Pastor’s Page May 22nd, 2017

“Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places”(I Kings 3:3).

How does a person go from being the wisest man on the earth to a man buried neck deep in folly? How does a person move from being sensitive toward God to living a life of radical disobedience? The truth is nobody sets out to experience this kind of fall — least of all Solomon. If you had asked him early in his life and kingship, “Solomon, do you think you will stray from the path of wisdom and end up living like a fool?” he would have been shocked that you even asked. Yet that is exactly what happened.

Solomon’s life is a road map that we might call “the way to disaster”! His descent from the heights to the depths is heartbreaking. As we study Scripture, we can identify four distinct detours Solomon took that led him on this downward spiral. By looking closely at these mistakes, we can learn to avoid them and the high price that always comes with folly.

Detour 1: Allowing a Little Wiggle Room

The first step in Solomon’s downward spiral was to leave a little wiggle room in his commitment. It all began with areas of compromise that many people may have thought were not that important. In 1 Kings 3:3 we read: “Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.”

When we read the word “except,” we know Solomon is in trouble; we don’t even need to know what comes next. This word is a clear indicator that Solomon has decided to leave some wiggle room in his devotion. He will try to love God and be devoted, except for a few areas. The simple fact that he says “except” is a guarantee that he will be in deep water.

Detour 2: Assuming We Are the Exception to the Rule

At this point in the spiral, we don’t dispute God’s rules or disagree with them. In fact, we agree that they’re fine for most people. But we just think that we’re a little more mature and a little more sophisticated than others. We can handle it. We don’t have to follow God’s rules as closely as everybody else does. The problem with anything less than total obedience is that we’re the ones who get to choose what we will submit to and what “really doesn’t matter.” When this happens, we become our own king, our own god. This becomes a form of idolatry.

Detour 3: Failing to Deal with Predisposed Weaknesses

We all have them. But when we refuse to look at them and resist turning away from them, we are headed for trouble. Solomon was not particularly discriminating when it came to women. He seemed to love them all! Even when God gave clear commands about this, he kept right on marrying women who were forbidden. We must stop and wonder why he struggled so much in this area of his life.

When we consider Solomon’s personal history, some clues begin to rise to the surface. Solomon had been exposed to sexual struggles his whole life. Reading through the Old Testament, we discover that David’s family had one of the most dysfunctional households around. Likely, Solomon’s problems stretched all the way to his father’s bedroom. The sins and weaknesses of his parents infected him and impacted him for a lifetime!

Detour 4: Ignoring Correction

The final step on the downward spiral — and a sure sign of looming disaster — is to ignore or to silence wise and loving correction. Such an individual is in a dangerous place. And when he or she has already followed the first three detours, sin has a way of deafening one’s ears so that hearing God’s voice is difficult. As Solomon grew older, he wandered further and further from God. God continued to call Solomon to a place of repentance, but Solomon continued to do things his own way.

May God help us to recognize the warning signs He sends to us so that we will be able to follow the right path and “seek first the kingdom of God.”

Next Sunday we will continue in our series on “Conquering Our Fears.” We will continue in Genesis 12:1-3 for our scripture lesson. We will also be celebrating Memorial Day with special music and recognizing military families. I look forward to seeing you in worship. Until then, HAVE A GREAT WEEK WITH JESUS!

   Sincerely His then yours,
                                                                                                                Eddie

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Pastor’s Page May 8th, 2017

“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength'” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Often the thing that keeps me from experiencing joy is my preoccupation with self. The very selfishness that keeps me from pouring myself out for the joy of others also keeps me from noticing and delighting in the myriad small gifts God offers each day. Joy is at the heart of God’s plan for human beings. The reason for this is worth pondering awhile: Joy is at the heart of God himself.

This is why the Bible speaks not just about our need for joy in general, but a particular kind of joy that characterizes God. After teaching on the need for obedience, Jesus told his friends that his aim was that they should be filled with joy, but not just any kind of joy: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”

The Bible puts joy in the non-optional category. Joy is a command. Joylessness is a serious sin, one that religious people are particularly prone to indulge in. It may be the sin most readily tolerated by the church.

We have greatly underestimated the necessity of joy. Nehemiah said to his grieving congregation, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Joy is strength. Its absence will create weakness. Joy is God’s basic character. Joy is his eternal destiny. God is the happiest being in the universe.  And God’s intent was that his creation would mirror his joy. The psalmist speaks of the sun, “which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.”

This is not merely picturesque language; this is creation expressing God’s own unwearying joy at simply being, at existing and knowing existence to be good. As products of God’s creation, creatures made in his image, we are to reflect God’s fierce joy in life.

You can become a joyful person. With God’s help, it really is possible. The biblical writers would not command it if it were not so. But joyfulness is a learned skill. You must take responsibility for your joy. Not your friend, not your parent, not your spouse, not your kids, not your boss—your joy is your responsibility.

The psalmist says, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” “This is God’s day,” the psalmist says. It is the day God made, a day that Christ’s death has redeemed. If we are going to know joy, it must be in this day—today.

Let me encourage you to spend time with God in His Word and in prayer each day. Those are two very good ways to learn how to live in the joy that the Lord offers to all who will come to Him.

Next Sunday, May 14, is Mother’s Day and we will be recognizing and honoring all of our mothers and grandmothers in the worship service. By the way, a great way to honor your mother would be to come and worship with her. Our message for the day is entitled “Thank God for Mothers” and our scripture lesson will be from II Timothy 1:1-7. I am looking forward to seeing you here with us. Until then, HAVE A GREAT WEEK WITH JESUS!

Sincerely His then yours,
Eddie

 

P.S. There will be no Pastor’s Page next week as Brenda and I will be leaving after church on Sunday to spend a few days with our grandson and his family in Fort Worth, TX. We will return on Saturday, May 20, so we will be here for church on Sunday, May 21. We will begin a new three – part sermon series that day entitled “Conquering Our Fears.” We will be looking at parts of Genesis 12; 13; and 15. Hope you can be with us.

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Pastor’s Page April 24th, 2017

“Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life'” (John 12:23-25).

Sunday changed everything, but not in the way many people think. Of course, I am talking about Easter Sunday as it is still rather fresh in my mind.  From our point of view two thousand years later, many people think of Easter as a comforting story that says, “Spring is coming. Flowers are blooming. Life is eternal. Everything is going to work out.”

But the response to the resurrection on the first Easter in the Gospels consistently includes fear. In fact, people were more afraid after the resurrection than they were before. And none of the gospel accounts have Jesus or the angels saying, “Now you don’t have to worry about dying anymore.”

Jesus followers’ believed he was the Messiah, that he would overthrow Rome and usher in God’s kingdom. But Jesus died. When this happened, even though he had predicted it, none of his followers said, “Everything is going according to plan now.” All four of the Gospels give us very unflattering portraits of what happened when he died. His disciples were disheartened, dismayed, disappointed, disillusioned, and dispirited. And then suddenly they weren’t.

They saw an empty tomb, which told them their sightings of Jesus were not hallucinations. They saw a live person, which told them the empty tomb was not a result of body snatching. They remembered what Jesus said not long before he died: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” They began to understand.

My old preaching professor, Dr. John Gardner, used to say there have been only two great revolutions in the history of humankind. He said the first revolution began when somebody started to farm. Up until this time, human beings had been hunter-gatherers; they lived from day to day. They moved from place to place. There was no such thing as home.

Then someone noticed that if they dropped a seed in the ground and walked away, something happened. Normally that’s how we get rid of something. But not here. Something in the dirt calls to something in the seed. “Hey seed! Wake up! Send me a little root.” Then something above the earth says to the seed, “Send up a little shoot.” And the seed does. The seed becomes a plant or a tree, and it produces fruit. It achieves its destiny. But it could never happen if the seed didn’t die first.

There is a second revolution. This time we know the revolutionary’s name. We know where he lived. We know how he lived. We know what he taught. We know how he died. This is, Jesus said, the way life works. You have to be willing to sacrifice something if anything is ever going to be the way it is supposed to be. No sacrifice, no harvest. Only it isn’t seeds this time; this time it’s you.

What got released on Easter Sunday was hope. Not hope that life would turn out well. Hope that called people to die: die to selfishness and sin and fear and greed, die to the lesser life of a lesser self so that a greater self might be born. And many people did. This hope changed things. Because of their belief in the resurrection of the body.Because of Sunday.

Jesus released a new kind of hope. Where are you most aware of a need for this kind of hope in your life right now? What lesser thing do you sense God may be asking you to die to? What act of service or love is God calling us to? I pray that as a congregation we will begin to listen for God’s call and be willing to follow where He leads. When we do, great things are in store!

Next Sunday we will be taking a look at one of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. The message is entitled “When Jesus Drops In” and the scripture lesson is from Luke 24:13-35. Hope to see you in worship and I encourage you to invite a friend! Until then, HAVE A GREAT WEEK WITH JESUS!

Sincerely His then yours,
Eddie

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Pastor’s Page April 17th, 2017

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you” (Matthew 28:1-7).

In a Preaching magazine sermon called “Easter as an Earthquake,” Rev. Dr. William Willimon, Dean of the Chapel at Duke University, concluded with these words: “In the fifties, in China, there was a devastating earthquake. But as a result of the quake, a huge boulder was dislodged from a mountain thus exposing a great cache of wonderful artifacts from a thousand years ago. A new world suddenly became visible.

On that first Easter Sunday, when the stone was rolled away, and the earth shook, we got our first glimpse of a new world, a world where death doesn’t have the last word, a world where injustice is made right, and innocent suffering is vindicated by the intrusion of a powerful God.

The women came out to the cemetery to write one more chapter in the long sad story of death’s ascendancy, one more episode of how the good always get it in the end. This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper of resignation at death’s dark victory.

And then – the earth heaved, an angel appeared, the stone was rolled away, Caesar’s soldiers shook. The angel plopped himself down on the stone in one final act of impudent defiance of death, and the soldiers and all that, and said to the women, ‘Don’t be afraid. You’re looking for Jesus? He isn’t here.’

Then that angel turned to the soldiers and said, ‘Be afraid. Everything your world is built on is being shaken.’ Nobody went back the same way they came.”

When I read that it gives me “goose bumps!” I know Dr. Willimon added a little to the text that we don’t normally find, but it really makes sense! Doesn’t it? Everything changed on that first Easter morning and, if we allow it, our world and our lives will never be the same.

Why not take some time today to give thanks for what Jesus accomplished for us through the cross and rejoice that his victory is still available for all who will receive Him! To God be the glory!

Next Sunday we will continue to examine this idea of resurrection and the message is entitled “What’s Your Number?” Our scripture lesson will be I Corinthians 15:17-26. I hope you can be with us and I look forward to seeing you.

Until then, HAVE A GREAT WEEK WITH JESUS!

                                                                     Sincerely His then yours,
                                                                                                     Eddie

P.S. Thanks to everyone who helped make our Easter Breakfast Buffet such a great success! A special thanks to Tom & Lisa Beckmeyer, Jimmy & Renee Gilliard, Terry Brown, Donna Cachia, Linda Atkin,   and others to numerous for me to remember who helped with this event. God bless each of you for your efforts!

PRAYER UPDATE: I am happy to report that Lynne Cummings and Nancy Head are both at home and recovering. Continue to pray for them and also for Jim and Don as they have the role of caregivers.

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Pastor’s Page April 10th, 2017

“God made Him Who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Corinthians 5:21).

Paintings of the Lord’s Table show one cup and one platter. The cup represents the blood Jesus shed to save us from sin. Andthe platter holds bread symbolizing His body, which was broken for us.

What we don’t see is the second cup that Jesus drank alone—one that made our salvation possible. The phrase “drink from this cup” refers to a person’s willingness to take part in an act. Jesus knew that He had come to earth for the purpose of dying for sin—in other words, this mission was His “cup.”

While praying in Gethsemane, our Savior asked that this cup pass from Him if possible; however, He would willingly submit to His Father’s will. Some people assume Jesus was asking to avoid the excruciating physical suffering of crucifixion.

But even more difficult for Him to face were two spiritual agonies He knew He must undergo. First, our Savior would bear the world’s transgressions, actually becoming sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21) and dying so that its power over our lives could be destroyed. The sinless One would know the weight, guilt, and sorrow of the incalculable wrongs committed throughout all time. But more than just experiencing the ugliness of sin, He would bear the Father’s full wrath for all human iniquity.

And second, because holy God cannot look upon sin, Jesus would be separated from His Father for the only time since eternity past, and He would have to bear this unthinkable burden alone. Jesus drank from the cup of suffering, sin-bearing, and separation so that we can share in the cup of salvation.

As we celebrate the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday during this Holy Week, it is symbolic of what Jesus did for us during that first Holy Week over 2,000 years ago. It is because of His willingness to go through the agony of crucifixion and separation from Father God that we have the wonderful privilege of accepting Christ as our personal Savior and having our sins washed away with His blood.

I pray that we can keep these thoughts in mind throughout this week and then, on Easter Sunday, we will really have something to celebrate! “Thanks be to God Who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ His Son!”

I look forward to seeing you on Easter Sunday! The Easter message is entitled “Do You Believe in Miracles?” and our scripture lesson is from John 20:24-29. This will be a rather non-traditional Easter message as we focus our attention on the disciple, Thomas, who is often called “Doubting Thomas.” We will talk about why that is so.

Until then, HAVE A GREAT WEEK WITH JESUS!

Sincerely His then yours,
Eddie

P.S. Don’t forget to call the church office to order your Easter Lilies in honor or memory of a loved one. They are $10 each and the deadline is 2:00PM on Wednesday.

Join us on Thursday, APRIL 13 @ 7:00PM for our annual MAUNDY THURSDAY COMMUNION SERVICE where we will again highlight The Seven Sayings of Christ from the Cross. Hope you can join us for this meaningful service as we remember our savior’s sacrifice for us.

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EASTER SUNDAY
APRIL 16, 2017

Join us for a GREAT BREAKFAST buffet from8:30-9:45AM  and then stay for

EASTER WORSHIP & CELEBRATION @ 10:30AM.

THERE IS A LIST IN THE NARTHEX TO SIGN UP TO PROVIDE YOUR FAVORITE BREAKFAST ITEMS!

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