Thankful (3/11/2018)

Many years ago, my friend Harry asked me to go with him and his sons to a NASCAR race in Martinsville, Virginia. I was excited because I’d never been to one before. The weather forecast called for rain the day of the race. We decided to “go for it,” hoping the weather would cooperate. It didn’t. Rain sprinkles fell from the sky the entire four hours it took us to get to Martinsville.

We made our way to the bleachers and waited to see what would happen. Since this was a new experience for all of us, we enjoyed watching the crews prepare for the race even though they were under canopies and the cars were covered. Eventually the track officials ordered the emergency vehicles to drive around the track to see if they could dry it off. This seemed to be working until the heavens opened. The sprinkles became steady rain. After several hours, the race was postponed until 1 PM the next day. (more…)

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A Seeking Savior (3/4/18)

On January 3, 1982, an Air Florida 727 took off from Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, headed to Ft. Lauderdale, FL with seventy-nine people on board. Due to ice buildup on the wings, the plane crashed into the 14th Street Bridge and landed in the Potomac River, which was also covered in a thick layer of ice. Seventy-three people in the plane and four motorists on the bridge were killed.

Six people survived the crash. When they surfaced, they couldn’t swim to shore because of the ice in the river. They clung to a piece of wreckage that was floating in the water. The water temperature was 31 degrees. Hypothermia was quickly setting in. One survivor said the cold water against their skin felt like knives were being shoved into them.

Within several minutes, a police helicopter arrived and dropped a lifeline to the people in the water. One survivor was so cold, disoriented and temporarily blinded by the jet fuel in the water that she couldn’t hold on to the line. She kept falling into the water and was close to drowning. (more…)

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Loving Like Jesus (2/25/2018)

How do we respond to people when their actions inconvenience us or are just plain wrong? When someone cuts us off in traffic, is our first thought, “I wonder why she’s in such a hurry? I’m happy to let her in front of me.” When we see the co-worker who is always in a bad mood, do we wonder, “What is going on in his life that makes him this way? I want to keep having lunch with him until I find out.” When we see all the people around us who never grace the inside of a church building with their presence, do we think, “I wonder how I could get to know them better so that I could show them Christ’s love?” Or, do we judge them for their “sinful ways” and thank God that we’re not like them?

As we go through the Lenten season, we’re going with Jesus as he journeys towards the cross in Jerusalem. Last week, we looked at his conversation with the Jews where he told them not to automatically expect that they had salvation simply because they were God’s chosen people. (more…)

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Starting Towards Jerusalem (2/18/2018)

Please wrestle with these questions: If there are areas in my life that are out of God’s will, do I want to know what they are? Once I know what they are, am I willing to change in these areas?

Allowing God to show us our sins and then change us is hard. We struggle with giving God this much access and control in our lives. There are several reasons we don’t want God to do this.

The first one is we get comfortable with our sins. Pornography releases chemicals in the brain which excites as well as relaxes those who view it. Drinking, smoking and overeating brings pleasure to our bodies even though the aftereffects can kill us. Being mad allows us to keep control because others usually back down during an argument if we respond in anger. Having sexual relationships outside of marriage allows us to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh without having to make emotional or spiritual commitments to each other.

What does Jesus say about this? (more…)

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Released From Bondage (2/11/2018)

Being a disciple of Jesus isn’t easy. He calls us to let go of the things we have in our lives that are preventing us from being the people he wants us to be. We all know from experience that letting go of deep-seated ideas and emotions is difficult.

One area where we have to be mature as disciples is in the area of trusting other people. That’s difficult for anyone who has experienced painful rejection or been hurt by others in the past. If we want to continue on the path of being a disciple of Jesus, we have to let go of past hurts and learn to trust. Most people who have been sexually abused have trouble trusting other people. For example, one lady who experienced this kept asking me, “Can I trust you?” over and over again because her pain and feelings of betrayal was affecting everything she did.

I realize this is an issue that’s uncomfortable to all of us and very painful to some. Let me start off by saying that I was never molested or abused. I don’t know what it’s like to experience it firsthand. All I know is what it’s like to work with those who have.

I’m not preaching on this subject because it’s the “in” thing to discuss in culture right now. I’m doing it because throughout my ministry, I’ve dealt with many people who still carry the scars of being sexual abused. Another reason is that in talking with other pastors, I’ve come to realize sexual abuse is a much bigger problem in this area than many people want to admit. (more…)

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Brave (1/28/18)

One of my fondest childhood memories is taking rides with my family through the mountainous back roads of West Virginia. One of these roads contained a place where we could stop and walk out on a rock cliff that overlooked a small valley. The view was incredible.

Once when we were standing on the rock, I asked my father, “How high is this cliff?” “Look over the edge and see,” was his response. That didn’t sit well with me. I don’t like heights. He added, “Step out and look. I’ll hold your hand to make sure you don’t fall.”

At that moment, I had to make a choice. Would I give up control, take dad by the hand and trust him to keep me safe?

The nation of Israel had to make the same choice. Would they give up control, take God’s hand and trust him when they faced danger? They had been slaves in Egypt. Their living conditions were horrible. Male children were drowned at birth. They were beaten, oppressed and overworked. God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt and to Mount Sinai, where he gave them the law. Then he led them to the edge of Canaan, the land he’d promised them centuries before. (more…)

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Bonded (1/21/18)

Emperor penguins are the tallest and heaviest of all penguin species. They grow to heights of 44-48 inches tall and weigh between 55-84 pounds. Some have been known to stay submerged for up to 18 minutes and dive to depths of 1800 feet.

Their reproductive cycle begins at the start of the Antarctic winter, in March or April. They walk at around 1 MPH to their breeding grounds, which is anywhere from 31 to 75 miles from the sea. After the female lays her egg, she transfers it to top of the male’s feet. The female returns to the ocean to feed while the male incubates the egg for about two months.

The female returns around the time the egg hatches. She then feeds and tends to the chick while the male walks back to the ocean for food. The parents take turns going back and forth from the ocean to the chick so they can feed it. They do this until the chick is around 140 days old. Then the chick is on its own.

In many species of animals, the male has nothing to do with raising his own offspring. He breeds the female and then leaves. The mother assumes total responsibility for raising the young. Penguins are different. The project of hatching and raising a chick to adulthood will fail unless they both work together through every step of the process. For example, if they aren’t successful in transferring the egg from the mother to the father’s feet, the cold temperatures will soon freeze the egg. This means all of the work they’ve done up to this point has been in vain. (more…)

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