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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.

 

Giants

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

You cannot read the story of Joshua and Caleb and not be impressed.

They were different.  They saw life differently. They were leaders par excellence.

During my recent study of the book of Joshua, and in particular this past Sunday’s sermon which directly involved Caleb, I saw something I had seen before but could not delineate it. As you probably know, along with 10 other spies, Joshua and Caleb were sent into the land of Canaan to spy out the land.  They all came back with glowing reports of the land.

With one difference. Joshua and Caleb’s ideas of submission were different. The 10 convinced the people they could benefit from the land but it was too dangerous. The people were too big. Joshua and Caleb agreed on all counts EXCEPT it being too dangerous. Here’s why:

The 10 spies measured the giants against their own strength; Joshua and Caleb measured the giants against God’s strength. The 10 trembled; the 2 triumphed. The majority had big giants and a little God; the two had a great God and little giants.

What about you? What are you facing today that seems insurmountable? Are the giants you are facing today huge in your eyes? Remember to follow Caleb’s lead: “follow the Lord wholeheartedly.” I would add “Don’t lose heart.”

Here is a song for you to sing in your head this week. Have a great giant-slaying week.

Unfinished

Friday, June 29th, 2018

Have you ever noticed there hardly seems to be a time when we are totally satisfied?

How many times have you finished a project, maybe one that has taken longer than you thought- and after a “small break” you tell yourself- you are back at it. You see something else which needs done.

When we (OVCF) bought this building in 2010 we knew it was small for us. However,  we made due in various ways. Sometime in 2011 we knew we had to do something. After much prayer and planning, we renovated our current facility in 2012. No need to tell you how we did that. Least not now.  By 2013 we knew we needed more room so we went to two services and started plans for an expansion. But after a late night “dream,” I woke up and asked myself a question: “What about the kids? Where will we put them if we expand?” So we put our expansion for a worship area on hold while we raised funds for our youth addition. After 4 years of raising money and paying cash for everything, that addition is ready to be used.  (Hands are clapping big time)

Just a couple of weeks ago I was asked when we are going to start on the adult worship area.  My answer? “When we raise the money.”

Sometimes there is just some unfinished business. I’ve talked to tons of older folks (which I am fast becoming) and have often heard the phrase “If I had to do things over again.” The second most common would probably be “There is still so much I want to do.”

Sunday’s sermon is about unfinished business in two ways. One, is unfinished business Joshua needed to take care of with the surrounding nations and hie people; and two, a man called Caleb had some unfinished business to take care of. Two old men, Joshua and Caleb, will serve as our inspiration Sunday. Thanks for praying. 🙂

FaithfulGod

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

Sunday’s sermon is history. I wish I could say it was monumental, but I’m not always delusional. 🙂 I talked about promises from Joshua 10:1-12:24. I took the liberty of combining those verses and what I found into 3 important promises we can find.

PROMISE #1: “You will keep your word”

Joshua had made a covenant agreement with the Gibeonites to protect them. It wasn’t too much later that promise was “called out” by the Gibeonites. Joshua came to their rescue with a daring under-the-cover-of-darkness trek from Gilgal to Gibeon (25 miles over very rough and rugged terrain). When he got there he heard the words, “Do not be afraid, I have given them into your hands” from God.

PROMISE #2: “You will battle daily”

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by life, circumstances, and events. We will be and are in a daily battle with the enemy of our souls. There are days of “We got this. You and me, God.” Then it might be the very next day when we feel totally dogged by the enemy. Two Scriptures come into play here: Ephesians 6:10-18 and Romans 7:7-17.

PROMISE #3: “You will complete the task”

God told the Israelites the Promised Land (land of Canaan) was theirs. An important reminder: Winning a victory is not determined by whether God is on our side or not. Abraham Lincoln had an interesting thought on this. While both sides claimed God was on their side in the war, he was heard to say, “The key issue is not whether God is on my side but whether I am on God’s side.” Wise words.

We do serve a promise-keeping God who wants His children to keep their word as well.  Your song for the week is an old one but still powerful. Listen here.

Promises

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

It used to be a handshake was enough.

The old saying was, “Your word is your bond.”

Every once in a while we will hear someone say, “I know you. You’re good for it.”

Or you might hear someone say, “You gave me your word and that is good enough for me.”

How great it would be if we could honestly say, “A promise made is a promise kept.”

In our day and age we are more likely to hear, “I’m getting me a lawyer!” We live in a litigious society and more and more people are breaking their word than keeping it.  Promises are a bedrock of any society. No telling what will become of ours.

The theme of promises weaves its way through the pages of Scripture-both of those who keep them and those who break them. My Scripture for this weekend is a lengthy one: Joshua 10:1-12:24. It is a litany of promises. Promises made to God. Promises made from God. Promises made to others. The obvious application will be how we, as followers of Christ, should keep the promises we make. There will be a couple key thoughts I will share with the folks Sunday. I’ll share them with you this upcoming week. Meanwhile, I always ask for prayers from you. I ask you to pray a little extra for this weekend. Thanks

Refreshment

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

My idea of refreshment and your idea of refreshment could be is probably different. For some it is a sit down in front of the TV. Or maybe it is a lawn chair or hammock and a good book. For others it may be yard sales (can you say gag?). Or maybe it is a quiet evening with your spouse or children or someone you love.

Mine? Well can you spell B.I.C.Y.C.L.E? Yeah…I know. How can that be a refreshment? “That just makes me tired thinking of it.” I respect your wacky haywire feelings.  I really do. I live with someone who shares your thoughts. She would just as soon my bike would turn to be covered in mothballs as to be able to be ridden.

Of course, she and I disagree. Good thing love overcomes HER crazy thinking. You know? I have tried to get her sane but no-o-o-o-o-o-o. I think I am getting an award for being the most patient person when it comes to listening to others’ thoughts about me riding a bike. 🙂

I rode this morning (Tuesday). It has been sweltering…like in the 90s with humidity in the stratosphere. I went to the Y yesterday because I knew I planned to ride today. I rode early this morning because I was heading to our church camp where we had 18 campers and faculty involved in camp and wilderness camp. I left at 6:15 as soon as it was light enough to safely ride so I could back to the office by 8:00 then head home for a shower. About 7 miles into the ride (about 6:45) I took these pictures. I took them while riding so they aren’t the best. And yes, I was on a back road where I saw no traffic. There are some simple pleasures an early morning ride gives. Some refreshment one can miss. I saw this and thought of Lamentations 3:22: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your way of refreshment? What time of the day is your favorite?

Pretending

Friday, June 15th, 2018

If you have ever watched Lord of the Rings there is a scene where Frodo and Sam pretended to be Orcs by wearing the armor and “face mask/helmet” and marching with them. Eventually they were exposed and it took some quick thinking to escape.

Pretending to be someone we aren’t is not new. We learned how to do that in childhood. Maybe we were the “good child” because everyone expected us to be. Then again, maybe we were the “evil child!” 🙂

As men we are often expected to act a certain way. In my era (yeah that’s a long time ago) it was the rough and tumble man, the Marlboro man (even though he died of cancer from smoking). We had an image to uphold. We were taught that men had to make their own way in the world. So we learned to walk by sight. Even in our Christian journey we were taught the cold, hard facts and not to deviate from them. No emotions were allowed. Not only was that wrong, but it taught us something else: walk by sight.

The story of Joshua and the Gibeonites in Joshua 9 is a story of walking by sight and not by faith. After the lesson of Ai it would seem rather strange that Joshua would get caught again for almost the same error. But here it is in black and white. Is he any different than me and you? I think not…at least for me.

Sunday is Father’s Day, a perfect day to challenge men with walking by faith and not by sight. I hope you will be celebrating FD in some way with a “man” in your life-husband, father, grandfather, uncle, son, friend. May I ask while you are celebrating that you take time to say a prayer for me as I preach and the folks as they listen? Thanks.