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#ActionstoWords

Friday, November 19th, 2021

This Thursday we will celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving. Of all people, we who are Christ-followers must see and realize thanksgiving is much more than a national holiday where we get together with family and friends; eat gobs of food (way too much probably); park ourselves in front of a TV to watch a football game or two or three; and wile away the day as though it us just another day. In reality, it is just another day on a calendar, but it is a day which should remind us of something much greater: we have so much to be grateful for!

We do have much to be grateful for but we must also realize that gratitude is more than words; it also involves action. Words are useless unless they lead to sharing the gifts God has given us with others. One of the most firm statements of that truth is found in James 2. You know…that chapter that had Martin Luther thinking the book of James was a “book of straw.”

I will wrap up my 4 week series on Attitude Check this Sunday with a sermon I have titled “Putting Actions to Words.”  I will be using the 10 lepers as a lead in to gratitude but the bulk of the message will be looking at James 2: 14-26.

I invite you to join us this Sunday in person or online.  Next week I start a series around Christmas. (Go figure!) 🙂

#BlackHat#WhiteHat

Friday, November 12th, 2021

Well…this is embarrassing. As I looked at last week’s post about the sermon I used the information from the sermon but used the wrong title. It was supposed to be Pictures Don’t Lie but instead I used this week’s title. So…I apologize for the mix up. This week’s message is really entitled Black Hat/White Hat. 🙂

Many of you are old enough to remember when it was easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys. We used to say, “The good guys wore the white hats.”  If they didn’t wear them (literally) ya knew who the good guys were. Lone Ranger. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Wyatt Earp. Palladin. Even Perry Mason.  That, of course, was before the switch in culture began to call bad good and good bad, before we began to praise wrong and before the start of sequel #100 left us hanging at the end of the season or movie.

This Sunday I want to take this idea of the white hat/black hat and apply it to gratitude.  You see, we have this innate penchant for pushing the envelope, for seeing how close we can to the cliff without falling off. As we look at gratitude there are two sides to it.  My plan is to look at the dangers of ingratitude (black hat)  and compare them to the delights of gratitude (white hat).

Please join us if you are able. You can do that in person (9:00 and 10:45) or online (same time). I’d love to have you join us. If you watch online (we stream to the church’s FB page and YouTube), would you please do me a favor? Just let us know so I can see who watches. If you can’t join us for whatever reason (attending your own church is a good one), please pray for us. I would appreciate that a whole bunch.

If you watch online, you can go to the church’s website for the links.

#Gratitude#PicturesDon’tLie

Friday, November 5th, 2021

How do you know if you are a grateful person?  Because you say your prayers before you go to bed and say, “Thank You God for being with me today”? Is it because you say a prayer of thanks before your meal?

Truthfully, I want to say I am a grateful person. But how can I know? When you look into the mirror, and if you were to ask yourself, “Are you a grateful person” what would your answer be? How do you know?

I’m not trying to trick you with those questions. During this week’s sermon, which I have entitled Black Hat/White Hat (think old TV shows), I want to take a look at three characteristics of a grateful person.

A grateful person is transformed by Christ.

A grateful person is growing in gratitude.

A grateful person is dependent on God.

Obviously, I’m going to look at each one of these in a bit more depth. I invite you to join us in person if you can. If not, please join us live stream. If you can’t watch it “live” you can always go back to it another time during the week.  Thanks for praying for us.

#ThePivot#Gratitude

Friday, October 29th, 2021

Would you agree that given the current state of our world we need something to hang our hat on?

I think that coat rack is gratitude. Gratitude reveals each person’s core-his priorities, his presuppositions, his understanding of God, and his ways.  Truth: our gratefulness to God and our indifference toward Him lays the line of demarcation between wisdom and folly.  I am calling that “The Pivot.”

When a basketball player is dribbling and needs to change direction he pivots. When a player gets a pass and faces the hoop or turns on a dime, he must have a pivot foot. It is a foot that is always grounded. To move both feet while in possession of the ball is a “travel.’ (Unless, of course, you are in the NBA. Then you can run about 5 yards with it then shoot or pass).

In our walk with Christ, our future swings on a well-oiled hinge or one that is rusty and grungy. Gratitude is either a well-oiled hinge or it is old and rusty. I think it can be said whichever one is used the most…gratitude or griping, gratitude or ungratefulness. You choose.

My sermon Sunday is the beginning of a 4-week series called “Attitude Check.” It, of course, will lead up to the Sunday following the Thanksgiving holiday. And I suspect you can already guess my title: The Pivot. Join me please as we study from I  Tim.1:12-15 and Deut.33:25.

We had a dead battery pack for the first service last week so the quality was not as good as it should have been so I apologize for the lag. But the pack had sufficiently charged for the second service. If you missed last week you can watch it on YouTube. Just look for the 10:45 heading. We will be ready to go this week! If you can’t join us, please pray for us.

#What’sNext?#Challenge!

Friday, October 22nd, 2021

I think the older one gets the more a question enters the mind: Am I making a difference? Does my life count?  I suspect many of us fear living a life of ineffectiveness, ineptness, or with no direction.  While studying for this sermon I ran across several humorous quotes. One was

We should all be concerned about the future: because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.

I finished the Gospel of Mark study this past Sunday and now we have to face the future. Jesus’ time on earth is done and there is only one last thing to do: commission and challenge His followers for what is next.  It is certainly more than “just go out and do whatever you want to do.”  He has tried for a little over 3 years to prepare them for what was ahead. Now what? What is next?

I will be completely closing the book on The Servant King series this Sunday with a sermon from Acts 1:1-11.  It is loaded with a commission to the apostles and a challenge to them to carry on His work. But He also gives specific instructions which they are to follow.

Join me please if you are able to.  If not, we will be doing it live stream at 9 and 10:45.  And by the way: if you were unable to join us at those times this past week, it was live streamed at 10:00. However, you can go to the church’s FB page or YouTube channel to watch it. You can find those links by going to the church’s website (ovcf.org) and finding the link right underneath the information about the sermon.

I hope you will join me in some way. If not, I always appreciate your prayers.

#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.