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Drowning

Friday, February 15th, 2019

It sounds somewhat presumptuous to say, “No one should worry.” Even as I write that or say that I feel like I should have a shield or some armor or at least plan to duck. Within any room; within any event; within any church, work, or school, there are worriers.  Research has shown that worry causes serious health issues: ulcers, colitis, nerves, sleeplessness, and a host of other ailments.

As I began working on the theme for this year (Unsinkable), I also began working on some sermon ideas. One of the ones I came up with was “Icebergs,” those things which can sink us or our faith.  It is common knowledge Titanic was sunk by an iceberg which was under the surface. Many people’s faith is sunk by icebergs under the surface.  One of the biggest, but one often given credence by us as “concern” is worry.

My sermon Sunday is from Psalm 37:1-11 and verse 23. This happens to be one of my favorite in the Bible so I’m looking forward to it. The writer of this psalm makes it really easy for even the casual reader by telling us what the solution to worry is by highlighting some words at the beginning of the verses: Trust. Delight. Commit. Be still. Refrain.  I’ll finish out by talking about “the steps of a man are established by the Lord…when he delights in His way.”

Thanks for your prayers.

It’s been a busy week so the blog took a backseat. Thanks for being patient.

Essentials

Monday, February 11th, 2019

There are two sayings I adopted years ago that to me still stand the test of time:

“In essentials, unity; in opinions, liberty; in all things, love.”

“Where the Bible speaks we speak; where the Bible is silent we are silent.”

These two sayings would take care of a lot of “hills” people are dying on when they don’t need to.

My conclusion: We minor in majors; we major in minors.

Think that through. When it comes to doctrinal issues, there are some non-negotiables (I know that is not word but I still use it), some majors we simply cannot compromise on. The virgin birth of Christ. The divinity of Jesus-that he was fully God and fully man. Popular thought heresy says Jesus was born a man, became divine, but went to the cross as a man. (Can you say Bill Johnson?) The sacrificial, substitutionary, redemptive act of Christ on the cross for our salvation. The physical resurrection of Jesus from the grave. The ultimate return of Jesus to bring an end to life on this planet as we know it. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one. The Bible as God’s authoritative Word, inspired and inerrant. Those (and others not mentioned) are majors and should not be compromised on.

But our religious culture is fast pushing them to the side in order to major in minors.

While I believe homosexual activity is sinful and wrong, I don’t believe it is the unpardonable sin. I also don’t really make a big deal about the creation story. I believe very strongly in “In the Beginning God…”  If the creation of the world was 7 24 hour days or whether “day” was a longer span of time, is not a game-changer to me. “In the beginning God.”  He can do whatever He wants to do in whatever way He want to. But do I think it is a matter of salvation? No, I don’t. While I don’t think we ought to “uncouple” ourselves from the OT as Andy Stanley says we should, I also don’t believe we find our salvation there. The Law was given as a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, Paul says, so we can’t dismiss it. But I don’t go to the Law or the OT to find my salvation. I find it in Christ, in His story as told in the NT.  That is a major I can’t minor in.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Just be kind. 🙂

 

Grounded

Friday, February 1st, 2019

One of the worst fears of any ship or boat is being grounded. Hitting a sandbar. Hitting a reef. Being tossed on shore. (Think Gilligan’s Island! 🙂 )  But I’ve got another kind of grounding in mind.

G. Campbell Morgan, a British preacher who lived from 1863-1945 (that means he “saw” both the Civil War and both World Wars) once wrote:

If our Rock were not our Redeemer, we would be without hope. If our Redeemer were not our Rock, we might be afraid.  Let us never forget that our redemption has in it the strength of the Mighty One.

Since the first of the year (except the Sunday we had to cancel due to the weather), I’ve been looking at Psalm 27 and its truth as an anchor. For an anchor to hold there must be solid ground, something it can sink into. This Sunday’s Scripture show us there is something we can sink our teeth into, the solid ground of the Word of God. My sermon this week will be on Psalm 19: 7-11. There is so much richness there in those few verses! First, I’m going to look at 5 myths surrounding the Bible, then look at the solid foundation the Scripture offers us.

I’m excited about preaching this message. I love talking about the Bible’s strong foundation. I’d appreciate your prayers for this Sunday.

Tandem

Friday, January 25th, 2019

Given the snow event we had last weekend which resulted in only the second cancellation of our Sunday service in 13 years, I am re-posting this for this weekend.

If I were to ask you, or take a survey by asking one question, I wonder what your answer would be. Here is the question: What one thing do you see as the possibly the hardest thing to have today?

My guess is that many would answer TRUST.

We are being told much more than we want to hear today (it is called TMI). Sadly, much of what we are told we don’t know whether to believe or not. We are told to be our own boss. Why? “Because you can’t trust anyone.” We are being told to do our own thing. Why? “Because you can’t trust anyone to keep their word.” We listen to self-help gurus, exercise gurus, financial gurus and every other one you can think of because we are told “you can’t trust anyone else so forge your own path to success.”  One of the common lines from Back to the Future is when George tells Marty: “See, like I said! If you put your mind to it you can can accomplish anything.”

In reality, independence is an illusion; it is a delusion. “I want to be my own person” is nothing more than a foolish statement for the Christ-follower. The simple truth is “we are not our own. We have been bought with a price.”  The world offers independence. What the world really offers is slavery.

God has designed us to live in a dependent, obedient, and worshipful relationship with Him and in humble, interdependent relationships with each other.  It is like riding a tandem bicycle. The one in the front seat is the one who steers and guides. The one in the back can cause all sorts of havoc if he/she decides to operate independently from the front seat driver. They must work together. God has designed our earthly relationships to work that way as well as our relationship with Him.

My message for Sunday is entitled Tandem and is from Psalm 27:8-14. It is the final one in the short series on Psalm 27. I’d appreciate your prayers. Thanks.

 

B-r-r–r-r

Monday, January 21st, 2019

It was 3 degrees this morning when I woke up at 3:30.

3 Degrees!!!

We are supposed to have a barn burner of a day today. The high this afternoon is supposed to be 11. Yes, you read that right. All you in the south. All you out west (specifically Arizona and parts west of that). Don’t you go getting all high and mighty just because you are basking in the 60s, 70s or 80s.

However, I would be willing to trade places for a month or so.

My friend, Dave, lives in Tempe.  This winter he said he was tired of the heat of Arizona so he decided to work from another locale. He is in Maine for 6 months. Somehow I’m thinking I might have picked a better place. But I texted with him yesterday and they got 6″ of snow and he was loving it! Yeah…he’s not right either.  (Tami says that about me a lot).

What made me sad about the winter storm that came through our neck of the woods (although we didn’t get it as bad as they said nor as bad as others) was we had to cancel church services yesterday. In a land of 4 wheel drive trucks and FWD SUV’s we had to cancel for only the second time in 9 years. The other was a deluge of snow which hit early Sunday morning, and after several of our worship team members slid past the entrance, we decided “not a chance.” So we scrambled getting everyone notified. This time we had a system in place and everyone was notified Saturday night.

I hate (strong word) canceling church services. I miss being with people. I miss smiling and laughing with people I love. I miss preaching. What I didn’t miss is the possibility of people trying to make it and having an accident. Owen County is a lot of back roads. One good thing: my sermon for this past Sunday will be preached this week. I also came to the office and redid all my sermons through May. So there was some good to the bad.

Nothing really monumental. Just a chat. Have a great week!

Satisfaction

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

There are a lot of things which bring us satisfaction. Some are not worth it; some are. Some are temporary; some are eternal. Some eat us alive; some give us life. As I see it, satisfaction can largely depend on your motives and expected results.

This past Thursday I was satisfied. In case you were born under a rock, Thursday was Thanksgiving Day. You know…eat till you drop. Eat till your buttons pop. Eat till you vow you will not eat again all day. Okay, at least until your next meal at another relative’s house or during the game (if you watch them).

Thursday for us was an absolutely beautiful day. The past few years it has been so frigid we had popsicles come inside after standing outside with a sign announcing our Thanksgiving Lunch for the community. But not this year! It turned out to be in the 50s and sunny.  It was a great day for a bike ride…I mean…a Thanksgiving lunch.  My day started early with my Quiet Time of Thanksgiving to the God who blesses me more than I deserve. Jo & I made our way to the local Lion’s Club where we hold the lunch. We started there when we didn’t have a building of our own and now that our building is sort of outside of town, we still use the LC for accessibility. We had a local lady who wanted to make pies for us so we arrived early to meet her. Sarah made 5 pies and some sugar cookies. Good thing I’m not a pumpkin, apple cinnamon, or pecan pie eater!  🙂  Eventually, others started arriving and preparations were underway.

I’m in charge of deliveries. I don’ t make them. I have men and women who do. So once people start coming I start humming. We have it down to a system now which works pretty well. And I had plenty of people who were more than eager to help in delivering the meals to whatever address I gave them, even some which were a 20-25 minute drive.

I know you don’t particularly want to hear those kinds of things. If you are like me you are saying, “Get with the program Bill! How many meals did you deliver? How many people did you serve in house?” I’m glad you and I think alike. Last year we delivered about 50 meals and served 15-20 in house. This year we blew the doors off both those numbers.

We delivered over 70 meals (not counting all the leftovers we took to the EMT’s).

We served over 30 meals to people who just wanted to come in and sit down to a Thanksgiving meal.

Now you can see why I am satisfied. Contented. Fulfilled. We helped a lot of people that day. We expect nothing back from them. But we are the ones who benefit by giving. I think Jesus was onto something when He said “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”  🙂  I know, in spite of how tired I was after all the lifting and carting before and after, there was a sense of A-a-a-a-a-a-h inside.

Two things hit me:

  1. We are going to turn right around and do a Christmas breakfast from 7-9:00 on Christmas morning.
  2. Neither Jo nor I brought any turkey or dressing or anything home.  I didn’t need the turkey to induce a nap. It just happened.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving Day. I sure did.

AWE

Friday, November 23rd, 2018

The idea of worship is nothing new. If we are speaking about the Bible it is a theme which dominates the pages. In Genesis, for example, we discover the Fall came when Adam and Eve failed to worship God by obeying the one command God gave. In Revelation we learn that all of history culminates in a scene of eternal worship in the presence of a loving God.

But we also find worship elsewhere. We live in a worshiping culture. The latest sports star. Musician. Author. Preacher. The list seems endless.

Jesus knew this was an issue in Mark 12:29-30: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

This will be final sermon of the Staking Your Claim series.  I’m not sure there is a better way to end a series talking about the non-negotiables of our faith than to talk about worship. If worship is honor and adoration directed to God, then it must be something we cannot do without. Perhaps Albert Einstein said it best:

“He…who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” 

I would appreciate your prayers for me and for us this weekend. In a way, we will be refocusing our thoughts from Thanksgiving to Christmas-from gratitude to awe.

HYMNS

Friday, November 16th, 2018

I am not preaching this weekend. My brother, Rob, will be here to sing and preach. So, I decided I would do something that I hope will set your heart right.

Worship is often confined to what happens on Sunday morning at “church.” I’m a firm believer though that worship is 24/7. However, focusing on the time we gather together on Sunday morning is what I’d like to do in this post. We gather. We sing. We partake of the Lord’s Supper. We give our tithes and offerings. We preach. (Okay…I preach). 🙂  But chances are when we talk about worship to the everyday attender most will point to the singing.

Sunday morning singing has gone through several time warps. It used to be it was all hymns. (I still love Great is Thy Faithfulness and Holy, Holy, Holy and some others like them). Then a few spiritual songs were added (think I’ll Fly Away or When We All Get to Heaven). The Jesus Movement brought in a whole new type of song, both worship songs but also “feel good about me” songs. The evolution of those types of songs has been slow but eventually we morphed into a band, a group of singers, guitarists, drummers, and (choke choke) light shows, smoke machines, and theatrics. Some have even introduced “secular” songs into a worship set (Like the church that played Highway to Hell to introduce their Easter service one time).  We now have songs that last 5-7 minutes due to repetition of verses and choruses. And, of course, there is the resident “jump around and act crazy” songs mistakenly substituted for and called worship. Now…please understand I love some of the music played. I like a beat, even a rockier kind. But there is a point of saturation.

Enter a new breed and new wave of hymns. Yep, that’s right hymns. I never thought I’d be saying it but I welcome it. Not going back to singing the old ones that drone on, but new ones which highlight God the Father and Jesus the Son in meaningful, heart-touching words and music. I’ve come across some of the “new” hymns lately by a church out of Australia (no not Hillsong). The group is called CityAlight. I have been touched by their music and lyrics. You know I have been if I tell you I have been to the Y the past two days and have had them in my ears. I’d encourage you to listen to them on your own but I would like to highlight a few songs that have touched me deeply.  No comment will be made by me. I’d like you to listen and then let me know what you think. I’m encouraging our Worship Team to pursue learning some of this music.

First, this was the first one I ever heard by them.

Second, this one is a cry of my heart.

Third, I heard this one today and it jolted me.

Fourth, this one is for good measure.  🙂

I hope you will check out more of their music. I believe you will be blessed beyond measure.  Have a great weekend of worship! Enjoy being in the Father’s presence.

Difference

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

We often hear people talking about “making a difference.” Their desire to make a difference will have one of two affects. One, they will think about it; stew over it; lament over the state of things; cry over it; even speak about it; but do nothing about it!

There are also those who want to make a difference and it will change them. No longer satisfied to sit on the sidelines, they will become advocates and fight for something.

That is not a political statement. I despise politics-government, home, church, sports, and anywhere else where there are people who think they can throw their weight around and get what think is theirs. Even if it means lying, cheating, slandering, gossiping, and a host of other ugly things.

Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25 was not a political statement. Sheep on the right; goats on the left. Nope, not a political statement whatsoever. But it was a statement pertaining to following Jesus by caring for others. You have seen them: the hungry, naked, thirsty, lonely, in prison, homeless.  Making a difference in their lives is what Jesus is talking about. I asked a question Sunday: How do I make a difference?  How do I show compassion? I answered it this way:

Allow our heart to break.  Someone once said, “Break my heart with the things that break the heart of God.”  Melinda Gates, Bill’s wife, once said, “If you want to make a difference, you have to let your heart break.”

Ask God for a mission. Many missions are started because of personal experience. I’ve dreamed for years of opening a home for abused or “lost” woman. Our little community does not have the sex trafficking issue a big city does (at least that I know of) but alcohol and opioids have played havoc with families. Seems like daily I read of another bust or broken home and children finding their way to DCS. Scary thought that.

Making a difference starts with me. With you. And one person at a time. But we have to start.

Leaning

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Many of you are not so old that you don’t or can’t remember the song by Bill Withers (later recorded by DC Talk) called “Lean on Me.” It had the lyrics “We all need somebody to lean on.” There is truth in those words.

However, have you noticed that sometimes it is hard to have compassion for people? For example, you walk into a quick shop and see a family where the kids are dirty and obviously their clothes are hand-me-downs. Your heart breaks and then you see mom or dad buying a carton of cigarettes or some alcohol and you may find your compassion going out the door.

I try not to judge too badly because I don’t know the circumstances surrounding their family or their choice of lifestyle. But I do know this:

A church can become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

It isn’t easy being sympathetic. It is even harder being empathetic. Sympathy can be broken down by saying it is “feeling sorry for someone.” Empathy can be broken down by saying it is “being able to put yourself in someone’s shoes and know how they feel.”

I like what Caleb Kaltenbach wrote in his book Messy Grace:

When people look at your life, it should be so easy for them to see Jesus in how you treat them, love them, and share truth with them.

He also wrote:

We can be orthodox in our theology while committing heresy by how we treat others.

This Sunday I am talking about the church as it reaches out. Two weeks ago we celebrated our 14th anniversary as a church community. Last week we served. Those are easy to do. The hard part is seeing individuals as individuals, someone who may need another to lean on.

WOULD YOU PLEASE PRAY FOR THIS ME AND THE FOLKS AT OVCF THIS SUNDAY? Thanks.