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Silence

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

I have been reading a new book by Phil Cooke and Jonathan Bock called The Way Back: How Christians Blew our Credibility and HOW WE GET IT BACK. There has been a lot of underlining and highlighting as I’ve read because of how true so much of what they write has been. It has been informative. Convicting. Educational. Challenging.

They quote English crime writer Dorothy Sayers from the 1940s. She warned of a fast-approaching church that would be too comfortable and tolerant to make any waves:

In the world it calls itself tolerance; but in hell it is called despair…It is the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive only because there is nothing it would die for. (p.101)

Long story short; there comes a point in time when we have to make a stand. The church (as a whole) and many Christ-followers have bought into the “tolerance agenda” of the vocal minority. But one thing is true: the truth doesn’t change. Whether we agree with it or not; whether we can stomach it or not; whether we try to debate it away or not; that fact still remains. The Truth is the truth.

I was quite intrigued by this quote: “I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward…how much to you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? “  Now…here’s the kicker. That quote is by magician and entertainer (and atheist) Penn Jillette

Maybe…just maybe…our silence is deafening.  Maybe we ought to stop bowing down to the “tolerance police” and start standing for Truth. Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

 

Legacy

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

In my last post, I talked about a legacy of faith. One of the responses was basically not seeing the sense in worrying about it. We die…that’s it. Since I don’t believe that death is the end…and since I do believe that dead men speak (not audibly)…I searched for something I had read years ago.  I found it! Of course, if you get the right people the answer is easy. 🙂 🙂  Here is why I want to leave a legacy of faith behind:

A great example of this is Jonathan Edwards, the Puritan Preacher from the 1700s.  Jonathan and his wife Sarah left a great godly legacy for his 11 children.

At the turn of the 20th century, American educator and pastor A.E. Winship decided to trace out the descendants of Jonathan Edwards almost 150 years after his death.  His findings are astounding, especially when compared to a man known as Max Jukes.  Jukes’ legacy came to the forefront when the family trees of 42 different men in the New York prison system traced back to him.

Jonathan Edwards’ godly legacy includes: 1 U.S. Vice-President, 3 U.S. Senators, 3 governors, 3 mayors, 13 college presidents, 30 judges, 65 professors, 80 public office holders, 100 lawyers and 100 missionaries.

Max Jukes’ descendants included: 7 murderers, 60 thieves, 50 women of debauchery, 130 other convicts. 310 paupers (with over 2,300 years lived in poorhouses) 400 who were physically wrecked by indulgent living.

It was estimated that Max Juke’s descendants cost the state more than $1,250,000.

One can perhaps question the research. I saw one source cite the VP as Aaron Burr (duelist with Alexander Hamilton). I even saw one source which completely discounted the research on Max Juke’s life. Even if both are true, that doesn’t change the truth of what we leave behind is important.  We either leave life or poison behind.

I choose to leave life.

Faith

Friday, February 16th, 2018

The life of faith is the only life that pleases God, and nothing else matters if faith is missing.

It is easy to look at stories in the Bible as old and dusty, sort of like dead men walking. But consider it another way: dead men talking. This Sunday we are going to look at three men who though dead, still speak.

I like this quote which I came across as I was studying for this sermon: “Death is never the last word in the life of a righteous man. When a man leaves this world, be he righteous or unrighteous, he leaves something in the world. He may leave something that will grow and spread like a cancer or a poison, or he may leave something like a fragrance of perfume or a blossom of beauty that permeates the atmosphere with blessing.” 

That quote is quite sobeing. Man leaves this world either a Paul or a Nero/Hitler/or someone of that ilk.

The three men we are going to study are from Hebrews 11: 4-7…Abel, Enoch, and Noah. Great testimonies to what God can do with a person sold out to Him and willing to follow Him by faith. Your prayers are appreciated.

ReferencePoint

Friday, February 9th, 2018

The story of Ernest Shackleton is told in several different books of note. You can find one here and another one here.  Long story short Shackleton’s men were stranded on Elephant Island in the Antarctic and had survived a winter and a harsh summer trying to be the first to cross the Antarctic. But the ice had sunk their ship and they now found themselves stranded. On April 24, 1916 Shackleton and six companions shoved off from Elephant Island holding little hope they would see the 21 men they left behind. Their only hope was to be found on South Georgia Island, 800 miles away. One small boat fighting bitter cold, icebergs, waves up to 70 feet high, and 80 mph winds. They reached South Georgia Island in the heart of a hurricane which sank larger vessels. (There is more to the story). The only hope of a sailor surviving in those days was finding a reference point, generally the North Star.

What about us? What about when the storms hit? What will we do when they do? Where will we look? Friends? Inside ourselves? A bottle? There is a story in the Bible of a man named Job who had to be wondering, “What in the world is going on?” His story provides some answers for us.

This week I start a new 11 weeks series called True North. Reference Point is the first in that series. I’m excited about preaching it. Now…I just gotta hope the folks are excited about hearing it.  🙂  In any case, I’d appreciate your prayers ahead of time, or even afterwards.

Thanks to Ryan (techgeek) for designing the banner. I have the ideas; he has the skills.

Faith

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

During my devotional times each day I read from several different sources. One is Whiter Than Snow by Paul David Tripp, and another is The ESV Reader’s Bible, along with New Morning Mercies.  Today was one of those mornings where what I read really hit a nerve. I’d like to share it with you.

Whiter Than Snow: “The way that seems wise to me isn’t wise, and the way that is wise looks to me to be the way of the fool.” That reminds me of the Scripture which says, “There is a way which seems right to man but in the end is judgment.”

My reading in Mark was the woman with the blood-not-stopping issue and Jairus’ daughter. Both instances required faith: the woman that she could be healed (even if it was a “what have I got to lose?” approach); and Jairus, that Jesus would heal his daughter, then ultimately bring her back to life.

I need that kind of faith. Faith that sees no end but believes. Faith that take Jesus at His Word.  One side thought: I think it is interesting that Jesus did not seek the limelight when healing someone. Exact opposite actually. Says something about today’s hucksters don’t you think?

For more reflections on my reading check out my other blog: http://betransformed.ovcf.org/

 

Covered

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

I am, if the truth be known, an eclectic listener of music. I can jump from Tommy James and Frankie Valli to rock to melodic metal to worship music to classical. There are certain kinds I won’t listen to (country, rap, R&B, and opera to name a few).  Personal preference I know. That is why there are so many genres I suppose.

Last week during our worship music set we sang the following song. I heard it about a year ago sung by a high school student who was worshiping with us before she shipped out to the military.  We have since sung it with our worship team.  I LOVE this song!  If it wasn’t for Good, Good Father, it just may be my favorite.

This is my song of the week. My prayer is it will be meaningful start to your week.  It is a little long in this version but we have shortened it.

 

Tested

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

In last week’s sermon I talked about True Love. You can read more about it here. But you know as well as I do talking about love, defining love, does not a lover make. The real test of love is when love is put to the test.

Despite all our learning or lack of it; despite all our high-falootin’ talk or lack of it; despite our rhetoric or lack of it; everyone one of us knows we will not get along with everyone. Wishful thinking. Dream thinking. “Not possible” thinking actually. “Ain’t going to happen” thinking.  Yeah…I hate to be the one to burst the bubble, but we will not be able to get along with everyone.

So…how do we keep the peace?

So…what do we do with enemies? With those who want to make our life miserable? In fact, that seems to be their mission in life. How are we supposed to act and react to our enemies?

My sermon this weekend will get down to that nitty-gritty. When you have been abused, walked on, used as a doormat or a ladder, had lies told about you, or have been stolen from…what to do? How would love respond?

Romans 12: 14-21 is not an easy passage to deal with but it can’t be skipped over either. I’d appreciate your prayers for this weekend.

I’m posting this early because Jo and I will be heading to Evansville, IN to see one our young men play one of his last two games in Indiana (Saturday is the other). He graduates from Maryville College in St. Louis this year. So we will be out and about and I will be away from a computer. I’ll have my phone to approve comments, but I despise typing anything of length on my phone. Have a great weekend!

Father

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

A lot has been written about our earthly father and his influence upon our lives. You know…

“I am who I am today because of my father.” (Positive)

“I am who I am today because of my father.” (Negative)

“My father’s example was one I wanted to emulate.”

“My father’s example was not one I wanted to emulate.”

“I desire to raise my children the same way my father raised me.”

“I desire to raise my children differently than my father raised me.”

I could go on and on. Many people who are much smarter and wiser than me have said, “Your view of God is very often tied to your view of your earthly father.” In my case, I concur. Conditional love and acceptance. AWOL at times. Preoccupied with other things. I could go on but this is not a body slam on my late father.

I know some, many who have come to see me in my office or at a meal, who have screamed for a father who loved them. “What was wrong with me?” “Why couldn’t he just love me the way I was?” “Why did he try to live his life through me?” The litany goes on. Little girls especially need their father to be more than a biological necessity.

During Pastor Appreciation Month (which is also my birthday month) our worship leaders had this wood hanging made for me. I treasure it. I have it displayed on a table in my office. It just might be the first thing people see when they walk by or enter.

The song I’m highlighting today is one of my favorites from which this plague comes. Hope you enjoy it.

 

TrueLove

Friday, January 26th, 2018

This past December Spencer’s own Community Theater did a play called The Velveteen Rabbit. It was written in 1922 by Margery Williams (aka Margery Williams Bianco). The book is subtitled How Toys Become Real. One of the most quoted sections of the book is this:

By the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

As you know, love is more than a word. It is more than an emotion. There are two things which stick out in  Romans 12: 9-13.  True love lacks hypocrisy and true love discriminates (that will make for an interesting “discussion” among the people). But to put you at ease think “discernment.”

Love can be expressed in so many different ways. This passage in Romans presents 8 different ways love can be displayed. It should be a fun sermon to preach. 🙂  I’d appreciate your prayers for us this weekend. And if you care to listen to it, the podcast is put on the church’s website.

Shameless

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

It is called Shameless Promotion.

And so it is. I have another post coming out tomorrow morning for the weekend and wanted to fill in today so I thought, “Why not?”

Theology without love is simply bad theology.

To read the rest of this devotion, please head over to my other blog based on New Morning Mercies called Be Transformed.

I’d love to see you over there and hear your thoughts.