April, 2017

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Testing!Testing!

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Mention the word discernment and I’m guessing 7 out of 10 in a word association game will say, “Judgemental.”  Along with that word will also come two others closely on its heel: hypocritical and arrogant.  We have been somewhat conditioned to believe that being discerning is another synonym for being judgemental. Truthfully, some of what passes for discernment is nothing more than judgementalism, giving people an opportunity to pass off their pet teaching as “the only way.”

The real tragedy is these “discernments” are most often based on externals. The way you dress. The way you wear your hair. How close-cropped the guys’ hair is. Stuff which is an aside and never made an issue as to whether someone is a follower of Christ or not. In this week’s sermon from I John 4:1-6, I’ll be examining this whole idea of discernment. In reality, every follower of Christ has the responsibility to “test the spirits.” Even a cursory glance at the Scripture will show outward adornment has absolutely no place in a person’s discernment. Paul told Timothy, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” 2 Timothy 4:3.

My plan for Sunday is to not only give a basis for discernment but to also offer some guidelines to consider. If you are close by I invite you to come by and visit. For those of you who read this from parts unknown, I welcome your prayers.

Slowly

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

I have had a chance this past week to ride a couple of days. The first one, two weeks ago, Jo followed me. I rode 8 miles. Not bad considering I have been unable to do any leg work at the Y or any cardio since February. Broken collarbones and ribs tend to deter those kinds of actions. 🙂  I was okay with her following me since I need and want her to feel at peace while I ride, especially since 90% of my riding is alone.

This past week I rode twice…alone…each time adding miles to my ride. 11.14 then 13+. These were hard for Jo since she knows she has to have peace about me riding. The latter was on a day she was out of town (bad memories surface with that for her since she was out of town when I wrecked in February). Each time I set my RoadID app to record my ride and let her know where I was. In fact, I had forgotten to turn on my Cellular data for the app and it showed me as being stationary. Guess who got a text? 🙂

Each time I rode I added a little mileage. For one, I’m definitely not ready for longer rides of 20-25 miles like I used to do. That would be a recipe for disaster. Second, I have no desire to “poop out” on the way and have to call her to come get me because I have no juice left.

There is a spiritual twist to all of this. How many people do you know who started out strong only to give out? They went great guns and then you watched them slowly fade away. Jesus talked about that in His parable of the sower and seed.  I would rather see someone come to Christ and slowly grow their faith and activity than go like a “house a fire” and whither.

Sort of like riding a bike for the first time in several months.

And I also encourage you to visit 3feetplease.com for this shirt and others:

 

 

 

 

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?

3Feetplease

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

ADVOCACY

I think deep in the heart of all of us is something we are passionate about. Sometimes that passion is self-driven, i.e. something sticks to us like glue and we become an advocate for it. Sometimes it is need-driven, i.e. I don’t like the sex trafficking issue so I become an advocate against it. Sometimes something happens to us that “drives” us to not being able to leave it alone.

Things like best friends being killed by distracted drivers. Things like being “buzzed” then given the finger when you motion with open arms. Things like being stalked by a big diesel pickup then being covered in black smoke as he “accelerates.”

Things like bike wrecks caused by a hit and run driver. I’m pretty sure most of you are aware the latter happened to me on November 7, 2016. So has being buzzed and covered in black smoke. It was the former, though, which has led me to a web site and to become an advocate. The site is 3feetplease.com. (It is being overhauled and the new look is to be ready by the end of the week).  Below are some of the items available. (There is also a T-shirt which I will have to include in another post).

I rode for years without ever having trouble with a car (except for nuisance from jerks)…until that November 7th date last year. A person’s perspective changes a lot when he is the victim. I plan to become an advocate for the 3 Feet Law in Indiana and with help from Bob Heaton and Rod Bray I hope it becomes a LAW in Indiana. Will it stop it? Probably not. But drivers need to know the law and that there are consequences to disobeying it.

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.”

Someday

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

I was sitting in my chiropractor’s office Friday and since I had forgotten to bring something to read (DUH!), I picked up a Men’s Health magazine. I ran across an article about a trainer named Bobby Maximus. (Sort of reminds me of Gladiator.  🙂 )  I give you that, not as a stamp of approval on Maximus, but as a “give credit where credit is due” thing. Anyway, they had some sayings which Maximus is fond of using.  Several of them struck a chord…one I’ve heard before: “Do what’s right, not what’s easy.”

But the one that stayed with me so much I wrote it down and use it now is this:

There are 7 days in a week. ‘Someday’ is not one of them.

It is easy getting into that mode-whether we talk about our physical condition; our exercise program; a relationship we want to cultivate; a goal we want to realize; and especially our relationship with God. I don’t really need to go into detail as to each of these modes, so to speak. We all know how it applies to our physical condition or an exercise program, etc.

I do find it somewhat disconcerting when I consider how I have used the “Someday excuse” when it comes to cultivating my relationship with God. “Someday I will have that Quiet Time.” “Someday I will pray.” “Someday I will learn that verse.” Someday. Someday. Someday. And Someday never gets anything accomplished.

I’ve written about my two bike wrecks. No need to go into them again. If you want to read about it go here. But those two wrecks have taught me some serious lessons…one of them is don’t use “Someday” as an excuse to get things done which need done. Don’t keep putting things off.  For example, Jo & I are in a much better place than we have been for years, largely because of this philosophy.  Talking more. Hugging and snuggling more. Kissing more. I’ll stop there. 🙂 🙂  (I know Tami…TMI)

Don’t keep saying “Someday.”

Rescued

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

Many are familiar with the statue of Christ that stands tall in the Corcovado Mountains in Rio de Janeiro. It is 98 feet tall and stands on a base that is 26 feet tall. The arms stretch 92 feet wide. The statue has gone through several renovations due to lightning strikes and the ravages of time since its building from 1922-1031. It is now listed in The New Seven Wonders of the World.

To many people the cross is a symbol of rescue, leading the lost souls, shipwrecked by the ravages of life, to new life and hope. To others it stands as a beacon of something better, something which stands the test of time. To those who follow Jesus it is that and so much more. Everyone is invited to the cross, the place where God and humanity meet, where peace and wholeness can be found.

While studying for last week’s sermon, I had decided to title it “The Look of Love.” As I looked at the calendar I realized this coming weekend was Palm Sunday, so I decided  to work up a little 3 part mini-series focused around the cross and resurrection. This week’s message is entitled “The Act of Love” and I’m going to be using Isaiah 52:13- 53:12 as my Scripture. When I look at the cross through the lens of Isaiah 53 I see Jesus saying three things:

“I Did This For You”

“I Knew This Was Coming”

“I Did All That Was Needed”

You have just now seen the three points of my message for Sunday. 🙂

Love sets us apart from others. But our love has an example set for us to follow. This passage in Isaiah is that bold example.

Fog

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

As in stupor. Lull. Clouded mind.

This morning (Tuesday) I was reading a devotion from New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. I’m not saying this lightly: I am not sure there has ever been a devotion that hit me so hard and so “where I live” as this one. I’m going to give you snippets of it in this blog and then include it at as a whole at the end.

Human beings, who were created to live in awe of God, are in grave danger when familiarity causes them to be bored with God.

That was just the opening line! But he wasn’t done.

Familiarity is a beautiful thing…But the blessing of blessings is to be familiar with the ways, the character, the presence, and the promises of God…Yes, familiarity is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a very dangerous thing.

By this time he had my undivided attention. Something began to ring in my ears and in my heart. Something disturbing. Convicting. Unnerving. Truthful.  Then came this:

Every human being was designed by God to have his hopes, dreams, choices, words, actions, desires, and motivations shaped by a jaw-dropping, heart-controlling, life-shaping awe of God…Familiarity causes us to lose our awe of God. What once stunned us doesn’t anymore. {Note: you can read the rest on your own below}

Here is what I wrote in my journal:

“I wonder, as I think back, if this is some of what happened {Note: previous to my bike wreck in February}. Had I lost my awe of God? Had I taken Him for granted? That, (along with a couple other factors), could be the source of my stupor and lull of the desert from mid summer to my wreck in February. I may not know what caused the wreck, but as time goes by I seem to get a better handle on my (spiritual) struggle leading up to it. And that is good. 🙂 As I do, a little more of me wakes up. And that is very good.” 🙂  (In case you are new, if you read here you will find out what happened.  You can find out what I did my first Sunday back in the pulpit after the wreck here. And then read this post to find out a recap of what has been happening.

I know we each have our own journey we are traveling. This may have absolutely no relevance to yours. That’s okay. Then again…maybe it does. Below is the whole day’s devotion. I hope it is clear enough for you.