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Faith

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

 

“Is it real or Memorex?” Remember that line from the commercial? For the uninitiated, Memorex was a brand of cassette tape (‘course some may not even know what that is) they said was like listening to music live.

Real or not real? The same is true about faith. There is genuine faith and there is fake. Here’s a story about faith.

Legend has it that a man was lost in the desert, just dying for a drink of water. He stumbled upon an old shack and found a bit of shade. Just a few feet away was what looked like a rusty pump. He grabbed the handle and began to pump it up and down. Nothing came out. Disappointed he staggered back, but it was then he noticed a jug. He wiped away the dust and dirt and read a message that said, “You have to prime the pump with all the water in this jug. P.S.: Be sure to fill the jug again.”

Sure enough he popped the cork and the jug was filled with water. Does he trust the message or does he drink the water?  After some pondering, he poured all the water into the pump, then grabbed the handle and began to pump it up and down. First, a little dribble as the pump squeaked. Then suddenly fresh cool water came gushing out in a torrent. He had more water than he dreamed! He drank deeply then filled his canteen. He then filled the jug for the next traveler. He left an extra note with it: “Believe me, it really works. You have to give it all away before you can get anything back.”

That is the nature of faith. Faith will be my topic Sunday during our worship. I’d appreciate your prayers.

Choosing

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Choosing to love. Three easy words to say. Three tough words to do.

Simple truth: choosing to love is tough to do. Let’s face it. Loving one another is not always easy. Granted, there are people who are easy to love. Tommy James once sang a song with the words “You’re so easy to love” and some people are.

Oh…but then there are those who just take about every last ounce of civility in you. 🙂 They are so hard to love, so hard to care about, so hard to find a sympathetic bone for.

But love is a choice we make. No matter what some people say no man is an island. The words to the old song are simply not true: “I am a rock, I am an island…and a rock feels no pain and island never cries.”  As we used to say, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Try as we may…give off the air we want…we all need someone else.

The ironic thing is choosing to love takes a toll because it requires something from us. My sermon this Sunday is about choosing to love.  With the lead-in of “I choose to love…” I want to show two ways that choosing to love is beneficial:

Because love reveals God’s character

Because love reveals to Whom I belong

Join me Sunday  if you live around here. If not, the sermon is on podcast on the church’s website. If you can do neither, how about praying for me and the church this weekend. That may be best of all. Thanks.

Testing!Testing!

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Mention the word discernment and I’m guessing 7 out of 10 in a word association game will say, “Judgemental.”  Along with that word will also come two others closely on its heel: hypocritical and arrogant.  We have been somewhat conditioned to believe that being discerning is another synonym for being judgemental. Truthfully, some of what passes for discernment is nothing more than judgementalism, giving people an opportunity to pass off their pet teaching as “the only way.”

The real tragedy is these “discernments” are most often based on externals. The way you dress. The way you wear your hair. How close-cropped the guys’ hair is. Stuff which is an aside and never made an issue as to whether someone is a follower of Christ or not. In this week’s sermon from I John 4:1-6, I’ll be examining this whole idea of discernment. In reality, every follower of Christ has the responsibility to “test the spirits.” Even a cursory glance at the Scripture will show outward adornment has absolutely no place in a person’s discernment. Paul told Timothy, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” 2 Timothy 4:3.

My plan for Sunday is to not only give a basis for discernment but to also offer some guidelines to consider. If you are close by I invite you to come by and visit. For those of you who read this from parts unknown, I welcome your prayers.

Assurance

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Have you heard the story of a man who made an appointment with a psychologist? When the doctor asked him what had prompted the visit, the man said, “I’m suffering from an inferiority complex.” The psychologist took a couple of weeks and put the man through an intensive series of tests. The man waited while the tests were tabulated and the appropriate correlations made. Finally, the office called and the man went in to discover the results. The doctor walked in and said to him, “I have some interesting results. You do not have an inferiority complex. You really are inferior!”

Inferiority is not limited to those outside of Christ. It is not relegated to those who are “head” cases. It is not relegated to those who were beaten down as they grew up and think very little of themselves as a result. Inferiority blurs every line; covers every age group; crosses economic status, job, sex, and race. No one group can claim to be exempt.

Many followers of Christ are haunted by doubt. Assurance in their relationship with God and their daily walk is lacking. The passage I will be preaching on this week, I John 3: 19-24, really hits this issue hard.  We often need the reassurance that all is well in our relationship with God and it is not dependent on, nor does it hinge on our goodness. Doubts will come, some more and stronger than others. But that is no reason to doubt our salvation.

Do you have assurance of your salvation? Or do you live in constant doubt or fear?

TheEvent

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Part 3 of my mini-series within a series deals with the Future of Love.  As a recap:

The Look of Love talked about the mark of the Christ-follower: love.

The Act of Love talked about the crucifixion through the eyes of Isaiah in chapter 53.

This “Event” sermon looks at two events actually:

The Main Event- the Resurrection of Jesus

The Grand Finale- our future home in Heaven

This Sunday we celebrate the Main Event.  Apologist Josh McDowell was once asked by a student from Paraguay why he couldn’t refute Christianity. His answer? “For the very simple reason: I am not able to explain away an event in history-the resurrection of Jesus.”

And the Grand Finale? Oh WOW!!!!! There is so much to say about Heaven…too much for this particular post. One thing I do know is to echo Paul: “Absent from the body; present with the Lord.” I look forward to the reunions I will have. But most of all, I look forward to seeing the face of and embracing the One who showed me such G-R-A-C-E.

Jo & I left Wednesday for Ohio to spend a couple of days with our grandson. I will be incommunicado during that time. If you comment, I will approve it but not take the time to respond right away. I do ask for your prayers for this weekend.

Rescued

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

Many are familiar with the statue of Christ that stands tall in the Corcovado Mountains in Rio de Janeiro. It is 98 feet tall and stands on a base that is 26 feet tall. The arms stretch 92 feet wide. The statue has gone through several renovations due to lightning strikes and the ravages of time since its building from 1922-1031. It is now listed in The New Seven Wonders of the World.

To many people the cross is a symbol of rescue, leading the lost souls, shipwrecked by the ravages of life, to new life and hope. To others it stands as a beacon of something better, something which stands the test of time. To those who follow Jesus it is that and so much more. Everyone is invited to the cross, the place where God and humanity meet, where peace and wholeness can be found.

While studying for last week’s sermon, I had decided to title it “The Look of Love.” As I looked at the calendar I realized this coming weekend was Palm Sunday, so I decided  to work up a little 3 part mini-series focused around the cross and resurrection. This week’s message is entitled “The Act of Love” and I’m going to be using Isaiah 52:13- 53:12 as my Scripture. When I look at the cross through the lens of Isaiah 53 I see Jesus saying three things:

“I Did This For You”

“I Knew This Was Coming”

“I Did All That Was Needed”

You have just now seen the three points of my message for Sunday. 🙂

Love sets us apart from others. But our love has an example set for us to follow. This passage in Isaiah is that bold example.

Unveiled

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

If you are as old as me and remember the music from your childhood, you would remember what was called “The Summer of Love.” The flower people of “Make Love Not War” fame were/are well known. “If you’re going to San Francisco be sure to wear some flowers in your hair” was just one of the songs. “Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now.” “What the world needs now is love sweet love.” I never cared to wear flowers in my hair (and certainly couldn’t now if I wanted to), but I sort of agree with those last two. The tragedy is those folks were looking for love in all the wrong places. One man, Chuck Smith, saw that and from a store front reached out to the burned out and disenchanted people. So began Calvary Chapel.

John makes it abundantly clear that love is the ultimate mark a Christ-follower can have. No matter how many FISH symbols we are wearing; no matter how many “Christian” T-shirts one wears; no matter how many crosses one wears, those are all symbols. The greatest distinguishing mark of a Christ-follower is love.

My sermon this week is called “The Look of Love.” After I started working on this, I actually decided to make it a Part 1 of a 3-Part series leading up to Resurrection Sunday.

  • The Look of Love
  • The Act of Love
  • The Future of Love

Please keep me/us in mind this weekend as you pray. Thanks.

And for those who may be interested:

Yeah. That’s my new steed. That’s the day I brought it home from the store. I’ve been given the okay to start riding outside. But first a few times around the block inside on my trainer.

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.