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#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.

#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.

#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.

#CrossStilltheCross

Friday, April 8th, 2022

On March 24, 1989 the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, spilling almost a quarter-million gallons of oil into the sea. Cleanup removed all visible traces of the oil spill within a year. But now scientists believe some of the methods used actually harmed the ecology of the area rather than helped it. The plankton and other microbial organisms may take another decade from now to return to normal.

Looking back at that disaster, it seems almost ironic that the whole story makes a fitting illustration of self-reform and the necessity of divine grace for cleansing from sin.  To the progressives, the cross is one of the most offensive elements in historic Christian teaching. They simply cannot and will not accept or believe God would sacrifice His Son for others.

For the orthodox (small “o” not big “O”) follower of Jesus, the cross is absolutely essential.  I will be sharing the teachings (translated: heresy) of the progressives while comparing them to what the Bible says.  Examples used will be William Paul Young (The Shack), Steve Chalke, Rob Bell (yes, that infamous one), Richard Rohr, and Brian McLaren.  I believe you will be shocked what they say about the crucifixion and the cross.

And by the way: do you know what penal substitutionary atonement is? They don’t either.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday in person, or if not, then via live stream.

#Jesus#StillJesus

Friday, March 25th, 2022

In Matthew 16 Jesus asks His disciples who people say He is. Some say He is Elijah. Some say He is Jeremiah. Some say He is John the Baptist.  Others say He is one of the prophets. Then Jesus turns the page and asks them who they think He is. Peter answers for all of them (of course) and says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

That question: “Who do you say I am?” is a really good one to ask. For some it is easy to answer. Ask me and I will tell you what Peter said. Ask a Progressive and he will hedge and hem-haw around.  The doctrine of who Jesus is tends to be up for grabs.  It is always open for reinterpretation.  There are no sacred cows for them and at the top of the list is Jesus. They want to remake Him in their image.  Unless you have studied the Progressive movement (and become a little jaded in the process), who they think Jesus is would floor you. I’ll be covering some of those ideas during Sunday’s message.

More importantly, I will be talking about who Jesus is and how the Bible describes Him.  I like what C.S. Lewis once said, “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something else.” There is more to that famous quote, but Jesus is what Lewis stated here: the Son of God.

My sermon this Sunday entitled Jesus is Still Jesus continues my series on Truth Decay. I would love to have you join me on Sunday morning in person or via live stream.  We meet and broadcast at 9 and 10:45. As always, your prayers are appreciated.

#GodisStillGod

Friday, March 18th, 2022

In his book titled God:Coming Face to Face with His Majesty, John MacArthur tells an old fable about six men blind from birth who lived in India. One day they decided to visit a nearby palace. When they arrived, there was an elephant standing in the courtyard. The first blind man touched the side of the elephant and said, “An elephant is like a wall.” The second blind man touched the trunk and said, “An elephant is like a snake.” The third blind man touched the tusk and said, “An elephant is like a spear.” The fourth blind man touched the leg and said, “An elephant is like a tree.” The fifth blind man touched the ear and said, “An elephant is like a fan.” The sixth blind man touched the tail and said, “An elephant is like a rope.” Because each blind man touched only one part of the elephant, none of them could agree on what an elephant is really like.

That analogy can be used to describe how many people have misconceptions about what God is really like. I’m not sure that misconception is not any more apparent than in today’s progressive movement.  Their idea of God is so messed up and off track that it takes some doing to try to reign it in.  That really isn’t anything new when you think about it. Freud once said, “God was an illusion.” Voltaire said, “He is an invention of man.” Some say He is a mean, hateful entity, a child-abuser. Jesse Ventura said, “God and religion are a crutch.” Stephen Hawking said, “There is no heaven or afterlife…that is a fairy tale for people afraid of the dark.” Richard Dawkins called God a “moral monster.”  I believe those and others have already found out or will find out He exists and does not fit their description.

I’m continuing my series on Truth Decay with this week’s message titled “God is Still God.” I would love to have you join us in person or by live stream.  You can see it live at 9 and 10:45 on the church’s YouTube channel or FB page or watch it later on both of those as well.  Either way I would love to have you pray for us.

#Truth#BattleLines

Friday, March 11th, 2022

Have you ever had vertigo? I’m not sure there is a more awful feeling than having it. Watching the world spin out of control and you haven’t even moved. I went to bed feeling fine one time, but when I woke up in the middle of the night I walked right into the door jam. And then the nausea hit.  A quick trip to the clinic revealed wax on my eardrum.  A quick flush, an anti-nausea pill and I felt like a brand new man. Jo disagreed. She kept me under wraps. (I think it has more to do than just the nausea(.

Vertigo is an ugly thing to have. We seem to be in somewhat of a vertigo situation these days when it comes to truth. It is a fact that truth has always been in question. Check out the story of Adam and Eve. What did the serpent say to Eve? “Did God really say that?

Does truth matter? You betcha! If there is no truth then there is no place to stand. Anything goes-which, of course, our world likes.  Truth still matters. Always has and always will.  As truth decays so do our foundations.  My sermon Sunday is the 2nd in the series Truth Decay,  I’ve titled the sermon a real doozy (so he says out of the corner of his mouth): Truth is Still the Truth.  I’d love to have you join me in person or via live stream.  You can check it out at 9 and 10:45 on the church’s FB page or on YouTube.  Oh…the Scripture is from I Cor. 1:18-2:5.  See you there!

#ExclamationPoint#Ending!

Friday, February 25th, 2022

Have you ever wondered what sets someone apart from others? I’m not talking about financially, athletically, or socially. I’m talking spiritually. Why do some excel in their walk with Christ and others don’t? Why do some keep growing while others stagnate?

Seventeenth century Puritan, John Owen, once said, “What an individual is in secret, on his knees before God, that he is and no more.”

If that is true, and I tend to believe it is, Daniel is quite an example for us.  He must have spent hours upon his knees in secret.  In this final sermon in the Against the Grain series, I think it is only fitting to see what led to Daniel’s “staying power.”  I asked myself these questions: “What was it that gave him the strength; how was he able to go against pressure; how was he able to take whatever was thrown at him; how was he able to go against the grain of popular opinion and the threat of reprisal and come out as a shining example of what it take to follow God?”

I believe the secret is found in Daniel 9. Join us as we worship and study this Exclamation Point.

#Hint#WeWin!!

Friday, February 18th, 2022

I am not a gamer. I don’t play Candy Crush. Halo. Fortnite. Madden. Or any other game. I once found myself staying up way too late playing a game back in the 80s and said, “Never again.” I sold the Atari (remember those?) and never looked back. I had a friend once try to get me to try this game where I was the pilot, but after about 5-10 minutes I said, “I’m done.”  Part of the problem at the time was that I hated to lose and knew my competitive juices would start flowing. I also did not want to waste time playing a game when I could be doing something else.

Now, there is nothing wrong with gaming. Or winning. Sports is based on that premise. But when it becomes an all-consuming passion, it is time retire that desire.  One thing is certain: in every contest there is a winner and a loser. Even in a tie!! Think about it: someone did better than they or anyone thought; someone did worse than they or anyone thought. 🙂

What is the Christ-follower supposed to think about the future? We know there is going to be one. But do we know what is going to happen? Can we know what to expect? Daniel 7 is God’s vision of the future to Daniel, one which totally frightens him.  My sermon this Sunday is entitled Hint: We Win, and while we cannot know all that is going to happen, one thing we do know for sure: we will win.

I would love to have you join me this Sunday, but I know some of you can’t. Least not in person. So I hope you will join us live stream. Preaching on prophecy is a new thing for me so I most definitely will appreciate any prayers you might send up for me. 🙂