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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.

The Role of a Lifetime

Thursday, December 14th, 2023

 Aspiring actors and actresses are everywhere. I went to high school with Jeff Goldblum. My senior picture is on the same page in our yearbook as his. I had no clue Jeff would leave our high school and head to New York for the stage and ultimately to a TV show named TenSpeed and Brownshoe, and then on to Jurassic Park, Independence Day, multiple other movies, and finally back to TV with Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

For every successful actor there are hundreds, maybe thousands who never make it. At best, they are two-bit players. Truthfully, some people are looked at that way. Many overlooked. Many seen as hacks. It happens all the time, in every profession. Sunday’s sermon will be dealing with two groups of people. One, is seen as little people. The others are seen as big people. Well…at least as the world looks at them that way. But in God’s eyes, there are no little people and there are no big people.

Shepherds and Wise men. The have’s and the have not’s.  The clean and the unclean.  The “welcome-to-my-world” versus those who are “not welcome anywhere.” The stories are familiar but I will be praying we all might learn something new this week. I look forward to seeing you in person at 9:00 and 10:45 or via live stream.

WhatAHeritage!

Thursday, December 7th, 2023

We are rapidly coming to the close of 2023, but before that happens the focus must be on Christ and what Christmas means. One of my favorite subjects to talk about is GRACE and the lineage of Jesus is GRACE IN SPADES. My sermon Sunday is from Matthew 1.  You know…that boring lineage you, me, and thousands of others pass over. Let me rephrase that: USED TO PASS OVER until I studied it in depth and realized that it is filled with phenomenal people. All of them are important, obviously, but there are a few who stand out. Before I tell you who, I thought I would give you a fun fact: My original sermon title but5 Women and a Man. I received word that might not be a too appropriate of a title. So…being the humble man I am (AHEM) I changed it to the title you will see at the end of this post.

Now…back to the originally scheduled post.  Five Women and a Man. Here they are:

Tamar- a Gentile who dressed as a prostitute to seduce her father-in-law Judah.

Rahab- a Gentile from Jericho who saved two spies but then was saved from Jericho’s destruction. She married Salmon and they had Boaz.

Ruth- a Moabitess (mortal enemies of the Israelites) who followed her widowed mother-in-law back to her hometown. Ruth met and married Boaz.

Bathsheba- described as the “wife of Uriah” in the lineage. Committed adultery with David (she may have not had a choice).

Mary- a teenager (probably) engaged to be married to Joseph, pregnant out of wedlock. It was sort of like the scarlet letter.  But WOW! The mother of Jesus impregnated by the Holy Spirit.

Joseph- a godly man who was going to do the “right thing” by silently divorcing Mary to avoid scandal for her.  But his heart is seen in his decision to stay with Mary and being the earthly father to Jesus.

That is the sermon. I’ve entitled it What a Heritage! I hope to see you Sunday at 9:00 or 10:45 in person or listen via live stream.

 

#DislikedWord

Thursday, August 17th, 2023

Talk about God and we like to speak about His love, His grace, His faithfulness, and so on. All positive attributes of a God who is beyond description. But there is one word associated with God we DO NOT like to talk about.

WRATH

Say what? You get the point I’m sure. The last thing we want to talk about is that God is also a God of wrath. Of all the topics and discussions about God, the wrath and judgment of God are probably hands down the most avoided. We want to put it on the backburner of “things we don’t want or like to talk about.”

IT. IS. UNAVOIDABLE. when talking about God. To leave it out is like leaving a lop-sided God.

This Sunday my sermon from Revelation 11 is entitled The Word Everyone Dislikes. I’d like to invite you come visit us in person or online via live stream. The church’s website http://ovcf.org has the links to the Facebook page or YouTube if you prefer that medium. We meet at 9:00 and 10:45.

 

#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.

 

#HeadsUp!

Thursday, August 3rd, 2023

Picture yourself on April 12, 1910. You have paid the fare on the maiden voyage of the unsinkable ship. Your evening is rudely interrupted by someone knocking on your cabin door telling you to put on your life vest and come to the bridge. Little do you know that the unsinkable ship had struck an iceberg and would soon make its grave at the bottom of the icy Atlantic. One passenger left his cabin for the last time, leaving behind some 300,000 dollars in stocks and bonds and took with him 3 oranges.

Life throws us curves. We all know that. Big and small, those curves will awaken us from our complacency. It might be a coronary, a cancer diagnosis, unemployment, or hundreds of other scenarios. We might suddenly find ourselves floundering and in some cases, searching for answers.

Chapter 8 of Revelation is like that. It is a chapter of upheavals. One after another of a different nature. And they are there as warnings, much like a fire alarm or smoke alarm might do. I’ve titled my sermon Sunday Heads Up! in light of the multiple warnings in Revelation 8. Please join us in person or via live stream at 9:00 and 10:45.