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Belonging

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

Everyone wants to belong to something. To be included. No one wants to be an outcast. Loner. Bullied. Called “different.”

This past weekend Jo attended a Ladies Retreat at the church camp we send our kids. She was telling me about hearing a fantastic workshop speaker.  This woman has had CP all her life and has struggled with fitting in. Bullied for her “difference.” But someone loved her and accepted her and showed her Jesus. During her workshop she asked the ladies to listen to a song. Jo played it for me last night. I like what it says so I am including it here for you to listen to.  It is a new song and a new group to me, but the words spoke volumes. I’ve included two versions here for you:

One of just the video.

One with the lyrics in case you have difficulty understanding the words.

It is important to remember that everyone matters to God.  Keep that in mind as you make your way through the week. Keep an eye out for the wounded one. The one no one wants to be around. The one who people look away from. I know I’m praying I do a better job of that myself.

 

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.

Suicide

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

Warning. Spoiler Alert. This is not going to be a fun post to read. Or write for that matter.  This is not a fun subject, a joking matter, or something to be taken lightly. Everyone of us has probably, in some way, been touched by suicide. Either we are survivors of it (those left behind) or we know someone who has threatened suicide or someone who died of suicide.  As a pastor I would love to say it has never touched a church I have pastored or affected someone in the church. I could give you statistics but that would belabor it.  Because I am a pastor, and because I want to reach out to the survivors, I felt a definite need to “read up” on it. I feel God definitely led me to a book called Grieving a Suicide by Albert Y. Hsu. A few months after his wedding, Dr. Hsu’s father took his life. No doubt depression played a major part in his father’s actions after a major stroke three months earlier.

What makes this book so helpful is his personal involvement in it. It is not a clinical “this-is-what-is-wrong-with-people” approach. Nor is it a book which condemns people to hell who take their life (I won’t do that either). What I especially liked about the book is it can be read and understood by the common person. Like me. I have no visions of grandeur about my intelligence. I like things simple. Dr. Hsu does that. He doesn’t back down from the hard questions but neither does he get heavy-handed. The ones who won’t like this book are those looking for proof of condemnation. If you are one of those, go looking at the comics. I prefer not to cross swords or paths with you.

Here is one example of down-to-earth teaching: there is some discussion about the use of terms-committed suicide vs  completed suicide. I have always use the former but there is someone in the church who uses the latter. His thoughts? Survivor’s react against the former saying it sounds criminal. I’ll grant that now. The latter, he says, “sounds like a laudatory accomplishment…It comes across as somewhat clinical and cold.” (p.169)  His suggestion? “My dad died from suicide” or “my dad took his own life.”  He also recoils against describing suicide as “successful.” (p.170).

I simply cannot recommend this book enough. It is also interspersed with excellent and informative items like “Warning Signs of Suicide”; “Facts About Suicide”; and others. It is helpful if you are a survivor and are looking for help, and it is helpful if you want to help someone. Check out the right sidebar of my blog for more information on the book.

Grieving a Suicide: A Loved One's Search for Comfort, Answers, and Hope

ChristAlone

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

We begin what has been called the final week of Jesus. Traditionally, today was Palm Sunday, the day Jesus made His entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The people welcomed him with “Hosannas” and threw their palm branches on the ground. Told by the religious hypocrites to shut them up, Jesus told the hypocrites that even if he were to do that the rocks and mountains would scream out in praise.

His week was eventful, eventually culminating in his farce of a trial, mockery, torture, and ultimate death on the cross.

This song is a fitting one to begin this week with. I hope it will help focus you, not on the events of the week, but on the perfect plan of God culminating in the death of Jesus on the cross…and His eventual resurrection.

Saying

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

As I wrote in my journal about  yesterday’s New Morning Mercies and posted on my other blog, I took a look back at my journal from last year on March 17. Evidently I had been reading and studying about Bill Johnson back then. As I write this now, it suddenly hit me why I was studying him, Bethel Readding and what is called the New Apostolic Reformation.  (See yesterday’s post here for more information on that).  We were losing someone to that method of thinking. Someone(s) I love had become enamored by the teaching of Bethel and were in the process of leaving. In fact, it was real close to this time last year they left to pursue other avenues.

I found the following quote during my study and I had copied, printed, and paper-clipped it in my journal:

A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats.

The source? Charles Spurgeon. The year? I couldn’t find it but he lived from 1834-1892.

Quite prophetic don’t you think? And challenging. And convicting.

Your thoughts?

Deception

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

D.L.Moody once said, “No one should every preach about hell without tears in his eyes.” And so I write this post with tears in my eyes. I confess: I am angry. I’m angry at the blatant disregard for God’s Word. I’m angry at the “free translation” taken for the purpose of bilking millions out of seeing and hearing the truth of God’s Word. All for money, prestige, fame, and a following. Please let me explain. And again…I write this with tears in my eyes. AND IT IS MY OPINION and not to be taken as coming from OVCF.

Several weeks ago I could be found reading a book called Defining Deception by Costi Hinn (Benny’s nephew) and Anthony G. Wood. Actually, reading this book is a furthering of my study on what is called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).  The NAR is neither new, apostolic or reformed.  Plain and simple it is heresy.  The main proponent of this heresy today is Bill Johnson and Bethel Redding and Jesus Culture.  There are others, of course. Deception always has more than one, but he is the one who is the “figurehead” of the movement. It started again (it has been going on for quite some time in various forms) with C. Peter Wagner who taught that he was an apostle and there were others as well…Johnson being one of them. Todd White,  Heidi Baker, Kris Vallotton, Danny Silk, and others are also part of it. The NAR also hangs its hat with the likes of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, and other Prosperity Doctrine & Health/Wealth false teachers.  Heretical teaching like denying the deity of Jesus Christ; ungodly practices like “grave sucking;” tarot card (called Destiny cards) readings; “guaranteed” healing in the Atonement (using Isaiah 53:5); setting up men today as “Apostles;” women as prophetesses; and other false ideas has me a tad bit upset. My first blog was 2/20/08 and in all the years since can probably count on one hand hitting on someone else or naming names.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote this post called “Lies.” Since then I have finished Defining Deception and highly encourage you to read it. Here’s the deal: you can have one of three responses to reading it:

  1. You can get as mad as “all get out” and never come back to my blog.  i hope that will not be the case. I’ll miss you, but I simply cannot apologize for my stand.
  2. You can purchase the book and read it for yourself (which I hope you will do) and come to your own decision.
  3. You will agree and cement your stand for the truth of God’s Word in an age of cults and wild “God-works-this-way-today” accusations.

Costi and Anthony have done a great service to us by writing this book. Costi, especially, has taken “heat” from his family for his truthfulness. BTW: they finish the book with 5 excellent appendices.

 

Lies

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

The past week or so I have been reading a book called Defining Deception by Costi Hinn (Benny’s saved nephew) and Anthony G. Wood. To say it has been an eye-opener would be an understatement. I am reading it as part of my desire to further my study on what is called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) which “stars” Bill Johnson, Bethel Redding and Jesus Culture.   I’ll write more on that later in another post.

One of the most blatant lies of the NAR and what is commonly called the Health/Wealth (Un)gospel and which has been around for years is the guaranteed healing in the Atonement. If healing doesn’t come then it is a sign of a lack of faith. Can I say one word? GARBAGE! Stronger words come to mind but I don’t use those kinds of words.  I introduce this song with that caveat as my song of the week.

Too bad the false teachers (heretics) of the above mentioned garbage haven’t listened to the truth of this song. Then again, it doesn’t fit their lies so they would probably discount it.

Appreciation

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

I am writing this ahead of time….with anticipation of showing appreciation.

For the past 4 or 5 years the staff (Diana, Ryan and I) have shown our appreciation for our volunteers of the past year by having a celebration in their honor. Our modus operandi has been to have a catered meal; an evening of fun and hilarity; I walk around during the meal telling each volunteer how much they are appreciated; give away door prizes; and just have a general evening of fun and relaxation. Our volunteers are honored.

So this year we have decided to mix things up a bit. No catered meal. No church building. The rest will stay the same. We decided to go to our local theater for our appreciation night. We will still have the door prizes and giveaways…with a twist. We will be showing a movie: The Incredibles. Why? Because we think our volunteers are incredible! The best on the planet! Instead of a catered meal we are providing every person a ticket for a free popcorn and soda.  As I mentioned we will still have the door prizes and giveaways, but as they leave they will receive one more thing of appreciation.  I can tell what it is since it is a surprise, but I’m not posting this until the night starts. It is a specially baked cookie of The Incredibles logo. Just one last thing to remember the evening by.

Image result for the incredibles logo

Every organization, especially every church, relies on volunteers to get things done. I guarantee the things which get done around here would not get done if it were not for our volunteers. It is so much bigger than any 3 people co0uld pull off.  So, if you are reading this as part of OVCF, thanks for volunteering. If you are reading this from elsewhere, I thank you for volunteering in your church or organization.

How do you volunteer?

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.

Shameless

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

It is called Shameless Promotion.

And so it is. I have another post coming out tomorrow morning for the weekend and wanted to fill in today so I thought, “Why not?”

Theology without love is simply bad theology.

To read the rest of this devotion, please head over to my other blog based on New Morning Mercies called Be Transformed.

I’d love to see you over there and hear your thoughts.