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#Revelation#Blessed

Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

On April 18th I embarked on an adventure I had never done before and really had no clue what to expect. On my other blog, Living in the Shadow, I decided to take the book of Revelation and write some posts about it. I took a chapter a day, except for when I was in chapters 2-3 (7 churches). I took a day for each one. That effort started on April 18th and ended with a final post on June 2nd.

It spurred a thought I never thought I would think. Yeah, you read that right. 🙂  What if I preached the book of Revelation with the same type of approach?  How about 2023?  The theme for 2023 popped into my mind: Victory! Hmmmm. So I decided to say something publicly to the church I pastor. I think they are shell-shocked because only one person has responded and she said, “Pastor Bill, I’ve always appreciated your approach to God’s Word. If He is telling you to preach on Revelation, I will be glad to hear it. If He says something else, I will be glad to hear it. You listen to Him.” (slightly revised).

So…at this point…I do plan to preach on Revelation to start 2023. About the time I decided to do that, I became aware of a brand new book:

Blessed: Experiencing the Promise of the Book of Revelation

It was a God-send! I was not familiar with Nancy as an author. I had heard the name. But I trusted the publishing company (Crossway) so I bit the bullet. What a phenomenal book!  The subtitle is Experiencing the Promise of the Book of Revelation and she does just that.  Her book includes 12 chapters all focused on “Blessed by…”

I found the book easy to read. Yes, there were times I had to go back and read a paragraph or two again. It was mostly because I was reading whenever I could and my mind tends to wander sometimes.  No matter the book!!  🙂 So I can’t and won’t blame the book.  But I can say that Nancy’s approach was just what I was looking for to help me in my series in 2023. But I am so glad I read it, and not just for sermon prep.  Honestly, I had trouble putting it down so I found myself reading at home (which I almost never do with books of this genre). I prefer to leave that for the office. But here I was toting this book back and forth.

I was also pleasantly surprised that Nancy’s approach will enhance my focus in my sermons. I’m already formulating how this can be incorporated into my sermon series.  Her thoughts were clear and clearly presented. I anticipate using it consistently during my sermon prep.

One more thing: Nancy’s approach will not be what many expect. I tend toward the amillennial view of the Second Coming. Not that I think either view (except for post-millennialism) is without merit, but I have favored that particular view. If you are not open to hearing an opposing view, you will not like Nancy’s book. She definitely believes in the “recapitulation theory” of Revelation (the seals, trumpets, etc are the same scene from different viewpoints),  characteristic of the amillennial position.  Take that for what it’s worth.

I highly recommend this book by Nancy Guthrie. Agree or disagree it will give you a greater appreciation for the most misunderstood, most fascinating, most imaginative, most intriguing, most debated, most thrilling book in the Bible.  Thank you Nancy for a book and a job well done.

And here is something for you to listen to Warning: it might get you excited. It might also not be your cup of tea. 

#DeadlyCancer#Pride

Friday, June 24th, 2022

Gregory the Great, who became pope in 590 A.D., once said pride was the “queen of sins.” And even though the papacy is not Scriptural, I have to say I agree with him. C.S. Lewis called pride “the great sin.” He went on to say, “The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride.”

When you think about it, all sin seems to find its roots in pride. Proverbs 8:13 and Proverbs 16:18 seem to say that as well.  Funny side note: do you remember the song by Carly Simon called “You’re So Vain”? It was reported to have been about Warren Beatty because he thought he was God’s gift to women.  Remember part of the lyrics: “You’re so vain you probably think this song is about you.” I just thought she was saying, “If you are arrogant enough to think I’m singing about you in what I have said, then vanity is an issue.” 🙂

Anyway, when pride takes over everyone suffers.  Two weeks ago I began a series I am calling “7 Cancers” with a sermon on Whatever Became of Sin.  This Sunday starts that series in earnest. As you can tell, pride will be the focus of the sermon I’m calling “The Queen Cancer.”   I hope you will join me either in person or online. We have two services-one at 9 and one at 10:45.

Let me close with a quote from J. Oswald Sanders:

Nothing is more distasteful to God than self-conceit.

#Spies#TheCreep

Friday, May 27th, 2022

When I was a lot younger (and I mean a lot younger!), I used to watch TV shows in black and white.  One of the popular shows, even though it was years later, were the ones of Johnny Weismuller as Tarzan. Johnny was an Olympic gold medal swimmer who appeared in 12 movies between 1932 and 1948.  And yes, that was before my time, thank you very much. 🙂 As in most movies there were times of anxiety and tension and excitement. Living in the jungle with Jane and their son, “boy,” gave them plenty of opportunities to have all three of those criteria. One of the most frequent were when they went swimming and a crocodile would slip into the water and see a feast before him. But Tarzan always won (as you would expect).  He was smart enough and strong enough to save the day.

Tragically, we cannot say the same about the church today. While there are pockets of steadfastness and people holding the line, there are greater examples of waffling and retreat. As we talk about staying true to our values in our world, I think it is much more important that the church makes it an essential part of its culture to remain true to biblical truth. Sadly, with the teachings coming out of Bethel, Hillsong and the Word of Faith movement, it is getting harder to remain Biblically solid. It is especially hard because of there being wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Paul warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 of that very tactic.

Jude is aware of the creep into the church. I have entitled this first of two sermons from Jude as Look Out for Spies!  I’ll cover the first 16 verses of Jude this week and then finish up the Snapshot series next week with the rest of Jude. Solomon once wrote, “Buy truth, and do no sell it.” (Pr. 23:23). That is a great admonition to us to seek the truth and not give up on it.

Please join me this Sunday at 9:00 and 10:45, either in person or via live stream. If you can’t, I would appreciate your prayers.

#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).

 

#Forgiveness

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

OOPS! I messed up. I allowed time to get away from me. In my last post, which was a preview of this past Sunday’s sermon, I said I would share some thoughts from Sunday’s sermon on Philemon and the power of forgiveness. As I said, I allowed time to get away from me since I had planned on posting this Monday, the 2nd.  Well…better late than never I guess. 🙂

Here are four observations I made at the end of my message this past Sunday. I know it isn’t much but perhaps it might help with some perspective.

Failure to forgive imprisons  believers in their past. Unforgiveness keeps the sore open and never allows it to heal.  Hurt done to you and not dealt with is like having an open sore that always oozes pus.  You can put a band-aid over it but the sore never heals.  Ditto failing to forgive.

Failure to forgive produces bitterness. The longer you hold onto an offense committed against you, the more bitter you will get. Bitterness distorts your whole outlook on life.

Failure to forgive gives an open door to the enemy. He loves little cracks in the doorway. Ephesians 4 tells us not to give him a foothold.

Failure to forgive hinders fellowship with God. A barrier devel0ps as a result of bitterness.  Having a horizontal barrier is bad; having a vertical one is even worse. A thousand time worse. A person who is not forgiving of others cannot be right with God.

One last thing: I say this over and over to the church. If you fail to forgive someone, they own you. You are their slave. Sad part is this: your failure to forgive does not hurt them. They don’t care. It does, however, hurt you.

In my mind there is only one thing to do.

#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.

#MorningAfter#TheLionStillRoars

Sunday, April 17th, 2022

First, a question: have you ever read the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis?  Aslan was the major character in all the books. What was he? 

I’ll come back to that.

The morning after. I was always warned about the morning after. After Easter.  I was warned about the letdown which follows because you see people whom you have not seen since Christmas…maybe.  In this day of the pan…(sorry have trouble saying that word) and livestream, it is not unusual to not see the normal “C & E” crowd. It is a fact of life and even though it hurts from time to time, I have come to accept that. It doesn’t mean I have stopped caring for and loving those folks. It is just a fact of living in 2022.

No matter what the enemy throws at me on the morning after, I know Jesus is alive. To put it in Narnian language, the lion still roars.

I heard a new song about 2 weeks ago and it has quickly become one of my favorites.  I don’t see it displacing Covered by Planetshakers or Good, Good Father by Chris Tomlin as my favorite song. But it is right up there with them. Here…give it a listen and tell me what you think.

https://youtu.be/AIJdpGPcbvE

Hope you enjoy it and it liven up your day…and week.

#PPA

Sunday, April 10th, 2022

Ever heard of PPA? You should have by now if you listen to any news feed. One of the most iconic actors of the past couple of decades was recently diagnosed with it. PPA stands for Primary Progressive Aphasia.

Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with it.

How ironic it was, then, that just a few weeks ago I listened to an Alisa Childers podcast where she interviewed a Christian philosopher and writer named Doug Groothius (pronounce grew-ties with the “s” sounding like a soft “s”). When I listened to the podcast I never caught the illness Doug’s wife suffered from and which was the inspiration for his book, Walking Through Twilight.  I was so intrigued by the interview I ordered his book and began reading it this past weekend.  Doug’s wife, a member of MENSA and a brilliant editor and writer of all his books, was diagnosed with PPA.

Here is a short “walk through” of PPA:

  • Often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s or “strict” dementia, it is different. Alzheimer’s starts at the back of the brain and moves forward; PPA is a frontal lobe disease. It is a rare form of dementia.
  • They all act alike in many ways. Forgetfulness. Lostness. Blank stares. Inability to recognize people or remember things. PPA also carries with it the inability to put words or thoughts together. My non-clinical way of saying it would be it is like having dyslexia of the mind.
  • There is no cure. It gets progressively worse.  At the time of the writing of his book (2017), Becky had suffered from it for 15 years.  (She went to be with Jesus in 2018).  It is an emotional wrangle for all involved-spouse, family, caregivers, even pets.

His book? You have to buy it. That is all I can say. I am about 1/2 way through it and have found myself drawn into his story and his struggle-with life, with God, with the way things are. Even though Doug is a philosopher, he doesn’t write like one who is “over my head.” Trust me, though, when I say you will enter into his story. You will ride the waves with him as he struggles emotionally and spiritually.

Walking Through Twilight: A Wife's Illness―A Philosopher's Lament

My father had dementia (he died at 90). My mother-in-law had it. My sister-in-law has it (mild form so far). I can guarantee this book has given me a new perspective on the “world” of the one walking through this twilight with someone they love.

BUY IT!! READ IT!! WEEP WITH IT!! REJOICE WITH IT (she knew Jesus)!!

And say a prayer for Bruce Willis and his family. I’m guessing they don’t know Jesus. They will need Him and the strength and comfort He offers.

#TruthDecay#TheBible

Friday, March 4th, 2022

Just this week I listened to a podcast by John Cooper, the lead singer of the Christian rock band, Skillet. John was responding to a podcast by Phil Vischer (Veggie Tales fame) where he demeaned John and Alisa Childers because of their stand against “deconstruction.” Phil and his other two hosts (one was Skye someone and the other a female whose name I never caught) admitted they didn’t even know what deconstruction was. My advice: unless you know something about what you are talking about, don’t talk. How’s that for “kinder words” than “Shut up.”

Anyway, deconstruction is a very real thing going on. A group called “exvangelicals” are taking their garbage to the masses. Several artists (Kevin Max formerly of DC Talk, Jon Steingard from Hawk Nelson, and Audrey Assad to name a few), “superstars” like Joshua Harris, and even a former Desiring God writer have taken to the airwaves and print to tell their story.  Kevin Max believes in the “Universal Christ.” What in the world is that supposed to mean?

My new series on Sunday morning will be called Truth Decay and each sermon will deal with some belief that Progressivism (I refuse to call it Progressive Christianity because it isn’t) is seeking to destroy. Historic, orthodox Christianity is under attack by the liberal progressives (and I’m not talking politically). If I can be one voice to help prepare the people for their garbage, i.e. false teaching, then I want my voice heard. The first in the series this Sunday is entitled The Bible is Still the Bible.

I hope you will join me this Sunday with your attendance in person or via live stream. Most of all, though, I covet your prayers.

#SundayMusings#LiveVsStreaming

Sunday, January 23rd, 2022

Note: I wrote this today (Sunday) as I awaited the opportunity to preach knowing things would be greatly different. These are my musings.

As I sit here this Sunday morning, a mixture of emotions flow through me. Due to the state and county both being in the red (COVID-wise not politically), the decision was made to do live stream only this morning.  Add to the state and county statistics the fact that some of the church people are also testing positive or simply struggling with illness, it seemed the wisest thing to do.

Am I happy? I would be lying if I said I was.  But I also understand. As far as I’m concerned, someone getting vaxxed and boosted is a matter of personal choice and I will not take a side on that issue. It is not for me to impose my will or thoughts on someone, even though Jo and I have both been double vaxxed and boosted.  She will be 71 next Sunday and I am 69. Yeah…she robbed the cradle. 🙂

No, my issue is not even a health issue. My issue is how much I look forward to Sunday morning and seeing people. Sure, I do get to do what I possibly love more than just about anything-emphasis on “just about.” I know I’m a social creature and I really look forward to seeing people, laughing with them, hugging them, fist bumping them, and just all around greeting people.  I love seeing smiles and the joy of connecting with people I have grown to love. I love seeing new people and the fact we have some “mo” right now makes it a bit harder to take this break. But that is the way of life in 2022…and in 2021…and in 2021.  I just think there is great value in meeting together.

But thankfully, we have live stream-a vital second to our ministry. Where would we be without it? Given today’s scenario, we would have to cancel services or require (gasp) everyone wear a mask. I’m thankful for the live stream. I remember how we started in late 2020 with nothing more than an iPhone.  The live stream has really been a life saver.

My personal hope is that this will just be a one week glitch. If not, we will use whatever means we can to get the message of Jesus to others. I pray God will bless our efforts and I am going to take Him at His Word that His words will never return void.