Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Memory

That time between Christmas and the new year seems to lend itself to nostalgic reflection.

Memory: Bob's Axiom 1

Memory permits us to enjoy the past without having to relive it.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

If You Had 86,400

fdollars deposited in your bank account every day but anything left in the account at the end of the day would disappear you would make sure that every penny of the money was withdrawn before day's end.

You have 86,400 seconds of time every day.  How will you spend that time?

The scripture lesson is Ecclesiastes, Chapter Three, in which the preacher tells us of the "times" that avail in life.

Every life is chained to time.

Every second matters because we are not guaranteed another.

What are your roles in life?
      We are accustomed to changing our hats from moment to moment.

There is difference between being busy and being hurried.
Being busy is a normal state of affairs for most of us.  Daily chores and responsibilities keep us busy.  Being hurried leads to frustration, aggravation, sometimes seething anger.

How do we make sure our life is not meaningless?  
Make every second count!

 So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.  --Psalm 90:12 (NRSV)

When we die to our selfish desires Jesus makes us a new creation.  He redirects our paths when we mess up.  He gives us peace in the storm.

More than 3,992,000 of this year's seconds are gone.  Where did they go?
    How many people did you share your faith with?
    How many times did you read your Bible?
    What are you going to do with the seconds you have left?

How are you going to choose to make your life count? 


 Pastor Amanda Blair
Sunday morning

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Clerestory from the well


As the magi followed the light of the star, may you welcome the Light into your life.
Merry Christmas from Bob Warr and the Missus.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Where are you Christmas? Christmas Sunday

The scripture lesson is Luke 1:26-38 in which we study the visit of Gabriel to Mary announcing to her the mission for which God selected her.

What made Mary special?
     Mary had great faith, she was righteous, and she was favored of God.  These are wonderful things, but that is not it.  Her greatness was defined by her willingness to do whatever God had planned for her life.  She said "Yes" to God.

We are all like Mary.  We are all favored of God.  As he did to Mary, He came to us with the Promise.
From a reading written and presented by Briana McDonough
We stand on the edge of what you invite us to become.
Hard but simple, let me become like Mary.  Open my heart to your Son, Jesus Christ.
Yes, let Your Word be fulfilled in me.
Come in, Christ Jesus, come in.

Pastor continued: We read in Romans 12:1  "I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." (NRSV)

This is your spiritual act of worship. Say "yes" to God in whatever His plan for your life.

Mary's "yes" in part made our relationship possible.

 Who is relying on your "yes"?

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning
Listen to Briana's reading here: https://www.facebook.com/creativeartspastor/videos/10153376611623174/

Friday, December 18, 2015

That Debate Brought This to Mind

Uncle Jep once told me, “I voted in ever’ election sence William Jennings Bryan, God rest his soul, stood agin President McKinley in nineteen-ought-ought, ‘n I’m proud to say that never but once’t did I mark fer the fella what won. I allus think a fella dumb enough to want ta be president hain’t smart ‘nuf ta do the job.  But then, you know we responsible ta pick the lesser a two weevils, so ta speak.”

(--or in this cycle, from amongst weevils weasels galore.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Skin Care


 In the local CVS today I walked down aisle 2, skin and facial care.

 At one end of the aisle.

And at the other end.

Oh, those marketers do know their  clientele.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Third Sunday of Advent: Hope

 

The scripture reading continued in the first chapter of Luke's Gospel.  We read of the birth of Elizabeth's son, her naming him "John."  The people were astonished, for there were no Johns in the Zechariah family.  So they asked Zechariah who took a tablet and wrote, "His name is John."  At once the man's tongue was loosed and he began praising God.

hope, n. that which is desired.
hope, v.t. believing desired outcome will occur.

"hope against hope"  hope even when the outlook is grim;  to keep pressing forward.

Hope is a "someday."

Much of the hope we understand is an Old Testament type of hope-- "someday."  Advent is all about this someday hope.

Hope in someday is not wrong, but it is not complete, either.
It focuses on the future, does not impact what occurs today.

Jesus brings hope not only for someday, but for today.
We need to have our eyes open to what God is doing right now.

What Jesus gives is completely foreign to every other religion.  He gives eternity within us right now.

Jesus came to reconcile us with God.  
We are the ambassadors of the reconciliation.  We are to offer it to the world.
As Christ is the hope of the world, we are to bring that hope to the world.
The task John was given is passed on to us.

When did you last ask God to fill you with the presence of his Holy Spirit?

Hope is a glimpse of eternity in us.  Hope for someday is true, but it is already conceived within us.

  "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13 (NRSV)

How can I have hope for today, not just for someday?
The Holy Spirit is the key, the witness of the Holy Spirit in your heart and life.
The Hope is in accordance with the Holy Spirit living within you.

God is working in you and through you in this current moment! 

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Dow Chemical and DuPont will merge.

Ho-hum.

No one is concerned about this? 

How about the ten thousand employees who are likely to lose their jobs. ("will be impacted")

How about all of us?

There is no government but the government of bucks and megabucks.

Money talks.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Still, it is a serious problem

The local news at six, and by local I mean the nearest metropolitan locale, ran a report on crime statistics in the city, year-to-date.  The number of deaths due to gunshot wounds, the number of wounded gunshot survivors, and so on.  Pretty straight-forward, not too hard to count.  Horrendous stuff, too.   But then there was this.

"17 per cent of local residents ages 12 to 17 carry guns."

Another easy to garner statistic.  Simply have all those in that age category line up and fill out a form stating whether or not they carry a gun.

DID NOT.

That, and I am quite comfortable in making this statement, is MADE UP to support or promote some particular agendum, just as a whole host of such statistics are made up for just that purpose.

Believe it.  I do. 

Which is not to say there are not too darned many teens who are armed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Where's my America?

After New Hampshire GOP chair Jennifer Horn said the plan was “un-American” last night, Trump supporters began signing an online petition calling for her resignation. State Rep. Al Baldasaro of Londonderry, a co-chair of Trump’s veterans coalition who is circulating the petition, told the local TV station WMUR that Trump is “100 percent right”: “What he’s saying is no different than the situation during World War II, when we put the Japanese in camps.  --WaPo 12/8/15

Think about that.  A state legislator cites one of the most shameful acts in American history in support of one of the dumbest things a candidate has ever proposed.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Joy. Second Sunday of Advent


Despite our circumstances, God wants us to have joy.
When you have joy you have a deposit of God's glory in your heart.

In the first chapter of Luke's gospel, we read of Zechariah and Elizabeth, her barren condition and her great disappointment, and of God's promise of a son.  We read of Mary's visit to Elizabeth and how Elizabeth's child within her leaped for joy.

Many know what it means to be dissed by life, know  discouragement because of the things life throws their way.


1.  Joy is a sign that God's favor rests upon you.

" For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor."  Psalm 8:5 (KJV)
You are highly favored as a child of God.

God always answers prayer.  Our God alone is a God who favors His people such that his ear is attuned to their needs.
Joy is the seed of God's promise in you.
Having joy does not mean you will not encounter discouragement, fear, anger, sadness, or disgust. 
Do you believe God's promises are a sure thing?  Then you are blessed.  Joy is based not on conditions of this world, it is based on the condition of God's Kingdom, which is alive and well!
2.  Joy is surrender to the will of God, to his plan.
Life happens, and it will mess up your plans.  God's will is different from His timing.  His timing is always right.
ADVENT IS WAITING.  It is what we do; waiting is the name of the game.
Christians should be the best at waiting, because we have joy!
       God, help me to surrender to your plan while I wait for your timing.
3.  Joy is God's counter-move to all life's disappointments.

The Key to Joy:  Trusting Him.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning  

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Class Action Settlement

Letter came today addressed to the Missus.  I noticed the return address read "ATTM Settlement."
"Here," I said as I handed it to her.  "Your settlement check from AT &T.  Probably a dime.  Anyway, whatever it is, it cost them more to cut the check and process it than it is for."

She opened the envelope which revealed a neat letter in very. fine. print and a check attached.  "It is for ten cents," she said.

Of course I burst into laughter.  How could I have known?  Well, I am not prescient but one is always aware that in situations like this the only winners are the attorneys.

Yet of course evil-doers, be the behavior intentional or not, must be punished.

And again, "Bwaahahaha!"

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Heart

A heart full of love
No fear, no regret

Claude-Michel Schönberg:A Heart Full Of Love Lyrics

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Where Are You, Christmas?

 


First Sunday of Advent

Today's lesson is based on the Scripture reading Luke 2:41-50 in which we learn the twelve-year old Jesus accompanies his parents and extended family to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration.

Wherever there is a crowd, anxiety level goes up; tension increases.
 

At the Passover feast amidst all these people and all these things they lost Jesus.
Passover is all about the children, and specifically about the eldest son, and what God has done.  Jesus was such a child, the eldest son, that is, Passover revolves around Jesus.  Yet they lost him.

Picture the family explaining that to God.  "Uh, God.  We lost your son."
When they returned to Jerusalem to look for Jesus amidst the crowd of probably two hundred thousand people it would have been like a bad case of "Where's Waldo?"

They found Jesus in the Temple.  
Mary filled with anxiety is now relieved, probably yelling at the boy says, "Why did you treat us this way?"  Jesus responded, "Why?  Didn't you know that I'd be in my Father's house?"

Where are you, Christmas?
We have allowed the busy-ness of the festival to crowd in, traditions have consumed our hearts.  Instead of peace there is chaos because Jesus is missing.

Of all the things you do this season, how much is centered around Jesus Christ?

"Jesus gave his all to be with us and we have made it all about us."

What we do may not be bad, but if we are missing Christ we are missing the point.

Jesus is saying, "I am right where you left me."

When we realize he is missing, we must get back, back to the feet of Jesus.
It is about the Presence of God coming to Earth to dwell among us.

Think about rearranging your traditions to put Christ at the center of it all.
Jesus is what you are looking for.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Early Christmas

I am a bit of a traditionalist.  No, I am a dyed-in-the-wool-there-are-things-that-should-be-done-and-things-that-should-not-be-done sort of guy.

1. I lean toward the notion that for everything there is a season, and all things should be done in an orderly fashion.  (This does not rule out fun and spontaneity.)

2.  The progression of the seasons requires me to celebrate Christmas after I have concluded the Thanksgiving celebration.

3. The annual Christmas bickering is already in full swing.  It's annoying.

4.  "Put Christ back in Christmas."  What nonsense.  Put Christ in your life and live your life in emulation of His.

5.  Chastise the heathen for his failure to say "Merry Christmas." Or heaven forbid that he should say "Happy holidays."  Please. Take a greeting of good will in the spirit of good will, no matter the wording.

6.  Or, be all offended when someone does say "Merry Christmas," or puts up a Christian symbol, or reminds you that Christmas is somehow connected to Christ.  Get really hot about it.  No. Stop being offended at everything and appreciate that people can love one another and care for each other regardless of their personal beliefs.  "Live and let live"?  Yeah, that.

7.  Season of "Peace and goodwill."  Verily.  Let it be.

 Image result for christmas decorations


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Simply, Be Thankful

Scripture: Philippians 4:4-20

1) Be positive.  (Phil. 4:4-9)
Thinking positive means
  • Take captive every thought.
  • Smile even when you don't feel like it.
 Some people like to wallow in the mud of their own misery.  Need to get a case of the "whatevers." (Verse 8):  Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (RSV)

Smile even when you don't feel like it.  It will be harder to be grumpy.

People who smile appear to be more gentle.

2)  Be content.  (Phil 4:10-12)
Contentment is a learned behavior.  (v.11)

Being content means learning how to
  • rejoice in every situation 
  • have peace in all circumstances. 
It is true as scripture says that it is more blessed to give than to receive.  It is also more blessed to be able to do without than to have to have. 

Society trains us to be discontented.  Being discontent can make you ugly, ungrateful for what you have.

3)  Be generous (Phil. 4:14-18)
Generosity is proven by
  • our obedience in giving of tithes and offerings
  • our attitude in sharing our resources.
Generosity  is one of the key components of a life of thanksgiving..
What you have does not belong to you.
"Your level of generosity runs parallel to your level of thanksgiving."

4) Be blessed (Phil. 4:19)
We are a blessed people because
  • God is our strength (Phil. 4:13
  • God is our provider (Phil. 4:19):

"And our God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

Your strength is not your own; it is God's.  He is your provider.  You are only blessed because of God.

You may not be batting 1.000, but what if you improved a bit?

How thankful are you, measured by each of the four points in this message?
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning.

 Auditors note:  This is the seventh message based on this passage that I have heard in the past eight years.  I should be "getting it" by now.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

There was T-Rex, then there was TB, and now we have T rump.



 I had the above one-liner in queue to be posted this morning then in the interim Mr. T came up with the dumbest of his dumb ideas.  At minimum anyone who would be President should have read the Constitution at least once during his adult life.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

...and another thing

Have you noticed pharmaceutical advertising on tv (how did we ever get to this deplorable condition in our society, anyway?) wind up with something on the order of "if you experience this or this, stop at once and contact you doctor"?

Contact your doctor?  Are you kidding me?  In what universe are these people living?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I could be wrong here...

...but bear with me a minute.

I am not quite sure why it is that I get the sense that some people will say anything, true or not, to make a point.  I read the other day that a vast glacier in Greenland is melting at an alarming rate.  This of course, according to the writer, is due to anthropogenic global warming.

The kicker?  The statement was made that should the glacier melt completely the world's ocean level will rise a foot.

I am not a physicist nor a cartographer.  But I have looked at a globe on occasion and it appears to me that were Greenland to melt entirely the result would be but a drop in the bucket to the world's oceans.

Not that I would like for that to happen. 

*Or half-metre, if you are of the British persuasion.  By the way. half-metre is well over a foot and a half.  
In the interest of fairness and should you like a different point of view which might scare you witless, see this blog.
Don't say I didn't warn you. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Press On


Rome, Paul and the Underground Church


"I am so thankful that I have certainty.  He has brought me from death to life."  Thus testified Pastor Joe as he introduced the message.

Scripture lesson:  Ephesians 4:22-24.  Paul from his prison cell writing to the church at Ephesus.
 That ye put away, as concerning your former manner of life, the old man, that waxeth corrupt after the lusts of deceit;
and that ye be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
and put on the new man, that after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth. (ASV)
Even though Christ has entered into your heart there is still war around you.
The battle of letting go of sin.  "I want.  I deserve.  I need...I, I, I..."
Can you be saved and not be a disciple?  Is the struggle what God has planned for you?  No, and No.
One cannot be a Christian and not be changed.  "No one is perfect," but it is a mistake to use that as an excuse for failure to grow.  We should strive harder to be Christlike.  In the letter to the Philippians, Paul says,

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (3:13.14KJV)
 "Press on," that is, "strain toward."  How?
1. Face your shortcomings.  Along with Paul, "I don't claim to be perfect, but I try harder to be more like Christ.  The passionate Christ-follower never stops growing.

2.  Let go of your past. Memories linger, but move on.  Do not let your past control you.
Let go.  Move on.
    a) failures.  God has forgiven you.  Forgive yourself.
    b) successes.  We can hold on to them too long.  Don't stay in the past. Make now a success.

3.  Focus on the future.  As Paul said, Press on; move forward. No looking back.

4.  Fight to win.  Press on = pursue. 

 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (KJV)

You do your best; God will do the rest.

Pastor Joe Deckard
Sunday morning
 
  




Friday, November 13, 2015

Gratitude

Trying to think of something to be outraged about today.  It occurs to me that the abundant blessings I enjoy so overshadow any petty annoyances I might encounter that outrage would be a total waste of intellectual and emotional energy.  And inappropriate.

Thank you, Lord, for your undeserved and unswerving graciousness to me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Modern Miracles

Medicine as practiced in his day, according to my father.
Patient:  I have this (pain, cough, ache, whatever).
Doctor: Have you had it before?
Patient: Yes.
Doctor: Well, you have it again.
Medicine as practiced today, according to my observations.
Patient: I'm having water retention.
Doctor: No problem.  Here's a pill for that.
And a couple months later.
Patient: I'm having a problem with incontinence.
Doctor:  Pshaw.  Not a problem.  Here's a pill for that.
Not to mention the pills for treatment of the side-effects from the previous pills.

And so on.

Say what?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

I Will Follow Jesus Christ




Making a decision:  the ability to make up ones mind.  We are told that the modern adult makes up to 35,000 decisions every day.

Decision fatigue breaks down the power of the will making it more difficult to take a decision.

Today, One Decision, the most important decision of your life. 

The lesson is found in the Gospel of Mark 1:14-20.  Jesus has returned from the forty days in the wilderness.  He is preaching, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe in the gospel."  As he walks along the shore of the Sea he observes Peter and Andrew, fisherman casting their nets.  Jesus calls to them, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."  The immediately forsake their trade to follow Jesus.  A little farther along he calls out James and John who at once left their father at the boat and followed Jesus.

Key:  The disciples dropped everything to follow Jesus.
We would more likely want to set up a conference or coffee chat with Jesus to find out what he is all about.  Why did the disciples drop everything at once? Jesus was so real they could not deny him.  He was so bold that they were compelled to follow.

Jesus had already made the decision but the choice to follow was up to the disciples.
And so it is with us.  The decision is already made, but the choice is up to us.

Two myths that people believe.
1.  I have to get my life together before Christ accepts me.   Wrong.  He accepts you as you are.  Peter is a good example of this truth.  Peter was a mess. 
If you think you have to be perfect to come to church you haven't met many church people.
The Church:  the decided ones.  We are going to follow. 
2. I can offer God a little bit; that will be enough.  Truth:  You must be all in with Christ; all or nothing at all.  The disciples dropped everything.

"You are going to continue being confronted with thousands of decisions.  Christ is asking for just one."  

God will orchestrate our lives such that every other decision makes more sense if we are all in.

This decision is your only guarantee.  Yes or No.
Are you in or out? 

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning
Window: Grace United Methodist Church,
Manassas, Virginia

Friday, November 6, 2015

Unnecessary Trip

Needed some 65w floods for the kitchen.  Knew I could buy half-dozen in Kokomo for half what I'd pay here in town.  Oh, and this is key.  I had checked to see if we had any here in the house.  Refer back to this statement later.

I went to Lowe's, bought a six-pack.  Of bulbs, I mean.  Came home, replaced burned out lights.

Went to store remaining two bulbs and behold, on the top shelf in the laundry room, next to the ceiling, that is, I found not one but three cartons of 65w lamps.  17 (seventeen!) bulbs.

That is life as she is lived hereabouts.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

More Fun at Wally World

Big guy, six-five or so, in a public restroom, phone to left ear, whiney tone, "No.  No, there's been a misunderstanding.  Listen,"  L o n g silence.  "Well, hell." Shoves phone in pocket, storms out of the room.

I am ambling past the jewelry counter.  Stocky guy, sixty-something slams an item down on the counter, spins, walks rapidly past me muttering, "I don't know why I come in this damn place."  Talking to himself, for he is oblivious to my presence and there is no one else around.



Sunday, November 1, 2015

Change


Pastor presented a brief discussion of the book  Who Moved My Cheese using the characters in the book as illustration of different types of reaction to change.  Some anticipate change, some  are good at seeking change; some fear change will lead to something worse; some see that change can lead to something better but adopt it slowly and with consideration.

In an informal poll (show of hands) it seemed that most in attendance claim to be in the last group.

God never changes, but we have to.
 Change happens; we have to deal with it.  The cheese is always moving.

The scripture lesson: Joshua 3:2-7.  Here we seen God's directions to His people concerning the movement of and the following of the Ark of the Covenant.

Three ways to deal with change.
  1. Dwell in the past.  We often have fond memories of the past. Yet there are memories of wounds and hurts, too.  We are reminded of the children of Israel during their journey saying, "Choose a leader and go back to Egypt."  Some people cannot get past the past.
  2.  Stay in the present.   Change is scary.  However, though we may prefer to stay where we are, there really is no "present" so those who choose the present are really living in the past.  Change happens with or without your help. 
  3. Hope for the future.  Some fear the future rather than hoping.

Five things to help us cope with change.
  1. Must be flexible.  Joshua 3:4  We have not passed this way before. (Some people are more fearful than others.)
  2. Must be focused  v.3 "When you see the Ark go after it."  We must focus on the right thing.  There are distractions; must know how to stay on track. 
  3. Be faithful.   v. 5 "Sanctify yourselves."
  4. Be futuristic.  v. 5 "God will do wonders among you."  We must think about what God values most-- the salvation of souls.  
  5. Be fearless.  v. 7 "I will be with you." 
Change is not something we do; change is who we are.

Philippians 3:13-14: Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

 All of us who are mature should take this view of things.


"The Lord will be with you."  Joshua 1:9 
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Shopping

After the first ninety minutes in Wally World, this old guy advised the spouse that he'd be on the bench in front of checkout #17.

She nudged me gently, my eyes popped open, she said, "Watch the cart.  I'll be ready to go soon as I use the restroom."

Later in the evening she told me she hated to wake me because she was afraid someone would associate her with the silly old man who was asleep in the midst of all that traffic.

Embarrassed that someone might think I was hers?  Well!

(Someone is concerned about what the People of Walmart think of her?  Or me?)

Ha. Haha.  Ha.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Friendly or Good Friend?


The lesson is based on the account in the Gospel of Luke chapter five in which the palsied man is brought to Jesus by his friends who because of the press of the crowd lowered the afflicted man through the roof into the Healer's presence.

Am I the type of friend who brings others into a relationship with God?

To be like Jesus we need to
1) show up for the overlooked, the poor, the outcasts; people society looks down on.
2) get rid of our judgmental lenses; see people for who they are: people just like us, broken.
3) shake off people's opinions of us; if you hang out with the broken you will be looked down on.

Jesus purposefully hung out with people who would give him a bad reputation, with people who needed to be made whole.

Who are the sick we need to show up for?  If we don't share the love of God we miss the point.

Jesus was intentional in his relationships.  He wanted everyone to know God.  We need to be intentional in our relationships so that those who are weak in their own faith might "borrow" ours.

There are people in your life that God has put there for a purpose.  They are your calling.

Are you merely a friendly person, or are you really a good friend?

"Love each other." --Jesus

Christ appointed us to do the same thing He did.

Notes on the message as heard by Bob Warr.
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Name Game

You may have noticed that most churches these days are led by a person whose first name is "Pastor." His or her last name is almost always very similar to or the same as a common given name, e.g., Pastor Bob, Pastor Naomi, Pastor Brian.  Curious.  ;-)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Vision for the Lost


The lesson is drawn from Haggai 1:5-15 and Haggai 2:19 in which the people find themselves self-involved to the neglect of God's house.  Their frenetic activity results in loss of profit to themselves.  Yet when they refocus on the house of God, blessings ensue.

Sermon notes 

The people got so busy with their own house, their own concerns, that they forgot their primary focus to be on the house of God.  Little fruit accrued to them.

Whose house are you really concerned about?

The church is not our church, our mission.  It is God's.  Our focus must be on God's work if we are to "bear fruit."  When we think of it as "our community" everything begins to revolve around us.  We exist not just to build up our own house, but to build God's house, His kingdom.

Our focus must shift from self to others.  We must trade our inward focus for an outward focus.

Do we "spend" or "invest"?

1. Time.   Are we spending our time with those closest to us, or are we investing our time in those who need us most?
2. Money.  Are we spending our resources on things that are pleasing to us, or are we investing our resources in reaching the lost for Christ?
 People need Jesus.
We must get a fresh vision for the lost.

How long since you helped lead someone to Jesus?  When did you last share your testimony?

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning



Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37

As the priest and the Levite passed by the wounded man they were asking themselves, "If I get involved what will happen to me?"  The Samaritan saw the sufferer and asked himself, "If I don't stop what will happen to him?"

The difference lies in the focus.

As we see the suffering in the world ask, "Are we focused inward or outward?"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Harvest Time

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
 --Matthew 9:35-38
This the scripture lesson for today's message.

Harvest time conveys a sense of urgency.
The harvest is valuable, the time is short, and the workers are few.

Do you have a vital, living, dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ that means enough to you that you want to share it with someone else?

*God doesn't always call the qualified; He calls the willing.

*Nothing is more exciting than seeing people come to Jesus.

We were challenged to effect church growth by seeing the needy, by ministering to them; by prayer and by bringing the people in through friendship, one by one.

No one is looking for a friendly church.  Everyone is looking for a friend.
 Dr. Mark Gorveatte
 Sunday morning

Dr. Gorveatte is Superintendent of
Central Indiana District
The Wesleyan Church

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Truth in the Funnies

"It's at times like these that I really wish I had listened to what my dad told me when I was young."

"What did he tell you?"

"I don't know.  I wasn't listening."

Conversation between Earl and Nelson --Brian Crane in his "Pickles" comic strip.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

What 's the differential?

The church recently named Dr. D---  Chairman of the Multiplication Division.

In addition, Dr.  D--- will integrate his division with the outreach program of the church.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Outside Looking In

Carole spent her entire adult life leaning over the fence around the inner circle, but no one ever opened the gate.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Breakout: Overcoming Adversity

Crossing the Red Sea as metaphor for Breakthrough.

For a breakthrough look at the heart of the situation.  Breakthrough is more about the condition of the heart than it is the conditions of life or the situation we are in.  It is about a lifestyle that lives a life of breakthrough where one sees himself as a child of God.

If you breakthrough in the spiritual realm nothing can hold you captive.

In Exodus chapter fourteen we see that Israel has left Egypt with boldness, with celebration, in fact.  But it takes them forty years to reach their destination

Sometimes God will take you the long way just to teach you something.
He wants you to face adversity.  It makes you stronger.

When the people started to complain God directed them to be still, move on.  Stop whining and start walking.  Once God makes his way known, Go.  Walk in it.  The Red Sea represented the moment of breakthrough for Israel.  "Stop crying out and move on."  Even as Israel had Egypt, your breakthrough has a name.

"The breakthrough happens not when God takes you out of Egypt, but when God takes Egypt out of you."  (The people were whining at Moses, "You have taken us into the wilderness to die.  We could have stayed in Egypt.")

"God breaks the chains and removes the inclination to go back to them."  We are sanctified to freedom, freedom to worship.

"It is no longer about leaving Egypt but about finding the Promised Land."

The breakthrough is not only a change in motivation, but it is also a time of cleansing.  The filth is not in the mouth but in the heart.  (Illustration of a mother washing the child's mouth with soap.)
In most cases the heart is the problem.

"Rather than praying about the situation, pray about the condition of your heart."

A breakthrough is an experience of victory.

"The habit of persistence yields the reward of victory."  God does something in your heart that gives you victory over situations.

What does God want to teach you?  After the crisis it took forty years of desert to complete the job.

The "Red Sea Experience" beyond which I am never turning back.

  God said, "Let them be free so they will truly worship me."

Our worship is freedom.  We cannot know true worship outside freedom.  God will bring you out of bondage so that you will be free to worship.  God wants to turn the reason for our prayers into the reason for our worship.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Breakthrough: Overcoming Adversity

 Prayer:  "Though we face adversity, You are on our side."

"Look for a promise and stand on that promise."

"Just because you have failed before does not mean you should give up."

When Moses verbalized "Let my people go," the Pharaoh upped the ante, made going more difficult.  It got so bad, in fact, that the people asked Moses to back off.

 "It gets worse before it gets better."

The moment we acknowledge that we want to be free, the real test begins.  "The enemy of your soul does not want you to have a breakthrough; as long as you are in bondage he feels like he is winning."

"There is a spiritual battle raging for your soul right now."

There is a sense in which things get harder, but God is working for you!
Isaiah 48:  I have tried you in the furnace

Psalm 126:5  Those who sow in tears will reap in joy.

When moving toward a breakthrough, expect the greatest adversity just before the breakthrough.

"You will face opposition according to the measure of faith that you need."

You will not be tempted beyond your ability.  You may have to make a willful decision to stop [the behavior].

No temptation will come over you that you are not able to resist. This is a promise of God. (I Corinthians 10:13)

Your level of obedience must be tested.  Also your level of patience will be tested.   You think God has not showed up?  God is always on time.  He does not go by your clock.

Waiting is not fun.  In the testing is the growth of your character.  Wait with joy because God will come through.

Your level of commitment will be tested.  When Moses went into the Mount the people in his absence made unto themselves an image to worship.  Succumbing to the temptation to give up they failed in both the test of patience and the test of commitment.

In Matthew 15 we find an account of a Canaanite woman coming to Jesus for help.  He first ignored her, then he excluded her, followed by an insult to her.  It may seem that Jesus was mean, but he acted with purpose.  The woman's faith exceeded the snubs and insults.  Now that is commitment!

Do not give up too easily.

Hold on to Jesus; he will come through.  Be relentless in your faith.

Adversity comes not to make you stronger but to drive you to believe in and rely on God's strength.  Without adversity we would too much rely on ourselves.

The breakthrough comes not because of your strength but because of who God is!

God's word: Stand back and watch me work.

It always gets loudest right before a victory.
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Congratulations to Pastor Amanda Blair on her ordination at the District Ordination Service last week.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pretenders seem to spew out unfiltered and unthought.whatever pops into their heads and hoi polloi eat it up.

What is the matter with us?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Breakout: Believe We Can

Last week many shared the areas in their lives where they need a breakthrough.  These were generally in the areas of 1) relationships 2) finances 3) career 4) addiction 5) hidden sin 6) thought life 7) depression, and 8) anger.  

None of these areas was represented only once.

I am not alone.  There are people who understand my heavy burden, for they carry it as well.

I know I need a breakthrough, but is it possible?

In Exodus chapter three we read the account of Moses hearing the voice from the burning bush and his encounter with God.  God told Moses, I am setting you apart.

Our skepticism of the future may be an outgrowth of disappointment in the past.
     Have we run into a wall?  The past tells us we are failures in this area in which we need a breakthrough.  What to do?  We could give up, "that's just the way it is going to be."

This is a trust issue, a faith issue.  For a breakthrough we must remove self from the equation and rely on God.
      God gave Moses a sign.  But in a desert area it is easy to ignore a sign.  How many times have you walked by a sign?

God began to speak when Moses stopped to check it out.
     We are so busy in our lives that we don't hear what God has to say.  We are so busy that we don't know when God is showing up.  If you look you will see where God is pointing you in the right direction.

God is trying to give you a sign but you have to let Him.

If you are looking for a sign, God will always show up.

In our lesson we see that God gives Moses instructions, then he gives him a promise.
The breakthrough comes when you identify the promise.

Once Moses had the promise, he had courage.
When was the last time you felt God give you a promise?

The promises of people often fail, but when God gives a word, you have something to stand on!

"I can't give you three steps to getting a breakthrough, but I can show you where to find a promise."

When God gives a promise, it pits God against your problem.

Breakthrough always starts with a promise  PRAY THE PROMISES.
      If you want a promise go to the Word in prayer.  Get a promise.  It will change everything.

II Peter 3:9-- God is never late in fulfilling His promise.  When God gives you a word, you will know.

The word comes with power and authority.

1) Look for breakthrough,  then 2) look for the sign.  Where is God showing up?

GOD WANTS TO TAKE YOUR DOUBTS AND GIVE YOU A FAITH.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

My promise from God to address my issue:  My grace is sufficient. --Bob

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Karma

Isn't that something?  He choked to death on a stale peanut in a Baby Ruth candy bar.  Died doing what he loved most-- eating something that wasn't good for him.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Need a Breakthrough?

Breakout: Going beyond yourself.

Doing nothing is not an option.
 Stop bouncing around in one little comfort zone and breakout.

[Pastor illustrated the dire consequences of complacency by relating the story of Atari and its role in the electronic gaming world.  Atari went from cutting edge to complacency and thence to disaster.]

Complacency is a dangerous problem, a type of imprisonment.  Before you realize what is happening you are stuck.

The scripture lesson:  Exodus 1:8-12 in which  a Pharaoh arose in Egypt who "knew not Joseph."  This king recognized the potential power of the Israelites so he oppressed them, enslaved them.  He knew that if the Israelites caught on to what they were capable of, the Egyptians would be in trouble.

Yet even under oppression the people continued to thrive.  They were a powerful, powerful people but they did not realize it.  They had no idea how powerful they were.  Sadly, the same might be said of the church today.

The Israelites forgot who they were.  The big problem with bondage was that they accepted it.
Bondage and slavery is not about a lack of strength: it is about a lack of truth.
     Jesus said,  Ye shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.

  • The congregation that is complacent, unmoved, let alone being changed, needs a wake-up; needs a breakout; needs to think outside the box. 
  • We have to do something radical to reach people for Jesus Christ.  The church cannot reach people using culturally outdated techniques.  The message must adapt to reach the culture.  We have to start thinking differently.
Individuals need a breakthrough: perhaps physical; perhaps habits that hurt; perhaps emotional; perhaps depression, for example if you allow it to affect relationships, even with God; perhaps financial: money will choke the life out of you, either worry for want of it, or worry for where it is and what it is doing. 

Maybe God wants to bless you in ways you cannot now comprehend.

We come to accept that things are not going to get better.
What is the kryptonite in your life?

Think:  Where do you need a breakthrough?

God hears, remembers, sees, knows every thing you are dealing with in your life.
He wants to deliver you out and bring you up.
Do not settle for less.
"God, I can't beat it, but I know You can!"


And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God knew their plight. --Exodus 2:24,25

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Friday, September 4, 2015

Outrageous!

Headline:  Feminists outraged over Kermit's new younger slimmer pig friend

Where lack of intelligence abounds outrage much more abounds.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Shut off the TV

Pitchman on the tube starts with "Do you have a breathing condition?"

Why, yes; yes, I have.  I am addicted to it, in fact.  I do it often and regularly. perhaps as much as a thousand times an hour.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Mission of the Church

What does it mean to be the church?
What does being the church mean to others?

The church, ecclesia the called out ones.  Yes, we are called out, but then we are sent into the world.  The church is called to be a people on the move.  The church is all about coming and going.  We cannot be the church unless both are happening simultaneously.

The scripture lesson.
 Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. [ESV]

We live in a very dark world, a scary place.  In the spiritual world most people like the dark.  It keeps sin and ugliness hidden.  Since there is darkness all around it gets easier and easier to hide in the darkness..

Darkness is real.  Abuse of all sorts, neglect, drugs, pornography, but our eyes adjust to the darkness.  We avoid thinking about t because it is discouraging.

We can forgive the child who is afraid of the dark.  The real tragedy is when men are afraid of the light.

Darkness after a while feels like a friend.  It is a powerful dominion that hangs over us.

Christ commissioned us to be the salt and the light.  We live in a world of darkness.  Christ sends us to be the light.  Light is energy.  We are here to transfer energy to the world so those in the world can feel the love of Christ beckoning to them.

In this world Hope is not a natural commodity.

How we face situations is a huge example of whether we live in darkness or in light.

Hope may not bring sense to a situation but it brings peace. 
Compassion is a supernatural concern for others. Doing for someone else, not for self, is bringing light to darkness.

Light is Hope, Compassion, Peace.

Joy is really contagious or really annoying.
The joy of the Lord is our strength, a supernatural joy not based on circumstances.

Where do we start?  If you have personal contacts in this world you are already there.
Christ has put you where you are.  Wherever you are you are there to be salt and light to the world.

Invest and invite.

First you invest in others by showing the light of Christ in your life, by doing for them, being there for them.  Then you invite them.  When you have invested in them they will be receptive to the invitation.  The invitation is
"Come, be the church with me."

Who am I investing in as the light of Christ?  In whom have I already invested so that I can invite them to be the church with me?

Once people catch a glimpse of the light they will know that's where they should be.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dragons


  “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”
G.K. Chesterton
 
 “Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.”
G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Calling of the Church


  1. Justice is care for the vulnerable: the homeless, the orphan, the battered, the illegal immigrant.
  2. Justice is righting relationships.  Social justice.
  3. Justice includes generosity.  Generosity is digging deep, going beyond barrie
Our greatest example: God's gift to us.

As a church, we want to move toward doing for others.
God loves justice.  God created us to do justice.
Pastor Joe Deckard 



The lesson is taken from the Gospel of Mark, chapter eleven.

Jesus curses the barren fig tree.  Jesus calls out the disrespect and perversion of the temple.
The disciples observe the withered fig tree. 

Being nice is different from being accepting.
Being kind is different from being accepting.
 
The smaller the church the harder it is to be a part of it.

Who's in and who's out?

We like to help the Lord by doing our part as gatekeepers.  (To make sure the unworthy do not get in.)
Th fig tree is a parallel to what is occurring in the temple.  The temple is that tree.  "Holier than thou" is a description of the temple in Jesus's day.  The temple was designed to delineate who's in and who's out.  The outer court included both Jews and Gentiles.  In the next ring, Jewish women.  Passing through that, Jewish men only would enter the Court of Israel.  Within that ring is the Temple itself.
In the outer court, defiled by inappropriate commerce, gouging those purchasing a sacrifice, we see Jesus in righteous indignation for a just cause, tipping tables, calling out those profaning the temple grounds.  We hear Jesus echoing the Old Testament, "Mine is a house of prayer for all nations."
 Prayer is what keeps our relationship with the Lord from morphing into a religion for ourselves.
 As Jesus speaks, the Jews hear "I have put you here to bless others."  The Gentiles hear, "My house is for you, too."

If there are no sick being ministered to we are missing the point.  If the very people you qualified as "sick" are too sick for you to minister to you are hoarding grace to yourself, even as the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus's day were hoarding grace.

Hearing Jesus's words as a threat that they would be removed, they purposed to remove the threat, that is they determined to kill Jesus.
 Jesus stood up and was counted for the lowly, for the outsider.

Someone said, "Christianity had a way of starting in a grotto with nothing but a message and ending up in a cathedral with nothing but money."

We are the gospel workers of Jesus Christ.  It is we who are called to love of others.
What are we doing for people who are different from us?
God is going to send us people who are unwashed.  Are you okay with that?
God is going to send us people who are not legal residents of the country.  Are you okay with that?
God is going to send us people who have addictions.  Are you okay with that? 
God is going to send us people whose lifestyles differ from our beliefs.  Are you okay with that?
God is going to send us people who are hurting?  Are you okay with that?
God is going to send us people who don't have it all together.  Are you okay with that?

The point is:  We are the ninety-nine and there are lost sheep and we exist to minister to them!
Are you okay with that?
Our job is not to administer salvation, it is to administer grace.

...God gives us grace; we are to give grace to others.
...If grace is not here we are like the fig tree and we will wither and die.

Let us make this place a place for all people, not a den of robbers.
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

 
 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Clowns

are performing now.

Just as he is beginning to gain in the polls, Ted Cruz fries his bacon around the barrel of an automatic rifle.  That's likely not all he fried.

The Donald and Hillary had this in common: pork on a stick.  And they both want to go to Washington.
 
Don't forget the columnists, commentators, and pollsters.  Their antics are every bit as entertaining as those of the candidates.  Good thing, too, because it is a l-o-n-g time until 11-8-16.

All kidding aside (as though we've been kidding) I forgot what I was going to say.  The whole thing is a joke.



Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Administration of the Church

The scripture lesson is I Peter 2:4-12.


We have great power and authority as God's people.
When God gives a mission He gives authority and power to the task.
But with power and authority comes great responsibility.

Everything we do or do not do has eternal consequences. 

The Church is not the Kingdom of God.  It is the custodian of the Kingdom of God.

Certain tasks are fundamental.

Marks of the Church. 
  1. The church will faithfully teach God's Word.  I Peter 1:23-25: The Word stands forever.
  2.  The church will honorably and duly administer the sacraments of Jesus Christ. They are a visible preaching of the Word of God.  Testimony: we were dead in sin, we are alive in Christ. (There is no saving power in the water; the power is in Jesus Christ.)  The Lord's Supper, or Communion, is a means by which God communicates His grace in a sensory way.  Baptism and communion remind us that something that is too good to be true is true.
  3. The church will display the community of faith as rightly ordered.  The clergy administers the sacraments.  All have a part in membership, discipline, caring for and ministering to each other and to others.  Holiness of heart and life is a must.  Grow up in the Lord.  That is holiness.  We are called to be present among the people in the world.  If our community looks to us to see Jesus, what does Jesus look like to them?  Scripture says we are in the world, but not of the world.  It does not say we are "above" the world.  It says we are not "of" the world.
  4. The church will bring glory to God. God is glorified every time we come together.  God must receive all the glory.  If we bring credit to ourselves we have missed the mark.  It is our place to bring glory only to God, never to ourselves.
The Church does not administer salvation.  It administers grace.
Its task is not to charge people, but to show Jesus.
It task is not to tell the world what it is doing wrong, but to tell the world of the saving grace of Jesus.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning
 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Divine Sense of Humor

When He created woman, God promised that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the world.

And then He smiled and made the earth round.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Date Night


Herk said he and Tildy went out last weekend.  Local entertainment, talent show sort of thing.  Told me a guy said, "George Washington used a rooster to search out spies.  Had a man walk the bird down the street, it would lead him to the very house where the spy was.  The original chicken cacciatore."

"Pretty much representative of the quality of the entertainment," Herk concluded.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Nature of the Church

What does it mean to be the church?
Some people say, "I can serve Jesus and not be a part of the church."
Also, "I don't need organized religion."

The world at its worst needs the Church at its best.
lf we are the church we really need to get it right.

[Pastor challenged us to a brainstorming session with those near us, then we were to write down what we think the church is.
I wrote
The Church is the Body of Christ, those individuals who have been born again.]

"Church" is a term used in many contexts.  It is 1) a building, 2) a service, 3) a ministry.
It is important to know the truth about who we are, why we are here, and what we are doing.

[Old testament history shows God dwelling amidst the camp, first in a tabernacle, then in the temple.]
Jesus changes everything.

In John 1:14 we read that Jesus came and tabernacled  with us.
All that God is, was, will be, is wrapped up in Jesus in the flesh.  No longer God in the midst of the camp, but now God in our soul.

Too, Christ was the Lamb who was sacrificed on the altar for our sins.
Then to the disciples Jesus said, Go and wait and I will send the Comforter to you.
The Holy Spirit was made available to all, everywhere, all the time.

[In an aside, Pastor said he once heard a preacher say it was his job to preach, the people's job to listen, and both should end at the same time.  Now I wonder why he interjected that?]

Reading of the scripture lesson, I Corinthians 3:9-17, in which we find
  1. God owns the Church
  2. The foundation is Christ.  Without Christ there is no Church.  Without Jesus the "gospel" fails to be good news.
  3. The builders are the apostles who preach Jesus Christ.
  4. The Church is the people of God. The collective is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
  5. The Church is not property, money in the bank, physical building, a system of belief, any temporal physicality. The Church is the People.
THE CHURCH IS THE SUM TOTAL OF ALL GOD'S PEOPLE CALLED OF CHRIST IN THE SPIRIT OF GOD IN UNITY.








Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning