Sunday, June 28, 2015

Zero to Hero: Saul and David

Pre-sermon sermon, addressing the week's events in our national life:
"We are not ruled by fear, we are ruled by love."

The message starts with the story of Saul in I Samuel 9.  Samuel recognizes that this comely young man is to be king over Israel.  The anointing was on Saul and he prophesied.  Saul was put in a position of authority because it was obvious that was where he belonged.

When the heathen hordes ordered Israel to submit or die, Saul burned with anger, cut up his oxen, sent the parts throughout Israel with the message to "join me to fight, or be even as this ox."  Saul was very motivational!  300,000 joined to fight with him.

God's promise to Saul:  You will be blessed so long as you are obedient to my will.

However, Saul had a problem.  The difficulty was not so much with what he did, but with the heart with which he did it.  Saul convinced himself that he himself could offer the sacrifice in Samuel's absence.  Samuel was pretty upset and told Saul his kingdom would not endure (chapter 13).

Saul looked good, but his heart was flawed.  He was lifted up with pride, the sin from which all other sin grows.

In the Book of Acts, we are told that God said, David will do what I want him to do.
Samuel saw something different in David.

David had a heart after God's own heart.  God's workman must be empty of self, and this we see in David.  Samuel anointed David, making him king over Israel years before David ascended to the throne.

Saul had it all.  My how far he fell.

cf. Saul and David

Saul was concerned with his own kingdom; David was concerned with God's will.
Saul was disobedient; David heeded God's word.
When you hear the Word of God, do you walk rightly in it?
Saul's heart was set to forget God's word; David's heart was set to receive God's word.
Saul was rebellious and defensive; David was receptive and repentant.

Oswald Chambers gave us a three-point test on the scale from Pride to Humility.
1.  Precedence.  How do we react when another gets the assignment we expected or when we are overlooked.
2.  Sincerity.  You may self-evaluate and be critical of yourself, but how do you feel when rivals criticize you?
3.  Criticism.  Does criticism arouse hostility in your heart?  Are you overly critical of others?

Saul was critical of others; David valued others.
Are your thoughts predominately  critical or uplifting?

God help us to have a heart that is after Your own heart.

I need You every hour.

David as role model:  When David fell, he got up facing the right direction.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

As I left the sanctuary, Pastor greeted me.  I asked him this:  If I have a natural tendency to be critical, do I get points if I don't express the criticism aloud?
"Pray,"  he responded.  "Pray more."

A few years ago, vanilla posted a brief sermonette about Saul

Friday, June 26, 2015

What He Said

"Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. … Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
John Adams

"Compared to so many issues, America's shift has been so quick."
Barak Obama, on the SCOTUS gay marriage decision.

Once the skids are greased the descent is appallingly fast.
Bob Warr

"If you are among the many Americans -- of whatever sexual orientation -- who
favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it."
"Supporters of same-sex marriage have achieved considerable success persuading their fellow citizens—through the democratic process—to adopt their view. That ends today. Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept."
Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Zero to Hero: Abraham

I have three 5 x 8 sheets filled with sermon notes.  Too much debris in the yard today.  we are worn out.  Blessed, though, to have good neighbors who pitched in and did the heavy lifting and a bunch of raking and carting.  Nevertheless,  I think I have to abbreviate this.  Too bad, because it was an excellent sermon.

  • It is human nature to ask "why?"
  • Abraham with Isaac and his servants traveling to the Mount of sacrifice, Abraham was surely asking, "How could God bless, then take away the blessing?"
  • Isaac questions what is going on, Abraham starts to explain that God will provide.
  • Abraham binds his son, raises the blade to spill the blood.  God speaks after three days of silence, "Abraham."
  • "Here am I."
  • "Because you have not withheld, I will bless.  (Genesis 22)
Abraham did not hold anything back.
Few seem to understand what it is God wants us to learn from this lesson.  We need to get to the point where we can answer the question "Why?"  Why do you serve God?  Why do you believe?

This is the "why."  Isaac was the "why," the promise of God, and now God says, I want it back.

==If God took away every "why" I had for serving Him, would I still serve Him?

==Abraham acknowledged that God could rewrite the contract anytime He wants.

Abraham did everything required of him.  He was a hero of the faith (Hebrews 11:17-18) because he gave everything back to God.

==If there were no promise of heaven still having God in my life is worth it all.
==He is God and I am not.

If you are the god of your own life, God does not meet your expectations.

==It is one thing to offer God to your children; it is another thing to offer your children to God.

God has already laid down His life for you; you must lay down your life for Him.

==What you offer in worship matters.  You must give of yourself fully.  That that brought pain, that that brought joy, should be turned into praise.
Offer God the best of what you have, not the last of what you have.
The "why" matters, the heart matters.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

News Stories

There is a reason that the newspapers no longer refer to their content as "news reports."  They now call the things under their headlines "stories."  Check it out.

Eight times out of ten* the first paragraph is a lead-in filled with the bias** of the rag and having virtually nothing to do with the "story."

*Statistic made up on the spot.  Just like many of the "stories."
**"Color" perhaps a more generous term.

Remember the four "w"s we learned in grade school?  Who, what, when, where.  The why used to be left for the reader or for further research.  Wonder what they are teaching in J school these days.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Herk's Fairy Garden

Last evening I was sitting on my lanai enjoying the evening breeze.  Herk Bitterman saw me, walked over to his fence, leaned on a post and "Howdy, Bob.  Nice evening."

"Sure is.  How's it going, Herk?"

"Oh, good.  Good.  Couldn't be better, actually."

"Great to hear.  Say, Herk, what's with the big pot on the other side of your yard?  Next the fence there.

"Hey, Bob, I''m glad you asked.  I had this idea to build a fairy garden.  See can I attract the little fellers to the neighborhood.  Kidding.  But I think a little garden, a little grass, a few tiny flowers, maybe some little trolls is a neat idea.  So I'm building one.  Got the plantings and benches and stairs in, just need to find some figurines the right size."

"Tildy like it?"

"Doesn't much matter.  This is my baby."

"Now, Herk.  C'mon."

"No, really.  She wants me to be painting the dining room.  Gotta move all that heavy furniture.  And I'll do it, but she can stew for a day or two.  Nice talkin' with ya.  Night now."

That couple?  Definitely greater than the sum of the parts.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Another Garden Project Next Door

Herk was sitting on a five-gallon bucket in the backyard.  In front of him was a large, say twelve-inch clay pot and a bag of soil.  The pot is broken, one side has a chunk out of it, six by nine or so.  Lying on the ground, a bunch of stones from fist-size down to quarter-size, a couple of smallish seashells, a four-inch trowel.

What the heck?

I didn't need to ask, for about the time I had made the above inventory, Tildy sauntered out into the yard.  She asked.  And in those words, followed by "are you doing?"

Herk:  I am going to build a fairy garden in this broken pot I've been saving out behind the barn.

Tildy:  You are going to build a "fairy garden" out of that hunk of junk?  I mean, we have things that need to be done around here, you know.

Herkimer, undeterred, remained attentive to his task.  As he tried pieces here and there making no response to Tildy's remark, she returned to the house.

I'll see Bitterman in a day or two and I'll needle him a bit, see what I can learn.  Nibby mood.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Home from Missions Trip

On returning from Haiti, I believe I have a larger picture of who God is.  God convicted me of some things this week.

The context of our lives is shaped and influenced by many things.

  • politics, wars-- freedom is not free, relationships with the people around us, our place of origin, the amount of wealth-- or lack thereof, societal status, ones place within the culture.
All leave a lasting effect.  We are shaped by them.

In the Book of Acts, chapter 5 we see the development of the early church.  All these things were influences then as now.  People are people.

==There is a way in which God wants to change who we are, replace the "who" as we have been shaped with what we were meant to be.

Reading Acts 5: 12-16  we see people seeking healing simply by positioning themselves so that the shadow of Peter would fall upon them.  The apostles were casting shadows from the Almighty who was breathing life through them.

==What kind of shadow am I casting?
Is it my own? Am I merely hoping that as I cast my shadow good will come of it? Or is it God working through the Holy Spirit in my life?

==No man can change the culture for the Good if God be not in him.

Even with a church on every corner, our shadow is shrinking.  Why?  We still have the Holy Spirit, but our tanks are getting empty. We don't see Christians living under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit.  We need to get to the realization that we need a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The shadow we cast says something about the presence of God in us.

I believe God's people should be in a place that represents such power of God that all who fall under our shadow are affected by it.

Let's get first things first.

Let's be sure that things are right within us.  God will do something so big it will take our dream and blow it away.

Say of yourself:  Holy Spirit, you are welcome in this place!

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Bittermans Gardening

As you know, Herk and Tildy Bitterman live right next door.  Now my lanai is a mere twenty feet from their picket fence and while I would never intentionally eavesdrop, sometimes I cannot help but overhear their banter.

Inside their fence and along the edge of their sun room are flower beds in which they attempt to keep some semblance of order:  along the fence, tomatoes one year, morning glories another.  Along the foundation of the sun room, cedar mulch.  Now the mulch is a couple of years old and the bed has been overrun with weeds.

I see Herkimer with trowel in hand headed toward the bed and I hear Tildy holler from the sun room, "I don't want that clover dug up.  It is pretty and it looks better than bare earth."

"That," I hear Herk respond, "is oxalis.  It is a voracious weed and I want it gone."

Sometime later Herk has moved on to his tomato bed and I hear him call to Tildy.  "Look, I left the clover."  I look and behold there is a sprig of clover with two or three stems, perhaps six or seven inches high in the clean bed where he had been working.  He goes on working the soil around his tomato plants.

Presently Tildy comes storming into the yard.  She marches purposefully to the clover plant, grasps it and yanks.  It comes free of the soil, of course, and she throws it over the fence.  "I am mad at you," she hollers as she stomps back into the house.

Time lapse.

The next afternoon, Tildy and Herk are in the yard carefully setting the pretty plants from a flat of perennials into the beds Herk prepared the day before.  Working together, smiling, laughing, seemingly as happy as two gallinules in a marsh.

Finished product looks really nice, too.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Correctness Run Amok

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls.  Three things happen when they are in the lab. … You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticize them, they cry.” --Tim Hunt, holder of the Nobel Prize in medicine, who for this no longer holds his position at the University.

Agree with his position or not, your choice, it is a sorry world in which a man of his stature cannot express his opinion on social issues without losing his job.  Also, he admits he is a "chauvinist pig" so what is the problem?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Zero to Hero: Esther

The old series "Lost" was outlined on a giant whiteboard.  The entire series was created by the writers with its ending in mind.

Think of God's massive whiteboard on which is displayed the beginning and the end.  Where are we on the whiteboard?

The Jewish people were dispersed, many taken captive.  Esther and her cousin, Mordecai, where residing in Persia.  At one point, the King had granted the Jews the option to return to Jerusalem, but these two people chose to stay.

The Persians loved great show.  The King would throw lavish banquets to show off his wealth and possessions.  At one such show, the King ordered Queen Vashti to appear at the feast.  She refused.  She lost her crown (but not her head; she continued to reside in the palace.)  The King sought a new Queen.  Now, to live in the king's harem was to be on call, yet one might never be called.

This Jewish woman was chosen to be Queen.

Cousin Mordecai hears of a plot to rid the kingdom of Jews.  He goes into mourning.  Esther learns this, tries to get Mordecai to eschew his mourning garb, lest he lose his life.

The king grants leave to Haman to carry out his plot to rid the country of the Jewish people.

God had a plan for Esther and Mordecai and they were placed in their positions for a reason.

God has placed us where we are for a reason.  We have a job to do.

A. B. Simpson said, "God is preparing His heroes and when the opportunity comes He can fit them into their places in a moment and the World will wonder where they came from."

The world of Esther's time did indeed wonder why the King chose a commoner and a Jew as Queen.
But when Mordecai told Esther she must plead for the people before the King, she accepted the challenge, even knowing that approaching the King with the matter could cost her her life.  She had a mission.

God uses people to further His purpose
==What has God given you that you can use to further His kingdom?

Esther had to "step up" but she had a choice.  Had she made the wrong choice her generation would have been lost.

We were created for this time.  Will we fulfill God's purpose?

When Christ comes into our lives we take Him to the World.
==It is not that we are to bring the World to Christ, but rather we are to take Christ to the World.==

What are you doing with what God has given you?  Are you going to be part of His story or not?

==It is our job to step up and take Jesus to a lost and dying world.==

Pastor Amanda Blair
Sunday morning

Friday, June 5, 2015


Technology has advanced to the point where all the stupidity in the world can be instantly delivered to your phone.  --Church Curmudgeon

And often much of it is, unbidden. --Bob's adjunct to the above.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

I love

my local newspaper.

12 percent of
eligible voters
did so in
Indiana primaries

Hunh?  Did what? Reading the article showed me that what was meant was:
12 percent of
eligible voters
voted in
Indiana primaries

Why didn't the writer say what was meant?  Clear, conveys the message and it is shorter. (by one space).

And do I get my jollies by being critical of the paper I love?  Why, yes, I believe I do.

On a serious note, that statistic is nothing we can be proud of.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Can't make this stuff up

Mrs. Warr wears this shirt on occasion.  Woman walked up to her the other day, "Oh, I'm a conservationist, too.  I like your shirt!"  She ran her eyes down to the bottom of the garment, then, "Nevermind," spun on her heel and walked away.

I would like you for supporting what I like, but if I don't like what you support,  I don't like you.

Twenty-first century.