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Sun, Nov 08, 2015
Each time I read the dramatic story of Abraham and Isaac it becomes a greater mystery. How could a loving God say to his faithful servant, Abraham, “Take your son, Isaac whom you love, and sacrifice him as a burnt offering.” Although human sacrifices were common among many pagans, this had to be an incomprehensible command. God had promised that through Isaac he would bring about his pledge to Abraham to bless all of the families on earth. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Abraham believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead if necessary to carry out the promise. Thus, we have a man of faith who became part of: “A Great Cloud of Witnesses: Abraham”
Sun, Nov 01, 2015
But Cats and Dogs Don’t Like Each Other!! True, cats and dogs usually don’t like each other but please don’t tell that to the cat and dog pictured above. “Natural enemies?” That may be correct but even “natural enemies” can learn to be content with each other, like each other, and become very close friends. Thankfully, God made each of us a little different from every other person on the planet. Endless variety!! And, we can’t deny that “variety is the spice of life.” Just as a cute little cat and a big burley dog can live together harmoniously so also can human being learn to live together and love each other.
Sun, Oct 25, 2015
No, I really can’t capture the essence of love. God’s love is as confusing to me as God’s wrath. Why would he love me so much that he would allow his Son to be sacrificed in my behalf? God’s wrath is equally confusing to me. Some people are so absorbed in thinking of God’s wrath that the grand vision of his love becomes obscure and distorted. The atoning sacrifice of God’s Son helps me with my lack of understanding of his wrath. Yes, at times his wrath even seems unjust but this is overshadowed by his inexplicable love for each of us. After all, life – both secular and religious – is a journey of faith. In this life we will never have all the answers we want but that does not mean that no answers exist. Our faith in God does not have its roots in our own logic but in the incomprehensible love which we can experience in Christ as “The Essence of Love” Romans 12:9-13
Sun, Oct 25, 2015
Passage: Mark 4:35-41
Isn’t Life Like This? Well, certainly not all the time but from one experience to another, the storms of life close in on us and we wonder if the “peace of God” will ever return. The Lord assures us that the peace we seek can return. However, our personal devotion and fidelity are conditions which we must fulfill. Let’s never minimize our own neglect of congregational and personal spiritual needs. I need to ask myself, these two questions: “How can I strengthen my own spiritual life?” and “What can I do for the congregation to strengthen our corporate spiritual life.” “Calming the Troubled Sea” Mark 4:35-41
Sun, Oct 18, 2015
I really don’t like jigsaw puzzles. All of pieces look alike in some ways but each one is different in size, shape, and part of the picture. That confuses me no end! It would be so much easier to put it together if every piece looked the same, was the same size, and had the same shape. I could work with that. But after it was all put together there would be no beautiful scene to enjoy, no characters to see, nothing but “sameness.” I get tired of “sameness.” When God deigned the church, it seems that the word “sameness” was not in his vocabulary. Instead, he took all of the different gifts of human beings and wove them into a beautiful picture. He called it the Body of Christ and its “pieces” are wonderfully different in their abilities, capabilities, and other gifts. God gave a job to each “piece” so that it could function according to the “gift” God had given to it.
Sun, Oct 18, 2015
“Woman, You Have Great Faith” Faith must be persistent. Faith must be insistent. Faith must be enduring. Jesus encountered a Canaanite woman whose daughter was suffering terribly. The story is strange in that Jesus rebuffed her at first but saw the demonstration of great faith – a faith which he had not seen among many of his own countrymen. Our faith is sometime put to the test. What would I have done if I had been in the Oregon college classroom when a gunman was killing those who professed Christianity? Would I confess Christ when ISS followers are holding a gun to my head? At time we bravely say, “I would be willing to die for my faith in Christ.” The rub comes in when we are challenged, not to die for Him but to live for Him.
Sun, Oct 04, 2015
In the world of electrical engineering a transformer can convert the voltage in an electric line from a few volts (as used in a home) to thousands of volts (as used to send electricity across hundreds of miles). Paul shows us that God has a way of transforming our “low voltage lives” from a weak and faltering existence into “high voltage lives” which are dynamic, secure, and joyful. How does he do it? He does it through his profound and dynamic compassion interacting with our own sacrificial lives. This transformation involves the “renewing of our minds.”
Sun, Oct 04, 2015
Some believe them and some do not. Some claim the same power today but they can never raise the dead, give sight to the blind, or walk on water. Some believe in the power of shrines to bring healing while others say “faith healing” is the only way. During the four Sunday evenings in October we will look at some of the miracles of Christ and make a couple of comparisons with contemporary claims. Our first lesson will deal with the Biblical topic of Christ’s miracles in general and examine some of the characteristics of those supernatural events.
Sun, Sep 20, 2015
“Never Never, Never Give In” On October 29, 1941, during World War II, Winston Churchill delivered a speech at the High School he had attended as a boy. In this famous oration Churchill said, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” In the Christian life – the life of the church – this principle should take front and center. The churches in Sardis and Pergamum had problems and difficulties beyond our imagination. Christ said something to them which Churchill seems to have embraced: “Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” Satan, our enemy constantly challenges us. Sunday morning we will look at Christ’s message to the churches in Sardis and Pergamum. “Faith, Perseverance, and Survival”
Sun, Sep 13, 2015
We Can Repair Christ’s Broken Heart The pain of losing a loved one – a family member, a close friend – in death is a heartbreaking experience. Christ’s letter to the church at Ephesus expresses the Lord’s pain when that church “left its first love.” Early on, it was such a vibrant church, standing firmly for truth. One of Paul’s greatest letters, the book of Ephesians, described Christ’s profound relationship to his church referring to the church as the “body of Christ” with the Lord himself as the “head of that body.” How tragic for the church at Ephesus to “leave its first love.” In Christ’s letter to the church at Thyatira he said that they had allowed false teachings about morality to creep into its ranks. But they (and we) can repair the tragedy of Christ’s broken heart!
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