Pastor's Blog
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August 10, 2015, 6:49 AM

Live Connected

I missed the first two-months of the motorcycle riding season because my motorcycle would not start.  While my skills as a mechanic are very minimal, I am able to do research.  I spent hours searching the internet trying to find answers to why my motorcycle would not start.  After checking a host of potential issues on the bike itself, I and those who helped me were all convinced the problem was very simple...even though we did not know what it was.  My online research indicated it was a "loose wire" in a wiring harness under the seat.  I literally checked that harness dozens of times, but nothing appeared to be wrong.

Peggy and I love to spend time riding our motorcycle.  It is one of the primary ways we get away from life's stress, spend time together, and relax.  We were REALLY missing our time of having "wind therapy".   Getting our motorcycle running had become a significant prayer concern for us.  One Saturday, I had determined to go over the bike yet again to see if there was anything I could do.  That morning, I humbly asked the Lord to show me what was wrong and help me be able to do the repair.  As I wheeled our 2007 Honda VTX out of the garage and into the driveway, I moved that wiring harness and to my joyful surprise, there was a visible broken wire.  It took all of five-minutes to repair the wire and get our motorcycle running!  If you would have driven by our house at that precise time, you might have seen me dancing-to-the-Lord in our driveway.  

For about six-weeks, we enjoyed riding our bike.  One day I rode it the 90-minutes to our daughter's where I was to have "Grandpa-time" with our two Illinois-grandchildren.  The trip went well until I got within five-miles of their house.  Traveling at 60-mph, I hit a bump in the road and instantly, the motor began to spit, sputter, and cease to run.  I knew IMMEDIATELY what had happened...that single, thin wire and become disconnected once again.  I was without tools, but the Lord sent two strangers to help me.  I got the bike running well enough to get to my daughter's house.  Our son-in-law worked on the wiring harness that evening and our motorcycle has been running well ever since.  One disconnected, thin, little wire crippled my powerful motorcycle!

In the opening verses of John 15, Jesus addresses the necessity of living connected to Him.  He uses the agricultural analogy of the vineyard and the need for the branches to remain connected to the vine in order to produce fruit.  He also commands us to remain in His love, stating that happens only as we live in consistent obedience to Him.  In John 15, Jesus states we must "live connected" in order to enjoy the abundant spiritual life He has for us.  Our motorcycle has more power than we will ever fully utilize.  One tiny severed wire rendered all that power totally useless.  Once the power was tapped-into and things were going great, a seemingly insignificant wire broke once again causing us to be sidelined and unable to function.  The same is true in our spiritual lives.  If we allow any part of our lives to become disconnected from Christ, we will be spiritually disabled...rendered powerless.  It is crucial that we live fully connected to Christ.  In John 15, Jesus emphasizes that obedience to His commands is how we "live connected."

One other detail of this story is the fact I went for two-months searching for the problem, having an idea what the issue was, but not being able to confirm it.  The reason it took so long is that the broken wire was covered with a rubber coating.  It was not until the outter covering broke that I was able to discover which wire was severed.  In our daily lives, we may cover-up our spiritual need with an outward appearance which seems fine, but in reality, it only hides our spiritual need.  We must be as honest with God and ourselves as we can possibly be in order to experience His restorative power in our lives.  We must "live connected", experiencing Christ's limitless power!

 




July 21, 2015, 4:06 PM

No Sin...No Savior

Over the past two-decades, there has been an on-going, bold attempt within Christianity to redefine "SIN."  Many of the activities, attitudes, practices, and habits that were clearly deemed to be "ungodly, sinful, and destructive to a Christian's relationship with Christ" during my growing-up years, are now accepted without so much as a question.  I grew-up in a Southern, conservative, Nazarene family.  That means I did not dance or attend movies, nor did I stick around when my friends began drinking alcohol; I was careful to live morally upright; and as a teenager, the most important thing in life was my relationship with the Lord.

"SIN" is more than a list of things we SHOULD NOT DO.   No list could be comprehensive enough to cover every sin.  In a letter dated June 8, 1725, Susanna Wesley wrote these incredibly wise words to her son,   "Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself."   Those words should be etched on the mind of everyone who professes to be a Christian.  More than being etched on our minds, they should be the anthem of our lives as we seek to follow Christ!

The bottom-line is that if "SIN" is redefined and diluted to a point in which nothing is considered sinful, then there will be no need for a Savior.  When all things are permissable and no one can distinguish "right" from "wrong," the need for a Savior has been eliminated.  This is the same message Satan recited to Eve in the Garden of Eden when he questioned God's Word.  Do not believe the lies. The factual truth is that SIN is any act, attitude, or decision which defies God, places us in opposition to Him, or places ourselves in a place of prominence while placing God in a lesser position.  What God called SIN in Scripture, He still calls SIN today, regardless of what the government says!  We may attempt to console ourselves or ease our consciences by normalizing and accepting SIN, but God still rejects SIN!  He gave His One and only Son to set mankind free from Satan's power and the destructive hold of SIN!  We can pour poison into a soda can and claim it is harmless, but that does not change the result if someone drinks it.  SIN will result in spiritual separation from God and eternal death.  Jesus Christ broke sin's power when He gave His life to redeem each one of us!  You can be free through Jesus alone!




July 8, 2015, 9:42 AM

Mom's Example

On Friday, June 26, 2015, at 4:10 a.m., my mother won her battle with Alzheimer’s.  After a lifetime of faithfully serving God, she made it Home to Heaven.  It had been nearly ten-years since we first noticed her struggling mentally.  Alzheimer’s moves-in gradually and with definite stages of advancement which we clearly saw with Mom.  Our step-dad cared for her at home for seven-years until she became too difficult for him to deal with, endangering herself and him.  She spent the final three-years of her life in a nursing home. 

Alzheimer’s took nearly everything from Mom, except her sense-of-humor.  Mom was a comical lady without ever intending to be.  She was naturally funny.  No one ever spent very long around Mom without laughing.  My goofy sense-of-humor is inherited.  Even though Alzheimer’s erased her memories, the Lord allowed her to keep her laughter.  My sister has shared stories of visiting Mom in the nursing home, being in Mom’s room where they were laughing hysterically at Mom’s antics, and having the room fill-up with other residents who were attracted by the joy and laughter.  The nursing home staff repeatedly stated how much they loved Mom because she was always making them laugh.  Without knowing it, Mom set an example for us to be joyful no matter how terrible the situation may be.  Scripture reminds us that the joy of the Lord is our strength, and that is even true amidst the ravages of Alzheimer’s.

During my childhood and youth, Mom unknowingly provided many examples of what it meant to live a Christ-like life.  When life was difficult and harsh, she always reminded us to trust God because He would see us through.  She demonstrated forgiveness so vividly, my sister and I could never question whether we should forgive others.  We saw forgiveness dramatically lived-out in Mom.  I recall her sitting on the couch, legs pulled-up underneath her, reading her Bible early every morning.   She demonstrated the importance of church attendance even though we lived 25-miles away.  Every Sunday, we made the two-trips to church, 100-miles of impressing on my sister and me the value of worship, Christian friends, and the Church. 

I never considered Mom to be a dynamic Christian.  She was quiet, a behind-the-scenes person, and to my knowledge, never led anyone to accept the Lord.  In recent years I have come to recognize just how strong her faith was.  She faithfully taught a children’s Sunday School class for years, helped in Vacation Bible School every summer, sang in the choir, attended church every Sunday morning and evening, refused to give-up on her church even when it was rapidly declining and “spiritually needy,” and even when her mind was being ravaged by Alzheimer’s, she found peace and solace in church.  Mom left us an example worthy of following.  I thank God for her life, her love, and most of all, for her determination to live sold-out to Him.  The next time I see her, she will be healed, whole, and probably laughing.  Thanks for being a clear example of God’s love, Mom!




July 1, 2015, 10:58 AM

When Time Stands Still

Joshua 10:12-14 tells of Joshua praying for the sun to stand still in order for the Israelites to battle and defeat their enemies.  God answered that prayer!  On that specific day, time stood still!  This passage states there has never been a day like that day, neither before nor since.   

We sometimes find ourselves so involved in what we are doing, we lose track of time.  We talk on the phone with an old friend we have not seen in years and suddenly an hour has passed!  We get on the computer to check email or Facebook, and what began as a “quick check” turns into two-hours spent.  When our attention is focused, it becomes easy for us to lose all sense of time.

Over the last ten-days, time has stood still and the world has passed me by.  My sister and I have dealt with end-of-life issues with our Mother.  We were there at her bedside the final days of her life, completed funeral arrangements, and yesterday, I preached my Mom’s Memorial Service.  During these days, all the rest of life has “stopped” for me.  The pressing issues of two-weeks ago were not important.  The deadlines I pushed myself to attain were ignored.  The tasks which were so important to me lost their significance.  Everything faded in light of my need to be with Mom as her physical life ebbed away.  Time stood still for me this past week.  Although I missed much of what took place in the world, one thing I did not miss was the Presence of God!  In the midst of the stress, chaos, and pain, God made Himself known in clear, powerful ways!  I experienced once again the fact He will never leave, nor forsake, His own…even when it seems time stands still.  




June 8, 2015, 8:35 AM

Hold To God's Word!

Many times across the years people have come to me for advice on situations they were considering entering into.  These individuals were seriously contemplating disobeying the Bible, ignoring their religious training, defying God, and willfully entering into sinful scenarios.  They came asking me what they should do.  If you know me, you already know my words to them WERE NOT what they wanted to hear!  Many of them were unhappy, even angry at me for holding firmly to Biblical teaching.  I suppose they wanted “the preacher’s approval” for their sinful activities.  Interestingly, a few thanked me because they knew what they were about to do was sinful in God’s sight, but my words gave them the clarity to choose to obey the Lord instead of following their own course. 

One specific instance was a very sharp young couple who came to me for premarital counseling.  In our first session, they both prayed to accept Christ into their lives!  Satan battled me intensely over this couple.  They had lived together for years and I knew I had to deal with them about it.  They listened intently as I began to share what the Bible says about premarital sexual activity and living together outside of marriage.  I dealt very specifically with what they needed to do and how God would help them.  To my amazement, they smiled and said, “We knew you would say that and we have already decided we would do what you asked.”  After they left my office, I sat there “shaken.”  What if I had yielded to the temptation to accept their sinful lifestyle because they might be offended by me telling them they were living in sin?  They already knew what God was showing them they needed to do.  My credibility as a Bible-believing pastor would have been destroyed!   Instead, because I held firmly to God’s Word, they followed my instructions.  We had the most enjoyable premarital counseling I have ever had with any couple!  They had a lovely wedding in which I was able to share the Gospel message with their nonchristian family.  This young couple became a regular part of our congregation and continue to have utmost respect for me as a pastor. 

Every day, we are challenged on whether we should hold to God’s Word.  Society declares Biblical beliefs as archaic, unacceptable, and even discriminatory.  Certain politicians are telling Christians to abandon entire sections of Biblical teaching because such beliefs are offensive to some in our world.  The modern entertainment industry challenges Biblical Truth in an endless assortment of ways.  At their worst, they deny God and at their least, they view He and His Word as irrelevant.  Even many churches and professing Christians promote a “pick-and-choose” approach to the Bible. They select Scriptures, often out of context, to reinforce their particular point of view while ignoring lengthy passages of the Bible that show the fallacy of their teachings. 

To live as a Biblical follower of Jesus Christ, we must hold to God’s Word at all costs!  Know it!  Embrace it!  Believe it! Live it! 


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