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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.

Faith/Feelings?

Friday, February 8th, 2019

First, let me just say we needed Noah the past two or three days. It has rained like “cats and dogs.” So much so that school was let out early today (Thursday) and some of the kids were stuck at school anyway because the buses couldn’t get through. One school had all three access ways flooded. Oh…but tonight!!! It is supposed to go down to 18 degrees. Talk about a royal mess!

Anyway…now for my regularly scheduled post.  🙂

The battle between faith and feelings has been and will continue to be ongoing. There are many who doubt God’s faithfulness and love because their feelings have betrayed them. Enter Psalm 13.  I wrote about this psalm at my other blog here on January 8. When I decided to extend my sermon series on Psalms I decided to incorporate this Psalm into that series. I’m not going to reiterate here what I wrote there. I’d like to ask you to venture over there.

But one thing I do want to emphasize is what kept David anchored were his beliefs in the certainty of God’s character, based on the certainty of God’s promises, even though his feelings were all over the map. We would do well to do the same.

It has been a crazy week for me so I have not posted much on this blog. I do post every day at my other one since it is more devotional and based on my morning Quiet Time and journal. But I do covet your prayers this Sunday.

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.

 

ONE

Friday, January 11th, 2019

This has nothing to do with song from the 60s by Three Dog Night (even though I liked it and still do).

The movie Seabiscuit was the story of more than a horse. It was also the story of a jockey named Red; a trainer whose time as a cowboy had long been up; an owner who lost his only son to an accident and found himself divorced, lonely and lost until he met and married a young lady who turned his life around; and they, in turn, bought a horse who was considered a runt. They had to retrain what Seabiscuit thought about himself. Then they had to train him how to run. The rest was up to him. During a race “the Biscuit” (as he was called) was virtually on his own. It wasn’t the ones behind him Biscuit concerned himself with. It was the one ahead. He became singularly focused.

Most of have at one time or another been guilty of tunnel vision. We see nothing around us, sort of like the horse that runs with blinders on.

In Psalm 27:4 David says, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” In David’s day, the temple (tabernacle) was where God lived. David wanted to be in God’s presence. But notice what he said about it: It was his one desire!

My sermon Sunday is entitled My One Thing. It will be a challenging message for me. For those who listen. I am challenging myself to take stock of what my highest priority is. What is My One Thing?  My prayer is that we will all be challenged to answer that one question. Your prayers would be much appreciated.

I will also be showing this video to go along with the message.

Fear

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

I’m a little late to the party this weekend.  It has been a crazy, busy weekend with Tami’s surgery as well as some others having cancer treatment. But I guess better late than never!

My theme for 2019 is Unsinkable. My thanks to Ryan (techgeek) for the banner. I am a typical Sanguine. I have great ideas but my ability to follow through on some things is limited. Ryan, on the other hand, is fantastic!  Okay…that’s enough of that. I’ll blow his head up so big even his wife won’t recognize him. But then again, Amanda will bring him back to earth. 🙂

It was March 4, 1933 while the country was in the terrifying clutches of the Great Depression that newly elected president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, made his famous one liner that is often quoted by others. Believing the greatest problem was not the absence of finances but the presence of fear, he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

There is no question we live in a fallen world. Look around if you doubt my words. At the same time we live in the fallen world, we also have a God of grace who meets his children in moments of darkness and difficulty.  I’m going to be in Psalm 27 for 3 of the 4 Sundays this month. Psalm 27 is a rock in an unsure world. It is a lifesaver thrown out to a drowning man. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” 

I’ll also be showing this video of CityAlight before I preach.

Prayers would be appreciated as I lay the groundwork for the rest of 2019 with this beginning message. Thanks.

Shining

Friday, December 28th, 2018

Well…happy after Christmas.  I’m guessing for you several things are true:

  • The Christmas “glow” is over.
  • A new year faces us in a few short days.

There are those who have already taken down their lights or have stopped turning them on at night. Leaving them up because of frigid weather is not an excuse around here lately. I rode 17.6 miles in 40+ degree weather yesterday (Wednesday).  But for most the season is over so why prolong it?

Others hold onto Christmas as long as they can.  I once read of a family who kept Christmas lights burning all the way through March because their son was to return home from the war and they wanted him to be able to celebrate his favorite holiday as though he never missed it.

But whether lights stay up or stay off is not the point my sermon Sunday. One of the beautiful things about the Christmas story is that it doesn’t offer just my past forgiveness and future hope, but everything I need right here, right now. And I’m not talking about My Best Life Now g-a-r-b-a-g-e.  2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” How is it that the people to whom Peter was writing to were immersed in suffering and yet it also says God has given them all they need? I will be trying to answer that question this Sunday.

Along with that I am going to briefly mention the 5 things God has given us the power to break free from:

  1. Fear
  2. Regret
  3. Discouragement
  4. Denial
  5. Desire for control

Peter finishes his thoughts with these words: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”  Prayers are appreciated as always. And thanks.

Jekyll/Hyde

Friday, December 21st, 2018

I suspect most of us are familiar with the story of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. If you saw League of Extraordinary Gentlemen you saw a depiction of the character.  The original story by Stevenson is a great tale about what followers of Christ face all the time. Old man/new man. Dark side/Light side.

Much like Stevenson’s story is the story of the battle of two sides to the Christmas story. The Light side took out the sting of the Dark side.

The Dark side is seen in the Savior of mankind giving up all that was His to come as a baby. To take on flesh. To take on the frailties of humanity. To face hunger, rejection, thirst, physical pain, injustice, and even death.

The Light side is the Why. Simply put: God invaded our world in the person of Jesus because there was simply no other way. You see…our biggest problem is not what is outside us; it is what is inside us.  We like to place blame. Use excuses. Or look for a scapegoat for our stupidity, i.e. sin. But only through God being made flesh in the person of Jesus and ultimately going to a cross could we ever have a hope of rescue. Trust me when I say we could not have rescued ourselves.  It is this “Good News of great joy” that we can be thankful for and celebrate.

Prayers are especially needed this weekend. Here’s why:

  1. We are meeting once again at Abram Farm Event Venue, which is actually right next to our building. Lots of logistics go into making this happen. Bill & Suzie Abram own it and are so gracious in offering us to use any time we want.
  2. Monday we will be meeting to pack a ton of groceries for Tuesday morning.
  3. Tuesday morning we will be having a Christmas breakfast for our community. We offer a hot breakfast from 7-9:00 as well as deliveries. So far I’ve been disappointed in the number of deliveries compared to the past. I’d like to believe it is because everyone is filled and well-fed but I know better.

So I’d appreciate your prayers. I’ll probably be pretty scarce the first part of next week on my or anyone else’s blog. I’ll be back to give you some more to think about as we prepare for 2019. Thanks for hanging out at my little corner of the world.  And for your listening pleasure, here is the one and only song we will be singing as a special. Hanna sang it last year and I specifically asked her to sing it this year. All other songs are congregational singing.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

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.

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.