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Patience

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Okay…before you think I’m going to go from being a friend to meddling 🙂  I want to put you at ease. I’m not going to rehash the age old adage of “patience is a virtue” and stuff like that.

Let me take it another direction.

Several words are used to describe or define what characteristic of God I am speaking about Sunday: longsuffering (the old King Jimmy word) or patience. We like to talk about God’s patience because it speaks of longevity. You know…I can keep doing and doing wrong and God is patient with me. People keep putting off salvation because they want to believe God is patient and even after death His patience will be experienced.

God is a god of perfect love, one with an incredible amount of patience. I should know: I’m typing this. I used to think God was this demanding judge, standing with a paddle in His hand. Psalm 103 paints a totally different picture of God.  That does not sound at all like a God who just can’t wait to get His hands around your throat! Nor does it sound like a God who can’t wait to throw darts at your picture. God’s love for His people knows no limits. And I am thankful for that!

But don’t be fooled. There will come a day when God’s patience will run out and a less favorite attribute will become a reality: His wrath. That is another subject for another day.

I would appreciate your prayers for this Sunday’s worship. Thanks.

YOU

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Pat Williams, a leadership writer and also senior vice-president of the Orlando Magic, once wrote:

A leader is not just someone who takes charge. A leader is someone who takes charge and does the right thing. It’s not enough to make a decision; it needs to be the right decision resulting from strong character. It is not enough to take action; it needs to be the right action, prompted by strong character. (Leadership Excellence)

There are three illegitimate sources of influence people fall back on: Position, Power, and Prestige. None of those will “hold their weight.” When push comes to shove, they are nothing more than a house of cards.

In your mind, what is the single, most important character quality a leader (or anyone for that matter) can show? If you said “being a servant” give yourself an ice cream treat!  If you don’t like ice cream, I take gift cards. 🙂

Teams won’t be winning teams until they learn to serve each other.  As long as each player is in it for himself or herself, that team will not win. No pitcher has pitched a no-hitter without 8 other guys on the team. We should use our influence not to gratify or satisfy self, but to serve others. We take that very seriously here at OVCF and have worked hard to make that part of our church culture. This Sunday we have one service followed by a meal with The Connection (a church in town we have asked to join us) and then the two churches will spread out into the community doing free service for everyone who called to ask.  No strings attached…just service.

Your prayers for good weather (chance of rain) and for safety would be much appreciated.

Lazered-in

Friday, October 27th, 2017

When our girls were born in 1975 and 1979 there were no such things as sonograms. Least we had never heard of them. Today, they are pretty much a staple in pregnancies. Most couples have a sonogram done because there is nothing quite like going to the doctor’s office, hearing the assuring rhythms of a little heartbeat, then seeing the image of the baby on the screen. The doctor prints off the black-and-white picture, says, “See that? You have a boy!”; and the parents treasure the opportunity to show their parents and friends, even posting it on social media. The wait for the birth seems excruciatingly painful (in more ways than one), but they do it for the sheer joy of holding the baby in their arms.

The sonogram (in theory) serves as a picture of what is to come. They provide wonderful images, but are really only a shadow of what is to come. And so it is with Scripture. The shadow of the OT gives way to the substance of the New.

There are two core values we hold dearly at OVCF which go hand in hand.  Those values are Word-Focused and Authenticity-Minded. As Paul told Timothy: “Continue in what you have learned…all Scripture is breathed out by God…” A proper focus on Scripture brings a proper focus upon our lives.

My sermon this morning continues the HILLS series by looking at our Core Values.

Jesus-Centered

Word-Focused

Authenticity-minded

I’ll cover the other two next week. Your prayers would be appreciated this week. Thanks.

Father

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Like most dads, I’d like to believe I was a good father. I know I made some mistakes along the way (so they tell me), but all in all I think I was and still am a pretty good father. Here’s how I know. Besides, the normal things like laughing, playing, listening, attending their games, concerts and other functions (even though at times we were the parents who were “over there”), and being a support to them, I told them they could have whatever pet they wanted, just not a cat. I didn’t have to worry about a snake, turtle, and definitely not something in the hamster/gerbil family (they were too close to mice). And I was a good father/husband because far be it from me to laugh when they jumped up on the chair or couch or screamed their lungs out when they saw a mouse.  I could tell you more but it would make me look really good bad.

I’ve always said that it was too bad raising children didn’t come with an operator’s manual. Then again, it wouldn’t work since all kids are different. That manual would have to be bigger than a Family Bible! Being a father is one of the greatest privileges I have ever had. In fact, I would put it second to being married to Jo.

It is also pretty well agreed that our view of God is formed and predicated on our relationship with our earthly father. As part of this series, I have talked about God the Son and God the Holy Spirit but pushed this particular one- God the Father-to the end. So this Sunday I will be looking at God as

  • A Patient Father
  • A Forgiving Father
  • A Proud Father

Your prayers would be appreciated.

JesusContinued

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Francis Chan once wrote:

We all see problems in the church. We don’t need another book to point them out. We need the faith to believe that the solution is really quite simple: the Holy Spirit.

What he says is absolutely true. While no follower of Christ would deny His existence, I’m willing to bet there are millions of church-goers across our nation who have no clue who the Holy Spirit is, nor could they confidently say they have experienced His presence in their life.

We set ourselves up for this you know? The benchmark of success in churches has waffled-no make that bee-lined- from purpose and lives being changed to attendance and sometimes the offering. Far more than we would like to admit many churches adopted the “entertainment” mentality of the 80s-90s, i.e. entertain the people or they will get bored with church and go to the one that does it best. We became a church nation of church hoppers looking for the next, best fix.

Who got lost? The Holy Spirit. What go lost? Well, in the words of Bono (whose music I’m not really a fan of) but with whom I can agree on this: “Religion is what happens when the Spirit has left the building.” We can preach without Him. We can have discussions about the Holy Spirit and not have a clue of His powerful effect on a person’s life. And, of course, there are those who can make wild claims of the Holy Spirit’s work and be totally empty or lying or a heretic.

This Sunday, as part of the “Hills” series, I am preaching on the Holy Spirit, or as J.D.Greear calls Him: “Jesus, Continued.” His thought, which I will be focusing on, is “The Spirit inside you is better than the Jesus beside you.”  I’d appreciate your prayers for me and for the folks who listen.

Hills

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

There is an old saying which is often used to stress a point:

Now that is a hill I will die on.

The negative of that is “That is not a hill I want to die on.”

Point being: what is stated is so important or not so important that I want to spend my time defending it or not defending it. Another way to put it is to consider its importance and whether you want to take a stand for it.

My next sermon series is called HILLS because there are certain TRUTHS I will take a stand for.  In 2003, Philip Johnson, a law professor at the University of California was awarded the “Daniel of the Year” award for his efforts to dismantle the Darwinist empire that dominates culture. In 1991 he sparked an enormous controversy by publishing a book called Darwin on Trial. In the years following that book, his attacks on Darwinism continued. Why?

The fundamental question is whether God is real or imaginary. The underlying thinking of Darwinism is the assumption that God is out of the picture.

My first HILL is entitled “In the Beginning.” My purpose is not to debate the existence or non-existence of God, but to begin with the first 4 words in the Bible: “In the beginning God.”  One of our Core Beliefs is found here. I’ll spend the morning looking at two main thoughts found in Romans 11: 33-36:

  • Five Foundational Truths
  • Three Unequaled Qualities

If you care to listen, the podcast will be on the church’s website. Meanwhile, I’d appreciate you praying for me and the church. And pray for the folks affected by both hurricanes.

Milestones

Friday, September 1st, 2017

We all like milestones in our lives. We all have them. They “mark” us.

I am relishing several of them right now.

Milestone #1: I went for a 10 mile bike ride yesterday. First one in about two months. It has been almost 6 weeks since my back surgery. I quit a few weeks before that because it simply hurt too much. I hit one bump too many which convinced me that getting off and staying off the bike for awhile was the best thing. So even though 10 miles doesn’t seem like a lot…my legs tell me differently. 🙂

Milestone #2: I looked before I started this post. I have hit the 2600 mark of blogs published. My first one was 2/20/08. Little did I realize I would be at it this long. I have seen so many come and go. I’m glad for each and everyone who “graced” my comments page with their response.

Milestone #3: I preach my last sermon in the current series on Grace this Sunday. I started the series on June 25th and with the exception of one week (last week) preached a sermon on Grace. We talked about anger, grace, bitterness, grace, forgiveness, grace, pain, grace, and a whole host of other topics, all with the focus on grace. This week I close the series with a sermon from Romans 8: 26-39 and John 11 entitled God is Still Good. We have all had those crushing times when we have wondered about God’s goodness. We’ve struggled with our faith. We’ve struggled with seeing the purpose behind what is happening. God’s Word gives us the truth that in spite of all that happens…and is happening…God is still good. Romans 8 reaffirms that. John 11 shows Jesus taking an ugly situation and making it good.

Given the current Harvey situation in Houston it is hard to understand. It is hard to see. I have a friend who is dying of cancer and will probably pass any day. I have someone else close who has been diagnosed with cancer.  As a pastor, I see heartbreaking events almost every day. Sometimes I honestly don’t know how to answer the questions which come. But I have to lean on the promise given in the two Scriptures I sighted.

Prayers are appreciated for this weekend. And, of course, pray for all those affected by Harvey.

Guest

Friday, August 25th, 2017

Grace is given in so many different ways. I have been spending a good part of the summer talking about Grace on Sunday mornings. Forgiveness. Failing to seek revenge. Releasing bitterness. Stopping complaining. And accepting God’s gift of grace to us just to name a few.

This Sunday we will be hearing about Grace through the words of someone else. Will & Theresa Reed, who have spent the past two years in Mundri and South Sudan, Africa, will be our guests this Sunday. Will & Theresa went to Mundri as missionaries with Serge. They had barely settled in when war broke out and they found themselves having to leave quickly and settle in South Sudan. They came home on furlough early summer limping-not physically but spiritually. Lots of debriefing and counseling for their tattered hearts/souls and through that they were advised to not return to Africa. Will will be seeking employment in this area and they will raise Ellie (born in Africa) with the help of friends and family. While in Africa Ellie had sleep issues which I’m sure contributed to Will & Theresa’s  emotions and stamina. They are a beautiful, young couple and I hope we are able to be a grace-filled place for them this Sunday.

Will has preached twice here before and has done a superb job. I look forward to hearing him again; seeing Theresa and Ellie; and laughing over lunch. I know they would appreciate your prayers as they transition to life in the states. I’m praying we can be grace to them while they are visiting.

Broken

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Several years ago I read a book by Ed Underwood called When God Breaks Your Heart. Ed had a severe case of leukemia which manifested itself in skin pealing from his body in scratch-defying itching, a bloated body and countless other problems. In one chapter entitled Snake Oil (aptly titled due to the subject matter) he included several quotes. One was “Christians tell me they don’t know what to say, and then they open their mouths to prove it.” Another was “Hurting people are petty people.”

There comes a time in everyone’s life when strength is gone. We find ourselves on the last bit of will or desire to do much of anything, even living. Life falls apart and sometimes we just don’t know what do, where to turn.

I like what the late A.W.Tozer, a Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor once wrote:

It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.

My sermon this Sunday is titled “More Power to Ya” and my original plan was to show this video. While driving to Ohio this past Monday, I heard this song on my Spotify. I’m using it instead.  Prayers would be appreciated.

I made over a four hour trip yesterday (Wednesday) to visit with a couple I married back in 2000. I received word that Mike had cancer all through his body. He has asked me to perform his memorial service so I went to visit but also to talk about that service. I’d like to ask you to pray for Mike and Sheila. The pain for him will become excruciating and the loss will be numbing for her. Thanks.

Bellyaching

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

This is not a post about waking up in the middle of the night with your belly aching.

I’m not sure how common it was in your neck of the woods but in the part of Pennsylvania I grew up in (near Pittsburgh), it was common to hear someone say, “Oh quit your bellyaching!” I’m sure you are smart enough to know they were telling the person to quit complaining and griping.

Seems to me that particular vice comes easily too easily to some people. When it is all sifted and sorted through, bellyaching is nothing more than a snarky attitude about life. It isn’t a new problem either. The people of Israel had a handle fully on that plow. You can see it Numbers 11 and Deuteronomy 1: 19-36. The latter is a pretty well known story of how the Israelites had a chance to move into the Promised Land but allowed the complaining and griping to drown out the reassurance of Joshua and Caleb that they could take that land.

Complaining has no boundaries or class of people it is limited to. Rich and poor. White or black (or any color). Believer or non-believer. You name it; you will find complaining.

Sunday’s sermon continues the series on Grace as I look at this very common trait among people who have been shown grace. Your prayers would be appreciated. By the way: are you a bellyacher? A complainer? Oh yeah…and for your listening pleasure I am showing this video to start the sermon. It’s called a Throwback. Enjoy!!