Monthly Archives: January 2009

Cold Love

Matthew 24:9-14:

9“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Jesus was asked by his disciples about the end of the age.  It is a question that is common even today.  What are we supposed to look for?  How will we know when it gets here?  I have written from various angles on this subject over the last few months.  You can see my musings about the need to pay attention to the timetable that God has used in the past and will use in the future since He is still using it now.  You can see my opinions about some folks who appear to have way too much time on their hands.  Or another more general post about God’s message to us about His plan here.  The point is that it is human nature to wonder about these things.

This week a story struck me and called to mind Matthew 24:12.  The story was titled Frozen in indifference and it is a sad one of a dead man encased in ice in an abandoned warehouse and ignored by dozens of people who all assume that someone else will call the police to report the body.  I am not putting this out as some kind of sick pun on Christ’s words.  Instead it is a graphic depiction of a society whose love has gone as cold as ice.  Jesus says that this will happen because of an increase in wickedness and He could have easily been looking ahead to our day.  We have stories in the media of mothers and fathers who forget that a child is in the car and leave them to die accidentally and tragically.  We have stories of mothers and fathers who murder their own children and often themselves as well.  Millions of babies are killed every year before they ever have a chance to draw a breath and we sigh and move on to the next story.  Has our love grown cold?  Can we find a way in God’s grace to rekindle our love and let it burn hot and bright for those around us?

Maybe we can.  A funny thing happened tonight to me and the more I think about it; the more I am amazed.  I went into our local small box store to get some video cables.  When I got to the register, there were two ladies checking out.  One was almost done (she works there and was just getting off for the night and it sounded like she had had a rough day) and the other lady had a cart load of stuff.  I figured that I would be standing there patiently waiting my turn and I wasn’t in any big hurry, but the lady in line offered to let me jump ahead with my one item.  As I was getting my item and paying for it, I thanked the lady behind me for being so kind.  The lady in front of me was still getting her stuff put into her cart to leave and so I said to the cashier first, “have a good night” and then said, “I hope all of you have a good night.”  At that, the lady in front of me said, “Oh sure, I bet you wouldn’t even give me a hug if I asked for one.”

Frankly I still don’t know why I did it.  It was one of those God moments I guess.  I looked at her and said, “why not, everyone needs a hug sometimes.”  Here I was, hugging this lady I don’t really know in the front of a box retail store and it was the oddest thing.  The atmosphere seemed a little lighter and in that one simple act of hugging a stranger, a little warmth and love was shared.

Let me be the first to say that I can’t imagine how this whole event took place.  I couldn’t have planned it, and wouldn’t have pictured myself doing something like that in a million years.  But it does have me thinking.  Can we still be warm in a world that has gone cold in its love?

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Categories: Bible Thoughts, Christianity, church, End Times, Gospel, Grace, Love, ministry, Signs of the Times, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Now I’ve Gone and Done It

Earlier this week, I was playing around on Facebook and filled out one of those lists of things about myself.  Maybe someday, I will post some of it on here or elaborate on them here.  But in the meantime, one of the things I posted caught the attention of my wife.  I mentioned that I was thinking about writing a book, and apparently it was one of those things that I had thought of but never spoken out loud.  A funny thing happens when the idea floats out in the open though.  Suddenly, even though I am in the midst of a brutal stretch of school for my MA in Religion, have the honor of writing the “pastor’s column” for our local paper for this coming month, and of course the weekly work of a pastor studying and preparing a sermon and Bible study; I find myself actually starting to write the seeds of the book I wanted to write.  It may never see the light of day or get published or anything, but it is something I want to do anyway.  Some of the ideas have appeared on this blog at times, and if I like the writing enough I may just post more here.

Categories: Cavalier County Republican pastor's desk column, personal, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Getting it Wrong, Getting it Right, and Getting out of the Way

This past week has been an amusing, troubling, profound and unusual one.  If that sounds like too much to pack into a single week to you, then you are not alone.  I got an enormous chuckle out of innaguration day.  It isn’t every day you hear a historic oath flubbed by two men to the point that they later redo it in private.  And then President Obama gets even more entertaining by asking his White House council what his executive orders mean.  Call me silly, but I would hope that a President who used to “teach” Constitutional law and bragged about it, should be able to right an executive order and know what it says.  Maybe I am expecting too much.  If that had been the last president, the late night comedians would still be lampooning it four years from now.

Troubling came in the form of Obama doing many of the things he said he would do, like closing Gitmo (although darkly amusing to see former Gitmo detainees pop up in videos for Al Qaeda right on the heels of the announcement).  Plus there were the expected vacillations in some of the prayers uttered during the week at various festivities.  I took part in one of the discussions over at the InternetMonk site on that topic and it was certainly interesting. Continue reading

Categories: Apologetics, Atheists, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, Humor, InternetMonk, personal, politics | 6 Comments

Sunday Morning 1/25/09

Here is the link for this week’s sermon.  The text is from Romans 14.

I am still working on technical stuff for sharing these sermons to try and improve quality and ease of use.  If you have comments about the sermon content or any of the technical stuff, feel free to leave a comment below.  Here are the sermon notes from the insert.  If you have trouble listening to the sermon with the above link, try this one instead.

Loving Contradictions

Sermon Notes for 1/25/09 (Romans 14)

  1. How do we judge what is right?

    1. What are disputable matters?

    2. Accept anyone that God has accepted

    3. If you reject God’s child, who have you hurt?

    4. Live for the Lord only; You belong to Him (Rom. 12:1-2)

  2. There is only on Judge – and it isn’t me or you!

    1. This is still in the realm of disputable matters

    2. For times when a rebuke is called for see Matt. 18:15, Luke 17:3, and Galatians 6:1

  3. First: Do no harm!

    1. We must act in love – Rom. 12:9-10; 13: 8-10

    2. We must live by faith – Romans 1:17; 1 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 10:38; 11:6

Categories: Romans, Sermon | 2 Comments

I am That Masked Man

I couldn’t resist using the title.  It has now been just over a week or so since I started using the CPAP(continuous positive airway pressure) therapy to treat my sleep apnea.  The first week I was using one of those masks that covers your nose and sits on the front of the face.  It worked OK, but took some getting used to before I could really go to sleep.  It also caused pain on my face from the pressure and irritated a couple of places to the point they became sore, so I switched masks.  Now I have a mask design that uses what they call nasal pillows.  I included a picture of it here.

mirage-swift-ii-np-240x241

I actually like this mask much better and the treatment is really helping me.  I no longer wake up like a bear trying to stop hibernation too early in a groggy fog, and I am not run down tired in the middle of the day either.  The lady from the sleep center that did the testing told me that I should spread the news to family and friends who might have this problem as well, since sleep apnea can have serious health consequences, beyond the fact that people might be scared to sleep in the same room when you are snoring.  I included a link to WebMD’s information about it or you can go and look for more on your own if you want.  Either way, if you suspect you might have it or if there is a family history or pattern of it or even of heart disease (sleep apnea really makes the heart work overtime) get it checked out.  Fill out a questionaire.  Try and go to sleep with a dozen wires attached to your head and body.  It is worth it.

Categories: CPAP, Health, personal, Sleep Apnea | 7 Comments

A Technical Embarrassment

I am sort of a tech geek.  I like messing with computers.  Heck my last couple of jobs before heading into the full-time pastoring ministry I now do were both computer and tech related in some way.  Sometimes I fail to give thought to making sure I am doing something the best way as long as I am doing it in a way that works, particularly in the area of technological stuff.  So, I was only a little surprised to realize that I have been overlooking a simple solution to one of my latest tech forays.

Lately, I started a blog-type site for the church so I could enable people who can’t make it to our services for whatever reason to hear the sermons if they wanted to (I can’t do the music because of copyright issues).  I found a place that hosts files and I figured I wouldn’t have any problems staying with the bandwidth and storage limits; until today.  I wandered on to the site to post the sermon file for this week and find that I am over my allotted bandwidth for today.  After puzzling over good solutions to the problem, and while working on the mp3 for the sermon file for this week, I discovered that changing the encoding for the sermon files would kill about four birds at once, not only the bandwidth but the storage and everything and save me from any solution that would involve shelling out money (I am still doing this on the free side of cheap).

Categories: personal, Tecnology | 1 Comment

Sunday Morning 1/18/09

Here is the link for this week’s sermon. The text is from Romans 13.

I have made some changes to the way I handle the sermon files, so if you have any feedback, please put it in the comments for the post.  I am trying to limit the size of the file, both for ease of download and to avoid going over the limit on the site that is housing the files.  I went over the limit today, which surprised me and I want to apologize to any who were trying to listen to a sermon and couldn’t.  I should have the problem fixed for the time being.

Here is the notes from the bulletin insert for this sermon.

Submission and Love

Sermon Notes for 1/18/09 (Romans 13)

  1. Submission to authority – v. 1-7

    1. All authority comes from God (John 19-5-12)

    2. Is it ever OK to disobey? – Acts 4:13-22

    3. Why isn’t this contradictory? – Luke 12:1-12

    4. God is in control – v.4; Psalm 2

  2. It’s all about love – v. 8-10

    1. Love is the summation of God’s Law – v. 9-10 (Matthew 22:34-40)

    2. A simple checklist for OT laws

      1. Does it show love to _____________?

      2. Does it show love to _____________?

      3. If the answer to either is yes, then I must obey it. If the answer to both is no, then Christ has taken care of it.

  3. We have to know what time it is. – v.11-14

    1. Every day we live brings us closer to either God’s return or our departure.

    2. What does it mean to clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ? v. 14

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Amped up Spirituality

There are times in life when you really want to hear God speak.  I know that I wished more than once in my life that God would just show up and say a little something and clear up all the confusion.  I have heard people say that they have heard an audible voice from God, but I can’t claim that myself.  I am not saying that people who claim to hear from God are delusional or just hyped up on too much caffeine, but I have no real frame of reference.  I have been following a discussion over at the InternetMonk site along these lines and I am still digesting it.  I know people who are spiritually sensitive enough that they “hear” better than me.  My sister is the best example I know.  I don’t want to embarrass her, so if she wants me to take the story down I will, but one example stands out in my mind to this day.  We were at a Razorback football game together once and the band was making their way around the field, so everyone was getting really loud and ready for the game, and my sister grabbed my arm and told me she really felt like we needed to pray for someone.  She didn’t know who or why; she just knew that someone needed prayer.  I am a firm believer in the power of prayer and have seen amazing things in that regard.  We bowed in prayer and for a moment tuned out the chaos and noise around us, and that would have been the end of the matter.  A couple of weeks later however, my sister mentioned to me that some friends of hers had recently had a medical emergency.  I asked her when it happened and it was at the same time as that football game.  She honestly hadn’t made the connection and was a little surprised I think.  I know plenty of people would discount this as coincidence or something else, but I was a part of it in a small way and it reminds me that God does amazing things if we are “tuned in” to hear Him.

In fact, God has done many things in my life that are far less dramatic, but just as important to my walk and faith.  I have recounted the many times that God has provided for us when we had reached the end of our resources.  I used to get the question from some of my youth on why God doesn’t do miracles today like He did in the Bible.  I think part of the reason is that most of us are uncomfortable with being in a position where if God doesn’t come through, we would be sunk.  Face it, if we are never in a position beyond our own ability to perform, we may never see God work in our life.  He isn’t interested in sharing His glory with anyone, and most of us would be far too tempted to take the credit if possible.

Do you think God still works miracles today?

Categories: Bible Thoughts, Christianity, InternetMonk, personal, razorbacks, Thanksgiving, theology, Truth | 4 Comments

What Sin?

Sin can certainly be described as a failure to let God be God, that is what Paul was getting at in Romans 1 when he began to lay out the case that all have sinned.  And while it is true as far as it goes, sin is also a failure to meet God’s standard.  It is disobedience to God.  Because of the fall, sin is inherent in our nature as human beings.  I know this objectively because the Bible describes the circumstances of the fall and man’s original disobedience that gave us that nature, and I know it subjectively, because I have noticed that my kids are perfectly capable of any number of sinful behaviors that I didn’t have to teach them to do.

As for why sin is so hard to discuss in contemporary culture, this is a modern and postmodern phenomenon primarily.  No one seemed to take umbrage with Jonathan Edwards when he preached “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, but that same sermon and title today might get a pastor dismissed from a few churches even.  As part of the desire of some to meet felt needs and draw seekers, there has been a shying away from the term sin altogether.  Joel Osteen said he doesn’t like to use that kind of talk in church when he was a guest on Larry King Live a couple of years ago and if you watch one of his sermons you will find that he sticks to his preferences.  Many people assume that it must work because of the size of his audience both live and on TV.  I have heard people say that they were offended by the use of the word “wretch” in Amazing Grace to refer to us as humans.  In a world that tries to sell the idea that everyone is right in their own eyes, telling people that they are wrong in God’s sight may not go over well.  However, I have seen some who are unapologetic when it comes to speaking about sin.  The people that put together the Way of the Master program as a way to teach people to share their faith are adamant about confronting people with their own sinful nature.  They use the Ten Commandments as a touchstone for people to both see and admit their guilt or sinfulness before God.  I have seen this process work with my own eyes as I have talked to people the same way, allowing them to admit their own guilt in light of God’s truth.  It isn’t foolproof.  Some are so caught up in postmodernism that they have created their own god, breaking another of God’s commandments by the way, a god who wouldn’t call anyone a sinner or send anyone to hell.  But the door is open for the conversation in any case.  Sin is a subject that has to be a part of evangelism and our relationship with God.  Until we understand sin rightly, we cannot understand grace properly either and we lose the understanding of God’s holiness as well.

Categories: Bible Thoughts, Discipleship, theology, Truth | 13 Comments

Twilight Zone Moments

Last week over at the InternetMonk site, iMonk wrote a post entitled The Question is God; the Answer is Jesus.  The essay was very pointed and made it plain that in Christianity, any talk about God must come to Jesus or it is essentially meaningless.  Imagine my surprise today to run across an article on WorldNetDaily discussing a guy who claimed to be a “Bible expert”, but says that Jesus is not God and didn’t claim to be.  Unsurprisingly the guy who makes this idiotic claim also refuses to reveal his true identity, preferring to go by the pseudonym “the Bible go-to-guy.”  This is probably the only wise decision he has made as it has kept him from becoming a laughingstock to everyone who knows him.  He insists that John 1:3 shouldn’t read the Word was God; it should read the word from God.  That said, it would still be hard to explain the times Jesus uses I AM to refer to Himself, which his audiences understood as a claim to deity.  In fact, they wanted to stone him for making that very claim (see John 8:54-59).  This “Bible go-to-guy” is a sham and a joke.

In other news, over the weekend I saw this story about Tim Tebow’s eye black message becoming a Google phenomenon.  I am amazed at the fact that so many people no longer have a clue what John 3:16 is anymore.  I remember those guys who used to be at every football game and lots of other sporting events holding up those banners that simply said John 3:16.  (Actually, Steve Taylor’s song Bannerman is still one of my all time favorites for this same reason).  The story got even funnier for me when I decided to include some of these anecdotes in my sermon on Sunday.  The first time I mentioned Tebow, I saw an interesting look on the face of a guy who was visiting our church for the first time.  I hadn’t gotten a chance to even get his name before the sermon, but I found out what the reaction was about afterward.  Turns out that he is from Florida and is stationed near here for about a year or so.  I don’t know what the odds are for a guy visiting a church in North Dakota from Florida and hearing talk about his favorite team very often, but it would have to be pretty low.  Suddenly, I could hear the music (insert Twilight Zone theme here).

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, False Teachers, Heresy, Humor, Truth | Leave a comment

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