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#Prison#PrisonLife#NoLongerSlaves

Friday, August 16th, 2019

Talk of prison and people’s thoughts will immediately go to Alcatraz, some military prison, or some form of incarceration. When Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of trying to rape her and he put Joseph in prison, it wasn’t a 5-star hotel. The Scripture specifically tells us he put Joseph where Pharaoh’s enemies were put. True to his nature and God’s blessing on his life, Joseph excelled. He overcame his prison life.

In truth, most people will never see the inside of a prison cell. They just live in a prison. Due to circumstances, expectations of others, guilt, pessimism or some other “bothersome” issue, they live in a prison of their own making, one without physical bars.

I’m going to focus on that kind of prison this week during my sermon. As followers of Christ we are no longer slaves to fear or to the enemy or his efforts to keep us down. I’ll be working on very short rest and am anticipating with a very tired body. I’d appreciate your prayers.

Here is a song for your enjoyment: https://youtu.be/2QigyB50yGw

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After waiting for almost 8 months the BikeMS ride is this weekend in Lebanon, IN. Dave (from 3 Feet Please) is coming from Arizona to ride with me and his two adult children are coming to volunteer.  Jo and I left Thursday for Indy to spend the night in the hotel in Indy and to meet up with them. Jo plans to also help with the volunteer table for 3FP. Dave and I plan to do the 65 mile portion of the ride.  This is a fundraiser for MS and thanks to many of you and your generosity, I have been able to raise $1100 this year. Thank you so much!!  I do appreciate it more than you know but will appreciate your prayers even more. 65 miles will be double what I have been able to do (due to time constraints) at one time this year. Safety and health or my primary concerns. Thanks.  Here are pictures of the partners in crime.

#FalseAccusations

Friday, August 9th, 2019

The ’60s was an interesting decade. Different philosophies floated around like “Make Love Not War” as well as others. One that took hold and still holds today is “If it feels good do it.”  It has become the passkey for many questionable actions becoming accepted.  In our study of Joseph we can see how this philosophy reared its ugly head in his job as head of Potiphar’s household.  Funny…Joseph could have been part of the #MeToo generation.

Temptation is something we all face. I’m not telling you something you don’t know! 🙂 Playwright Oscar Wilde once said, “I can resist anything except temptation.” Temptations are designed to make us fall, but we determine whether they will win or not.

Joseph was at the age when hormones for men rage. He was where no one knew him. He had (obviously) a sex-starved woman who was interested in him. She put the moves on him day after day after long day. But Joseph kept resisting her advances. Well…you know that old adage: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Rejected once again she decided to take brash tactics and accuse Joseph of trying to rape her.  After he fled (like he was supposed to), leaving his cloak behind, she, with coat in hand, told her story. What was Potiphar to do? The simple fact he did not have Joseph executed (it was his job) sort of tells me he was dubious about his wife’s charges. But to prison he would go.

My emphasis this week will be on temptation, specifically defeating it. I’d appreciate your prayers for Sunday. I do think it is a much-needed sermon.

Note: my first post for next week will include 4 requirements for resisting temptation which Chuck Swindoll gives in his study of Joseph. Hope you will look forward to those.

#MarkedMan#FalseAccusation

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

Someone has said:

To be falsely accused and retaliate is natural; to be accused and remain in control is supernatural.

No one likes to be falsely accused, especially when it has far-reaching consequences. IMHO Joseph might very well be the OT poster boy for being falsely accused.  He is sold into slavery, bought by Potiphar, and eventually distinguishes himself so that he is elevated to top dog in the household. But it only serves to make him a marked man. Talk about pressure! Not work pressure either. Boss’s wife pressure.

He is a new kid in a new culture, one completely different than the only one he had known. Not only does he have that to deal with, he now has his boss’s wife wanting to play footsie with him.  If you know the story you know he resists. Because “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” she falsely accuses him of trying to rape her and he ends up in prison.

Joseph’s public witness took place at work, and raises the question of our own attitude as followers of Christ. Do we, like Joseph, distinguish ourselves at work? Are we trustworthy? Faithful?  Hard working? Resistant to temptation (of every kind)? Pointed questions which need to be addressed. Genesis 39 is where I will be this Sunday.  I’d appreciate your prayers.

#Betrayed#Hurt

Saturday, July 27th, 2019

Few things hurt so deeply as being betrayed. The hurt is compounded when it is family.  Joseph knows that first hand. His road to becoming the second most powerful man in Egypt did not start out smoothly at all. But God had his plan, so even when it looks like there is no good to come out of a situation, God has other plans.

When I took a closer look at the life of Joseph through my study, I realized there is so much more than what meets the eye. Before he even got to Egypt he had some mountains to overcome! Consider these:

  • Family history of dysfunction
  • Rape of Dinah (Jacob did nothing but her brothers, Simeon and Levi, did)
  • Jacob’s favoritism of Joseph
  • Joseph’s mouth (telling dreams)

All of this created a perfect storm.  Add in his brother’s hatred fueled by jealousy and you not only have a perfect storm but also a very volatile situation.

My sermon this week is about their betrayal of their own flesh and blood as they take his coat, sell him to a traveling “slave” market, and then lie about his death to their father. To me the ultimate betrayal.

I have not preached on the family much this year so this series on Icebergs (which can sink our faith) is also giving me an opportunity to do that.  Prayers are appreciated.

#FamilyDysfunction

Friday, July 19th, 2019

I’ve been absent from this blog this week for a reason. While I have some things churning in my mind, I decided to let them soak a bit more.  For example, the crybaby athletes who think they aren’t getting paid enough. The belligerence of Megan Rapinoe, who does nothing more than play a game, but refuses to put her hand over her heart when the national anthem is being played. “Punishing” a soccer player because her faith would not allow her to wear the Pride colors as a uniform. Reading Costi Hinn’s new book on the Prosperity Gospel and the disgust that boils and wants to come to the surface. Yeah…don’t get me started.  I need time.  🙂

So, let’s go to something else. Sunday’s sermon. I am starting a new series within my theme-of-the-year: “Unsinkable.” My original intention was to put this under Heroes (my last series) but I’m going to be spending several weeks, almost two months on this, so I decided to rename it and pursue another angle.  My subject will be Joseph. My series will be called Icebergs.  It was an iceberg that sank Titanic and it is icebergs that will sink our faith as well.  Joseph’s life is one iceberg after another and I want to use them as a catalyst to teach us how we too can overcome those things that will trip us up if we allow them to.

This Sunday, as you can see by the title, is on his dysfunctional family. I plan to trace his family from the beginning to his present state and show how he overcame a lousy beginning to become the patriarch and the man he did.  Your prayers would be appreciated.

#Chosen#ForSuchaTime

Friday, July 12th, 2019

At different times in history, people have risen to the occasion. Jesus ascended and 12 men rose to become leaders in the fledgling new church. The church is ruled by the papacy and several men, the most prominent being Martin Luther, rose up to challenge works-oriented salvation and the corruption which was so rampant. In the 1880’s a man by the name of Abraham Lincoln steered our nation during the ugly Civil War and birthing of the Emancipation Proclamation.  Martin Luther King, Jr rose up to challenge the lack of equality of races. The history of our country is filled with heroes who were there for “such a time as this” and I’m sure you could come up with your own favorite person and story.

The phrase “for such a time as this” comes from the book of Esther when Mordecai challenged Esther to go before the king and intervene on behalf of the Jewish people that Haman wanted to eradicate. I think that phrase fits the bill when talking about a woman named Deborah mentioned in Judges 4-5. She became the reluctant leader when Barak refused to take command without Deborah’s backing. It was time to cast off the mantle of Jabin and Sisera that had been choking the Israelite nation.

My sermon Sunday will be looking at this whole scenario and how Deborah, like Esther, became the answer to “for such a time as this. ” Your prayers would be appreciated.

A side note: “Leadership is the ability to get men to do what they don’t want to do and to like it.” Harry Truman.

#LittlePeople#YouMatter

Friday, July 5th, 2019

It is not unusual to hear people say they feel insignificant. They feel unseen. Or they feel small. I’m not insinuating at all by the hashtag above that “little people” are insignificant. A little person plays a very significant part in one of my favorite shows on TV: MacGyver.  And one of the funniest lines said to me recently by a young boy maybe 4-5 years old is when I said Hi to him, he looked at me and said, “What you looking at flopdoodle?” His mother about died on the spot. She was mortified since she had only been coming to the church for a couple weeks. I howled. It is from the “Little Napoleon” in The Greatest Showman.  It’s a running joke with us now.

People serving God often feel insignificant. They keep thinking they ought to do something bigger. But I am not interested in people looking for the next great thing to do. I love seeing people take care of the littlest thing and taking great pride and joy in it.

My sermon this Sunday is the first of two from Judges. I could have spent weeks in that book but I wanted to stick with my theme of Heroes and keep it short because of the series coming next. So this week my sermon will be from Judges 3:7-31. Three household names: Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar.  🙂

I will have spent the week in Ohio helping to clean Jo’s sister’s apartment so the normal interaction with people and personal connection I like will not be there. But I’m trusting God to bless the meager effort I make to present His Word. I’d appreciate your prayers.  Thanks.

#I’mHere#InthePit

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

After being gone all week to Ohio to help Jo take care of her sister’s things and apartment, I am here for one day.  Her sister was back in the hospital this past week and Jo took care of some legal stuff while I worked a lot at her apartment. I think we made some good progress and with some hard work should be able to finish the labor-intensive part of the clean-up. We were able to have several large items hauled off this past Friday (which included a stove and refrigerator).  The dumpster comes tomorrow (Monday) at 9:00 and then I suspect we will really notice a difference.  I haven’t minded too much doing the work. I know it is helping Jo and it is giving me time to listen to music and work alone but the worst part is her apartment has no A/C. Yeah. You heard that right. NO A/C.  The temps hit the high ’80s this past week and no air was moving so it was quite sweltering. The worst part was at night. We so looked forward to sleeping in air conditioning Friday and last night. We head back today for another week of the same conditions but hopefully it will bring some closure for Jo. By the way: Vicki has been released and is back in the long-term facility.

My sermon today is a follow up to last week’s on the Marks of Integrity.  This one is about the story we have probably heard since we were children.  But there is so much more than Daniel in the lion’s den.  It seems unjust for Daniel to suffer as he did. It seems unjust for people today to suffer for doing good. Or to suffer needlessly (children, sex trafficking, etc). But Daniel serves as a great example to us of how we can survive in a pit with lions.

I know you are probably getting this after the fact but I’d still like to ask you to pray. I pray each week my sermons will last longer than my breath on Sunday. Please pray for that today. And while you are at it, please pray for me and Jo this week. Travel. Working. Her state of mind as she works through all this…aaaah…garbage that keeps getting thrown in her face.  Thanks.

#IntegrityMatters

Friday, June 21st, 2019

Having gone through more than any man should ever go through and possibly more than I have ever known anyone to endure, he said something to me I have never forgotten. He had been a full-time and now was a weekend warrior Marine.  He had been falsely accused of a crime, proven innocent 3 times but his wife ran to another state against court orders.  Her state refused to honor the Indiana court order. He spent all he had. Cashed in all he could. All to fight for his girls. One day we were spending some time walking and talking and he said, “Bill, I would live with a barrel around my waist if it meant I had my girls with me.”

He wanted to live a life of integrity. A father’s group told him to take his girls and run. He didn’t. Her lawyer couldn’t believe his story never changed. Truth-tellers don’t have to worry about that. Only liars do (and hers changed a lot).

Integrity is missing today. Corporations. Schools. Organizations. TV preachers. Pastors. Churches. Say what? Yep, those last two hurt to type. Used to be the pastor was the one most respected in the community. Not any more. And can you blame them?

Daniel was a man of integrity. My sermon this week is called Integrity Matters. I’ll be looking at Daniel 6:1-17 this week. I’d appreciate your prayers for dry weather and for our gathering.

#Stand!#Don’tBowDown!

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

With traveling to PA and then to Ohio my week definitely got away from me as did posting about Sunday’s sermon. Let me put it this way: I started a new series last week that will go through the whole summer. I am calling it Heroes. The first one last week was from Daniel 1. If you read that chapter you know it is the story of Daniel and his 3 friends: Rack, Shack and Benny (as Veggie Tales puts it).  It was titled Cooperation without Compromise. Daniel and his 3 friends had the choice all of us have when confronted by a “test.”

  1. The first option is Absorption. This person basically is absorbed and assimilated into the culture.
  2. The second option is Withdrawal. This is commonly seen in cults and, in the days of the early church, the Essenes. We see this now in the Amish people who believe withdrawal is the best way to avoid evil. (Have I got news for them!)
  3. The third is Cooperation without Compromise. This is the Daniel way. I’d like to encourage you to read Daniel 1 to find out how that happens.

This week’s sermon is called We Won’t Bow Down! Bet you can’t guess what that story is about!! 🙂  If you guessed Daniel’s three friends give yourself a virtual high-five. Daniel 3 is where the story is.  I’m not going to say much more about it here except this- Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego made a choice not to bow down to the image. They were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace when they were given one last chance to change their minds. I love their words: “We believe our God will deliver us but even if not we will not bow down!” WOW!!

So Sunday I’m going to take that very familiar story and try to breathe some life into it so that we can all walk away, especially the dads, with a resolve to stand not bow. Your prayers would be appreciated. Thanks.