Thinking Out Loud

August 8, 2020

Thoughts on John Ortberg’s Farewell Sermon

Filed under: Church, current events Tags: preaching, sermons paulthinkingoutloud @ 2:32 pm

After watching the sermon from Menlo Church earlier in the week, I thought I might write something. But I find my thoughts are still scattered, so I’m going with a bullet-point format.

  • Over the years, I’ve really enjoyed John Ortberg’s teaching. It’s hard to be objective.
  • Ortberg has also mentored another west coast pastor who I’ve frequently quoted here. I’m sure that pastor and his congregation are reeling from these developments.
  • In the bookstore where I hang out, I counted 16 titles by John Ortberg this week, and I know there were at least a half dozen DVDs in another section. (The listings on his Wikipedia page are sorely out-of-date.) But those numbers pale in comparison to all the things he has written, including the forewords for other writer’s works, and the number of times he is cited.
  • His connection to Dallas Willard made him a go-to source on the issues of spirituality, spiritual rhythms, spiritual practices, etc.
  • At least he got to do a farewell sermon.
  • I thought he did well. He took the high road. He encouraged his church’s members and adherents. He was being pastoral even at the end.
  • As often happens, a pastor’s home life can be more chaotic than what you’d expect. The Ortberg family dynamics are less than ideal. Much healing is needed.
  • He was at Menlo for 17 years. The church had, I believe, 6 campuses.  Megachurches with an iconic leader have a much bigger challenge when it comes to finding a replacement.

You may watch the entire service at this link. Or if you prefer, watch the 20-minute sermon only.


When I went to post the above screenshot of last Sunday’s sermon, I discovered this one, including Bill Hybels was in my picture files. John led the charge against Bill when the latter was facing his own crisis in 2018. We used the image in this commentary.

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A Note to my Boys

Filed under: Christianity — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:24 am

We have two adult sons, 29 and 26. This is for them.

‘I can’t imagine what another generation lived through during the war.’

That’s a statement I could have made before March, 2020. Now I’m starting to get the hang of it.

When I say ‘war’ I mean one of the great wars. After 1945 there have been, to put it mildly, many skirmishes; but nothing that held the specter of the enemy landing on your doorstep.

Vietnam hung like a cloud over the United States, and with Afghanistan, Canada was drawn into the picture. But it wasn’t truly ‘life interrupted’ as occurred during the major wars of earlier decades. For those in North America or Western Europe, there was no rationing. There were no blackouts.

This is truly life interrupted.

Or is it?

In looking at the history of the world, it seems more like this is life. Period. We enjoyed a very, very long period of stability leading up to this. And tranquility. And prosperity.

You guys are in your 20s. Prime years. And I’m sure that in various ways your life was heading in some positive trajectories until you found yourself facing words like ‘lockdown’ and ‘quarantine’ and ‘social distancing.’ A world where your best and closest friends could carry the contagion of a virus that has potentially devastating effects.

A world where we haven’t seen you guys in person in 6 months now.

Or hugged you.

A world where for one of you, four gig-economy sources of income were shut down, when the whole point of having four is that if one fails you have the others on which to rely.

A world where you haven’t seen some of your closest friends in person for 6 months.

I’m sorry.

Hang in there.

Stay positive.

Be hopeful.

Keep safe.





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Remembering J. I. Packer

Remembering J. I. Packer

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