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#Feasts#Reminders

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022

None of you are as old as me who read this. That means I am as “old as dirt” to quote someone recently.  It also means that I need reminders from time to time. I have noticed that I tend to write things down a whole lot more than I used to.  I am so thankful for post-it-notes! 🙂

We all need reminders from time to time. Forgetting is not something relegated to older people.  Going into a room and not remembering why you went there is not cordoned off for just old people. If that happens to me, I just go back out and then hope I will remember. Or sometimes I look around the room hoping it will jog my memory. “Tricks of me trade my boy, tricks of me trade.”  I heard that once. Oh yeah, on MacGyver (the original).

The two feasts we will be looking at this week are feasts of remembrance. Yom Kippur (aka the Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (aka the Feast of Booths).  Both feasts played a big part in helping the Jewish people to remember what God had done, how faithful He had been.

My desire this week is to show why these feasts held such a prominent place in the lives of the Israelites and how they can serve as a reminder to us of God’s faithfulness and forgiveness.  I think they fit nicely into the whole idea of being thankful (which this Thanksgiving holiday is all about).  I hope to see you in person at 9 and 10:45 or, if not, then via live stream at the same times.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

#Separation#Firstfruits#Pentecost

Thursday, November 17th, 2022

What do you think of when you think of the word holiness? I can tell you what some have in mind. Monasteries, organ music, long prayers and religious-sounding chants all are mentioned.  Someone else said, “Holiness brings to mind thinness, hollow-eyed gauntness, beards, sandals, long robes, no sex, no jokes, frequent cold baths, fasting, hours of prayer, wild rocky deserts, getting up at o-dark-30, stained glass, and self-humiliation.” Yeah…not a great picture.

So to talk about holiness gives some people the “whilly’s.” I Peter 2:9-10 tells us we have been set apart to be the people of God and with that separation came special privileges.

The two feasts I am going to be speaking about this Sunday both deal with separation: Firstfruits and Pentecost (also called “Weeks.”) The former deals with separation based on faith; the latter deals with separation based on promise.

Please join us as we continue the series called Feasts with a Purpose. We meet at 9 and 10:45.

#Feasts#Passover

Thursday, November 10th, 2022

One of the understandings that I believe many NT followers of Jesus lack is that of the importance and purpose of the OT feasts. We hear they are in the OT and we turn our antenna off. And to make it even more drastic, we know that we need to read the OT to hear about them and what their purpose was.

Read the Old Testament? Read Leviticus? Are you kidding me? For many, that is a recipe for sleep mode. I confess…I have had that attitude in the past. But I decided to stop snoring publicly when I talk about the OT. I decided to stop downplaying its importance.  There were several reasons for doing that. 1) It was making a mockery of God’s inspired, written Word. 2) I began to really come to grips that Jesus is throughout the Bible. I mean, I knew that, but I finally allowed it to sink in. I began to read some books about it. Jesus on Every Page. The Unfolding Mystery. Christ from Beginning to End were just some of them.

And then…and then…I decided I would do something I had never done before. I would focus on the feasts in the OT as they relate to Thanksgiving and, of course, to NT followers of Jesus. I begin that 4-week series this Sunday. My title is God Redeems His People. I’ll be looking at the Passover and this is the only sermon in which I will focus on only one feast. But how can I not? This is possibly the most important feast/meal the Jews were to observe and there is absolutely no doubt it relates to us.

I invite you to join us we all work our way through a new subject for me and most likely for all who are there. We have two services at 9 and 10:45 and live stream both as well.

Will Reed #SpecialGuest

Thursday, November 3rd, 2022

It was around 2017 when Will and Teresa Reed returned home on furlough from the mission field in Africa. By the time they came home they were hurting. From the trauma of a hostile environment that caused them to move 3 times, to being personally traumatized, as well as severe exhaustion that came from a baby who never slept, they needed to come home. It was during that time they came to visit OVCF as one of their supporting churches. All of that combined caused some severe anxiety and PTSD, which the counselor told them they needed to deal with. It was recommended they stay home and heal.

It is now 2022 and with the necessary healing taking place (and also the birth of two more children), Will and Theresa sense God calling them back to Africa under the auspices of the mission organization, SERGE. It was the same one they were involved with before.  Their plan is to return, Lord willing, to Nairobi, Kenya to serve with SERGE as counselors/helpers/support (and any other words that fit that description) in 2023.

Will is preaching this Sunday and will also tell the story of their healing and subsequent “call” to return to Africa. Pastor Ryan, Diana, Jo and I had lunch with them almost 2 months ago to renew our ministry with them.  The leadership of OVCF is committed to putting them in the mission budget for 2023. The folks need to meet them and see what a genuine and real couple/family they are.

Please pray for Sunday.  For Will as he preaches. For them as they consider their move and raise the funds to do so. And pray for the church as we are challenged to follow God’s calling on our lives, no matter where it leads. Join us if you are able to in person. Or you can’t, then please watch the live stream at 9 and 10:45.

Next week I start a 4-week series on Feasts with a Purpose.  I’m going to take a look at two different OT feast each week and how they show us Jesus and apply to Christ-followers today. Join me won’t you?

#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.

#GivePeaceaChance!

Friday, September 23rd, 2022

There has always been hawks and doves. The one constant through the whole of human existence has been conflict. Frankly, we have a terrible track record. The peace we hail today can collapse tomorrow. Who can forget British PM Chamberlain, after meeting with the madman (Hitler), came home to pronounce, “Peace in our time. Peace in our time.” Not too much later he found out what Hitler’s idea of peace was.

Out of curiosity, I did a little research. I typed in “years without war or conflict” and found the following statistics: There has been a total of 10,624 battles in history (2019); of the past 3400 years there have been 268 years without conflict= 8% of history (2003); of the 244 years of US history, only 15 have been peaceful (2020).  Well, as you can see we don’t have a great track record do we? But those stats are quite revealing.

They definitely show our propensity for fighting and not getting along. So how could Jesus be so bold as to say “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Was He just blowing smoke by giving us an impossible task?  My task this Sunday is to investigate this Beatitude and see how it applies to we who live in 2022. How can we be peacemakers is a contentious world?

Join us if possible in person at 9 and 10:45. If you are unable to, please join via live stream.  To echo my inner 60s child: Give Peace a Chance. 🙂

#20/20Vision#PureinHeart

Friday, September 16th, 2022

In 1982 a story circulated about a woman named Anne Mae Pennica, a 62-year old woman who had been blind from birth. At 47 she married a man she met in a Braille class, and for the first fifteen years of their marriage he did the seeing for both of them until he completely lost his vision to retinitis pigmentosa. Mrs. Pennica had never seen the green of spring or the blue of a winter sky. Yet because she had grown up in a loving, supportive family, she never felt resentful about her handicap.

Then in October of 1981 Dr. Thomas Petit of the Jules Stein Eye Institute of UCLA performed surgery to remove the rare congenital cataracts from the lens of her left eye-and Mrs. Pennice saw for the first time ever!The realization of colors and people were overwhelming but exciting.

What an incredible story! Think how wonderful it would have been for her to see her first sunrise and sunset; to see her husband and others whose voice she had only known. Imagine seeing colors for the first time.

What if we approached the Bible the same way, as if we had never heard or read it before! What an astounding awakening that would be. The truths of the Bible would “blow us away.”  What if we prayed for a renewed vision, a 20/20 vision, as we approach the Bible. What if we asked for new eyes to see new truths. I’m reminded of the old hymn:

“Open my eyes that I may/Glimpses of truth Thou has for me/Place in my hand the wonderful key/That shall unclasp and set me free/Silently now I wait for Thee/Ready my God, Thy will to see/Open my eyes, illumine me/Spirit Divine.”  (That old King James English sure trips me up! 🙂 )

Sunday’s sermon is a continuation of the series on the Beatitudes called Eight Cures. This Sunday, as you can probably gather is from Matthew 5:8- “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”  I invite you to join me as we study. We meet and also live stream at 9 and 10:45.