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#LoveLost#FirstLove

Saturday, September 14th, 2019

My sincere apologies for not getting this posted sooner. As many of you know we spent September 2-10 on our trip to Alaska. We arrived home after midnight on the 10th and I played catch-up the rest of the week. But tomorrow is Sunday and I have to be ready to go! I am…in principle. Now all I have to do is get my head and heart in the game. 🙂

I start a new series this week which I am calling Postcards. It will be a seven week series on the 7 churches of Revelation and the letters, i.e. postcards Jesus sent to each of them. Ryan did a great job of introducing God’s idea of the church last week as a lead-in to this series. I’m glad I have someone like him who is so dependable and able to present God’s Word. He’s a good one. 🙂

This week I have titled the sermon “To the Loveless Church.” The city of Ephesus had so much going for it as being one of the greatest cities to live in at that time. Economically. Culturally. Historically. Religiously (even though it was pagan).

The church at Ephesus had a lot going for it also. As you read Revelation 2:1-7 you can’t help but be struck by the commendation heaped upon them: their work, toil and patient endurance; they didn’t tolerate evil men; they hated the works of the Nicolaitans; and their motivation was spot on.

B…..U……T…..

The condemnation far outweighed the commendation. It is very clear. They left their first love. While they had all the outward show of being alive, they were dead inside. Their love for Jesus had grown cold. Their motivation should have been what Paul wrote: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one died for all, therefore all have died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14). It wasn’t, and therefore they were told in no uncertain terms “to repent or else.” Unfortunately, the “or else” happened and there is no longer a church in Ephesus.

Fighting this battle for “first place” is an ongoing one.  I hope to challenge all of us to renew our first love for Jesus.  I plan to play this song to help emphasize my point.

#Safe#Hope#Jesus

Monday, August 5th, 2019

We live in a multicultural world.  That not only applies to our ethnicity but also to our religious bent. It goes without saying that there are as many religions it seems as people in this land.  That, of course, is not true. But it sure seems like it!

I stand on one premise, one foundation. Salvation is found in no one else except Jesus Christ. No Buddha, prophet, swami, or so-called arrogant teacher (translate: cult)  is the one who is worthy of worship and worthy of gaining the attention that Jesus is to be given. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life and NO ONE comes to Father but by me.”  Peter told the religious leaders who tried to shut him up that “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)  Frankly, one can argue with that all they want but it won’t change the words written down.

There are all kinds of voices these days trying to tell us there are many ways to God.  There are some who deny Jesus is the Son of God so it stands to reason they would deny that. Some who want to say “there are many roads to God.” Again, to say that denies the truth of Scripture. Of course, there are those who say Buddha, Mohammed, and other religious figures are the way. Nope. The cults want us to buy into Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell (JW), Ellen G. White (SDA),  Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Scientist), or even whack job L. Ron Hubbard (Scientology).

I once read a story of the ship Endurance which was trapped and crushed in the ice off the coast of the Antarctic. The group of explorers led by Ernest Shackleton, had one last chance. Shackleton and five others pushed off from Elephant Island leaving the hopes of the 22 left behind in their hands. Their goal was to make it to South Georgia Island, a trip of 800 miles. If they failed, they would die. Four months later, Shackleton returned. His first words were, “Are you all well?” And the call came back, “All safe! All well!”

There will come a day when every man, woman, boy and girl will face the Father. The only question to be answered  is, “Do you know Jesus?” If your answer is Yes then you will hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” All will be safe. All will be well.

BUT ONLY IF YOU KNOW JESUS not some pretender to His throne. And not if you think you can travel a different road and reach the same place. Tragically, the Father will also tell many, “Depart from me. I don’t know you.”

#SayWhat?

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

I don’t normally do this type of post but it is one of those “I-just-can’t-help-myself” moments. Notice the title of the post and when I am done hopefully you will understand why I have chosen that title.

Like I said, I try to avoid this type of post but I have become passionately concerned about the Gospel. I remember once in a college class the professor was talking about one of the personalities and the issue of defending the Bible came up. The personality said, “The Bible doesn’t need defended.” So it may seem to be superfluous for me to write this post but I feel a very strong urge to write this. I guess some might see it as nit-picking where I don’t need to pick nits but I do hope you will see why.

I recently read an article written by Al Mohler entitled “Theology makes its way into the headlines again.” The rest of the title is a dead giveaway as to the reason for my post so I’m going to hold off on that. Edward Luce, who is the American editor of the Financial Times in London, visited Lakewood Church and then wrote about it in the pages of the Financial Times. His article was entitled “A Preacher for Trump’s America: Joel Osteen and the Prosperity Gospel.” Now you know…

I’m not going to comment on the article but I do want to share a few things that were in it and they are not political! They are insane. They are ungodly. They are heretical.

First, the insane. Luce writes, “With a fortune estimated at $60 million and a mansion listed on Zillow at $10.7 million, Osteen is hardly living like a friar. His suburban Houston home has three elevators, a swimming pool and parking for 20 cars, including his $230,000 Ferrari 458 Italia.”  {My comment:I guess the prosperity gospel has really worked for him! But that is insane! Asking people to sacrifice so someone can benefit? Nah doesn’t fly}.

Now for the heretical. Two things.

Paula White, another heretical prosperity guru (now married to Jonathan Cain the keyboardist for Journey) said, “Anyone who tells you to deny yourself is Satan.” Say What? What did she just call Jesus?

Mr. Osteen comes down to Jesus’ last words spoken by Jesus on the Cross, “It is finished.” And we are told that Jesus was not actually declaring His imminent death. In effect, said Osteen, Jesus meant instead, “The guilt is finished, the depression is finished, the low self-esteem is finished, the mediocrity is finished, it is all finished.”

Can I gag? Do you get that same lurching feeling? How, in the name of all that is holy and righteous, can two people get things so wrong? And they are not alone. I could name names but will choose not to.  And there is more to the Financial Times article, but this is enough. Make no mistake about what I am saying please! These are not godly speakers. (I cringe at using the word preachers about either one of them). This is pure, unadulterated heresy.

My questions are many but three stand out: why can’t people see this? Are we so biblically illiterate that we have no discernment? Why are we not speaking out against junk like this?

So…what do you think?

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.

Alone

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

As in “leave well enough…”

This is not a post about being Alone, although I have had my share of that this past week as I’ve spent time with people who have lost people they love.

This is about something we say, why we say it and what brought it up.

I was in the local Circle K buying gas for my truck and mower and while waiting in line I looked down and about gagged. M&Ms staring me right in the face. Mint since the package was green?

NO.

Jalapeno-flavored M&Ms. Are you kidding me? Since I knew the clerk I made a comment to him and the other patron about it. Jalapeno-flavored M&Ms? The clerk shuddered along with me and the other customer when I said something, then the clerk said something wise (least in my eyes): “Why can’t they just leave chocolate alone?” Plain. Peanut. Mint. Crunch. Toffee. Caramel. Caramel with Sea Salt. Raspberry Crunch. Peanut Butter. I’m sure there are others.

But Jalapeno?

Sounds like some who thinks change is good. Change is good…if it has a purpose. But change for the sake of change? Not so. I want to ask them the same question as the clerk did: “Why can’t they just leave it alone?” I’m all for change. I don’t like sameness. I get bored. Changing the order of service around is okay by me. Changing the style of music (as long as it isn’t country, rap, hip hop, or any of those other foreign entities) is okay. 🙂 Changing seating is okay. You get my point. But to change the message. N.O. W.A.Y.  The medium may change but the message never changes.

The message of the cross must never change. We may present it differently than we have in the past or even than others do, but the message of the cross is rock solid. THAT MESSAGE NEVER CHANGES!! N.E.V.E.R!!! Have I said that enough?

We are in the week many denominations call “Holy Week.” While I don’t belong to one of them, nor do I put any extra emphasis on this week, I want to be mindful of what is coming. Good Friday. Resurrection Sunday. I want my message on the cross to be specific and clear.  That message will never change and I will leave well enough it alone.

Done!

Friday, April 12th, 2019

There is nothing like the satisfaction of being able to shake our hands together and feel the relief of a job well done. Whether it is a one-day job or a month-long job, being able to breathe a sigh of accomplishment is a good thing.

There should be no question that Jesus lived a unique life. Even the people recognized something was different about Him. “No one ever spoke like this man” was not uncommon to hear. The religious leaders couldn’t handle His frankness and willingness to call it like it was when it came to their religious hypocrisy. Here is something you might find interesting. Max Lucado in his book He Chose the Nails has written a chapter called “I Understand Your Pain.” Near the end of the chapter he talks about fulfilled prophecies, especially at the end of Jesus’ life. After giving a breakdown of some of those prophecies, Max goes on to say that Jesus fulfilled 332 distinct prophecies in the OT. The mathematical possibilities of all these prophecies being fulfilled in the life of one man is 1/84 with 97 zeroes!! Now that is amazing and sort of throws a dagger into the old lie of “Jesus just happened to be the right man at the right time.”

The two statements I will be considering Sunday are just another example of fulfilled prophecies. One is a cry for relief and the other is a statement of completion. “I thirst.” “It is finished.”

I’m not ashamed to ask for your prayers. It has been a super long week and weekend and I can feel my body and mind a tad bit tired. I’d appreciate your prayers for my strength and also my spirit. And please say a prayer for those who listen.

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.

Death/Life/Funerals

Monday, January 28th, 2019

I bury a friend today. I haven’t known him long. Little over a year and a half but the past year found me taking multiple hour long trips to the hospital to visit and multiple trips to his house as he fought a brave fight against an ugly form of cancer. He lived 18 months longer past the original 18 months they gave him to live. The power of prayer. The power of medicine. The power of the will to live and not give up.

I wanted to post something today but as you can see I am a bit preoccupied with another matter. I wrote more on this subject at my other blog. If you would like to read more, you can check it out here. I would be honored if you would visit LivingintheShadow and comment there or here.  Maybe even consider subscribing?  🙂

LeafTurning

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

The new year is about here and there will be a lot of talk about “turning over a new leaf.” I personally hope my life is more exciting than a leaf blowing in the wind.  🙂  Every year I post this video and want to do that again.  It’s one of those “traditions” you know? Besides, I have a much more important one to show later so I want to get the frivolous out of the way.  Click here to see the video.

I have never been one to go over the past year and relive good and bad memories. I came to realize that I couldn’t change what happened so why do that? In some cases it would be like torturing myself and in other cases it might be hard not to gloat or “wish for again.” I believe there are lessons to be learned if I look, but too much reflection can sometimes be detrimental. So I don’t take longing looks at the past.

I also take longing looks at the future. Jesus said in Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” I take that to mean not to worry about tomorrow. Why should I when I can’t change things anyway? I have no control over them. But I know the ONE who does. 2019 is going to happen (unless Jesus returns first) so I can only prepare myself the best way I know how: spiritually.

I’m not a resolution-setter.  (Nor am I an Irish one). 🙂  I basically have one idea: How can I live my life with grace and honor God doing it? After spending two years going through New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp and all of 2018 blogging about it at Be Transformed, my heart and eyes have been opened and softened. The journey was not always easy. It was time-consuming and at times, inconvenient. But daily blogging was a discipline I am glad I did. My next attempt will be called Living in the Shadow and will take the place of Be Transformed in name and content only. It will be hosted on the same site but I do not plan on posting every day. I’m thinking maybe 2-3 days a week. I’ll tell you more when it gets underway.

But I want to close this post and 2018 with a song that has become a favorite and will be my focus for 2019. I hope you will join me in making this a reality.  Click here to listen to the song.

HAVE A SAFE AND ENJOYABLE END TO YOUR 2018 AND  A STELLAR BEGINNING TO YOUR 2019.

Birth

Friday, December 14th, 2018

If you want to strike “fear” into many peoples’ lives, two words will do it. In many circles it will bring up memories of disagreements and shortness of tempers. Those two words:

VIRGIN BIRTH

Books, articles, essays, speeches, sermons, and a whole lot of other means of communication have been used in the discussion of the Virgin Birth: Pro or Con. I can honestly say men a whole lot smarter than me have gone ’round and ’round about it. I’m not well-versed in the deep defense of the VB. I just know this: God’s Word said it was how Jesus would come into the world, therefore, I believe it.

Just a few months ago we were treated (again) to another round of gaudiness and pomp and ceremony. A royal wedding of Prince whatever-his name is and his new wife, Meghan. Despite what the media and paparazzi says, they are mere human beings. Can you tell I am not a fan of their weddings? It lies in direct contrast with the entrance of Jesus into the world.

The attacks on the VB are monumental.  And ongoing-past, present and future. I’m not going to go into detail about the attacks, but the big question is Why? Simple actually: the VB is the line in the sand.  It is the line of demarcation. If someone denies the VB of Christ, IMHO I have every right to call into question the reality of their faith. The truth is that Jesus’ life did not begin at His birth or His conception. He is eternal and has always existed.

This Sunday I’m going to tackle the issue of the VB. In keeping with the “Light” theme, I’m calling it This IS the Light! John 1:1-14 will be my Scripture. Thanks ahead of time for your prayers.