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Christmas’18#2

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

In keeping with my stated intention in my last post, I’d like to pass along several thoughts/quotes I found in my reading.  I  hope these will give you some “thought” about this Christmas season.

Christmas is not simply about a birth but about a coming.  Tim Keller in Hidden Christmas

God had planned for the arrival of His Son. Like any good writer, he prepared His people with a great back story. We now call that back story the Old Testament. As you read the OT you can’t help but see how God was preparing the people of Israel for the coming Messiah.

Here is a good one for you that really hits on the lack of Biblical truth in the church and also hits at the seemingly endless “psychological/mind/feel good” so-called preachers in today’s culture.

THE GOSPEL IS GOOD NEWS, NOT GOOD ADVICE.

The story of Jesus, the Gospel story, does not begin with “Once upon a time in a far away place…” Fairy tales begin that way. Star Wars begins that way (so I’ve been told). But not the Gospel message. Matthew 1 contains the genealogy of Jesus. It starts out by saying, “This is the genealogy of Jesus Christ.” Not “Once upon a time in a very far away town called Bethlehem…”

People don’t need good advice. Good advice will not lead people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. People need Jesus and the salvation He offers.

There you have it. A couple thoughts for your Christmas thoughts. What do you think?

Christmas’18

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

The past few Decembers I have taken to posting something about Christmas. A song. A devotion I read. A quote. I plan to do that this month as well.

My first post is by my favorite singer probably of all time. He made his mark with a group in the 60s and then went solo in the 70s and beyond. He put out a Christmas recording (what else should I call it?) back in 2008 and it stays close to my truck CD player for the whole month in December.  One year it never left the player. 🙂  What’s funny is I have a compilation of his 40 greatest hits and the title tune from his CD is on it: “I Love Christmas.” When that song comes on it truly is Christmas in July.

Anyway, in keeping with the real meaning and spirit of Christmas, I’d like to feature what I consider one of the highlights of the CD. Hope you enjoy it.

And Floyd: you know I had to do this.  In fact, I included this just for you!

Light

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

I must confess. I love lights. Christmas lights in particular. One of my fondest memories as a child was one Sunday night after church we would drive through the neighborhoods around us looking at lights. Christmas was a challenge for mom and dad in many ways, but they did their best  to make them bright and cheery. We never got our tree before Christmas Eve day but when we came down on Christmas morning it was bright with a train underneath. Dad always put lights in the lower windows. Our trips through the neighborhoods were those where money seemed to be no object. But even those would be considered child’s play according to some. Here is one of them: https://youtu.be/MnL0_CsXncI

I know that will never be me. Shoot, I don’t even put lights in the windows.  I’ll let someone else blow their hard-earned dough on contests and taking a chance on the wrath of the neighbors.  🙂

Sunday I start a new series I’m calling Shedding Light on Christmas (as you can see by the banner).  This week I’m taking a look at Isaiah 9: 2-7: “The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light…He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” My whole focus this month will be on Jesus as the Light. I’d appreciate your prayers for this Sunday. Thanks.

HYMNS

Friday, November 16th, 2018

I am not preaching this weekend. My brother, Rob, will be here to sing and preach. So, I decided I would do something that I hope will set your heart right.

Worship is often confined to what happens on Sunday morning at “church.” I’m a firm believer though that worship is 24/7. However, focusing on the time we gather together on Sunday morning is what I’d like to do in this post. We gather. We sing. We partake of the Lord’s Supper. We give our tithes and offerings. We preach. (Okay…I preach). 🙂  But chances are when we talk about worship to the everyday attender most will point to the singing.

Sunday morning singing has gone through several time warps. It used to be it was all hymns. (I still love Great is Thy Faithfulness and Holy, Holy, Holy and some others like them). Then a few spiritual songs were added (think I’ll Fly Away or When We All Get to Heaven). The Jesus Movement brought in a whole new type of song, both worship songs but also “feel good about me” songs. The evolution of those types of songs has been slow but eventually we morphed into a band, a group of singers, guitarists, drummers, and (choke choke) light shows, smoke machines, and theatrics. Some have even introduced “secular” songs into a worship set (Like the church that played Highway to Hell to introduce their Easter service one time).  We now have songs that last 5-7 minutes due to repetition of verses and choruses. And, of course, there is the resident “jump around and act crazy” songs mistakenly substituted for and called worship. Now…please understand I love some of the music played. I like a beat, even a rockier kind. But there is a point of saturation.

Enter a new breed and new wave of hymns. Yep, that’s right hymns. I never thought I’d be saying it but I welcome it. Not going back to singing the old ones that drone on, but new ones which highlight God the Father and Jesus the Son in meaningful, heart-touching words and music. I’ve come across some of the “new” hymns lately by a church out of Australia (no not Hillsong). The group is called CityAlight. I have been touched by their music and lyrics. You know I have been if I tell you I have been to the Y the past two days and have had them in my ears. I’d encourage you to listen to them on your own but I would like to highlight a few songs that have touched me deeply.  No comment will be made by me. I’d like you to listen and then let me know what you think. I’m encouraging our Worship Team to pursue learning some of this music.

First, this was the first one I ever heard by them.

Second, this one is a cry of my heart.

Third, I heard this one today and it jolted me.

Fourth, this one is for good measure.  🙂

I hope you will check out more of their music. I believe you will be blessed beyond measure.  Have a great weekend of worship! Enjoy being in the Father’s presence.

Hope

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

God placed his unshakable love on me.

Let that sink in for a minute or two. That sounds so inviting. So settling. So solid. Especially in today’s world when everything seem so unsettled, so much in an upheaval, it is good to know there is a constant. That constant is Jesus. That constant is the solid hope He gives.

I like what Tripp says: “Hope is a Person and His name is Jesus.”

For the rest of my post on HOPE see my post here on my other blog.

Aftereffect

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

I remember watching MacGyver years ago and one of the scientific principles he used several times was “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I didn’t post yesterday (Monday) because I can attest to that.

This past Sunday we had our Day of Service (DoS). You can read about it here. But it was so much more than just an afternoon of serving. In my case, it was several months leading up to the day.  For the last few years I enlisted the help of another church since it was getting way too big just for me/us. My friend, James, an Associate Pastor of another church in town, came on board and has been invaluable. Last Spring the Owen County Chamber of Commerce joined us, as they did this time. (I am a board member of the Chamber also).  The Fall DoS entails a bit more since we not only rake leaves, clean gutters, and help get people ready for winter, we also do free oil changes for those who need them but can’t afford them. Invariably, there is one or two who need a bit more. So OVCF paid for 10 oil changes; a set of wiper blades and rear set of brakes for the same car; and an extensive look trying to fix a speedometer cable. Along with that we raked, cleaned gutters, etc for over 30 people. And trust me when I say there were plenty of leaves! Sycamore trees and maple trees abound in our town. Jo and I were going around encouraging and thanking people, but ended up staying at one place as we bagged and emptied huge contractor bags full of leaves 4 times! As it was I took 2 of the bags to put on the garden we have on the church property (one of our ladies started it). Then it started raining about 3:00 and I heard some of the folks were raking in the rain.

Here it is Tuesday and I’m still not done. Still some debriefing to do with James and Cassandra. Still some notes of thanks to be sent to some local folks (Babbs grocery and AutoZone) for their help. Oh yeah…rest. I was dead on my feet Sunday night and even dragged yesterday some. But its a good tired. A tired that comes from helping others. From knowing you were doing what Jesus would do (although I’m thinking He didn’t have gutters, leaves, air conditioners to move, weather stripping to install, or gardens to clean out). Then again…

Tired but satisfied. Tired but fulfilled. Tired but knowing we served as our Master would.

TheRock

Friday, October 12th, 2018

No…this sermon is not about the “actor”  or any of his movies. It is about the One who is The Rock.  Do you remember ever reading or hearing this from many moons ago?

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.

That is just part of the poem/story told about Jesus. It is amazing how much Jesus is mentioned in our culture, but not necessarily out of respect. He’s in the world of fashion. (Who could forget the infamous “Jesus is my Homeboy” t-shirts many celebrities wore?) He shows up in movies. He shows up in music, both good and bad. He shows up at award shows (again both good and bad).  He shows up in the world of sports.  He shows up in the religions of the world (Don’t get me started on that!).

I recently finished reading Superheroes Can’t Save You by Todd Miles ( a great book where he took different superheroes and related it to how Jesus is perceived by many).  Todd wrote this after talking about his stagnant spiritual life which came to life while a student at Oregon State University:

Jesus Christ is the most compelling, interesting, and remarkable person who ever lived.  He is exactly who he claimed to be, precisely who the Bible teaches that he is-God in the flesh, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” (p.3)

Who Jesus is, according to the Bible, is a non-negotiable. That is where I choose to Stake My Claim this Sunday. If you live around here, please join us. If not, you can listen via podcast. In any case, please pray for me and for the folks this coming Sunday.  Thanks.

Miscellaneous

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

I’ve been somewhat absent here this week. Life has a way of doing that you know? Tuesday afternoon I made an hour trip to Greenwood to visit someone in the hospital. Cancer is an ugly disease and what he has is especially vicious.  Please pray for Billy & Becky as they pray for God’s healing or His will. He has fought for two years with an incredible will to live.  This is where I wish I was Jesus…I could speak the word and he would be instantly healed. But I’m not. I just believe in the power of prayer, but also the reality of God’s sovereign will.

Today is my daughter Janna’s birthday. I will not tell her age but simply say she is less than 40. Just less than. 🙂 God blessed me and Jo with two beautiful girls-Tami & Janna. I am proud of both of them.  But this is Janna’s birthday and a tribute to her. I am so thankful God blessed us with her. She and Tami were so-o-o-o different. Where Tami would sit for long periods of time with me and let me read to her (and eventually turning that around), Janna would have nothing to do with that.  Her learning curve was different. “You won’t teach me how to put those little shape things in that box. I’ll do it myself at my own speed.” “I’ll learn to read when I’m good and ready to read.” (She did). I am thankful God gave her to us. I am thankful for the woman, wife, and mother she has become. (Both those latter ones she was not interested in for awhile). I am thankful she still loves her dad (and mom), even though we are getting old. And I’m thankful she loves Jesus. I don’t have a song from 1979 that I liked. It was the disco era and…well you know…  But I did find the song we danced to at her wedding. She was a Stryper fan as was I so this is the song she chose. Yeah, I know…the hair.  🙂 🙂 🙂  Happy Birthday Janna!

Today I get to meet a camera crew. The folks from RoadID are coming to film me for a promotion video.  For those who may not know: I was hit while riding my bike by a hit-n-run driver on November 7, 2016. I was pretty much recovered from that when I had a more devastating wreck while going downhill on February 17, 2017. I broke my collarbone, 3 ribs, did a face plant, split my helmet in 3 places and had other abrasions. When the squad came I pointed to my RoadID for them to get contact and medical information. Click on the sidebar to find out more information. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings. Hope you have a great day.

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.”