Doctrine

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#InsultsandParadise

Thursday, March 16th, 2023

There are many folks who have read the narrative of the cross so often that the reality of the pain and suffering Jesus went through “goes in one ear and out the other.” It is also true that life is a mixed bag. There are moments of pure, unadulterated exhilaration combined with moments of sheer agony.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles.” (I Cor. 1:23) The Jews wanted supernatural signs and the Greeks sought wisdom. But as we look at the cross, we see more.  We see a combination of both the simple and the profound. The Jews weren’t going to find their sign of the miraculous on the cross, and the Gentiles weren’t going to find their wisdom in it. 

What I plan to bring to light are four scenes full of meaning. As I said, many who read the account of the cross sort of just take these four scenes for granted. They are filled with meaning for us.

Scene #1- The weeping women.  Luke 23:26-31

Scene #2- The heartless soldiers. 23:32-34

Scene #3- The mocking bystanders. 23:35-39

Scene #4- The thief on the cross. 23:39-43

After introducing the four scenes, my primary focus will be on the latter. I will making these three points:

  1. No one is ever too far gone to become a Christ-follower.
  2. All God wants from any individual is simple faith.
  3. Never doubt that God accepts you.

Please join us at 9:00 and 10:45 either in person or via live stream. Check out the church’s website for the ways and means to connect.

 

#Don’tForgettoRemember!

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

Communion has been part of the church’s experience since shortly after Jesus’ meal with the disciples in the Upper Room. Down through the years there have been different ways to celebrate it:

  • There have been arguments and debates over its frequency (weekly, monthly, quarterly, twice a year).
  • There have been arguments over who can partake.
  • There have been arguments over the elements themselves (wine or grape juice for example). During the pandemic I had one person tell me they had crackers and pop as a substitute.
  • There have been different names give to it (Lord’s Supper,  Last Supper, Holy Communion, or Eucharist).

If you are looking for a doctrinal treatise from me on those arguments you have come to the wrong place. My focus in this Sunday’s sermon is on the meal itself and why we have been told, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Long story short: me must not forget to remember.

This Sunday starts a two-month series on To and From the Cross. I’m taking this break from my series on Revelation to focus on the season of the Cross and the Resurrection.  I plan to resume the Revelation series the first Sunday of May. Please join us in person or via live stream at 9:00 and 10:45.

 

#TheLambisWorthy!

Thursday, February 23rd, 2023

In his book, The Ultimate Priority, Pastor John MacArthur opens with a unique story of worship gone crazy. Maria Rubio said she was frying tortillas when she noticed that the skillet burns on one of her tortillas resembled the face of Jesus. Excited, she showed it to her husband and neighbors, and they agreed. So she went to her priest to have the tortilla blessed. She testified it changed her and her husband saying she was more peaceful, happy and submissive since the tortilla had arrived.  The priest, not accustomed to blessing tortillas, reluctantly did so.

She took the tortilla home and put it in a glass case with piles of cotton to make it look like it was floating on clouds, built a special altar for it, then opened the shrine to visitors. Within a few months, more than 8000 people came to the shrine of the Jesus of the Tortilla.

It seems incredible to me (to us) that this could actually happen. But there have been other instances as well. Images of Jesus in toppings of pizza. Scorched etchings on toast. Spot on a garage floor. Burn marks on a grilled cheese. We roll our eyes and cluck at the gullibility of people.

The final section of Revelation 5, verses 9-14, is full of hymns and is focused on worship. This final sermon in the first section of my series on Revelation will close the door on the whole idea of worship which is taking place in heaven and which John gets to witness. After this (beginning in chapter 6) things change.

We will focus on worship in heaven. We will also focus on worship as it takes place here on earth. Please join me in person or via live stream.

Next week begins a two month series I’ve titled To and From the Cross. More on that next week.

 

#TheLambWhoisaLion

Thursday, February 16th, 2023

The late James Montgomery Boice tells the story of a small boy who was very absorbed in drawing and coloring an elaborate picture. His mother asked him what he was doing. “I’m drawing a picture of God,” he told her.

“That’s nice,” she said. “But, you know, nobody knows what God looks like.”

“They will now!” he answered triumphantly.

I chuckled when I read that. It is true, of course, that nobody does know that God looks like. As you read Revelation you will notice John doesn’t try to describe Him either. In fact, he doesn’t even call Him “God.” He refers to Him as the “one seated on the throne” (4:2); or “He who sat there” (v.3), or “Him who is seated on the throne.” (v.10)

Revelation 5 opens with seeing God (“Him who is seated on the throne”) with Jesus standing next to Him. Then we led into worship. Someone described worship as “letting the worth and wonder of God to sink so deeply into our soul that we respond in a wholehearted reorientation of our life.” Jesus even commented to that effect when He was asked what the greatest commandment was.  His answer? “Love God first.” 

John sees a scene in heaven unfolding.  A mighty angel asks, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” Only One is worthy and only He is worthy of our praise and worship.

The sermon this Sunday is taken from Revelation 5:1-8-The Lion Who is a Lamb. This is like the opening salvo to a chapter full of worship.  Who is worthy? The Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the Root of David.

Join us, please, in person or via live stream at 9:00 and 10:45 to worship with us.

 

#GodontheThrone

Thursday, February 9th, 2023

The book of Revelation has a great deal to say about tribulation, conflicts, persecution and well, just about things we face every day. Thankfully, before we get to the really gnarly “stuff” of Revelation, we are given a glimpse into something we are yet to see, but will get to see and eventually be a part of.

ETERNITY.

God’s throne.

So far Revelation has been a call to be willing to suffer for Jesus, to face loss and hardship, to push aside a casual commitment and embrace a more radical faith.  Here is an honest question: if I follow Jesus and it requires a radical faith and commitment to Him, am I willing to give that? Am I willing to sacrifice and give the pain and effort it will take to overcome the forces of evil and live a life that counts for Jesus? 

I think we could all handle things a bit better if we knew what was ahead. In chapters 4 & 5 we are taken behind the scenes of all that exists and happens. We get to peer into eternity.

Heaven is real and I don’t need some so-called visit to heaven to tell me. This fourth chapter alone is enough to convince me that God is on His throne. WHAT A SCENE WE HAVE BEFORE US! Call me “jealous.”

Join me this week as take a behind-the-scenes glimpse into heaven.  We meet in person and online at 9:00 and 10:45. I would love to have you join me/us as we continue through Revelation.

Did you know I also do a daily devotional blog? Go here for it.

 

#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.