The M.A.D. House Artists (Mom And Dad)

Grand Lake Artistic Chaos Foundation

Dr. Robert R. Ball


                             Sermon, October 10, 1971

Bob Ball Sermon 9-10-71



                    "For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost"

                                                   Scripture : Luke 19:1-10

                                                             Sermon by
                                                        Dr. Robert R. Ball
                                          Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church
                                          Houston, Texas      October 10, 1971

     THESE PEOPLE had been together for weeks in a therapy group.
     They had come to know each other pretty well. They knew what to
     expect from each other.

     * Sue Could be counted on to be very dramatic, making a big,
       emotional scene out of every trivial little nothing.

          * Dan would never say very much, usually covered by his shell
            of silence.

               * Paul was a clown. He was the guy who made a big joke out
                 of everything.

     In a way, they had each other pretty well figured out; but
     sometimes, they realized, they didn't really know each other at all.
     They still went home wondering, "What is he really like?"

     So the group started saying to each other:

                             "This is no good! We're supposed to be
                             getting to know each other - and ourselves.
                             We never will this way! Let's quit playing
                             games. We've got to start being who we
                             really are!"

     * "Sue, get off the big actress routine. We have no Oscars to give.
       Quit using us as your audience. Just level with us. Let us see you
       as you really are."

          * "Come on, Dan, get out of your shell. Open up. We're not
            going to bite you. Let us in on those deep waters that run so
            silently beneath the surface."

               * "Knock it off, Paul. We've had enough of your jokes. we
                 know that your life isn't just one big circus. Tell us what
                 you're really feeling inside."

     Sue and Dan and Paul all tried. They didn't want to be phonies.
     They wanted to be real. That's why they were here. They tried, but
     they just couldn't seem to do it.

          Being dramatic was all Sue knew how to do. She'd been doing
     it all her life. To throw all that away would be like taking your
     clothes off in the middle of the Astrodome. Dan wanted to talk; but
     he felt sure that if he did, it would be apparent that he was a
     dummy. Everyone would laugh at him. Paul was afraid that if
     people ever quit laughing at him they might start pitying him. He
     didn't really like being a clown all the time, but it was a whole lot
     safer than letting people know how scared and weak he felt inside.
     They all tried, but they just couldn't do it.

          People never change under threat or coercion. They may seem
     to change in an effort to comply with the demand, but such
     changes are only superficial and on the outside. Real changes in a
     person's life have to come from the inside.


          The therapist in the group knew how hard they were trying, but
     he also knew that changes would never happen that way. So he
     went around the room speaking to each one of them.

     * "Sue, I give you permission to be an actress. I understand your
       fear that if you don't play Sarah Bernhardt all the time, you might
       not get attention at all.."

          * "Dan, I give you permission to be silent. It's O.K. I understand
            how much you want to break open but can't. I give you
            permission to just sit there."

               * "Paul, I give you permission to be a clown. I understand
                 that you don't always feel happy and gay, but you can tell
                 us about it when you can."

          He did the same for every person in the group. A very
     remarkable thing began to happen. The tensions began to fade.
     Each person felt a certain warm glow. "I'm understood! It's O.K. for
     me to be who I am. I don't have to achieve some impossible task
     in order to be accepted." It was relaxing, but also very, very

          Sue had been given permission to be an actress. She didn't
     have to be defensive or self-conscious about her manner any
     more, and because she wasn't defensive, she could think about it
     and talk about it. She found herself telling the group how phony
     and uncomfortable she felt sometimes doing her "big scene" but
     she didn't know how to get out of it. She felt like people expected
     her to "perform." If she didn't, she felt, they would be disappointed
     in her. As she told her story, she began to laugh and then to cry;
     but this time not for dramatic affect. It was all real and the people
     understood. It was very, very good.

          Dan had been given permission to be silent. He didn't have to
     feel guilty or awkward about it any more. Strangely enough, he
     soon found that he wanted to talk, and he talked as he had never
     talked before. He talked about how fearful he was of appearing
     stupid and about how angry he got sometimes - everyone else
     was talking and having a good time. Didn't they know he had some
     feelings too? Dan's heart was really pounding! He was talking! He
     was talking and no one was snickering or turning away. It felt really
     good to talk. Dan didn't feel so trapped or closed-in anymore.

          Paul had been given permission to be a clown. The first thing
     he knew he heard himself saying, "I suppose you guys think I
     enjoy trying to be a funny man all the time. Well, let me tell you, I
     don't! Sometimes I want to cry. Sometimes I want to be taken
     seriously, but when I try someone always says, 'Well, look at old
     Paul! My, what a weighty philosopher our old comedian has
     become!'" But as Paul looked around him, he realized that the
     group WAS taking him very seriously. There was no ridicule and
     no pity - just understanding. It was very, very good.

          When they were told they didn't have to change, they could -
     and they did.


          As Jesus came riding into Jerico that day, he spotted a
     squirrelly little man up in a tree. The man hated himself. Did Jesus
     know? The man hated his neighbors. He was a quisling. He had
     sold out to the hated Romans. He was getting rich by collecting
     exorbitant taxes from his own countrymen. Did Jesus know?

          Zacchaeus didn't like being that kind of a guy. Sometimes he
     felt like he would gladly trade his fast-back chariot and his
     50-yard-line seats at the coliseum if he could just be "on of the
     guys." Bu tthe people wouldn't let him. He was a traitor. That's
     what they expected him to be and that's what he was. There was
     no way he could change. His yearnings for a different kind of life
     lay buried under years of disappointment. By and large for the
     most part, he had given up.

          We don't know how much Jesus was able to see in the depths
     of Zacchaeus as he rode by that day, but he sensed something.
     "Zacchaeus, I want to be with you today."
          Jesus didn't say, "After you change" or "If you promise to make
     amends for all your wrongs." He said, "Zacchaeus, I want to be
     with you today, just as you are. You know that I'm not pleased with
     all the tings you are doing. Neither are you. But my friendship does
     not depend on your changing. I understand that you are fighting a
     hard battle. I want to help. I give you permission to be who you are."

                             "So he made haste and came down, and
                            received him joyfully. And when they saw
                            it they all murmured, 'He has gone to be
                            the guest of a man who is a sinner.' And
                            Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord,
                            'Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give
                            to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone
                            of anything, I restore it fourfold.' And Jesus
                            said to him, 'Today salvation has come to
                            this house, since he also is a son of
                            Abraham. For the Son of man came to
                            seek and save the lost."

          Talk about change! Jesus knew without knowing the yearnings
     for life and love that had Zacchaeus up in a tree with no way down.
     Jesus accepted him as he was, gave him permission to be who
     he was. Perhaps it seemes like a small thing to give, but in
     accepting Zacchaeus, Jesus also had to accept IN HIM some
     things which contradicted his whole ministry. A small thing,
     perhaps, accepting Zacchaeus, but it cost Jesus the friendship
     of all the good and proper people in Jerico. It cost him respect
     and influence. A small thing, perhaps, giving persns permission
     to be who they are; but it was no small thing to Zacchaeus. It was
     the biggest thing that had ever happened to him. It gave him the
     freedom to turn his life a full 180 degrees.

          Zacchaeus no longer had to fight for status, no longer needed
     money to prove how shrewd and successful he was, no longer
     needed to cry himself to sleep at night for the respect his great
     riches could not buy. He had been given friendship, acceptance,
     respect. The scriptures say he received Jesus "joyfully." He had
     been given what he could not purchase at any price. Jesus gave
     him permission to be, and Zacchaeus received it and became.


          Jesus walks through the gospels giving every person he meets
     permission to come alive - a woman caught in the act of adultery,
     a man whose mind was deranged by a thousand tormenting
     thoughts, a boy who dared to suggest that his sack-lunch might
     feed five thousand men. Jesus accepted them as they were for
     what they were, treated them with respect, told them they were
     useful. He gave them permission to be. Some accepted his gift
     and some did not. But all who accepted his gift came alive, WITH
     JOY. Life became possible for them.

          Jesus walks through the world today doing the same thing for
     us. He gives us the friendship of God, God's understanding,
     God's acceptance. He gives us God's permission to come alive,
     to be who we are. He makes no demand that we change in order
     to receive him.

     * Are you losing all confidence in yourself as a parent? In the
       name of Jesus Christ, I give you permission to be the parent you
       are. I understand your torment. Who you are is enough. Just be it.

          * Are you losing all hope in your marriage? In the name of
            Jesus Christ, I give you permission to be discouraged. I
            understand how you yearn for love. I give you that love. It is
            yours. Be it.

               * Are you a phony? I understand. Are you afraid? I
                 understand. Do you drink too much? I understand. I give
                 you permission in the name of Jesus Christ to be who you

     So long as we concentrate all our attention on the problem, the
     problem has all our attention. Jesus directs our attention to God's
     confidence in us. That's what we need most of all.

          I suspect that you think it sounds crazy. Give a guy permission
     to be who he is and he'll go dead on the vine, quit trying. At least I
     know that I have a devil of a time getting that thought out of my
     head, but Jesus says it doesn't work that way. Jesus says that
     when you give a person permission to be who he is, only then
     does he have the possibility of becoming what he really is - a son
     of God, a real human being.

          Think about it for a minute. The only time we ever make a real
     confession of our wrong, the kind that represents a sincere desire
     to change, is when we know we are already forgiven before we
     confess. If a husband thought a wife would throw him out if he told
     her the truth, he never would tell it. It is the knowledge that we are
     already loved and accepted and forgiven that allows us to examine
     our lives and change them.od gives us the freedom of his love as
     an opportunity to live, and he gives it before we have done
     anything to earn it. He gives it now!

          Jesus accepted Zacchaeus as he was; and within the power of
     that magnificent love, Zacchaeus became more of a man than he
     had ever dreamed he possibly could be. Because he received the
     acceptance Jesus gave him, Zacchaeus was able to accept

                                       C O N C L U S I O N

          There's only one other thrill that can match the excitement of
     that, and that is to spend your life giving other people permission
     to be who they are.

          The minute we quit trying to bend other people around to make
     them what we want them to be, a tremendous weight rolls off our
     shoulders. We are relieved of an enormous and impossible task.
     What's more, if we mean it and stick with it, that other person's
     hostility goes way down. People understandably resent being
     forced to change and they fight it, but when they feel accepted for
     who they really are, their defensive energies are transformed into
     creative and spontaneous living.

          Giving other people permission to be who they are is costly. It
     was for Jesus, and it is for us; but it is the one way in which God
     intends to change the world.

                             * It all begins with our willingness to
                               receive the permission which Jesus
                               Christ gives to us - experiencing his
                               freedom and joy and release in our
                               own lives.

                             * It becomes real when we accept his
                               acceptance by accepting ourselves -
                               no longer forcing ourselves to measure
                               up to some ideal to feel that we matter.

                             * It becomes dynamic when we give
                               other people permission to be who they
                               are - not what we would make them over
                               to be, but who they are.

     That's the power for changing lives that modern psychology has
     discovered, but psychology didn't invent it. It's been changing
     lives for a long time. It's the presence of God in Jesus Christ.


         Jesus Christ gives us the permission of God to be who we are !

                                         _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
                                       _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
                                    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

from the collection of
Pamela Mudd Conlan





January 26, 1969


Sermon from January 25, 1970


 from April 5, 1970


Sermon from June 21, 1970


Sermon from September 6, 1970


Sermon from September 13, 1970


Sermon from September 27, 1970


Sermon from December 13, 1970

 T H E    S E R P E N T    D I D    I T

Sermon from February 14, 1971



Sermon from February 28, 1971

                    FROM ANXIETY

                                                TO FAITH

                                               Sermon from March 7, 1971


                          Y E S,

                                      N O,


                                                         W O W!

Sermon by Dr. Robert R. Ball

May 23, 1971                          CLICK HERE


Sermon by Dr. Robert R. Ball

July 11, 1971   

Here Come De Judge

Sermon from August 1, 1971


Sermon by

The VERY young seminary intern minister

Mr. William J. Carl III

(Now president of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary)

presented at


Houston, Texas                          August 8, 1971


Dr. Robert R. Ball, Sermon presented September 12, 1971

>Seriously But Not Literally

DDr. Robert R. Ball, Sermon presented September 19, 1971


DDr. Robert R. Ball, Sermon presented September 26, 1971

I Give You Permission

DDr. Robert R. Ball, Sermon, October 10, 1971



Dr. Robert R. Ball, Sermon presented JULY 31, 2011

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