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#JesusIsVictorious

Thursday, March 28th, 2024

Billy Graham was once interviewed by TIME (remember that?) magazine about Christianity. He replied, “If I were an enemy of Christianity, I would aim right at the Resurrection, because that is the heart of Christianity.”  Theologian Peter Kreeft once wrote: “Every sermon preached by every Christian in the NT centers on the Resurrection. The Christian church would have never begun…Christianity stands or falls with the truth of the resurrection. Once you disprove it, you have disposed Christianity.”

There have been many efforts of people trying to disprove the resurrection. From liberal religion scholars to people like Thomas Jefferson to other truth deniers, they have all tried. AND. ALL. HAVE. FAILED. You know what is interesting? People will not argue the historicity of the crucifixion. They do believe Jesus died on the cross. (It is kind of hard to deny history, although we do have those in our culture who are trying to redefine it). While they believe Jesus died on the cross, they don’t or have trouble believing Jesus rose from the dead.

With this coming Sunday being Resurrection Sunday, it just stands to reason I would preach a sermon on…well…the Resurrection.  I’m going to spend some time in I Cor. 15:12-19 to show what happens if the resurrection didn’t happen and then I am going to reverse that to see what we have because Christ rose.

We did something different this week. We are meeting at Abram Event Venue, which is just south of us, so we can meet together in one service. However, they do not have internet, so live streaming the service, plus the logistics of getting all the equipment there would have been a nightmare makes that a no-go. So we prerecorded the sermon with some Scripture and Pastor Ryan leading communion. I’d like to invite you to watch the video if you are unable to meet in person with us.  Then I’d like to hear from you. If you are able to join us, our service starts at 10:00.

Jesus is Real

Thursday, February 29th, 2024

A little over two years ago, a local business had a statement on their sign that I must admit rankled me a bit. In fact, if I were to be honest, it ruffled my feathers (and I have none). The sign consisted of three words, words which startled me and I suspect others because fortunately it didn’t stay up very long. I would like to believe it was because of repentance at the blasphemy, but I’m guessing it was more because of blowback.  Those three words were “Jesus was woke.”

The long version definition of “woke” is “a word to describe someone who, whether consciously or unconsciously, has adopted grievances and activism rooted in Cultural Marxism and Critical Theory, especially related to the intersectional oppression matrix of race, gender, and sexuality.” WHEW! Did you get that? Let me put that in my language: a bunch of crock centered around race, gender, and sexuality that finds its roots in Cultural Marxism and Critical Theory. I could add more but that should suffice. To say Jesus followed Marxism and was concerned about Critical Race Theory is heresy. If you ask me what I think, I will tell you “it comes from the pit of hell and smells like smoke.”

During the month of March I am going to try to tackle some of the more radical ideas about Jesus. This week’s sermon is entitled Jesus is Real. To put it another way: what is it we believe about Jesus? If you care to read ahead, spend some time in I Corinthians 15:1-9. You will find all you need to know about Sunday’s sermon in that passage.

I invite you to join us if you able to in person. If you would like to but find yourself unable to physically join us, please join us online on the church’s FB page or via YouTube. We would love to have you. And make sure to let us know if you watch!

Obedience: Encouraged or Demanded?

Thursday, February 8th, 2024

There are some things I know for sure. 1) It is always tough to be a Christ-follower.  2) It is tougher to be a Christ-follower when rigid rules and regulations are in place. Obedience to Christ should be expected, but obedience should never be demanded or forced upon someone. Unfortunately, there will always be those religious teachers and religious systems that will take a “hard case” approach and make demands of their followers the Scripture never intended to take place.

The Scripture for Sunday, Colossians 2:16-3:4 takes a hard stand against demanding obedience or as I will say during the message: the “lord it over” approach. The question I plan to answer is this: “Is obedience demanded or encouraged?” Please see there is a difference. It is my personal belief that those religious leaders or religious systems who use the “lord it over” approach are afraid. They are afraid of people thinking for themselves. They are afraid of losing control of their flock. They are afraid that a lack of control will lead to rebellion. (Maybe it should). 

Do we obey God from our hearts or do we do it because we are being threatened or forced to? For my answer, please feel free to join us in person or online this Sunday at 9:00 and 10:45. I would love to see you or even to hear your thoughts when it is all said and done.

Deepen and Define

Thursday, February 1st, 2024

French philosopher, Francois-Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire (I believe I would choose Voltaire over Francois-Marie), famously predicted that Christianity would be dead within a hundred years of his death. He once wrote: “There will not be a Bible on the earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity seeker.” In 1966, TIME magazine ran a cover story posing the question, “Is God Dead?” They assumed the answer was obvious.

In an ironic twist of fate, the printing press found in Voltaire’s house was used to print Bibles, the book he said would be gone. And TIME! Can anyone say, “Life support?” Over 250 years later the faith Voltaire said would be dead is still alive and kicking.

In this series on WELCOME HOME…where… I have been focusing on being a church that is a welcoming community, but also what to expect in this type of church.  Here are the three we have covered so far:

The Gospel is Preached

Jesus in Honored

Grace is Offered

This week’s sermon is a bit more “ouchy” in that it starts probing. If we want to be a church that fulfills the next rung of this ladder we have to take two very important and distinct steps: First, we must deepen our intimacy with the Father (Colossians 2:6-10). Second, we must define our identity (Colossians 2:11-15).  As we draw closer to Him, we become more aware of who we are. Our identity is not in any qualifier we or our culture wants to put on us. We start with a new birth; we grow in intimacy with Him; then we find ourselves transformed by His overpowering love and grace. That becomes our identity.

So…WELCOME HOME…where…

LIVES ARE CHANGED

Grace is Offered

Thursday, January 25th, 2024

The mindset of our world can be illustrated by the events surrounding the sinking of Titanic. Not what caused it…that is very much documented. What happened afterwards. Over 1600 people lost their lives and sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. When Third Officer Pitman in Boat #5 wanted to return to pick up survivors, those on board overruled him in protest. 40 people in a boat with the capacity of 65 gently rocked on the calm Atlantic. In Boat #2, Fourth Officer Boxhall asked the ladies about going back and they said, “No.” So 60% full, it gently rocked on the Atlantic. On Boat #6, the ladies wanted to go back but Quartermaster Hitchens refused to go back. Of the 18 lifeboats, only one returned. The callous disregard for others gets us to the core.

And yet, is our world much different? I think not. People are in desperate need for grace these days. We are haunted by things we have done-big or small and we long for relief. God offers grace to all, His unmerited favor. Sometimes it is accepted and sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is clamored for and sometimes it is turned away.

My sermon this week is Part 3 of the WELCOME HOME…where… series.  WELCOME HOME…where…Grace is Offered. Colossians 1:20-25 will be my Scripture this week. Please join us at 9:00 and 10:45 in person or via the live stream. As a church we can talk about grace; we can teach about grace; we can even go overboard on grace, but what exactly does it mean to be a church that offers GRACE? Come see with us.

Jesus Is Honored

Thursday, January 18th, 2024

Over 100 years ago the famous World’s Columbian Exposition was held in Chicago. D.L. Moody saw it as a great chance for evangelism. He used churches and rented theaters, even a circus tent for various “preaching posts.” His friends wanted him to attack the “Parliament of Religions,” but he refused, saying, “I am going to make Jesus Christ so attractive that men will turn to Him.” He knew that preaching Christ preeminent would do the job. It did. The “Chicago Campaign” is considered to be the greatest evangelistic work of his life, and thousands came to Christ.

How different 100+ years makes! Other than someone like Billy Graham or Greg Laurie, if it doesn’t have a dog and pony show with it, people think it is not successful or won’t draw people. Sadly, churches can get into that same mindset. Instead of solid preaching and lifting up Christ, too many have settled for hype, light shows, and “sermon lite” preaching.

This Sunday’s message-as you can see by the title-is all about Jesus. Colossians 1:15-20 is all about lifting up Jesus and honoring Him.  I’ve got three main thoughts:

Jesus is the Lord of Creation

Jesus is the Head of the Church

Jesus is the Savior of the Cross

Please join us in person or online at 9:00 and 10:45. I pray you have a blessed weekend and find yourself worshiping the King of kings this weekend.

This Is It!

Thursday, December 28th, 2023

How many times did you hear or find yourself saying over the past month: “I can’t believe it is already December.” “I can’t believe it is already Christmas. It seems like we just celebrated it.”  We use the well-worn phrase, “My, my, how time flies.” And it certainly applies to the calendar.

The phrase fits many aspects of our lives. EXCEPT when it comes to the return of Christ. Then…  It seems like to the question should be, “How long can you wait?” I mean, it has been over 2000+ years since Jesus said He was returning and here we are in 2023 (almost 2024) and still waiting.

Over the next few days there will be plenty of people talking about the new year and what lies ahead. Or maybe I ought to say, “Will be wondering what lies ahead.” Of course, no one knows. Only God, the Father, does. And He ain’t tellin’! 🙂  One assurance we do have though is carved in stone: Jesus will come back. The only caveat to that is no one knows when. Except, you guessed it, the Father in heaven. It never ceases to amaze me how people can “prophesy” about the date or the time or the year that Jesus will return when Jesus Himself did not know. WOW!

This Sunday, I will be talking about two vital truths followers of Christ can pound a nail through: 1) He is with us.  The whole Christmas story taught us that.  That was the whole meaning behind the name Emmanuel (God with us). And 2) He is coming again. The old song said, “May be morning/may be noon/may be evening and may be soon.” I firmly believe that. But I also firmly believe that NO ONE knows when. Cults have been formed and still thrive based on the crazy belief that they know.  I will take a simple stand: Galatians 4:4 tells us Jesus came the first time when the time was right. He will come the second time when the time is right.

I’d like to ask you to join us via live stream on the church FB page or via YouTube. You can go to the church’s website to connect with us in that way if you prefer. If you live around Spencer, please feel free to join us in person. I would love to meet you.

 

Meet Michael Kent-Hughes

Monday, December 11th, 2023

REVIEW OF GLYNN YOUNG’S BOOKS

I read fiction at home to forget, to go into “another world” so to speak, to read something different from my daily reading. Since I’m a pastor my daily reading consists of (of course) reading the Bible for personal need; reading the Bible for study; using various other books for help with preparing sermons; and reading books that enhance my ability to communicate to the audience with some knowledge of the subject.  🙂 I don’t want to simply puppet, or worse, plagiarize another preacher. But when I’m home? Most serious study material is off the table.

That is why I picked up a series I had read over a period of several years as the books came out and decided to reread them. Starting with Dancing Priest in 2011 (Book 1); followed by A Light Shining in 2012 (Book 2); then Dancing King in 2017 (Book 3); Dancing Prophet in 2018 (Book 4); and finally Dancing Prince in 2020 (Book 5), Glynn Young captivated me. I couldn’t wait until the next one came out and as you can see there was quite a gap, i.e. a long, impatient wait between books 2 and 3. I read Books 1 and 2 several times in preparation for the next ones, but have to admit Books 3, 4 and 5 received one reading each. So when I sat down to read these books again, the final three were like reading them for the first time, while I thoroughly enjoyed being reminded again of why I totally enjoyed Books 1 & 2 originally. I will not be able to give a real comprehensive review here since I plan to cover all five books.  What I will do is give a brief synopsis of each book then give my thoughts.

Dancing Priest-Book 1. Michael Kent is introduced to us and will become the major player in all five books. Michael is a cyclist (a man after my own heart) whose Christian worldview and desire to join the Church of England priesthood inspires his every thought and action. A catastrophic event in the Olympics catapults him into the consciousness of just about every person, race, and country. His concern for his fellow cyclists during the Olympics gives us the “tell-tale” heart of this young man. His desire to be God’s man leads him to San Francisco and not Africa, where he truly wanted to go. But even there, events in and around St. Anselm (an Anglican) Church he serves as basically a youth pastor, show his heart for God and people.

A Light Shining- Book 2. This book picks up where Book 1 left off. His marriage at the end of Book 1 is highlighted in the beginning of this book.  Their openness to God’s leading not only leads them to continue caring for Jim, the young man Michael is the guardian for in Book 1, but also circumstances move them to “adopt” one of the homeless boys Michael met in Book 1. A cataclysmic event changes everything for Michael and Sarah Kent-Hughes. {Spoiler alert: Michael, due to events we find out about in Book 1, is in line to be the king of England. An assassination attempt is made on Michael and Sarah’s lives}. That’s all you get from me! 🙂

Dancing King- Book 3. The approach is different in this book. Glynn writes it from the perspective of different characters telling the story as they see it. I like this approach because we get to see Michael’s effect on the principle players in his life. Michael is to become the king of the United Kingdom following the cataclysmic event detailed in Book 2. But once again, there are nefarious dealings afoot from church leaders who don’t like Michael’s desire to reform the Church of England (the church his ordination is in and as the monarch he will be the head of). Michael’s team is top-notch and seems to have an “answer” for those wanting to destroy Michael. But Michael’s own integrity and his relationship with the Queen (Sarah) shines so brightly that people are willing to follow his leadership. The book ends with Michael and Sarah being coronated as king and queen of the UK.  

Dancing Prophet- Book 4.  To be honest, this one was the hardest to read. It hit too close to home. Michael and Sarah have begun their reign as King and Queen and while life looms large in front of them, a tsunami is about to rock the Church of England. Glynn acknowledged the similarity between his story and the scandal which rocked the Roman Catholic Church a few years ago regarding the abuse and sexual abuse of the priests. The unveiling of this within the fiction story written by Glynn is eerily similar, but not nearly as bad as the real thing. As is typical with hidden sins, once the water starts flowing the flood gates soon open. Glynn handled this masterfully (IMHO) and showed how a man or a woman of integrity and a heart for God can make a difference. I’ll let you read this on your own rather than give you any more detail.

Dancing Prince- Book 5.  Michael is seen as more fallible in this book than in the others. He takes on too much; neglects those who need him; and finds himself lost due to {Spoiler alert: Sarah’s death}. The primary character in Book 5 is Michael, but even more so his son, Prince Thomas. My second read of this book clarified some things for me (as multiple readings will sometimes do). Prince Thomas had a closeness to his mum (Queen Sarah) that even Michael was jealous of. That closeness caused a rift between the father and son, especially as it involved her painting. Even though I would have loved to have read further adventures of the Michael Kent-Hughes clan, I realize that all good things must end. I think Glynn brought these to a masterful close.

I am not blowing smoke when I suggest that you begin reading these right now. Okay…so buy them first, then read them. 🙂 Glynn has woven a genuinely enjoyable series to read. Reading this will give you many hours of “escapist reading.” Along the way you will learn some history of the UK, the Church of England and the Anglican Church (which I knew nothing about), and the way the monarch works (and you will be glad we don’t have one). You will learn why a church should never have so much influence and power in government. Simply said, I believe you will find your time captured by the stories. Well done Glynn!

#Crushed#Persecuted#NotDead

Thursday, August 10th, 2023

Richard Bewes, in his book The Lamb Wins, tells of an incident in his life that happened when preaching in the heart of Africa.  Before the start of meeting #27 (they were holding 30+ meetings), he and others with him were approached by two soldiers armed to the teeth with machine guns. They approached Richard and said, “Please, can we talk with you?” They answered, “Yes, how can we help?”

Now…I’m not sure what you are thinking but I do know what I was thinking.

They looked at Richard and said, “We want to follow Jesus.” Richard said it was a moving experience to talk, and then to pray with the two men under the trees, in the middle of one of Africa’s scarred, pot-holed cities.

In a land which has been staggered from crisis to crisis (and still is), the church still rises. It’s easy to think the church is doomed. We look around at the wokeness which has entered our culture and then see it has infiltrated the church as well. It is easy to allow despair to creep in and make us feel like we aren’t making any headway.  But we must continue believing that “the gates of hell will not prevail against the church.”

Sunday’s sermon is entitled Crushed and Persecuted but NOT DEAD! I hope you will join us at 9:00 or 10:45 in person or via live stream.

 

#HereComesTrouble!

Thursday, July 13th, 2023

Persecution is nothing new. Jesus promised it and that promise has never failed to come true. (Despite what the health/wealth hucksters say, trouble is to be expected. We were never promised a soft bed. We might say we were promised a bed of roses because every rose has its thorns). Life is certainly not like a box of chocolates. 🙂

Question: In the 16th and 17th centuries what was the most popular and widely read book among Christians in the English-speaking world, besides the Bible? The answer is a book called Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. It contained the stories of Christians who had been killed for their testimony throughout the centuries of Christian history.  John Foxe was born before Martin Luther nailed his #95 Theses” to the Wittenburg Church door. Foxe studied in Oxford, fled England when Queen Mary took the throne, and, while abroad, began his great study which has become known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.  It was a massive book and immediate success. It went through 4 editions in his lifetime, and its impact continued for generations.

That may not make any sense to you and what it has to do with Sunday’s sermon. But given that this week’s sermon is dealing with persecution, it has a ton of relevancy. My Scripture for this Sunday is Revelation 6:9-17 and deals with the persecution talked about in those verses. It is a follow-up to the previous week’s sermon on 6:1-8. I hope you will join me in person or via live stream.