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Quotes/Thoughts

Monday, June 5th, 2017

I find myself today running in a few minutes to a hospital close to an hour away for a man in the church who is having a knee replacement so I have precious little time to write a blog. So I thought I would give you some of the quotes/thoughts from the New Morning Mercies devotional I reviewed last week here.

From June 1: “God’s care comes in many forms. He cares enough to break your bones in order to capture your heart.” Tripp closes his thoughts with this: “You care enough to give me what I need, not what I want. You care enough to break my bones in order to recapture my heart.”

Of course, that hit home for me. Once in November (which didn’t take) and then again in February, I had bicycle accidents. The latter broke a collarbone and 3 ribs among other injuries. I don’t believe God literally reached down with His finger and had that car hit me, nor do I believe He put His finger on me and then flipped it sending me to the pavement in an endo. But He can use events in our lives to get our attention. In this case, He used it to recapture my heart.

From June 3: “It would be amazing if a God of awesome glory recognized our existence, but for Him to welcome us into His family is grace beyond amazing!” I’d say John Newton used the right word. Don’t you think so too?

From June 5 (today): “God’s grace is active, rescuing, transformative grace. You celebrate this by being as serious about your need as the God of grace is.” It took me three times reading that until it finally began to soak in. God took sin-the Fall-seriously. So much so that He immediately meted out punishment and put in motion the wheels for our salvation. Sin is no laughing matter. Gal. 6 tells us, “God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows that shall he reap.” Two words: not pretty.

Chew on those today and then let me hear your thoughts if you can to respond.

Wars

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Some wars are justified; some are not. (not a political statement so stay away from there). Church history gives us plenty of ammunition for proof. The Reformation is a perfect example of that.

Down through the years, music has been a battleground. I was hoping it was over but recently one of our college students came home and I asked him about the bruhaha about the music that he got involved in. Seems the college president made the comment that the only “real” Christian music was southern gospel and hymns and he challenged the students to give up their “devil” music (my summary not exact words).

UGH!

I like and respect Chuck Swindoll and read a great article by him last week on music. I’d like to share it with you in its entirety and hear your thoughts. It is entitled Sing New Songs…With Old Truths:

Without wanting to be misunderstood, let me say unashamedly that I love the grand old hymns. Throughout my Christian life, I have treasured their historic statements of the church’s faith, having committed many of them to memory.

They have been my dearest companions in dark hours of loneliness and discouragement and my greatest encouragers in times of celebration and adoration.

And while I’m the first to admit that while there’s nothing holy about a hymnal per se, hymns remain an important part of our Christian heritage. Why?

Because the theology of hymns is far too rich and beneficial to lose. The hymn writers were wordsmiths and musicians (seldom the same person) who wove theology and melody together into splendid compositions.

They gave us words for worship and marvelous music. One of the benefits of music—whatever style you choose—is that it helps cement truth in our brains stronger than memorizing words alone.

We remember words easier with a tune attached. Hymns bring to mind deep and practical truths, not only for times of worship but also for times of trial and distress.

I have always loved the old hymns, and I always will . . . because the truths they express are timeless.

However, let me quickly add that the canon isn’t closed on music for worship. In addition to hymns, each new generation will continue to compose fresh choruses of worship and new songs of praise . . . and that is as it should be—it’s biblical!

Fresh and Creative

Those churches who believe we should only have hymns have forgotten the words of David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, who wrote:

I will sing a new song to You, O God;
Upon a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You. (Psalm 144:9, emphasis added)

The prophet Isaiah and the apostle John later used similar words (Isaiah 42:10; Revelation 5:9). The worship of our Creator should stay fresh and creative.

There is everything right about singing new songs. But we must be certain that the songs we compose and sing express sound doctrine and not human-centered philosophy.

Simply claiming, “The Lord gave me this song,” doesn’t qualify it for public worship. Even Christians in the first century were urged to “test” the words they heard (1 John 4:1–6).

Furthermore, a good melody should never override our critical thinking. Lyrics take on significance only when they are filtered through the inerrant text of the Holy Scriptures.

The music can be new . . . but the truths the music proclaims must not be.

I second his thoughts. I love the new music. But I tire of the repetition which many of them have. I can think of a few right now which turn my stomach just thinking about them.

But I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

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!