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Birth

Friday, December 14th, 2018

If you want to strike “fear” into many peoples’ lives, two words will do it. In many circles it will bring up memories of disagreements and shortness of tempers. Those two words:

VIRGIN BIRTH

Books, articles, essays, speeches, sermons, and a whole lot of other means of communication have been used in the discussion of the Virgin Birth: Pro or Con. I can honestly say men a whole lot smarter than me have gone ’round and ’round about it. I’m not well-versed in the deep defense of the VB. I just know this: God’s Word said it was how Jesus would come into the world, therefore, I believe it.

Just a few months ago we were treated (again) to another round of gaudiness and pomp and ceremony. A royal wedding of Prince whatever-his name is and his new wife, Meghan. Despite what the media and paparazzi says, they are mere human beings. Can you tell I am not a fan of their weddings? It lies in direct contrast with the entrance of Jesus into the world.

The attacks on the VB are monumental.  And ongoing-past, present and future. I’m not going to go into detail about the attacks, but the big question is Why? Simple actually: the VB is the line in the sand.  It is the line of demarcation. If someone denies the VB of Christ, IMHO I have every right to call into question the reality of their faith. The truth is that Jesus’ life did not begin at His birth or His conception. He is eternal and has always existed.

This Sunday I’m going to tackle the issue of the VB. In keeping with the “Light” theme, I’m calling it This IS the Light! John 1:1-14 will be my Scripture. Thanks ahead of time for your prayers.

Word

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

Not “word” as in current vernacular.

But Word…as in “The Word.”

Word as in John 1:1- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word with with God, and the Word was God.” (emphasis mine)

For the past 3 months I have been reading from John Piper’s Christmas devotion book, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy during my morning Quiet Time. It has been part of my attempt (along with Paul David Tripp’s book Come Let Us Adore Him) to prepare my heart for the Christmas season. Piper’s devotion for December 12 struck a chord as I prepare to preach on the Virgin Birth this coming Sunday. His devotion was on “The Glory of the Word Made Flesh.”

Aside from the very obvious conflict I would have with the Jehovah Witness cult over their use of “the Word was a God,” (which totally destroys the whole idea of the Trinity…which they do not believe in), Piper’s devotion really focused on “the Word.” Piper’s point, which I thought was really good, is that it did not say:

  • “the Deed”: The whole idea of deeds being defining is ludicrous. If my words are questionable from time to time, deeds are even more wishy-washy. No one would ever know why I did what I did or do what I do unless, of course, I myself knew why.
  • “the Thought”: The difference between a word and a thought is that a word is expressed from me to you or you to me. Thoughts can be kept inside forever.  If Jesus was a thought then there would have been no communication.
  • “the Feeling”: WOW! Don’t get me started on this one! Can you imagine how fickle Jesus would be if he was nothing more than a feeling?

Jesus is the Word. Jesus is God expressing Himself to us. I’ll take that over a Deed, Thought, or Feeling any day.  Combine that with verse 14 of John 1: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen the glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

I thank God for expressing Himself in Jesus, the Word made flesh. Any thoughts?

Unfiltered

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Don’t you just love genealogies? Aaaaah no. “As a matter of fact I usually just skip over them and go to the end. Sort of like I do when I’m reading all about the clans and offspring in Numbers.”

But there is one genealogy you just don’t want to skip over. I’m sure you know I’m speaking of Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1. I used to. I was lost at the first “begat.” You know…the old KJV version of “father of.” And honestly, when people want to talk about Christmas they want to talk about the baby in the manger, the shepherds, the wise men, Bethlehem, no room in the manger, or some other well known part of the story. But the genealogy? Surely you have got to be kidding!

But there it is in black and white and as glorious as it can be! There is the requisite “father of” found in all genealogies. But, as you may know, there are some women included in His. The culture of that day excluded women from any place of prominence, especially in the genealogy. But not Jesus’. I’m sure you have heard it before but here is what we find with the woman:

Tamar– disguised herself as a prostitute and seduced Judah. Find her story in Genesis 38

Rahab– anyone who has read the story of Jericho knows her profession.  She was an idolatrous, an outcast Gentile woman, and a professional prostitute. She became the mother of Boaz who married our next woman.

Ruth– a Moabitess, a lineage that came as a result of incest. (Genesis 19). She married Boaz (Read the book of Ruth) and became David’s great grandmother.

Bathsheba– Is the anyone who does not know who she is? Just say “David.”

Mary- the mother of Jesus. A sinner like you and me. A virgin but still a sinner.  Definitely not perfect and definitely not deserving to be elevated to the heights with Jesus. She was in need of a Savior like all of us.

The genealogy of Jesus speaks of grace. It shows that God accepts outsiders. Like me. Like you.  The genealogy shows people with warts. It is unfiltered.

Grace is my main topic for this Sunday. The Unfiltered Light of Christmas. Your prayers would be appreciated.

Light

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

I must confess. I love lights. Christmas lights in particular. One of my fondest memories as a child was one Sunday night after church we would drive through the neighborhoods around us looking at lights. Christmas was a challenge for mom and dad in many ways, but they did their best  to make them bright and cheery. We never got our tree before Christmas Eve day but when we came down on Christmas morning it was bright with a train underneath. Dad always put lights in the lower windows. Our trips through the neighborhoods were those where money seemed to be no object. But even those would be considered child’s play according to some. Here is one of them: https://youtu.be/MnL0_CsXncI

I know that will never be me. Shoot, I don’t even put lights in the windows.  I’ll let someone else blow their hard-earned dough on contests and taking a chance on the wrath of the neighbors.  🙂

Sunday I start a new series I’m calling Shedding Light on Christmas (as you can see by the banner).  This week I’m taking a look at Isaiah 9: 2-7: “The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light…He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” My whole focus this month will be on Jesus as the Light. I’d appreciate your prayers for this Sunday. Thanks.

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.