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#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.

#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. 

#Sin#SayWhat?

Thursday, June 9th, 2022

In 1973 Dr. Karl Menninger wrote a book entitled Whatever Became of Sin? Although I have never read the book, i borrowed its title for this week’s sermon.  The very real truth is that sin is part and parcel of life here on earth, but our culture wants to either redefine it, dismiss it, or dismantle it.

Holiness is not an option for the follower of Christ, and for us to accomplish that we must come to grips with the effects of sin in our lives. Anyone who knows the Bible or even of the Bible, knows the beginning of sin from Genesis 3. Adam and Eve decided to take things into their own hands, believe the serpent who said they would be like God, and eat the fruit. Life has been all downhill since then.  Try as we may, we cannot change the outlook or consequence of sin.  I have to confess that I get really embarrassed for those who think they can sing because someone told them they could.  Even though I don’t watch American Idol , I have seen enough promos to know there are some who are downright awful. And when I say awful. I mean A.W.F.U.L. They remind me of those who think they can pull their life together and overcome their sin by themselves. They can’t sing and neither can someone do the latter.

I am starting a series on June 26 (a break for Father’s Day) on 7 Cancers. This week’s sermon is sort of a lead off batter to it.  I would love to have you join me in person if possible. If not, we will be live streaming it at 9 and 10:45. Please join us. If not possible, then please pray for the service. Thanks.

#BadConduct#GoodConduct

Friday, June 3rd, 2022

As the war against Hitler went to a fever pitch, Winston Churchill, in his first statement as prime minister said, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” That statement was put to the test when British troops rescued more than 300,000 Allied troops who were cut off from land retreat by the Germans at Dunkirk. 30,000 French and British troops were killed or taken prisoner, but still Churchill stood his ground. On June 4, 1940, he made the follower speech to the House of Commons:

We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

His words ring true with the resolve of a man contending earnestly for the preservation of his country. In Jude, verse 3, we are told to “contend earnestly for the faith.” There will always be false teachers. Sometimes they will be overt and sometimes like wolves in sheep’s clothing. 

In this final sermon in my series called Snapshots,  Jude warns us about those who will bring bad conduct to a whole new level. But, more importantly, he also lays out a battle plan for us to mature into healthy followers of Jesus.  I would love to have you join us in person or via live stream at 9 and 10:45 as I close out this series.

Next week I start a series I’m calling 7 Cancers. I look forward to having you join me.

#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.

#Snapshot#Tension

Friday, May 13th, 2022

We tend to think sometimes that the early church knew no friction. Nothing is farther from the truth. Like all earthly entities, the church was and is no different. Church is made up of people and as such will find itself embroiled in tension from time to time. I’m not talking about big “C” church. I’m talking little “c,” like the local body of believers.

There is an old saying we hear and may even use often: they are like oil and water. We hear it used about siblings. We hear it used about parents and children. We hear it used about coworkers and even teammates. We even hear it used about individuals in a church. Sparks fly and at times it may even feel like WW3 is happening.

Blaise Pascal once said:

Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.

He said that of his day. (the 1600s). I think we can say that about ours as well. Seems like there is nothing new under the sun.

2 John is the 2nd book in my short series called Snapshots.  The title is Picture of Tension Revealed. It is about the molding of truth and love. Truth is necessary; truth and love is vital.  We would do well to listen, learn and practice both. Join me please at 9:00 or 10:45 in person or via live stream. We will also be honoring our high school and college graduates this Sunday. All told I think we have 15.  Thanks for being a part of our worship.

#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.

#Faithfulness#Won’tStartNow

Wednesday, April 27th, 2022

Last week I post a song by Arrows entitled The Lion Still Roars. You can see it here. It a great song to begin the day with. I have actually found myself listening to it during my workout at the Y.

Well…here comes another song which is totally different. It comes from a group called Honor and Glory, which features several members of the Christian rock band, Disciple. But before that turns you off, give this song a listen. I do believe you will be pleasantly surprised.  Honor and Glory is the name of the band consisting of a few members of Disciple and others who play or sing in their worship band in their church. They decided to get together to do a worship album. Phenomenal album!  This song is one of my favorite cuts, largely due to the power and truth of the lyrics. Another song, Jesus We Love You, will bring you to worship.

Anyway, here is the song Won’t Start Now by Honor and Glory. Let me know what you think.  Sorry there is no version with lyrics but I’m pretty sure you won’t need them.

#EternityBad#EternityGood

Friday, April 22nd, 2022

As you can tell there is a bad side to eternity and a good side. Let’s talk about it.

Bertrand Russell lived from 1872-1970 and was well versed in math, philosophy, logic, and other studies. By all accounts that I could find he was a brilliant man. He was, depending on who he was debating or talking to, either an agnostic (because he said one cannot disprove there is a God) or an atheist. Yeah…he waffled.  But one thing was consistent: he believed religion was superstition. To complicate matters here is a quote he made:

“There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell.”

There is so much about heaven and hell we don’t know since none of us have been there.  I do, however, believe they are both real places and the choice we make about Jesus will determine where we will spend eternity.

My sermon this Sunday is the final one in the series I called Truth Decay.  I certainly have not covered all there was to cover, but for the past two months we have been looking at some serious “hot buttons” in today’s culture about what I call non-negotiables when it comes to what we need to believe. None of them had anything to do with cultural issues of morality, social justice, lifestyles, etc. That, as they say, is for another time and another place. This week I will be talking about where we will spend eternity. 

I would love to have you join us in person or via livestream. We will be back to two services this week, with one at 9:00 and the other at 10:45.  Join us won’t you?

#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.