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Joseph Jacobs wrote a story that was first published in 1890 that appeared in a book

called English Fairy Tales. We know of the story as, “the three little pigs.” How many of us

grew up listening to this story. I remember my mom reading The Three Little Pigs to me when I

was a very young child. Jacobs credited James Orchard Halliwell-Philipps as the source of the

story. It’s a simple story. Three pigs were sent out into the world to seek their fortune. The first

little pig built a house of straw. The big bad wolf came in front of the straw house and said,

Little pig, little pig, let me come in

The little pig said, “no, no by the hair on my chiny, chin, chin
Big bad wolf said, “Then I’ll huff, and I’[ll puff, and I’[ll blow your house down
The big bad wolf huffed and he puffed and the house was blown down.

I don’t which version of the story you remember. I remember the first little pig running to the
house of the second little pig after the first pig’s house was blown down. In the version I read
this week the big bad wolf ate the pig

Then the wolf came to the house of the second little pig. He had a house made of sticks

Wolf: Little pig, little pig, let me come in

Little pig, “no, no by the chair on my chiny, chin, chin
Big bad wolf, “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house down
What did he do started coughing because he had been smoking all night
He blew on the house and the house came tumbling down.

The big bad wolf came to the house of the third pig. This house was built of bricks
Big bad wolf: Little pig, little pig, let me come in
Little pig, “no, no by the hair of my chiny, chin, chin
Big bad wolf, “Then I’ll huff and I’ll huff, and I’ll blow your house in
He blew on the house and the house—did what
Didn’t move
Wolf didn’t blow on the house.
Finally the wolf went to the roof and decided to go down the chimney. I guess the wolf thought

it was Santa Claus or something. The third little pig was ready for that. He had a pot of boiling

water at the bottom of the chimney. The big bad wolf came down and fell into the boiling pot,

the third little pig covered the pot with the wolf in it and had a tasty supper.
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And the moral of the story is? If you don’t leave your mother’s house you won’t run into a big

bad wolf. Of course not. Build a strong house that can withstand a scary world.

I developed the outline for this sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount in December

of last year, and I shared the outline of the series with the staff of Chain of Lakes in January.

They chewed my outline, spit it out and made the series a lot better. When I shared the idea for

today’s story one person thought of the story of the three little pigs. Because of that insight the

title of this sermon is “Lessons from the three little pigs,” with help, of course from the Sermon

on the Mount.

I want to encourage you to get out this self-help book that is in the bulletin. This is the

last self-help book you’ll receive as this is the last day of this sermon series. This week in the

devotion I’m asking us to read through the Sermon on the Mount. I broke up the three chapters

of the Sermon on the Mount into six daily readings. In this self-help book you’ll find prayer

requests. On the back you can find previous installments of this series. On our church

Facebook page you can find links to watch videos of previous sermons in this series.

I always ask you to read the devotion, but this week I’m especially encouraging you to

read it. This is why. Here at Chain of Lakes at least three fourths of us weren’t involved in a

church two years ago. When new people come to a church it’s easy to get intimidated because it

seems like the one-fourth of the people who have been involved in church know a lot more about

God and about Jesus and the faith. New people might think, “These people who have been

going to church for a long time are really smart and I’m new and I know so little, and I don’t

want others to know how inadequate I feel about what I know. If you’ve ever felt inadequate

about the faith? If you do, I’d like you to read the Sermon on the Mount. In these three chapters

we’ll discover the cliff notes version of Jesus—who he is, what he stands for, and what he wants
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to accomplish in the world. Much of what Jesus did in his ministry is a reflection of what he

taught in the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is 2384 words—to read the three

chapters takes about ten minutes—less time than it often takes for the Twins to play an inning of

baseball. Try reading it this week.

I never really knew about the Sermon on the Mount until I studied it in a Bible Study in

college. The only faith based group at my college was Intervarsity. A man who worked for

Intervarsity invited about five guys—we were all freshman—to come over to his house for a

Bible Study on Monday nights. We studied the Sermon on the Mount. I remember being

intrigued by some of the phrases I discovered. When Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth,

but if salt has lost its taste how can it be restored.” Or when he said “you are the light of the

word. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket. That intrigued me. I could tell

that there was something in the Sermon on the Mount that was special. I had gone to church for

the entire 18 years of my life at the time, but reading the Sermon on the Mount helped me

develop a new understanding of Jesus.

What fascinates me is how 2384 words shared on a mountain in Galilee could still be

important for you and I living almost 2,000 years later in the North Metro.

You might ask why is it called the Sermon on the Mount? Jesus climbed up a mountain

to deliver the sermon. He did this because thousands of people were following him and the only

way he could speak to all of them was to climb a mountain. The first week of this series I said

that the mountain was just a small hill. My Dad has been to this mountain. He watches my

sermons on video every week, and he quickly corrected me—as only Dads can do—about the

size of what I called a hill. You’re right, Dad. It was a mountain.

Today the mountain is called the Mount of Beatitudes. It looks like this:
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Here’s a Google map of the Mount of Beattitudes.


Here’s another picture of the mountain.


Today there is a chapel on the top of the Mount of Beatitudes.


This might have been the view that Jesus had when he looked out over the Mount of Beatitudes.

On that mountain Jesus changed the world. His words on that mountain can profoundly change

our lives for the better.

Today we’re looking at the last five verses of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said this:

SLIDE “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man
who built his house on a rock.” Matthew 7:24

A Presbyterian pastor, Eugene Peterson wrote a paraphrase of the Bible. It’s called the Message.

A paraphrase is when a person translates the Bible into his own words. This is Eugene

Peterson’s translation of this verse:

These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to
your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. Matthew 7:24 in
the Message

These are words to build a life on.

I shared this verse on my Facebook page this week and asked others to write some of

their thoughts about it. One of my friends from South Dakota E-mailed me a power point

presentation that she did based on this verse. One person wrote that it’s not enough to hear these

words and agree with them, Jesus wanted us to do them. Remember Nike’s slogan “Just do it.”
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Nike could have gotten their slogan from this part of the Sermon on the Mount. As Jesus was

concluding the Sermon on the Mount he told these thousands of people to just do it.

A good question is: what are we supposed to do? If you take ten minutes this week to

read the Sermon on the Mount we’ll discover what we’re supposed to do. Let me give a


We bless the people on the margins of the world—the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek,
the merciful, the peacemakers
We are called to filter through all the laws of the Old Testament through the strainer of love.
Resist anger, lust, take our marriage seriously, love our enemies and pray for those who
persecute us.
Resist hypocrisy—especially in our faith practices of giving away money, praying and fasting.
Do not worry,
Live by the Golden Rule—love others as we want to be loved by them.

Do these things and your life will be like a house that is built on a rock. Our life will

have a foundation.

We Minnesotans understand foundations. When our houses are built the builders will dig

into the earth and build the foundation of the house with concrete. When a tornado comes, we go

into the basement so we’re protected by this foundation. People in Jesus’ day didn’t have the

luxury of digging into the earth and building a foundation. They would build their houses into a

rock. The rock would give them a foundation.

Jesus was brilliant in how he taught people. Those thousands of people could understand

this metaphor of building a house into the rock.

What’s interesting to think about is what metaphor would Jesus use in our day to

illustrate this point. I don’t think he would say “just do it” so your house is built on a rock. I

think he would come up with a 21st century metaphor to illustrate the point.

I tried to come with a comparable metaphor using images of our day.

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“Everyone who hears these words and does them is like a person who puts anti-virus software,
spyware protection and gets their operating system automatically updated. When the viruses
attack the computer, the computer doesn’t fail.

Everyone who hears these words and does them is like a person who wears seat belts in their car
and has airbags ready to be deployed. When an accident happens, the person can walk away and
still be alive.

Everyone who hears these words and does them is like a person who goes to the doctor once a
year for a physical. When a health problem is discovered it’s found early.

Or as John Jacobs wrote, the big bad wolf will huff and puff and—the house won’t be

blown down.

You might ask, what are the lessons from the Three Little Pig that we can take with us as

seen through these verses of the Sermon on the Mount?

First—the big bad wolf can appear suddenly. I could share an entire sermon series on

how we in the church understand the big bad wolf. With sympathy to wolf lovers, let me say

that the big bad wolf represents bad things. The wolf can appear suddenly.

This past Thursday I drove from the Lovell office to my home in Blaine, and I

immediately discovered that the big bad wolf had suddenly showed up in our neighborhood.

When I turned into our development I saw a policeman and fire trucks, and all sorts of people

were standing around looking at something. I discovered that a house about a half a block away

had been on fire. The story I heard was that a teenager was doing some welding in the garage of

the house and the garage got on fire. The garage was destroyed, the cars in the garage were

damaged, a lot of the smoke went inside the house. People told me that the smoke burning from

the fire could be seen in Andover. .

I’m pretty sure that no one woke up that morning in their house thinking they would have

a fire that day. It’s the suddenness of the big bad wolf that is so scary.

Like when we come home and our spouse suddenly says, “things aren’t working well for me”
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Or when we’re in the doctor’s office and the doctor furrows her brow and says, “I need you to go
and get some more tests. I want to check out this growth.”

Or when we’re asked to come into work for a special meeting and our supervisor tells us we’re
not needed on our job anymore. Or maybe they just send us a letter and we’re gone. Or we learn
that we have to switch our hours to save our job and this means we’ll hardly see our kids

Or we get a call from school and the counselor tells us that our children are engaging in behavior
that we need to know about.

The big bad wolf is never far away.

We might say isn’t faith supposed to protect me from the big bad wolf. But if we push

into what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount we’ll see that this idea of protection breaks

down. Jesus didn’t say if the rain falls and the floods come and the winds blow on your house.

Or to put it another way, he didn’t say if the big bad wolf comes. Jesus assumed that the big bad

wolf will blow on our house. No matter how hard we try to protect ourselves from bad things,

the big bad wolf is going to show up.

I wish this wasn’t so. I love you as a pastor. I don’t want any of you to get bad news

from your doctor or your boss or your spouse or your kids. As your pastor I want the best for

you. I deeply care for you all. My heart bleeds for you when you suffer.

Which leads me to the second and final lesson today from the 3 little pigs. Our house can

stand because as a community we support each other through these times. When we share our

lives in community with each other, we will build houses that withstand the big bad wolf.

In my mind I think the first two pigs in the story weren’t killed by the big bad wolf.

Instead I’m thinking that the first pig ran to the second house, and then when that house was

blown over the two pigs ran to the house of the third. While they were there they discussed how

they would withstand the big bad wolf blowing on the house. I’m imagining the three of them

talking to each other about what would happen if the big bad wolf tried to come down the
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chimney. It was the three of them talking together that gave them the idea of putting the pot

under the chimney. It was the conversation and support of each other that saved their lives.

I’m totally jazzed about starting a church because two years ago almost all of us were

strangers to each other. Now we’re friends. We’re starting to make an impact. When the big

bad wolf shows up in one of our lives we’re going to help and bless each other. We’re going to

support each other and come up together with the ideas that can literally save our lives. It’s so

much better to go through these trials with others who care for us and want the best for us

compared to having to withstand these troubles by ourselves.

On Friday I walked by the house where the fire was. There was a group of guys who

were outside. They were outside because Stainmaster was already cleaning the carpets inside the

house. When I was walking by one of the guys came out of the house and shouted to the

teenager who lived in the house. “You want to use one of my phone chargers. I already have

three of yours so you might as well have one of them back and use it. ” My heart leaped inside

of me when I heard that. It was like the Sermon on the Mount was being lived out four houses

down from me. Since the fire there’s been a group of people around the house talking to each

other and working on the house, and helping each other. They’re blessing each other and telling

each other not to worry. Their house—and I’m not talking about a physical structure—is still

standing and it’s on a rock. All because of a community of people are rallying around each


That’s what we’re doing at Chain of lakes. All of us who were strangers are suddenly

caring and blessing each other in an authentic way. Kevin Amundsen’s dad died, and many of

us are praying for him. Bill Fink’s dad died last week, and we’re saying, “how can we help you

Bill. We’re here for you.” Dean Morin got in a car accident and we’re committed to being with
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their family every step of the way. These are just a few examples of how we as a community are

sharing our lives with each other. It’s like we’re saying, “don’t worry” we’re going to figure this

out together. We’re a community. We’re going to be with each other so that each of our lives is

like a house built on a rock.

Can I get an Amen to how important this is.

Just as important there are a lot of people outside of Chain of Lakes who need this type of

community. I’m talking about people who right now are having an encounter with the big bad

wolf. In a moment we’re going to sing “You are Mine.” This is a powerful song. Right now

would you imagine someone living in this area who is having an encounter with the big bad

wolf. I’m going to sing the refrain to this song.

Close your eyes as I sing it—As I’m singing this song think of it as a prayer for this person.
Do not be afraid I am with you.
I have called you each by name
Come and follow m,
I will bring you home
I love love you and you are mine

Friends—Let’s continue to be a community where we bless each other and the world so much
that everyone lives who comes here will be like a house built on a rock. When the big bad wolf
suddenly shows up we’ll be with each other to help.