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#Reminded#Present#Past#Future

Friday, October 15th, 2021

As much as I hate to admit it, my memory is not what it used to be. That is part of aging I know. I’m being told to take some Gingko Biloba, or a product called Prevagen, or some other product which is supposed to sharpen my memory. I used to hardly ever forget a face, where I saw it, and the name that went with it. Well, those days are long gone. I pity those who have ADHD. How they concentrate long enough to do anything is far beyond my comprehension, but to ask them to concentrate long enough to remember peoples’ names seems like a form of torture.

It never hurts to be reminded of things.  God spent long chapters in Psalms reminding the Israelites what they were forgetting. In Mark 14 there are three events which Jesus uses to remind His followers some vital truths.

The woman who anointed Jesus’ head with oil. It was a reminder that extravagant acts of love will be public; they will be criticized; but they will also be remembered.

Observing the Passover was something the Jewish people were told to observe. It was to remind them of God’s faithfulness and protection.

The Last Supper is the forerunner to our observance of the Lord’s Supper. Communion not only looks back to Christ’s death, but also looks forward with eager anticipation to His coming.

Sunday the church celebrates her 17th anniversary. We will be meeting outside in our shelter and a tent. We plan to live stream so I hope you will join us in some way.  One of our elders will also be presenting some great news about our addition-some possible ideas we are pursuing. Then comes a pitch-in. Yum! (Oh, that’s Red Robin). Yum anyway. If you can’t join us please be in prayer for us. Half of our offering will go the Building Fund and half to Missions. I’m excited about the whole day. Lots of work but it will be worth it.

One more thing: it will be the final sermon in my sermon series on The Servant King from the Gospel of Mark.

#OldOldStory#GospelEssentials

Friday, October 8th, 2021

Some of you may remember the old hymn with the following lyrics:

“I love to tell the story/Of unseen things above/Of Jesus and His glory/Of Jesus and His love/I love to tell the story/Because I know ’tis true/It satisfies my longing/As nothing else will do/ Chorus: I love to tell the story!/Twill be my theme in glory/To tell the old, old story/Of Jesus and His love.”

My sermon this morning is a bit out of order. Since next Sunday, the 17th is OVCF’s 17th anniversary, I am switching my sermons for the two weeks. Next week’s is from Mark 14: 1-31 and is entitled Let Me Remind You. This Sunday’s sermon is from Mark 14:43-16:15 and is entitled Tell Me the Old, Old Story.

It is going to be a recounting of the essentials of the Gospel:

Tell Me About the Trial

Tell Me About the Death

Tell Me About the Resurrection

It never hurts to hear the old, old story over again.  I’d love to have you join me in person. If not, then live stream will be where you will get a chance to look at my face. 🙂  Actually, it would be better to say, “Where you can join us in worship.” If not, then I’d appreciate your prayers.

#AvoidPanic#EscapeJudgment#BeReady

Friday, October 1st, 2021

The story is told that Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist who made a fortune by inventing dynamite and other powerful explosives used for weapons.  Years later when Nobel’s brother died, a newspaper accidentally printed an obituary for Alfred instead. He was described as a man who became rich by enabling people to kill one another in unprecedented quantities. Shaken by this assessment, Nobel resolved to use his fortune to honor accomplishments that benefited humanity. Thus, he created the Nobel Peace Prize, among others.

I daresay very few of us get a sneak preview into how we will be remembered if we were to die today. But, if the truth be told, we tend not to be so concerned about it. We tend to be more concerned about the future.  The environmentalist is concerned about the state of the planet in the future. The secularist is concerned about the future of humanity. The follower of Christ is also concerned, but in a different way.  He is more concerned about future events, and in the long term, where he will spend eternity.

The idea of Jesus returning is on the minds of most Christ-followers, only in varying degrees. Some are rabid about it; some mildly interested; and some not at all. This week’s sermon, Mark 13, is on this very topic. I’m calling it Words for the Wise and my plan is to encourage us to look to the future but not lose sight of the present.  I look forward to you joining me.

I close with a story I will use Sunday: Waiting to be interviewed for a job as a Morse code operator, a group of applicants paid little attention to the sound of the dots and dashes that began coming over the loud speaker. Suddenly, one of the applicants rushed into the employer’s office. Soon he returned smiling. “I got the job” he exclaimed.

“How did you get ahead of us?” the others asked.

“You might have been considered if you had not been so busy talking that you did not hear the manager’s coded message,” he replied.  The message said, “The man I need must always be on the alert. The first one who interprets this and comes directly to my private office will be hired.”

You can apply it.  Hope to see you Sunday!

#SomeGaveAll

Friday, September 24th, 2021

I cringe as I write this:

On May 19, 1992  Billy Ray Cyrus released a song from an album which became the #1 album for the year. This same album contained a mega hit, that song about somebody’s “achy breaky heart.” Among the silliness, though, was a song called “Some Gave All” and he was criticized by some as writing a “war song.” Seriously? It was a tribute to the men and women who served our country and to those who gave their all.  The chorus of the song is one worth remembering: “All gave some, some gave all/Some stood through for the red, white and blue/And some had to fall/And if you ever think of me/Think of all your liberties and recall/Some gave all.”  Those who know me would be shocked that I referenced a country song since I listen to very little-like zero-country music today. But the message of that song should cross every musical barrier.

I am preaching this week on Mark 12 and to be totally honest, it left me exhausted as I tried to narrow it down to a few succinct points. After a lot of work and “playing around” with the chapter, I think I finally found it.  I am going to be all “preacherish” and use three main points (I usually stick to two). Here they are:

I. The Cornerstone (verses 1-12)

II. The Creed (verses 28-34)

III. The Coin (41-44)

Each of the main thoughts find their root in the Scripture indicated. It will easy to follow along if you would like to join us. As you can gather my sermon will be called “Some Gave All” but it will not focus on the political aspect at all. It will, however, focus on how each thought zeroes in on giving all.

I would love to have you join me in person or via live stream.  If not, prayer would most certainly be appreciated.

#TrueWorship#TrueFaith

Friday, September 17th, 2021

I’m coming close to finishing my series on Mark-The Servant King. The final 5 sermons will cover chapters 11-16. This week’s message begins what is often called “Passion Week” found in chapter 11.

I’ve decided to divide this chapter into 2 sections: True Worship and True Faith.

The first includes Jesus as He rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. I’m going to include a quote from a man by the name of Steve Lambert which shows the difference between Jesus entering Jerusalem and Mohammad entering Mecca. Since it a bit long for this post, I’m going to begin next week with it. I hope you will make your way back here to see that quote.  Meanwhile, as Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the people were yelling Hosanna (which means “Save Now!”) and laying palm branches on the ground. Sadly, they were not praising Jesus because He was the Messiah. They were not pleading for salvation from sin but for blessing, prosperity, and deliverance from Roman rule.  I’ll let you make your own application to how that applies to today’s “religious” people.

The second is Jesus’ incident with the fig tree that had leaves but no fruit. It is not easily understood by many because it seems harsh. A tree with leaves but no figs. Why was it cursed to a life of never bearing fruit?  I hope to explain that during this part of the message.

Hudson Taylor, the great missionary of another time, once said,

God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on Him.

May our faith always be the kind that trusts and forgives like Jesus did.  Check us out Sunday in person or online at 9 and 10:45. I’d love to have you visit with us. If not, please pray.

#PastFocus#PresentResponse

Friday, August 20th, 2021

Have you ever had one of the “when the lights come on” moments? I remember a car maker once had commercials where they had a light bulb above someone’s head being clicked on, sort of as a sign of “I get it!” “I chose wisely!” They wanted the consumer to see that buying one of their vehicles was a very bright, i.e. wise decision.

As a preacher or as a teacher, it is nice to see “the light come on” in someone’s mind when the eyes get really clear and they shake their head. They have had that “AHA” moment.

This chapter in Mark reminds me of those moments, moments when I get it and moments when it is like (waving hand over the head).  I sometimes wonder what Jesus thought when people who were listening to Him finally got it.  I’m going to focus on three lessons this week:

  • Past faithfulness of God is often forgotten with present challenges.
  • Present focus often obliterates seeing reality.
  • Present response should be determined by divine truth not social opinion.

Please join us this Sunday as we continue our study in Mark 8. You can join us live or by live stream.  If not, you can always pray for us.

#Legalism#Deadliness

Friday, August 13th, 2021

Only someone who has grown up or been a part of legalism can truly understand its draw.

There are three ways of looking at the Bible.

Progressive “Christianity” (PC)– I use that term loosely because I am not convinced it is Christianity at all. PC takes a very open approach to the Bible and the things of God.

Legalism– the other end of the spectrum from PC. Legalism takes a very closed approach-not in the areas of inerrancy and accuracy of the Scriptures-but in the way God’s Word is followed.  Wanting to follow God’s Word is admirable, but in legalism’s case, it is taking it to an extreme and thinking, “Unless you see it my way there is no hope for you.”  It is the old adage: “Us four, no more, shut the door” type of thinking.

My sermon Sunday is going to explore that topic deeper. Using Mark 7:1-23 and Jesus’ confrontation/words with the Pharisees, I intend to show how legalism is dangerous and also life-sucking.  I would love to have you join us in person or live (whichever floats your boat). 🙂  One thing I do need to say if you plan to watch it on the live stream: due to a scheduling conflict of the two who are steady about streaming the second service, WE WILL ONLY BE STREAMING THE 9:00 SERVICE. Sorry for the inconvenience. You can still watch it at 10:45 or any other time.

I hope you will join me one way or the other.

That third way? The Bible is the inerrant, unchanging Word of God. True. Trustworthy. Completely accurate in its original languages. God’s written Word as He “spoke” it to the writers who wrote it down in their words.

#Rejected#Can’tGoBack

Saturday, August 7th, 2021

In the late 60s, pop singer, Tommy James (who happens to be my favorite)  recorded a song called Smoky Roads. He was writing about returning home which included the lyrics: “I came back to take a look at my childhood/ But all I found was a big stack of firewood/And a whole bunch of people I don’t even know.”

I felt that way when I went back. Things changed. I graduated high school 51 years ago (that is 1970 to save you from trying to figure it out). 🙂 I never went back for a class reunion. Besides the distance, I was never fond of high school and had few friends. Things changed. The town changed. After the steel companies went under from the recession in the mid 70s (which was a depression in that area), much of what I knew became like a ghost town. Shops closed up. Steel mills shuttered. I have told myself I can’t go home, unless I want to see my two brothers who still live near Pittsburgh.  (I used to go back to watch the Pirates play but that’s another story).

The sermon Sunday is about Jesus going home to Nazareth and how “a prophet is without honor in his own country” sure played itself out for Him. I’ve titled the sermon What Can I Expect? and have two thoughts I will share: I can expect rejection and I can expect certain realities.  Mark 6 is where I will be preaching from.

I would be honored if you would join us in person or online.  If you can do neither your prayers would be much appreciated.

I’m sorry this is posted so late. We made a trip to Ohio on Wednesday and came back home Friday. I had grass to cut when I got back so my time to post this was limited.

#PowerOverStorms#PowerOverEvil

Friday, July 30th, 2021

My sermon title for Sunday’s sermon is “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!”  When I first thought of that title, and then decided to use it, several thoughts came to mind. 

My first thought was the 1974 song by Bachman Turner Overdrive by that title.  If you know that song I bet you now have it playing through your head. You’re welcome. 🙂

My wandering and wondering mind wanted to know more so I looked up what it meant.  Idioms by Free Dictionary defines it as meaning, “Someone has only glimpsed or experienced the beginning of something that will become even more exciting, impressive, or important.”

Further investigation showed me that it was popularized by All Jolson’s aside in the 1927 movie The Jazz Singer when he said, “You ain’t heard nuttin’ yet!”

Well…you get my point. Looking at the life of Jesus each week in Mark (this is week #4) has revealed some miracles and fascinating encounters, but as the title says, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!” This week reveals two of the most powerful and meaningful miracles Jesus performs: calming the sea in Mark 4 and casting the demons out of the Gadarene demoniac in Mark 5.

These two miracles will lay down some powerful truths which still stand today and will help us as we face our daily world. Join me please in person- if you are able- and live stream if not. We have services at 9 and 10:45.

#Listen#ListenFirst#ListenMore

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

A man consulted a doctor and told him his wife was going deaf. “I ask her what we are having for dinner and she doesn’t answer.”

“Bring her in,” the doctor said, “I’ll examine her.”

So the man brought his wife in. The doctor had her stand fifty feet away. He said to the man, “Go ahead and ask her what’s for dinner.”

“Hey honey,” he said, “what’s for dinner?”

Next, the doctor had the woman stand forty feet away.

“Hey, honey,” the man said, “I said, what’s for dinner?”

After going through this routine several times, the doctor finally had her stand five feet away.

“Hey, honey,” the man said, “for the sixth time, I said, what’s for dinner?”

The wife looked at the doctor then back at her husband. “And for the sixth time, I said, spaghetti!”

The man thought his wife had the hearing problem, but he was the one with the problem.  Sometimes we can be so sure of ourselves, so sure of something that we are hearing or not hearing, that the real message does not get through.

I don’t need to tell you how true that is when it comes to listening to a message/sermon or advice or to resolve a conflict.  We are so sure of ourselves that we hear but don’t really “hear.” That is especially true when we have to have the first word, the middle word and the last word.

Mark 4 is filled with teaching by Jesus that we need to listen to. My initial title was Listen First, Talk Second but after working on it I decided to change it to just LISTEN!  I would love to have you join me this Sunday if you can be here in person. If not, please check it out as we live stream both our services on YouTube or the church’s FB page.  And as always…if you can’t join either, your prayers would be most appreciated.