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#18!

Thursday, October 27th, 2022

No, that is not my age. And to be honest, I would not want to go back there. I wouldn’t mind the health and vigor I had back then as a freshman in college, but I wouldn’t want to be that age for anything. Not with the way things look in today’s world.

18

That is how old the church I pastor, Owen Valley Christian Fellowship, is this month.  No one is really sure what date since it was over a short period of time when OVCF was birthed, but they do know it was in the month of October! 🙂 So the date we celebrate has sort of jumped all over the month. But what matters is not when, but what now.

This Sunday Pastor Ryan and I will be tag-teaming it for the message. Over the past 6 months or so, the leadership has been tweaking the Mission and Vision of OVCF. We plan to share that with the folks on Sunday. I will share it here next week in a series of posts.

If you happen to be reading this, I would like to invite you to join us at 9 and 10:45. We also live stream both services. And while you are here, please join us for a pitch-in following the second service. We would love to have you.  During the meal we plan to share some information on the proposed building.expansion project and also honor our volunteers.

Please be praying for OVCF, for the leadership and for us to know and fulfill God’s design for us here in Owen County and elsewhere.

#Contagious

Friday, October 21st, 2022

No, I don’t have COVID.  But I do know some people “freak” whenever the word contagious is used.  It used to be about polio or the flu or Bubonic plague or some other sickness. Now we are drawn to that pandemic no one wants to talk about. (Fine by me).

But you know it can be a positive thing as well? Every church has distinctives which set it apart from various other churches. I’m not talking the name on the building. But marks which identify the church as unique and the place to find what a person is looking for.  On October 30th, OVCF will celebrate her 18th anniversary as a church body. I personally believe it is a great time to step back and evaluate where we stand. We certainly are not a perfect church, and can always do better.  It is my prayer that this will serve as a challenge for us to make a more concerted effort to be contagious (in a good way).

“You can’t always tell a book by its cover” so the saying goes.  The saying also is true about the church. You can also not tell a church by its buildings. All sorts of decisions are made by people simply by looking at a building…many of them wrong. What really matters is what happens inside that building and then what happens when the church that meets there goes out into their sphere of influence. 

I’m going to challenge OVCF on three characteristics:

  1. A contagious church is a place of Grace.
  2. A contagious church is a place of mentoring.
  3. A contagious church is a place of fellowship.

I hope you will join me Sunday at 9 and 10:45, either in person or live stream.

#SleepyHead#StandingStrong

Friday, October 14th, 2022

I started a new and short series last week called Wake Up Sleepy Head! It is on the church and the need for a revival-locally and globally.

This week my sermon is called Standing Strong. There is no question, no doubt, that the church is under attack.  Without sounding political, Tulsi Gabbard just left the Democrat Party. One of the things she talked about was how Christians are under attack. I do not know what her religious affiliation is to be honest, and it really doesn’t matter to me. She spoke truth in that one statement.  The church and Christians are under attack. If we say anything, do anything, propose anything that goes against the “woke” agenda, we get cancelled or persecuted and called all kinds of names.

I believe it is just the start of it all.  More is to come. So it behooves Christ-followers and the church to stand strong.  We can expect it; prepare for it; and stand firm. Or we can take the road out of town. The early church had to stand strong.  It wasn’t easy for them; it isn’t and won’t be for us.  There are some things which cause a church to lose its edge.  But there are also some ingredients we need to stand our ground. 

I plan to cover both of those this Sunday. I also plan to boil it down to one very important issue. I plan to blog about that here and on my other blog this coming week.  Until then, I hope you will join us Sunday at 9 and 10:45.

#ChurchAlive#StartingPoint

Friday, October 7th, 2022

Many of you may remember several years a car company (Oldmobile) had the tag line “This is not grandfather’s Oldsmobile.” The insinuation was that Olds had changed from the stodgy, grandfatherly car company to a more exciting car company.  (For the record: it didn’t work. Olds no longer exists either due to downsizing or lost money). This week I start a very short series on the church entitled “Wake up Sleepy Head!”

Truth is: it is hard to change. Someone has said, “Change in inevitable: misery is optional.”  The church, without a doubt, has changed. I guarantee my grandparents would not recognize the church in 2022, especially since it has been well over 25 years since their death.  Back then hymns, pews, choirs and piano/organs were the fare. There were no drums, guitars, or keyboards. There were flannelgraph boards used to teach lessons, not computers, white boards and all the other gizmos. There were no youth pastors as paid staff. There was no such thing as small groups which met in homes. There were Sunday night services, Wednesday study, and Friday night prayer meetings (I know I used to attend with him), and the King James Bible. 

As Bob Dylan said, “The times, they are a-changin'” Some change has been good. I, for one, am glad for the changes in worship and more contemporary and accurate translations of the Bible. But sadly, the church is entrenched in tradition, even if it says it isn’t.  This short series of sermons will culminate in OVCF’s 18th anniversary celebration on October 30th. So I plan to challenge us to “do church” differently. This week is all about finding the starting point. Matthew 16: 13-20 and Acts 2: 42-47 will my Scripture.

I look forward to having you join us either in person or via live stream.

#RunningonEmpty

Friday, August 12th, 2022

NEW SERIES!!

After spending the past 7 weeks on Seven Cancers, I’m starting a new series called Eight Cures.

We often elevate celebrities to a place they do not deserve nor have earned.  I have been guilty from time to time of doing that with athletes, especially when I was younger. Then I saw they put their pants on like me, one leg at a time. Worse, I often found out they had feet of clay.  Christians have done that to athletes, musicians, actors, and even (gasp!) politicians.  Then a singer deconstructs, or an actor’s language is atrocious, or a ballplayer’s marriage disintegrates. Gone is the humility we thought we saw. We cling to celebrity looking for validation of their commitment. The recent death of Olivia Newton-John (ONJ) is a case in point. I am not her judge and she may very well be one who greets me in heaven, but the fawning over her and calling her a “Christian celebrity” (as I read the other day) just sort of did me in. 

But I digress. Sorry. Sunday’s sermon is from Matthew 5:1-3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.”   (Yeah, the 8 Cures are the Beatitudes).  What does poor in spirit mean? I suspect you may already know, but if not, I invite you to join us Sunday at 9 and 10:45.  We also live stream at the same time.

{And for the record: I liked ONJ’s music at one time. It is no longer my cup of tea. I like mine a little (okay, much) stronger.  It was not a slam against her, but against the Christian community running to embrace celebrities who talk about or mention any kind of faith. And taking it one step further: I am truly hoping she was prepared to meet Jesus. She talked about faith. I sincerely hope her faith was in Jesus…of which I can make no judgment}.

#RealRevival

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022

I also posted a good part of this on my other blog, Living in the Shadow, but I have made a few changes to this particular post.

Very recently I read an exciting and interesting new book by Pastor Greg Laurie. It is called Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus.

Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus: The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll

To borrow from Bill and Ted: “It was a most excellent book.”

Strange name I know, but it was a book about those three musical icons, their contemporaries and how they felt about Jesus. Pastor Greg also wrote about other rock icons-Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin (who were all part of the dubious 27 Club because they all died when they were 27 years old), as well as others. He wrote about Jesus’ influence on different rock and roll artists- their acceptance, rejection, falling away, and embracing-of Jesus.

After reading that refreshing, sometimes sad, but still refreshing book, I decided to go back and read again another book by Greg which I had read back in 2018 called Jesus Revolution.

Jesus Revolution: How God Transformed an Unlikely Generation and How He Can Do It Again Today

I only started it last night so I can’t say much about it. However, chapter 1 began with this quote:

There can’t be any large scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level.  it’s got to happen inside first.

Who said that? Hold onto your hat when I tell you. Jim Morrison.

Shocked? Yeah…me too.

Sounds like some religious jargon doesn’t it? How many times have you heard or said something like, “Real revival must start with me.” It’s true. Real revival, real renewal, must begin within each one of us, starting with me. Real revival is a revolution, a radical changing of my heart and mind to being conformed to the image of Christ. To borrow and reword Jim Morrison’s words: It’s an inside job.

You see, I think the world (and the church to some extent), has seen enough of, and had enough of, fake “works of God.” I know I have had enough of pretenders (and that includes me from time to time).  We see the garbage and hucksterism on TV for what passes for faith, and we hear of crusades (not Harvest Crusades put on my Greg Laurie) with all the showy junk, that we are literally sick of it. 

I know I’m sick of what passes for “God’s work” and “God’s words.”  Sort of makes me sick to my stomach.

Revival, or a move of God, is much more than “You don’t do this” or “You don’t do that” or “You must act a certain way” or “You must belong to a certain political party.”  No. Revival is a radical change within a person’s heart. THAT is what the world wants and needs to see.

Jim Morrison was right. We need Someone to light our fire. It’s not a baby (babe). It’s the King of kings setting us on fire with a fire of epic proportions. That is one that will set the night on fire by bringing the light of Christ to its darkness.

That the real thing. Authentic. Life-changing. White hot change-maker.

“Start with me, Father. Set me on fire.”

#BadConduct#GoodConduct

Friday, June 3rd, 2022

As the war against Hitler went to a fever pitch, Winston Churchill, in his first statement as prime minister said, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” That statement was put to the test when British troops rescued more than 300,000 Allied troops who were cut off from land retreat by the Germans at Dunkirk. 30,000 French and British troops were killed or taken prisoner, but still Churchill stood his ground. On June 4, 1940, he made the follower speech to the House of Commons:

We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

His words ring true with the resolve of a man contending earnestly for the preservation of his country. In Jude, verse 3, we are told to “contend earnestly for the faith.” There will always be false teachers. Sometimes they will be overt and sometimes like wolves in sheep’s clothing. 

In this final sermon in my series called Snapshots,  Jude warns us about those who will bring bad conduct to a whole new level. But, more importantly, he also lays out a battle plan for us to mature into healthy followers of Jesus.  I would love to have you join us in person or via live stream at 9 and 10:45 as I close out this series.

Next week I start a series I’m calling 7 Cancers. I look forward to having you join me.

#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).