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Victory!

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Some of the thoughts I plan to share Sunday:

Sooner or later death comes. The statistics are staggering: 1/1!!

Science has done nothing to deal with death. It may be prolonging life in some cases. It has definitely helped alleviate pain. But it hasn’t solved the problem of death.

Death is our enemy. But to followers of Jesus death is a stepping stone to something much better.

Jesus abolished death. His resurrection which we celebrate today conquered it. It is because of the cross where forgiveness of sins was paid for, and because of the resurrection where victory was won, that we have and can talk about hope today.

Praying you have a great Resurrection Sunday!

Alone

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

As in “leave well enough…”

This is not a post about being Alone, although I have had my share of that this past week as I’ve spent time with people who have lost people they love.

This is about something we say, why we say it and what brought it up.

I was in the local Circle K buying gas for my truck and mower and while waiting in line I looked down and about gagged. M&Ms staring me right in the face. Mint since the package was green?

NO.

Jalapeno-flavored M&Ms. Are you kidding me? Since I knew the clerk I made a comment to him and the other patron about it. Jalapeno-flavored M&Ms? The clerk shuddered along with me and the other customer when I said something, then the clerk said something wise (least in my eyes): “Why can’t they just leave chocolate alone?” Plain. Peanut. Mint. Crunch. Toffee. Caramel. Caramel with Sea Salt. Raspberry Crunch. Peanut Butter. I’m sure there are others.

But Jalapeno?

Sounds like some who thinks change is good. Change is good…if it has a purpose. But change for the sake of change? Not so. I want to ask them the same question as the clerk did: “Why can’t they just leave it alone?” I’m all for change. I don’t like sameness. I get bored. Changing the order of service around is okay by me. Changing the style of music (as long as it isn’t country, rap, hip hop, or any of those other foreign entities) is okay. 🙂 Changing seating is okay. You get my point. But to change the message. N.O. W.A.Y.  The medium may change but the message never changes.

The message of the cross must never change. We may present it differently than we have in the past or even than others do, but the message of the cross is rock solid. THAT MESSAGE NEVER CHANGES!! N.E.V.E.R!!! Have I said that enough?

We are in the week many denominations call “Holy Week.” While I don’t belong to one of them, nor do I put any extra emphasis on this week, I want to be mindful of what is coming. Good Friday. Resurrection Sunday. I want my message on the cross to be specific and clear.  That message will never change and I will leave well enough it alone.

Done!

Friday, April 12th, 2019

There is nothing like the satisfaction of being able to shake our hands together and feel the relief of a job well done. Whether it is a one-day job or a month-long job, being able to breathe a sigh of accomplishment is a good thing.

There should be no question that Jesus lived a unique life. Even the people recognized something was different about Him. “No one ever spoke like this man” was not uncommon to hear. The religious leaders couldn’t handle His frankness and willingness to call it like it was when it came to their religious hypocrisy. Here is something you might find interesting. Max Lucado in his book He Chose the Nails has written a chapter called “I Understand Your Pain.” Near the end of the chapter he talks about fulfilled prophecies, especially at the end of Jesus’ life. After giving a breakdown of some of those prophecies, Max goes on to say that Jesus fulfilled 332 distinct prophecies in the OT. The mathematical possibilities of all these prophecies being fulfilled in the life of one man is 1/84 with 97 zeroes!! Now that is amazing and sort of throws a dagger into the old lie of “Jesus just happened to be the right man at the right time.”

The two statements I will be considering Sunday are just another example of fulfilled prophecies. One is a cry for relief and the other is a statement of completion. “I thirst.” “It is finished.”

I’m not ashamed to ask for your prayers. It has been a super long week and weekend and I can feel my body and mind a tad bit tired. I’d appreciate your prayers for my strength and also my spirit. And please say a prayer for those who listen.

PrayersAppreciated

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

The next two days will be days of an intense need for prayer.  I wrote on my other blog, Living in the Shadow, about the ordeal of this past weekend culminating in the death of a friend early Monday morning. You can read about it here.  The need for prayer is this afternoon is 4 hours of visitation and tomorrow another hour of visitation leading up the celebration service. My real concern is not so much me as it is the family. Misty was a hub in that family.

This is one of those times which is hard to understand. About a month ago I performed the funeral of a 70+ year old lady who had suffered from Parkinson’s for about 10 years.  But what to think of a young woman (the age of my daughter) struck down with cancer leaving behind two teenagers and a husband who adored her?  She fought bravely over the past year after being diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.  She promised her family she would fight, and fight she did. Even several weeks ago when I was called to the hospital and they were expecting her to go after suffering a brain bleed that affected her speech for a few days, she was flanked by her children and told them, “I’m still fighting.” She fought on until she could not go anymore. After just a few days in the Hospice Care Center, she lost her battle…BUT WON.

Death is not a thing of beauty. The Bible calls it an enemy. Its power is legendary since the odds are 1/1 in its favor. Nevertheless a statement made in I Corinthians 15 tells us the real truth: “He must reign until He has put death under His feet.” (verse 26-27)  All science has done has possibly prolonged death in some cases, but it has and never will solve death.  Sooner or later death comes, but it is not the end. For the follower of Christ, it is just the beginning.  The beginning to so much more.  Saturday morning I was asked to come the Hospice House so Jo went with me. She loved Misty as well. Jeremy, her husband, was playing different songs she loved.  He chose LeAnn Womack’s song from a few years ago “I Hope You Dance” and then followed up with “I Can Only Imagine.” WOW! If that doesn’t tell a story!!

Today Misty is dancing in heaven. She is seeing and feeling better than she has in a year since her intense battle began. I’m going to miss her. I’m also jealous. But someday that will be me and for the first time in my life I will be dancing and singing on key. 🙂

Prayers are appreciated for all involved in today’s and tomorrow’s ordeal. Thanks. And one more thing, how about checking out Lisa’s post about her experience she just went through.  It is called “After Death, More Life.”

CQD

Friday, March 8th, 2019

There are a number of international calls for disaster on the sea. The Germans used SOE. The Italians used SSSDDD. Marconi, who was a leader in wireless technology, proposed CQD, which actually came from an earlier one “CQ” and by adding the “D” for distress it was to represent extreme danger. According to him the letters meant absolutely nothing. In 1906 it was proposed by the second International Radio Telegraphic Conference that the letters “SOS” be adopted. Not because it means “Save our Souls” or “Save our Ship” but because of the ease to transmit- 3 dots, 3 dashes, 3 dots. By 1908 it had been accepted by all except the United States.

That all changed April 14, 1912 when Titanic sunk. Senior operator Jack Phillips was using CQD when junior operator Harold Bride joked to Phillips that he ought to use the new one (SOS) because it might be the last chance to use it. Sadly, it was because Phillips never left his station until there was no more power. By then all the lifeboats were gone.

Psalm 51 as a whole is a powerful psalm of sin and rescue. That was last week’s message. This week’s message takes it further and finishes it as this psalm becomes a psalm of renewal.  I’ll be concentrating on verses 10-19 this week after a brief review of last week’s lesson of grace and mercy.

I’d appreciate your prayers for us this week. Attendance may be slim due to Spring Break for our local school system, but I’m convinced someone there will need to hear its message.

SOS

Friday, March 1st, 2019

First off: SOS did not stand for “Save Our Souls.”  It was actually chosen because of its ease to use in Morse Code. (…—…)  What it did mean is “We are in trouble and need immediate help.”

The story Sunday started with a sleepless night then exploded into a story of lust, adultery, deception, and murder. If it was a movie at the theater or a book we were asked to read we would (probably) avoid it. The story is, of course, the story of David and Bathsheba. It is a story most are familiar with-in the church or outside the church. Why include it in the Bible? I mean, why not whitewash everything and leave this type of story out? Maybe this verse of Scripture might answer the question:

“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did…Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come…Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” I Cor.10: 6, 11-12

The story of David and Bathsheba is the story of me. It is the story of you. We are prone to stand off and say, “I’m not that David” and feel pretty smug. But the reality is that we are that David because David’s enemy is our enemy: sin. Gratefully, the Scripture for Sunday’s sermon, Psalm 51 has the theme of grace not sin. This is actually going to be in two parts: Verses 1-9 this week; verses 10-19 the next.

I’d appreciate your prayers for this weekend. Thanks.

DrawingPeople

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

My last post was sort of snarky in that it was tongue-in-cheek. It was either not read much or people just chose not to comment. (Can I hope for the latter?)

Anyway, I thought I would use a quote I read from Scott Sauls’ book from Weakness to Strength. I highly recommend it especially for anyone in leadership. In a chapter he called Opposition: The Unlikely Pathway to Neighbor Love, Scott used this quote:

We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it. Madeline L’Engle

There are some people who see it as their mission in life to tear down other people. I know there is a need for discernment when it comes to cults, false teachers, etc. But I’m not sure there is value in name-calling and “demonizing” someone due to their choice of lifestyle. Please don’t misunderstand me here: I believe the so-called “alternate lifestyle” is sinful, but they are still people. I used to be one of those preachers who said “I tell it like it is and if you don’t like it argue with the Bible not me.” I now realize that was and is the wrong approach.

Scott summed up Madeline’s words with these:  “No amount of cultural opposition stopped Jesus from working to change the world through love.” I can’t argue with him.

All that to say this: perhaps instead of being hateful and judgmental toward those who oppose us, maybe we can take the position of lovingly disagreeing while maintaining our Biblical stance. It doesn’t mean I am compromising; it means I am trying to reach people with the message of the love of Jesus with honey instead of vinegar.

What are your thoughts?

 

Essentials

Monday, February 11th, 2019

There are two sayings I adopted years ago that to me still stand the test of time:

“In essentials, unity; in opinions, liberty; in all things, love.”

“Where the Bible speaks we speak; where the Bible is silent we are silent.”

These two sayings would take care of a lot of “hills” people are dying on when they don’t need to.

My conclusion: We minor in majors; we major in minors.

Think that through. When it comes to doctrinal issues, there are some non-negotiables (I know that is not word but I still use it), some majors we simply cannot compromise on. The virgin birth of Christ. The divinity of Jesus-that he was fully God and fully man. Popular thought heresy says Jesus was born a man, became divine, but went to the cross as a man. (Can you say Bill Johnson?) The sacrificial, substitutionary, redemptive act of Christ on the cross for our salvation. The physical resurrection of Jesus from the grave. The ultimate return of Jesus to bring an end to life on this planet as we know it. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one. The Bible as God’s authoritative Word, inspired and inerrant. Those (and others not mentioned) are majors and should not be compromised on.

But our religious culture is fast pushing them to the side in order to major in minors.

While I believe homosexual activity is sinful and wrong, I don’t believe it is the unpardonable sin. I also don’t really make a big deal about the creation story. I believe very strongly in “In the Beginning God…”  If the creation of the world was 7 24 hour days or whether “day” was a longer span of time, is not a game-changer to me. “In the beginning God.”  He can do whatever He wants to do in whatever way He want to. But do I think it is a matter of salvation? No, I don’t. While I don’t think we ought to “uncouple” ourselves from the OT as Andy Stanley says we should, I also don’t believe we find our salvation there. The Law was given as a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, Paul says, so we can’t dismiss it. But I don’t go to the Law or the OT to find my salvation. I find it in Christ, in His story as told in the NT.  That is a major I can’t minor in.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Just be kind. 🙂

 

Grounded

Friday, February 1st, 2019

One of the worst fears of any ship or boat is being grounded. Hitting a sandbar. Hitting a reef. Being tossed on shore. (Think Gilligan’s Island! 🙂 )  But I’ve got another kind of grounding in mind.

G. Campbell Morgan, a British preacher who lived from 1863-1945 (that means he “saw” both the Civil War and both World Wars) once wrote:

If our Rock were not our Redeemer, we would be without hope. If our Redeemer were not our Rock, we might be afraid.  Let us never forget that our redemption has in it the strength of the Mighty One.

Since the first of the year (except the Sunday we had to cancel due to the weather), I’ve been looking at Psalm 27 and its truth as an anchor. For an anchor to hold there must be solid ground, something it can sink into. This Sunday’s Scripture show us there is something we can sink our teeth into, the solid ground of the Word of God. My sermon this week will be on Psalm 19: 7-11. There is so much richness there in those few verses! First, I’m going to look at 5 myths surrounding the Bible, then look at the solid foundation the Scripture offers us.

I’m excited about preaching this message. I love talking about the Bible’s strong foundation. I’d appreciate your prayers for this Sunday.

QuietRoar

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

A Quiet Roar: Sometimes Disruption Is Overdue

Over the years I have read a ton-and I mean a ton!- of books. As you might imagine, most are of the non-fiction type. After all, my work as a pastor requires I read, read, and read some more.

But every once in awhile I come across a fiction book that grips me and won’t let me go. Back in 1994 I read the very first book by Randall Arthur called Wisdom Hunter (WH). I read it one year later on a personal fasting retreat and wept through most of it because it was like looking into a mirror-seeing what I didn’t like-but wanting so badly to be what I read. WH was the final nail in my coffin of legalism. The follow up to that book was titled Betrayal, and once again I was filleted. Jason Faircloth, the pastor from WH made a very pointed appearance in Betrayal and once again pointed out the dangers of legalism. In between Mr. Arthur wrote Jordan’s Crossing, another Jason Faircloth book, only this time dealing with Jordan’s emptiness caused by liberalism. The final installment (or so I thought) was Forgotten Road, a novel dealing with the emptiness of the health/wealth (un)gospel. Jason made an appearance in that book as well.

Imagine my surprise and excitement when Randall Arthur’s publishing company announced a new novel! Man, I jumped on that like bugs on a night light. As it was I was #102 of 120 signed copies. I gotta tell ya! If you read no other novel this coming year, please please please read Quiet Roar. The main character is like a female version of Jason Faircloth. Take a hot topic (female pastors…which I am saying neither yay or nay to here); add in a lot of small town church drama; a mysterious woman; and even more mysterious benefactor; a dash of contemporary culture and world events (Muslims, the church not staying so “white”, and some other events); and I kid you not, you have a recipe for a lot of sleepless nights (or at least staying up past your normal bed time).  Right now it is only available from Amazon on Kindle. HOWEVER, you can purchase it directly from Randall’s website.  I personally know Randy and he is the real deal.

May I also suggest reading Wisdom Hunter and Betrayal (since renamed Brotherhood of Betrayal) as companion volumes? You can find all his other books on Amazon as well as his website. I GUARANTEE your life and faith will no longer be the same.