Second Chance

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Messy

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Well…I did it again.

NO…I DIDN’T HAVE ANOTHER BICYCLE ACCIDENT!

Saturday night I told Jo not to be surprised if I scrapped the sermon for something else. I felt God nudging me about it while I was studying. In fact, I almost went back to the office Saturday evening. I didn’t. But Sunday morning, in spite of the Daylight Savings Time shift, I was up and in my office and cranked out a sermon to preach.

I called it Messy Grace. It was a follow up to last week’s sermon when I opened up about my wilderness journey. I needed to  bring some closure to that sermon and “felt led” to address the issue of messy grace.

Sometimes grace is messy. Sometimes grace is rubbing shoulders with people who are not like us. Jud Wilhite, a pastor in LasVegas and the author of Stripped tells the story of a lady who said she was leaving the church because she didn’t like the type of people who were showing up and “you never know what you might get from those type of people.” I suspect God was more grieved over her comment than “those type of people” attending church.

Grace was extended to me by my family this past week. The people of OVCF extended grace to me by their texts, emails, comments, and phone calls. I’d like to close with this picture of a wall hanging Jo and I bought shortly after Christmas. Little did I know how much it would be appropriate to us.

Models

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

The other two installments of will bring you more completely up to date and put you in line with this post.

MISSION: TO CONNECT PEOPLE TO JESUS

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

VISION #2: WE DESIRE TO BE MODELS OF TRUTH AND LOVE

This one can get a little dicey. We have to run a fine line between acceptance of the individual and approval of sin. The church is being slammed hard in this area. You know that as well as I do. We are being asked to compromise biblical values in order to be more inclusive. We are being seen as judgmental or (dare I say it?) homophobic because we take a stand against what we believe to be an unbiblical and unacceptable lifestyle.

The fine line we walk is between compassion and compromise.

Sadly, the church today is known more for what it is against than it stands for. Rather than being a card carrying member of the placard-waving Westwood clan, perhaps we would do well to be known for what we are for.

  • We stand for the acceptance and approval of each person as one who matters to God. (There. Now you know what I think of the Black Lives Matter/White Lives Matter/Hispanic Lives Matter stuff. WE ALL MATTER and are loved by the Heavenly Father).
  • We stand for building a stronger family.
  • We stand for the decrease and abuse of drugs, alcohol and children.
  • We stand for putting in safety measures to stop the easy access to pornography.
  • We stand for young people and helping them get out of human trafficking.

Models of truth and love. Easy to say; not so easy to do. What say you?

Reviews

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Occasionally I will post a book review. After two fairly “heavy” posts, I decided a diversion was necessary. So I’m going to post three reviews at a time. One I read over a period of several weeks. One I read while on vacation. And one I read awhile ago but needed to wait for the right time.

First up: the one I read over a period of several weeks. The Comeback by Louie Giglio

Product Details

Most Christ-followers in today’s generation know who Louis Giglio is. Passion Conference. Chris Tomlin. Matt Redman. Passion City Church in Atlanta. Best known for years as the founder/leader of Passion Conferences and the music which followed, Louie is also a pastor and author. The Comeback is his latest. It is filled with stories of people who had second chances in life. I found it helpful and encouraging to read. Not a lot of depth in biblical teaching but there was enough to find my book marked up pretty well. If you are looking for a book with excellent stories and some good (but sometimes trite) teaching, you won’t go wrong taking some time reading this. There is a corresponding Study Guide/DVD series which goes along with it for use with a small group.

One I read while on vacation: The Trail by Ed Underwood

Product Details

I loved this book! It is not your typical sit-right-down-and-underline-while-taking-notes type of book. Ed writes it as a parable of a possible real life adventure. Wanting to know God’s will seems to be at the top of many Christ-follower’s lives. Ed writes this as an engaging story while teaching eight principles for illuminating the path ahead. It is not mere pablum or trite “Christianese.” Even though I am currently not seeking God’s will about any kind of professional change, the principles apply to all areas of life. Ed has written several other books which I highly recommend and this one is no exception.

The one I read awhile ago: Note the Quote by Floyd Samons

If I have a blogger to name whom I have come to know and love over the years it would be Floyd. We have personally corresponded with each other through the years. I have found him to be the genuine article. He blogs here. His writing is always fun and engaging. Sometimes surprising. Always with a point. This short book contains various quotes from his blogs over the years. Quotes on Wisdom, Inspiration, Reflection, and some Lighter ones are included. As I read it I checked those which I particularly liked. I plan to review it from time to time. It is a self-published book of 47 pages and you can get it from him directly. Go to his blog and follow directions. 🙂

That’s enough for now. I’ll return with more books at various time. So…what are you reading that you think I ought to latch on to?

Taking Advantage

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

 

itiswritten

When you hear about someone “taking advantage” it almost immediately brings up a negative thought. As a pastor, I have been taken advantage of (as have we all), and have seen people take advantage of a church as they “work the system.” People go from handout to handout without batting an eye.

There is no doubt there are people who want to take advantage of (and do) of God’s second chances. One of my commenters has brought that up a couple of times. Tragically, he is not far from the truth. There are many who will say, “Well, I believe in God’s grace and forgiveness” and then they run wild figuring God would forgive.

I’ve spent the past 6 weeks talking about Second Chances-after shame; after running; after failing; after falling; after fear; and after hearing impossible. But a valid point is raised in the question of what about those who continue to sow wild oats…all the while expecting God to forgive? A more important question to me is how can I make sure I am on the right path? This Sunday I’m finishing up my series on Second Chance by talking about “When taking advantage is good. My Scripture is I Peter 1:3-9…a challenge even for the most mature believer you know.

The world will be changed-not by our words-but by actions which are fueled by God’s power. Thanks for your prayers.

Never Impossible

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

This past weekend I preached on an incident in the life of Jehoshaphat from 2 Chronicles 20. It was more than a sermon; it was a look back. You see, I heard the outline of this message in 1987. I attended a Pastor’s Conference in Washington state that Spring which changed my life. But not without some pain. I was attending that conference as a man who was hurting. A man who had just been asked to leave the church he had pastored for 3 years. The reason I was given was that I would not preach what they wanted me to preach and I chose to attend that conference even though they told me I couldn’t (I paid my own way). In all honesty, there was some arrogance and belligerence on my part as well.

Anyway, I heard the outline of this message while there. I saved it for 29 years in my files…looking for the perfect time to bring it out and preach it. I had tried it once before but it was a dud. A royal dud. So I put it away…until the time came when I felt God “released” me to preach it. That time is now as I come close to finishing my series on Second Chances. Here are the five steps Jehoshaphat took to make the Impossible a Possible. I’m going to “bare bones” it with the main thought and the Scripture.

I. Seek The Lord Not Men- Verses 1-4

II. Acknowledge God’s Unlimited Power- Verses 5-9.  I added Isaiah 40:12-14, 25-26, 28-31 for more emphasis.

III. Face The Task Recognizing The Hopelessness Without God- Verses 10-12.  I also used 2 Corinthians 12 for clarification.

IV. We Need to Remember Whose Battle It Is- Verses 15-17.  We get ready. We prepare but ultimately the battle is not ours.

V. Praise Him in Advance- Verses 19-22.  Principle: God inhabits the praise of His people.

It is totally possible others have used this same outline. Who says there are any original thoughts? 🙂 But I do hope perhaps it might help you or someone you know who may be facing a seemingly impossible situation.

Impossible

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

 

itiswritten

First, some housecleaning. Many of you (okay maybe one) may have wondered where I have been. I haven’t commented on any of your comments here nor have I been leaving comments on your blogs (if you have one).  It is true I have been busy but the real reason isn’t nearly as virtuous as that. 🙂

Truth: the church’s internet has been down for two days. Talk about being hamstrung! About a month ago it went down for close to 3 days. I won’t mention our carrier’s name, but Comcast didn’t do us any favors. One of our own guys (techgeek) had to get our internet up and running. But for reasons we had no clue about, it kept cutting in and out. Odd hours. Odd length of time. Wednesday morning around 5:30 it gave up the ghost. It took us until Thursday afternoon to get it back. I do have to hand it to Comcast for expediting that. Sort of hard to run a business without it. Since I don’t have a computer at home…and since I despise typing on my phone…I read only.

So now you know the rest of the story.

My sermon Sunday is taken from 2 Chronicles 20 where Jehoshaphat faced the Ammonites and Moabites in a seemingly impossible situation. We might say he faced a mountain and had no clue what to do. He couldn’t go around it; under it; over it; or through it.

Often we are defeated by those seemingly impossible situations which want to take us down and stomp on us. Life after divorce. Life after a death. Life after losing a job. Life after watching our world fall apart. We feel overwhelmed. Just like Jehoshaphat. His story, though, is one of the Impossible becoming a testimony to the Possible of God.

Thanks for your prayers. One of my posts next week will give the five steps Jehoshaphat took to make this a reality.

Squandered Resources

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

 

itiswritten

This post is not about the environment or the government or any other “ment.”

I suspect most of us have heard stories like this somewhere along the line:

An old woman, known as “Garbage Mary,” lived in a small town in Florida. Every day she would be seen dressed in her rags, walking the streets, scavenging through garbage cans for food, which she hoarded in her car or in her tiny two-room apartment. She was a recluse with no friends, and while she scrounged cigarettes and ice cubes from anyone available, it was logical to assume she was an old woman losing her mind and on the verge of destitution.

She was picked up by police and confined in an institution. When some officials went to her apartment, they were amazed to find out there was money everywhere. Bank books, securities, oil-drilling rights, real estate documents, and cash, all which indicated she was worth more than 1 million dollars! They also indicated she was not an old woman but a 48 year old college graduate who had inherited a great deal of money when her father died in 1974.

Various reasons for her actions were given, but the tragedy remains that Garbage Mary is a story of squandered resources. She had “value” she didn’t even take advantage of.

In the OT there is a man who “lives” as one who squandered his resources. His name? Samson. And boy did he squander his resources!! Given the leadership of the people of Israel during the time of the judges, Samson had great potential. But he kept squandering it because he had a weakness. Chuck Swindoll called him “a he-man with a she-weakness.” That about sums it up.

This Sunday my sermon is on Samson. In keeping with the series theme of “Second Chance,” I am calling this “Second Chance after Falling.”

If you are like me, your weekends don’t give you much time to read or comment on blogs. I will read but very seldom comment. Because I believe people praying is so important, I have decided to move my weekend post to early Thursday instead of posting it late Thursday/early Friday. I hope it prompts you to pray for me and the church this weekend. You have no idea how much I appreciate it. Thanks ahead of time. 

Failure

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

 

itiswritten

I seriously doubt, if we are honest, there isn’t a one of us who at one time or another hasn’t failed. If you are like me it is, “Seriously? Again?” If there is one thing we all have in common it isn’t hair, heights, teeth, clothing, or anything tangible.

All of us have failed at something. A job. A business. A marriage. A career. A sport. The list seems endless doesn’t it?

Pick a person in the Bible who represents failure and I suspect many will choose the one I will be speaking about this Sunday. Matthew 5. Luke 9. Matthew 16. Matthew 26. If you guessed those Scriptures were about Peter you would be right.

Epic fail. Colossal fail. Especially that last one. Talk about betrayal Judas comes to mind. Talk about denial/failure Peter comes to mind.

But talk restoration and he should also come to mind. That, after all, is what John 21 is all about. Three times Jesus asked him if he loved Him, with the last being an echo of Peter’s own answers to the first two. Three denials. Three questions. Life & ministry restored.

After all, there is a second chance after failure. Peter is an example. Thanks for your prayers Sunday.

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May I ask a special prayer from you this weekend? A local church has about blown apart. We are supposed to have some of the folks visiting Sunday. I don’t mind being a haven for people to get their hearts and minds together, but I am not interested in growing OVCF by “sheep stealing.” Please pray for a right attitude for me and the healing of a breach in the wall for the other church. Thanks.

Running

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

 

itiswritten

This is not a blog about running…so have no fear! 🙂  I don’t run…at all. Not only do I find it a sport I have no interest in, my body also says, “Don’t even think about it!” And I ALWAYS listen to my body. (cough cough!)

This a post…and a sermon…about running from God. For those of you who know the Bible, I can already tell you know who this sermon will be dealing with. For those few who might be in the dark…try swallowed by a big fish as a clue.

Jonah…the classic illustration of someone who ran from God. “I want you to go to Ninevah and preach to them.” “Nope don’t think so.” And off he goes for parts unknown. But God intervenes and to make a long story short, He does exactly what Jonah suspected He would.

I suspect we have all run from time to time. Thinking I know a better way or a better solution, I have gone and chosen my own path. Trouble: running is not the answer. Especially running from God. But fortunately, God gives second chances…even after running.

I’m not interested in debating the truth or falsehood of this story. That is another time and another place. (Although I do believe it is a true story).  I would appreciate your prayers for this Sunday.

 

StartingOver

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

 

itiswritten

Several years ago a book written by Robert Fulghum took the literary world by surprise due to its appeal: “All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” In a similar sense, we could say, “All I ever needed to know about God I learned in the parable called the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

I suspect most of my readers are familiar, maybe overly, with the story. But lest we get carried away with the story of the son, we cannot forget the father! To be more clear: this story gives us a great glimpse into the nature and character of God.

The story is familiar. The younger son disses his father in a big way. He goes against all the cultural norms of his day. He disregards his inheritance. He dishonors his father. He demands his birthright. The father really had no choice in the matter. He gives his son what was his and sends him on his way.

Eventually, the son loses it all and finds himself in a pigpen (literally). Coming to his senses, his devises a speech and heads home. His father sees him (which implies to me he was looking for him), and runs to meet this wayward son. The son doesn’t even get out his speech before the father is lavishing love and gifts upon him.

How much like God that is. A God of the Second Chance. A God who takes our mess-ups and meets us there. A God who takes all our mistakes and wipes the slate clean. He lavishes us with love in spite of all we’ve done. He picks us up, dusts us off, and says, “Now…go.” Not in a put-off sort of way but in a “This is a new start. Move on.”

I’ll be using a quote this Sunday which I plan to highlight in my next post. My theme for 2016 is “It is Written.” My first series is Second Chance. I’d appreciate your prayers for me and for those who need to know this truth.