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HolyWhat?

Friday, October 19th, 2018

I come from a tradition where talk of the Holy Spirit was almost nil. He was hush-hush. I’m not sure if that was because of ignorance or it was because of fear. My first exposure to someone raising their hands in worship (something I had never been exposed to but had read about) was at a youth conference I was attending. The worship leader was leading us in a song when several around me raised their hands. I kid you not: I broke out in a cold sweat wondering what was next.

I survived. Now I are one (as they say). But seriously, why was that even as issue? Why are there still people today who will not raise their hands because of a “theological problem” with it?  More importantly: why are we so closed off to that type of expression to the praise and glory of God?

There is an even greater problem underlying many churches and pastors today. We are afraid.  We are afraid to allow any semblance of emotion to be expressed. I’m not talking about excess. I’m not talking about the whooping and hollering and the devil-inspired jerking, rolling around on the floor, and barking like a dog we hear about. That is not godly. But we do have an elephant in the room. You see…there are two extremes (as I see it). Some pursue experience in the Spirit apart from the Word.  They listen for voices or seek “signs” from God. They seem to be always talking about what God “said to them.” At the other extreme is the one who seeks to know and obey the Word without any interaction with, or real dependence on, the Spirit. These people are often void of emotion and can become legalistic in their thinking.

My sermon this Sunday is entitled Jesus, Continued. I borrowed the title from a book I read several year ago.  As you might have guessed, the sermon is on the Holy Spirit. I’d appreciate your prayers for this message and those who listen. And, of course, the one who is bringing it. 🙂

TheRock

Friday, October 12th, 2018

No…this sermon is not about the “actor”  or any of his movies. It is about the One who is The Rock.  Do you remember ever reading or hearing this from many moons ago?

All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on earth as much as that One Solitary Life.

That is just part of the poem/story told about Jesus. It is amazing how much Jesus is mentioned in our culture, but not necessarily out of respect. He’s in the world of fashion. (Who could forget the infamous “Jesus is my Homeboy” t-shirts many celebrities wore?) He shows up in movies. He shows up in music, both good and bad. He shows up at award shows (again both good and bad).  He shows up in the world of sports.  He shows up in the religions of the world (Don’t get me started on that!).

I recently finished reading Superheroes Can’t Save You by Todd Miles ( a great book where he took different superheroes and related it to how Jesus is perceived by many).  Todd wrote this after talking about his stagnant spiritual life which came to life while a student at Oregon State University:

Jesus Christ is the most compelling, interesting, and remarkable person who ever lived.  He is exactly who he claimed to be, precisely who the Bible teaches that he is-God in the flesh, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” (p.3)

Who Jesus is, according to the Bible, is a non-negotiable. That is where I choose to Stake My Claim this Sunday. If you live around here, please join us. If not, you can listen via podcast. In any case, please pray for me and for the folks this coming Sunday.  Thanks.

Control

Friday, September 14th, 2018

As not in…being a control freak.

BUT

As in losing control…

As in anger management…

As in flying off the handle…

You get the drift. Sunday’s sermon is entitled “Don’t Lose Control!”

There are times when anger is valid. But we also know there have been times when anger is nothing more than a selfish reaction to something not going our way rather than a justified response. Proverbs says a lot about anger and losing control.

“Fools have short fuses and explode all too quickly; the wise quietly shrug off insults.” 12:16 (MSG)

“Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.” 12:18

“Short-tempered people must pay their own penalty. If you rescue them once, you will have to do it again.” 19:19 (NLT)

Ephesians 4:27 is the coup de grace of verses. As I said, there are time anger is valid but way too often it is nothing more than a “flash” or heated response to something that happens or something said. As I was studying for this message a phrase came to mind, a little catch-phrase. I’d like to say it was my idea but who knows?  I’m sure someone else has thought of it.

DON’T NURSE; REVERSE!

“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” 29:11

I like what someone said: “You can’t put your foot in your mouth when it is closed.”

And finally. My prayer? “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Ps.141:3) The New Century Version (NCV) puts that verse this way: “Lord, help me control my tongue; help me be careful about what I say.”

SayWhat?

Friday, September 7th, 2018

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” So says Proverbs 18:21.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” How ridiculous is that?

Oswald Chambers once wrote: “The great test of a man’s character is his tongue.

“A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.” (Ben Franklin)

All sorts of thoughts about our speech.  All from different sources but all are rather telling. The words we use affect others. Here is another: “I tell you, on the Day of Judgment people will give an account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.” Jesus in Mt.12:36-37

Much of the strife in our families, offices, churches, dorms, schools, and our nation can often be traced back to our words. Gossip has sent whole churches into meltdown. It can destroy morale at work. Ill-timed or angry words can send a team or player into a tailspin.

James talks about the tongue and says, “Can salt water and fresh water come from the same source?” It is quite damaging to our witness when our tongue is out of control. This Sunday (as I bet you can guess) my sermon is about the power of words. I’m going to do a contrast by showing:

The Power of Words-Used Wrongly

and

The Power of Words-Used Correctly

 

The story is told of a woman who complained to a Puritan pastor about the clerical bands he wore with his robe. Saying they annoyed her greatly because they were too long, she asked his permission to shorten them.  He quietly acquiesced and handed her the offending bands. Armed with her scissors, she shortened them according to her tastes and handed the fragments back to him. Unruffled, he thanked her and said, “Now, my good woman, there is something about you that is altogether too long that has annoyed me greatly. And since one good turn deserves another, I would like permission to shorten it.”

“Certainly,” she said, “you have my permission and here are the scissors.”

Whereupon the wise pastor said, “Very well, madam, put out your tongue.”

‘Nuff said.

Contrast

Monday, August 27th, 2018

My last post was to mention my sermon for this past Sunday was on the Wise vs the Otherwise (Foolish). I thought I would pass along to you the contrast I showed between the two.

The Wise

  1. Wise people listen to wise instruction. Pr.1:3
  2. Wise people fear the Lord. Pr.1:7; 3:7
  3. Wise people choose good company. 13:20; 12:26
  4. Wise people are not “edgy.” (They don’t see how close to sin they can get without giving in).
  5. Wise people watch their words. 16:23; 10:19
  6. Wise people seek to influence others to trust God. 11:30  “The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends.” (NLT)

The Otherwise (Foolish)

  1. Fools won’t learn from God’s Word.
  2. Fools can’t control their speech. 15:2
  3. Fools can’t control their temper. 12:16; 29:11
  4. Fools are proud and self-confident. 28:26; Jer.17:9
  5. Fools create problems not solve them.

The choice is easy is theory. In theory. But in reality? A bit harder. But worth it.

 

Fools?

Friday, August 24th, 2018

Years ago there used to be a “comic book” TV series that had a character that was fond of saying, “You fool!” (Can you guess what it is? Virtual high five if you do).

Charles Schulz and his cartoon strip “Peanuts” was a staple as I was growing up. Charlie Brown was the “fall guy” for so many pranks. Linus was his faithful blanket-carrying sidekick. One of Linus’ most famous lines was “I love mankind. It’s people I can’t stand.” Playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “If the other planets are inhabited, they’re using the earth for their insane asylum.”  Now that is funny!

Proverbs talks about a lot of different kinds of individuals but the most common are those who pursue wisdom (the wise) and those who pursue foolish things (the fool).  I’m calling this week’s sermon The Wise and the Otherwise because I intend on showing the difference between the two types of people. I am taking a little bit different of an approach as well. Rather than hunt all over Proverbs from passage to passage, the Scripture will be printed out for them in the expanded outline and will also be on Power Point. This sermon is saturated with Scripture and the limited time we have on a Sunday morning needs to be used wisely. My plan is to share those with you in a series of posts next week.

I’d appreciate your prayers for me/us this week. Thanks.

Heart

Friday, August 10th, 2018

Someone has said, “A wise man learns by the experience of others. An ordinary man learns by his own experience. A fool learns by nobody’s experience.”

The two characters in the movie Chariots of Fire were Eric Liddell and Harold Abram. Both were passionate about running, but in different ways. Abram runs in order to prove something; he is a man whose life is motivated by ought, by duty, by law. Liddell runs because as he says, “When I run I feel God’s pleasure.” There was a young lady here who was feeling a lot of pressure when she was running. It was taking the fun out of it for her. I saddled up to her before a race and told her the story of Liddell. Then I looked at her and said, “Run well and feel God’s pleasure.”

You see…it is true what Liddell says. When asked where his power comes from to see the race to the end, he simply said, “It comes from within.”

One of the most familiar verses in Proverbs is 4:23: “Keep your heart will all vigilance (diligence), for from it flow the springs of life.” My purpose this Sunday is to probe what that verse means, but in particular the whole idea of what is the heart? In this sermon Proverbs will go from theorizing to probing. Very pointed. Very convicting. Perhaps C.S.Lewis says it best: “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slime because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Your prayers would be much appreciated.

Pursuit

Friday, July 20th, 2018

In 1991 a series of books was started which has, in some way, revolutionized how we see things.  The book was DOS for Dummies. Amazon has a listing of over 20,000 books in the series. Opera for Dummies (as if…). Betting on Horses for Dummies (can you say I don’t stand a chance?). Potty Training for Dummies. Snort for Dummies (Snort is a security system). How scary would it be for you to pick your car or truck at the mechanics and on his workbench is Car Repair for Dummies? They even have Sex for Dummies.

Why the outrageous number of books? Because people are looking for answers. We are a do-it-yourself generation in many ways. For 20 years the Got Milk? ad campaign was seen in a variety of ways with different celebrities. It was retired in 2014. As you can see, my next sermon series which starts this Sunday is Got Wisdom? and as you can probably guess I will be in the book of Proverbs through the end of September.

This week I’ll define what wisdom is and then show how we can pursue wisdom. I’ll be in Proverbs 1:1-7 if you care to follow along. I invite you to listen to the podcast at the church’s website if you’d like.  Even if you don’t, prayers would be appreciated.

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to post more pictures of our remodel. I’m going to do that next week as a Before/After post. (I know. Now you wait with bated breath).

Words

Friday, July 13th, 2018

As in Last Words…

Last words are important. The last words I remember my father saying were that “I was a friend of the family.” His dementia had robbed him of knowing who I was because the last time I saw him he did not know who I was at all.

I remember the last words of Dan. After resisting the call to give his life to Christ, he eventually found himself in a tent of oxygen and dying. He finally allowed me to share Christ with him and even though he was unable to talk (or barely open his eyes), he squeezed my hand to let me know he had prayed to accept Christ. Then there was Jim.  He had constantly turned down any invitation to follow Jesus (but did go to church with his wife upon occasion).  He took a “shine” to me, even though they attended another church. While in the hospital he was unable to talk anymore and every time I would go to see him tons of family were around. So I finally wrote it all down, had his wife read it to him, and then he had her sign his name because he was unable to. A day or two later he entered eternity.

Last words can be done is so many ways. Vocally. Squeezing a hand. Signing a name. Blinking eyes. All are last words. I finish my series from Joshua this Sunday with Joshua’s last words to the people of Israel. To sum up his words I would put it this way:

REMEMBER THE PAST. DON’T STAY THERE. FOCUS ON THE FUTURE.

 

 

Rumors

Friday, July 6th, 2018

 

Don’t you just love rumors? Of course that was said tongue in cheek.  That leads me to a question:

Can there by anything more devastating to a church than a rush to judgement and the ensuing rumor mill?

Possibly the only other thing would be doctrinal error, but even those are different animals. Doctrinal error can be counteracted with truth. But rumors? Once they start flying all you-know-what breaks loose. How do you stop it? How do you take back the words? It happens in so many ways.

A misplaced word or action.

An overheard word which is considered to be true and passed along.

An angry person decides to take it out on the other person so lies are spread.

An “assumed” situation is perceived as real.

So we jump to conclusions, make a rash judgement and then decide others need to hear and know. Doesn’t matter if it is true or not. It makes for juicy gossip.

The fledgling nation of Israel was faced with just such a thing when it was “assumed” and perceived that an altar had been erected by the eastern tribes. They were going out rogue. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and checked out the perceived defection.

Because of misconceptions, there was also a need for cities of refuge. This Sunday I’ll be talking about the cities of refuge and about the false altar rumor.

Life can be cruel enough without misconceptions and misrepresentations and false rumors and lies being spread. Please make sure you do a gut check (as I have had to do) that you are not the one responsible for passing along damaging  information about people-true or false.