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Surrender

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

I spoke today about Joshua’s last words to the people of Israel before “he went the way of all men.” (23: 14) Included in his last words is the very familiar challenge of 24:15:

CHOOSE THIS DAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE

That phrase is more, and has to be more, than a cutesy little plaque we put on our living room wall or on the door which enters our home. I found something as I was studying which I never knew before.  The Hebrew construction of this verse (and I know no Hebrew so I take it the scholars are right) indicates what Joshua is saying is “I have chosen; I am choosing; and will go on choosing.”

Is that not cool or what?

That sort of lays to rest the cutesy plaque. That also puts to rest that coming to Jesus is a one-time deal. It is more than saying a prayer; signing on the dotted line; being baptized; making a public confession or any other form of admission to following Jesus. The life of following Jesus is one of surrender.

My video today is here. The lyrics are pretty clear as you listen. May it be your anthem for this week.

Blind

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

I was just listening to a song by Styx called “Snowblind,” about the dangers of cocaine. One of the refrains says, “Mirror, mirror on the wall/The face you show me scares me so…” That describes my morning look into the mirror!

Reality has set in for me. Well, it has for quite awhile but there are some things I cannot deny. Long hair to no hair. Dark beard/goatee to gray. Joints which creak. 🙂 Joints that don’t want to work anymore, or at least very crankily. There is other visible evidence which I cannot deny. The mirror just does not lie.

While reading Caleb’s new book (I talk about it here) I ran across a great story! It comes from the movie Creed, where Rocky is training Adonis, Apollo Creed’s son. (Watch the first 100 Rocky’s to know who he is. Actually the first 4).

During one scene, Rocky and Adonis are standing in front of a mirror in the gym during their training session. Rocky teaches Adonis a brilliant lesson about self-perception. Pointing at Adonis in the mirror,  Rocky says, “You see this guy here staring back at you?”

“Yeah,” Adonis answers.

“That’s your toughest opponent. Every time you get into the ring, that’s who you’re going against. I believe that in boxing, and I do believe that in life.”

Who knew? Rocky the boxing philosopher! I agree with him actually.  I have tough times, seemingly on a daily basis (although that would be an exaggeration), but no battle I face is bigger than the one I have with the dude looking back at me in the mirror.  It is not a physical battle (although it is looking like 65), but an inside job. Who am I? Do I have what it takes to serve Jesus? Am I His or just playing a game? Am I ready for today’s battle?

P.S. My heart breaks as I watch pictures of the video and know there are thousands prisoner to a “false paradise.”

Think

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

Paul says in Philippians 4:8- “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.”

Over the past week or so I have been reading God of Tomorrow, Caleb Kaltenbach’s new book.  A normal review will give the pros and cons , good points and bad points, and whether it is worth your while to read it.  I’m going to take a different approach in this post. I want to highlight several of his included quotes and thoughts. Then let you decide at the end if it is a book you want to invest your time in.

God of Tomorrow: How to Overcome the Fears of Today and Renew Your Hope for the Future

First, an explanation. Caleb’s book’s premise is focused around hope for tomorrow being the solution to the fears of today. He analyzes the culture pretty well and what should be the Christ-follower’s approach to the people who are the culture. Change is inevitable. It is how we react to that change which gives us our approach to people.  (My comments appear after)

“Combativeness without compassion is always going to be counterproductive.”  We need to have our beliefs but we don’t have to cram them down someone’s throat nor do we need to be militant.

“Our differences with people should drive us to them, not from them.” This is sure opposite of our “hunker down” attitude.

“Our fear is no match for the unlimited power and uncontested reign of God.  When will we learn this? Instead of fearing change, let’s hold to our beliefs but not shy away in fear.

“Hope reminds us that our best days are ahead, not behind us.”  And I might add not right now either. No apologies to Joel for that.

“Out-of-place people always have a place with God.”  I seem to remember someone telling a story about going to the highways and bi-ways to bring people into a meal. Hmmmm.  Maybe this would change our approach toward “unlovely” and “unacceptable, despicable” people we often have.

There are plenty more and I plan to use them during the next week as I post some thoughts. But the coup de grace for me was this one:

When people look at your (my) life, it should be so easy for them to see Jesus in how you (I) treat them, love them, and share truth with them. (p.201)

What do you think of those quotes? Think you might get this book?

 

Shock

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

It is the afternoon of Father’s Day. I’m in la-la land (translated: my eyes are glassy and my mind is in a fog). But I wanted to write something. But all I’m having at this moment is random thoughts. So I thought I would share them with you and you can take them or leave them. 🙂

I received a FD card from my oldest daughter, Tami.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She thought it was funny. I told her not to quit her day job. Actually, none of that is true. It is true I got the card from her. It is true she thought it fit and was funny. What is not true is the conversation. I laughed. I did tell her via text: “I’m honored you think I’m a bit weird. You wouldn’t want all normal people. How boring is that?”  Being a father to Tami and Janna and a grandfather to Braden is one of the highlights of my life.

I was in the chiropractor’s office and picked up a Men’s Health magazine to read and ran across a page called “THE (Above) AVERAGE GUY.” I asked them to make a copy for me. Here is a bit what it said:

$89,420 average cost for four years of college now. $372,397 average projected cost in 2033, when your 3-year old today heads off to college. That’ll scare the heeby-jeebies out of ya’!

37% of kids say they wish no parents would watch them play.  (Could it be they know something we don’t? Like it matters more to parents than their kids and kids want to have fun?)

Tony Hawk, arguably the world’s greatest skateboarder. Coolest dad ever? His kids on him turning 50.

  • His 9-year old: “He hasn’t finished Mario Odyssey, and he can’t dance!”
  • His 15 year old: “He steals your food.”
  • His 18 year old: “He’s in bed by 9 p.m.”

There you have it. Wisdom for the ages. 🙂

And since I’m in the shock mode: here is a song solidly based on Scripture. It is long but epic. I’m sure it is probably not most of your cup of tea but I like Theocracy and love this song.  Just for fun I asked the lady who signs our services if she would do this.  🙂

Hope you had a good Sunday-father or not.

EternityAmnesia?

Friday, March 30th, 2018

This Sunday has different meaning to different people.  For some its part of their yearly ritual of C & E attendance. For some it is nothing more than a day filled with chocolate, baskets, chocolate rabbits, colored eggs, and chocolate eggs.  Oh…did I mention chocolate? For some it will be the consummate holiday. Not because of it being a holiday but because of its meaning.

For the follower of Christ, it is the one day of the year which sets every other day aside, but also every other religion of the world. Judaism, while not acknowledging the life and death of Messiah, still has a founder, Abraham, in the ground. Islam’s founder, Mohamed, died at the age of 61 and was buried in a tomb in Medina. He has yet to be seen alive. No disciple of Buddha can say, “I have seen him alive.” Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the JW’s is still in his grave. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Scientist, is still in her grave. Ellen G. White, the founder of SDA, is still in her grave. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young (among others), the founders of Mormonism and LDS are still in their graves. Only one person has ever defied hell and the grave: Jesus Christ. Proof of his “aliveness” abounds.

The problem with many of us is we suffer from “eternity amnesia” and therefore we are guilty of forgetting forever. By that I don’t mean forgetting something and never to recall it, but we forget a thing called Forever. But here is a simple truth: without eternity Christianity makes no sense. If all that sin has broken won’t be forever fixed someday, then there is no hope now and no hope in the hereafter. So what Paul says in I Corinthians 15 is radical: without a guaranteed forever, faith in Christ is robbed of its meaning, power, and hope.

This Sunday is celebration Sunday for every Christ-follower. Thanks to the generosity of Bill & Suzie Abram we will be enjoying the use of Abram Farm (as we did on Christmas Eve). I hope you will enjoy your Resurrection Sunday celebration of Jesus being Alive! Meanwhile, would you mind praying for us? Thanks.

Reflection

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Once again my thoughts and heart are pulled to the reality of this week. We will soon celebrate what is known as Good Friday, the day traditionally given to remembering the cross and the sacrifice of Jesus. Soon…Sunday is coming!

Tuesday’s New Morning Mercies focused on Galatians 2:20. Living life in my own strength and by my own strength is an effort in futility. Gal.2:20 weaves into itself what I see as a formula: theological truth + practical truth = solid impact. Let me explain:

Theological truth= Jesus died for me, as my representative.

Practical truth= the power which is in me is Jesus.

Impactful (Yeah I know that is not a word) truth= I live with peace, hope and courage.

I’m honestly overwhelmed (and I hope it always stays this way) by the simplicity and power of the cross. How can I explain someone dying for me? Taking my pain and punishment? And then wanting to live within me? I can’t. It is a rare time I am speechless. The cross is a life-changing event. We sang a song this past Sunday with these lyrics: “The cross meant to kill is my victory.” I am going to celebrate the Cross with a grateful heart.

I unpack the above three “truth” statements a little more on my other blog. If you care to read them, you can click here.  Or you can click on the BeTransformed banner to the right and it will take you there.

I do have a prayer request: Tomorrow Jo & I will be taking Braden back to Ohio and then returning home…all in one day. It is supposed to rain a-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l day. Prayers would be much appreciated. Thanks.

ChristAlone

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

We begin what has been called the final week of Jesus. Traditionally, today was Palm Sunday, the day Jesus made His entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The people welcomed him with “Hosannas” and threw their palm branches on the ground. Told by the religious hypocrites to shut them up, Jesus told the hypocrites that even if he were to do that the rocks and mountains would scream out in praise.

His week was eventful, eventually culminating in his farce of a trial, mockery, torture, and ultimate death on the cross.

This song is a fitting one to begin this week with. I hope it will help focus you, not on the events of the week, but on the perfect plan of God culminating in the death of Jesus on the cross…and His eventual resurrection.

Fools

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

Being called a fool is not a complementary term. It is sort of akin to moron or idiot in our use of the word.  Tragically, we have often played the fool when it comes to spiritual things. We think we know best. We get eternity amnesia. We get big-picture amnesia.

We also get cross-amnesia. Down through the years teaching on the cross has evolved…and that has not always been good.  The cross took a back seat. I will post about the history of that fiasco next week.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. I was asked Sunday by someone new to church what Palm Sunday was. I explained it to him, but told him I’m glad he asked. In biblical days, the cross was seen as a symbol of cruelty and judgment upon those who deserved it. It was seen as a way to mete out punishment to the worst of the worst. In our day, the cross is seen as a symbol of foolishness. Vicarious redemption is seen as a stupid act and totally unnecessary. There is a word for that (I’ll let you fill that one in).

This Sunday I’ll continue my True North series but also talk about the cross using I Corinthians 1:18-2:5.  I’m going to do that with two thoughts:

  • I reaffirm the necessity of the cross
  • I reaffirm the necessity of God’s wisdom.

Prayers would be appreciated. And thank you ahead of time.

 

 

Deception

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

D.L.Moody once said, “No one should every preach about hell without tears in his eyes.” And so I write this post with tears in my eyes. I confess: I am angry. I’m angry at the blatant disregard for God’s Word. I’m angry at the “free translation” taken for the purpose of bilking millions out of seeing and hearing the truth of God’s Word. All for money, prestige, fame, and a following. Please let me explain. And again…I write this with tears in my eyes. AND IT IS MY OPINION and not to be taken as coming from OVCF.

Several weeks ago I could be found reading a book called Defining Deception by Costi Hinn (Benny’s nephew) and Anthony G. Wood. Actually, reading this book is a furthering of my study on what is called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).  The NAR is neither new, apostolic or reformed.  Plain and simple it is heresy.  The main proponent of this heresy today is Bill Johnson and Bethel Redding and Jesus Culture.  There are others, of course. Deception always has more than one, but he is the one who is the “figurehead” of the movement. It started again (it has been going on for quite some time in various forms) with C. Peter Wagner who taught that he was an apostle and there were others as well…Johnson being one of them. Todd White,  Heidi Baker, Kris Vallotton, Danny Silk, and others are also part of it. The NAR also hangs its hat with the likes of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, and other Prosperity Doctrine & Health/Wealth false teachers.  Heretical teaching like denying the deity of Jesus Christ; ungodly practices like “grave sucking;” tarot card (called Destiny cards) readings; “guaranteed” healing in the Atonement (using Isaiah 53:5); setting up men today as “Apostles;” women as prophetesses; and other false ideas has me a tad bit upset. My first blog was 2/20/08 and in all the years since can probably count on one hand hitting on someone else or naming names.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote this post called “Lies.” Since then I have finished Defining Deception and highly encourage you to read it. Here’s the deal: you can have one of three responses to reading it:

  1. You can get as mad as “all get out” and never come back to my blog.  i hope that will not be the case. I’ll miss you, but I simply cannot apologize for my stand.
  2. You can purchase the book and read it for yourself (which I hope you will do) and come to your own decision.
  3. You will agree and cement your stand for the truth of God’s Word in an age of cults and wild “God-works-this-way-today” accusations.

Costi and Anthony have done a great service to us by writing this book. Costi, especially, has taken “heat” from his family for his truthfulness. BTW: they finish the book with 5 excellent appendices.

 

Compass

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

When we talk about a compass today it is almost like a foreign language. In this day and age with GPS and every other tracking  system know to man, a compass seems like something old-fashioned and out-of-date. I like the digital compass on my rearview mirror in my truck. I can at least know which direction I am going in since rumor has it when it comes to figuring out N-S-E-W I just may be a bit directionally-challenged.

Many of you are old enough to remember the old American Express commercial where the tag line was “Don’t leave home without it.” No hiker should even think about going on a hike, especially into the woods, without a compass or some type of directional finder.

Living in today’s  modern world is a ride into uncharted territory for sure! The instability of life will hit us square in the face and get us all turned around if we don’t have a compass. As followers of Christ that can be devastating. My sermon Sunday is about the compass we have to tell us our direction. John tells us we face a battle: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” Jesus did as well, but we are also told He did not sin. What was His secret? Check out Luke 4:1-12 for the answer. That is the Scripture we will be looking at this week. Thanks, as always, for your prayers.