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#StickingYourNeckOut

Friday, September 9th, 2022

Did you ever find yourself with more questions that answers? That is how I feel about this week’s sermon.  The Beatitude this week is “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.”

Here are a few of my questions: What does it mean to be merciful? In a world of cutthroat actions and reactions, what place does mercy have? What should the Christ-follower do and how should we act? How do we show mercy to others? Tons of questions which need deserve to be answered.

It sounds like it should be an easy task. But in Jesus’ day it was a radical teaching. The Romans admired justice, courage, self-control, and wisdom, but not mercy. In fact, it was called a “disease of the soul.” It was something to be abhorred and avoided and ashamed of if you ever expected to achieve success.

It isn’t quite that bad these days. But there is still what I will call “faux-mercy.” What I mean by that is that there are those who pretend to show mercy because it is profitable, rather than because it is the right thing to do. All in all though, it is right to show mercy to those who need it.  Mercy is not a sign of weakness (as the Romans taught), but actually a sign of strength. The Greek word for merciful means “to give help to the wretched, to relive the miserable.” The Greek word gives way to our English word benefactor.

Sunday’s sermon will not only try to clarify what mercy is, but also give examples of people who showed mercy from the Bible (put a picture to the word). I hope you will join us at either 9 or 10:45 in person or via live stream. We would love to have you join us. I would be honored if you would.

#RadicalPursuit

Friday, September 2nd, 2022

There is an old saying, “You are what you eat.” Someone sarcastically said if that is true there are a lot of donuts and pastries walking around. 🙂  Our airwaves are inundated with diet plans and food plans and pills and exercise plans all designed to get us to eat, act, and look right.

Much more dangerous are those who follow the mantra of the world by exposing themselves to violence, excitement, erotica, and materialism.

Hunger is seen in different ways in the Bible.

  • In Isaiah 14: 12-14 we find the story of the fall of Lucifer.
  • In Daniel 4 we find Nebuchadnezzar looking over his kingdom and being rather pompous.
  • In Luke 12 we find Jesus telling the story of the rich farmer who had such a bumper crop that his storehouse was too small. So he decides to big bigger barns and then say, “You have goods for many years to come.  Relax. Eat, drink and enjoy yourself.”

Lucifer hungered for power. Nebuchadnezzar hungered for praise. The rich fool hungered for pleasure. In the end, they all lost it all.

There is a better “meal plan” for the follower of Christ.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied.” (NASB2020)  I’m going to be probe what Jesus meant when He said this and what it has to do with us in 2022.

I hope you will join me and OVCF this coming Sunday either in person or online.  I know this is the Labor Day holiday so if you plan to travel please be safe.

#EasytobeHard#Meekness

Friday, August 26th, 2022

Back in 1969, Three Dog Night had a hit with a song called Easy to be Hard. Some of the lyrics went like this: “How can people be heartless/How can people be so cruel/Easy to be hard/Easy to be cold/How can people have no feelings/How can they ignore their friends/Easy to be proud/Easy to say no.”

Like it or not, there are people who are heartless and cold and cruel and have no feelings. Sadly, some of those people are those who say they follow Jesus.  A lot of that could possibly come from the idea that we have no clue what it means to be sensitive to others in a good way.

My sermon Sunday is on Meekness and if there is any one word misunderstood in the Bible, it is that one! Far too many say meekness = weakness. A closer look at that word shows that is simply not the case. Meekness is actually better seen as POWER UNDER CONTROL! Think of a horse being controlled by a bit. A ship being controlled by a rudder.  Besides the fact there is no way we can equate meekness with weakness, especially since Jesus was meek and lowly. He was humble.  Let’s make it even more practical. A person who loses his temper lacks meekness. I read where someone said, “Temper is such a wonderful thing that it’s a shame to lose it!”

This Sunday we will be looking at Meekness in depth. I hope you will join me and OVCF as we worship and study.  If you are unable to, we live stream at 9:00 and 10:45.

#GoodGrief!

Friday, August 19th, 2022

Let’s be honest here for a moment. For most people, especially in today’s world, mourning is not seen as a virtue.  In fact, for many men, to show tears is out of character. I can remember only seeing my dad cry once and that was after his heart attack and a visit Jo, Tami (she was barely a month old), and I made. We had traveled from Akron to my folks’ home in PA to visit. Now a days, it is becoming even harder and harder not just to find men, but also women, who are unafraid to shed some tears. It is often seen as a sign of weakness.

And yet, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (NASB2020)

What does that mean? Does it mean we should be constantly in “cry mode?” Does it mean we should go around with tears in our eyes so people can see us crying (sort of like being showy like the Pharisees)?  Everyone one of us experience or will experience pain and suffering of some kind. What should we do?

Mourn, of course. Jesus said it was okay to do that. I remember a song from years ago sung by J.D. Sumner: “Tears are a language God understands.”

But when Jesus tells us “Blessed are those who mourn” what does He mean? What is He giving us permission to do?  It is far more than just shedding tears. I hope to untangle that this week and with God’s help shed some light in this sometimes dark tunnel. 

I’d be honored if you could join us at 9 or 10:45 in person or via live stream.  If you care to watch it another time it is on the church FB page and YouTube channel. You can access those by going to the church’s website.

#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}.

#Cancer#Hidden

Friday, August 5th, 2022

Of all the cancers which we have covered (6 so far), this last one is what I am calling the “Hidden” one. Why? Because most often it can be hidden from other eyes. Given the internet and given the plethora of other avenues, this cancer is considered “private.”

The cancer? L.U.S.T.

Someone has said, “Unbridled lust: A cannibal committing suicide by nibbling on himself.”

Another anonymous person said, “Lust, I read somewhere, is the craving for salt by a man (or woman) who is dying of thirst.”

I don’t need to go into detail of what happens when lust takes hold. A lust for money often leads to gambling. A lust for pleasure often leads to a life of unbridled lack of control. A lust for ease often leads to a life spent looking for short cuts. And a life of lust often leads to a body count left behind with destruction in its wake.  But like all the other cancers, it will eat away at us until it reveals itself in some way.

Lust is not a losing cause.  It is a disordered and idolatrous sexual desire that is both enslaving and destructive, but it is not an adventure in futility. This week I hope to disclose lust for what it is, but also to offer hope to those who struggle with it.  Please join us at 9 and 10:45 in person or via live stream. If you are unable to, please commit to praying for me-for us- as we study. Thanks.

#Cancer#Resepctable

Friday, July 29th, 2022

We have the Big 10. You know…the 10 Commandments. “You shall have no other gods before you.” “You shall not murder.” “You shall not commit adultery.” And others. The biggies.  People will also throw in some of their social issues with them. Curiously, there is one we tend to leave off the list. In fact, of all the cancers we have been talking about, this one most people will take the least seriously than any other. The cancer?

Gluttony.

I’m going to be honest. I don’t have an axe to grind.  I like to eat like all the other folks do. I used to say, “The Apostle Paul said, “I buffet my body, not buffet (like endless eating) my body.” I have to admit that I preferred the latter more than I should have. Pizza. Ice Cream. Chinese. Age has slowed me down some I’m sorry to say, but I do still like to eat! 🙂 

Gluttony is more than just overeating at Thanksgiving or Christmas or some special occasion. The failure to see that fact is flabby thinking about the Bible and what it says about this “respectable” cancer. I call it that because it normally doesn’t show up on someone’s list of sins.

This Sunday I am going to be preaching about what the Bible says about this “respectable” cancer.  I would love to have you join us in person, or if that is not possible, online.  We have two services at 9 and 10:45. Both are live streamed as well.

#Cancer#GottaHaveIt

Friday, July 22nd, 2022

Perhaps you have heard the saying, “God has promised to fill all our needs, not all of our greeds.” (Yeah…I know…that is not a word. Spell check tells me that). 🙂

Here are two sayings that I thought were pretty interesting:

“Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected…Hoarding is idolatry.”

 

“Just as a circle can never fill a triangle so the heart of greed is never satisfied. Its hunger is never filled; its thirst is never quenched. No wonder we are so often warned against it.”

When we think of greed our minds often go to misers like Ebenezer Scrooge; or corrupt bankers or some tycoon on Wall Street; or a wicked pirate like Captain Barbosa in Pirates of the Caribbean. SURELY NOT US!!

The problem with greed is that it is usually masked and isn’t that obvious. We see someone working hard and perhaps getting wealthy and we think “a man is worthy of his hire.” Little do we know that down inside that man or woman might be a heart of greed. I’m not just talking about someone in the “worldly” vein either. We get that same picture of many in the church. We think we want to be like that person, but come to find out there is a heart of greed beating down inside.

Cancer #5 is the Deadly Sin of Greed. I’m calling it the “gotta have it” syndrome.  What does the Bible say about greed? Actually a lot. That is my topic for this Sunday’s message. I hope you will join me as we delve into this volatile subject that so many of us want to deny we have but…

Please join us at 9 and 10:45 either in person or via live stream. I would love to have you or see you. If not, you can always pray for us, for me. I will never turn that away!! 🙂

And by the way: Pastor Ryan has taken about 12 people to Hickory, KY for some help with tornado clean-up. Your prayers for their travel and service would be greatly appreciated.

#Cancer#Sloth

Friday, July 15th, 2022

A sloth is an “interesting” animal. I use interesting in quotes there because to me, watching a sloth would be like watching grass grow or paint dry. You get the idea. B-O-R-I-N-G.

Proverbs 20:5 says, The lazy one does not plow after autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing.”  For more on that read another passage: Pr. 24: 30-34.

I realize there are some people who move slower than others. That is their makeup. But being lazy or being slothful is a whole ‘nother animal (pun intended).  A sloth is someone who is careless, unwilling to act, half-hearted in their approach to life, and gets discouraged in the face of difficulty.  In one of the more humorous passages in the Bible the writer of Proverbs describes the slothful person as one who says, “There is a lion outside; I shall be killed in the streets!” so he just stays in bed. Another passage, Pr. 26:14 says, “As the door turns on its hinges, so does a lazy one on his bed.”

Not very complimentary is it? It is not meant to be. That is why sloth is considered one of the 7 Deadly Sins, which I am calling 7 Cancers.  That is my current sermon series and I’d like to invite you to join me as we study. If you are able to visit in person, we would love to have you.  We have two services- one at 9 and one at 10:45. We live stream both services as well. If you are unable to join us, I would appreciate your prayers.

#Explosion#Cancer

Friday, July 8th, 2022

So far in this series I am calling “7 Cancers,” we have talked about pride and envy. This week’s cancer is on Anger.

We have all sorts of ditties about anger. Such as:

“When angry, count ten before you speak; If very angry, a hundred.” Thomas Jefferson

“When angry, count four. When very angry, swear.” Mark Twain

“It’s wise to remember that anger is just one letter short of danger.” Sam Ewing

“Anger helps straighten out a problem like a fan helps straighten out papers.” Susan Marcotte

“Secular” thoughts to a spiritual problem. “Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” James 1:19.  Now that’s more like it!

Anger seems to be all the rage (pun intended) these days. If people aren’t screaming and yelling or protesting or ranting and raving about something we tend to think there is something wrong with them. (I, on the other hand, think there is something most definitely wrong with those who do).  Our society is becoming angrier and angrier and it is finding ways to carry it out which boggles the mind. Who can forget the riots of 2020? Who can forget the mass shootings we have witnessed?

Christ-followers are not immune to those same kinds of feelings. BUT THAT DOESN’T MAKE THEM RIGHT.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that of all people Christ-follower ought to be setting the example of how to react to unfavorable situations or decisions.

Anger is one of the cancers which plague us all. What should be our response to situations which “try men’s souls”? How can I win over this cancer? My sermon this week on The Explosive Cancer will attempt to answer those questions and more. Please join me in person or via live stream at 9 and 10:45. If you can’t, would you mind praying for me? Thanks.