Sunday, March 29, 2015

Focus: Where Hell is Breaking Loose

This is Palm Sunday.  The scripture lesson is Luke 19:29-46.

"At the descent of the mount of Olives" we see Jesus on the colt looking toward Jerusalem. Jerusalem where the leadership was trying to hold onto political and religious power.  As he entered the city, he was not recognized.  Jesus wept over the city.

"I do not see triumph," said Pastor, "I see a weeping prophet who knew what was coming.  He knew.  He wept because they didn't know."

Amidst the shouts and praises, hell was breaking loose; Jesus was in torment, had already laid down his life.

Within the city, hatred and bitterness was harbored.  Plotting to kill Jesus, rid the world of him was afoot..

  • "Wherever hell is breaking loose, God is working most."
The demons of hell are fighting against the very salvation Jesus came to effect.  Knowing what was to come, Jesus wept.  "All goes downhill from here."
In the temple, Christ in anger threw out the moneychangers, turned over tables, for he found that
  • the church that was  meant to administer grace was hoarding grace to itself.
The house of prayer had become a den of robbers.

Do we put a safe distance between ourselves and the hell that is breaking loose? Robbers holding grace to ourselves that Christ commisioned us to offer to the world?

Christ called us to go to places where hell is breaking loose, to get messy.  
  • The church is not to be set by the boulevard, but rather next to the gates of hell.  Why? To keep people from getting in!
I don't like to go where the road goes down.
Jesus: "Take up your cross and follow me."
We need to ask, "Where is hell breaking loose now?"

Do we come to church, set up a culture which distances us from that culture? Where there are people who are like me, who like me?

Jesus was not just celebrating praises: he was dying for a cause.

Hell is Breaking Loose.  What are you doing about it?

Where we see the most pain, the most corruption, the most chaos, the most need, that is where God is pointing us to go.  He carried our guilt, our sin, our cause, and he died for that.

We must not hold for ourselves that which we are commissioned to give to the world.
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Palm Sunday morning

Saturday, March 28, 2015

In Earnest? No, Just. . .

You all know that Josh Earnest is the White House Press Secretary.

But did you ever think about the juxtaposition of those two names applied to one man?

What do I imply?  Nothing whatsoever.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Focus: Spiritual Lens

"The dukes are up, the struggle is real.  If He would just speak; give me direction, give me peace.  I need to hear the Voice."

The lesson is from Matthew 17 in which Jesus takes Peter, James and John with him onto the mountain where they saw  Him in His glory.  Moses and Elijah appeared, signally the melding of the Law with the fulfilling of prophecy.

In the Old Testament, we learn Moses received the Law after the Booming Voice of God spoke from the mountain.  Elijah following the display of God's power was terrified and fled into the wilderness.  Amid the earthquake and the fire, Elijah looked for the Presence of the Lord.  The Presence was in a gentle whisper.

Peter said, "Let us worship."  Words.  We have words for all occasions.  What we lack is a word from God.  The instructions are so simple we miss them.  The disciples were told, "Listen to Him." This implies that God is talking.

God is already speaking.  The question is

Am I listening?

He speaks through life situations, through other people.

We have to quiet ourselves enough to hear.

Our spiritual lens:  we receive through what we hear, not through what we see.

Listening to God is what brings clarity in all things.
Clarity comes when you hear the voice of God.  


Study the Word of God.  Listen to His Voice.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Friday, March 20, 2015

The 21st Century Elementary Student

Hauled three of the great grands to school.  First, third and fifth graders.  They hauled more luggage with them than wife and I carried with us on a three-week tour of Europe thirty-some years ago.  The backpack stress for kids has been partially alleviated.  They are now using the little wheeled "stewardess" cases.  Three kids and four pieces of this luggage filled up the back seat, for sure.

Irony:  The kids haul this stuff back and forth, get home, get on their electronic devices and do whatever it is they do.  Bags may never be opened.  Now, admittedly that is just a guess.  But a darned good one, I'll wager.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

On the Highways

A few years ago following a harrowing afternoon on US 77, I wrote, "There are two kinds of drivers on the road.  1) The young, fearless, impatient idiotic drivers, and 2) the old, timidly dangerous idiotic drivers."

Then there was me, of course.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Focus: Beauty Will Save the World

What does the world say about beauty?  It is in what you wear, how you look.

In God's eyes, beauty is light vs. darkness of the world; purity vs. sin of the world.

Beauty for heaven and beauty for the world are vastly different.

"Beauty will save the world,"  wrote C.S.Lewis.

In the beginning, the genesis, God beheld his handiworks and said, "It is good," which is to say "It is beautiful."

Man was created perfectly in the image of God; then man cheated on God.

Without God, man started seeking other things  to fill the void that was left within him: material things, power, recognition.

Then God said, "I don't want you to die.  I want you to live."  Jesus came as the perfect man, and died in our place that we might live.  He came to restore us to the Father.  Our scars of our sin life remind us how far we have come and are a testimony to the work of Grace within.  All beauty comes from God, even the scars.

Beauty is anything in God's image.

Many still walk in darkness, in ugliness.  It is a dark, ugly world.  "Beauty will save the world."  God's beauty.

Through God using us to go to places ugly, dark, and messy, beauty can be restored.

The scars we bear are pieces to the puzzle to put things back together.  Through our testimony, we can enter the ugly world, weep for the broken.  God's beauty can save the world, and we have the opportunity to be a part of that.

What are we doing about it?

Are we covering our scars with scarves and long sleeves?  Let them testify to God's love and salvation.

God chose us to be his hands and feet in his project to restore the world.

Pastor Joe Deckard
Sunday morning 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


For a brief moment forget the content of the messages and who owned the account.We might assume that it would take an average of five minutes per message given that they would be intelligent communications written intelligibly.  At 55,000 pages over the course of the tenure of the SoS that would come to three hours per day, seven days a week just to send the messages, conservative estimate, nevermind reading responses.

That, of course, is for the smartest woman in the world.  It would take me much longer.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Focus: Living Life Together

Pastor introduced the message by sharing her "show and tell" from pre-school.

  • As we age, we share less with our neighbors.
  • We tend to pull back.
  • We are afraid to let people into our lives because we think they might realize that we are not perfect.
We are meant to live in community!  

The scripture lesson:  Acts 2:42 - 47 in which we find that
  1. the early Christians pledged their lives to learn more about God; they were devoted to learning and to community.
  2. they studied together to learn from each other.  Scripture calls us out to meet together to learn.  To join a church is to affirm that you understand the language spoken there; that you want to be a part of the family.
  3. the early church was connected through sharing; it was a community of givers.  They worshipped in the temple court (sharing with the world) and in each others homes (sharing with one another.)
  4. they loved the community.
Go out, model Christian living before the world at large; invite others into the Christian life, into our lives.  Show what it means to love one another.

We are connected by the love of Jesus and each other.

 "Imperfect people committed to a radical, spirit-empowered love can change their relationships and the world. This is what we are called to do as the body of Christ."

Pastor Amanda Blair
Sunday morning

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Busy, busy

Walked into the drugstore.  As I walked toward the window, I noted that Mary, the department manager, was removing all the toothpaste from the counter end display.

I picked up and paid for my script.  As I walked out, Mary was at the other end of the same counter, placing the same toothpaste on the end display.

"Keeping busy," I said.  "Reminds me of a boss I had one time.  Told me, "Always be busy.  If you have to shovel that pile of dirt from here to there then move it back again, do it.  Don't let me catch you standing around."

Mary laughed.  "Sometimes it works like that."

Well, it did in the world I grew up in.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bada Boom

It has been many years since I had regular dealings with fifth graders.I had almost forgotten how much fun they can be.  Yesterday I got to visit with a great grandson who is in fifth grade this year.

"I've got one for you.  Ned pushes a silver car down the road and stops at a red hotel.  He was mad.  Why?"

"Here's another one.  A man rides into town on Friday.  Three days later, he leaves town on Friday.  How did he do it?"