Archive for January, 2012

Adjusting

January 31, 2012

Yesterday I ran three miles. .. I was supposed to run six.

When I was considering going back to school Gloria asked me what I would be giving up.  My initial reply was “Sleep”.  However, that was meant to be a joke.  Since my heart issues of over a year ago, I have been more conscious of my need to rest, and not to overdo it.

That can be challenging.

I have decided that I am going to take each day as it comes.  I will do what has to be done on that day, and then I will try to work in as much of the things that should or could be done, for which I have the time and energy.

It means making judgement calls about what is important.  Like yesterday, it is important that I continue an exercise routine.  My health, possibly my life, does depend on it.  However, I did not have time to run the six miles, and do other things that I felt should be done.  So I compromised.  I ran three miles, and got some others tasks accomplished.

What have I given up?  Hopefully, I am giving up the idea of a rigid schedule.  Day by day, I will try to adjust as needed.

Advertisements

The Light of Christ

January 30, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday.  Be sure to get your Bible and read the scripture references.

I.  Luke 23:39-43:  The Thief on the Cross

The thief on the cross was not able to change his life.  He could not do anything except profess a faith in Jesus. (Ephesians 2:8-10)  He was forgiven, and told that he would be with Jesus in paradise, that very day.  From this story we are encouraged to  never give up on people, that they may reject the gospel for years and still be saved before they die.  We also are reminded that believers who have died have gone to be with the Lord.  We should not, however, think that we should wait for our own final hour to commit ourselves to Christ.  Death can come suddenly, without warning, and today is the day of salvation.

II.  John 3:3-6:  The New Birth

When we turn to Christ in repentance and faith we are born again.  The Holy Spirit comes into our hearts as we turn to Him in prayer and we are a “new creation”  the old has passed away.

III.  I Peter 2:1-3  The Milk of the Word

We grow as Christians as God works in our lives by the Word and the Spirit.  We have many opportunities to learn what God has for us in the Bible.  Sermons, Sunday School, Bible study,  books, radio, television and our own private devotions, all give us exposure to the Word of God.  The Spirit of God uses the  Word of God to effect change in our lives as we mature in Christ.

IV.  Ephesians 5:8-11:  Walk as Children of Light

As we mature we find out what is acceptable to the Lord.  We gradually learn to distinguish between right and wrong in the eyes of God.  We learn what it means to “be holy”.  God helps us to do what is right, to bear the fruit of righteousness, for His name’s sake.

V.  Matthew 5:16:  Let Your Light Shine

Are we a candle or a spotlight?  How well is the light of Christ shining through our lives?  Let us draw close to God and allow His light to shine through our lives.  May people observe in our actions, attitudes and words,  the difference that Christ makes in us.

Prodigal Son

January 26, 2012

It’s a little late, but here are the sermon notes from Sunday.

Luke 15

Verses 11-12:  The father gives his son half of his property.  This allows the son the freedom to do what he wants to do.  We also, have freedom to do what we choose.

Verse 13:  The son chooses to leave his father and wastes away his life and his money.  So too, many people leave God, and waste their lives.

Verse 14:  The son faces the consequences of his poor choices.  We also, must face the consequences of poor choices that we make in our lives.  It is important to ask God to help us to make the right choices.

Verses 15-16:  The son attempts to work his way out of his problems.  So we also try to “help ourselves” but it has only limited success.

Verses 17-19: The son came to his senses and returned home.  If we come to our senses, we can return to our Father God as well.

Verse 20:  The father is waiting for his son to return and is overjoyed to see him again.  Our Father God is waiting for us, and all heaven rejoices when we come back to God.

Verse 21:  The son confesses his sin.  We too, must confess our sin to God.

Verses 22-24:  The son is restored, not punished.  There is celebration.  God is looking to forgive us.  He desires reconciliation.

Verses 25-32:  The older brother is not so happy.  We must be careful to welcome new converts into our midst.  God rejoices in the salvation of the lost, and so should we rejoice as well.

Back to School

January 19, 2012

I had my first day, back in class as a student, yesterday.  It has been almost fifteen years since I graduated with my M.P.S.  I am taking a philosophy course as a non-degree graduate student.  The class will be studying the works of Descartes.

Everyone in the class is younger than me, including the instructor. There are fifteen students in the class.  Only one of them is female.  I don’t think that any of them have seen their thirtieth birthday, most of them are younger than twenty-five.  Not that age matters, but, it does affect the dynamics.

It appears that the class will be primarily discussion oriented.  We will read, and discuss, the works of Descartes.  Yes, there are exams and some papers to write, but primarily, read and discuss.

I think that I am going to enjoy this class.

John 3:16 Commercial

January 17, 2012

What a cute commercial!

John 3:16

I heard about all the fuss over the commercial that was aired by Focus on the Family during Saturday night’s playoff game.  When I watched it, I thought it was wonderful.

Not everybody thinks so.

There has been a lot of negative comments floating around about how offensive the commercial was to some people.  Some people are really upset, even outraged.

Why?

There is a simple explanation.  II Corinthians 2:15&16 says ” For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.  To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.”

So, for those who believe, this commercial is a sweet reminder of our salvation.  To those who have rejected the message, it pricks their spirit, and they are indeed, offended.

 

Don’t be Distracted

January 16, 2012

Here are Sunday’s sermon notes.

I.  Luke 3:7-14  John’s Message

I wonder how well it would work for any modern preacher or evangelist to start off by calling their audience a bunch of snakes?  I can’t imagine that it would go over well.

Bear fruit worthy of repentance.  OK, this makes sense.  The basic message of the early church was to repent and believe the gospel.  So an introductory message of repentance makes sense.

To the people, John tells those who have enough to share with those who do not have anything.  Again, this message makes sense, especially when we remember that at that time the government did not help those in need.  Starvation was a very real possibility and helping others is clearly an act of compassion.

There are still people starving today, especially if we look beyond our borders, and across the sea.  Contributing to organizations, Convoy of Hope, that feed those in desperate need is a good idea.

The tax collectors were told to do what was right.  They were not told to find another line of work, but simply not to collect more than they were assigned.  They were not to be greedy.

The soldiers also were not told to find another career.  They were simply told not to take things from people by force, and to be content with their wages.

I think the key word here is “content”  It reminds me of another verse.

II.  I Timothy 6:5-12  Godliness with Contentment

I know that I have started right in the middle of one of Paul’s rambling, run-on sentences.  I get a kick out of verse 5 because is makes me think of philosophy.  You do know that I am a philosophy instructor, right?  The philosophy of man will never lead anyone to Christ, but Christ can work through a person who speaks the language of philosophy.

In these verses we are warned against the love of money.  We are told that godliness with contentment is great gain.

III.  The Point of John the Baptist’s  Message

John was sent to prepare the way.  People tend to be caught up the things of this world.  John was calling the people to repent, to change.  The call was not just to turn away from sin, but to refocus on what was more important.  Yes, we need to take care of the necessities of life, but our focus should be on our relationship with God.

This message is still important today.  We are to place a higher value on the things of God, to “lay up treasure in heaven’, to “seek first the kingdom of God” rather than to rejoice in the newest, brightest or best that this world has to offer.  Don’t be distracted by the world, keep your eyes on Jesus.

Beyond Myself

January 12, 2012

I like to plan.

I like to budget.

This spring is going to be something new.

I don’t have a plan.  I not sure how it is going to work, but,  if all goes well.  I will be signing up for my first graduate philosophy class tomorrow.  I have no idea how I am going to find the time to attend class, and do the work, while still fulfilling my duties as pastor and college instructor.

Still, I believe it is time.  I have wanted to pursue a doctorate in philosophy for a long time.  I am not getting any younger, and there does not appear to be a better time coming on the horizon, and most important, I just have this feeling inside of me, that it is time to start.  This first class, I will be considered a non-degree graduate student, since I have not yet actually been accepted into the program.   That works for me.  I will test the waters before making a larger commitment.  I am trusting that the Holy Spirit is guiding me, and that God will help me complete the tasks before me.

I’m just not sure how it will work.

Flesh and Spirit

January 10, 2012

In the beginning, God made Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life.  (See Genesis 2:7)  The exact nature of the relationship of our flesh and our spirit has been puzzled over ever since by many people.

Then in the New Testament, another dimension is added.  The Holy Spirit comes within the believer as well.  (See John 3) So now, we have the flesh, our spirit, and the Holy Spirit.

What role does each of these components play in our lives?  How does the maintenance, or abuse, of my flesh; affect my spirit?  What role does my will play in what I do?  How does the Holy Spirit guide our decisions?  How doe we distinguish between our own thoughts, the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and if I dare add yet another dimension, the voice of demonic spirits?

I am sorry, but today I have more questions than answers.

I do believe that God is with us always.  That the Holy Spirit will guide us.  That in the end God will prevail in those who seek to serve Him.  However, in the day-to-day living of our lives there is some confusion, at least in my own thoughts.

It’s a good thing that I place my trust in God, not in my own ability to understand.

Holy Fear

January 9, 2012

Here is the sermon outline from yesterday. I encourage you to look up the Bible references.

Introduction:  We had a lot of answered prayers in 2011.  It is good to know that we can bring our requests to God.  (Philippians 4:6)  We also enjoyed spending time in the presence of God this morning in worship.  We have come a long way as the people of God.

I.  Exodus 19:16-20 & Exodus 20:18-21  The Fear of the Lord

This is an account of when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai.  There was thunder, lightening, fire, smoke and the sound of a trumpet.  It was very frightening.  The people’s response was to tell Moses to speak to God for them.  For a long time, priests went to God on behalf of the people.

II.  Hebrews 10:19-22  We Can Enter the Presence of God with Confidence

Because of Jesus we can come into the presence of God.  It is no longer necessary to go through a priest.  This dramatically changes the relationship that we have with God.

III.  Extremes

There are two extremes in our relationship with God.  On one hand, we could be afraid of God to the point that we are not willing, or able to come before Him with our requests.   This is not desirable.  God wants us to come into His presence.

The other extreme is to treat God as if He was an equal, a good friend.  It is possible to become too casual in our approach to God, to forget who He is, and what is our place.  I have even heard it said, that we are to “tell God what to do”.   This attitude of casual contempt is very wrong.

American Christianity, in general, leans to the  casual side  in its’ approach to God.  We should, as individuals, evaluate our own attitude, and maintain a healthy respect for the power, and majesty, the glory, and the honor of our Lord.

Some Assembly Required

January 5, 2012

Recently we purchased a new table set: a coffee table and two end tables.  As we were going to place the order, the sales clerk looked at us and said “Some assembly is required.”  That was not a problem, I have assembled plenty of furniture purchases in the past.  It made me think, however, that there may be people who assume that the tables will arrive just like they are on the showroom floor.  The clerk did not want to have to deal with an unhappy, surprised customer.

I wonder how many people enter into marriage thinking that the hard part  of marriage is planning, and executing the wedding ceremony?

Marriage is an ongoing process that requires effort by both parties to make it successful.  When the ceremony is over, the real work of marriage begins.  “Some assembly required.” would be an understatement.  Rather something like “Regular, ongoing maintenance required.”  would be closer to the truth.

A longtime marriage is a wonderful thing, but it does not happen by accident.  Both parties should commit to working on their marriage to help it reach its’ full potential.