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#Reflection#Addition#Subtraction

Monday, May 4th, 2020

This morning I was going through some old journals trying to find something I had copied and had used at one time. I finally found it, but in the meantime I ran across something else I had written (circa 2011).  Here is something for you and me to think about as we head into this new week:

Everyday I do something that either adds to or subtracts from another person.

Lie-Stealing truth

Plagiarizing- Stealing credit

Murder- Stealing life

Am I a giver or a taker? And adder or a subtractor?

#Pursue!#Challenges#TheRightThings

Friday, May 1st, 2020

True or False? Experience is the best teacher.

I’m guessing you said, “True.” What if I told you maybe, maybe not? Truthfully, we can have experience after experience and still not learn a thing. Perhaps that phrase would be better worded:

GUIDED EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST TEACHER.

As I have taken us through the book of Colossians, we are now coming to what is a typical characteristic of Paul’s writings. The first part of his letters are doctrinal; the second half are practical.  Some would accuse him of being a broken record in the first half: he spends a lot of time with false teachers.  But in this section he moves to a more positive approach as he challenges his readers to make a difference. What I like about this is that Paul walks alongside them as he gives those challenges. It’s not like he says, “Okay boys! You’re on your own now!” They are not left on their own to figure things out.

In this week’s Scripture, Paul presents three challenges to the Colossian church and, by proxy, to us. Here they are:

CHALLENGE #1: Seek things above.

CHALLENGE #2: Get rid of garbage.

CHALLENGE #3: Add the essentials.

They stand as a great challenge for us as well. I’d like to invite you to join us at 10:00 EST this Sunday. They are working right now on installing new equipment. I, for one, hope it is ready to go on Sunday. Either way, we will be streaming our service. I would be honored to have you join us Sunday for “Be Careful What you Pursue.”

If you can’t be here your prayers would be greatly appreciated.

#Hangover#GoodOne

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

Every Sunday I go through it. I call it a hangover. I’ve never had the other kind.  Kind of hard to do that when you don’t take a drink to start with. 🙂

I had one yesterday. I went to the Y early (8:00) to work out and when I was done I had the hangover. It was the good kind. You know…the adrenaline is pumping and you feel like something good happened.  I even joked with someone who was just getting there about feeling good I was done. I had reached my limit physically for that workout and there was a settled feeling that came over me. Shower. Eat. Study. Nap. Oops where did that come in? 🙂

I’ve have one when my bike ride is finished. An a-a-a-a-a-h feeling.  A sense of accomplishment. An adrenaline rush from having spent myself. Shower. Eat. Work. Nap. Again, where did that come from?  🙂

I get one every Sunday. I expend myself emotionally. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Eat. (No shower needed). Study. Nap. Well, sometimes but not today.

I’m a bit melancholy right now. I’m not sad from any event. I’m not down from life. I expended a lot of spiritual energy this morning after preaching twice and I think I know what it is.

The subject matter. Heaven is fine to preach on. I’m not a fan of preaching on Hell. It isn’t because I pound the pulpit and scream and froth at the mouth. I don’t. But I’m melancholy because I have this sneaking suspicion there were some there today who needed to come to Christ but will keep putting it off.  It’s days like today that I wish I was like the Hulk when he grabbed Loki,  slammed him back and forth a few times, and then said, “Puny god.” Loki just whimpered. That was after Loki tried to tell the Hulk he was a god.

There are people I just want to grab and say, “What are you waiting for? Don’t you realize you are playing with your life, taking a risk that you really don’t want to gamble on?”

When I feel like this I can only imagine what God must be feeling after waiting and waiting.  The Bible says that God desires all men to repent and to come to a knowledge of the truth. His heart must break when time after time people reject Him.

I’m not concerned about my eternity. I know where I will be. I do get melancholy over others. May I never lose that fire for the lost. May I never lose that desire to see people come to Jesus. May I never lose that hunger to feel God’s pain.

I closed the sermon with this song. Hope you enjoy it.

#Mercy#VitalAttribute

Friday, January 17th, 2020

Name an attribute of God and I seriously doubt mercy will be first one out of someone’s mouth. Omniscient. Omnipresent. Omnipotent. Loving. Majestic. We might eventually come out with mercy but I’m willing to wager (and I’m not a betting man) that mercy will not be first.

Reading the headlines or listening to them can be a downward spiral into despair. A few weeks we had the TV on the local news station (Indy) and story after story seemed to be negative. Jo finally said, “It seems like all they talk about is the bad. I get so tired of it.” She is not alone.

Top that off with the natural disasters which plague our planet. Hurricanes. Tsunamis. Earthquakes. Forest fires. Droughts. Persecution. Terrorist bombings. It is like a first class ticket to the land of despair.

So people ask, “Where is God in all of this?”  “Why didn’t He stop this before it happened?” Been there? I have.  But those accusations are calling into question God’s mercy. Doesn’t He care? The answer is Yes He does. Mercy tells us He does.

My sermon Sunday is from 2 Corinthians 4:1 where it talks about mercy. I’ll also bring into the discussion the passage found in I Timothy 1:12-16.  I’ll talk more in my next post about mercy. In the meantime, consider this thought:

We are not meant to control our Christianity; Christianity is meant to control us.

Your prayers would be appreciated for Sunday morning. It is going to be a long weekend with a busy day off (did I say day off?), a really busy Saturday, and preparing for the sermon. Thanks for praying.

#HELP!!#ThatTimeAgain#ForACure

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

They say the early bird catches the worm. Well, I don’t want any worms but I am an early bird.

  • I get up every morning at 3:30 so I can shower and have my Quiet Time and be at the office around 5:00 so I can study.
  • That means I am an early bird when it comes to sermons and sermon prep.  I work at least 4 weeks ahead and often finish researching and writing several weeks early. I like that because if I have an emergency I don’t have to fret. (And I don’t have any all-night Saturday sessions working on and completing a sermon).
  • I am also an early bird when it comes to going to bed. I try to be in bed by 9:30 so I can at least get 6 hours sleep.

And I’m also an early bird when it comes to the topic of this post.  For the third year I am riding in the BikeMS Cruisin’ the Crossroads to benefit MS. The first year we were totally rained out. I mean like totally. 7″ inches fell within a 24 hour period so they wisely shut it down before it started. Last year my friend Dave (from 3 Feet Please) and I were able to ride the first 30 some miles until a deluge shut it down. We had someone riding with us who was ill-prepared and it slowed us down to a crawl. So it was mercifully cut short.

This year they have changed the date yet again. Rain may not be a problem; snow might. Well…let’s hope not. The ride has been changed to October 10th-one day after I celebrate (Lord willing) my 68th birthday.  Here is where you come in. Many of you were so generous last year that I was able to surpass my $800 goal. This year I have set my goal at $1000 and I have already started my fundraising by a starting pledge of $100. I do not have MS but I have some friends in this community who do. Kirby. Marge (a vital part of OVCF). Others.

Frankly, I’m not big on fundraising. I am so glad the church I pastor operates with the mindset of being debt-free. Therefore, I don’t have to stand in the pulpit and ask for money to make our mortgage payment. We are in need of more space but have an active building fund so we don’t have to borrow money when/if the time comes to adding on. Asking for money is not a strong suit of mine. (No I won’t make a joke about Jo asking me for money).

Anyway, if you are able or willing to help then you can go to my fundraising page and donate in my name.  Please go here for that. I’ll say thanks ahead of time.  I’ll also say that if you can’t or are unable to donate, prayers for health and safety while I’m training then riding would be greatly appreciated.

#WrongRoad#Weakness

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

This morning (Sunday) I preached on the letter to the church at Thyatira and I approached it from the aspect of tolerance. I’ll state it right off the bat: no matter what our culture says and even what other “churches” tell us, tolerance is never mentioned in Scripture.  Another word some may be more familiar with is Compromise.  I’d like to take this blog space and talk about that a bit.

In the letter to the church at Thyatira Jesus commends them for their works, love, faith, service, patient endurance and that their latter works exceeded the first (I think that means they were maturing and growing and not stagnant). BUT the church was an immoral cesspool (v.20). That “train” was led by a woman He names Jezebel. I seriously doubt that is her real name. I mean…what parent in their right mind would name their daughter Jezebel, or even Delilah? Be that as it may, my research seems to indicate two possibilities she was teaching:

  1. Gnosticism.  Gnosticism taught that the physical universe was evil and the spiritual was good. This led to what is called Dualism. Today is it is seen in those who teach Jesus was not fully human and fully divine.  A popular brand of this is Jesus was human until His baptism when He became divine and then somewhere before His crucifixion He became human again. One of the most prominent teachers of this heresy is the false “apostle” Bill Johnson and those associated with Bethel Church and the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) movement.
  2. Antinomianism. It is a combination of two words: Anti which means “No” and nomian which means “Law.” Hence, No Law. This teaches you can do whatever you want as long as you invoke God’s grace when you are done. This is taught by….just about everyone. I believe God’s forgiveness is complete and His grace covers any sin, but I also believe He wants us to be holy, not acting however we want then constantly seeking God’s grace for forgiveness.

Tolerance is a slippery slope we want to avoid. We will be called all sorts of names.  We will be looked on as a three-headed monster. But God’s truth stands and we are much better taking “heat” from our culture than taking “heat” from God.

Those are some of my thoughts. What do you think?

#Insignificant#Fulfilled#MediaPerception

Sunday, August 25th, 2019

It will seem strange to many of you who know me that I would actually write about social media. I have made no secret of the fact that I do not do Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other “stuff” that is out there.  Years ago when Jo started up on FB to keep up with our daughters, I said something about maybe I ought to. She said, “No, you have your blog. I’ll do FB.” She was right about that. I do have this blog. Actually, now I have two. The other is called LivingintheShadow and it is a daily devotion I write.  And yes, you can subscribe!  Hint! Hint! 🙂  But as I’ve looked back and then observed all the junk going around, Jo was more prophetic than she dreamed.  While there were times I wished I was on FB and other social media, I now realize I’m not missing a thing. Not only do I spend enough time on my two blogs, I simply cannot imagine how much time I would be throwing away aimlessly gazing at a scrolling screen. I hear enough snarky, snide remarks made by other media and people that I can graciously plead innocence to when asked if I passed something along or if I saw this post or that comment. Please understand I am not against FB but the abuse of it (and certainly some of the restrictions they are imposing, especially on followers of Christ).

I’ve also noticed how much emphasis and self-worth is placed on the number of readers, tweeters, instagrammers (I know that is not a word), and other media counting efforts to know how many people put their significance on that number. UGH!  There are some who hit the despondency button if their post or tweet is not passed on or commented on by a certain number of people. And please don’t get me started on the amount of bullying and vicious remarks that are made which devastate people because of the faceless presence one can assume.

I get my fill of hearing or reading about celebrities with big mouths (please go ahead and do us all a favor and leave the country if you don’t like living here); who do outlandish things; brag about their exploits; etc. But we idolize them as though they have “the life.” The last I looked the life of the Christ-follower is much more significant than some celluloid hero who acts the part of a superhero but lives the life of a lost soul. I’m thinking the animated film Balto actually is a more accurate story of life on the screen than any Marvel Universe project ever is.

And while I am on this whole social media rant, what is this thing that children and adults are glued to their screens, even at a meal? Dudes (and dudettes) put the screens away. Look someone in the eye and talk to them. I have to admit that my job as a pastor keeps me near my phone but I silence it during a meal. If it rings and is not important it can either go to voice mail or I can text later. Only three people do I respond to: Jo, Tami and Janna. Braden is in school so I don’t have to worry, but if his or Jason’s name shows up I will answer it.

Maybe it is time we practice what Jim Elliott, the martyred missionary once said: “Wherever you are, be all there.” I wonder what he would say today to gadgets he would not even had dreamed about!

I’d like to hear what your thoughts are.

#Consumers#WeAreGoingElsewhere#Discouraging

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

I think every pastor on the planet has at one time or another experienced someone coming to them and saying, “We are leaving and going to another church. Church XYZ has a program that is better suited for our kids. They have more things to do.” I have been on the other end of that stick and it doesn’t feel very good. It hurts even more when the decision has already been made and their mind is made up even before talking with me about it.

That is not happening right now. It has and I’m sure it will again. When someone leaves because of doctrinal reasons (they like Bill Johnson and Bethel Redding, for example, and my preaching is nowhere close to his heresy) I’m okay with that. It recently happened and I now see God sparing us from a very divisive issue. When someone leaves because they are moving over 45 minutes away (as someone very close to me did two years ago), it hurts, but I understand. I just won’t talk to him anymore (except when we get together to go out to eat). 🙂  I can get behind both of those reasons.

If a family leaves because I don’t see things as narrow as they do and leave accusing me of being liberal and compromising on issues like homosexuality, pornography, sexual conduct, abortion, and other issues, I can see there is something else underlying it. It is also so not true.

But for someone to simply pack up and leave because another church offers something we don’t, that hurts.  I don’t use the “su**s” word but I sure want to.  I’m confused. Flabbergasted. It’s like all the time and effort put into their family, their marriage, their lives means absolutely nothing.

Church-going is seen more like a shopping event than a worship event. We have become a nation of consumers, content on shopping around for the best bargain, the one (ready for it?) “that meets my needs the best.” That is certainly the one thing the seeker movement has taught us: have your felt needs met-go to the church that best meets your needs.  I’ll be honest: I despise shopping at the mall. I know everything is there under one roof. 100 different clothing stores. 30 different shoe stores. All the mobile phone kiosks. Toy stores. Lingerie stores.  Jewelry stores. (I mean, let’s face it. How many different pieces of jewelry can there be and how can one diamond store be more “real” than another?) Even a food court for your choice of food.  What the mall offers is all these stores under one roof, offering tons of the same items, still over-priced.

When it comes to the church, people lose sight of the “why” of going. They miss the “I am being fed by a man of God who uses the Word of God uncompromisingly.” Too often we determine our like or dislike by the music; the lights/camera/action; the activities going on; the entertainment value; and so on. Christ, and glorifying Him, is not king; the consumer/customer is. What does he/she need?

Granted, “feel good” positive thinking messages (I can’t call them sermons) should have us looking elsewhere. Entertainment-driven “worship events” should tire us. An endless calendar which gives us no time for family should be a yellow flag. But to leave just to leave, to feel better, to play sports or whatever, is just wrong.  Ironically, the desire for more selections and variety is what has helped create the megachurch.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

#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.

#Blessing#Challenge

Sunday, July 28th, 2019

As a grandfather, I have a desire to see my grandson more often than I have the opportunity to. He lives 4 hours away and is actively involved in baseball and football (oh, and school) so his schedule is pretty full. Him coming to visit his grandparents is not high on his list of things to do. And it is not high on his mother’s list either. She is a busy, working mom and wife. Neither Jo nor I begrudge that.  We just know our situation is unique and unless God says, “Time to move” we will be here ministering in Spencer hopefully for years to come.

My girls are adults now, each with their own life. Tami, our oldest, teaches Kindergarten in Bloomington, IN. Janna, our youngest, works in Delaware, OH for a car dealership (not selling but as a jack-of-all-trades doing rentals, office work, receptionist, etc). When they were babies I would often go into their room at night and pray for them and pray over them. I prayed a prayer of surrender, i.e. “Father, these girls are yours. Help me never to hold on to them so tightly I won’t give them to you.” Sort of like Abraham and Isaac. I also prayed for their salvation.

The first time I held Braden when he came home from the hospital and I surprised Janna by being there, I went off by myself with the little guy in my arms and prayed for him. I prayed a blessing over him. I prayed for his salvation and that he will grow up knowing Jesus.

All this flooded back to me as I read I Chronicles 22 Saturday night. David is making preparations for building the temple and then calls his son, Solomon, to him. He tells Solomon about why he is not building the temple (he was a man of war), but he also speaks a blessing over Solomon and challenges him as well.  The blessing is found in verses 11-12: “The Lord be with you.” But he also issues a challenge to Solomon to stand strong and be faithful to God. [Verses 12-13].

What a great opportunity we have as parents and grandparents to speak into our son’s and daughter’s and grandchildren’s lives with a blessing to cover them. I’m not into so-called “positive confession” that the name-it-claim-it people talk about. But I am into praying over and for our children and grandchildren.  In our case, being 4 hours away, that seems to be the next best thing to being there.  Who knows how and when God will answer our prayers for them.