Doctrine

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Pardon?

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

My grandfather used to say, when someone would say something to him that he did not hear (he worked in a steel mill as a welder all his life), “Pardon?” I was taught to say, “Excuse me?” or “I’m sorry I didn’t hear you.” That’s a whole lot different than the “Huh?’ or “Wha-a-a-t?” we often hear today. Okay, off rabbit trail and back to original thought. Pardon. We hear about pardons being granted to criminals, or even every day “Joe’s” by people. It’s not always easy to offer that.

In this post I mentioned reading a book called Not God Enough by J.D. Greear. What an excellent book!  He tells the story of a man named George Wilson who pled guilty to several counts of robbery and “endangering the life of a mail driver” and apparently it was serious enough to merit the death penalty. Wilson was sentenced to be hanged. President Andrew Jackson chose to issue Wilson a full pardon, but Wilson, for reasons we will probably never know, refused to accept it. In United States v. Wilson, 1833, the Supreme Court issued its verdict saying (in essence), “If the pardon is rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it on him.”

Seems strange to me that a man would reject a pardon which exonerated him, but also set him free. Seems strange to me why people would reject the pardon offered by God which would exonerate a person of their sin, and at the same time set them free. In my mind, the choice is a no-brainer.

Strange indeed.

HomewardBound

Friday, April 13th, 2018

Just as there are certain events that affect our lives, and we know what we were doing and where we were when they happened, words or statements are the same.

9/11

“President Kennedy has been shot” (for those old enough)

“President Reagan has been shot”

“Houston, we have a problem.”

Precise timing and movements were needed to make sure Apollo 13 made it home. One mistake and the capsule and astronauts would be doomed to outer space. Getting them home was a priority.

For some reason many don’t like to talk about the future. I’m not talking about future events (Rapture, 666, etc).  For me as a Christ-follower I like to talk about my future. It is secure.  I know that because of God’s promise, but I also know that because of hope. Properly focused hope gives us the assurance of a home for eternity.  Now…I’m not talking about the “I hope it is nice weather tomorrow” or “I hope he/she smiles at me.” No, the hope I am talking about goes much deeper.

Take away hope and you take away a reason for living. In the case of the Christ-follower, if our hope is not connected to forever, our hope will somehow die. Living with forever in view gives us an unshakeable reason for hope.

My sermon Sunday is called Homeward Bound. I’m using Hebrews 11:11-16, 32-40 as my passage. Come join us or listen online or if you are too far away, please say a prayer for me and the folks at OVCF. Thanks.

And speaking of Homeward Bound, today, April 13th marks the birthday of my late mother. She would have been 86. She’s home.

Understand?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

I’ve said here before in my blog that I lack some things. One of those is “super intelligence.” I am not a deep-thinker by nature and often get bored when the subject goes deeper than a) I want to go and b) I am able to understand. People will ask me questions which “go beyond my pay grade” i.e. beyond my ability to understand and explain. There are certain mysteries I accept without feeling like I have to have a PhD to “sign off” on.

One of those is God. I am often asked hard questions, at least hard ones for me. I can’t say I have ever had one of those “dark nights of the soul” where I questioned everything I have ever been taught and came out on the other side more convinced than ever of what I believe. My “dark night” (no not Batman) is more related to having questions about suffering, and why things happen that I don’t have an answer to or see no sense in.

I’m currently reading a book by J.D.Greear called Not God Enough. While it is different from my normal fare, it has been a great book. An understandable book (for me). I’m almost 100 pages into this 200+ page book and I’m finding some good, thought-provoking stuff. Perhaps the best way to describe its approach is to use his opening statement of Chapter 1:

A god small enough to be understood is not big enough to be worshiped. Evelyn Underhill

There is no way “under God’s green earth” that I can or will ever understand God, what makes Him tick (except His love for me), or how He operates.  But the good thing is I don’t have to!! I often tell people it is okay to have doubts. True, doubt can drive you backward into disbelief, but it can also drive you forward into real faith. 

I will never understand all there is to know about God (nobody can). All I know is I believe He is who He said He is. He is the great I AM (as He told Moses). And for that, I make no apologies, nor do I need any letters after my name.

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.

 

Astounded

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

I have moments where I am totally astounded by God. They may come in different ways.

Hearing a song.

Participating in worship.

Listening to someone tell how God intervened in his/her life.

Watching a life being changed only by the grace of God.

Through the laughter and love of little Sophia (Jo & I are mamaw Jo and grandpa Bill) even though not related.

Through the love of a wife who continues to astound me with her grace toward me.

I could go on. But none astound me as much as God. Each day I awaken to new mercies. Each day I awaken to a new sunrise (eventually), new sights, new beginnings, new awareness, new direction, new hope. Again…I could go on.

But I am most astounded by the unconditional love and grace of a God who blesses me with more than I certainly deserve. In about an hour and a half we will enter into our corporate worship. I will sing praises. I will preach His Word. And I will anticipate being astounded by God. It is fitting that this song be the one I choose for this week. I hope it will speak to your heart and set your mind right for the week.  The words are easily understood but if you do have difficulty, they are included in the video description (hit SHOW MORE).

MAY GOD LEAVE YOU ASTOUNDED TODAY. MAY HE LEAVE YOU AMAZED THIS WEEK.

Anthem

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

We are often told we need to set goals.

We are often told that a goal-less person is an aimless person.

In some respects I agree with that. I will be the first to admit I have never had 1-3-5-10 year plan. Even in church life, I can’t say I have planned that far ahead. I know, for example, what my theme is for the year. I then try to focus my sermons around that theme for the year. This year my theme is Uncharted so every series I preach I try to keep that theme in mind. The first two “Transformed” and “True North” fulfill that goal. I have in mind, but not on paper, where I want to go next. I used to have the whole year of sermons planned and seldom deviated from it.

But an anthem is deeper than that. An anthem says, “This is what I believe in and, if necessary, will die for.”  It is more than a code of ethics. It is a foundation. It is a “here I will take my stand” statement. The song I picked to feature today is called “The Anthem.” I have chosen the one with the lyrics.  Hope you enjoy it.

Have a great week.

Oh…by the way? I will take my stand on the truth in this song.