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


  “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.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning