Doctrine

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#HeKnows

Wednesday, January 25th, 2023

There are certain characteristics (attributes) of God that are non-negotiable.  There are three which always come to the forefront:

His Omnipotence- He is all-powerful.

His Omnipresence- He is all-present (everywhere present)

His Omniscience- He is all-knowing.

To know those characteristics of God AND TO BELIEVE THEM is absolutely essential.  As I continue my series on Revelation, I hit this week what is probably the most familiar 2 chapters in all the book- the 7 churches.  I plan to take chapter 2 this week and follow up next week with chapter 3.  I plan to focus on what God knows, especially on what He knows about the churches (and by proxy…us).

What does it mean He knows? He knows absolutely everything that can be known. He has no need to learn anything. He does not a computer (don’t you wish?) He doesn’t need Google (again…I wish). And He certainly doesn’t need any of us telling him what He must and must not do, or should or should not do!

I’ll be summing up the first four churches this week like this:

  • Ephesus- He knows what and who we really love.
  • Smyrna- He knows what we are willing to suffer for.
  • Pergamum- He know what we really believe.
  • Thyatira- He knows what we are willing to tolerate.

Join us won’t you? We meet in person and live stream at both 9:00 and 10:45.

 

#Revelation#FeastonHim

Thursday, January 19th, 2023

Someone has said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It is certainly hard to argue with that. I think we might all admit to forming an impression of someone before we were totally informed of who they are or what they do or the circumstances in their life.  When Jo and I first met, she couldn’t stand me. I was a hot-shot basketball player (or so I thought) and arrogance oozed out of my pores.  We hung around with a group of other college students and did a lot of outings together. But she still couldn’t stand me. I’d like to think my lovable charm, my dashing good looks, and my over-the-top humor won her over. But truthfully, I’m not sure what did. 🙂 Maybe I began to grow up??

What do you know about Jesus? What is your impression of Him? How would you picture Him? A handsome man with blonde hair and blue eyes. (You would be wrong). Somewhat meek and mild and sort of like a milquetoast? (You would be wrong again).

John’s vision of Jesus is disturbing. Well, it was to him. It was nothing like he remembered from their 3 years together as Rabbi and disciple. John takes us into that vision in this week’s sermon from Revelation 1: 9-20. I guarantee it will wake a few folks up.

Join us won’t you? We meet in person and via live stream at 9 and 10:45.

 

#JustSoYouKnow

Friday, January 6th, 2023

As I stated in my previous post, I am starting a series on Revelation. To know more on how that came about go hereThis is the first official week of the series I’ve entitled The Lamb Wins!!

What possessed me?

Karl Barth, considered one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century once said, “If only I know what to do with Revelation!” Yeah…me too Karl.  🙂

Another tongue-in-cheek quote by a man named Ambrose Bierce says, “Revelation, n. A famous book in which St. John the Divine concealed all that he knew. The revealing is done by by commentators, who know nothing.”  I thought that one was funny.

Revelation is a bewildering book…without a doubt. I don’t see me un-bewildering it. My prayer will actually be that I don’t bewilder people even more! To be sure, studying Revelation is not an easy task. But the words of Revelation 1:3 speak loudly: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”

This first sermon will be an introductory-type of sermon.  I’ll try to answer two question to start with: Why do we avoid Revelation? and Why should we study it? The second half of the sermon will introduce the 4 schools of thought regarding interpreting Revelation. There is a really cool pamphlet the church is making available for the people to have.

Four Views of the End Times Participant Guide (DVD Small Group)

All I can say is buckle up and strap yourself in. We are going to go on quite a ride! Join us in person at 9 and 10:45. If you are unable to do so, then please join us via live stream. You can go to the church’s website and the links are there to watch it on YouTube or the church’s FB page.

Oh yeah…you can pray for me. I think I’m going to need it!  🙂

 

#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.

 

#UnexpectedChild

Thursday, December 15th, 2022

There are a lot of truths which make us feel Christian doctrine is confounding. The Trinity for one. Who of you totally understands it? Certainly not me! He is three-in-one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To understand it is hard enough; to explain it so it can be understood? Above my pay grade. 🙂

God made flesh is one which boggles the mind and has us grasping for answers to understand how God could come to earth in fleshly form. ‘Course it is easy to say, “God can do whatever He wants to do,” but that still does not help us understand it any better.

There are more I can add but I’m guessing none is more difficult to understand, and to wrap our mind around than the two I want to deal with this Sunday. “God made flesh” is one; He was one person with two natures is the other.  He was born of a virgin and He was fully God and fully man.

They might appear to be heavy topics for a Christmas message (and they are), but they are absolutely essential, not only to our Christian faith, but to truly realizing the meaning behind this holiday.  It will not be an easy topic to preach on or to listen to, but one that is essential.

Join me please in person if possible. If not, join us at 9 & 10:45 as we live stream both services. Meanwhile, may I ask you to pray for me, for us? Thanks.

#Separation#Firstfruits#Pentecost

Thursday, November 17th, 2022

What do you think of when you think of the word holiness? I can tell you what some have in mind. Monasteries, organ music, long prayers and religious-sounding chants all are mentioned.  Someone else said, “Holiness brings to mind thinness, hollow-eyed gauntness, beards, sandals, long robes, no sex, no jokes, frequent cold baths, fasting, hours of prayer, wild rocky deserts, getting up at o-dark-30, stained glass, and self-humiliation.” Yeah…not a great picture.

So to talk about holiness gives some people the “whilly’s.” I Peter 2:9-10 tells us we have been set apart to be the people of God and with that separation came special privileges.

The two feasts I am going to be speaking about this Sunday both deal with separation: Firstfruits and Pentecost (also called “Weeks.”) The former deals with separation based on faith; the latter deals with separation based on promise.

Please join us as we continue the series called Feasts with a Purpose. We meet at 9 and 10:45.

#Feasts#Passover

Thursday, November 10th, 2022

One of the understandings that I believe many NT followers of Jesus lack is that of the importance and purpose of the OT feasts. We hear they are in the OT and we turn our antenna off. And to make it even more drastic, we know that we need to read the OT to hear about them and what their purpose was.

Read the Old Testament? Read Leviticus? Are you kidding me? For many, that is a recipe for sleep mode. I confess…I have had that attitude in the past. But I decided to stop snoring publicly when I talk about the OT. I decided to stop downplaying its importance.  There were several reasons for doing that. 1) It was making a mockery of God’s inspired, written Word. 2) I began to really come to grips that Jesus is throughout the Bible. I mean, I knew that, but I finally allowed it to sink in. I began to read some books about it. Jesus on Every Page. The Unfolding Mystery. Christ from Beginning to End were just some of them.

And then…and then…I decided I would do something I had never done before. I would focus on the feasts in the OT as they relate to Thanksgiving and, of course, to NT followers of Jesus. I begin that 4-week series this Sunday. My title is God Redeems His People. I’ll be looking at the Passover and this is the only sermon in which I will focus on only one feast. But how can I not? This is possibly the most important feast/meal the Jews were to observe and there is absolutely no doubt it relates to us.

I invite you to join us we all work our way through a new subject for me and most likely for all who are there. We have two services at 9 and 10:45 and live stream both as well.

#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.

#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.