon title on July 16 will be: “He Picked Up His Cross.”

July 23 – Seventh Sunday after Pentecost – There was once a man named Uriah the Hittite, an honorable man in the king’s army. He was married to a woman named Bathsheba. While her husband was away fighting for country, King David had an affair with the man’s wife. When she became pregnant, he tried to cover it up. When the cover up failed the king had Uriah placed in the heaviest fighting so he would be killed. The sermon title is, “In the King’s Sights.”

July 30 – Another of King David’s servants was a prophet named Nathan. When Nathan learned of the King’s treachery with Uriah, he took his life into his own hands as he went and confronted the king. Our sermon title on July 30 will be “God’s Brave Prophet.”

Aug 6 – (Communion) – The Apostle Paul wrote one of his shortest letters to a slave owner named Philemon. In this letter Paul asks Philemon to free a slave runaway slave named Onisimus and to allow Onisimus to come and work with Paul. Tradition has it that not only was Onisimus freed, he became a bishop in the early church. The sermon title will be, “The Slave Who Would be Bishop.”

Aug 13 – Moses married a woman from Midea during the time he was exiled from Egypt. Her father would become one to offer counsel to Moses. The sermon title is, “He Sent His Daughter Back.”

Aug 20 – There are always those folks who seem to have bad luck, who see to never win. Esau was one of those kinds of people, always coming in second to his younger brother Jacob. The sermon title will be – “The Man Who Couldn’t Win.”

Aug 27 – Hannah wanted to have a son in the worst way. She promised God that if God would give her a son, he would be dedicated to the service of God. Hannah had a son. She named him Samuel. True to her word, she brought him to serve under Eli in the Tabernacle. There God spoke to the boy. The sermon title is: “The Boy Who Heard God.”

Sep 3 – (Communion) – God called a man to be one of the early judges. This man wanted to be sure beyond a doubt that God really was calling him. The man’s name was Gideon. The sermon title to conclude this series will be: “Here Comes the Judge.”

If you are in the Sweeny area, I hope you will come for a visit and be part of worship with us. If you are a member of FUMC Sweeny, please make plans to attend as much as possible. I hope to see you in worship!

Joy and Thanksgiving,


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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