“On The Banks Of The Promised Land” (Joshua 1:1-9 sermon)

I am so excited to share God’s word with our new church family this morning. As I thought and prayed about what to preach, SO many things came to mind. I found myself wishing I could share dozens of different messages with you today. How much time do we have?

But as I thought and prayed, one passage of scripture kept coming to the forefront: Joshua 1:1-9, where God speaks to Joshua and the people of Israel as they sit ready to go into the Land God has promised to them. I feel like that is just where we are as a church, both physically, and spiritually. So let’s see what God’s word is to a people like us: “On The Banks Of The Promised Land.” Continue reading

Posted in Sermons, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

God’s Children: NOT Exempt From Suffering

In early 1865, hundreds of thousands of men from the North were being drafted into the Union Army to help finally bring an end to the war. President Abraham Lincoln’s own son Robert was now also being sent. Lincoln’s wife Mary did NOT want him to go. She said, “I am so frightened he may never come back to us!” But Lincoln replied, “Many a poor mother, Mary, has made this sacrifice …”. After sending so many others off to war, Lincoln could hardly exempt his own son. Just because he was the President’s son, didn’t mean he didn’t have to go to war. (Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln, The Prairie Years and the War Years, p. 669)

And so it is with us. Just because we are God’s children, does not mean we are somehow “exempt” from various sufferings. In fact, it may rather GUARANTEE them — because God will purposefully use these difficulties to grow us spiritually, and teach us important things He needs us to learn.

Hebrews 5:8, speaking of Jesus’ time here on earth, says, “although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” Continue reading

Posted in Devotions/Bible Studies, Discipleship, Sermon Illustrations, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Pastor’s Farewell” (Acts 20 sermon)

Cheryl & I want to thank you for the last 4 years we have been allowed to serve at Pleasant Ridge. It is very difficult to say farewell to people with whom we’ve ministered and loved and been loved — and the struggle that Cheryl & I went through when we began to even think about leaving the people of this church reminds me of this passage in Acts 20, where Paul said good-bye to the elders of Ephesus, among whom :31 says he had ministered for 3 years, and with whom he had built a strong bond. In his farewell he emphasized several things that I think are important reminders for any pastor to share with his people: Continue reading

Posted in Discipleship, Ministry, Sermon Illustrations, Sermons, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“I Wait For The LORD”

“I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope …” (Psalm 130:5) (1/28/19)

I just told Cheryl this morning, “The biggest thing we have on our list right now, we can’t do anything about” — selling our house. It is totally, out of our hands. We can pack, we can clean, we can list, we can line up things in Texas, and so on — but we can’t make anyone buy our house. It is THE biggest thing we have on our list — and there is pretty much, virtually nothing we can really do about it — but “wait for the LORD.” But that is exactly what He wants us to do, as this Psalm indicates.

I woke up this morning, after a long and emotional day of farewells yesterday,  with this first thought: “People see ‘events;’ but God sees the shaping of character.” That is so true. Continue reading

Posted in Devotions/Bible Studies, Ministry, Sermon Illustrations, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Christmas Gingerbread House Contest 2018

For the last several years, our family has had a Gingerbread House contest at Christmas. Our kids and their spouses have taken edible ingredients and built a gingerbread house (or related structure) and, being the competitive creatures they are, they want to know “who won?”  So YOU will determine the winner!  Look these over and post your vote in the poll below. We’ll let you know “Who won?” both here and on Facebook at 6 p.m. on Christmas Day! Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

“Comforting or Convicting? 4 Tests of Genuine Salvation” (I John sermon)

One of the most common questions people in our churches have is, “How can I know for sure if I’m really saved?” That’s NOT a silly question. If there really is life after death — and the Bible tells us there is — then there is nothing more important than knowing for sure that you have eternal life in heaven.

So how can you know?
— Some people say, “Well, if you ‘made a decision’ at some point in your life, then you can know that you’re saved. But Jesus said in Matthew 7, “NOT everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” So you can’t know you’re saved just because you’ve “made a decision” some time and claimed that Jesus was your Lord.
— Other people say, “Well, if you were baptized, you can know.” But Paul talks in I Corinthians 10 about how they were “all baptized,” but “nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased.” In other words, people are not saved just because they’ve been baptized.

So how CAN you know? Thankfully God’s word gives us the answer to this. And one of the best places where we can test ourselves and get assurance for our salvation is in the Book of I John which we read a few days ago in our Daily Bible Reading. I John 5:13 gives us the purpose of the book. It says: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.” So John says the central purpose of this book is to give Christians the assurance of their salvation. And it does that by giving us a series of tests throughout this book, about some of the things which will be present in the life of a person who is genuinely saved. So as a person reads these tests, they should either be COMFORTED, because they see that these things are really present in their life and they are really a Christian, or they should be CONVICTED, because they don’t really see them in their life, and they will realize they are not really saved. Which is it for you? Let’s look at some of the tests God gives us here in I John, of the genuine Christian. Will this COMFORT you, or CONVICT you? Continue reading

Posted in Sermon Illustrations, Sermons, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Standing By The Cross” (John 19:25 message)

One of my favorite stories of the Civil War is of a Union officer whose unit was coming under particularly heavy fire from the Confederate cannon.  Someone rode up to him and said they thought they knew why they were getting so much heat: this officer had posted “Old Glory,” the American flag, in such a prominent position overhead, that it made a great target for all the Confederate artillery, and they were focused on bringing it down. They suggested to him that he move his flag to some less conspicuous position and it might lessen the fire. But the officer looked up at the flag and said: “Let it wave high; it is our glory.” In just a few moments that officer fell to Confederate fire. But he stood by his “glory” to the end.

Just as our country’s flag is the glory of the patriot; so the cross of Jesus Christ is the glory of the Christian. And just as the soldier is called to stand by his flag; so we as Christians are called to stand by the cross of Jesus Christ.

I love the picture of :25 here when it says: “Therefore the soldiers did these things. But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene.” Continue reading

Posted in Sermon Illustrations, Sermons, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment