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EveryMorning

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

There has always been a dichotomy of thought. Should a person’s Quiet Time (QT) be in the morning or is it okay to have it in the evening? Middle of the day? To be honest I have always been a “have it in the morning kind of guy.” Not because that is the only right time, but it is the time that I am sharpest and most aware. I usually find myself busy in the afternoon so it is easy to push it aside. By the time night rolls around my philosophy is night time is good for one thing…sleeping.

Sometime in March I was perusing a Christian bookstore when I ran across a devotional by Paul David Tripp called New Morning Mercies. It is subtitled A Daily Gospel Devotional. I decided I needed something to liven up my morning QT so I bought it. After the first devotion, March 19th, I was hooked. By the end of the first week I had begun to think of other guys I would love to involve in this. How could I do that? So I bought 3 other copies and gave them away to 3 guys. (I later added a fourth). Then started an “email club” where each day we send our thoughts via email to the group of 5. Comments can be made on each other’s thoughts. It has been a super exciting adventure! I’m looking now to maybe adding another group (5 is as big as I want it to be) and would love to have a women’s group get started as well.

The devotions are solid. Real solid. No fluff. No prosperity garbage. Just solid gospel devotional. Lots on GRACE! (My favorite topic). Real challenging spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Each devotional takes about 5-10 minutes to read (I underline also) and includes a Scripture at the end for reference. My plan is to go through this once then the second time through use the daily Scripture for my QT. I have yet to run into a boring morning mercy. And trust me, it is aptly titled: New Morning Mercies. These devotionals have got my brain wired.

Tripp started out by tweeting three tweets a day. They were so popular that he was asked/encouraged to expand on them and do a devotional based on them. This book is that expansion.

I am partial to the gift edition. It is a hardback in a slipcase. It also comes cheaper in paperback.  Here is the edition I like.

New Morning Mercies (Gift Edition): A Daily Gospel Devotional

I think you ought to give this a good, long, honest, hard look. You will be really pleasantly surprised. If not, send me the book. I will put it to good use. 🙂  And by the way: I would not be opposed to having an online email with some of you if you find that appealing.

Unexpected

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Lots has been happening this week. So much that it has kept me from posting on my own blog. I’m not sure how I feel about those kinds of weeks. On one hand I say, “I’d rather be busy than bored.” I would probably hear a bunch of hearty “Amen’s.” At the same time I will hear a bunch of “Amen’s” from those who say, “I’d rather sit around and be bored.” 🙂

In the life of a pastor, as for many of you, things crop up which require immediate attention and sometimes cannot be delayed. I didn’t have much happening this week. It is the last week of school for our local kids so that always raises the bar of stress for many. My week started pretty innocuous leading me to think, “Hey! It looks like a pretty slow week.” Ever heard the saying, “You speak too quickly”? That one describes the rest of this week.

Maybe another word is better: UNEXPECTED.

A counseling appointment. Unexpected. An emergency surgery over an hour away. Unexpected. A trip/visit that took almost the whole day. Unexpected. A PT appointment where the diagnosis and treatment were not what I wanted to hear. Unexpected. Power outage at the office on Thursday morning. Definitely Unexpected (and ill-needed).

Life is full of “unexpected’s.” You have them. I have them. How could we possible go through life without them?

There is another unexpected but expected event. The unexpected is Jesus coming back. We have no clue when that will happen. The expected is Jesus coming back. He said He would and I believe Him. And who knows? Maybe it will be during one of those unexpected events in my own life. I’m okay with that.

Jo and I leave tomorrow for northern Indiana where I have been asked to perform a wedding for a couple. The young lady attended OVCF until college and then a job took her away. So I will basically be incognito this weekend. I not only have the wedding; we return Sunday to attend two high school graduation parties of two of the coolest high school young men I know. I EXPECT both of them to excel in their college years and in their chosen professions: one to study optometry and the other will be commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the Air Force upon graduation. I feel a little out of my league. 🙂

But I’ll see you when I get back. Have a great weekend. Please pray for Ryan as he preaches for me.

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.”

Rescued

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

Many are familiar with the statue of Christ that stands tall in the Corcovado Mountains in Rio de Janeiro. It is 98 feet tall and stands on a base that is 26 feet tall. The arms stretch 92 feet wide. The statue has gone through several renovations due to lightning strikes and the ravages of time since its building from 1922-1031. It is now listed in The New Seven Wonders of the World.

To many people the cross is a symbol of rescue, leading the lost souls, shipwrecked by the ravages of life, to new life and hope. To others it stands as a beacon of something better, something which stands the test of time. To those who follow Jesus it is that and so much more. Everyone is invited to the cross, the place where God and humanity meet, where peace and wholeness can be found.

While studying for last week’s sermon, I had decided to title it “The Look of Love.” As I looked at the calendar I realized this coming weekend was Palm Sunday, so I decided  to work up a little 3 part mini-series focused around the cross and resurrection. This week’s message is entitled “The Act of Love” and I’m going to be using Isaiah 52:13- 53:12 as my Scripture. When I look at the cross through the lens of Isaiah 53 I see Jesus saying three things:

“I Did This For You”

“I Knew This Was Coming”

“I Did All That Was Needed”

You have just now seen the three points of my message for Sunday. 🙂

Love sets us apart from others. But our love has an example set for us to follow. This passage in Isaiah is that bold example.

Branded!

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

There are a few TV shows or movies I will stop to watch if I am walking through the room when they are on. When I first started watching Back to the Future we had taped it on a free weekend. My friend and his son came to visit and I think that movie played on the round the whole weekend. No sooner was it over than we rewound the tape (it was a VHS) and started watching it again.  I’m sort of the same way with the old B & W Perry Mason shows. I am a sucker for the old shows, even though I know Perry is going to win. Never a doubt even though things look awful gloomy from time to time for his client.  I still like courtroom dramas.

A big part of the beginning of I John 2 is the importance of an Advocate who goes to the “bench” on our behalf.  The word Advocate translates the Greek word which means “one who comes alongside” and denotes in legal settings the defender or counselor who comes to aid his clients. It is the same word translated “Helper” or “Comforter” in John 14.  Jesus is the perfect Advocate since the Judge is His Father and they are always in perfect harmony.

Another word used in I John 2 is the word propitiation. A big word most will have trouble saying right, let alone knowing what it means.  It means appeasement or satisfaction. John tells us that Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross satisfied the demands of God’s justice.

There is more to write but will stop there. If you care to listen, the podcast of the sermon is on the church’s website. I welcome your thoughts if you do listen.

Just as a heads up: I am posting this early because Jo and I will be leaving today (Wednesday) for the St. Louis area and return late Friday afternoon. Two of our young men play basketball for Maryville University and we are taking some time away and watching them. Sort of like killing two birds with one stone. So, except for approving a comment, I will be very scarce here and on your blogs as well. Have a great weekend!

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.

“IT”

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

godsgiftofchristmas

No…not IT as in technology.

“It” as in what you call your baby until you know its sex.

Jo & I had our two girls in the age when knowing the sex of your baby was, at best, guesswork. They listened to the beat of the heart. Watched the way mom carried it (not an exact science). But before the modern technology, knowing the sex of your baby was, as I said, guesswork. So we tended to call the baby “it.” Unless, of course, you are like me who would not let Jo look at any girl’s clothes while pregnant and then boldly stated from the pulpit on the second one that I put my dibs in with the Lord and this one is a boy.

Yeah…both were girls…and I wouldn’t trade either of them for all the money in the world. I’m convinced God said He was going to have some fun with me for the first one and probably changed the sex of the baby in the womb when I bragged it was a boy. 🙂

I just got a text from an expectant mom Tuesday that their baby was going to be a girl. Oh…modern technology. Takes the guesswork out of the sex of the baby and takes the wonderment out of it as well.

Last week I talked about Emmanuel (God with Us). This week I’ll be speaking on Isaiah 9: 6-7, the passage where names of Jesus abound. While Mary and Joseph knew the baby was to be a “he,” the names given in this passage tell so much more about Him.  It is a good way to prepare for Christmas-to know the names of the future Messiah.

Which one means the most to you?

Pursuit

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

In my last post, I talked about the Mission of OVCF. You can see that post here. I realize there are all sorts of different explanations for the difference between mission and vision. I have one that I feel comfortable with and use that as a guide.

The Mission is what we do.

The Vision is how we hope/plan to accomplish that mission.

MISSION: TO CONNECT PEOPLE TO JESUS

The $1000 question is “How can we make that happen?” The following is what was shared Sunday. In order to be cognizant of length, I’m going to do this in three posts.

#1: WE DESIRE TO BE PASSIONATE PURSUERS OF JESUS.

Our #1 goal is not to build a big church. It is not to have a huge nursery or the best youth program. Our first and primary pursuit should be running fully after Jesus. It goes without saying: we cannot lead people where we ourselves are not going or have not been. That would be like taking your child into the forest and telling them to follow a path and then going the opposite direction. Makes no sense.

Paul knew this principle. In Philippians 3:10 he wrote, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” The word know is the word which means “intimate knowledge.” In other words, Paul was drawing a line in the sand between a head knowledge and a heart knowledge. There are tons of people who know a lot about Jesus, the Bible and other teachings. The atheist knows the Bible and knows the teachings of Jesus! But it is head knowledge. We need heart knowledge.

A passionate pursuer of Jesus desires to have a heart knowledge, one full to the brim and running over. Are you one?

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!