Monthly Archives: May 2009

Sunday 5/31/09 Services

We have a special treat this week.  My good friend Mike Taylor of Devoted to the Word ministries is in town to do a Bible conference for us and was preaching/teaching this morning and tonight as well.  My plan is to record all of the sessions and post the audio for the evening ones at least.  The noon sessions are going to be recorded differently and I am not sure how they will turn out yet.  Here is the audio for this morning and this evening respectively.  The topic is following Christ.  Just press the play button and enjoy.

Sunday morning

Sunday evening

One other note of interest to those who try to listen to older sermons.  The hosting service that I was using made some changes in the last week and somehow erased my account.  It was a free account, so I can’t complain really, but I am going to have to backtrack and repair all of the links after I upload those sermons again.  If you run into a sermon that doesn’t play, leave a comment and I will prioritize it.  I figure it will take me a couple of weeks at least to find the time to fix all the sermons going back to November of last year.

Categories: Podcasts, Sermon | Leave a comment

Liberty in Law

These days the thought sounds contradictory to most anyone I would venture.  Yet it comes directly from Scripture.  “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” – James 1:25.  How many of us truly believe this anymore?  Everywhere we look now, it seems the world is turning itself upside down.  What is the problem?  What lies at the root?

The real root of the problem is the complete loss of objective law or standards in modern society.  In a sense, modern and postmodern man has become a “law unto himself.”  We live in a day much like the period of the Judges of the Old Testament where everyone does what is right in his own eyes.  I have lost track of the number of times I have heard things like, “well that might be true for you” or some modern variation of Pilate’s age-old question, “What is Truth?”  Science wants to define truth based on observation and consensus, but it can’t resolve the matter of objective truth.  All sorts of religions talk about truth, but so many of them say that we are all going in the same direction even when people are demonstrably heading down opposite paths.  Christianity however is based on One who claims to “be” Truth.  Continue reading

Categories: Christianity, church, Culture, Discipleship, End Times, Gospel, Grace, Kingdom, Law, Love, ministry, Persecution, Salvation, Signs of the Times, Truth | 2 Comments

What a week it has been

I have been a very bad blogger, and I am not going to offer any lame excuses for it this time.  I just want to fill you all in on the amazing things that God has done.  School has been interesting and I am only taking one class at the moment because I expect this first part of the summer to be a little crazy.  I have not been disappointed.  This past weekend was graduation weekend here in Langdon, which is always a busy time.  It was also the time to celebrate an early 50th birthday for one of our church members.  We had a very busy Saturday, but it was a lot of fun hanging out and fellowshipping with our family in Christ here in Langdon.  Sunday, I preached a message from Leviticus 19, but an uncooperative microphone rendered the message indecipherable so I couldn’t post it at all.  Leviticus isn’t the most popular preaching material for most preachers, but this was a God ordained thing.  I am between books and we have Bro. Mike coming this Sunday to start a series of Bible studies this coming week, so I didn’t want to start a new book and that is where God led me to go.

FPGM Jesse Ricky and I with Kids

Jesse is on the left and Ricky is on the right

I had no way to know what all God had in store for Sunday though.  This past Sunday, we had a great group of folks in our worship service and quite a few guests.  We also had a couple of guests from way out of town.  An evangelist who is traveling through America by bicycle to proclaim the gospel had found his way to Langdon and wandered by our church on foot the night before.  We were blessed to have Jesse Boyd and Ricky Springer in our midst that morning.  Jesse is part of Full Proof Gospel Ministries and you can read more about his trip and his minstry at these links.  After the service Sunday morning, one of our church members offered to have Jesse and Ricky out to her home for lunch and I volunteered to give them a ride out there.  I stayed out there to enjoy the fellowship and decided to offer a place for these brothers to stay for the night.  They were camping in the city park, but the weather was supposed to turn cold and rainy and I knew it wouldn’t be any fun to camp in it at all.  Besides, with rain in the forecast for the entire day Monday, they weren’t going to get back on the road.  They agreed to stay with us Sunday night and also Monday night when the weather turned out as bad as promised.  We were blessed to have the time to fellowship and share with these guys as they are just starting this leg of the journey.  Please pray for Jesse as he continues to cycle the northern plains and heads for Cananda and Alaska.  We got a picture of them with me and the kids before they headed out on Tuesday morning.Tuesday, we went to Grand Forks and got great news on Jonathan’s eyes.  They are reducing his prescription yet again and are pleased with his progress.  It was a long day though and we didn’t get home until almost 10 PM.

One other note, is that Monday was the thirteenth anniversary for Amelia and me.  I surprised her with a quiet candlelight dinner at the church and 13 red roses.  I also cooked all of the food (mozzarella sticks, chicken alfredo and breadsticks) and she didn’t have to lift a finger.  We had a babysitter for a while yet and spent the rest of our time that night bowling, which was a lot of fun.

Tonight, the city had a remembrance service for five people who were killed in a tornado that devestated much of the town in 1909 on this date.  It was a really well done service and a neat occaision.  I was honored to be asked to participate by saying a prayer at one of the cememtaries where wreaths were laid on the graves of the victims (one of which was a 5-week old baby).  They also put up a plaque in town on the square.

Langdon Cyclone Plaque

Categories: Christianity, church, family, friends, Giving, Gospel, Love, ministry, personal, Prayer Needs | 4 Comments

Unconditional Love

My wife is the most amazing person I know.  She has repeatedly blown my mind with her love and acceptance and grace and wisdom and beauty.  I am so blessed that God sent her into my life and has allowed us thirteen years of married bliss so far.  Thirteen years ago today, I said I do and it is still just as true today.  In fact, it is more true today, because it has been tested by time and trial and hard times and temptations and all of those things that life can dish out.  I can say that I love my wife more today than I did then, and I never would have thought that was possible on that day.  My wife knows more about me than anyone else alive and she loves me anyway.  It is a powerful picture to me of the love that God has for each of us.  The love that caused Him to send Jesus Christ to die in our place so that we could be His sons and daughters through faith and show that love to others. (1 John 4:7-12)

I just wanted to take a few moments today to let the whole world (at least the dozen or two that read this blog) what a blessing she is to me every day.  I am constantly reminded as I watch her care for our kids and care for me and give to others from herself and her talents, that she is an incredible woman and a blessing from God.

Categories: family, Giving, Grace, Love, personal | 4 Comments

Sunday Morning 5/24/09

I had some microphone issues this morning and the sermon is hard to understand.  I am going to try and clean it up Monday and see if I can make it better.  I will update this post tomorrow either way.  God bless.

Categories: Sermon | Leave a comment

Sunday Morning 5/17/09

Here is the sermon from Sunday morning.  This is the last sermon on 1 Corinthians and covers chapter 16.  I have enjoyed working through the book with those in our congregation here and those who have followed along online as well.  Any comments or questions are always welcome.  Listen by clicking on play below or follow this link to get the sermon as a podcast that you can take with you.  May God richly bless you this week.

Final Words in 1 Corinthians

Sermon Notes for 5/17/09 (1 Corinthians 16)

  1. Paul’s sense of priorities

    1. A reminder look at chapter 15:1-8

    2. Collections on the first day of the week?

    3. Taking care of each other – Love

  2. Paul’s personal admonitions and plans

    1. Note Paul’s genuine love for the Corinthians

    2. Paul’s commendation of Timothy and Apollos

    3. Final encouragements and exhortations

  3. Paul’s model of purpose

    1. An example of putting first things first

    2. Doing ministry together

    3. Everything and everyone must work together

Categories: 1 Corinthians, Podcasts, Sermon | Leave a comment

The Rapture Files

Well, the paper has been graded and I got a favorable response and critique from the professor.  I am actually quite happy, as I have managed to earn A’s in all four of my classes from this spring.  That is no small feat and I feel very blessed at the return on all of the hard work that has been put in so far.  I am just over halfway now to my MA in Religion and I am now starting a class that is an intensive study of the book of Isaiah.  I love it already.

In any event, some have asked about the paper that I did for my theology class regarding the rapture.  I have converted the paper to a PDF file using OpenOffice so that anyone should be able to read it at will.  The Rapture of the Church Research Paper.  Just click on the link and enjoy.  I will say that I am aware of a few shortcomings in the paper already.  It was not as comprehensive as I would have like to be due to time and space contraints, but I think it makes for an interesting discussion starter.  Let me know what you think in the comments and we can have a friendly discussion about the return of the Lord and the rapture of His people.

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, church, End Times, Prophecy, Signs of the Times, theology | 12 Comments

Church Hopping, Faith Shopping or Pretense Dropping

Just a few short weeks ago, the InternetMonk made a name for himself and got a whole lot of attention with a few posts about the coming Evangelical collapse (those are two posts, but there are more on his site).  It was intriguing reading and much of what he said made a lot of sense, but I think there may be more to the story.   A recent story and survey about America as a nation of religious drifters caught my eye a few days ago and I am just now able to get around to writing my thoughts on it.  The article seems to indicate that those who are “religiously unaffiliated” or were reported as such, are not flocking to godlessness or atheism as some suspected.  In fact, some of those people end up coming right back to where they started.

I found these paragraphs very interesting:

The 2007 survey estimated that 44 percent of U.S. adults had left their childhood religious affiliation.

But the re-interviews found the extent of religion-swapping is likely much greater. The new survey revealed that one in six Americans who belong to their childhood faith are “reverts” _ people who left the faith, only to return later.

Roughly two-thirds of those raised Catholic or Protestant who now claim no religious affiliation say they have changed faiths at least twice. Thirty-two percent of unaffiliated ex-Protestants said they’ve changed three times or more.

Age is another factor. Most people who left their childhood faith did so before turning 24, and a majority joined their current religion before 36.

In all of my years as a youth pastor, much was made about the rate that young adults drop out of the church after high school.  It is apparent that many of them return sometime later in life.  I have seen this trend up close and personal as many young people who walked away from the faith at some point in life are starting to return to it now that life has knocked them around a bit.  In fact, most of those who leave the church don’t leave their faith in God behind as much as they leave their faith in His servants:

“A lot of the unaffiliated seem to be OK with religion in the abstract,” Green said. “It’s just the religion they were involved in bothered them or they disagreed with it.”

The unaffiliated category is not just a destination. It’s also a departure point: a slight majority of those raised unaffiliated eventually join a faith tradition.

Those who do cite several reasons: attraction of religious services and worship (74 percent), feeling unfulfilled spiritually (51 percent) or feeling called by God (55 percent).

This has some implications for us as the body of Christ.  Recently, I have been preaching through 1 Corinthians and we just covered chapter 13 a couple of weeks ago.  Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians is one that every Christian should have burned into their brains and spirits.  (You can go here to take a listen to the sermon if you want.)  The point that I made then and that I think we all need to get now is that everything about us needs to be filled with love.  We need to operate in love in every area of life and everything we do.  Most of the church hopping and faith shopping comes from people hurt by a lack of love.

It doesn’t matter if you have the best programs, or the best building, or the greatest praise and worship band, or the best parking lot or the best looking pastor or anything else at all.  If you don’t have love, you have nothing!

We all want to believe that our church is open and warm and loving, and I would bet that many of them really are.  But if that is always true, why are we losing so many for so long?  Do people really flee from unconditional love in word and deed?  What do you think?

Categories: Apologetics, Christianity, church, Culture, Discipleship, Love, ministry | 11 Comments

Sunday Morning 5/10/09

First, my apologies to anyone who has come looking to listen to the sermon in the last few days and wondered what happened.  We have had some sickness at the house since last Thursday and Sunday just didn’t run normal at all.  I have forgotten to get the audio cut and posted for three days now and got distracted from it on the rare moments I did remember that it needed to be done.  I have got the audio ready to go and the sermon notes are below.  May God richly bless you in the study of His Word.  This sermon covers 1 Corinthians 14.  Click on the play button below or follow this link to download the sermon in podcast form.

Love in Every Language

Sermon Notes for 5/10/09 (1 Corinthians 14)

  1. Love and Spiritual Gifts

    1. Pursue love (chapter 13)

    2. Tongues are languages and are personal (Rom. 8:26-28)

    3. Prophecy is for the body of the church

  2. The problem with gibberish – Is there an unknown tongue?

    1. The Greek word in this chapter is glossa

      1. It is the word for the part of the body or for language

      2. Any translation that uses the word unknown here is going beyond the text and commentating on it.

    2. Unintelligible speech compared to unintelligible music

    3. All must be done for mutual edification and understanding

  3. Keeping it in order

    1. Worship is not a spectator sport

    2. Worship is not chaotic either

    3. Everything and everyone must work together

Categories: 1 Corinthians, Podcasts, Sermon | Leave a comment

You Can’t Legistlate Morality

It’s kind of an accepted axiom and a truthful one at that, that you cannot really compel people to do by force those things that they don’t really want to do.  Certainly, if the force is sufficient, you can make people put on the appearance of doing what they don’t want to do, but what good is that in any case?  Walter Williams wrote a great piece last week entitled, How Laws Have Replaced Civility, and it highlights something I have noted before.  As a youth pastor for fifteen years, I watched the coarsening of the culture.  I tell about my memory of the boycott that was called against the sponsors of the TV show Home Improvement for its indecency and people literally stop in their tracks.  No one seems to remember why that show could possibly have been considered indecent to anyone and then I mention that Pamela Anderson was the “tool girl” that was featured mostly as eye candy on the early shows.  Actually, syndication is a real eye-opener as a whole to the slide of our culture, when shows that I would have never considered watching in their original run don’t seem nearly as bad as the current programming on TV.  There is a reason why WGN runs so many retro shows these days.

Walter Williams provides some everyday examples of the failures of decency in modern society and the laws made to “fix” it:

To see men sitting whilst a woman or elderly person was standing on a crowded bus or trolley car used to be unthinkable. It was common decency for a man to give up his seat. Today, in some cities there are ordinances requiring public conveyances to set aside seats posted “Senior Citizen Seating.” Laws have replaced common decency

. . . Is foul language to or in the presence of teachers conducive to an atmosphere of discipline and respect necessary for effective education? If not, how would you propose it be controlled? Years ago, simply sassing a teacher would have meant a trip to the vice principal’s office for an attitude adjustment administered with a paddle. Years ago, the lowest of lowdown men would not say the kind of things often said to or in front of women today. Gentlemanly behavior protected women from coarse behavior. Today, we expect sexual harassment laws to restrain coarse behavior.

And he doesn’t even tackle politically correct laws intended to handle “wrong speech,” that don’t ever address foul language.  Cable networks now air movies with all the four letter words intact by placing a “disclaimer” on the show.  My haven’t we progressed (sarcasm on full).  And this is Williams point.  The law can’t stop bad behavior before it happens.  The law can only punish what has been done.

The fact that so many hope to turn to the law to “fix” society and make it good again, shows how broken we really are.  A new law can’t fix anything; only a new heart can.

Categories: Apologetics, Culture, Law, politics, Signs of the Times | 5 Comments

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