Church

...now browsing by category

 

#TransparentTruth

Friday, May 20th, 2022

One of the abilities we have these days is called photo-shopping. In many ways, publishers have been doing that for years. They have airbrushed pictures of celebrities (especially female) to take out crow’s feet, pimples, lines, and other “imperfections” to make the model look stunning (or so they think).  Honestly, one can say the word “fake” comes to mind. Well, photo-shopping sort of does that same thing. A recent photo of trans swimmer Lia Thomas was photo shopped to show his face as being soft and feminine when it is anything but. But at the same time, some photo-shopping is pretty funny.  In our community, the local theater showed the movie, Babe, and had a man holding the pig. It was actually one of our local ISP officers photo-shopped for the picture. Photos can be altered and edited to picture what we want.

British preacher, Charles Spurgeon, once said,

“The eagle-eyed world acts as a policeman for the church…It becomes a watchdog over the sheep, barking furiously as soon as one goes astray…Be careful. Remember that it is upon your public life that the verdict of the world will very much depend.” 

WOW! That goes straight to the heart of the matter. Our public conduct is indicative of our private life…AND PEOPLE NOTICE.

The early church had its share of problems. We can’t kid ourselves about that. It wasn’t just false teachers and outside influences that they struggled with. The 3rd letter of John shows us that.  While highlighting Gaius and Demetrius, John also talks about the problem with Diotrephes. I’ll let you read that book to see what the issue was.

Better yet, come see us! If you can’t in person, then you can watch us online at 9:00 and 10:45.  I would love to hear from you.

#Snapshot#Tension

Friday, May 13th, 2022

We tend to think sometimes that the early church knew no friction. Nothing is farther from the truth. Like all earthly entities, the church was and is no different. Church is made up of people and as such will find itself embroiled in tension from time to time. I’m not talking about big “C” church. I’m talking little “c,” like the local body of believers.

There is an old saying we hear and may even use often: they are like oil and water. We hear it used about siblings. We hear it used about parents and children. We hear it used about coworkers and even teammates. We even hear it used about individuals in a church. Sparks fly and at times it may even feel like WW3 is happening.

Blaise Pascal once said:

Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.

He said that of his day. (the 1600s). I think we can say that about ours as well. Seems like there is nothing new under the sun.

2 John is the 2nd book in my short series called Snapshots.  The title is Picture of Tension Revealed. It is about the molding of truth and love. Truth is necessary; truth and love is vital.  We would do well to listen, learn and practice both. Join me please at 9:00 or 10:45 in person or via live stream. We will also be honoring our high school and college graduates this Sunday. All told I think we have 15.  Thanks for being a part of our worship.

#Mother’sDay#SpecialDay#Honor

Friday, May 6th, 2022

This Sunday, in case you were born yesterday or are from the planet Vulcan, is Mother’s Day. A National Holiday. If you ask some, it is THE NATIONAL HOLIDAY!! 🙂  I know some will think I am prejudiced but I’m really not: I believe I married the best of the best, the cream of the crop.  Seriously, I am not prejudiced. 🙂 🙂

Anyway, Mother’s Day brings a gamut of emotions.  Happy thoughts. Sad thoughts. Reminiscing thoughts. Bitter thoughts. The list goes on.

One thought it brings to a pastor is scary: what do I say on Mother’s Day? I am a man and who am I to think I can use Proverbs 31 to tell a woman how to be that kind of woman? And who am I that I should use Mother’s Day to tell a woman she needs to be submissive to her husband (and he to her)?

So I decided to take the chicken way out…or is is the wise way out? I’ll let you decide and have your opinion. I decided to approach this year differently. No, I didn’t ask a woman to preach for me (I don’t want to get into that frankly). However, I did ask for help.  I know…how unlike a man right?

I texted 10 women and asked them a question: what woman in the Bible stands out as a hero you look up to?  I thought I would then take their suggestions and write my sermon focusing on them. Little did I realize that not only would all the ladies respond but they would-in many cases-give me several women. Yikes! It is Mother’s Day and I know they will not want to be there for a couple hours.

So I elicited their help. “Would you be willing to share with the church family why you chose those ladies?” Two said they would, but would be out of town, so they were willing to record it on a flash drive for us to show. Several said they were uncomfortable or not yet ready to share their story.  I certainly understood and was willing to forgive them. 🙂  Five said they would, but a couple were hesitant to do it from the pulpit (fear). So I decided to do it like a panel and focus it more like a discussion amongst themselves, but obviously including the rest of us in their musings.

I’m looking forward to it. Novel approach. Hopefully a great learning experience.

We are having one service at 10:00 since I did not want to put the ladies through two services.  If you are able to be with us in person, I look forward to seeing you. If not, please join us via the live stream. You can join us by going to the church website where you will see our link to YouTube and also Facebook (Look below the sermon title).

 

#BloodofJesus

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022

After preaching on The Cross is Still the Cross this past Sunday, and knowing this is “Holy Week” i.e. the last week of Jesus on earth before His crucifixion, I was struck by the words to an old hymn.  Honestly, I am not into many hymns because much of what I sang as a youngster fit more in the Spiritual songs genre. But there are some hymns which are real diamonds…diamonds we ought to mine and never forget. Here is one of them:

“What can wash away by sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus/What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus/

Chorus:

O precious is the flow that makes me white as snow/No other fount I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon this I see, Nothing but the blood of Jesus/ For my cleansing, this my plea, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone, Nothing but the blood of Jesus/Naught of good that I have done, Nothing but the blood of Jesus/

This is all my hope and peace, Nothing but the blood of Jesus/This is all my righteousness, Nothing but the blood of Jesus/

O precious is the flow that makes me white as snow/No other found I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Words and music Robert Lowry

A blast from the past. But what a punch! Remember this truth as you celebrate the death of Jesus this week.

#SundayMusings#LiveVsStreaming

Sunday, January 23rd, 2022

Note: I wrote this today (Sunday) as I awaited the opportunity to preach knowing things would be greatly different. These are my musings.

As I sit here this Sunday morning, a mixture of emotions flow through me. Due to the state and county both being in the red (COVID-wise not politically), the decision was made to do live stream only this morning.  Add to the state and county statistics the fact that some of the church people are also testing positive or simply struggling with illness, it seemed the wisest thing to do.

Am I happy? I would be lying if I said I was.  But I also understand. As far as I’m concerned, someone getting vaxxed and boosted is a matter of personal choice and I will not take a side on that issue. It is not for me to impose my will or thoughts on someone, even though Jo and I have both been double vaxxed and boosted.  She will be 71 next Sunday and I am 69. Yeah…she robbed the cradle. 🙂

No, my issue is not even a health issue. My issue is how much I look forward to Sunday morning and seeing people. Sure, I do get to do what I possibly love more than just about anything-emphasis on “just about.” I know I’m a social creature and I really look forward to seeing people, laughing with them, hugging them, fist bumping them, and just all around greeting people.  I love seeing smiles and the joy of connecting with people I have grown to love. I love seeing new people and the fact we have some “mo” right now makes it a bit harder to take this break. But that is the way of life in 2022…and in 2021…and in 2021.  I just think there is great value in meeting together.

But thankfully, we have live stream-a vital second to our ministry. Where would we be without it? Given today’s scenario, we would have to cancel services or require (gasp) everyone wear a mask. I’m thankful for the live stream. I remember how we started in late 2020 with nothing more than an iPhone.  The live stream has really been a life saver.

My personal hope is that this will just be a one week glitch. If not, we will use whatever means we can to get the message of Jesus to others. I pray God will bless our efforts and I am going to take Him at His Word that His words will never return void.

#What’sNext?#Challenge!

Friday, October 22nd, 2021

I think the older one gets the more a question enters the mind: Am I making a difference? Does my life count?  I suspect many of us fear living a life of ineffectiveness, ineptness, or with no direction.  While studying for this sermon I ran across several humorous quotes. One was

We should all be concerned about the future: because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.

I finished the Gospel of Mark study this past Sunday and now we have to face the future. Jesus’ time on earth is done and there is only one last thing to do: commission and challenge His followers for what is next.  It is certainly more than “just go out and do whatever you want to do.”  He has tried for a little over 3 years to prepare them for what was ahead. Now what? What is next?

I will be completely closing the book on The Servant King series this Sunday with a sermon from Acts 1:1-11.  It is loaded with a commission to the apostles and a challenge to them to carry on His work. But He also gives specific instructions which they are to follow.

Join me please if you are able to.  If not, we will be doing it live stream at 9 and 10:45.  And by the way: if you were unable to join us at those times this past week, it was live streamed at 10:00. However, you can go to the church’s FB page or YouTube channel to watch it. You can find those links by going to the church’s website (ovcf.org) and finding the link right underneath the information about the sermon.

I hope you will join me in some way. If not, I always appreciate your prayers.

#Reminded#Present#Past#Future

Friday, October 15th, 2021

As much as I hate to admit it, my memory is not what it used to be. That is part of aging I know. I’m being told to take some Gingko Biloba, or a product called Prevagen, or some other product which is supposed to sharpen my memory. I used to hardly ever forget a face, where I saw it, and the name that went with it. Well, those days are long gone. I pity those who have ADHD. How they concentrate long enough to do anything is far beyond my comprehension, but to ask them to concentrate long enough to remember peoples’ names seems like a form of torture.

It never hurts to be reminded of things.  God spent long chapters in Psalms reminding the Israelites what they were forgetting. In Mark 14 there are three events which Jesus uses to remind His followers some vital truths.

The woman who anointed Jesus’ head with oil. It was a reminder that extravagant acts of love will be public; they will be criticized; but they will also be remembered.

Observing the Passover was something the Jewish people were told to observe. It was to remind them of God’s faithfulness and protection.

The Last Supper is the forerunner to our observance of the Lord’s Supper. Communion not only looks back to Christ’s death, but also looks forward with eager anticipation to His coming.

Sunday the church celebrates her 17th anniversary. We will be meeting outside in our shelter and a tent. We plan to live stream so I hope you will join us in some way.  One of our elders will also be presenting some great news about our addition-some possible ideas we are pursuing. Then comes a pitch-in. Yum! (Oh, that’s Red Robin). Yum anyway. If you can’t join us please be in prayer for us. Half of our offering will go the Building Fund and half to Missions. I’m excited about the whole day. Lots of work but it will be worth it.

One more thing: it will be the final sermon in my sermon series on The Servant King from the Gospel of Mark.

#OldOldStory#GospelEssentials

Friday, October 8th, 2021

Some of you may remember the old hymn with the following lyrics:

“I love to tell the story/Of unseen things above/Of Jesus and His glory/Of Jesus and His love/I love to tell the story/Because I know ’tis true/It satisfies my longing/As nothing else will do/ Chorus: I love to tell the story!/Twill be my theme in glory/To tell the old, old story/Of Jesus and His love.”

My sermon this morning is a bit out of order. Since next Sunday, the 17th is OVCF’s 17th anniversary, I am switching my sermons for the two weeks. Next week’s is from Mark 14: 1-31 and is entitled Let Me Remind You. This Sunday’s sermon is from Mark 14:43-16:15 and is entitled Tell Me the Old, Old Story.

It is going to be a recounting of the essentials of the Gospel:

Tell Me About the Trial

Tell Me About the Death

Tell Me About the Resurrection

It never hurts to hear the old, old story over again.  I’d love to have you join me in person. If not, then live stream will be where you will get a chance to look at my face. 🙂  Actually, it would be better to say, “Where you can join us in worship.” If not, then I’d appreciate your prayers.

#Leadership#ChurchLessons

Thursday, August 26th, 2021

In my last post I featured Phil Cooke’s blog entitled Leadership Lessons from Joe Biden and Afghanistan.  At the end of that post I made a comment that I would apply it to church leadership. Here is my somewhat meager attempt at doing that. I am not a “Leadership Guru” by any stretch. I have weaknesses as a leader which I am aware of.  So please understand I am not speaking from a mountain of leadership expertise as though I am “the” leader. Far from it.  Here are my thoughts born out of my last blog:

1) Incompetent leaders can rise to remarkable heights. There is no question that many leaders “get there” riding on the coattails of several different things. Personality. Talent. Who-they-know. Just because they get wherever they are going doesn’t mean they are competent leaders.

2) Fantasy isn’t a leadership strategy. I had a dream once of being a pastor of a big church. Fantasy only as I soon found out. Reality: I wasn’t equipped for that nor gifted for that. I’m good with pastoring a church in a small town. I love the people here and this November, Lord willing, will start my 17th year. Living in a Disney fantasy world would have only left me high, dry, unfulfilled, and miserable.  Whoever said, “Reality s***s” has not lived in my world.

3) Leaders take the hits. Admitting I have been wrong seems to be the theme of my ministry. 🙂  I have been wrong so many times… if I could have received $1 for every time I was wrong and had to apologize, I could retire and live off the interest. Rats!  Should have started that jar a long time ago.

4) In a crisis, leaders must face the public. Back in January of 2011 I found out we had been embezzled to the tune of $200+ thousand. After telling the leaders and having a flash meeting with them, I went before the church family to inform them of the shortage. To say people were shocked, enraged, stunned (and any other adjective you can think of) would be an understatement. But it was the right thing to do. In my mind, it was the only thing to do.

5) Good leaders listen to advice. I won’t go into my thoughts on the arrogance of Mr. Biden not listening to his advisors. But many pastors don’t either. When it comes to important decisions which affect the whole congregation, I don’t make unilateral decisions.  There are two others on staff who are involved in helping to make decisions and if it is a major one, I take it to the elders.  I found out early on it is wise to listen to others…even if I may disagree.

6) Never forget that leaders who try to leave a legacy rarely do. The best legacy I can leave behind is that I was a follower of Jesus and loved Him with all my heart. The rest takes care of itself.  It is far too easy to try to please everyone if I am concerned with my legacy.

There you have my thoughts. Totally non-political. Thoroughly my thoughts.  Leadership is different. I used to think I was a great leader. No more. I am adequate at best. I still have so much to learn.

#Listen#ListenFirst#ListenMore

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

A man consulted a doctor and told him his wife was going deaf. “I ask her what we are having for dinner and she doesn’t answer.”

“Bring her in,” the doctor said, “I’ll examine her.”

So the man brought his wife in. The doctor had her stand fifty feet away. He said to the man, “Go ahead and ask her what’s for dinner.”

“Hey honey,” he said, “what’s for dinner?”

Next, the doctor had the woman stand forty feet away.

“Hey, honey,” the man said, “I said, what’s for dinner?”

After going through this routine several times, the doctor finally had her stand five feet away.

“Hey, honey,” the man said, “for the sixth time, I said, what’s for dinner?”

The wife looked at the doctor then back at her husband. “And for the sixth time, I said, spaghetti!”

The man thought his wife had the hearing problem, but he was the one with the problem.  Sometimes we can be so sure of ourselves, so sure of something that we are hearing or not hearing, that the real message does not get through.

I don’t need to tell you how true that is when it comes to listening to a message/sermon or advice or to resolve a conflict.  We are so sure of ourselves that we hear but don’t really “hear.” That is especially true when we have to have the first word, the middle word and the last word.

Mark 4 is filled with teaching by Jesus that we need to listen to. My initial title was Listen First, Talk Second but after working on it I decided to change it to just LISTEN!  I would love to have you join me this Sunday if you can be here in person. If not, please check it out as we live stream both our services on YouTube or the church’s FB page.  And as always…if you can’t join either, your prayers would be most appreciated.