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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!

Identity

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

This past weekend I preached on Jesus as part of my series called SOLID! I had wanted to post some thoughts earlier but life is sort of different with a 9 year old running through your house or simply being around. It seems like sometimes a never-ending buzz saw has visited. Yesterday Jo took him a 1/2 price book store (he loves to read), to lunch, then brought him to the Y where I was working out. While I finished he went to the gym and shot around some basketball then I joined him for about an hour. He beat me at two games of H-O-R-S-E. My excuse is the balky knee and bulky brace I wore. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

I thought I would just “whet your whistle” with some thoughts about who Jesus is, which I think is especially relevant as we steamroll toward Resurrection Sunday. Here goes:

  1. According to Jesus He is the “I Am.” The gospel of John includes seven “I AM” statements made by Jesus.
  2. According to Matthew Jesus is “the Christ.” Check out Matthew 16: 13-19 (especially verse 16). Matthew’s primary audience was Jewish so he spent the bulk of his gospel presenting Jesus as Messiah.
  3. According to Mark Jesus is “the Son of God.”  He states that in 1:1 and spend the book declaring it to be true. Son of God refers to special intimacy with God, His Father.
  4. According to Luke Jesus is “the Servant of the Lord.” In both of Luke’s writings (Luke and Acts) he portrays Jesus as pouring out His life for others.
  5. According to John Jesus is “the Word.” He declares that in verse 1 and his book focuses on that truth.
  6. According to Paul Jesus is “Lord.” I became ultra aware during my study of Saul’s reaction on the road to Damascus when he was confronted by Jesus. His question? “Who are you Lord?” Phil.2 states that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Jesus has many names and is seen in many different ways in the Scripture. The question will not be what does everyone else think. The question will be “who do you think He is?” Your answer?

Jesus

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Solid

“All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on earth as much as that One Solitary Life.”

My guess is that you have heard that before, maybe even the whole poem. Deny as much as they like, men must admit no one has influenced this world like Jesus and those who have taken their call to follow Him seriously. Hospitals, schools, colleges, humanitarian agencies, social justice organizations have all been started by followers of Christ.

So…who is Jesus? Without a doubt the jury would have a mixed ruling. Fashion, film, music, sports, even religion have all pictured Jesus. Some in radical ways; some in confusing ways (can anyone say award shows?); some in mixed up ways; some in solid ways.

In my current series, SOLID!, I will be landing squarely at this juncture-the statement of faith we make on our church’s website: “We believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only, virgin born Son of God and is co-equal with God. He is God in human flesh, died on a cross as a substitute for our sins and rose bodily from the dead, and is the only way to God.”

I leave Thursday morning for Ohio to pick up a certain grandson and bring him back on Friday to spend the week with grandpa, mamaw and Aunt Tami. I’d appreciate your prayers for safe travel and also for Sunday’s sermon. Thanks ahead of time. You also might want to pray for stamina for us. It has been awhile since a certain 9 year old has spent significant time with us. 🙂

MIA

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

deck the halls3

With the glut of media-ancient papyrus (called the newspaper), Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and countless other venues, it is hard for us to imagine there being people who would miss Christmas. It is hard to forget Christmas is upon us. What is equally hard to fathom is there will actually be people who will miss what Christmas is all about.

But like it or not, agree or not, it is easy to miss Christmas, even for those of us who are followers of Christ. We vow it won’t happen each year but we end up being part of the masses who lose sight of Christmas. Now, you know I’m not talking about the day or the time of the year…right? This Sunday I’m going to talk about those who missed Christmas (the coming of Jesus):

  1. The Innkeeper– the infamous “no room here” guy.  Luke 2:7.  I personally don’t think this was malicious. It is sort of hard to miss a very pregnant mother in discomfort. He missed because he was preoccupied.
  2. Herod- Matthew 2. The old “tell me so I can go worship Him” guy. He missed because of his jealous fear which drove him to a mass execution figuring he would kill the baby.
  3. The Religious Leaders- Matthew 2 (again). Big wonder why they did, especially after quoting the Scripture to Herod. These guys were legends in their own minds. The missed because of indifference.
  4. Jerusalem- Luke 2 contains the story of the shepherds. And while they heard, saw and went, the rest of Jerusalem slept. Ironically, the shepherds were probably watching the sheep used in temple sacrifice. The people of Jerusalem missed because of their religion.

Don’t miss Christmas this year. Focus on the birth of Jesus.

Mistletoe

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Time for another Christmas tradition lesson!

I love mistletoe. Let me rephrase that: I love what mistletoe suggests. 🙂 But then again some sarcastic person will say, “Who needs mistletoe?” and technically they would be correct. If people only knew…

Do you know what the origin of mistletoe is? In Old English, mistel is the word for “dung,” and tan means “twig.” Mistletan is the Old English version of the word we know today as mistletoe. Well…I guess it just lost some of its romantic appeal. Don’t you think?

But, let’s move on. In ancient times, mistletoe was viewed with awe, as a miracle plant. It is actually a parasite, and yet it is radically different from what we think of a parasite. It is a beautiful, flowering plant which thrives in treetops when all else dies. Scandinavian warriors would stop battles if they found themselves under mistletoe (No…not to kiss each other). They believed it would dishonor a plant which stood for life by killing. It became a symbol of peace.

Eventually, the restorative powers of the berries migrated to England and the plant became a symbol of love. When a couple passed under the plant they stopped to kiss. If they did (they believed) God would bless them with everlasting love.

By the time Dickens wrote The Christmas Carol, the plant (for Christians) had become a symbol of life after death, of faith that was so strong it could grow even in the harshest of environments. Like the FISH symbol of the ancient Christians, the mistletoe was hung as a testimony of a person’s love for the God who had sent His Son.

Today, sadly, the message of peace, faith, and hope has been largely lost, but if even in a childish way, the message of love remains. (Sounds strangely biblical doesn’t it? See I Cor.13)  So…the next time you see a mistletoe hanging take advantage of it! Remind yourself it stands for the message of love.  (Had you going there for a minute didn’t I?)

This was adapted from this book:

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Prophecy

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

http://www.sermoncentral.com/cms/images/christmas-essentials/christmas-essentials-powerpoint-7.jpg

In my last post I talked about a man who once told me he believed Jesus was simply the “right man born in the right place at the right time.” When I questioned him about the prophecy which Jesus fulfilled at His birth alone, He held to his statement. In the comments of that post, Martha asked if I would share some of those prophecies in a future post so I thought I would do that here. My sources are three-fold: the Bible (Duh!); More Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell; and God With Us by John MacArthur.

  1. A star and a scepter came out of Israel. Numbers 24:17/Mt.2:1-2. Along with that Scripture is “a star of Jacob” which is fulfilled in Lk.3:23,34
  2. Born of the seed of a woman. Gen.3:15/Gal.4:4 (also Mt.1:20)
  3. Born of a virgin. Is.7:14/Mt.1:18-25 (also Lk.1:34)
  4. He was the Son of God. Ps.2:7/Mt.3:17
  5. He was the seed of Abraham. Gen.22:18/Mt.1:1
  6. He was born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2/Mt.2:1-6; Lk.2:1-7
  7. From the family line of Jesse (David’s father). Is.11:1/Lk.3:23,3

There are more. One OT prophecy after another promised a coming Savior-a Messiah, the Anointed One. He was the One who would set His people free.

A man who happened to be “in the right place at the right time?” I don’t think so.