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#HeKnows

Wednesday, January 25th, 2023

There are certain characteristics (attributes) of God that are non-negotiable.  There are three which always come to the forefront:

His Omnipotence- He is all-powerful.

His Omnipresence- He is all-present (everywhere present)

His Omniscience- He is all-knowing.

To know those characteristics of God AND TO BELIEVE THEM is absolutely essential.  As I continue my series on Revelation, I hit this week what is probably the most familiar 2 chapters in all the book- the 7 churches.  I plan to take chapter 2 this week and follow up next week with chapter 3.  I plan to focus on what God knows, especially on what He knows about the churches (and by proxy…us).

What does it mean He knows? He knows absolutely everything that can be known. He has no need to learn anything. He does not a computer (don’t you wish?) He doesn’t need Google (again…I wish). And He certainly doesn’t need any of us telling him what He must and must not do, or should or should not do!

I’ll be summing up the first four churches this week like this:

  • Ephesus- He knows what and who we really love.
  • Smyrna- He knows what we are willing to suffer for.
  • Pergamum- He know what we really believe.
  • Thyatira- He knows what we are willing to tolerate.

Join us won’t you? We meet in person and live stream at both 9:00 and 10:45.

 

#Revelation#FeastonHim

Thursday, January 19th, 2023

Someone has said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It is certainly hard to argue with that. I think we might all admit to forming an impression of someone before we were totally informed of who they are or what they do or the circumstances in their life.  When Jo and I first met, she couldn’t stand me. I was a hot-shot basketball player (or so I thought) and arrogance oozed out of my pores.  We hung around with a group of other college students and did a lot of outings together. But she still couldn’t stand me. I’d like to think my lovable charm, my dashing good looks, and my over-the-top humor won her over. But truthfully, I’m not sure what did. 🙂 Maybe I began to grow up??

What do you know about Jesus? What is your impression of Him? How would you picture Him? A handsome man with blonde hair and blue eyes. (You would be wrong). Somewhat meek and mild and sort of like a milquetoast? (You would be wrong again).

John’s vision of Jesus is disturbing. Well, it was to him. It was nothing like he remembered from their 3 years together as Rabbi and disciple. John takes us into that vision in this week’s sermon from Revelation 1: 9-20. I guarantee it will wake a few folks up.

Join us won’t you? We meet in person and via live stream at 9 and 10:45.

 

#HearYeHearYe!!

Thursday, January 12th, 2023

Until they got their own network, I used to love watching Fixer Upper. I really don’t care what people say about the show; I enjoyed it. Critics talk about whether shows like that are real or not; it matters not to me.  Being very non-crafty, and being very “unhandy,” I loved watching the transformations which took place.  The part I loved the most was what they called “The Great Reveal.” They would stand the person or couple in front of a big display of what their house looked like before any renovations were done. They then asked the couple if they were ready to see their new house and pulled apart the display.  All you heard or saw were gasps, “O my goshes,” or even tears.

The image of pulling back the curtain to reveal what is behind it is sort of what we are being asked to do as we read the book of Revelation. God has been and is now at work in our world as He prepares us for the coming of Christ and a new world.

After an “introductory-type” sermon last week, we hit the nitty-gritty this week.  Revelation wastes no time with verse 1 telling us, “The revelation of Jesus Christ…which must soon take place.”  We are going to talk about several thoughts from 1: 1-8. 

  • It is a “revelation.” What does that mean?
  • What does verse 3 hold for us?
  • How does John describe Jesus in verse 4-5? How does that affect us?

Mining everything in Revelation is not easy. In fact, no matter what some say, I don’t think it can be done. But we can bring our tools and start! I hope you will join me Sunday either in person or on the live stream at 9:00 and 10:45.

 

#JustSoYouKnow

Friday, January 6th, 2023

As I stated in my previous post, I am starting a series on Revelation. To know more on how that came about go hereThis is the first official week of the series I’ve entitled The Lamb Wins!!

What possessed me?

Karl Barth, considered one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century once said, “If only I know what to do with Revelation!” Yeah…me too Karl.  🙂

Another tongue-in-cheek quote by a man named Ambrose Bierce says, “Revelation, n. A famous book in which St. John the Divine concealed all that he knew. The revealing is done by by commentators, who know nothing.”  I thought that one was funny.

Revelation is a bewildering book…without a doubt. I don’t see me un-bewildering it. My prayer will actually be that I don’t bewilder people even more! To be sure, studying Revelation is not an easy task. But the words of Revelation 1:3 speak loudly: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”

This first sermon will be an introductory-type of sermon.  I’ll try to answer two question to start with: Why do we avoid Revelation? and Why should we study it? The second half of the sermon will introduce the 4 schools of thought regarding interpreting Revelation. There is a really cool pamphlet the church is making available for the people to have.

Four Views of the End Times Participant Guide (DVD Small Group)

All I can say is buckle up and strap yourself in. We are going to go on quite a ride! Join us in person at 9 and 10:45. If you are unable to do so, then please join us via live stream. You can go to the church’s website and the links are there to watch it on YouTube or the church’s FB page.

Oh yeah…you can pray for me. I think I’m going to need it!  🙂

 

#SayWhat?

Thursday, January 5th, 2023

And so it begins. “What am I talking about?” you may ask. This week I embark on a journey I have NEVER taken before. And perhaps when I get into the meat of it, I may still ask myself the question: “Why? Why did I say I would do this? What possessed me to preach on Revelation?”

Yep. You read that right. A sermon series on Revelation.  Now to be honest, I have preached from Revelation before. The “safe” passages like the 7 churches in chapters 2 & 3. Or a sermon on worship inspired by chapters 4 & 5.  I’ve used chapters 21 & 22 in funeral messages before.

But preaching a whole series on Revelation? Not this dude! Until sometime in the Spring of 2022 I got a wild hair to do a series of devotional posts on my Shadow blog. Then I went in for back surgery in June and, as I was awake at night, I got a wild hair to possibly do a sermon series on Revelation.  So I got my Bible and put my awake time to good use and began to do a sparse outline of Revelation.  I finally conked out at chapter 9 but the seed had already been planted.  I wanted to push it aside but God wouldn’t let me. So I began to strongly consider it and then committed myself by announcing from the pulpit one Sunday that my first sermon series in 2023 would be one on Revelation. I saw a lot of smiles and heads nod. I also saw a lot of eyes “blow up,” like seriously?

Then I began to read Revelation over and over in different translations. I was trying to saturate myself with the message of the book. There were months I read Revelation twice in different translations. I highlighted and underlined. Strangely, I did not take notes. I wanted to allow the message to soak in.

So…this Sunday starts the Theme for 2023. As you can see it is called Victory! This Sunday will also start the series which I have entitled The Lamb Wins!! The next post will tell you about Sunday’s sermon.

 

#UnexpectedNews

Thursday, December 22nd, 2022

Talk about unexpected news! How about good unexpected news!

The weather event that was supposed to come starting last night (Wednesday) and affect us through the whole week is not materializing (at this point). The cold temps (single digits)? Yes. The blanket (more like a heavy comforter) of snow? No. I’m okay with that!!

We will be offering both a Christmas Eve and a Christmas morning worship to our folks. The CE service is from 6-7:00 and the Christmas morning service is from 10-11. Both will have common elements. The only difference will be the songs which will be sung and how they will happen.  And if you are unable to attend or would simply like to join in, the Sunday morning service ONLY will be live streamed.

My topic will continue the 4-week series I’m preaching with this being the 3rd one: The Unexpected News. The Gospel is for all people-rich, poor, clean, unclean, whole, blind, deaf, prostitutes, immoral- you name it.  I will be looking at the very familiar Scripture (to most) in Luke 2: 1-17 where the angel announces the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, then he is joined by a whole chorus.

It is hard to believe next Sunday brings us to the end of 2022. My last sermon in this current series will on January 1. Then I start a series on Revelation. Now that ought to be interesting……Hmmmmm.

Join us this weekend if you are able to. If not, join us on line Sunday morning. You can go to the church’s website for information on directly connecting to the live stream.

#Feasts#Delivery

Thursday, December 1st, 2022

My short series on the Feasts of the OT will come to a close this week. A short recap of the previous weeks:

  • God Redeems His People- Passover
  • God Separates His People- Firstfruits and Pentecost
  • God Reminds His People- Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and Sukkot (Booths/Tabernacles/Ingathering)

This week’s sermon is God Delivers His People. This one is a bit different in that it will also lead right into our Christmas celebration. The two feasts this week are Hanukkah (aka the Feast of Dedication) and lesser-known one called Purim.

Neither feast finds its roots in the OT Law where God requires the Jewish people to observe them as He has the others before mentioned. As we will see, Hanukkah found its roots during that Intertestamental period (between Malachi and Matthew) as a celebration of the Maccabean revolt against Syrians. Purim is a feast of celebration for the salvation of the Jews during the time of Esther.  Both are feasts of celebration of God’s preservation and protection.

I chose these two and chose to do them last because I felt they would be a great lead-in to our celebration for Christmas.  I begin next week with a 4 part series called Expect the Unexpected. Here is the lineup:

  • The Unexpected Birth
  • The Unexpected Child
  • The Unexpected News
  • The Unexpected Dawn (January 1 sermon)
  • AND THEN COMES REVELATION!!

I hope to see you this Sunday for the final “feasts” sermon and then during the month of December. If you are unable to be there, we do live stream our services at 9 and 10:45. You can go to the church’s website (ovcf.org) to see where to watch.

#Contagious

Friday, October 21st, 2022

No, I don’t have COVID.  But I do know some people “freak” whenever the word contagious is used.  It used to be about polio or the flu or Bubonic plague or some other sickness. Now we are drawn to that pandemic no one wants to talk about. (Fine by me).

But you know it can be a positive thing as well? Every church has distinctives which set it apart from various other churches. I’m not talking the name on the building. But marks which identify the church as unique and the place to find what a person is looking for.  On October 30th, OVCF will celebrate her 18th anniversary as a church body. I personally believe it is a great time to step back and evaluate where we stand. We certainly are not a perfect church, and can always do better.  It is my prayer that this will serve as a challenge for us to make a more concerted effort to be contagious (in a good way).

“You can’t always tell a book by its cover” so the saying goes.  The saying also is true about the church. You can also not tell a church by its buildings. All sorts of decisions are made by people simply by looking at a building…many of them wrong. What really matters is what happens inside that building and then what happens when the church that meets there goes out into their sphere of influence. 

I’m going to challenge OVCF on three characteristics:

  1. A contagious church is a place of Grace.
  2. A contagious church is a place of mentoring.
  3. A contagious church is a place of fellowship.

I hope you will join me Sunday at 9 and 10:45, either in person or live stream.

#SleepyHead#StandingStrong

Friday, October 14th, 2022

I started a new and short series last week called Wake Up Sleepy Head! It is on the church and the need for a revival-locally and globally.

This week my sermon is called Standing Strong. There is no question, no doubt, that the church is under attack.  Without sounding political, Tulsi Gabbard just left the Democrat Party. One of the things she talked about was how Christians are under attack. I do not know what her religious affiliation is to be honest, and it really doesn’t matter to me. She spoke truth in that one statement.  The church and Christians are under attack. If we say anything, do anything, propose anything that goes against the “woke” agenda, we get cancelled or persecuted and called all kinds of names.

I believe it is just the start of it all.  More is to come. So it behooves Christ-followers and the church to stand strong.  We can expect it; prepare for it; and stand firm. Or we can take the road out of town. The early church had to stand strong.  It wasn’t easy for them; it isn’t and won’t be for us.  There are some things which cause a church to lose its edge.  But there are also some ingredients we need to stand our ground. 

I plan to cover both of those this Sunday. I also plan to boil it down to one very important issue. I plan to blog about that here and on my other blog this coming week.  Until then, I hope you will join us Sunday at 9 and 10:45.

#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.