A talk given March 1. 2003, to the Men’s group at First United Methodist Church, Gainesville, Florida.
John W. Cowart

              Hi. My name is John. I have the privilege of being Donald’s father.

Although I am an Episcopalian, Donald, and Pat Helm have asked me to speak to you this morning.

For those of you who may not know, the Episcopal Church is a liturgical Protestant denomination founded in the year 1537 by England’s King Henry VIII and Mrs. Henry VIII…. And Mrs. Henry VIII… And Mrs. Henry VIII… And Mrs. Henry VIII….

I am a freelance writer. Not a very successful one. Although I’ve sold a couple of little paperback books (if you’d like a free copy of one there are some in the box by the door), my most recent book deal involved a translation of my work into the Indonesian language. By the time the U.S. publisher’s negotiations were done, I got a lump sum payment of  ten dollars and thirty-two cents!

Watch out, Stephen King; I’m gaining on you.

In Indonesia a live full-grown pig has more value than my book. Maybe that’s why I have chosen VALUE as my topic to speak on this morning

 Mr. Helm told me to entertain you, so here’s a joke about value:

A guy walking down the street sees a sign hand-printed on a piece of cardboard saying TALKING DOG FOR SALE. He knocked on the door and asked about the sign. The owner said, “Sure you can see him. He’s on the back porch”.

He went out back and there lay a big yellow dog in the sun. “I understand you can talk,” he said. “Yep,” the dog replied.

“Well, what’s your story”?

“I discovered my gift when I was just a puppy,” the dog said. “Feeling this could be of great value, I offered my services to the government. They assigned me to the diplomatic corps. I traveled to Istanbul, Bosnia, Paris, Rio – anywhere they wanted me to lay in a room when the American negotiators went outside. The opposition would talk freely thinking there was only a regular dog in the room. I’d learn all their secrets then pas the information along to the CIA. When that got tiring, I moved to airport security where I passed for a guide dog and ease dropped on conversations between suspicious characters; I short circuited many hijack plans and smuggling activities that way. But that became too dangerous so I retired, got married and raised several litters of puppies”.

“That’s amazing”! exclaimed the man.

He rushed inside to buy the dog.

“How much do you want for it”? he asked the owner.

“How about ten dollars/?

“Ten dollars! Only ten dollars. Why are you selling such a wonderful animal so cheap”?

 “Because he’s a liar! He never did any of that stuff”!

What makes for value?

The purpose of this talk is to encourage us, you and me,  towards as full a dedication to Jesus Christ as is possible.

Why is full dedication important? Let me illustrate: I walk over to my wife and say, “Ginny, I love you very much so from now on I’m going to be 75…. No. You’re a real nice lady, I’m going to say 85… No. even that’s not enough, after all you are the mother of my children so from now on 97 per cent of the time, I’m going to be faithful to you.

Won’t she be thrilled? Just tickled pink?

Want to try that with your own wife to see how pleased she’ll be?

Should we offer any thing less that 100 per cent to God Almighty?

I have kept a daily journal for years; I want to read you an entry from  January 28, 1994 :

I feel as though I'm treading water with many people standing on my shoulders while sharks circle.

              This outlooks comes from a distorted view of my commitment to Christ. There have been times now and then when I have totally dedicated myself to God for Him to use, or not use; to exalt, or abase; to crown, or crucify according to His good pleasure. Yet when I have made such commitment in a lather of spiritual fervor, I tend to assume that God will recognize what a neat guy I am and naturally use me, exalt me, crown me, prosper me, honor me... etc. ad nauseam.

              When circumstances cause my faith to hit the fan, as it has recently, then I get bewildered that God has not treated me as well as I expect to be treated. Doesn't He realize what a credit to His kingdom and what a great Christian I am?


              At such times, I need to go back to the commitments I myself have made. With a little different wording, The Methodist Covenant Service contains a prayer which I have made  -- and meant at the time:

              "I am no longer my own, but Thine. Put me to what Thou wilt, rank me with whom Thou wilt: Put me to doing; put me to suffering: Let me be employed for Thee, or laid aside for Thee; Exalted for Thee, or brought low for Thee: Let me be full; let me be empty: Let me have all things, let me have nothing: I freely and heartily yield all things to Thy pleasure and disposal."

              Noble sentiments all.

              But then the car breaks down. The bill collectors call. The electric company threatens cut-off. The editor disdains what I consider fine craftsmanship... Life happens. Resentment builds. Panic sets in. What shall I eat? What shall I wear? What about tomorrow?

              And I forget that I am really Christ's.

              So I have to return to the basics all over again. To realize that Christ is all. Nothing else matters.

My talk can be summed up in four words: Jesus Christ Is Worthy.

The initial Scripture I’d like to think about is:

Matthew 13:44
                  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.


When I left my parent’s home to join the army in 1956, I packed up the stuff in my room: my Boy Scout badges, my snake skin, the trout I’d mounted my self for a taxidermy merit badge, my arrowhead collection… and three large boxes of comic books that dated all the way back into the 1940s.

I had Superman comics, Captain Marvel, The Green Hornet, Green Lantern, Tales of the crypt, Adventures into the Unknown, Mighty Mouse…,

Years later when I came home, guess what my mother had done with those comic books?

You’re right!

That same sort of thing happen to you?

I’d paid a dime apiece for them; guess what they’d sell for today/


Ginny, my wife, and I love to go to flea markets and antique stores browsing. In one store we saw an old amber bowl. We used to have one just like it. For years we kept in on the back porch to feed the cat. I think when we moved last we just left it on the porch. The price tag in the antique store said $135! For a Cat Bowl!


What makes something have value?

At a flea market I bought an aquatic statue for beside our pool. A thing of beauty is a joy forever. I am known for my sense of good taste and refinement. The flea market lady said, “I didn’t think I’d ever be able to sell that thing”. My wife, who lacks my artistic sensitivities, saw my frog statue and said, “One man’s trash is another man’s trash”.

Value… a thing only has value when somebody wants it.

If nobody wants it. No matter what it is, it has no value.

As the Titanic sank, you couldn’t have sold hundred-pound solid gold bars for a dime apiece.


Matthew 13:44
                  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

This person walking in the field wanted that treasure. He valued it. He thought it was worth everything. He treasured it….


I’ve heard that once J. Paul Getty, the oil tycoon, was considering buying another oil company. His young MBAs examined the deal and came to him just bubbling about the project. They went on and on about the big fleet of trucks the company owned, about the high rise office building in Dallas, about the prestigious reputation the company had, about ….

Getty interrupted them yelling, “THE NET! The Net! The net. The only thing that matters is the net!”

Do we all understand what the net is?

All the money and assets that come into your business is your gross income.

From that you take away all overhead, salaries, electric bills, taxes, insurance, depreciation – any kind of cost to you – and what you have left is your net income.

That’s what you have to keep.

That’s your bottom line.

That’s in your pocket.

That’s your profit.

That’s the net.

The net. The net. The net. The only thing that counts is the net.

Strange as it may seem, the oil tycoon and Jesus Christ are in complete agreement on this point.

Jesus said, “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?                   Mtt. 16:24-26

Do the math:

                                          Gross =  Whole World
                                          Loss =    Own soul
                                           Net =    ?


There was a man walking in a field who found a treasure. He gave up everything he had to buy that field.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Now. Let’s put that on the back burner for a while and think about something else for a minute. We’ll come back to that field again later.

I see three very different views of Jesus: in Epistles, Gospel, Apocalypse


Col. 1:13-20

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created…. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him….”

Phil. 2: 9
    “… God exalted him to the highest place
       and gave him the name that is above every name,
    10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
       in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
       to the glory of God the Father.”

Heb 1: 3

1In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.


These word pictures portray Jesus Christ as the Eternal Son of the Father in Heaven.

The next word picture portrays him here on earth:


Mtt 27: 3-10

3   Then Judas …. brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,…  And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
6   And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
7   And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.
8   Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
9   Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
10   And gave them for the potter's field,…


That same chapter of Matthew’s Gospel goes on to say:

Mtt 27:26-31

27   Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
28   And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
29   And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
30   And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.
31   And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.


A man in the field finds a treasure and give up all to buy that field…

The last book in the Bible gives us another word picture of Jesus Christ in Heaven. The scene is the throne of God. There is a gathering of angels and archangels and all the host of Heaven. People from every tribe and tongue and kindred and nation gather. A Thousand thousand and ten thousand thousands of thousands; creatures chanting   "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." And kings “lay down their crowns” before Him… (I picture graduation at the Naval Academy – HATS IN THE AIR as they celebrate….

And this multitude cheers:
    Rev 4:11"You are worthy, our Lord and God,
   to receive glory and honor and power,
   for you created all things,
       and by your will they were created
       and have their being."

Revelation 5: 12… In a loud voice they sang:
   "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
   to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
   and honor and glory and praise!"
13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
   "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
   be praise and honor and glory and power,

          for ever and ever!"


Jesus Christ is worthy.

Matthew 13:44
                  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

Now when I first read this verse, I thought, “O, that means I ought to give up everything so I can get the treasure of going to heaven. Right?”


Gentlemen, I have been a Christian for over 40 years and never once have I given up anything for Jesus Christ; it’s all been gain.

I used to think I had to give up stuff for Jesus. What a high view I had of my self. Like HE was lacking something that I could supply.

I though I had to deny my own dreams, to abandon following my own star… Yes, I have stars I want to follow. I want to be loved. I want to be a good husband. I want to be filthy rich. I want to be a famous writer. I want to function without Viagra. I want to win Lotto. I want …. All kinds of stars…

But what happens to the stars when the sun rises?

They are still everyone in place, but they pail to insignificance.

When I read the parable about the guy finding the treasure in the field and giving up everything to buy the field, I merely projected myself into the story as the hero.

I had not read the whole chapter.

A few verses earlier in Matthew 16 Jesus tells another agricultural parable about a sower in a field and wheat and tares (biblical sandspurs) and the disciples come to Him and ask him to interrupt the story… Here’s what He says:

Matthew 13: 37ff
“He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;39   The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
Now wait a minute here.

If the field is the world, and the sower, the man in the field, is Jesus Christ the son of Man, then what is the treasure?

What is the treasure?

You are.

Jesus Christ is worthy. Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, the name that is above every name, the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being … Jesus Christ the Worthy…gave up all that and came down to this field of dirt because He treasures you.

For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on him should have ever lasting life…

God values you.

Don’t think God needs you, has to have you. The Kingdom of Heaven will not crumble if you chose not to be there. Yes, we are the children of God, but that term means the 4-year-olds of God. Do you need a 4-year-old to help you do anything?

You are his treasure by creation and by redemption.

He values us because of some quirk in his own nature. There’s not a teddy bear in the lot of us. We are of value because Somebody wants us. BAD!

Phil 2: 6

Jesus Christ Who, being in very nature God,
       did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
    7but made himself nothing,
       taking the very nature of a servant,
       being made in human likeness.
    8And being found in appearance as a man,
       he humbled himself
       and became obedient to death--
          even death on a cross!

There was a man walking in a field… He gave up everything….

What do you think of that?

… Is there any reason, that you should not let Jesus Christ be the absolute Lord and Master of your life … Right here… Right now… Today?

Thank you.


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