Getting Off The Bus (5/27/2018)

On February 18, 2018, I preached a sermon titled Loving Like Jesus. During that message, I showed a RightNow Media video clip called Community Safari. It was about a group of Christians who were riding around a neighborhood in a church bus viewing people the way an African safari looks at animals through the bus windows. They were taking pictures of a single mom who struggled with disciplining her children, a young married couple fighting on the front lawn and an elderly woman who fell in her driveway. No one got off the bus to help because they needed to let “nature take its course.” The clip concluded with the bus pulling back into the church parking lot while the host shared how great it was to be back in the safety of the church. Obviously, this was a spoof that challenged us Christians to think about how we’re engaging the world around us.

I then shared the following 5 points that disciples of Jesus should be doing in their everyday lives.

How to Share Jesus with Those Around Us:

1) Stop judging non-Christians.

2) Empathize with non-Christians.

3) Hang out with non-Christians.

4) Pray for the unchurched.

5) Live out my faith authentically.

A few days after I preached that sermon, a member of our congregation said, “The sermon on Sunday was good. But how do we get off the bus?” That’s a valid question. The points I gave are good biblical and theological instructions. But what does that look like in real life? (more…)

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Puzzle Pieces (5/20/2018)

Please go back into your childhood and remember some special relatives that are no longer with you. Who are they?

I remember Uncle Ralph and Aunt Carrie. They were my great uncle and aunt on my mother’s side of the family. Uncle Ralph was 6’5” tall with a blocky frame. Aunt Carrie was 4’11” and weighed 100 pounds soaking wet. They loved to spend time with their family. Short visits with them weren’t possible. If you wanted to talk with them for two hours, you needed to start leaving fifteen minutes into the visit. It took at least an hour and a half to get from their kitchen to the car.

I have fond memories of the times they came to see us. Not only did I appreciate their company, I also enjoyed the gifts they brought me every time they arrived. They gave me toys. That is, until I got a little older. Then things changed.

When I was about six years old, they came for a visit. I watched Aunt Carrie’s hand disappear into the top of the bag she was carrying. She was going to get my treasure. What could it be? What new toy would I be playing with that afternoon?

After a couple of seconds, Aunt Carrie pulled her hand out of the bag. She handed me my new treasure. A pair of socks.

Socks. Who wanted socks? Not me. And evidently my face showed it. After they left, my dad said that when I saw them, my facial expressions made it obvious I wasn’t happy with what they gave me.

Soon after that, they quit bringing me gifts when they visited. I assume it’s because I was getting older. (more…)

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The Spirit In Us (5/13/2018)

Do you know of any job that’s harder than being a mother? It has to be one of the most difficult jobs any woman will ever have. The amount of time, energy and love that’s required to be a mother seems to be limitless at times. Yet, somehow you ladies do it. For that, we say, “Thank you.”

However, as mother’s get older and gain some experience, they learn there are different, and perhaps even better ways, to be a parent. The following list comes from humormatters.com. It’s called

The Evolution of Motherhood

Yes, parenthood changes everything. But parenthood also changes with each baby. Here are some of the ways having a second and third child differs from having your first:

Your Clothes:

1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your OB/GYN confirms your pregnancy.
2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.
3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.
(more…)

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Forward In Love (5/6/18)

Do you know of someone who no longer serves in ministry or no longer attends worship services because someone has said or done something unloving to them? Unfortunately, some Christians can be very selfish and very unloving towards others when they don’t get their way. As followers of Jesus, we aren’t supposed to act this way.

Colossians 3:12-15 says, “12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

The peace of Christ in us should make us the most peaceful and loving people on earth. Is this how people outside of the church view Christians? Is this how your family, co-workers and family view you?

One reason some Christians aren’t known for being peaceful and loving is because often they can easily get distracted from what’s really important and start focusing on, and even arguing over, things that don’t matter at all. So, with that being said, what should we be focusing on? (more…)

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Mad at God (4/29/2018)

Recently I had a conversation with someone who is going through some very difficult life struggles. The conversation started with me asking, “How are you doing?” She started talking about the stress on her and her family. After a few minutes, she said, “Sometimes I get mad at God because of what’s happening.” Before I could say anything, she immediately said, “That’s when I feel his presence the most.”

This brings us to an important question. Is it OK to be mad at God? That’s a theological question many people ask. If we think about it, we realize this question doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter. There’s a better question to ask. Instead of asking, “Is it OK to be angry with God?” the better question is, “Why am I angry with God?”

The answer is usually very simple. Merriam Webster defines “anger” as “an intense emotional state induced by displeasure.” We get angry with God because we’re displeased life isn’t going our way. We blame him for what’s happening. He should have done something to prevent our pain. (more…)

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Knowing God’s Will (4/22/2018)

Right after I graduated from high school, I joined an EMT class so I could volunteer with the local rescue squad. The class consisted of studying basic first aid as well as learning how to do patient assessment, apply splints and administer first aid. These skills are called “practicals.”

During patient assessment, the first thing you’re taught to do was “shake and shout.” This meant the first responder would kneel down beside a patient who appeared to be unconscious, place his hands on the patient’s shoulders, gently shake her while loudly asking, “Are you alright?” in each ear.

One evening our instructor was late for class so she told us to work on the “practicals” until she arrived. As we practiced the various skills we’d need to pass the test, I noticed that one of my classmates, Caroline, was starting the patient assessment.

Let me take a moment and say Caroline had a good heart and was a very likeable person. However, if you were in a car crash and Caroline showed up with the ambulance crew, your odds of survival would be higher if you did CPR on yourself than if she did it. For example, one evening during a break, she told us she went squirrel hunting. After she shot the squirrel, she laid it on a stump and did chest compressions on it to see if she could revive it. (more…)

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God’s View of Death (4/15/18)

Many years ago, when I was growing up in West Virginia, a handsome young man from a neighboring family was engaged to a lovely young lady. They had the wedding plans completed and knew how they were going to start their lives together.

The night before the wedding his buddies threw him a bachelor party. It included consuming some alcoholic beverages. He left the party and drove home. Along the way, he wrecked his vehicle…and was killed. Needless to say, his family was devastated. It took his fiancé years to recover and move on with her life.

In situations like this, people often ask, “How could God do this?” God is powerful enough to create the universe so he could certainly stop someone from being killed in a wreck. But was this God’s fault? Did God tell him to drink and drive? (more…)

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Questioning God (4/8/2018)

One of my favorite shows when I was growing up was WKRP in Cincinnati. It focused on a struggling radio station run by a group of misfits.

In one episode, the station manager, Mr. Carlson, decided to promote the station at Thanksgiving by giving away live turkeys. He thought it would be a great idea to release them from a helicopter that was hovering over a mall parking lot. They threw the turkeys out of the copter…and the turkeys plummeted to the ground, smashing through car windshields while narrowly missing spectators.

Mr. Carlson had spent a lot of time and money planning everything down to the last detail. There was only one problem. His whole thought process was based on faulty information. Wild turkeys can fly. Domestic turkeys can’t. Just because Mr. Carlson believed domestic turkeys could fly didn’t mean they actually would. One untruth changed the whole outcome.

Unfortunately, there are untruths about God which have become popular in the church. We’re going to take the next few weeks and look at some of them. This week we’re going to address the question, “Can we question God?” Most of us have heard others say, “We’re not supposed to question God.” Perhaps you’ve said it yourself. Is this biblical? (more…)

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Living For Christ (3/25/2018)

Please take a moment and prayerfully finish the following statement: As I allow Jesus Christ to lead me, the conditions that I put on my service to him are….

In what areas do you tell God what you’ll do instead of asking what he wants you to do? Do you ever tell God you’ll do it if you have time? By the way, this is a way of saying it may not get done because we usually have the ability to find time to do the things we really want to do. Other common things we say to God are, “I’ll give to others if I have extra.” “I’ll work in this ministry only if I like the other people who are also helping.” “I know the Bible says I’m supposed to forgive but I’ll only do if the person who hurt me asks for forgiveness.”

How much are we willing to embrace the Biblical concept of faith, dedication, and perhaps even suffering for Christ?

The following announcement was published in the bulletin of a congregation in the US. “(Our congregation) is sponsoring a women’s-only mission trip to beautiful Guadalajara, Mexico! We’ll spend the week of June 11-18 in Guadalajara “also known as the shopping capital of Mexico”, where we will have the incredible opportunity to minister to, pray for, and teach women in a vibrant church community. And this trip isn’t a “rough-roach-in-your-bed” kind of experience either – we’ll be housed in nice clean hotel rooms, eat lots of salsa, and have plenty of time to shop! Our hope is to take at least fifteen women (including teenager daughters) on this Mexican Ministry Outreach… We trust God will expand our hearts for Him as He expands our ministry to the women of Guadalajara. If you’re remotely interested in this adventure-or if you’re just in the mood for Mexico after all this winter weather-call for more details about this fantastic outreach opportunity.” (more…)

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Seeing the Kingdom (3/18/2018)

How would you respond if someone came up to you and said, “I know you’re a Christian. What is the kingdom of God and what does it look like?

Jesus gives us a glimpse of it in Luke 17:20-37. This passage tells us, “ 20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. (more…)

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