Easter

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Reflection

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Once again my thoughts and heart are pulled to the reality of this week. We will soon celebrate what is known as Good Friday, the day traditionally given to remembering the cross and the sacrifice of Jesus. Soon…Sunday is coming!

Tuesday’s New Morning Mercies focused on Galatians 2:20. Living life in my own strength and by my own strength is an effort in futility. Gal.2:20 weaves into itself what I see as a formula: theological truth + practical truth = solid impact. Let me explain:

Theological truth= Jesus died for me, as my representative.

Practical truth= the power which is in me is Jesus.

Impactful (Yeah I know that is not a word) truth= I live with peace, hope and courage.

I’m honestly overwhelmed (and I hope it always stays this way) by the simplicity and power of the cross. How can I explain someone dying for me? Taking my pain and punishment? And then wanting to live within me? I can’t. It is a rare time I am speechless. The cross is a life-changing event. We sang a song this past Sunday with these lyrics: “The cross meant to kill is my victory.” I am going to celebrate the Cross with a grateful heart.

I unpack the above three “truth” statements a little more on my other blog. If you care to read them, you can click here.  Or you can click on the BeTransformed banner to the right and it will take you there.

I do have a prayer request: Tomorrow Jo & I will be taking Braden back to Ohio and then returning home…all in one day. It is supposed to rain a-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l day. Prayers would be much appreciated. Thanks.

ChristAlone

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

We begin what has been called the final week of Jesus. Traditionally, today was Palm Sunday, the day Jesus made His entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The people welcomed him with “Hosannas” and threw their palm branches on the ground. Told by the religious hypocrites to shut them up, Jesus told the hypocrites that even if he were to do that the rocks and mountains would scream out in praise.

His week was eventful, eventually culminating in his farce of a trial, mockery, torture, and ultimate death on the cross.

This song is a fitting one to begin this week with. I hope it will help focus you, not on the events of the week, but on the perfect plan of God culminating in the death of Jesus on the cross…and His eventual resurrection.

Fools

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

Being called a fool is not a complementary term. It is sort of akin to moron or idiot in our use of the word.  Tragically, we have often played the fool when it comes to spiritual things. We think we know best. We get eternity amnesia. We get big-picture amnesia.

We also get cross-amnesia. Down through the years teaching on the cross has evolved…and that has not always been good.  The cross took a back seat. I will post about the history of that fiasco next week.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. I was asked Sunday by someone new to church what Palm Sunday was. I explained it to him, but told him I’m glad he asked. In biblical days, the cross was seen as a symbol of cruelty and judgment upon those who deserved it. It was seen as a way to mete out punishment to the worst of the worst. In our day, the cross is seen as a symbol of foolishness. Vicarious redemption is seen as a stupid act and totally unnecessary. There is a word for that (I’ll let you fill that one in).

This Sunday I’ll continue my True North series but also talk about the cross using I Corinthians 1:18-2:5.  I’m going to do that with two thoughts:

  • I reaffirm the necessity of the cross
  • I reaffirm the necessity of God’s wisdom.

Prayers would be appreciated. And thank you ahead of time.

 

 

CELEBRATE!!

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Happy Resurrection Day to all of you!

Consequences if Jesus did not raise from the dead (from I Corinthians 15)…

Christ would not be risen [v.13]

Preaching would be meaningless [v.14a]

Faith in Christ would be worthless. [v.14b]

All those who represent Christ or witness of Him would be considered liars. [v.15]

We are of all men most to be pitied. [v.19]

I hope you have and had a meaningful and very blessed Resurrection Sunday. “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

The enemy is defeated. Death is neutered by the Resurrection of Jesus.

CELEBRATE FREELY! 

TheEvent

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Part 3 of my mini-series within a series deals with the Future of Love.  As a recap:

The Look of Love talked about the mark of the Christ-follower: love.

The Act of Love talked about the crucifixion through the eyes of Isaiah in chapter 53.

This “Event” sermon looks at two events actually:

The Main Event- the Resurrection of Jesus

The Grand Finale- our future home in Heaven

This Sunday we celebrate the Main Event.  Apologist Josh McDowell was once asked by a student from Paraguay why he couldn’t refute Christianity. His answer? “For the very simple reason: I am not able to explain away an event in history-the resurrection of Jesus.”

And the Grand Finale? Oh WOW!!!!! There is so much to say about Heaven…too much for this particular post. One thing I do know is to echo Paul: “Absent from the body; present with the Lord.” I look forward to the reunions I will have. But most of all, I look forward to seeing the face of and embracing the One who showed me such G-R-A-C-E.

Jo & I left Wednesday for Ohio to spend a couple of days with our grandson. I will be incommunicado during that time. If you comment, I will approve it but not take the time to respond right away. I do ask for your prayers for this weekend.

Whichone?

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

“Joy to the World the Lord is come…”

Christmas song or Easter song?

Written in 1719 by Isaac Watts, he never intended it to be sung as a Christmas song. But it has become one of the most well-loved Christmas songs we sing. But as we are often guilty of doing, we skip over some of the stanzas. If we don’t skip over them we skim them. Hence, we might miss the third stanza of this hymn:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make his blessings flow

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as, far as the curse is found.

The mission of Jesus was not to come as a baby. That “started” it. But the mission of Jesus was to wipe out the curse of sin, death, hell and the grave. He came to unleash His power and grace in an unprecedented act of love. He came to restore our relationship with the Father which sin had broken.

What a tremendous truth to ponder as we enter this time of the year. Or if I may borrow the words to a song which has nothing to do with this topic: “the most wonderful time of the year.”

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?