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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.

Worth

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

captured

A lot of people talk about worshiping God but really have no clue what exactly it is. Too much of what is called worship is actually self-worship. We sing songs that do not elevate the Father but ourselves. Proclaiming God’s worth, lifting Him up for adoration, is the goal of worship. Worship is not about us feeling good. It is not about “this is what I want” unless it is craving the presence of God so you can adore Him.

I’m presenting the following thoughts from Isaiah 58 this Sunday:

  1. Let worship not be about you. [Verse 3]. We cannot have everything we want. God is not a hobby- Someone we run to when we want to waste a little time or when things get really bad.
  2. Let worship be with an attitude of peace. [Verse 4]. The Israelites were fasting but were fighting while doing it. Some of the nastiest fights are not on a foreign battlefield but in the church parking lot.
  3. Let worship be more than a surface act. [Verse 5]. Anyone can raise their hands, shed tears, sing and look sincere. But God is not concerned with externals. Worship must be from the heart.
  4. Let worship be all about freedom. [Verse 6-7]. Freedom from chains of the past. Freedom from chains of the present. Freedom from chains of the future. Freedom from legalism. Freedom from bondage.
  5. Let worship be focused on Christ. God made us so we would reflect His glory back to Him. His purpose for our life is not to make us happy; it is to display Him.
  6. Let worship bring results. [Verse 8]. We were never meant to go through worship and not be changed. A person who says, “I didn’t get anything out of that today” is saying as much about their heart as they are the worship event.

I would appreciate your prayers as I try to bring some clarity to this idea of God’s worth. Thanks.

Update

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

My presence on my blog and anyone else’s for that matter is not disinterest…trust me. I have taken the time to read other blogs but not comment. There is a reason.

Just read this post.

I thought I would give an update on my status with a comment from my sermon. It is still surreal at times when I allow myself to think about it, how close I came to having a total life change. I’ve calculated that change to be about 2-3″ in length. His mirror hit me on my left butt cheek (sorry if that offends you) and spun me up and then down. The injuries were bad enough to give me a huge hematoma on my left hip and blacken my whole left leg and thigh down to my knee and cause swelling to my foot. (I have pictures!  🙂 )  The reality I have faced it this: 2-3″ to the right and I am either paralyzed or dead.  So, I tell people I am bruised and sore but alive. I took one day away from work and God has given me the strength to get through the rest of my tasks: office work; a wedding rehearsal/event; preaching twice; attending White Christmas, a musical we had bought tickets for in the summer at the IU Auditorium with some friends; and continuing this week with all my work and another wedding coming this weekend.

I still believe God’s hand was on me. Some have asked about that. Sunday, I said this: “God’s love is not a pampering love; it is a perfecting love.” God doesn’t get up every day asking, “How can I make Bill happy today?” I didn’t do that with my children; He doesn’t do that with His. I do believe His is a transforming love. I will not always understand the “why” of an event. That really is not my place anyway. According to Romans 8:29 His purpose is “to conform me to the image of His Son.” No matter what that takes…that is what I long for. This, as I see it, is just one more step in my adventure through life.

So there’s the update. Please understand that I am reading but have very little time to comment. But I do thank you from the bottom of my heart for your words of encouragement and prayer. I’m not ignoring anyone. it is where I find myself right now.