Easter

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FollowUp

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Like many churches we had a big day on Resurrection Sunday. We had our service at our building and asked folks to consider coming to the first service if they could. These people here are fantastic! We had 131 in our first service; 145 in our second. Yeah…I’d say that was pretty evenly rounded. Good thing we did it that way though. No way could we have ever fit that many in one service. It was a good day. A fun day. It was also the first time in 3 years we were in our own building.

I told this story:

Dr. Donald Barnhouse was a pastor at the 10th Avenue Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1927-1960 when he died one month after being diagnosed with a large brain tumor. When he was in his 30s his first wife died of cancer, leaving him with 3 children. Grieving as he drove to the memorial service with the children in the back seat he watched a truck pass by and cast its shadow across the car.

He turned to his oldest and asked her if she would rather be run over by a truck or its shadow. She guessed the shadow because it couldn’t hurt her. “Your mother has not been run over by death,” he replied, “but by the shadow of death.”

Death is not an enemy anymore. Check out this verse, especially the last phrase. The Greek word for “abolish” means “to render inoperative.” Death has lost its victory; death has lost its sting. Here’s a video I showed Sunday. Enjoy!

DarknessDispelled

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Solid

In a previous post I wrote about this book. Out of that book will come some posts next week. (I had a shortened week due to a “grandson visit” and then taking him back to Ohio). From that book came the ideas for this coming Resurrection Day sermon.

As Levi finished his Christmas message in preparation for the Friday Family Day, he came up with how Jesus’ birth turned off the darkness in four ways.

  1. Loneliness
  2. Fear
  3. Despair
  4. Guilt

Following Lenya’s death, as he was preparing to preach those messages, he realized there was another one to add to that list. It is the most common enemy we all face. The statistics are 1/1.  You probably already know it is DEATH. Death is our greatest enemy. It is also the last enemy. Death never calls ahead of time and says, “On such and such a day, at such and such a time you will be history.” However, death is the final curtain call.

But death does not and cannot defeat the Christ-follower. Death has been defeated by the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. Death’s most glorious day soon turned into its worst nightmare! The cross brought death; the resurrection brought life. The cross brought death to sin; the resurrection brought death to an end!

HAPPY RESURRECTION SUNDAY!

Identity

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

This past weekend I preached on Jesus as part of my series called SOLID! I had wanted to post some thoughts earlier but life is sort of different with a 9 year old running through your house or simply being around. It seems like sometimes a never-ending buzz saw has visited. Yesterday Jo took him a 1/2 price book store (he loves to read), to lunch, then brought him to the Y where I was working out. While I finished he went to the gym and shot around some basketball then I joined him for about an hour. He beat me at two games of H-O-R-S-E. My excuse is the balky knee and bulky brace I wore. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

I thought I would just “whet your whistle” with some thoughts about who Jesus is, which I think is especially relevant as we steamroll toward Resurrection Sunday. Here goes:

  1. According to Jesus He is the “I Am.” The gospel of John includes seven “I AM” statements made by Jesus.
  2. According to Matthew Jesus is “the Christ.” Check out Matthew 16: 13-19 (especially verse 16). Matthew’s primary audience was Jewish so he spent the bulk of his gospel presenting Jesus as Messiah.
  3. According to Mark Jesus is “the Son of God.”  He states that in 1:1 and spend the book declaring it to be true. Son of God refers to special intimacy with God, His Father.
  4. According to Luke Jesus is “the Servant of the Lord.” In both of Luke’s writings (Luke and Acts) he portrays Jesus as pouring out His life for others.
  5. According to John Jesus is “the Word.” He declares that in verse 1 and his book focuses on that truth.
  6. According to Paul Jesus is “Lord.” I became ultra aware during my study of Saul’s reaction on the road to Damascus when he was confronted by Jesus. His question? “Who are you Lord?” Phil.2 states that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Jesus has many names and is seen in many different ways in the Scripture. The question will not be what does everyone else think. The question will be “who do you think He is?” Your answer?

Stunned

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

I should be working on a sermon. I really should. True…I do work ahead so I’m okay with that. No panic. But it is my Easter sermon.

H-O-W-E-V-E-R

Something happened last night which stunned me. I just have to tell you about it.

First, some history for those who may not know. I started here in November of 2005. The church was started in October of 2004 and although I did not plant the church, I have told people I feel like I have. 🙂 We rented a facility which was dirty and grungy until the Fall of 2010 when we purchased an abandoned Mormon church building. In January of 2010 I found out we were the victim of financial misdealings. (That book was closed last year for good when we offered forgiveness and erasing of the debt). In the summer of 2012 we remodeled the inside of our building and paid cash for it. It was apparent fairly soon after that we were needing to go to two services. Then we began talking expansion with no debt. But a twist came when I approached the leadership and Building Team with a discomfort because that expansion did not include any additional room for our youth. So we switched gears and for the past year or so have been planning & saving for the addition. We are hoping it happens this summer.

Now for last night.

We had a leadership meeting and we had already been announcing that we were taking up a special offering on Easter to benefit the Building Fund. Last night I proposed we take the whole Easter offering and put it toward the building.

I got trumped! (No not him…please).

One of the elders suggested we take the offering and not use it for ourselves at all.

HE SUGGESTED WE GIVE IT AWAY!!!

All of it, except that which is designated. (IRS laws say you can’t use designated monies for anything but what it is designated for). That means we will be able to bless every mission we support with a special gift!

Here’s the (great) thing: it never even crossed my mind! Not so great it didn’t cross my mind. 🙂 But super great that someone else thought of it. Funny thing is: the only discussion is what missions can we support-locally and foreign. No kickback. No “we can’t do that!”

I love being stunned. And humbled. And blown away. And I was never so proud of the 6 guys who sat in that room last night than I was at that moment.

Now…I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with that offering, its distribution, and its eternal reward for lives being changed. Oh yeah…one more thing: is there any wonder why I love being the pastor of this church so much?

Exchanged

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Today is well…Resurrection Sunday.

Tomorrow is well…Monday. Another day in the calendar. Another first day of the work week.

Will it be as always? Will the lesson from Sunday change the outlook on Monday? Actually, that is the question which should be asked each week.

This coming Sunday I will be resuming my study in Galatians and I read something this past week which knocked me for a loop. So much so that I actually rearranged my sermon schedule to preach another week on Galatians 2:20. After reading this I couldn’t help but do it:

Jesus Christ identified with us in our death in order that we might be identified with Him in His resurrection. We give Christ all that we were-spiritually dead, guilty sinners-and Christ gives us all that He is-resurrected life, forgiveness, righteousness, acceptance…Christians are continually trying to change their lives; but God calls us to experience the exchanged life. Christianity is not a self-improvement program. It isn’t a reformation project. It is resurrection! It is new life! And it is expressed in terms of a total exchange of identity. (Bob George quoted in Everything-p.78)

To put it another way: Christianity is more than a changed life; it is an exchanged life. Mine for His. It is only when that is done does the lesson from Sunday change the outlook on Monday (or any other day).

Have a great post-Resurrection Sunday week. 🙂 Make a difference in somebody’s life.

Triumph

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Is there anyone who doesn’t know or hasn’t any idea what the significance of this coming weekend is?

The atheist? No. He knows. Just doesn’t believe it.

The agnostic? No. He knows and wants to see it proven.

The deist? No. He knows and isn’t sure what to do with it.

The part-time church goer (Christmas and Easter to be exact)? No. He knows and makes his appearance.

The Christ-follower? No. And he rejoices in its significance.

There isn’t any need for me to go into a long blog post about the importance of the Resurrection. It honestly doesn’t matter to me whether we have a weekend/Sunday set aside or not. To me the Resurrection is important every day of the year. As a Christ-follower I am to live each moment in the light of Jesus’ Resurrection. It is supposed to be my motivation. My light. My hope.

My sermon Sunday takes in the final saying of Jesus on the cross (“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”) and the trust it requires to do that. Jesus totally trusted His Father to raise Him from the dead. Fairy tale? No. Too many witnesses for that. Too many facts to back it up.

We will be moving our worship to the historic Tivoli theater this Sunday. It was a decision made three weeks ago by the leadership, one which surprised me. But one I am definitely willing to go along with. 🙂 If you are in the area and are reading this, you are invited to join us at 10:00. If not, you can hear it online. Or I’d like to encourage you to spend time at your place of worship celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus.

Cancer

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Along with having my grandson here this week (wearing me out), I also had a funeral today. Yesterday (Tuesday) after my 22 mile ride (the first that long this year) I took him to a skate park where he could watch and practice his skateboarding. He is just starting but thinks he is better than he is. (That is dangerous!!) Anyway, one of the guys from the church “just happened” to show up (he skated steadily for 11 years) so he worked with Braden showing him some things to learn. Thank you Dan!

Along with the funeral this morning, I also need to put the finishing touches on my study for tonight so I thought I would use something from the funeral. It was in March of 2004 when my mother went to see Jesus, dying from this very disease. So did the man whose funeral I performed today.

WHAT CANCER CANNOT DO

Cancer is so limited…

It cannot cripple love,

It cannot shatter hope,

It cannot erode faith,

It cannot eat away peace,

It cannot destroy confidence,

It cannot kill friendship,

It cannot shut out memories,

It cannot silence courage,

It cannot invade the soul,

It cannot reduce eternal life,

It cannot quench the Spirit,

It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection.

So glad that last statement is especially true. It is even more pertinent considering this season we are celebrate.

I hope you are one who can celebrate the resurrection-of Jesus-and of His work in your own life.

Hope

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

Just wanted to touch base with you on this Resurrection Sunday evening (and Monday). I used the following “ditty” near the end of my message and wanted to pass it on to you. I’m sure you have heard it, but it won’t hurt to relay it again;

It has been said that a man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but not one second without hope.

The whole Easter story is a story of hope. You see, if all we live for is this life, then there is no hope. Whether we literally feel life isn’t worth it or if we think we have it made, they are both devoid of hope.

I Corinthians 15 says, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” That is our hope, an endless hope.

So…how was your Resurrection Day gathering? Anything exciting to share? We met at the Tivoli theater for one service and had a really good crowd. The music was good. The fellowship was good. The sermon was dubious. 🙂 (It was also not recorded so you will be unable to check it out). 🙁

Discovery

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

It is not a shock to anyone associated with the calendar what is significant about this weekend. I’m not going to get into the old “it’s-not-really-the-right-time-of-the-year” argument concerning the date. Gregorian calendar. Gregorian chant. Makes no difference to me at all. This is a special time of the year for all who follow Christ and even those who don’t.

For those who don’t: the merchants will profit and others will see it as a way to get some time off. My wife’s work closes on Good Friday and pays her for it. Not to celebrate too much: she works Saturday. 🙂

For those who do follow Christ: it is a time of celebration. Some will argue Easter should have more significance than Christmas. Makes no difference to me. You can’t have Easter if there is no Christmas. No death and resurrection if no birth.

I like this time for several reasons (and none of it involves candy even though I love chocolate):

The cross is the launching pad into an existence Jesus modeled and told us we had access to.

The cross is only beautiful because of the empty tomb.

We celebrate His death because of His resurrection.

The power of love is perfected when sinners become saints.

The whole point of Jesus’ death and resurrection was that we would encounter love and become love.

I borrowed the above highlighted thoughts from Prone to Love by Jason Clark (p.166)

I’m going to be taking some time away from here over the weekend. Jo has Friday off and I have already been “encouraged” to spend the day with her. Friday evening we are having a night of worship. Sunday we will be together as a church body for one worship experience at the Tivoli theater. I am preaching on John 11.

Have a great Resurrection weekend. See you back here later Sunday night or sometime Monday. I hope to hear some of your resurrection day victories.

Valves

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

We all have “go to” valves we use when needed.

We lose focus.

Hope.

Enthusiasm.

Desire to go on.

Energy.

(Note: I’m not necessarily talking about depression because I know that is a multi-layered malady which sometimes needs more than a “walk in the park” or a “walk around the block” to get back on course.)

The “go to’ valves are many and as varied as there are people. It is pretty easy to know what my “go to” valve is. My blog isn’t called Cycleguy’s Spin for nothing. 🙂 I read an interesting quote the other day:

“When work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1896

I have to admit doing this very thing without even knowing there was a saying by a well-known individual to “justify” it. Some knit. Some play video games. Some do puzzles. Some exercise. Some get out on their Harley. I ride a bike…just a different kind.

That is a little thing. Sadly, there are people who try everything but the kitchen sink to satisfy their longings, to get out of the mundane and monotonous, to find hope. We are about to celebrate the ONE ACT that gives hope a capital “H.”

What are you hoping for this Resurrection Weekend? For yourself? Family? Friends?