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Anchor

Friday, April 20th, 2018

We all face seemingly insurmountable odds from time to time. Some more than others. But when we are in those periods that want to overwhelm us, we need an anchor-Someone or something to cling to. Given the way things just up and disappear or rust away or disintegrate, I believe the SOMEONE is a better anchor.

This final True North sermon from Hebrews 11 (next week’s is from Hebrews 12:1-3) takes in a laundry list of people whose faith was evident, even though it might have been weak at the get-go. Gideon. Barak. Samson. Jephthah. Names which are not really household names. Okay, maybe Gideon and Samson are the more familiar ones, but the other two? I’m thinking 9 out of 10 would not know who they were (and in some circles 10 out of 10).

Paul states in 2 Cor.12 that “God’s grace is sufficient in all things. When I am weak, He become strong.” That is the underlying thought for this week’s message: God is sufficient. He empowers the weak to be strong (the aforementioned biblical characters). He also sustains the weak to be strong. Elijah. Elisha. Followers of Christ who refuse to recant their faith in Christ, even in spite of the persecution, possible torture and imprisonment, and death.

This series is coming to a close next week. It will be good to talk about God’s part in being an anchor when our faith is rocked. I’d appreciate your prayers for this weekend. Thanks ahead of time.

HomewardBound

Friday, April 13th, 2018

Just as there are certain events that affect our lives, and we know what we were doing and where we were when they happened, words or statements are the same.

9/11

“President Kennedy has been shot” (for those old enough)

“President Reagan has been shot”

“Houston, we have a problem.”

Precise timing and movements were needed to make sure Apollo 13 made it home. One mistake and the capsule and astronauts would be doomed to outer space. Getting them home was a priority.

For some reason many don’t like to talk about the future. I’m not talking about future events (Rapture, 666, etc).  For me as a Christ-follower I like to talk about my future. It is secure.  I know that because of God’s promise, but I also know that because of hope. Properly focused hope gives us the assurance of a home for eternity.  Now…I’m not talking about the “I hope it is nice weather tomorrow” or “I hope he/she smiles at me.” No, the hope I am talking about goes much deeper.

Take away hope and you take away a reason for living. In the case of the Christ-follower, if our hope is not connected to forever, our hope will somehow die. Living with forever in view gives us an unshakeable reason for hope.

My sermon Sunday is called Homeward Bound. I’m using Hebrews 11:11-16, 32-40 as my passage. Come join us or listen online or if you are too far away, please say a prayer for me and the folks at OVCF. Thanks.

And speaking of Homeward Bound, today, April 13th marks the birthday of my late mother. She would have been 86. She’s home.

Stress

Friday, April 6th, 2018

We all have it.

Some have more of it than others.

Some give it more than others. 🙂

Some of you have had a Stress Test or know someone who has.  The American Heart Association defines a stress test, or a treadmill test, as “a way to help your doctor find out how well your heart handles its workload. As your body works harder during the test, it requires more fuel and your heart has to pump more blood. The test can show if there’s a lack of blood supply through the arteries that go into the heart.”

I’ve come to the earth-shattering, ground-shaking conclusion that stress is a fact of life. (How’s that for smarts?)  Pick out people in the Bible, and other than Jesus, probably no one had more stress than Abraham. His life was turned upside down by God’s call on his life and from there it seems like one stress button after another.

Get up and move to another land.

Lie that Sarai is your sister.

No promised child.

Have a child with Hagar with Sarai’s blessing.

Kick Hagar and Ishmael out.

Deal with Sarai’s whining.

Lie that Sarai is your sister.

Deal with Lot’s “love affair” with Sodom.

Have promised child (Isaac).

Then perhaps the greatest stress of all: offer Isaac on Mount Moriah as a sacrifice.

There is more but this last one mentioned…WOW!!  How did Abraham handle it? How did Isaac handle it? There is so much to learn from the life of Abraham and from this one incident alone. That is my topic for Sunday.  Hebrews 11:8-19

Prayers would be much appreciated.

Fools

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

Being called a fool is not a complementary term. It is sort of akin to moron or idiot in our use of the word.  Tragically, we have often played the fool when it comes to spiritual things. We think we know best. We get eternity amnesia. We get big-picture amnesia.

We also get cross-amnesia. Down through the years teaching on the cross has evolved…and that has not always been good.  The cross took a back seat. I will post about the history of that fiasco next week.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. I was asked Sunday by someone new to church what Palm Sunday was. I explained it to him, but told him I’m glad he asked. In biblical days, the cross was seen as a symbol of cruelty and judgment upon those who deserved it. It was seen as a way to mete out punishment to the worst of the worst. In our day, the cross is seen as a symbol of foolishness. Vicarious redemption is seen as a stupid act and totally unnecessary. There is a word for that (I’ll let you fill that one in).

This Sunday I’ll continue my True North series but also talk about the cross using I Corinthians 1:18-2:5.  I’m going to do that with two thoughts:

  • I reaffirm the necessity of the cross
  • I reaffirm the necessity of God’s wisdom.

Prayers would be appreciated. And thank you ahead of time.

 

 

Choices

Friday, March 16th, 2018

Growing up as an athlete i was faced with choices-some tougher than others. I chose not to abuse my body with alcohol and tobacco…only chocolate!  🙂 🙂 I chose to focus so much on basketball that I was not one of the shining lights in academia while in high school. It wasn’t much better in college until my Senior Year when I chose to concentrate on my marriage and my grades. Took me long enough don’t you think?  🙂  Every athlete knows choices are made during games which stand out as possible game changers.

Making choices is not always easy. Rephrase: making the right choice, especially when they are tough ones to make, is not always easy. The story of Moses is a story of choices-from beginning to end. My theme for the year is Uncharted and as we travel into uncharted territory, we are and will continue to be confronted by choices.  I’ll be looking at Moses using Hebrews 11:23-31 as my text.

Our lives are a series of defining moments. Choices which can change our whole future. I’d appreciate your prayers for this weekend. And thanks ahead of time.

Waterline

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

As in “below the…”

In my office is a book called Building Below the Waterline by Gordon MacDonald. It is a book on leadership with its basic premise illustrated by the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.  The BB is still standing because care was taken to build a solid foundation below the waterline.  I have a driveway that has never been right since the day we moved into the house in 2006. It is made of thick concrete with a stark drop off. Whoever built it failed to taper it so that the entrance was a smooth one. Putting gravel at the end will do no good because gravel just goes to the side eventually. But I also found out just adding to it by tapering an edge would do no good. Whoever rebuilds the edge will need to dig down deep, pull out packed in dirt & gravel and do a new “foundation” for it to be built properly. That is on my “have-someone-to-do” list for this year.  Like the BB, my driveway would be “toast” because it was not properly built below the surface.

Having a proper foundation is absolutely essential.  Staying afloat in life is much like staying afloat in a ship. There needs to be the right amount “below the waterline” to weather storms and rough seas. The Christ-follower’s flotation device is prayer. A failure to have the proper foundation below the waterline of life will lead to ruin. My sermon this week is based on Hebrews 4:14-16 where Jesus is called our High Priest. There is so much there to see and learn! Thanks for your prayers.

And for you from OVCF who read this: remember we go back to two services this Sunday.

Faith

Friday, February 16th, 2018

The life of faith is the only life that pleases God, and nothing else matters if faith is missing.

It is easy to look at stories in the Bible as old and dusty, sort of like dead men walking. But consider it another way: dead men talking. This Sunday we are going to look at three men who though dead, still speak.

I like this quote which I came across as I was studying for this sermon: “Death is never the last word in the life of a righteous man. When a man leaves this world, be he righteous or unrighteous, he leaves something in the world. He may leave something that will grow and spread like a cancer or a poison, or he may leave something like a fragrance of perfume or a blossom of beauty that permeates the atmosphere with blessing.” 

That quote is quite sobeing. Man leaves this world either a Paul or a Nero/Hitler/or someone of that ilk.

The three men we are going to study are from Hebrews 11: 4-7…Abel, Enoch, and Noah. Great testimonies to what God can do with a person sold out to Him and willing to follow Him by faith. Your prayers are appreciated.

TrueLove

Friday, January 26th, 2018

This past December Spencer’s own Community Theater did a play called The Velveteen Rabbit. It was written in 1922 by Margery Williams (aka Margery Williams Bianco). The book is subtitled How Toys Become Real. One of the most quoted sections of the book is this:

By the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

As you know, love is more than a word. It is more than an emotion. There are two things which stick out in  Romans 12: 9-13.  True love lacks hypocrisy and true love discriminates (that will make for an interesting “discussion” among the people). But to put you at ease think “discernment.”

Love can be expressed in so many different ways. This passage in Romans presents 8 different ways love can be displayed. It should be a fun sermon to preach. 🙂  I’d appreciate your prayers for us this weekend. And if you care to listen to it, the podcast is put on the church’s website.

RealYou

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

The late pastor/author A.W.Tozer once said,

Theological knowledge is the medium through which the spirit flows into the human heart, yet there must be humble penitence in the heart before the truth can produce faith.

What Tozer is basically saying is we need to be aware of our sin and who we are if we are to ever see the Word take root and the Spirit work through us. God can’t use a stubborn, arrogant person who is always getting in the way. Let me rephrase that since God can do whatever He wants. It makes it harder for Him to work since He has to sort through all the junk.

My sermon this week will be focusing on Romans 12: 3-8, a passage of Scripture which deals with who we are and what we can do as part of the body of Christ. As such there are three questions every follower of Christ needs to find the answer to…or know the answer to.

  • Who am I? This deals with our identity.
  • Where do I belong? This deals with our security.
  • What am I supposed to be doing? This deals with our significance.

My goal is to help people find the answers to those questions, or at least start seeking them. I’d appreciate your prayers as I continue the series “Transformed.”  Meanwhile, can you answer those three questions for yourself?

Surrender

Friday, January 12th, 2018

The images will never leave our minds. What we were doing at that moment will always stick with us. The stunning news that a plane had flown into one of the towers of the World Trade Center in NYC on September 11, 2001 stopped us in our tracks. We wanted to believe it was just an accident. Then plane #2 flew into the other tower and we knew then it was not an accident but an act of terrorism. That fact was confirmed even more by the flight into the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania. “Ground Zero” was established. A nation was galvanized. Politicians for one small moment put aside their party hat and all agreed this cannot happen.

Leaders were faced with making decisions none had thought of making. There were no contingency plans. How could we have conceived of such evil?

My sermon for Sunday is the first of a series called “Transformed.” I’m calling it All In. It reminds me of the story of the chicken and the pig discussing who wanted to start a breakfast featuring eggs and bacon. The pig said, “No.” When questioned by the chicken his answer was simple: “For you it is a donation; for me it is total commitment.” Following Jesus is just that and every Christ-follower must face the question: Am I going to contribute or am I going to commit?” My next four weeks of sermons will be from Romans 12 starting with verses 1-2 this Sunday.  I’d appreciate your prayers this week.