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#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.

 

#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.

 

#ChurchAlive#StartingPoint

Friday, October 7th, 2022

Many of you may remember several years a car company (Oldmobile) had the tag line “This is not grandfather’s Oldsmobile.” The insinuation was that Olds had changed from the stodgy, grandfatherly car company to a more exciting car company.  (For the record: it didn’t work. Olds no longer exists either due to downsizing or lost money). This week I start a very short series on the church entitled “Wake up Sleepy Head!”

Truth is: it is hard to change. Someone has said, “Change in inevitable: misery is optional.”  The church, without a doubt, has changed. I guarantee my grandparents would not recognize the church in 2022, especially since it has been well over 25 years since their death.  Back then hymns, pews, choirs and piano/organs were the fare. There were no drums, guitars, or keyboards. There were flannelgraph boards used to teach lessons, not computers, white boards and all the other gizmos. There were no youth pastors as paid staff. There was no such thing as small groups which met in homes. There were Sunday night services, Wednesday study, and Friday night prayer meetings (I know I used to attend with him), and the King James Bible. 

As Bob Dylan said, “The times, they are a-changin'” Some change has been good. I, for one, am glad for the changes in worship and more contemporary and accurate translations of the Bible. But sadly, the church is entrenched in tradition, even if it says it isn’t.  This short series of sermons will culminate in OVCF’s 18th anniversary celebration on October 30th. So I plan to challenge us to “do church” differently. This week is all about finding the starting point. Matthew 16: 13-20 and Acts 2: 42-47 will my Scripture.

I look forward to having you join us either in person or via live stream.

#GivePeaceaChance!

Friday, September 23rd, 2022

There has always been hawks and doves. The one constant through the whole of human existence has been conflict. Frankly, we have a terrible track record. The peace we hail today can collapse tomorrow. Who can forget British PM Chamberlain, after meeting with the madman (Hitler), came home to pronounce, “Peace in our time. Peace in our time.” Not too much later he found out what Hitler’s idea of peace was.

Out of curiosity, I did a little research. I typed in “years without war or conflict” and found the following statistics: There has been a total of 10,624 battles in history (2019); of the past 3400 years there have been 268 years without conflict= 8% of history (2003); of the 244 years of US history, only 15 have been peaceful (2020).  Well, as you can see we don’t have a great track record do we? But those stats are quite revealing.

They definitely show our propensity for fighting and not getting along. So how could Jesus be so bold as to say “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Was He just blowing smoke by giving us an impossible task?  My task this Sunday is to investigate this Beatitude and see how it applies to we who live in 2022. How can we be peacemakers is a contentious world?

Join us if possible in person at 9 and 10:45. If you are unable to, please join via live stream.  To echo my inner 60s child: Give Peace a Chance. 🙂

#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.

#StickingYourNeckOut

Friday, September 9th, 2022

Did you ever find yourself with more questions that answers? That is how I feel about this week’s sermon.  The Beatitude this week is “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.”

Here are a few of my questions: What does it mean to be merciful? In a world of cutthroat actions and reactions, what place does mercy have? What should the Christ-follower do and how should we act? How do we show mercy to others? Tons of questions which need deserve to be answered.

It sounds like it should be an easy task. But in Jesus’ day it was a radical teaching. The Romans admired justice, courage, self-control, and wisdom, but not mercy. In fact, it was called a “disease of the soul.” It was something to be abhorred and avoided and ashamed of if you ever expected to achieve success.

It isn’t quite that bad these days. But there is still what I will call “faux-mercy.” What I mean by that is that there are those who pretend to show mercy because it is profitable, rather than because it is the right thing to do. All in all though, it is right to show mercy to those who need it.  Mercy is not a sign of weakness (as the Romans taught), but actually a sign of strength. The Greek word for merciful means “to give help to the wretched, to relive the miserable.” The Greek word gives way to our English word benefactor.

Sunday’s sermon will not only try to clarify what mercy is, but also give examples of people who showed mercy from the Bible (put a picture to the word). I hope you will join us at either 9 or 10:45 in person or via live stream. We would love to have you join us. I would be honored if you would.

#RunningonEmpty

Friday, August 12th, 2022

NEW SERIES!!

After spending the past 7 weeks on Seven Cancers, I’m starting a new series called Eight Cures.

We often elevate celebrities to a place they do not deserve nor have earned.  I have been guilty from time to time of doing that with athletes, especially when I was younger. Then I saw they put their pants on like me, one leg at a time. Worse, I often found out they had feet of clay.  Christians have done that to athletes, musicians, actors, and even (gasp!) politicians.  Then a singer deconstructs, or an actor’s language is atrocious, or a ballplayer’s marriage disintegrates. Gone is the humility we thought we saw. We cling to celebrity looking for validation of their commitment. The recent death of Olivia Newton-John (ONJ) is a case in point. I am not her judge and she may very well be one who greets me in heaven, but the fawning over her and calling her a “Christian celebrity” (as I read the other day) just sort of did me in. 

But I digress. Sorry. Sunday’s sermon is from Matthew 5:1-3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.”   (Yeah, the 8 Cures are the Beatitudes).  What does poor in spirit mean? I suspect you may already know, but if not, I invite you to join us Sunday at 9 and 10:45.  We also live stream at the same time.

{And for the record: I liked ONJ’s music at one time. It is no longer my cup of tea. I like mine a little (okay, much) stronger.  It was not a slam against her, but against the Christian community running to embrace celebrities who talk about or mention any kind of faith. And taking it one step further: I am truly hoping she was prepared to meet Jesus. She talked about faith. I sincerely hope her faith was in Jesus…of which I can make no judgment}.

#Cancer#Hidden

Friday, August 5th, 2022

Of all the cancers which we have covered (6 so far), this last one is what I am calling the “Hidden” one. Why? Because most often it can be hidden from other eyes. Given the internet and given the plethora of other avenues, this cancer is considered “private.”

The cancer? L.U.S.T.

Someone has said, “Unbridled lust: A cannibal committing suicide by nibbling on himself.”

Another anonymous person said, “Lust, I read somewhere, is the craving for salt by a man (or woman) who is dying of thirst.”

I don’t need to go into detail of what happens when lust takes hold. A lust for money often leads to gambling. A lust for pleasure often leads to a life of unbridled lack of control. A lust for ease often leads to a life spent looking for short cuts. And a life of lust often leads to a body count left behind with destruction in its wake.  But like all the other cancers, it will eat away at us until it reveals itself in some way.

Lust is not a losing cause.  It is a disordered and idolatrous sexual desire that is both enslaving and destructive, but it is not an adventure in futility. This week I hope to disclose lust for what it is, but also to offer hope to those who struggle with it.  Please join us at 9 and 10:45 in person or via live stream. If you are unable to, please commit to praying for me-for us- as we study. Thanks.

#RealRevival

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022

I also posted a good part of this on my other blog, Living in the Shadow, but I have made a few changes to this particular post.

Very recently I read an exciting and interesting new book by Pastor Greg Laurie. It is called Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus.

Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus: The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll

To borrow from Bill and Ted: “It was a most excellent book.”

Strange name I know, but it was a book about those three musical icons, their contemporaries and how they felt about Jesus. Pastor Greg also wrote about other rock icons-Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin (who were all part of the dubious 27 Club because they all died when they were 27 years old), as well as others. He wrote about Jesus’ influence on different rock and roll artists- their acceptance, rejection, falling away, and embracing-of Jesus.

After reading that refreshing, sometimes sad, but still refreshing book, I decided to go back and read again another book by Greg which I had read back in 2018 called Jesus Revolution.

Jesus Revolution: How God Transformed an Unlikely Generation and How He Can Do It Again Today

I only started it last night so I can’t say much about it. However, chapter 1 began with this quote:

There can’t be any large scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level.  it’s got to happen inside first.

Who said that? Hold onto your hat when I tell you. Jim Morrison.

Shocked? Yeah…me too.

Sounds like some religious jargon doesn’t it? How many times have you heard or said something like, “Real revival must start with me.” It’s true. Real revival, real renewal, must begin within each one of us, starting with me. Real revival is a revolution, a radical changing of my heart and mind to being conformed to the image of Christ. To borrow and reword Jim Morrison’s words: It’s an inside job.

You see, I think the world (and the church to some extent), has seen enough of, and had enough of, fake “works of God.” I know I have had enough of pretenders (and that includes me from time to time).  We see the garbage and hucksterism on TV for what passes for faith, and we hear of crusades (not Harvest Crusades put on my Greg Laurie) with all the showy junk, that we are literally sick of it. 

I know I’m sick of what passes for “God’s work” and “God’s words.”  Sort of makes me sick to my stomach.

Revival, or a move of God, is much more than “You don’t do this” or “You don’t do that” or “You must act a certain way” or “You must belong to a certain political party.”  No. Revival is a radical change within a person’s heart. THAT is what the world wants and needs to see.

Jim Morrison was right. We need Someone to light our fire. It’s not a baby (babe). It’s the King of kings setting us on fire with a fire of epic proportions. That is one that will set the night on fire by bringing the light of Christ to its darkness.

That the real thing. Authentic. Life-changing. White hot change-maker.

“Start with me, Father. Set me on fire.”

#Cancer#Resepctable

Friday, July 29th, 2022

We have the Big 10. You know…the 10 Commandments. “You shall have no other gods before you.” “You shall not murder.” “You shall not commit adultery.” And others. The biggies.  People will also throw in some of their social issues with them. Curiously, there is one we tend to leave off the list. In fact, of all the cancers we have been talking about, this one most people will take the least seriously than any other. The cancer?

Gluttony.

I’m going to be honest. I don’t have an axe to grind.  I like to eat like all the other folks do. I used to say, “The Apostle Paul said, “I buffet my body, not buffet (like endless eating) my body.” I have to admit that I preferred the latter more than I should have. Pizza. Ice Cream. Chinese. Age has slowed me down some I’m sorry to say, but I do still like to eat! 🙂 

Gluttony is more than just overeating at Thanksgiving or Christmas or some special occasion. The failure to see that fact is flabby thinking about the Bible and what it says about this “respectable” cancer. I call it that because it normally doesn’t show up on someone’s list of sins.

This Sunday I am going to be preaching about what the Bible says about this “respectable” cancer.  I would love to have you join us in person, or if that is not possible, online.  We have two services at 9 and 10:45. Both are live streamed as well.