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#Lent#25

Monday, March 30th, 2020

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumblingblock to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  (I Cor.1:18, 22-24)

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”  (Romans 1:16)

“For I deliver to you as of first importance what I also received: that Jesus died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scripture.” (I Cor.15:3-4)

There should be no question what we should be teaching and preaching. Not politics. Not “feel good.” Not spirituality. Not health/wealth. Not NAR garbage (gold dust falling from heaven? Grave sucking? You have go to me kidding me!).  Not hype.  Not Miracle Spring Water (seriously?).  JESUS. THE GOSPEL. THE CROSS.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Gal.6:14)

#Burdened#NotHeavy

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

W.E. Sangster was a Methodist pastor in England who lived from 1900-1960. He was so well-respected as a pastor that he would often interview possible candidates for ministry within the Methodist church. On one particular occasion he was interviewing a young man who said he was rather shy and not the sort of person who would set the Thames river on fire- that is, stir up the city.  The story goes that Dr. Sangster said, “I’m not interested to know if you could set the Thames River on fire. I want to know if I picked you up by the scruff of the neck and dropped you into the Thames, would it sizzle?”

He was looking for what we could call passion in that young man.  Paul carried a passion for the church at Colossae. We can see it oozing out of his pores (okay his writing) in this letter. We can see it especially from the passage we will be studying this week: Colossians 2:1-7.  A parent carries a burden for his or her children. The owner of a company carries a burden for its success and (hopefully) the welfare of his employees. A coach carries a burden for teaching his or her players to be winners. A pastor carries a burden for the church he is shepherding.

That is a burden worth carrying.  With the absence of personal “touch” and the plethora of online streaming, it is easy to lose touch with the people. I’m trying not to. I love the folks God has given me the pleasure to pastor. I carry a burden for them I did not know possible. Please pray for us this week. Thanks.

#PrayerfortheChurch

Friday, March 6th, 2020

We might occasionally hear someone say, “We need to pray for the church” and to stop short of gossip and story-telling they end it right there. Their heart and desire is sincere.  Some not so.  My sermon Sunday is going to take a positive spin on this often-used phrase and show how a person can pray for his/her church.

Paul’s prayer for the church from Colossians 1:9-14 is packed full of meaty stuff. 

  1. He first prays for them to have knowledge. This is direct aim at the Gnostics who were haunting the Colossian church with their nasty teaching. The Gnostics taught that Christ was a good place to start, but that there was so much more they could know and experience if only they would incorporate the Gnostic system of passwords, rites, and initiations.  The by-product of that was a know-it-all attitude and intimidation that their faith was not enough.  So Paul prays for knowledge. But here is the important thing: this knowledge is not just given to the follower of Christ to inform them, but to transform them.
  2. He then prays for them to walk well. The word walk has changed in meaning over the years. We all know what it means today. Back in biblical days it referred to a person’s pattern of daily conduct.  I’ll finish this section out with 4 marks of a pleasing walk.

Your prayers are deeply appreciated. Thanks.

#Supremacy#Colossians

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

It never ceases to amaze me how contemporary the letters that Paul wrote are to today’s culture. Case in point: Colossians.  I am beginning a new series this Sunday on the book of Colossians with the title of Supremacy.

Many churches have glorious pasts and they like to live there…forever. You can hear it in statements like “We never did it that way before” which someone has dubbed as The 7 Last Words of the Church. Then there are those churches who revel in their past and want to spend an ungodly amount of money keeping their buildings update, their stained glass windows looking all nice and spiffy and regularly use Murphy’s oil soap to shine and wax their pews. Then, of course, there are those who celebrate milestones by putting people’s names on buildings, pews, and even offering plates.

I’m not trying to be difficult but I sure think a church should have another focus than just the looks of their building. If celebrating the past gives us a heightened awareness of the future, I’m all for it.

In this opening passage of Scripture (Col.1:1-8)  Paul gives us a reason to celebrate in the church. I’ll give you a hint: it has something to do with faith, hope and love. 🙂

Your prayers would be appreciated this Sunday. Thanks.

#WorthItAll#Waiting

Friday, February 21st, 2020

In 1970 a young woman, a teenager, named Joni dove into shallow water and came out a quadriplegic. This past October 15th she celebrated her 70th birthday. She is also a two-time breast cancer survivor.  I once read a book she wrote where she was asked and answered a question: “Would you do anything to change your life if you had to do it all over again?”  Her answer astounded me. “No,” she said, “I wouldn’t change a thing.” 

I have to admit I am amazed by her attitude because, frankly, I’m not sure I could or would say the same thing.  Getting hit by a hit-n-run driver in November of ’17 and then doing an endo coming down a hill in February of ’18 convinced me of the sanctity of life and how much I valued my ability to get around.

But one thing I do know is this: if either of those accidents had ended my life, I KNOW EXACTLY WHERE I WOULD BE SPENDING ETERNITY. There are only two places possible: Heaven or Hell. One good; one bad. No in between place. And despite popular opinion of some very liberal “churches” not all people will be in heaven. The Bible says, “It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment.” I know what Universalism teaches-that all will be saved. But that is a lie from the pit of Hell and smells like smoke.  (Rob Bell take note).

I conclude this version of a “Truth” series this week before I start a new one on the book of Colossians next week. I could think of no better way to do that than to talk about our eternal destiny.  I look at this sermon two ways: One, like D.L.Moody once said, “No preacher should ever preach about hell without tears in his eyes.” And two, talking about the joy of heaven.

I’d appreciate your prayers this Sunday. The last thing I want is to come off as though I’m glad people are lost and going to Hell.  On the contrary, I want to show how Heaven is such a great place why would you not want to go there? Thanks for praying.

#SufferingHappens#Inevitable

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

 

Life is filled with joys. It is also filled with tragedies. No one is immune. As I wrote the introduction to this week’s sermon, it was two days after the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and others in a helicopter crash. We are, of course, drawn to the death of a celebrity. Recently actor, Kirk Douglas, died at 103. On the death of Kobe Bryant (January 26th) thousands of loved ones across the globe suffered the same kind of tragedy.

Let me give you an example. On November 22, 1963 what happened?  If you stated that was the date of President John F. Kennedy’s death you would be 100% correct. But did you also know two other very significant men died that day? Aldous Huxley, who wrote the futuristic novel Brave New World, was one of them. Another one was C.S.Lewis. Ever heard of him?

Tragedy, suffering and trials are all part of life. They are inevitable. I mean, it’s not like anyone sits there and says, “Bring them on Lord! I’m ready!” but they are a fact of life. For someone to say the follower of Christ is not to suffer or should speak them out of existence has something stamped across his forehead: FALSE TEACHER. 

I’m continuing my year-long TRUTH theme with a sermon called Suffering Happens. Not only is it inevitable, it is something we need to realize tests our faithfulness. I tire of those hucksters who say, “Christians should not suffer. If they do their faith is not strong enough.” Hogwash. Hogwash. And more hogwash. Please pray for me and for us this Sunday. It will be much appreciated.

#GlorifyWhom?#YouWantMeToWhat?

Friday, February 7th, 2020

Talk about worship and you are sure to get a bunch of different ideas. Some of our ideas will be determined by our generation. Some are determined by our likes and dislikes and preferences. The struggle was so intense several years ago they called it “the worship wars.” Imagine fighting over worship. But they did. It started with the music. Hymns were replaced by worship songs and choruses. Admittedly some of them were cheesy and mere fluff and extremely repetitive. The battle intensified when the whole seeker-sensitive approach hit the fan. Preaching was replaced by “talks” and drama. Worship music was replaced by pop songs and shallow songs pushing horizontal type of worship. There was more “me” than there was “Him” in our singing.

But IMHO that all missed the mark of what should be our focus: the worship and majesty of the Holy One, Jesus. God the Father and God the Son. (I’m not into worship of the Holy Spirit since the Bible tells us His purpose is to bring glory to Jesus). A church that worships is a church that is pleasing to God. Not for the purpose of self but for the purpose of lifting up and glorifying the only One worthy of it.

John MacArthur calls worship the ultimate priority. Chuck Swindoll calls it the irreplaceable priority. In other words, it is important and cannot be downplayed. That is the topic of my sermon this Sunday as I continue my series on Faithful. I’ve titled it Glorify Whom? My prayer is to lead us into a higher view of worship this Sunday. I’d sure appreciate your prayers.

#Trustworthy#Foundation

Friday, January 31st, 2020

Ideas on the Bible are mixed, even within the “church.”

Group 1 will say the Bible is just another book. You know…it has some wise sayings here and there.  It is mixed with a lot of genealogies, myths and other crazy visions.

Group 2 will say, “I know the Bible is important- at least my pastor thinks so. He’s always referring to it.” But they have no working, first-hand knowledge of the Bible itself.

Group 3 would align themselves with other Bible believers. It is true. It is God’s Word. It is infallible. It is without error. It is inspired. It is more than just a guide to life; it shows how to find real life.

Where do you stand? Group 1 stands for many in our culture today, even in the “church.” Liberal churches are teaching the Bible is just another book and it is being taught as a good guideline on how to treat people; how to be successful, etc.  Group 2 is a picture of those who might grow up in the church- might even still be in the church- but are really not convinced of its importance in their own life. Group 3 represents those who firmly believe in the importance of the Bible. Men of God are called on to preach the Word of God.  Paul told Timothy, “Preach the Word.”

That is all well and good if the Word is trustworthy. It becomes the foundation upon which we build. My sermon Sunday is entitled You Can Trust It!! It is getting more and more scarce to see and hear and meet people who firmly believe the Bible is trustworthy and are willing to teach it and preach it with authority.  My goal is to show why we can trust the Bible and MUST use it as the foundation of our faith and practice.

This is not an easy topic to make interesting because of the amount of information to be dispelled. I’d certainly appreciate your prayers for me and for those who listen. Thanks.

#Standard#WhatStandard?

Friday, January 24th, 2020

Have you ever noticed there are some truths in the Bible we feel we can handle fairly easily?  They are the ones we can get a handle on and translate into our daily life.

Then there are those which seem like bottomless pits.  Not put you in the pits but the kind you can dig and dig and dig and you never seem to get to the bottom of it.

I think “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” is one of them.  Purity seems to be a rather big challenge these days.  It seems like the whole media juggernaut is slamming us like we are in a UFC fight. Even though I have now drawn the line on watching any UFC, I did watch enough to know it was different from boxing. Boxing requires 2 fists and you watch out for them. But MMA comes at you from all angles. Fists, shoulders, knees, elbows, kicks…you name it.

Life is more like an MMA contest than a boxing match. I don’t know about you but it never seems to rest. And when it comes to purity, I believe the enemy pulls out all the stops.  Maintaining a holy life is not easy. The Pharisees thought it was an outward thing (like some denominational people today who use clothing, tattoos, hair, etc as a symbol of righteousness and holiness).  The Apostle Paul used to be one of those guys. But in Phil.3 he calls it “dung.”

What does it mean to be pure in heart? What does it mean to be holy and to live a holy life? I’m going to tackle those questions (and others) in my sermon Sunday. I’ve entitled it Setting the Standard and you will find the Scripture in 2 Cor.4:2 and Mt. 23:25-28.  I most certainly covet your prayers.

#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.