Sermon Messages

Sun, Oct 14, 2018

The Tater Family

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Duration:23 mins 46 secs


Once upon a time in my mythical journeys I chanced across the lovely little town of Spudville.  In many ways Spudville is just your typical small town. But there is one very notable exception: all the folks who live in Spudville are potatoes!  I decided to spend a few days and learn what I could about these remarkable people.

Now, Spudville is a very peaceful and friendly place.  In fact, there is very little crime there…except for an occasional MASHER.  And the favorite weekend activity of the residents is to eat out at the local Dog N’ SPUDS, and then take in a movie.  (By the way, their favorite actress is TATER O’Neal.)

Being a preacher myself, I was particularly interested in the worship habits of these folks, and so I stopped in for a visit at the First Church of Spudville.  You can imagine my surprise to learn that the minister for this small congregation was my very own, long lost uncle; uncle HASH BROWN.  I see that some of you have heard of the Hash Browns.

I asked uncle Hash what sort of people attended the First Church of Spudville.  As is the case in many small churches, most of the members are related to each other in one way or another.  In fact, most even have the same last name. They’re all a part of the “Tater” family. And one after another, he began to describe them for me.

First on the list are Spec & Hezi.  Perhaps you’ve heard of SPEC-TATER and HEZI-TATER?  You won’t find anyone more faithful in attendance.  Whenever the church doors are open, Spec-Tater and Hezi-Tater are in their pew.  The only problem is they never seem to get involved in any of the activities or ministries of the church.  For example; Hezi-Tater has a lovely singing voice and has been invited many times to sing in the choir. Other times she’s been asked to help out in the nursery.  She’s certainly needed in a variety of ministries. But she always declines saying, “I’m sure you can find someone more qualified than I for that job.”  When asked if he will help pass the collection trays or serve as an usher, Spec-Tater, too, just shakes his head, “I’d rather not today.”

Some people think Spec & Hezi may be reluctant to help out because they feel guilt over a lifetime of problem drinking.  (I understand he used to spend a lot of time at the POTATO BAR.)  Oh, and I’m sure it wasn’t pretty.  I’ve seen LOADED POTATOES before!  But mostly, I think Spec-Tater and Hezi-Tater are just a couple of spiritual COUCH POTATOES.

And speaking of couch potatoes, Spec-Tater has a lazy brother-in-law who sometimes comes to church with him…when he can pry himself away from the television, that is.  In a lot of ways he’s worse than Spec & Hezi. His name is VEGI-TATER.

I had to wonder, does the Bible have anything to say to a Spec-Tater, Hezi-Tater, or even a Vegi-Tater?  It certainly does! James 1:22 warns “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”

I also found this poem about those who are listeners only:

“An old man sat by the open fire,

And dreamed the years away;

While outside in the battle of life

Many perished in the toils of day,

He never did do any good, nor did he

Ever do any wrong—

He just sat by the open fire,

And dreamed, the whole day long.

Now he’s left a vacant chair,

And they say he’s gone up higher,

But if he still does what he used to do…

He’s still sitting by the fire.”

I don’t know if Spec, Hezi, or Vegi will ever change.  But if I had a Spec-Tater, a Hezi-Tater, or a Vegi-Tater in my congregation I’d sure want them to know what James 1:22 says about listening and do-ing!

Someone once asked me if there were any children in the First Church of Spudville.  I said, “Sure, what would a Tater family be without a few TATER TOTS?  ... and TATER SPROUTS?”  Spec & Hezi Tater have a little daughter.  Her name is little Miss Immi. She’s an IMMI-TATER!  Isn’t she cute?  I’ve noticed she has a big smile every week when she comes to Sunday School.  She brings her Bible to church and seems to fit in wonderfully. Strange as it sounds, though, I’ve heard she fits in equally as well with the kids at school who never come to Sunday School or church.  When Monday morning comes, she just pooches that lower lip out and her smile becomes a frown. Her language too, sounds like that of a non-Christian. I guess that’s why they call her Immi-Tater.

I wonder, is there a verse in the Bible appropriate for an Immi-Tater?  You bet there is! In fact, I found a verse in Ephesians 5:1-2 that even mentions Immi-Tater by name!  “Be ye imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us…”  You see, it’s not bad to be an imitator as long as you’re careful about who it is you’re imitating!  All Christians should be imitators of God.

The next fellow in First Church I want to introduce is named Richard, but most folks just call him Dick.  That’s right; he’s a DICK-TATER!   (It must be a very common name, for everywhere I go people tell me they have a Dick-Tater in their church too!)  Dick is retired now, but if you ask, he’ll be more than glad to tell you—“brag” actually—all about his career with N.A.S.A. and how he “nearly single-handedly launched the ‘SPUDnik’ satellite.”

Unlike Spec-Tater, ol’ Dick-Tater likes to be involved in everything.  In fact, he almost insists on running everything! It’s got to be his way or no way…even though most of his ideas are half-BAKED!  It seems the only folks who can get along with him for very long are the ones who BUTTER HIM UP.  And if you disagree with him, he really gets FRIED!

I had to ask myself, “Is there a verse of Scripture appropriate for a Dick-Tater?”  There sure is!  Thanks for asking.  For in 1 Cor. 13—the “love chapter” of the Bible—we find this very enlightening description of love in verses 4 and 5: “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”  You know, if I had a Dick-Tater in my congregation, I’d make sure he understood what 1 Cor. 13 says about love.

Dick has been married for many years.  His wife’s name is Commen; COMMEN-TATER!  She’s never at a loss for words.  In Sunday School she always offers an opinion on the “proper understanding” of whatever Scripture text is being discussed.  She’s also the self-appointed church historian and can tell you the name of every preacher who ever ministered there…along with his individual weaknesses.  In fact, she can tell you just about anything you want to know (and a lot more you probably don’t want to know) about anyone in First Church.  If your wardrobe is a little out of style, or your singing is slightly off key, or you’re starting to put on a few extra pounds, Commen-Tater will be happy to bring it to your attention…and to everybody else’s attention too!

Is there a Bible verse suited to a Commen-Tater?  Absolutely! Js. 1:19 says, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”  Hmmm, “quick to listen” and “slow to speak.”  Maybe that’s why God made people with two ears perched wide open on the sides of their heads for listening, but gave them only one tongue…and fenced it in with a double row of sharp teeth!  At any rate, if I had a Commen-Tater in my congregation, I’d be sure to tell her about Js. 1:19.

Dick and Commen are parents too.  Their kids are the twins; AGI-TATER and IRRI-TATER.  My Goodness!  You never saw two people so much like one another.  It’s hard to tell them apart. And they certainly are a handful…or, more literally, a double handful.  One Sunday I sat in the pew directly behind them. Right in the middle of the service Agi reached over and poked Irri.  Then Irri punched Agi. Why, before I knew it, a full scale war broke out. I was so relieved when their father put a stop to the commotion.  “Agi started it,” whined Irri.  “But it was Irri’s fault,” complained Agi.  And the next thing I knew, they were into it again.  I declare! It takes so little to set off those two, that some folks have started calling them the “INSTANT POTATOES.”  Personally, I just think they’re a couple of POTATO FLAKES.

And when they’re not picking on each other, they’re making fun of someone else.  For instance, in Sunday School, you just never know when a visitor may TURNIP.  And when they do, Agi-Tater and Irri-Tater have been known to call them names like “skinny,” “shorty,” “freckle-face,” or “two eyes.”  Why, sometimes it seems they just don’t CARROT all!  The day I was there a little girl came to visit, and they told her she was ugly!  She ran out of the room crying. I doubt she will ever come again. And, of course it wasn’t true.  Nobody is ugly in God’s sight. In fact, I thought she was a cute little TOMATO!

Is there a Bible verse for an Agi-Tater and an Irri- Tater?  Why, yes!…and yes again! Gal. 5:15 warns all agitators and irritators, “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”  I hope Agi and Irri take this warning to heart.  After all, they’re bad enough the way they are now.  But if they keep on acting this way, I’m afraid they’ll grow up to be AU GRATIN!  

Now, there is one old bachelor in the First Church of Spudville.  His name is Ro; RO-TATER!  You may notice that Ro-Tater is a red potato.  He says that is because of his Indian heritage.  I don’t know if he really has any Indian blood or not, but I can vouch for the fact that some of his ancestors were SCALLOPED.  But Ro-Tater’s most distinguishing characteristic is his feet!  He’s always on the move. He’s tried every Sunday School class, but can’t seem to find one that suits him.  And when he’s not switching Sunday School classes, he’s changing churches! At one time or another he’s been to nearly every congregation in town.  He often complains, “I just don’t get anything out of the service,” and “It doesn’t  meet my needs.”  Poor Ro-Tater!  Maybe that’s why he never married; he just can’t seem to make a commitment to anyone!

Is there a verse of Scripture written for a Ro-Tater?  There certainly is! Heb. 10:23-25 urges, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…”  Ro-Tater doesn’t understand that you go to church not just for what you can get out of the service, but for what you can put into it!  In fact, over the years I have found that one is directly related to the other. The more you put into a worship service, the more you also get out of it!  If I had a Ro-Tater in my congregation, I’d direct him to Heb. 10.

This next fellow is a real trouble-maker.  His name is AMPU-TATER.  From the time he first joined the church he has been driving POTATO WEDGES between folks; SLICING, DICING, stirring up dissention, setting one person against another, and cutting folks off from each other.  Honestly, he’s done more harm to the Spudville church than anyone or anything else! So, you KNOW there’s a verse of Scripture about this guy.  Ro. 16:17-18 warns, “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.  Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites.”  You know, I don’t think it would do any good to point this out to Ampu-Tater himself.  But if I had an Ampu-Tater in my congregation, I’d sure caution the rest of the members.

The church conducted a Revival meeting to encourage some of these folks to a deeper commitment.  they even brought in a special evangelist. His name was RESUCI-TATOR.

I asked my uncle Hash Brown about one fellow I met whose name was COGI-TATER.  Uncle Hash said, “Oh, He’s been attending for quite some time, but he’s not a Christian yet and has never joined the church.  When you talk to him about it, he just says, ‘I’m still thinking about it.’”  I hope he makes up his mind soon.  I’d hate to hear that a “thoughtful” fellow like him put off his decision too long and went to a Christ-less eternity!  There are lots of Bible verses for Mr. Cogi-Tater. The one that comes to mind first is Heb. 3:7ff; 7So, as the Holy Spirit says; ‘Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion…’  12See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.   …15As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.’”

There is one old worrier in the congregation.  He worries about his health, his wealth, his family, the government, etc.  Seems he’s always fretting & fuming about something! I bet you could guess his name.  …It’s Stu; STU TATER!  Is there a Bible verse for worriers like Stu?  Of course! Phil. 4:6-7 says, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  There’s really no reason for anyone to worry…as long as they belong to Jesus.  I know I’d advise all my “stew-ers” to follow the advice of Phil. 4.

Oh yes!  I nearly forgot this good-looking fellow; PALPI -TATER—he’s a real “HEART-THROB”!  But he only comes to church to meet women!

By now, you may be wondering if there aren’t any exemplary members in the First Church of Spudville who are genuine Christians.  Most assuredly there are! And folks like these next three are the delight of every minister’s heart. Take MEDI -ATER for example.  Mr. Medi-Tater is a faithful attender, generous giver, and willing worker.  He has an encouraging word for everyone and a kind word about everyone. He says he learned these things from the Bible, and it must be so, for he studies his Bible constantly and has memorized much of it.  The children are quick to point out his big eyes—bigger than your average potato eyes—and his big ears.  I think they must come from reading God’s Word so much, and listening to it being taught.  But what I notice more than his big eyes and big ears is his big smile!  I bet he is the happiest man in the whole church!

Do you suppose there’s a Bible verse about a Medi-Tater?  You know, I found one that mentions him by name! It’s in Ps.1:1-3 and says, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers.”  What an accurate description of a Medi Tater!

Medi-Tater has a really sweet wife.  In fact, that’s her name; SWEET TATER!  Sweet Tater may not be as talented or versatile as some of the others, but she is always willing to do what she can to help out.  At first I thought she had incredibly big, soft hands. But then I realized it only seems that way because she’s always so willing to “lend a hand.”  She doesn’t seem to mind if someone else gets the attention or notoriety.  And I don’t think there’s anyone more gracious and loving, unless it is her sister FACILI-TATER!  She too, is quite a helper!  It’s to be expected I suppose since they were both raised in the church and ROOTED in God’s Word.  Don’t expect them to be as stiff, formal and STARCHY as some of the others.  Oh yes, did I mention that Facili-Tater is musically gifted?  Guess which instrument she plays in the church orchestra? The TUBER!

I didn’t have to wonder about an appropriate Bible verse for Sweet Tater or Facili-Tater.  I just asked Sweet Tater how she learned to be so sweet. In her typically humble way she just quoted 1 Cor. 15:10 and said, Rodney, “By the grace of God I YAM what I YAM.  And his grace was not without effect.”

There you have the members of the First Church of Spudville: Spec-Tater, Hezi-Tater, Vegi-Tater,

Immi-Tater, Dick-Tater, Commen-Tater, Agi-Tater, Irri-Tater, Ro-Tater, Ampu-Tater, Cogi-Tater, Resusi-tater, Stu Tater, Palpi-Tater, Medi-Tater, Sweet Tater, and Facili-Tater.  When you think about it, they’re not really all that different from people in other churches.  Sometimes people even tell me, “Rodney, you should be careful telling about those Tater folks.  Someone might think you’re really talking about them, and take offense.”  I always reply that it’s never my intention to offend anyone, but if you see a bit of yourself in any members of the Tater family…  Well, we’ll just have to let the CHIPS fall where they may.

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