Doctrine

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Assurance

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Have you heard the story of a man who made an appointment with a psychologist? When the doctor asked him what had prompted the visit, the man said, “I’m suffering from an inferiority complex.” The psychologist took a couple of weeks and put the man through an intensive series of tests. The man waited while the tests were tabulated and the appropriate correlations made. Finally, the office called and the man went in to discover the results. The doctor walked in and said to him, “I have some interesting results. You do not have an inferiority complex. You really are inferior!”

Inferiority is not limited to those outside of Christ. It is not relegated to those who are “head” cases. It is not relegated to those who were beaten down as they grew up and think very little of themselves as a result. Inferiority blurs every line; covers every age group; crosses economic status, job, sex, and race. No one group can claim to be exempt.

Many followers of Christ are haunted by doubt. Assurance in their relationship with God and their daily walk is lacking. The passage I will be preaching on this week, I John 3: 19-24, really hits this issue hard.  We often need the reassurance that all is well in our relationship with God and it is not dependent on, nor does it hinge on our goodness. Doubts will come, some more and stronger than others. But that is no reason to doubt our salvation.

Do you have assurance of your salvation? Or do you live in constant doubt or fear?

CELEBRATE!!

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Happy Resurrection Day to all of you!

Consequences if Jesus did not raise from the dead (from I Corinthians 15)…

Christ would not be risen [v.13]

Preaching would be meaningless [v.14a]

Faith in Christ would be worthless. [v.14b]

All those who represent Christ or witness of Him would be considered liars. [v.15]

We are of all men most to be pitied. [v.19]

I hope you have and had a meaningful and very blessed Resurrection Sunday. “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

The enemy is defeated. Death is neutered by the Resurrection of Jesus.

CELEBRATE FREELY! 

TheEvent

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Part 3 of my mini-series within a series deals with the Future of Love.  As a recap:

The Look of Love talked about the mark of the Christ-follower: love.

The Act of Love talked about the crucifixion through the eyes of Isaiah in chapter 53.

This “Event” sermon looks at two events actually:

The Main Event- the Resurrection of Jesus

The Grand Finale- our future home in Heaven

This Sunday we celebrate the Main Event.  Apologist Josh McDowell was once asked by a student from Paraguay why he couldn’t refute Christianity. His answer? “For the very simple reason: I am not able to explain away an event in history-the resurrection of Jesus.”

And the Grand Finale? Oh WOW!!!!! There is so much to say about Heaven…too much for this particular post. One thing I do know is to echo Paul: “Absent from the body; present with the Lord.” I look forward to the reunions I will have. But most of all, I look forward to seeing the face of and embracing the One who showed me such G-R-A-C-E.

Jo & I left Wednesday for Ohio to spend a couple of days with our grandson. I will be incommunicado during that time. If you comment, I will approve it but not take the time to respond right away. I do ask for your prayers for this weekend.

Whichone?

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

“Joy to the World the Lord is come…”

Christmas song or Easter song?

Written in 1719 by Isaac Watts, he never intended it to be sung as a Christmas song. But it has become one of the most well-loved Christmas songs we sing. But as we are often guilty of doing, we skip over some of the stanzas. If we don’t skip over them we skim them. Hence, we might miss the third stanza of this hymn:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make his blessings flow

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as, far as the curse is found.

The mission of Jesus was not to come as a baby. That “started” it. But the mission of Jesus was to wipe out the curse of sin, death, hell and the grave. He came to unleash His power and grace in an unprecedented act of love. He came to restore our relationship with the Father which sin had broken.

What a tremendous truth to ponder as we enter this time of the year. Or if I may borrow the words to a song which has nothing to do with this topic: “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Spiders

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

I gotta admit: spiders are not my new best friends. I don’t freak out when I see them, not do I lovingly say, “Oh, hello Mr. Spider. Welcome to my world! I’m going to let you live because I believe that all creatures great and small ought to live.”

Nope…that’s not me. I don’t know what it is like where you live but there are certain times of the year when spiders seem to be prolific. Their webs are a nuisance. Walking through them and getting that sticky stuff on my face is enough to make me convulse. And I despise seeing their webs visible on my outside mirror and elsewhere, telling me they found a home. When that happens I do what I can to find them and get rid of them.

I recently read a quote from a blog entitled 5 Pastoral Proverbs that Stuck by Jared Wilson. The #5 proverb was

You don’t just wipe away the web; you’ve got to crush the spider

Jared accredits it to Steven Taylor, one of his pastors when he was a kid. His point is important. You don’t just wipe away the effects of sin; you’ve got to be extreme, go to the source of temptation.

That’s good advice. We once had carpet in our house that had pet smell, and even stains from the previous owners. We took out the part of the carpet we thought was the source and had tile put down (Kitchen). Nope. After vainly fighting the stain issue, we finally had to rip up the carpet and pad. That was the only way to get rid of both the smell and the stain.

We need to cut the “heart” out of sin by going to its source. Then crushing it that spider.

HOPE

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

I’m pretty sure you have heard the saying,

“We can live 40 days without food, eight days without water, four minutes without air, but only a few seconds without hope.”

There is some truth to that statement. If you have ever met someone who was in a truly helpless situation then you know how despairing it can be.

We often quote the phrase “Faith, Hope and Love, but the greatest of these is love.” Of the trio, faith and love are given most of the press and discussion. Hope is like the forgotten sister. In reality though, hope stands tall and is vital to all who want to follow Jesus and keep a right perspective on this life and the life to come.

After two faltering weeks on “Black hats/White hats” I decided to scrap that sermon and move on to the next one. This sermon is, as you probably guessed, on Hope and is taken from I John 2:28- 3:3.  We have a hope here and now. But we also have a hope for eternity. C.S. Lewis once said,

Hope is one of the theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is to do.

Thanks for praying for me for this Sunday. It is appreciated more than you know.

 

TESTS

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

I disliked taking tests. Maybe dislike is the wrong word. Maybe hated is a better one. 🙂 Actually, I didn’t mind the essay kind. I could “blow off” and hope I said enough to make my point. I didn’t mind multiple choice because somewhere along the line I might remember and get the right answer. I disliked strongly (how about that choice of words) the True/False kind.

One of the biggest struggles I run into among fellow Christ-followers is the assurance of salvation. Too many are always questioning “Am I saved?” “If I die today would I go to heaven?” “How can I know?” While I personally have questions about what is called Eternal Security, I don’t believe a follower of Christ ever has a reason to doubt their salvation. Based on what you ask? Well, Sunday I gave two tests to ask as you seek to figure out not only your own, but who might be preaching a strange gospel. Here are two from I John:

  • Belief in God and the certainty of sin. [1:5-6,8,10]  False teachers and doctrinal errors are spread when there is uncertainty about God and sin. John tells us “God is Light.” He also tells us “in Him is no darkness at all.” Ever since the Fall man has tried to excuse sin. We call it a “mistake” or a “failure” or a “disorder, illness, or addiction.” Call sin what it is…sin.
  • Belief in forgiveness of sin and confession. [1:7b,9] That verse 9 stands like a rock for me. We can deny it. We can argue. But we cannot erase that verse from the pages of Holy Writ. What is written is written. Way too many followers of Jesus live in the past and think they cannot be forgiven. The tense used for forgive is one which not only shows past forgiveness but specifically present forgiveness. And since my tomorrow is actually today, forgiveness is always there.

I’m sure you can think of more. But these are huge to the freedom of every follower of Jesus. What do they say to you?

Idols

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

In Numbers 21 there is a story of the people of Israel and a serpent. They had begun to grumble against God and Moses, complaining they brought them out of Egypt into the wilderness to die. Their complaining got so bad God sent fiery serpents among them and when they bit the people they died. Suddenly complaining about being in the wilderness was not such a big thing anymore. The remedy for all of this mayhem was for Moses to make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole. Anyone who looked on it would live. Sounds all well and good.

E.X.C.E.P.T!

“He (King Hezekiah) removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (and it was called Nehushtan).”  2 Kings 18:4

That which was for a good purpose turned out to become something bad. The serpent had become an idol.

We may not have those kinds of idols but we do have them. An idol is a representation of what we honor, esteem, pay allegiance to, or worship. Idols tell us we can’t live without them.

My sermon this week is #3 in the series “I Am Fifth.” I’m calling it “Who’s Your Daddy?” because of the subject of idols. It is a tough sermon to preach since it hits all of us (especially me). I’m going to take a post or two next week to cover this subject in a little more detail. Stay tuned!

Sovereignty

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

captured

Before I talk about the idea of Sovereignty, I wanted to take a moment or two and do two things: give an update and also a huge thanks.

Thanks so much for your thoughts and especially your prayers concerning my accident. Tuesday and Wednesday were rough days as my body bruised and ached all over. But today (Thursday) is a new day and I woke up excited because I was alive but I hurt less today than previously. The bruising has spread. I look like one of the My Little Pony toys with my purple hip/leg. All I need now is fuzzy hair and a horn in the middle of my forehead.But seriously thanks for praying.

My sermon Sunday is on Sovereignty from Isaiah 45. Some people shy away from that topic. Some stare at you like you are a two-headed monster. Others glaze over. And some are “right there” with you. They like the challenge of trying to delve deeper into that mystery.

There are still others who question God’s sovereignty based on events which happen: the school shooting of the Amish children; Sandy Hook; the devastating tsunami of 2004; earthquakes and other natural disasters. They leave unanswered questions…questions which will remain unanswered because of our limited ability to comprehend the infinite.

This topic is a deep one, one which certainly will not be answered in one sitting. As always I’d appreciate your prayers for me and for the folks who are here…so all may have clarity.

 

Awesome!!

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

captured

A couple of years ago our grandson, Braden, was visiting with us when The Lego Movie made its debut. Trust me when I say him being here was the only reason I would go. The theme song was heard over and over and over..ad infinitum, ad nauseum in the movie and the radio: “Everything is Awesome!” Other than the fact I sat through the movie with him and found it a tad bit better than I thought it would be (if you were a child), that song was absolutely annoying. On several fronts actually. First, it is annoying because it was played soooooo much and I could hear kids singing it. Second, and this is the real kicker, it simply is not true.

While I am not a scrooge and understand a childhood song more than I care to admit, everything is not awesome. Seriously? Everything is awesome? Do I really need to go into things which are not?

So here is my thinking: Everything is not awesome; God is. My problem, I think, comes from the fact we have over-trivialized the word. “Mom, these cookies are awesome!” “Awesome sermon today, Bill!” (Really? You say that every week). Then we sing, “Our God is an awesome God,” and wonder why things fall flat.

My sermon this is week is Captured by God’s Awesomeness. I plan to spend time on the idea that God is truly the Awesome One.