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#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.

#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.

#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.

#Revelation#Blessed

Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

On April 18th I embarked on an adventure I had never done before and really had no clue what to expect. On my other blog, Living in the Shadow, I decided to take the book of Revelation and write some posts about it. I took a chapter a day, except for when I was in chapters 2-3 (7 churches). I took a day for each one. That effort started on April 18th and ended with a final post on June 2nd.

It spurred a thought I never thought I would think. Yeah, you read that right. 🙂  What if I preached the book of Revelation with the same type of approach?  How about 2023?  The theme for 2023 popped into my mind: Victory! Hmmmm. So I decided to say something publicly to the church I pastor. I think they are shell-shocked because only one person has responded and she said, “Pastor Bill, I’ve always appreciated your approach to God’s Word. If He is telling you to preach on Revelation, I will be glad to hear it. If He says something else, I will be glad to hear it. You listen to Him.” (slightly revised).

So…at this point…I do plan to preach on Revelation to start 2023. About the time I decided to do that, I became aware of a brand new book:

Blessed: Experiencing the Promise of the Book of Revelation

It was a God-send! I was not familiar with Nancy as an author. I had heard the name. But I trusted the publishing company (Crossway) so I bit the bullet. What a phenomenal book!  The subtitle is Experiencing the Promise of the Book of Revelation and she does just that.  Her book includes 12 chapters all focused on “Blessed by…”

I found the book easy to read. Yes, there were times I had to go back and read a paragraph or two again. It was mostly because I was reading whenever I could and my mind tends to wander sometimes.  No matter the book!!  🙂 So I can’t and won’t blame the book.  But I can say that Nancy’s approach was just what I was looking for to help me in my series in 2023. But I am so glad I read it, and not just for sermon prep.  Honestly, I had trouble putting it down so I found myself reading at home (which I almost never do with books of this genre). I prefer to leave that for the office. But here I was toting this book back and forth.

I was also pleasantly surprised that Nancy’s approach will enhance my focus in my sermons. I’m already formulating how this can be incorporated into my sermon series.  Her thoughts were clear and clearly presented. I anticipate using it consistently during my sermon prep.

One more thing: Nancy’s approach will not be what many expect. I tend toward the amillennial view of the Second Coming. Not that I think either view (except for post-millennialism) is without merit, but I have favored that particular view. If you are not open to hearing an opposing view, you will not like Nancy’s book. She definitely believes in the “recapitulation theory” of Revelation (the seals, trumpets, etc are the same scene from different viewpoints),  characteristic of the amillennial position.  Take that for what it’s worth.

I highly recommend this book by Nancy Guthrie. Agree or disagree it will give you a greater appreciation for the most misunderstood, most fascinating, most imaginative, most intriguing, most debated, most thrilling book in the Bible.  Thank you Nancy for a book and a job well done.

And here is something for you to listen to Warning: it might get you excited. It might also not be your cup of tea. 

#Spies#TheCreep

Friday, May 27th, 2022

When I was a lot younger (and I mean a lot younger!), I used to watch TV shows in black and white.  One of the popular shows, even though it was years later, were the ones of Johnny Weismuller as Tarzan. Johnny was an Olympic gold medal swimmer who appeared in 12 movies between 1932 and 1948.  And yes, that was before my time, thank you very much. 🙂 As in most movies there were times of anxiety and tension and excitement. Living in the jungle with Jane and their son, “boy,” gave them plenty of opportunities to have all three of those criteria. One of the most frequent were when they went swimming and a crocodile would slip into the water and see a feast before him. But Tarzan always won (as you would expect).  He was smart enough and strong enough to save the day.

Tragically, we cannot say the same about the church today. While there are pockets of steadfastness and people holding the line, there are greater examples of waffling and retreat. As we talk about staying true to our values in our world, I think it is much more important that the church makes it an essential part of its culture to remain true to biblical truth. Sadly, with the teachings coming out of Bethel, Hillsong and the Word of Faith movement, it is getting harder to remain Biblically solid. It is especially hard because of there being wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Paul warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 of that very tactic.

Jude is aware of the creep into the church. I have entitled this first of two sermons from Jude as Look Out for Spies!  I’ll cover the first 16 verses of Jude this week and then finish up the Snapshot series next week with the rest of Jude. Solomon once wrote, “Buy truth, and do no sell it.” (Pr. 23:23). That is a great admonition to us to seek the truth and not give up on it.

Please join me this Sunday at 9:00 and 10:45, either in person or via live stream. If you can’t, I would appreciate your prayers.

#TransparentTruth

Friday, May 20th, 2022

One of the abilities we have these days is called photo-shopping. In many ways, publishers have been doing that for years. They have airbrushed pictures of celebrities (especially female) to take out crow’s feet, pimples, lines, and other “imperfections” to make the model look stunning (or so they think).  Honestly, one can say the word “fake” comes to mind. Well, photo-shopping sort of does that same thing. A recent photo of trans swimmer Lia Thomas was photo shopped to show his face as being soft and feminine when it is anything but. But at the same time, some photo-shopping is pretty funny.  In our community, the local theater showed the movie, Babe, and had a man holding the pig. It was actually one of our local ISP officers photo-shopped for the picture. Photos can be altered and edited to picture what we want.

British preacher, Charles Spurgeon, once said,

“The eagle-eyed world acts as a policeman for the church…It becomes a watchdog over the sheep, barking furiously as soon as one goes astray…Be careful. Remember that it is upon your public life that the verdict of the world will very much depend.” 

WOW! That goes straight to the heart of the matter. Our public conduct is indicative of our private life…AND PEOPLE NOTICE.

The early church had its share of problems. We can’t kid ourselves about that. It wasn’t just false teachers and outside influences that they struggled with. The 3rd letter of John shows us that.  While highlighting Gaius and Demetrius, John also talks about the problem with Diotrephes. I’ll let you read that book to see what the issue was.

Better yet, come see us! If you can’t in person, then you can watch us online at 9:00 and 10:45.  I would love to hear from you.

#EternityBad#EternityGood

Friday, April 22nd, 2022

As you can tell there is a bad side to eternity and a good side. Let’s talk about it.

Bertrand Russell lived from 1872-1970 and was well versed in math, philosophy, logic, and other studies. By all accounts that I could find he was a brilliant man. He was, depending on who he was debating or talking to, either an agnostic (because he said one cannot disprove there is a God) or an atheist. Yeah…he waffled.  But one thing was consistent: he believed religion was superstition. To complicate matters here is a quote he made:

“There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell.”

There is so much about heaven and hell we don’t know since none of us have been there.  I do, however, believe they are both real places and the choice we make about Jesus will determine where we will spend eternity.

My sermon this Sunday is the final one in the series I called Truth Decay.  I certainly have not covered all there was to cover, but for the past two months we have been looking at some serious “hot buttons” in today’s culture about what I call non-negotiables when it comes to what we need to believe. None of them had anything to do with cultural issues of morality, social justice, lifestyles, etc. That, as they say, is for another time and another place. This week I will be talking about where we will spend eternity. 

I would love to have you join us in person or via livestream. We will be back to two services this week, with one at 9:00 and the other at 10:45.  Join us won’t you?

#CrossStilltheCross

Friday, April 8th, 2022

On March 24, 1989 the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, spilling almost a quarter-million gallons of oil into the sea. Cleanup removed all visible traces of the oil spill within a year. But now scientists believe some of the methods used actually harmed the ecology of the area rather than helped it. The plankton and other microbial organisms may take another decade from now to return to normal.

Looking back at that disaster, it seems almost ironic that the whole story makes a fitting illustration of self-reform and the necessity of divine grace for cleansing from sin.  To the progressives, the cross is one of the most offensive elements in historic Christian teaching. They simply cannot and will not accept or believe God would sacrifice His Son for others.

For the orthodox (small “o” not big “O”) follower of Jesus, the cross is absolutely essential.  I will be sharing the teachings (translated: heresy) of the progressives while comparing them to what the Bible says.  Examples used will be William Paul Young (The Shack), Steve Chalke, Rob Bell (yes, that infamous one), Richard Rohr, and Brian McLaren.  I believe you will be shocked what they say about the crucifixion and the cross.

And by the way: do you know what penal substitutionary atonement is? They don’t either.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday in person, or if not, then via live stream.

#SinStillSin

Friday, April 1st, 2022

“Sin is non-existent” so no man ever.  Truth is sin is a reality in our lives and there are few issues that divide progressives from historic Christianity more than the issue of sin.  While we might say sin is an issue, today’s world does not want to call it that. We call it by other names: a mistake, a shortcoming, an error in judgment, a mess-up; anything but sin. We have glossed over that word to make it not sound so imposing and condemning. But no matter what kind of “spin” is put on the word, sin is still sin.

Here’s the reality: unless we are willing to call sin what it is, and unless we stop glossing over it and not making it sound so “offensive,” we will never be free of its grip on us.  Romans 3:23 uses the word: “For all have sinned…” Not “all have made mistakes” or “all have had errors in judgment,” etc.  In fact, for us to experience salvation we have to admit to sin. We are all fallen creatures. While I don’t believe in total depravity, I do believe we are born with a sin nature which soon manifests itself in all of us.

I’m continuing my series on Truth Decay with this sermon entitled Sin is Still Sin.  I hope you will join me in person or via live stream. We have two services at 9 and10:45 but if you are unable to watch it then you can watch it later on YouTube or the church’s FB page.  If you can’t be there, please pray for me, for us.  Thanks.

#GodisStillGod

Friday, March 18th, 2022

In his book titled God:Coming Face to Face with His Majesty, John MacArthur tells an old fable about six men blind from birth who lived in India. One day they decided to visit a nearby palace. When they arrived, there was an elephant standing in the courtyard. The first blind man touched the side of the elephant and said, “An elephant is like a wall.” The second blind man touched the trunk and said, “An elephant is like a snake.” The third blind man touched the tusk and said, “An elephant is like a spear.” The fourth blind man touched the leg and said, “An elephant is like a tree.” The fifth blind man touched the ear and said, “An elephant is like a fan.” The sixth blind man touched the tail and said, “An elephant is like a rope.” Because each blind man touched only one part of the elephant, none of them could agree on what an elephant is really like.

That analogy can be used to describe how many people have misconceptions about what God is really like. I’m not sure that misconception is not any more apparent than in today’s progressive movement.  Their idea of God is so messed up and off track that it takes some doing to try to reign it in.  That really isn’t anything new when you think about it. Freud once said, “God was an illusion.” Voltaire said, “He is an invention of man.” Some say He is a mean, hateful entity, a child-abuser. Jesse Ventura said, “God and religion are a crutch.” Stephen Hawking said, “There is no heaven or afterlife…that is a fairy tale for people afraid of the dark.” Richard Dawkins called God a “moral monster.”  I believe those and others have already found out or will find out He exists and does not fit their description.

I’m continuing my series on Truth Decay with this week’s message titled “God is Still God.” I would love to have you join us in person or by live stream.  You can see it live at 9 and 10:45 on the church’s YouTube channel or FB page or watch it later on both of those as well.  Either way I would love to have you pray for us.