Monday, August 20, 2018

The Real World

This is a picture of my “happy place”. Since we moved into our new home six months ago, it is my favorite room in the house. Only it’s not in the house. It’s our screened in porch. And I love it.

Most mornings I come out here to drink my coffee, read the paper and do my devotions. On the few occasions we’ve had rain this summer, I enjoy coming out here, protected from the elements, and watching it rain. When I’m grilling out on the patio, this offers a more comfortable respite from the scorching sun, especially when I turn on the ceiling fan.

We have a small backyard, but there is a large field behind us. I think they use to plant corn there, but this year it’s just weeds. But I don’t have to take care of it, so I don’t mind the weeds.

It’s very peaceful. But just to the west of the field, is 169 Highway. Because of the topography, you can’t see the highway. Because of the trees, you can’t hear the traffic as well in the summer as in the fall or spring, but there is still a heavy “hum” as a reminder that civilization is just on the other side.

So, even as I’m taking it easy, reading a book or just relaxing, I can hear the rumble of the tires. People traveling from Paola or points south into “town”, as we call it (anything north of us is “town”). People making their way south to the country from the city. Occasionally there’s a car horn or an emergency siren. But usually it’s just the steady hum of rubber on pavement.

As much as I love that porch, I know I can only stay here a little while. There is a world that awaits. There are voicemails to return, meetings to attend, emails to answer and sermons to write. I’d love to stay out on the porch, but the hum just beyond the field calls me to engage once again with the world.

Maybe it is just a little like when Peter, James and John joined Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. There they were allowed to witness Jesus in His divine glory, bookended by Moses & Elijah. It was such a majestic sight that Peter wanted to stay up there, on top of that mountain. But Jesus refused, insisting that they return from the mountain to the valley below—a valley full of selfish, sinful people. Who could blame Peter for wanting to maintain that mountaintop experience? But the ministry was not on the mountain, but in the valley.

I love the porch, but that is not where the bulk of ministry takes place. It happens in hospital rooms, and homes, and funeral parlors. It happens in the church and in the office.

So, rather than begrudge the fact that I must leave the porch in order to go into the world, I should just be grateful for a porch to which I can retire from time to time. But the hum on the other side of the field continually reminds me, it is just for a little while. There is work to be done.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Did God Really Say Everything Happens For a Reason

In an effort to comfort a grieving friend or loved one, have you ever reassured them by saying Everything happens for a reason?  What is the basis for that statement? Did God really say everything happens for a reason?

We’ll explore that topic on Sunday as we conclude the Did God Really Say sermon series. Our study will focus on one of the most familiar verses in the Bible, Romans 8:28. Join us as we examine this great—but often misunderstood—promise of God.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Did God Really Say 'God Helps Those Who Help Themselves'?

In a society which puts a premium on industry and independence, many Christians subscribe to the idea that God helps those who help themselves. Where is that verse in the Bible anyway? Sounds like something that might be in the Old Testament. Perhaps it’s in Proverbs. Or did one of the prophets say it? 

Did God Really Say God Helps Those Who Help Themselves? 

Not to burst any bubbles, but…no. He did not. Not in the Old Testament. Not in the New Testament. One pastor suggests maybe it is found in 1 Americanus 17:76.
But in fact, Scripture teaches us just the opposite. God helps those who cannot help themselves, and who recognize that fact. We’ll be exploring all this on Sunday, August 5th. We have just one service, at 10:00. Come join us, if you can.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Did God Really Say God Would Never Give You More Than You Can Handle?

A couple sits in the room where for the previous five days their newborn son fought so valiantly for life, only to see it slip away in the end. Their pastor holds their hands, seeking to comfort them by saying, I know it’s hard, but God would never give you more than you can handle.

The wife of a decorated war veteran watches helplessly as her husband’s struggles with PTSD cause him to act more erratically as he increasingly becomes a danger to himself and those around him. She feels so isolated and alone. But her long-time friend assures her, God would never give you more than you can handle.

Between the loss of his job, his wife’s passing and the increasing debt as he tries to keep his kids in college, the man doesn’t really know how he’s going to cope. He has all of these raging emotions, and no healthy way to express them. But the guys in his Bible study try to encourage him when they say, God would never give you more than you can handle.

Those words are designed to bring comfort. If you haven’t spoken them, you’ve probably heard them spoken by others. By concerned, well-meaning folks. But where in the Bible are we told God would never give you more than you can handle?

You may have trouble finding that verse. Because it’s not there.

But God’s Word does have lots to say about the suffering of trials and tribulation. And we’ll explore those teachings this Sunday, in our new Sermon Series Did God Really Say…? I hope you’ll join us.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Did God Really Say...?

This coming Sunday, July 22nd, we will begin a brief new series of messages entitled, Did God Really Say…?, in which we will examine a few common sayings that people think are in the Bible, but which are not. I am really excited about this series, as it will help us to distinguish between conventional wisdom, and the Truth of God’s unchanging Word in some key areas of life.

The genesis for this series is rooted in a study I did last year during my Sabbatical. During that time, I was able to spend an expanded period of study without the pressures of having to compose a sermon for the next week. Instead, I was able to go in-depth into the Scriptures, and from those notes, I have put together the four messages that will make up this new series.

For every subject we will study, there are countless other topics that could have been included, because there is a high degree of biblical illiteracy in our society. People possess just enough
“knowledge” to be dangerous. So, for example, many people have come to believe that money is the root of all evil or spare the rod, spoil the child are direct quotes from the Bible. They are not. But that won’t stop some of you from looking up those phrases to prove me wrong. :-) 

In any event, those are just two examples of the kind of statements that reveal our lack of knowledge and understanding of Scripture. We’ll touch on only four such subjects this time, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find a sequel sometime in the near future.

I hope you’ll join us over the next four weeks as we look at some other statements that people attribute, erroneously, to Scripture. We’ll start this week with the oft-repeated phrase: God Just Wants us to be Happy. Did God really say that? Join us on Sunday and find out.