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Will Reed #SpecialGuest

Thursday, November 3rd, 2022

It was around 2017 when Will and Teresa Reed returned home on furlough from the mission field in Africa. By the time they came home they were hurting. From the trauma of a hostile environment that caused them to move 3 times, to being personally traumatized, as well as severe exhaustion that came from a baby who never slept, they needed to come home. It was during that time they came to visit OVCF as one of their supporting churches. All of that combined caused some severe anxiety and PTSD, which the counselor told them they needed to deal with. It was recommended they stay home and heal.

It is now 2022 and with the necessary healing taking place (and also the birth of two more children), Will and Theresa sense God calling them back to Africa under the auspices of the mission organization, SERGE. It was the same one they were involved with before.  Their plan is to return, Lord willing, to Nairobi, Kenya to serve with SERGE as counselors/helpers/support (and any other words that fit that description) in 2023.

Will is preaching this Sunday and will also tell the story of their healing and subsequent “call” to return to Africa. Pastor Ryan, Diana, Jo and I had lunch with them almost 2 months ago to renew our ministry with them.  The leadership of OVCF is committed to putting them in the mission budget for 2023. The folks need to meet them and see what a genuine and real couple/family they are.

Please pray for Sunday.  For Will as he preaches. For them as they consider their move and raise the funds to do so. And pray for the church as we are challenged to follow God’s calling on our lives, no matter where it leads. Join us if you are able to in person. Or you can’t, then please watch the live stream at 9 and 10:45.

Next week I start a 4-week series on Feasts with a Purpose.  I’m going to take a look at two different OT feast each week and how they show us Jesus and apply to Christ-followers today. Join me won’t you?

#SleepyHead#StandingStrong

Friday, October 14th, 2022

I started a new and short series last week called Wake Up Sleepy Head! It is on the church and the need for a revival-locally and globally.

This week my sermon is called Standing Strong. There is no question, no doubt, that the church is under attack.  Without sounding political, Tulsi Gabbard just left the Democrat Party. One of the things she talked about was how Christians are under attack. I do not know what her religious affiliation is to be honest, and it really doesn’t matter to me. She spoke truth in that one statement.  The church and Christians are under attack. If we say anything, do anything, propose anything that goes against the “woke” agenda, we get cancelled or persecuted and called all kinds of names.

I believe it is just the start of it all.  More is to come. So it behooves Christ-followers and the church to stand strong.  We can expect it; prepare for it; and stand firm. Or we can take the road out of town. The early church had to stand strong.  It wasn’t easy for them; it isn’t and won’t be for us.  There are some things which cause a church to lose its edge.  But there are also some ingredients we need to stand our ground. 

I plan to cover both of those this Sunday. I also plan to boil it down to one very important issue. I plan to blog about that here and on my other blog this coming week.  Until then, I hope you will join us Sunday at 9 and 10:45.

#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#GottaHaveIt

Friday, July 22nd, 2022

Perhaps you have heard the saying, “God has promised to fill all our needs, not all of our greeds.” (Yeah…I know…that is not a word. Spell check tells me that). 🙂

Here are two sayings that I thought were pretty interesting:

“Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected…Hoarding is idolatry.”

 

“Just as a circle can never fill a triangle so the heart of greed is never satisfied. Its hunger is never filled; its thirst is never quenched. No wonder we are so often warned against it.”

When we think of greed our minds often go to misers like Ebenezer Scrooge; or corrupt bankers or some tycoon on Wall Street; or a wicked pirate like Captain Barbosa in Pirates of the Caribbean. SURELY NOT US!!

The problem with greed is that it is usually masked and isn’t that obvious. We see someone working hard and perhaps getting wealthy and we think “a man is worthy of his hire.” Little do we know that down inside that man or woman might be a heart of greed. I’m not just talking about someone in the “worldly” vein either. We get that same picture of many in the church. We think we want to be like that person, but come to find out there is a heart of greed beating down inside.

Cancer #5 is the Deadly Sin of Greed. I’m calling it the “gotta have it” syndrome.  What does the Bible say about greed? Actually a lot. That is my topic for this Sunday’s message. I hope you will join me as we delve into this volatile subject that so many of us want to deny we have but…

Please join us at 9 and 10:45 either in person or via live stream. I would love to have you or see you. If not, you can always pray for us, for me. I will never turn that away!! 🙂

And by the way: Pastor Ryan has taken about 12 people to Hickory, KY for some help with tornado clean-up. Your prayers for their travel and service would be greatly appreciated.

#Cancer#Sloth

Friday, July 15th, 2022

A sloth is an “interesting” animal. I use interesting in quotes there because to me, watching a sloth would be like watching grass grow or paint dry. You get the idea. B-O-R-I-N-G.

Proverbs 20:5 says, The lazy one does not plow after autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing.”  For more on that read another passage: Pr. 24: 30-34.

I realize there are some people who move slower than others. That is their makeup. But being lazy or being slothful is a whole ‘nother animal (pun intended).  A sloth is someone who is careless, unwilling to act, half-hearted in their approach to life, and gets discouraged in the face of difficulty.  In one of the more humorous passages in the Bible the writer of Proverbs describes the slothful person as one who says, “There is a lion outside; I shall be killed in the streets!” so he just stays in bed. Another passage, Pr. 26:14 says, “As the door turns on its hinges, so does a lazy one on his bed.”

Not very complimentary is it? It is not meant to be. That is why sloth is considered one of the 7 Deadly Sins, which I am calling 7 Cancers.  That is my current sermon series and I’d like to invite you to join me as we study. If you are able to visit in person, we would love to have you.  We have two services- one at 9 and one at 10:45. We live stream both services as well. If you are unable to join us, I would appreciate your prayers.