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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!

Tough Challenges

Wednesday, February 14th, 2024

Unless you count a baseball or basketball coach, I have never used a personal trainer, although I know many who have. Each Saturday morning at the local Y there is a former Owen Valley Patriot basketball player teaching/coaching/training young ones to become better players. Harry was a good player who went on to play at a nearby University and is now taking his talents to young people (male and female) who want to become better basketball players.  If you Google “Goals of a Personal Trainer” one common formula that comes up is SMART goals= Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

When I originally worked on the sermon series “WELCOME HOME…where… I came up with the following:

The Gospel is Preached

Jesus is Honored

Grace is Offered

Lives are Changed

Obedience is Encouraged

When I set this series up calendar-wise, I realized I needed two weeks to bring it out even, and also knew I would be gone for the final one. Since I have been using Colossians as my go-to Scripture for this series, I looked ahead and saw that Paul laid out some tough challenges. Specifically, there was a negative and a positive. So I decided to divide the Scripture into two parts. The first part is negative in that it says, “Get rid of…” I decided I would do that one and give Pastor Ryan the second part-the positive: “But put on…”

So this Sunday, my Scripture will be Colossians 3:5-11, or Tough Challenges are Given-Part 1.  My part this week will be spent mostly with the idea of “put to death” specific sins.  Even though it could tend to be a beat-down, I have no plans for that. I want it to be an encouraging time of “putting to death” certain sins in order to be a more honest servant.  I’d like to encourage you to read that Scripture for yourself.

And if you find yourself out and about Sunday, feel free to join us. 🙂

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.

#GospelPreached

Thursday, January 11th, 2024

I start a new series this week that will go to the end of February. I’ve called it WELCOME HOME…where…

Each sermon is part of a reworking of a our Mission and Vision Statement. You can find our Mission and Vision Statements on the church’s website here and here.  This past October, during our 19th Anniversary celebration I shared a story with the people about what had happened during the previous week. I was unable to sleep so I got up and went into my ManCave and picked up my journal on the way there. While there I sensed God “telling” me to write down some stuff. What I wrote down was a reworking of the Mission and Vision statement in a “softer” version.  Here it is for you to see:

WELCOME HOME…where…

The Gospel is Preached

Jesus is Honored

Grace is Offered

Lives are Changed

Obedience is Encouraged

I am going to take each one of these over the next two months and spend a week simply explaining what they mean. I’m “cheating” though; I’m adding two to round it out all the way to the end of February. The series will come from Colossians 1-3 so I will include each week’s Scripture here if you would like to read ahead of time. This week’s Scripture is Colossians 1:3-14. I will also be including I Cor. 1:18-31 and Romans 1:16-17.

I’ll leave you with a quote I will be using:

God is not going to rewrite the Bible for your generation. Stop trying to change Scripture when it’s written to change you.

See you Sunday in person or via live stream at 9:00 and 10:45!

#DarkHorse

Thursday, January 4th, 2024

I’m not a runner. Never have been; never will be.  The only running I have done is while playing baseball or basketball; running to the bathroom; or running after my girls when they wanted to play. I tried running once. ONCE. I didn’t have the right shoes to start with. I didn’t have the right technique.  I didn’t have the right clothes. And I had balky calf muscles that didn’t like running outside on uneven surfaces or on hard surfaces. So that lasted all of about one week. 🙂 But call me for supper, pizza, or ice cream and I was all there! In fact, I was there as quick as you can say, “Roadrunner.”

My theme for 2024, as you can see, is Run with the Horses. I “borrowed” it from a book by that title authored by Eugene Peterson. A book I have not read to be honest. It is a play on Jeremiah 12:5. The whole idea was that if Jeremiah was tired from daily life, how can he expect to run with the horses when the going gets tough?  Truthfully, I believe life in 2024 is only going to get tougher for those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ. My desire this year is to prepare us as well as I can to life with all its muck and mire, so that we won’t get bogged down and be unable to run with the horses.

Please join me/us each week as we pursue this goal.  We have two services every Sunday (unless it is changed for a reason). One at 9:00 and the other at 10:45. Both are live streamed. If you desire to and are able to join us in person, we would love to have you visit.

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.

 

Don’t Miss It!

Thursday, December 21st, 2023

If I was a betting man I would put all I had on one fact: somewhere, sometime, somehow you have heard about missing the meaning of Christmas.

I think we all have our favorite Christmas movies. Mine are It’s a Wonderful Life and The Santa Clause. I know others have their favorites as well. Die Hard. Is that really a Christmas movie? I don’t think so even though it takes place around Christmas. 🙂  One of the ones I enjoy seeing from time to time (not necessarily on a regular basis but from time to time) is Polar Express.  As you watch the movie, you see the progression from the “person” of Christmas being, of course, Santa Claus, to more of the idea that the spirit of Christmas is found in the heart.  The Santa Clause stars Tim Allen as Scott Calvin (SC) who puts on the Santa suit and transforms into Santa Claus. I have to admit that I like Tim Allen and this is one funny romp I have never grown tired of.

Back to my original thought. We often talk about the spirit of Christmas and how so many fail to see what Christmas is all about. We make statements like “It’s Christmas not Xmas” or “Keep Christ in Christmas.”  Sadly, it is a real possibility that will happen though. Our culture is trying its best to avoid any reference to Christ. A city in Iowa had a display of Satan among the Christmas displays in their courthouse. So it is safe to say there will always be people who miss Christmas.

Even with the spectacular event of Jesus’ birth right in front of them, there were those who missed it.  I hope you won’t and that is my point this Sunday. I hope to see you on Sunday at 10:00 or Christmas Eve at 5:00 (different service completely). I look forward to seeing you in person or online.