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Restart

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

I wore this T-shirt today (Sunday). Someone from the church picked it up for me since they know I absolutely love this movie. (And yes, I wear T-shirts to preach in on Sunday morning. I serve a church where wearing a tie usually means a funeral or a wedding).

Unless I miss my guess most of us have had a time or two or three where we have wished we could turn back the clock or travel back in time for a “do over.” I’m reminded of a song Jo likes to listen-“Dear Younger Me” by MercyMe. Well, as we all know we can’t hop in our DeLorean and travel back in time and change the course of history…our history. Sadly, we can’t get a “do over.”

But, in reality, life isn’t about “do overs.” Life is about what is ahead. Jo and I have been talking a lot lately about forgetting the past and looking ahead. We can’t change it but we can make a difference in the days to come. Craig Groeschel, in his new book Divine Direction says:

It’s not too late to change the story that you’ll tell one day. You can start something new. No matter how desperate, uncertain, afraid, or stuck you may feel right now, your story isn’t over. Page 28

At the end of Back to the Future 3, Marty and Jennifer are talking to Doc who has come back to 1985 in a train. When Jennifer shows Doc the picture and says something about their future, Doc says, “Nobody’s future has been written yet. So make it a good one…both of you.” He is both right and wrong. Our future is known by God. He orders our steps according to Proverbs. But since none of us know our future, we need to make it the best one we can. And to quote Craig again:

There is no better time to start writing your future story than right now. Page 46

That’s pretty good and solid advice. Taking a DeLorean seems easier. Just change it before it happens. But that is not going to happen. So start today and make it a good one…following the Father’s plan and steps.

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.

 

Spiders

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

I gotta admit: spiders are not my new best friends. I don’t freak out when I see them, not do I lovingly say, “Oh, hello Mr. Spider. Welcome to my world! I’m going to let you live because I believe that all creatures great and small ought to live.”

Nope…that’s not me. I don’t know what it is like where you live but there are certain times of the year when spiders seem to be prolific. Their webs are a nuisance. Walking through them and getting that sticky stuff on my face is enough to make me convulse. And I despise seeing their webs visible on my outside mirror and elsewhere, telling me they found a home. When that happens I do what I can to find them and get rid of them.

I recently read a quote from a blog entitled 5 Pastoral Proverbs that Stuck by Jared Wilson. The #5 proverb was

You don’t just wipe away the web; you’ve got to crush the spider

Jared accredits it to Steven Taylor, one of his pastors when he was a kid. His point is important. You don’t just wipe away the effects of sin; you’ve got to be extreme, go to the source of temptation.

That’s good advice. We once had carpet in our house that had pet smell, and even stains from the previous owners. We took out the part of the carpet we thought was the source and had tile put down (Kitchen). Nope. After vainly fighting the stain issue, we finally had to rip up the carpet and pad. That was the only way to get rid of both the smell and the stain.

We need to cut the “heart” out of sin by going to its source. Then crushing it that spider.

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.

 

Messy

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Well…I did it again.

NO…I DIDN’T HAVE ANOTHER BICYCLE ACCIDENT!

Saturday night I told Jo not to be surprised if I scrapped the sermon for something else. I felt God nudging me about it while I was studying. In fact, I almost went back to the office Saturday evening. I didn’t. But Sunday morning, in spite of the Daylight Savings Time shift, I was up and in my office and cranked out a sermon to preach.

I called it Messy Grace. It was a follow up to last week’s sermon when I opened up about my wilderness journey. I needed to  bring some closure to that sermon and “felt led” to address the issue of messy grace.

Sometimes grace is messy. Sometimes grace is rubbing shoulders with people who are not like us. Jud Wilhite, a pastor in LasVegas and the author of Stripped tells the story of a lady who said she was leaving the church because she didn’t like the type of people who were showing up and “you never know what you might get from those type of people.” I suspect God was more grieved over her comment than “those type of people” attending church.

Grace was extended to me by my family this past week. The people of OVCF extended grace to me by their texts, emails, comments, and phone calls. I’d like to close with this picture of a wall hanging Jo and I bought shortly after Christmas. Little did I know how much it would be appropriate to us.

Black/White

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

After a two week hiatus caused by this, I plan to be back in the pulpit this Sunday. I have to admit that I am a tad bit excited.

Growing up and watching TV, it was easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys…for the most part. The good guys wore white hats; the bad guys wore black ones. For every Roy Rogers and Lone Ranger there was a Billy the Kid or Jesse James.

The Bible shows clearly there is an epic battle going on between the forces of evil and forces of good. From its earliest pages, the Evil One and all who function in his kingdom have constantly opposed God’s plan. For every Abel there is a Cain. For every Tabernacle there is a Tower of Babel. For every Joseph there is a Judas. For every Job there is a Peter.

My Scripture this Sunday is I John 2:18-27. It has been called  The antichrists vs the Christians. I’m calling it the black hats vs the white hats. Another way to put it is the fake vs the genuine.

I’m looking forward to preaching this Sunday after that two-week hiatus. I’m not really sure about my physical stamina nor how my voice will hold up (I picked up a cold in the hospital and with broken ribs it is hard to cough hard). So…some prayers about that would also be much appreciated.  Thanks. And thanks to all for your kind words during my healing. Please keep the prayers coming!

Marked

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

When I was in college I read a little book called The Mark of a Christian by Francis Schaeffer. It had to be the only book I read and understood by that intelligent man. I tried to use it as my required reading for one of my classes but its 20-30 some pages did not not meet the professor’s criteria for a worthy book. I don’t know why do you?  🙂

The mark of a Christian, according to Schaeffer is the same mark Jesus talked about in John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

This week I’m going to delve further into the second part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

  • Becoming a follower of Jesus produces a desire to obey…there is a submissive will.
  • Becoming a follower of Jesus produces an ability to love…there is a caring heart.

The commandment to love is not a new one. Even the OT tells us to love. But Romans 13:8-10 shows us it needs to go further. So this week my emphasis will be a new kind of love. I’d appreciate your prayers for me and the church. Thanks ahead of time.

Thoughts

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

Random thoughts from Sunday:

Any time I have gone away, I have always tried to come home either later Sunday or sometime Monday or Tuesday. I was reminded again of why. We went away from Wednesday through Friday. I made it home in time (45 minutes to spare) to take tickets at the high school basketball game. I slogged through Saturday’s preparation for my sermon. While the sermon was done physically, the spiritual part of me needs Saturday to get it in gear. Nope…didn’t happen. I like coming home the early part of the week since it means I will have time to prepare myself. Today was one of those days when it was a “little bit of me and a whole lot of God.”

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A few thoughts from Sunday’s message are pertinent to Christ-followers:

“Our salvation is the most important thing about us. If we have it, we are wealthy beyond belief. If we don’t, we are most to be pitied.” James McDonald

An unchanged life is a sign of an unchanged heart.  (Me)  This debunks the myth that I can live anyway I want and still call myself a Christian.

Real knowledge is not knowing something; it is in knowing Someone, a Person…Jesus Christ. (Me)  All the knowledge in the world will amount to nothing without a personal knowledge of Jesus.

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I have been asked to consider something wa-a-a-a-a-y out of my comfort zone or even my “desire” zone. I’m not at liberty to say what it is, but if you wouldn’t mind saying a prayer, God knows what it is about. Interestingly enough, Tami (my daughter), has approached me with an opportunity she has which will require stretching. You might want to include her. I hope to link to her blog this week as she writes about it. Thanks ahead of time.

There is some Sunday meandering for you. Random I know.

Branded!

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

There are a few TV shows or movies I will stop to watch if I am walking through the room when they are on. When I first started watching Back to the Future we had taped it on a free weekend. My friend and his son came to visit and I think that movie played on the round the whole weekend. No sooner was it over than we rewound the tape (it was a VHS) and started watching it again.  I’m sort of the same way with the old B & W Perry Mason shows. I am a sucker for the old shows, even though I know Perry is going to win. Never a doubt even though things look awful gloomy from time to time for his client.  I still like courtroom dramas.

A big part of the beginning of I John 2 is the importance of an Advocate who goes to the “bench” on our behalf.  The word Advocate translates the Greek word which means “one who comes alongside” and denotes in legal settings the defender or counselor who comes to aid his clients. It is the same word translated “Helper” or “Comforter” in John 14.  Jesus is the perfect Advocate since the Judge is His Father and they are always in perfect harmony.

Another word used in I John 2 is the word propitiation. A big word most will have trouble saying right, let alone knowing what it means.  It means appeasement or satisfaction. John tells us that Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross satisfied the demands of God’s justice.

There is more to write but will stop there. If you care to listen, the podcast of the sermon is on the church’s website. I welcome your thoughts if you do listen.

Just as a heads up: I am posting this early because Jo and I will be leaving today (Wednesday) for the St. Louis area and return late Friday afternoon. Two of our young men play basketball for Maryville University and we are taking some time away and watching them. Sort of like killing two birds with one stone. So, except for approving a comment, I will be very scarce here and on your blogs as well. Have a great weekend!

TESTS

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

I disliked taking tests. Maybe dislike is the wrong word. Maybe hated is a better one. 🙂 Actually, I didn’t mind the essay kind. I could “blow off” and hope I said enough to make my point. I didn’t mind multiple choice because somewhere along the line I might remember and get the right answer. I disliked strongly (how about that choice of words) the True/False kind.

One of the biggest struggles I run into among fellow Christ-followers is the assurance of salvation. Too many are always questioning “Am I saved?” “If I die today would I go to heaven?” “How can I know?” While I personally have questions about what is called Eternal Security, I don’t believe a follower of Christ ever has a reason to doubt their salvation. Based on what you ask? Well, Sunday I gave two tests to ask as you seek to figure out not only your own, but who might be preaching a strange gospel. Here are two from I John:

  • Belief in God and the certainty of sin. [1:5-6,8,10]  False teachers and doctrinal errors are spread when there is uncertainty about God and sin. John tells us “God is Light.” He also tells us “in Him is no darkness at all.” Ever since the Fall man has tried to excuse sin. We call it a “mistake” or a “failure” or a “disorder, illness, or addiction.” Call sin what it is…sin.
  • Belief in forgiveness of sin and confession. [1:7b,9] That verse 9 stands like a rock for me. We can deny it. We can argue. But we cannot erase that verse from the pages of Holy Writ. What is written is written. Way too many followers of Jesus live in the past and think they cannot be forgiven. The tense used for forgive is one which not only shows past forgiveness but specifically present forgiveness. And since my tomorrow is actually today, forgiveness is always there.

I’m sure you can think of more. But these are huge to the freedom of every follower of Jesus. What do they say to you?