God

...now browsing by category

 

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.”

Fog

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

As in stupor. Lull. Clouded mind.

This morning (Tuesday) I was reading a devotion from New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. I’m not saying this lightly: I am not sure there has ever been a devotion that hit me so hard and so “where I live” as this one. I’m going to give you snippets of it in this blog and then include it at as a whole at the end.

Human beings, who were created to live in awe of God, are in grave danger when familiarity causes them to be bored with God.

That was just the opening line! But he wasn’t done.

Familiarity is a beautiful thing…But the blessing of blessings is to be familiar with the ways, the character, the presence, and the promises of God…Yes, familiarity is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a very dangerous thing.

By this time he had my undivided attention. Something began to ring in my ears and in my heart. Something disturbing. Convicting. Unnerving. Truthful.  Then came this:

Every human being was designed by God to have his hopes, dreams, choices, words, actions, desires, and motivations shaped by a jaw-dropping, heart-controlling, life-shaping awe of God…Familiarity causes us to lose our awe of God. What once stunned us doesn’t anymore. {Note: you can read the rest on your own below}

Here is what I wrote in my journal:

“I wonder, as I think back, if this is some of what happened {Note: previous to my bike wreck in February}. Had I lost my awe of God? Had I taken Him for granted? That, (along with a couple other factors), could be the source of my stupor and lull of the desert from mid summer to my wreck in February. I may not know what caused the wreck, but as time goes by I seem to get a better handle on my (spiritual) struggle leading up to it. And that is good. 🙂 As I do, a little more of me wakes up. And that is very good.” 🙂  (In case you are new, if you read here you will find out what happened.  You can find out what I did my first Sunday back in the pulpit after the wreck here. And then read this post to find out a recap of what has been happening.

I know we each have our own journey we are traveling. This may have absolutely no relevance to yours. That’s okay. Then again…maybe it does. Below is the whole day’s devotion. I hope it is clear enough for you.

 

 

Weakness

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Weak is the new strong. That is just one of the opposite-opposite statements we find in the Bible which seemingly contradict each other. Here are a few more:

  • Love your enemies
  • The way to be exalted is to be humble
  • To truly live you have to die
  • Jesus gave His life, not for good people but for sinful, ungodly people who don’t deserve it.

To be strong, you have to be weak. That sure sounds strange in our society doesn’t it? We of the power grabs and climbing the ladder (while using our coworkers as stepping stones). So hearing the word weakness almost throws us into a convulsion, or at best a spasm.

Paul said it well in 2 Cor. 12:9-10: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

We all have weaknesses and limitations. That’s normal. As humans we are finite, imperfect, sinful people. Those are limitations. But weaknesses are different. We all have them; just different ones.  The lesson for us though is that in spite of our weaknesses, God’s grace stands there ready at a moment’s notice. The equally interesting thing is that God not only wants to display His grace in Paul’s life, He also wants to display His power in Paul’s weakness.

Truth: the weaker we become, the greater God’s power is released in us. That is the idea I want to capture this coming Sunday. Will you please pray for us this Sunday?

The leadership is also making an announcement this week concerning the future of OVCF. If you, my readers, are interested in knowing what I said, you can tune into the podcast.

Fools

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

This past Sunday I spoke about the verse where Paul says, “We are fools for Christ’s sake.” While the fool is not a complimentary term, I went another way with it. I went with the idea that God embraces the ridiculous.

I love to talk about my two daughters. Seldom do I get the chance to brag about them, so today I want to brag about my oldest, Tami. She recently wrote a blog that I want to highlight and ask you to check it out. She says it very succinctly and, if I may brag, very well. I’d like to ask you to read it here.

One of the things I did was change the word fool to the word crazy. I started with this video. With that thought in mind here are some of the crazy people and highlights Tami also mentioned (just in case you didn’t read her post):

Abraham– Obedience is easy when it fits into our plan or our scheme. Abraham was willing to obey even though it was crazy.

Namaan- Sometimes we are asked to take steps of wild obedience where we have no clue where it will end. Stop too soon and we miss out on God’s phenomenal blessings. (Note: Imagine if Namaan had stopped at #6)

Gideon- It doesn’t matter the size of the army or enemy coming against you when God is fighting your battle for you.

Hosea– Though we fail; we are not failures. Though we are unfaithful; God is faithful. Always.

As Christ-followers we are often asked to do bizarre-appearing actions. Some might actually call us crazy. But I’d rather be called crazy for stepping out of the status quo than be bored to tears and bore everyone else along the way.

 

Counterfeits2

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

In my last post I mentioned 3 things which can become idols to us.

Keep in mind: an idol is a representation of what we honor, esteem, pay allegiance to, or worship. Idols tell us we can’t live without them.

The first three were:

  1. Stuff
  2. Money
  3. Sex

The three I’d like to mention in this post are not listed as 4-6 because they are less prominent or because they are less of an issue.  We all struggle with things that want preeminence in our lives. The following three should also be included in the list:

Idol #4: Technology. It has been interesting to me to listen to all the “talk” about the political garbage (I could use another word for it) on FB and other media venues and I breathe a sigh of relief that I am not on any of them. I have chosen ON PURPOSE to not be on any site. I know people who can’t live without their phone, iPad or tablet, or some form of technology in their hand.  Technology can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse.

Idol #5: Beauty. I will be the first to admit I see nothing wrong with taking care of yourself or seeing a nice-looking male of female walking toward me. But there is no denying it has become an idol in our culture. How much more subjective can it be than to have an Annual “Sexiest Man Alive” issue or “Beautiful People Issue?”

Idol #6: Entertainment. I will acknowledge the need for diversion. But sometimes we spend entirely too much time in front of the TV or computer screen. I’m thrilled that one of the things Jo & I have never done is have a TV in our bedroom, nor does her iPad make it there. TV. Music. Playing games. None wrong in and of themselves, but when they begin to take over common sensibilities “Houston, we have a problem.”

There are the 6 I used this past Sunday. There are, obviously, more. But hopefully, you get the point.  🙂

Counterfeits

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Last week I ran out of time in my consideration of idols. My last post, in fact, stated that I would list some idols we have today. Then time slipped by, life got hectic and I failed to finish my thought. (That happens a lot lately. Is that a sign of old age?) 🙂

So…what are some idols we have. Pastor Timothy Keller calls our idols “counterfeit gods.” He calls them “anything more important to us than God, anything that absorbs our heart and mind more than God, anything we seek to give us what only God can give.” So here is a list…albeit a short one…and an incomplete one.

Idol #1: Stuff. We live in a materialistic society. We like our stuff. But is it necessary? What place does it have in our lives? Questions to ask: do I really need all this stuff? If God asked me to let it go, could I?

Idol #2: Money. J.D. Rockefeller was once asked, “How much does it take to make me rich?” His answer: “Just a little bit more.” Tragically, our society has bought into this trap. I’m sorry to say many televangelists live off the pockets of others and become wealthy.

Idol #3: Sex. The statistics of internet use of pornography are staggering. It is more toxic and addictive than any other drug. Men and (more and more) women who would never think of taking meth, heroine, coke, or some other drug, find themselves enslaved by this drug.

My next post will list the next three. Absorb what you read here. Then ask yourself some hard questions. I already have and will continue doing so.

Control

Monday, January 16th, 2017

I suspect many of you have seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Next to Back to the Future, it is my favorite trilogy of movies. The central plot focuses on The Ring of Power fashioned by the Dark Lord Sauron. This ring corrupts whoever has it. No matter how good his or her intentions are, the ring’s power eventually corrupts even the purest heart. Enter Frodo. Frodo is given the task of taking the ring to Sauron’s lair to destroy it. We watch throughout the three movies as the ring’s power begins to take over and control Frodo’s every waking and sleeping moment. The finale has Frodo on the precipice of where he needs to throw the ring, and with Sam yelling, “Throw it in Frodo!” we watch as Frodo turns to Sam and says, “No Sam. It’s mine” and puts it on. The power of the ring had taken control of Frodo. It had enslaved him.

Idols are like that. They slowly and subtly take over, often without us even knowing it is happening. Pastor Tim Keller calls an idol a “counterfeit god.” He goes on to call an idol:

Anything more important to us than God, anything that absorbs our heart and mind more than God, anything we seek to give you only what God can give.

In my next post I plan to give 6 examples of idols we face today…many we don’t even realize are idols.

Oh…thanks for hanging in there with me over the past couple of months. I’ll give an update on my accident in the next week or so. But I do thank you for your prayers.

Idols

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

In Numbers 21 there is a story of the people of Israel and a serpent. They had begun to grumble against God and Moses, complaining they brought them out of Egypt into the wilderness to die. Their complaining got so bad God sent fiery serpents among them and when they bit the people they died. Suddenly complaining about being in the wilderness was not such a big thing anymore. The remedy for all of this mayhem was for Moses to make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole. Anyone who looked on it would live. Sounds all well and good.

E.X.C.E.P.T!

“He (King Hezekiah) removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (and it was called Nehushtan).”  2 Kings 18:4

That which was for a good purpose turned out to become something bad. The serpent had become an idol.

We may not have those kinds of idols but we do have them. An idol is a representation of what we honor, esteem, pay allegiance to, or worship. Idols tell us we can’t live without them.

My sermon this week is #3 in the series “I Am Fifth.” I’m calling it “Who’s Your Daddy?” because of the subject of idols. It is a tough sermon to preach since it hits all of us (especially me). I’m going to take a post or two next week to cover this subject in a little more detail. Stay tuned!

Reason

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

Daniel Hamlin and his family are five of the neatest people you will ever meet. They came to OVCF just a tad over a year ago in a search for something different than what he/they had grown up in. They were also concerned for their three children (one a teen and another real close and an adorable young girl). So he actually first heard of OVCF from living in the community about all his life, but when Daniel started searching with earnest his father told him about us. Daniel checked out the church website and then a few podcasts. Something resonated in him and a “chance” encounter with him at a local restaurant (we were supposed to eat somewhere else) led to him coming to OVCF. They have not left (that’s a good thing…a very good thing). He is a fine young man who wants to seek God with all his heart and wants to lead his family that way also. The following is what he posted on FB after helping with the Thanksgiving Dinner the church puts on annually.

Today, our church provided Thanksgiving meals to the community.  At one point my family was tasked with delivering 5 meals to a local low-income motel.  As we stepped out of the car I realized that we were probably not relatable to those who were receiving the food.  I had grabbed my LL Bean jacket, the boys were wearing Nike shoes and shorts (yes, shorts in November), we were a clean cut family.  One lady asked us to come in to her apartment.  After passing through the blanket that draped the door we enter her cluttered, dark apartment.  She had no kitchen table and had an aged container of Ramen noodles sitting on the stove.  We delivered her the prepared meal and she became emotional, expressing thanks for the food.  Amy asked her if she had any Christmas needs and she responded that she would like prayer for her son who suffers from scoliosis.

As I reflect back on this, it brings new appreciation for the Incarnation.  Just as I felt that our appearance would make us not relatable to those we were serving, if Jesus had come to earth in all of his power and glory we would not be able to relate to him.  Instead, he came to earth as a baby, grew up as a man, was tested, tempted, beaten, suffered loss and eventually killed.  I’m thankful that because of God’s grace and his love for us, Christ made himself relatable by becoming human.

And that, my friends, is the reason for the season.

I would say Daniel has it right. Not only that…do you see any doubt he will be able to lead his family well? I don’t.

Thanks

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

As I write this it is a rainy Wednesday. The day before the world in general (with a few exceptions) will focus on Thanksgiving. True, some find football a whole lot more fun, but not this boy. My Thanksgiving Day will consist of the following:

The church serving our community a lunch from 11-1:00 at the local Lion’s Club (their building is in town and the church building is not). We will also deliver a whole bunch of meals.

I have two traditions that I have done for years. I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Santa Clause” sometime Thursday. Well, our local theater is going to show “IaWL” on Sunday for free so I will go to that. So Jo and I plan to watch “White Christmas,” one of my other staple movies during the holidays.

I’m guessing a nap might be in there somewhere.

I will take some time to be thankful. My recent car/bicycle accident has me a bit more reminiscent than normal. To be aware that only 2″ separated me from either permanent damage (paralysis) or even death, tends to wake up even the sleepiest soul. I’m not going to rehash the scene. You can read it here and here.  Unfortunately, even though my memory wants to erase the event and forgive the perpetrator, my body keeps reminding me of it. On Monday I go to a general surgeon who will take a look at the giant hematoma on my left hip where he used me for a bumper car. I had to go to Urgent Care last week, and when nothing happened and things got worse with the rest of my leg, I went to my family doctor Tuesday. The surgeon will decide if it is be drained (can you say knock me out?) or let it go. It will be 3 weeks to the day that it happened. Not a day goes by that I don’t remember because my body reminds me.

However, I am also impressed by God’s amazing design and how it heals. The bruising is lessening (it has moved from my hip to my thigh/hamstring, to my knee, to my calf and now to my foot. The painfully sore bruised shoulder muscles (inside) have healed enough to start lifting weights again. I have yet to be back on my bike. Not because I’m afraid but because of the discomfort of this hematoma.

I’m thankful I’m alive. I’m thankful I have a family who was concerned. I’m thankful for a marvelous church family who showed me in spades how much they love me. It has been my pleasure to love them for 11 years. In less than a week they showed me what I meant to them. *Tears on cheeks right now* I am thankful for you, my online family, who have said you would pray for me. I believe you did. I still pray for the one who did it. Not for vengeance but so I can forgive them.

This has gone longer than any post I have written in the past 4 or 5 years so it is time to shut it down. 🙂  Thanks for listening. Thanks for your prayers. Be truly thankful this year.