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#Mother’sDay#SpecialDay#Honor

Friday, May 6th, 2022

This Sunday, in case you were born yesterday or are from the planet Vulcan, is Mother’s Day. A National Holiday. If you ask some, it is THE NATIONAL HOLIDAY!! 🙂  I know some will think I am prejudiced but I’m really not: I believe I married the best of the best, the cream of the crop.  Seriously, I am not prejudiced. 🙂 🙂

Anyway, Mother’s Day brings a gamut of emotions.  Happy thoughts. Sad thoughts. Reminiscing thoughts. Bitter thoughts. The list goes on.

One thought it brings to a pastor is scary: what do I say on Mother’s Day? I am a man and who am I to think I can use Proverbs 31 to tell a woman how to be that kind of woman? And who am I that I should use Mother’s Day to tell a woman she needs to be submissive to her husband (and he to her)?

So I decided to take the chicken way out…or is is the wise way out? I’ll let you decide and have your opinion. I decided to approach this year differently. No, I didn’t ask a woman to preach for me (I don’t want to get into that frankly). However, I did ask for help.  I know…how unlike a man right?

I texted 10 women and asked them a question: what woman in the Bible stands out as a hero you look up to?  I thought I would then take their suggestions and write my sermon focusing on them. Little did I realize that not only would all the ladies respond but they would-in many cases-give me several women. Yikes! It is Mother’s Day and I know they will not want to be there for a couple hours.

So I elicited their help. “Would you be willing to share with the church family why you chose those ladies?” Two said they would, but would be out of town, so they were willing to record it on a flash drive for us to show. Several said they were uncomfortable or not yet ready to share their story.  I certainly understood and was willing to forgive them. 🙂  Five said they would, but a couple were hesitant to do it from the pulpit (fear). So I decided to do it like a panel and focus it more like a discussion amongst themselves, but obviously including the rest of us in their musings.

I’m looking forward to it. Novel approach. Hopefully a great learning experience.

We are having one service at 10:00 since I did not want to put the ladies through two services.  If you are able to be with us in person, I look forward to seeing you. If not, please join us via the live stream. You can join us by going to the church website where you will see our link to YouTube and also Facebook (Look below the sermon title).

 

#Snapshots#Forgiveness

Friday, April 29th, 2022

We all like to receive letters. Long or short. Hearing from someone we love or have at least corresponded with at some time usually makes for a good day.  The NT consists of 27 books, most of which take some time to read and study through.

But it also contains some very short books. Four to be exact. I thought it would be a nice change of pace after the sometimes grueling and grinding subject matter of Truth Decay to pause for a refresher. So for the next 5 weeks (not including Mother’s Day) I plan to cover the short books of the NT: Philemon, 2 John, 3 John and Jude (2 sermons). I’m calling the series Snapshots since they give us short pictures of the early church.

First up is Philemon. if you haven’t read it before I’d suggest you read it. What a wonderful book! And a wonderful series of lessons we can learn. The most important?

LEARNING TO FORGIVE.

I’ll be looking at Paul’s request he makes of Philemon and how it is calling on Philemon to make one of the greatest sacrifices anyone can make: to forgive when someone has wronged you.  I’ll be talking about 4 things which happen to us when we fail to forgive.  I’ll share them in a blog next week.

I’d like to invite you to join us in person or via live stream. And I’d also encourage you to pray and ask God how He wants you to forgive and whom He might want you to forgive.

#AliveisStillAlive!

Friday, April 15th, 2022

Famous atheist, the late Christopher Hitchens, was once interviewed for Portland Monthly about his opposition to religion, and more specifically, Christianity. The women “minister” questioning him noted the Christianity he opposed was of the more “fundamentalist” variety, while she identified herself as a “liberal Christian.” After explaining that she didn’t take the stories of Scripture literally and rejected the atonement, she asked Hitchens if he saw a difference between fundamentalist faith and more liberal religion. His answer was surprising: “I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.”

I guess there is no other way to say it but that he put her in her place. And that I totally agree with him. If I became convinced that the resurrection of Jesus was not true, or that Jesus was just a good teacher or a wise man to imitate and not the Savior and King, I would disavow being a Christian. I would walk away from the faith.

This Sunday is the apex of our faith: the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. I’m excited about preaching on that! We are meeting at Abram Farm Event Venue in order to be together as one church family.  Our service will start at 10:00 and be live streamed as well (thanks to Pastor Ryan for making that happen).  So I’d like to invite you to join us in person at Abram Farm or via live stream.

#September9#September11

Thursday, September 9th, 2021

I am posting this early for several reasons.  On Saturday, 9/11, I will be taking part in the memorial service the town of Spencer will be having to remember the 20th anniversary of the attacks by cowards. But an even greater reason confronts me. Today, September 9th, is the 10th anniversary of the death of local soldier, Brett Wood, in Afghanistan. I did not know Brett. I know his brother, Nikk, who attends OVCF now. So I post this in honor of Brett and to remind you not to forget.

Even writing those words-that date- brings back haunting memories.

Planes hitting two towers. Papers falling. People dying.  Metal crumbling. Layers of smoke and dust and debris in the air and on people and cars. People digging. American flag waving on site, almost like a guardian and inspiration.

“Let’s roll.” Brave passengers. Todd Beamer. Rumors of the plane headed to the White House.  An empty field. Plane crashed. Crisis averted. Lives lost.

Pentagon. The “seat” of military power. A symbol of military might and genius. The hub of decisions. Fiery death. Walls breached.

A nation united against evil. For once. “God Bless America” sung by political rivals. A common enemy. Swift action. Swift reprisal. Manhunt. Finally got him (them).

9/11…Never forget. This is not a matter of forgiveness. This is a matter of remembering the fallen.  As of today, there are just under 3000 innocent lives gone.  Heroes who rushed burning buildings. People who went to work that day not having a clue. Some of them I will see someday. Some, sadly, thought they had more time. And a few consigned to hell where their vestal virgins do not await. Only tongues of fire.

Matthew 26…Never forget. A memorial feast set aside for a Savior to never be forgotten.  Paying the ultimate price. For me. For you.

LEST WE FORGET

“Father, the memories are fresh as flashbacks occur on this 20th anniversary of evil’s destruction. Thank You for Your faithfulness through it all. Giving hope and life to so many. And thank You for the cross. Help me to never forget.”

September 11, 2001 was part of the inspiration for Brett, and his brother, Nikk, joining the military. I am proud to be a part of a community that wants to honor their fallen. We had a memorial service this past Monday, Labor Day, to honor the 13 who died in Kabul over the fiasco that is Afghanistan.  The views expressed here are mine and not necessarily those of the church I pastor.

#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.

#LawsFamily#Testimony

Saturday, August 28th, 2021

I’m not preaching this Sunday because Mike, Trisha, and Ryan Laws are our special guests.

I have been anticipating this for over 2 months. Mike donated his kidney to his son in order to save his life.  A perfectly healthy, 13 year old, soccer-playing teenage who in a matter of days found himself in the ICU because of a kidney disease is the basis for the Laws’ story. The foundation of it though is the faithfulness of God as they cried, trusted, sought answers, watched Ryan lay in a bed unable to respond, until finally both Mike and Trisha were tested as matches. They decided Mike would be the one to give his son new life. What greater father/son love story could you find? 

Oh yeah, there is one. God the Father giving up His Son on the cross for our salvation.

Please join us live at 9 and 10:45 as they tell their story, a testimony to God’s incredible love and faithfulness.

And BTW: Mike has been back at work and Ryan is back at soccer going full bore.  You gotta hear their story!

 

#Leadership#Afghanistan#Cooke

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

The following is an article by Phil Cooke on his blog.  He writes about leadership and other subjects on his blog at philcooke.com. I am including this article-not to make a political statement, but to make a leadership statement. Perhaps some good discussion can ensue in churches and among leadership about the way decisions are made and carried out.  Here is the article:

LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM JOE BIDEN AND AFGHANISTAN

The documentation of President Biden’s decisions surrounding the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan are now legion. But aside from the tragic results those decisions have created, it’s worth looking at what leaders could learn from this debacle. In coming years, we’ll have a chance to see much deeper into this situation and how much it tarnishes his legacy, but for now, here’s a handful of immediate reflections that leaders should consider:

1) Incompetent leaders can rise to remarkable heights. In 1972, 29-year old Joe Biden ran for Senate against Republican Senator Caleb Boggs. I was a senior in high school that year, so that’s a long time. And yet, Robert Gates, who worked with him and served as defense secretary for the Obama administration, has been quoted as saying that Biden has “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” Many of the changes he’s proposed so far in his presidency have made many ask why he hasn’t already accomplished these things over the last 40 years while in office. Never be caught off guard by poor leadership. In politics, business or the nonprofit sector, never think every high level leader deserves to be there or is capable of being effective.

2) Fantasy isn’t a leadership strategy. It’s well documented that Biden’s goal was to “bring the troops home” in time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11. That would have been a great victory and scored a lot of political points. But no matter how strong the fantasy, leaders must deal in reality. Ignoring better advice about a more thoughtful and realistic exit strategy, he chose the fantasy instead. It doesn’t matter if a leader’s fantasy is a new product launch, advertising campaign, fundraising strategy or anything else – reality is a brutal wake-up call.

3) Leaders take the hits. In spite of the overwhelming evidence, President Biden still hasn’t admitted he was wrong. It’s been a dark comedy watching members of his team like Secretary of State Anthony Blinken squirm during interviews trying to defend and support the president. But when a leader won’t admit a mistake, his entire team suffers trying to maintain the illusion. In far too many cases that only leads to disunity, frustration, and eventual splits in the team.

4) In a crisis, leaders must face the public. When the tragedy in Afghanistan began unfolding, Biden hunkered down at Camp David and it wasn’t until public criticism became overwhelming did he emerge from his vacation. But even then he refused to answer reporters questions, and immediately returned to his vacation (another big blunder). Only later did he respond to pre-approved questions. But during times of crisis, leaders must be available, candid, and open. For people to believe you’re in charge, you have to show up. Honesty and authenticity may be painful in the short term, but that builds trust far better than hiding.

5) Good leaders listen to advice. After the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, John F. Kennedy created the Executive Committee of the National Security Council whose express purpose was to openly debate issues surrounding national security. Kennedy realized the need to listen to all sides of an argument. President Lyndon B. Johnson actually designated an advisor to be his official in-house skeptic. The best business leaders are willing to listen to opposing ideas. Group-think is a massive mistake for leaders, and if you’re surrounded by yes-men and women, you’re headed in the wrong direction.

6) Finally, never forget that leaders who try to leave a legacy rarely do. A “legacy” isn’t something that’s manufactured, designed, or created. Numerous leaders have become obsessed with their legacy, but legacies are based on how others perceive you and your life’s work. So if you’d like to leave one, stop thinking about it and just get back to work.

I’m sure more lessons will unfold as time goes on, but the important lesson is that during moments of crisis, there is always something for leaders to learn. {End of post}

{My plan is to come back later this week to write about how these 6 lessons apply to pastors and churches. Please feel free to comment here or go to Phil’s blog and make a comment there. Please tell him I sent you}. 🙂  That, and just under a dollar, will buy you a fountain drink at Speedway gas stations.

#42

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

Yes, that is Jackie Robinson’s uniform number, but this post is not about him (although he would be a very worthy subject for one).

No…sadly that is not my age.  You gotta add about 26 more years (soon to be 27) to catch me.

And no, that is not the amount of years Jo and I have been married. We passed that number many moons ago.  We actually celebrated 48 this past June.

Well…if you must know and can’t guess… 🙂 … today is my youngest daughter’s birthday. And I bet you couldn’t guess she turns 42!  I know.  Tough one wasn’t it?

We spent Friday evening with she and Mike at Texas Roadhouse (they have the best salmon) and got to see Braden, our grandson, play his first high school football game Saturday morning. Mike is her male friend, who is actually more than a friend.  She likes him…A LOT! We are happy for her. He treats her well. He did get me upset though this past Friday. We were waiting for her to get home from work and in she waltzes with a vase full of flowers.  I have carefully cultivated this “NO FLOWER” persona with Jo and here he goes and buys her flowers!  Sheesh! That is not the way to win friends and influence people. Nor is the way to win over your girl friend’s father to your side. 🙂 

Okay, truth be known…they were beautiful flowers. He is just going to have to stop doing things like that…at least when we are coming.  I heard several references to “he got her flowers” throughout the night. In all honesty, we like Mike (not Jordan but this Mike).  When her marriage of 15 years ended, we were concerned for what she would do (not drastic), but with her future. She continued to work and COVID sent her home to work. She found a place to move to after a year when her former husband had to move out of the school district. God opened a place for her that is much better than she had. Mike has settled her and given her back her dignity and peace.  They have now been dating for over a year.  I know he won’t read this but “Thanks Mike for doing that.” 

Only God knows what is in her future.  She is 42 and all a mom and dad can do is leave their adult children in the hands of the ONE who has always held her.  Happy Birthday Janna. I love you.

#OOPS#RePost#SheGetsIt

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

My deepest apologies to all of you who tried to access the post yesterday and found a big, huge blank.  In order to correct my “technologically-challenged” abilities, (or maybe FB not allowing it to be reposted because it’s not “woke” enough. I’ve been reading Owen Strachan’s book Christianity and Wokeness and I have even less tolerance for that doctrine of the devil than before. I’d say I’m sorry about that comment but I’d be lying. What does that one commercial say: “Sorry but not sorry”? Yeah, that would be me at this point), I’ll give you a written version of what was said.

The picture was of Sydney McLaughlin with an American flag and flowers and a gold medal hanging around her neck. The following are the words written by her Coach William B:

“This 21 year old is now the only woman in history to run under 52 seconds in the women’s 400-meter hurdles and one of the preeminent faces of the new generation of track and field athletes. Sydney McLaughlin set a new world record and received the gold medal. Her words reflect her faith as she boldly said, “Records come and go, the glory of God is eternal.” And “I no longer run for self-recognition, but to reflect His perfect will that is already set in stone. I don’t deserve anything. But by grace, through faith, Jesus has given me everything.”

It is my understanding that she runs for the Gold against her chief rival tonight. May I suggest you Google her name? You will find out what you need to know about her there. She sounds like one phenomenal young lady.

From the previous post:

Now THIS is what it is all about. I, personally, have not watched one second of the Olympics because of all the political c_ _ p (you can fill in the word) that is going on. Kneeling before a soccer match. Turning a back during the National Anthem. Crossing the arms during a photo op. Sad that our world, and that games which were supposed to bring unity and sportsmanship,  have turned into political statements.  If the “O’s” continue like this, I will be hoping they go the way of the dodo bird. All this “woke” garbage is frying me. (You want to know how I really feel?)

#LetFreedomRing#GuestBlog

Monday, July 5th, 2021

I read the following blog this morning (Monday).  It is from the Church & Culture blog of James Emery White, Pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church.  I thought you might enjoy reading it. Meanwhile, you might to also check out his website where you will find other blogs. Here you go:

On the 4th of July, I’m always reminded of times I’ve traveled in countries where freedom is severely curtailed. Or where the people have been freshly freed from the chains of injustice, and the joy of their release was palpable.

I was in Johannesburg on the 10th anniversary of the end of apartheid.

I was in Korea when the border between North and South was electric with tension.

My most powerful memory came from Moscow, where I was teaching shortly after the fall of communism. 

One night a group of us went to the famed Bolshoi Ballet. It was a long, wonderful evening, and after we took the subway back to where we were staying, the students said, “Come and let us celebrate.” The other two professors with me were as tired as I was, but the students were so intent on our joining them, that we went. 

And then we found out what celebration meant to them. 

They wanted to gather in the dining room and sing hymns and worship God. And we did, late into the night, with more passion and sincerity than I have ever experienced. It didn’t matter that we didn’t know how to sing in Russian—we worshiped God together.

But I went to bed puzzled. I had never seen such passion for spontaneous and heart-filled worship. I was curious as to why they were so ready and eager to offer God love and honor. I received my answer the following Sunday when I was invited to speak at a church in North Moscow. A former underground church that met in secret (as so many churches had been), they were now meeting openly in a schoolhouse. I had been asked to bring a message that Sunday morning. 

I didn’t know that I was in for a bit of a wait.

The service lasted for nearly three hours. There were three sermons from three different speakers, with long periods of worship between each message. 

I was to go last. 

When it was over, I talked a bit with the pastor of the church. I was surprised at not only the length of the service, but the spirit and energy of the people. Throughout the entire three hours, they never let up. In spite of the length of time, they never seemed to tire. Even at the end, they didn’t seem to want to go home.

“In the States,” I said, “you’re doing well to go a single hour before every watch in the place starts beeping.” (This was before smart phones.) He didn’t get my weak attempt at humor, but he did say something that I will never forget.

“It was only a few years ago that we would have been put in prison for doing what we did today. We were never allowed to gather together as a community of faith and offer worship to God. And we are just so happy, and almost in a state of unbelief, that we can do this now – publicly, together – that we don’t want it to end. And not knowing what the future might hold for us here, we know that every week might just be our last. So we never want to stop. So we keep worshiping together, as long as we can.”

As I left, his words never left my mind. I thought to myself, “I will never think about worship the same again. I’ve been too casual about it, too laid back, taken it too much for granted. These people know what it’s about – really about – and because of that, they have been willing, and would be willing again, to suffer for it. To be imprisoned for it. To die for it. Because they’ve discovered that it holds that high of a yield for their life. It has that much meaning and payoff and significance. It matters that much.”

And it should matter that much to all of us.

Happy 4th of July.

James Emery White

Editor’s Note

This blog was originally published in 2013, and the Church & Culture Team thought you would enjoy reading it again.