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#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!

#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.

#Revelation!#Jesus

Friday, September 3rd, 2021

I’m pretty sure that you, like me, have used some phrases with regularity. Phrases like “Things are not always as they seem.”  “Looks can be deceiving.” “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Tragically, many of us do not see ourselves as we truly are. It’s a game we play with ourselves and with others.  I remember back in 2003 I visited the doctor and he was unhappy with my numbers. After seeing them I had to admit they were high. Too high. So was my weight. I weighed in at 233 pounds. Now, I’m 6’5″ so I can carry that weight(so I told myself). I was also lifting weights, almost daily at the local high school, so I was also pretty solid.  But what I didn’t see was the growing middle section of my torso. After all, when one looks into the mirror he doesn’t normally look at that; he/she looks at what they like. The doctor set me straight. Lose weight or go on meds. In two months I lost 20 pounds and my numbers came tumbling down. I liked it so well I dropped to 200 which is where I was in May of 2004 at a significant event in my life. (I also had no muscle since all I did was ride and never lifted a weight. But that is another story).

Point: I never saw myself as the doctor saw me.  I lied to myself that I was healthy because I was big and muscular. 

We do that same thing in our walk with Christ. It is much easier to hide behind the facade and pretend we are someone we are not or pretend we are more than we are. It is like we are living in a permanent cosplay performance.  The road to being like Jesus begins with realizing who Jesus is and then who He desires us to be.

My sermon Sunday is from Mark 9 where we find the great story of the Transfiguration and it ends with an appeal from Jesus to be like children. I’d like to invite you to join me this Sunday at 9 and 10:45 in person or live stream.  If you are unable to make it, would you mind saying a prayer for us please? Thanks.

#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.

#Pressure#Kitchen

Friday, July 16th, 2021

President Harry S. Truman is credited with saying one of the most iconic statements made:

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

He reportedly said that in July of 1942 when a member of his war contracts investigating committee objected to his strenuous pace. That saying was his response to that man’s words.

Living with pressure is part of life. Sports. Job. Church. Home. Even leisure brings its own pressure to the table. No one worth his or her salt will go through life without some pressure applied.  Jesus was no different.  He lived His whole life under pressure and scrutiny of those who wanted to see Him fall.  Whether it was the outcast who needed Him in some way; the religious leaders who wanted to pressure Him for His beliefs and practices; his family, or even the seriousness of what He taught, Jesus lived with pressure.

Mark 3 is a perfect example of the type of pressure Jesus faced, all while deciding He would stay in the kitchen. My sermon this Sunday is from that Scripture. I’d like to encourage you to read ahead if you plan to join us in person or via live stream.  And even if it is neither, it still won’t hurt you to read Mark 3. 🙂

#Change#Essential#Jesus

Friday, July 9th, 2021

Change is essential. Albert Einstein is credited with saying,

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

While his authorship of that quote is questioned, and is actually linked to someone within the Al-Anon organization, it is still true!  Change is essential, but not always easy.

Some changes are easier to make than others. Moving from one house to another is seen as a positive move. As a pastor, my family has seen its share of moves, but other than the trauma of moving from one school to another, each move-for the most part- was seen as a positive one. But in many churches change is anathema. From changing the type of music and songs; from pews to chairs; liturgy to more of a free expression; or the order of service, change gives some people serious heartburn.

Three words stand out me unequivocally:

JESUS CHANGES EVERYTHING.

Mark 2 is a chapter of changed lives-physically and spiritually.  My sermon Sunday morning is from this chapter. I would love to have you join us in person or on our live stream. If not, prayers are appreciated.

#BestNewsEver!#Mark

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

The story is told of the Prince of Wales visiting India and he found a formidable barrier had been set up to keep back the masses of people who wanted to catch a glimpse of royalty. When the prince arrived, he shook hands with some of the dignitaries who were presented to him. Then, looking over their heads to the crowds beyond, he said, “Take down those barriers.” They were quickly removed and all of the people, regardless of social rank, had free access to the heir to the British throne.  Some time later when the prince came to that district again, ten thousand outcasts waited under a banner inscribed with the word, “The Prince of the Outcasts.”

That is a great story! And it is easy to see the application. What the Prince of Wales did in that moment sounds very much like what Jesus would have done in the same situation. In fact, it is exactly what He did.  He was a king who demonstrate His power through service to His people.

The entire Gospel of Mark is a tribute to the King. That is why I am giving my new sermon series the title “The Servant King.”  I start that series this week, Lord willing.  My plan is to spend the next 16 weeks preaching through Mark, one chapter a week. 16 chapters = 16 sermons. Energetic to be sure. Daunting to be even more sure. But I am excited beyond words to take this approach.  I have been working and studying and condensing to make this fast-paced book fit our lifestyle and show how Jesus is the servant King. First up is Mark 1: 1-20 which I have entitled Best News Ever! 

I hope you will join me in person or online.

#Dirty#Cleansed

Friday, June 25th, 2021

I read recently that some are convinced that if WWII did not happen the History Channel would not exist.  He goes on to explain that “it seems that the vast majority of HC’s programming either deals with the war in general or Hitler in particular.  Hitler’s bodyguards. Hitler’s hideouts. Hitler and the occult. Hitler’s suicide.” One of his henchman, Dr. Josef Mengele, was dubbed “The Angel of Death” because of his horrific work with Jewish prisoners.  He saw them as experiments to be played with, not as humans who were God’s image bearers.

Back in the late 70s/early 80s, pop singer, the late B.J.Thomas came out as a Christ-follower. A string of records and awards followed in the Christian music industry. I remember one of his songs was entitled Using Things and Loving People. That is the correct order. But sadly, we often tend to turn it around and say, “Love things and use people.”

How do you see people? For the past 2 months I have been preaching a series called “Eyes Wide Open” where I focused on how Jesus saw people.  The final sermon is this Sunday and it focuses on the woman caught in adultery in John 8.  A poster child for one who needed grace in a big way. And Jesus came through! But it causes me to question my own response to people.

Please join me in person or via live stream at 9 and 10:45. You can find the links to the live stream (the church’s FB page or YouTube) on the church’s website (ovcf.org). If you can’t be here or watch, then please say a prayer for us.

#Transformation#LittleMan

Friday, June 18th, 2021

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he/He climbed up in the Sycamore tree for the Lord He wanted to see/And as the Savior passed that way He looked at Him and smiled, and said, ‘Zacchaeus, you come down! For I’m going to your house today.’ “

Anyone who has been raised in a church has probably heard that childhood song.

I’m not going to say anything earth-shattering with my next statement: we live in a world that is deeply polarized. If 2020 and the beginning of 2021 taught us anything (besides certain organizations ought to be banned-dare I say cancelled?- and/or held accountable), it is this truth: we are deeply polarized. Divided. People take sides on so many levels and on so many topics-race, gender, politics, work, sports, neighborhoods, you name it- and we fight over those sides.

Sadly, many of Jesus’ followers are no different than our culture-now or even back in Jesus’ day. We have a critical (but not discerning) eye. We rant and rave about just about everything. I’m not opposed to taking a stand against certain inequities, but it can be done without ripping someone apart.

Imagine if Jesus had had that type of approach to people like Zacchaeus. He would have thrown him out of the tree instead of asking him to come down. Gone would have been the loving and caring approach He took toward all, except maybe the bulk of the Pharisees.

Zacchaeus’ life was transformed by his encounter with Jesus. I am praying for the same response in this Sunday’s message. As people see how Jesus responded to Zacchaeus, we see a perfect example of how we ought to approach someone who disagrees with us but is seeking something.

I would love to have you join me this Sunday at 9 or 10:45- either in person or online. If you can’t make it or have a church family of your own, then I would appreciate your prayers.

#Truth#Confrontation

Friday, June 11th, 2021

Sometimes I feel like my name ought to be George McFly. He is the father of Marty McFly in the movie Back to the Future. When Marty goes back into the past to 1955 he finds out his father was a milquetoast back then just as he is in 1985. There is one scene early on in the movie where Marty comes home to find the family car has been wrecked by Biff (the bully in the movies). Biff is bullying his dad and after Biff leaves, George looks at Marty and says, “I know, son, I know. But Biff is my boss and I guess I’m not very good at confrontation.”

I suspect not many of us are good at confrontation. In fact, if I was to make a list of “Worst Things To Do” or “Things I Despise Doing,”  I’m pretty sure confronting someone would not be high on most people’s list. Unless, of course, you are a sadist and enjoy making people’s lives miserable.

We all have toxic people in our lives, people we would just as soon not be around for any length of time…if at all. Jesus seemed to spend a lot of time around toxic people. They were called Pharisees. Sunday’s sermon, Eyes of Truth, is from Luke 7: 36-50. It is the story of Simon the Pharisee and the “sketchy” woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears.  How He deals with both is a classic lesson to learn.

Join me please either in person or online as we live stream to the church’s FB page or YouTube. Want to know how? Go the church’s website. Right underneath the banner for this Sunday’s sermon are the links for both. Simple and easy. See you there!!