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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?ย  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.

Explanation

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Explanation or Excuse?

It has been a few days since I last posted a blog. I could say it was dry mind disease. But that would not be true. I have a lot of stuff going around in my head these days. Some good. Some not so good. ๐Ÿ™‚ย  I could say it was “I have been so busy going from this person to that person in ministry.” But that would not be true either (although there has been some of that).

Truth is: I have been sort of preoccupied. After being gone to PA to see my brother & his wife (Rob & Joy) and my elderly father, I have found life not slowing down at all. I played catch up for several days. Throw in two doctor appointments due to the bicycle wrecks; an afternoon spent driving to and from a hospital an hour away; being a husband and a father; an apparent sciatic nerve issue due to the November wreck; and barely finding time for myself, I caught myself chasing my tail.

So with everything going on, the blog took a back seat. Sorry about that. Since the staff is going to lunch soon (and I am paying for the secretary’s since I forgot to honor her on Administrative Professional Day), I want to leave you with a few quotes:

“Discernment- the ability to tell the difference between right, and almost right.”ย  Given to me by someone after my sermon on discernment. (Quoted by Priscilla Shirer in her Armor of God Bible study. Original quote by Spurgeon).

“I rest assured that I am loved by a holy God. His will for me is always right, good and true.”

“Sinners tend to want to author their own moral codes.”ย  (Both quotes by Paul David Tripp in New Morning Mercies-May 10)

Just give you something to think about and chew on. Hope you have a great day.

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.”ย  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.ย  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 Sundayย  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.”ย  Along with that word will also come two others closely on its heel: hypocritical and arrogant.ย  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.

Slowly

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

I have had a chance this past week to ride a couple of days. The first one, two weeks ago, Jo followed me. I rode 8 miles. Not bad considering I have been unable to do any leg work at the Y or any cardio since February. Broken collarbones and ribs tend to deter those kinds of actions. ๐Ÿ™‚ย  I was okay with her following me since I need and want her to feel at peace while I ride, especially since 90% of my riding is alone.

This past week I rode twice…alone…each time adding miles to my ride. 11.14 then 13+. These were hard for Jo since she knows she has to have peace about me riding. The latter was on a day she was out of town (bad memories surface with that for her since she was out of town when I wrecked in February). Each time I set my RoadID app to record my ride and let her know where I was. In fact, I had forgotten to turn on my Cellular data for the app and it showed me as being stationary. Guess who got a text? ๐Ÿ™‚

Each time I rode I added a little mileage. For one, I’m definitely not ready for longer rides of 20-25 miles like I used to do. That would be a recipe for disaster. Second, I have no desire to “poop out” on the way and have to call her to come get me because I have no juice left.

There is a spiritual twist to all of this. How many people do you know who started out strong only to give out? They went great guns and then you watched them slowly fade away. Jesus talked about that in His parable of the sower and seed.ย  I would rather see someone come to Christ and slowly grow their faith and activity than go like a “house a fire” and whither.

Sort of like riding a bike for the first time in several months.

And I also encourage you to visit 3feetplease.com for this shirt and others:

 

 

 

 

Whichone?

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

“Joy to the World the Lord is come…”

Christmas song or Easter song?

Written in 1719 by Isaac Watts, he never intended it to be sung as a Christmas song. But it has become one of the most well-loved Christmas songs we sing. But as we are often guilty of doing, we skip over some of the stanzas. If we don’t skip over them we skim them. Hence, we might miss the third stanza of this hymn:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make his blessings flow

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as, far as the curse is found.

The mission of Jesus was not to come as a baby. That “started” it. But the mission of Jesus was to wipe out the curse of sin, death, hell and the grave. He came to unleash His power and grace in an unprecedented act of love. He came to restore our relationship with the Father which sin had broken.

What a tremendous truth to ponder as we enter this time of the year. Or if I may borrow the words to a song which has nothing to do with this topic: “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Someday

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

I was sitting in my chiropractor’s office Friday and since I had forgotten to bring something to read (DUH!), I picked up a Men’s Health magazine. I ran across an article about a trainer named Bobby Maximus. (Sort of reminds me of Gladiator.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ )ย  I give you that, not as a stamp of approval on Maximus, but as a “give credit where credit is due” thing. Anyway, they had some sayings which Maximus is fond of using.ย  Several of them struck a chord…one I’ve heard before: “Do what’s right, not what’s easy.”

But the one that stayed with me so much I wrote it down and use it now is this:

There are 7 days in a week. ‘Someday’ is not one of them.

It is easy getting into that mode-whether we talk about our physical condition; our exercise program; a relationship we want to cultivate; a goal we want to realize; and especially our relationship with God. I don’t really need to go into detail as to each of these modes, so to speak. We all know how it applies to our physical condition or an exercise program, etc.

I do find it somewhat disconcerting when I consider how I have used the “Someday excuse” when it comes to cultivating my relationship with God. “Someday I will have that Quiet Time.” “Someday I will pray.” “Someday I will learn that verse.” Someday. Someday. Someday. And Someday never gets anything accomplished.

I’ve written about my two bike wrecks. No need to go into them again. If you want to read about it go here. But those two wrecks have taught me some serious lessons…one of them is don’t use “Someday” as an excuse to get things done which need done. Don’t keep putting things off.ย  For example, Jo & I are in a much better place than we have been for years, largely because of this philosophy.ย  Talking more. Hugging and snuggling more. Kissing more. I’ll stop there. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ย  (I know Tami…TMI)

Don’t keep saying “Someday.”

Fog

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

As in stupor. Lull. Clouded mind.

This morning (Tuesday) I was reading a devotion from New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. I’m not saying this lightly: I am not sure there has ever been a devotion that hit me so hard and so “where I live” as this one. I’m going to give you snippets of it in this blog and then include it at as a whole at the end.

Human beings, who were created to live in awe of God, are in grave danger when familiarity causes them to be bored with God.

That was just the opening line! But he wasn’t done.

Familiarity is a beautiful thing…But the blessing of blessings is to be familiar with the ways, the character, the presence, and the promises of God…Yes, familiarity is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a very dangerous thing.

By this time he had my undivided attention. Something began to ring in my ears and in my heart. Something disturbing. Convicting. Unnerving. Truthful.ย  Then came this:

Every human being was designed by God to have his hopes, dreams, choices, words, actions, desires, and motivations shaped by a jaw-dropping, heart-controlling, life-shaping awe of God…Familiarity causes us to lose our awe of God. What once stunned us doesn’t anymore. {Note: you can read the rest on your own below}

Here is what I wrote in my journal:

“I wonder, as I think back, if this is some of what happened {Note: previous to my bike wreck in February}. Had I lost my awe of God? Had I taken Him for granted? That, (along with a couple other factors), could be the source of my stupor and lull of the desert from mid summer to my wreck in February. I may not know what caused the wreck, but as time goes by I seem to get a better handle on my (spiritual) struggle leading up to it. And that is good. ๐Ÿ™‚ As I do, a little more of me wakes up. And that is very good.” ๐Ÿ™‚ย  (In case you are new, if you read here you will find out what happened.ย  You can find out what I did my first Sunday back in the pulpit after the wreck here. And then read this post to find out a recap of what has been happening.

I know we each have our own journey we are traveling. This may have absolutely no relevance to yours. That’s okay. Then again…maybe it does. Below is the whole day’s devotion. I hope it is clear enough for you.

 

 

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.

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.