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#Providence#Luck?

Friday, May 31st, 2019

“Man, I was so lucky I was not standing where I had been. That thing would have fallen on me.” “I just happened to be there at the right time and in the right place.”

Those are the kind of statements we make concerning events that take place in our lives.  Maybe it was a close call. Maybe it was a desperate need we had. Maybe we felt alone and was ready to do something drastic. It isn’t unusual to hear people talk about luck or chance or happenstance. I do not believe in luck or chance or happenstance in the follower of Christ’s life.

Chuck Swindoll defines providence as

The events of our lives are not ruled by chance or blind fate by our loving Lord and Savior, who works out His plan and His purposes in the lives of all His children.

My sermon Sunday will from Romans 8:28-30, home of one of the most well-known, most-memorized and oft misunderstood passages in the Bible. There is some powerful truth in those verses and I hope to bring those truths out this Sunday. Your prayers would be appreciated.

Security

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

If i were to ask you what, in your mind, is the most dangerous philosophy we face today, what would you say? In days gone I might get answers like Nazism. Socialism. Communism. White Supremacism. Liberalism.  And maybe you can think of another.

But I am inclined to believe that the most dangerous philosophy we face is Humanism. On the surface it looks good. It is good we can celebrate the advances we have made, but it also gives a false hope that all things can be solved by human ingenuity. Like the words to the opening of ’70s TV show Six Million Dollar Man: “We can make him better. We can rebuild him.” So we have this crazy idea that we can solve anything…which leads to the ultimate conclusion we don’t need God.

And yes, it has infiltrated the church. “God helps those who help themselves.” How many do you know who believe that is in the Bible? Or we adopt this idea we can work our way to heaven. “Just be nice to people. Tolerate all beliefs.” Talk about poppycock human thought! Of course, the question that comes is “Good according to whom?” “I can pull myself up by my own bootstraps. I don’t need help, especially God” is another lie.

The ultimate question is “Can God be trusted?” In this week’s sermon from Romans 8:31-39, Paul takes to task those who doubt God is sufficient.  I’m going to approach this Scripture seeking to look at a series of questions Paul asks (4 + 1)  so we can see God is on our side.  I would appreciate your prayers. Thanks.

Mindless or #LosingMyMind

Saturday, April 27th, 2019

So I’m not sure if Mindless is the same as Losing My Mind. I’m guessing not, but the latter is my sermon title for Sunday and I’m not sure how to make that one word except #LosingMyMind. So being the decisive person I am, I decided to include them both! 🙂

We are a nation of interesting ideologies. And slogans which sometimes show our ideologies. The sports world is an interesting case. For year, Tiger Woods was the face of golf and an inspiration to hundreds, maybe thousands of children, especially people of color. When he fell from grace a few years ago, his star also fell. But last year he resurrected his career and his star is once more an inspiration to kids to pursue their dreams. And unless you were born under a rock, you also know he just won his 5th Master’s Green Jacket.  And who can forget “Bo knows” or “Be Like Mike”?

When it comes to biblical characters we prefer to be a Daniel or a Stephen or a Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego than a Peter (who denied Jesus three times) or a Judas.  Victory over sin is not won overnight. It is won in the trenches of everyday life. Romans 8 has been called the “highlight” of Romans. The next four weeks of sermons will be focusing on Romans 8. I’m calling this first sermon “Losing My Mind” because it focuses on who has control of our mind-the flesh or the Spirit.  Which one will I give my mind to?

Your prayers would be appreciated.

PrayersAppreciated

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

The next two days will be days of an intense need for prayer.  I wrote on my other blog, Living in the Shadow, about the ordeal of this past weekend culminating in the death of a friend early Monday morning. You can read about it here.  The need for prayer is this afternoon is 4 hours of visitation and tomorrow another hour of visitation leading up the celebration service. My real concern is not so much me as it is the family. Misty was a hub in that family.

This is one of those times which is hard to understand. About a month ago I performed the funeral of a 70+ year old lady who had suffered from Parkinson’s for about 10 years.  But what to think of a young woman (the age of my daughter) struck down with cancer leaving behind two teenagers and a husband who adored her?  She fought bravely over the past year after being diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.  She promised her family she would fight, and fight she did. Even several weeks ago when I was called to the hospital and they were expecting her to go after suffering a brain bleed that affected her speech for a few days, she was flanked by her children and told them, “I’m still fighting.” She fought on until she could not go anymore. After just a few days in the Hospice Care Center, she lost her battle…BUT WON.

Death is not a thing of beauty. The Bible calls it an enemy. Its power is legendary since the odds are 1/1 in its favor. Nevertheless a statement made in I Corinthians 15 tells us the real truth: “He must reign until He has put death under His feet.” (verse 26-27)  All science has done has possibly prolonged death in some cases, but it has and never will solve death.  Sooner or later death comes, but it is not the end. For the follower of Christ, it is just the beginning.  The beginning to so much more.  Saturday morning I was asked to come the Hospice House so Jo went with me. She loved Misty as well. Jeremy, her husband, was playing different songs she loved.  He chose LeAnn Womack’s song from a few years ago “I Hope You Dance” and then followed up with “I Can Only Imagine.” WOW! If that doesn’t tell a story!!

Today Misty is dancing in heaven. She is seeing and feeling better than she has in a year since her intense battle began. I’m going to miss her. I’m also jealous. But someday that will be me and for the first time in my life I will be dancing and singing on key. 🙂

Prayers are appreciated for all involved in today’s and tomorrow’s ordeal. Thanks. And one more thing, how about checking out Lisa’s post about her experience she just went through.  It is called “After Death, More Life.”

Effectiveness#3

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

This is my last post on the idea of Effectiveness as the church’s moniker and guiding principle. I’d encourage you to read Effectiveness #1 & #2 to see what my stream of thought has been.

Skye minces no words when we says,

We have replaced the love of the living God with sacrifices to the Idol of Effectiveness. When we bow to this idol, it steals our joy and replaces it with an unbearable burden. (P.24)

Because I was enamored with Church, Inc for awhile, I not only agree but also have to add something else. When I was pursuing this false idol the words which came out of my mouth quite a bit were “Excellence,” “Relevant,” ‘Impactful,” and others. All things were to be done with excellence and if not, I was embarrassed. Relevance is still around today. I dress casual but trust me when I say I DON’T wear the latest fashions (including $1000 shoes); sport a sleeve of tattoos (not that it is immoral but I just choose not to); nor do I globe trot the country because I have the latest “hot” thing. I prefer my local church and being a shepherd.

Here is what I finally learned (and Skye backs it up…not that he needed me to say that! 🙂 ): God does not judge whether I am relevant, or doing things with excellence or am making a global impact. He is more interested in me being faithful to the calling He has placed on my life. At the end of the day, that is all I need to concern myself with. Have I been faithful to Him? I don’t think He really cares about HOW I did them (excellently, etc) but whether I DID THEM for His glory.

Effective or Faithful? I cast my vote for Faithful.  How about you>

PAIN

Friday, April 5th, 2019

I am going to take a break from my Effectiveness posts to tell you about the sermon this weekend. I’ve titled it Remembered and Forsaken. Sort of an anomaly there. Or at least a dichotomy of thought.

Have you ever been in such pain you couldn’t do much else but cry or agonize? I’ve heard stories about women in the throes of labor who look at their husbands with anger (and almost hate) in their eyes and blame them for all the pain. It is all their fault!! As if…  🙂

Maybe you have been in a burn unit or been the victim of some burns and know of the agony of that accident. i spoke with someone just yesterday (I stopped my bike ride to visit) who was burning a stump and the flash caught him and burnt a good part of his body.  Over a year later he said he still has excruciating pain at times. UGH!

Multiply that pain and agony a hundredfold and you have what Jesus experienced on the cross after hours of torture, a crown of thorns jammed on his head, nails in his hands and feet, and constantly struggling to breathe. When I had my accident I thought of no one else but Jo and of my pain.  Jesus had thoughts of others.

The series is titled “Last Words.” Ryan started the series last week and I am continuing the 7 sayings of Jesus on the cross. I will be preaching on #3 & #4: His heart for His mother (“Behold your mother/son” and His hurt for His Father (“Why have you forsaken me?”).  I’d appreciate your prayers for me this week.

Effectiveness#2

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

“I’m afraid of living an insignificant life.” So said one speaker at a conference. That’s a good sentiment. I could say that as well. I might say it as “I want to leave a legacy.”

But here’s the rub: what is significant? What kind of legacy? Well….I guess it depends on who and what one listens to. If I listen to the world’s definition of significance, I’ll hear something totally different from God’s definition. Ask someone the definition of significance and most will tie it to something they have done-even though it may be something truly worthy like a home for unwed mothers, or a shelter, or feeding the homeless, etc. But that significance is tied to “do.”

When that idea creeps into a Christ-follower’s thinking, or the church, then it is easy to think my value (significance) is related to what I do, what I have achieved. I tie how I feel about myself to what I do. So the “bigger” something is the more significant my life appears to be.

NOT. TRUE.

Significance is not found in what I do or even don’t do. My value to God is based on what I am in His eyes. He isn’t going to hold me up and carry me on His shoulders to be praised before an adoring crowd. I’m not going to be ride the wave like a coach or star player after a huge victory. My significance is not based on my effectiveness (see Leader A vs Leader B again in that first post), but on my relationship with God. Service is good but it should never trump being with Him.

What do you think? Better yet, ask yourself how you view your significance. Is there a change I need to make so I can see myself through God’s eyes?

 

AmazingBody

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

It never cease to amaze me…this body God has created. Not only are we all different sizes, shapes and colors, but we all grow, heal, and respond in different ways.

I have been blessed in the past. My body, while not without its quirks- bowlegged, skinny legs; no hair; long, lean muscles which will never get overly big although I’ve tried; and a cranky back- has been one which has stayed relatively healthy (in spite of the bike wrecks) with a somewhat quick ability to heal. God has blessed me with some pretty good health, even now in my 66th year.

BUT…there comes those times when your body finally says, “Enough is enough. You have used me enough and it is time to slow you down some.” That is what has been happening over I-don’t-know-how-many-weeks. I have pushed myself to get up at 3:30 every morning (not unusual) and go all day. I work out at the Y and on the off days I was riding for an hour or so inside on my trainer. I was not sleeping well. We traveled to Ohio to visit family and slept on a hard hotel bed for 3 nights. I came home and immediately was bombarded with stuff that needed attention. At the same time I was fighting off the same junk everyone else around here has. It caught up with me yesterday (Wednesday). I slept very little the night before. Slept 1 1/2 hours in my office chair before anyone got here (and I wasn’t even aware it was happening) until finally I was encouraged by Jo and the church secretary I looked bad. My upper part of my nose where my glasses sit looked big, was sensitive to the touch, and to put it mildly, I was miserable. Jo talked me into going to the clinic where they diagnosed me with “backside deep sinus infection” or something like that. They gave me a prescription for some antibiotics and steroid to take, sent me home, and I proceeded to sleep for 3 hours. I’m talking “lights out for 3 hours.”

Guess my body said, “It’s my turn to get some proper attention.” Psalm 139 receives a lot of attention in the discussion of abortion -and well it should- but I keep going back to that one small phrase: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Who else could have created a body like this? Who else could have created a body so intricately and finely made like this? Who else could have created a body with the ability to take blows and heal like it does?  Only ONE.

I am grateful to the ONE who alone could have done this. No AI will be able to accomplish anything remotely close to this.

CQD

Friday, March 8th, 2019

There are a number of international calls for disaster on the sea. The Germans used SOE. The Italians used SSSDDD. Marconi, who was a leader in wireless technology, proposed CQD, which actually came from an earlier one “CQ” and by adding the “D” for distress it was to represent extreme danger. According to him the letters meant absolutely nothing. In 1906 it was proposed by the second International Radio Telegraphic Conference that the letters “SOS” be adopted. Not because it means “Save our Souls” or “Save our Ship” but because of the ease to transmit- 3 dots, 3 dashes, 3 dots. By 1908 it had been accepted by all except the United States.

That all changed April 14, 1912 when Titanic sunk. Senior operator Jack Phillips was using CQD when junior operator Harold Bride joked to Phillips that he ought to use the new one (SOS) because it might be the last chance to use it. Sadly, it was because Phillips never left his station until there was no more power. By then all the lifeboats were gone.

Psalm 51 as a whole is a powerful psalm of sin and rescue. That was last week’s message. This week’s message takes it further and finishes it as this psalm becomes a psalm of renewal.  I’ll be concentrating on verses 10-19 this week after a brief review of last week’s lesson of grace and mercy.

I’d appreciate your prayers for us this week. Attendance may be slim due to Spring Break for our local school system, but I’m convinced someone there will need to hear its message.

SOS

Friday, March 1st, 2019

First off: SOS did not stand for “Save Our Souls.”  It was actually chosen because of its ease to use in Morse Code. (…—…)  What it did mean is “We are in trouble and need immediate help.”

The story Sunday started with a sleepless night then exploded into a story of lust, adultery, deception, and murder. If it was a movie at the theater or a book we were asked to read we would (probably) avoid it. The story is, of course, the story of David and Bathsheba. It is a story most are familiar with-in the church or outside the church. Why include it in the Bible? I mean, why not whitewash everything and leave this type of story out? Maybe this verse of Scripture might answer the question:

“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did…Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come…Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” I Cor.10: 6, 11-12

The story of David and Bathsheba is the story of me. It is the story of you. We are prone to stand off and say, “I’m not that David” and feel pretty smug. But the reality is that we are that David because David’s enemy is our enemy: sin. Gratefully, the Scripture for Sunday’s sermon, Psalm 51 has the theme of grace not sin. This is actually going to be in two parts: Verses 1-9 this week; verses 10-19 the next.

I’d appreciate your prayers for this weekend. Thanks.