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LawBreaking

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

My sermon for Sunday is entitled Breaking the Law.  I sort of wonder how many of you did what my secretary did: start singing the song by that title. She said her husband definitely would. For those not familiar with it, think Judas Priest. Yeah…I know…heathen. 🙂

My sermon Sunday is about a subject not too many like to talk about these days: SIN. I mean, we have a whole genre of “feel good, be happy” TV evangelists whose whole gig is not to stir the waters but to make the audience feel good.  One of them has made the public comment that he does not talk about sin. Say what?

I have a T-shirt from a ministry I support (Hole in My Heart). The saying is, “All fall short.” “All are loved.” We all sin. No exceptions. John is clear in his letter about the widespread effect of sin. But his point is that a follower of Christ does not keep on sinning just because he can. There needs to be a change. Check out I John 3: 4-10 for the Scripture and you will see what I will be preaching on Sunday.  I’d appreciate your prayers for me and the church Sunday. Thanks.

One more thing…and this comes in the form of shameless promotion. Please check out my daughter, Tami’s, blog for a way to help her accomplish a goal she has for this Fall. You can go here to see that blog. Thanks.

 

HOPE

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

I’m pretty sure you have heard the saying,

“We can live 40 days without food, eight days without water, four minutes without air, but only a few seconds without hope.”

There is some truth to that statement. If you have ever met someone who was in a truly helpless situation then you know how despairing it can be.

We often quote the phrase “Faith, Hope and Love, but the greatest of these is love.” Of the trio, faith and love are given most of the press and discussion. Hope is like the forgotten sister. In reality though, hope stands tall and is vital to all who want to follow Jesus and keep a right perspective on this life and the life to come.

After two faltering weeks on “Black hats/White hats” I decided to scrap that sermon and move on to the next one. This sermon is, as you probably guessed, on Hope and is taken from I John 2:28- 3:3.  We have a hope here and now. But we also have a hope for eternity. C.S. Lewis once said,

Hope is one of the theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is to do.

Thanks for praying for me for this Sunday. It is appreciated more than you know.

 

Black/White

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

You know the old adage: “if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.”

I told you about the events of this past Sunday here. I shelved my prepared sermon for a talk from the heart, largely brought on by my bicycle accident. My wife puts it this way: “it is the 2nd accident in 3 months in which I could have lost you.” Well…that sort of puts things into perspective doesn’t it? So two days will now go down in infamy for me:

November 7 when some car decided to play bumper cars with me. I lost. He left the scene without slowing down or stopping. I came out of that one sore and bruised but alive and walking.

February 17 is the other date. (Must be the 7s are a problem). I am the only one who can take “credit” for this one. My mind has still blacked out the how and the why and even some of the where. Maybe that is good. But this one ended up being much more serious an accident and I would say it is by God’s grace that I am doing as well as I am and recovering. It could have been a whole lot worse.

Anyway, I’m planning on preaching last week’s prepared sermon this week. You can see a preview if you would like by going here. I’m not going to repeat it all. What I will repeat is my request for prayer: for continued healing of body, mind, and heart, and for the sermon-its presentation and reception. Thanks.

 

Black/White

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

After a two week hiatus caused by this, I plan to be back in the pulpit this Sunday. I have to admit that I am a tad bit excited.

Growing up and watching TV, it was easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys…for the most part. The good guys wore white hats; the bad guys wore black ones. For every Roy Rogers and Lone Ranger there was a Billy the Kid or Jesse James.

The Bible shows clearly there is an epic battle going on between the forces of evil and forces of good. From its earliest pages, the Evil One and all who function in his kingdom have constantly opposed God’s plan. For every Abel there is a Cain. For every Tabernacle there is a Tower of Babel. For every Joseph there is a Judas. For every Job there is a Peter.

My Scripture this Sunday is I John 2:18-27. It has been called  The antichrists vs the Christians. I’m calling it the black hats vs the white hats. Another way to put it is the fake vs the genuine.

I’m looking forward to preaching this Sunday after that two-week hiatus. I’m not really sure about my physical stamina nor how my voice will hold up (I picked up a cold in the hospital and with broken ribs it is hard to cough hard). So…some prayers about that would also be much appreciated.  Thanks. And thanks to all for your kind words during my healing. Please keep the prayers coming!

Marked

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

When I was in college I read a little book called The Mark of a Christian by Francis Schaeffer. It had to be the only book I read and understood by that intelligent man. I tried to use it as my required reading for one of my classes but its 20-30 some pages did not not meet the professor’s criteria for a worthy book. I don’t know why do you?  🙂

The mark of a Christian, according to Schaeffer is the same mark Jesus talked about in John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

This week I’m going to delve further into the second part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

  • Becoming a follower of Jesus produces a desire to obey…there is a submissive will.
  • Becoming a follower of Jesus produces an ability to love…there is a caring heart.

The commandment to love is not a new one. Even the OT tells us to love. But Romans 13:8-10 shows us it needs to go further. So this week my emphasis will be a new kind of love. I’d appreciate your prayers for me and the church. Thanks ahead of time.

Branded!

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

There are a few TV shows or movies I will stop to watch if I am walking through the room when they are on. When I first started watching Back to the Future we had taped it on a free weekend. My friend and his son came to visit and I think that movie played on the round the whole weekend. No sooner was it over than we rewound the tape (it was a VHS) and started watching it again.  I’m sort of the same way with the old B & W Perry Mason shows. I am a sucker for the old shows, even though I know Perry is going to win. Never a doubt even though things look awful gloomy from time to time for his client.  I still like courtroom dramas.

A big part of the beginning of I John 2 is the importance of an Advocate who goes to the “bench” on our behalf.  The word Advocate translates the Greek word which means “one who comes alongside” and denotes in legal settings the defender or counselor who comes to aid his clients. It is the same word translated “Helper” or “Comforter” in John 14.  Jesus is the perfect Advocate since the Judge is His Father and they are always in perfect harmony.

Another word used in I John 2 is the word propitiation. A big word most will have trouble saying right, let alone knowing what it means.  It means appeasement or satisfaction. John tells us that Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross satisfied the demands of God’s justice.

There is more to write but will stop there. If you care to listen, the podcast of the sermon is on the church’s website. I welcome your thoughts if you do listen.

Just as a heads up: I am posting this early because Jo and I will be leaving today (Wednesday) for the St. Louis area and return late Friday afternoon. Two of our young men play basketball for Maryville University and we are taking some time away and watching them. Sort of like killing two birds with one stone. So, except for approving a comment, I will be very scarce here and on your blogs as well. Have a great weekend!

TESTS

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

I disliked taking tests. Maybe dislike is the wrong word. Maybe hated is a better one. 🙂 Actually, I didn’t mind the essay kind. I could “blow off” and hope I said enough to make my point. I didn’t mind multiple choice because somewhere along the line I might remember and get the right answer. I disliked strongly (how about that choice of words) the True/False kind.

One of the biggest struggles I run into among fellow Christ-followers is the assurance of salvation. Too many are always questioning “Am I saved?” “If I die today would I go to heaven?” “How can I know?” While I personally have questions about what is called Eternal Security, I don’t believe a follower of Christ ever has a reason to doubt their salvation. Based on what you ask? Well, Sunday I gave two tests to ask as you seek to figure out not only your own, but who might be preaching a strange gospel. Here are two from I John:

  • Belief in God and the certainty of sin. [1:5-6,8,10]  False teachers and doctrinal errors are spread when there is uncertainty about God and sin. John tells us “God is Light.” He also tells us “in Him is no darkness at all.” Ever since the Fall man has tried to excuse sin. We call it a “mistake” or a “failure” or a “disorder, illness, or addiction.” Call sin what it is…sin.
  • Belief in forgiveness of sin and confession. [1:7b,9] That verse 9 stands like a rock for me. We can deny it. We can argue. But we cannot erase that verse from the pages of Holy Writ. What is written is written. Way too many followers of Jesus live in the past and think they cannot be forgiven. The tense used for forgive is one which not only shows past forgiveness but specifically present forgiveness. And since my tomorrow is actually today, forgiveness is always there.

I’m sure you can think of more. But these are huge to the freedom of every follower of Jesus. What do they say to you?

Branded!

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

Kicking and screaming. Loud noises. Hot and sweaty. Searing flesh.

Obviously you probably figured out with that description and the title I am not describing a child being disciplined or being asked to do something he doesn’t want to do. Branding cattle or sheep was an absolute essential in the days we call the Wild West. The brand identified whose sheep or cattle or horses they were.

Phil Cooke, in his book, Unique, defines a brand as “what do people think of when they think of you, your product or your organization?” Each church establishes its brand, i.e. what it is known for. Preaching. Youth program. Generosity. Outreach to the community. Love. So much more.

As an individual follower of Jesus, I am branded. If you are a Christ-follower you are too. The question is this: “what do people think of when they think of me/you?” Is there a checklist to see how we are doing in that area?

Actually there is. “Branded”, my sermon series from I John which starts this Sunday, has 5 marks/brands which should be the makeup of every follower of Christ. They are marks I will be visiting as we make our way through this fantastic book.

LOVE DEEPLY

OBEY FAITHFULLY

LIVE AUTHENTICALLY

KNOW COMPLETELY

BELIEVE CONFIDENTLY

I can’t take credit for thinking those up. James MacDonald gets kudos for that. I’m excited to be preaching this book. I have never done it before. So I thank you for your prayers ahead of time.

Weakness

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Weak is the new strong. That is just one of the opposite-opposite statements we find in the Bible which seemingly contradict each other. Here are a few more:

  • Love your enemies
  • The way to be exalted is to be humble
  • To truly live you have to die
  • Jesus gave His life, not for good people but for sinful, ungodly people who don’t deserve it.

To be strong, you have to be weak. That sure sounds strange in our society doesn’t it? We of the power grabs and climbing the ladder (while using our coworkers as stepping stones). So hearing the word weakness almost throws us into a convulsion, or at best a spasm.

Paul said it well in 2 Cor. 12:9-10: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

We all have weaknesses and limitations. That’s normal. As humans we are finite, imperfect, sinful people. Those are limitations. But weaknesses are different. We all have them; just different ones.  The lesson for us though is that in spite of our weaknesses, God’s grace stands there ready at a moment’s notice. The equally interesting thing is that God not only wants to display His grace in Paul’s life, He also wants to display His power in Paul’s weakness.

Truth: the weaker we become, the greater God’s power is released in us. That is the idea I want to capture this coming Sunday. Will you please pray for us this Sunday?

The leadership is also making an announcement this week concerning the future of OVCF. If you, my readers, are interested in knowing what I said, you can tune into the podcast.

Fools

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

It is not a compliment to be called a fool. Not in biblical days. Not in the 1800s. Certainly not today. It is a term of derision. In fact, the word “fool” is on the level of idiot, nincompoop, and dunce. Far from a compliment, it is seen as a put-down. Interesting fact which I am sure many of you know: the word fool in the Greek is actually the word moronic. Yeah, you read that right. No need to tell you what word we get from that.

In verses 9-14 of I Corinthians 4 Paul uses four words to describe the followers of Christ:

  1. Spectacles– When a Roman general entered the city as a conquering hero, he came first. His army came next. The captors brought up the rear and they were spectacles to the watching and jeering throng.
  2. Fools- The early followers of Jesus often lived in the lowest level of society. While others wanted glory, honor and recognition, the followers of Jesus gave that up.
  3. Sufferers– While others lived like kings, they often lived like paupers. The life of following Jesus was a life of suffering. The word labor used in verse 12 means toil, which literally means “working our fingers to the bone, to the point of exhaustion.”
  4. Scum– Refuse. This refers to the scrapings from the bottom of a pan which are scraped off and thrown away.

The point? God is embracing the ridiculous. That is the point of my message this weekend. God embraces the ridiculous, the crazy people. I’m going to give some examples this week in a post or two of “crazy people.” Meanwhile, would you please pray for the Word to hit home this weekend?