Sunday, May 31, 2015

Zero to Hero: Saul to Paul

Josh and the team lead worship in the Park

In God's plan, He sometimes uses zeroes, sometimes heroes.

The world needs fewer religious nuts and more dedicated followers of Jesus Christ.

The church should never be responsible for striking fear into people.
It is not to be the judge, the jury, the executioner.

The church is to be known by how we love.

Read Saul's story in The Book of Acts, chapters seven through eleven.
Saul is going around breathing threats to the new Christians evangelizing and growing in numbers.
Saul believes in God.  He is willing to die for the Law.  He sees Christians as a threat to the "true faith."

Saul's personal project: to rid the world of Christians.

On the road to Damascus Saul is blinded by the light, hears "Saul, why are you persecuting me?" to which Saul replies, "Who are you?"  "I am Jesus whom you persecute."  And thus Saul finds that the heretics are doing something right.

Ananias was told by God to anoint Saul as he is God's chosen messenger.  The old Saul knew the law, the rules, the regulations, but he did not know Jesus.

To draw the line between religious nut-jobs and true followers.

  1. A nut-job attacks those called to love.  A radical follower of Christ will go to dangerous places to show love.
  2. A nut-job is known for what he is against.  A radical follower of Christ is not about himself.  What matters is Christ's agenda.
  3. A nut-job plays the role of victim.  A radical follower of Christ is a victor.
  4. A nut-job is devoted to an organization, rules.  Radical followers of Christ are the Church.
Search me, Oh, God, that I not be a nut-job.  I want to be a radical follower of Christ.  I want people who meet me to encounter the love of Christ.

I want the religious nut-jobs to think I am crazy for loving people so much.

Saul went from persecutor of Christians to joiner with Christians.  Saul the Zero to Paul the Hero.

Taking the Christ to the hurting cannot be done by bringing or teaching rules.

One whose prayer is "Jesus, whatever you ask," is no longer a religious nut-job.

Pastor Johnnie Blair delivers the sermon in the Park
Sunday morning

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor?

In my younger day when it was the crass, defiantly crude thing to do, I chewed a lot of chewing gum. Beeman's Pepsin, Clove, blackjack, occasionally Fleers, once in a while, Chiclets.  But as I entered my adult years, no I did not quit chewing, I settled on Wrigley's Doublemint as my gum of choice.

At the time I "quit" an eighteen-stick pack cost a quarter of a dollar.  (This was up from the previous five-stick pack for a nickel, which had gone up to a dime.

At any rate, I tried a stick of Doublemint last night, just for old-times sake, doncha know.  But before my review of the experience, consider this.  Today's pack is fifteen sticks, down one-sixth from the earlier day.  The cost is one dollar, one quarter, and a nickel,  over five times the cost cited above for eighteen sticks.

The experience itself?  The color is wrong; the taste is wrong, the texture is not right, the per stick quantity in-mouth is about half the real thing. and its "lasting power" is approximately the distance from here to the wastebasket.

A whole generation of gum-chewers blithely chomps away, having no idea what the real experience should be.

Or I am just a cranky old guy who remembers things the way they never were

But I think not.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Zero to Hero: Peter the Hero

The pastor delivered this sermon in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  Notes cannot do justice to the delivery.  Trying to hit some of the high points.

The basis for the message is the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

Pentecost Sunday.  Something miraculous happened.  God took a bunch of scrawny, weak, not smart enough people and made them the Church, made them different.

Last week we saw Peter, a nothing who ran his mouth, who denied the Christ, who was a Zero.  Now he is not the same guy. He is something different.  He has something of worth to say.  Peter preaches, 3000 people are converted.  He is now a Hero.

Tongues of fire rested upon the people, each heard the message in his own language.  The people were amazed and perplexed.  What does this mean?  The same power of the Holy Spirit that came upon Peter is available to us today.  The Holy Spirit was the Difference Maker on the Day of Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit is the Difference Maker today.

We must understand that without the Holy Spirit there is no church, or at best only an ugly, powerless, wicked church.

Without the Holy Spirit, we could not live our lives in Christ.  We would still be feebly trying to serve God, yet with no capacity to do so.

What does Pentecost mean to us today?
What we need in the church is the Fire of the Holy Spirit.

There could have been the cross and the resurrection and yet no Pentecost.
There could have been no Pentecost without the cross and the resurrection!

When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will do Christ-like things naturally.

What is the purpose of the Holy Spirit?  What will the Holy Spirit do in us and for us?

  1. He will purge us.  The Holy Spirit will make us wholly pure before God, rid us of our desire for sin.  He purifies, sanctifies.
  2. The Holy Spirit will fill us.  The bad is replaced with the good.  We will produce the fruit of the Spirit.  Do you display the fruits of the Spirit?  The joy of the Lord is not dependent upon circumstances.
  3. He will empower us.  He makes Christ's mission possible.  The Holy Spirit is The Difference Maker. 
The anointing of the Holy Spirit is crucial to the message of Christ.

The Holy Spirit enables us to live the way Christ called us to live.
Your life is to be so overwhelmed with the Holy Spirit that those who come in contact with you come in contact with the Holy Spirit.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning
Pentecost Sunday 2015 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

But why me?

Bob:  Kathryn, I am one month and twenty-nine days younger than you and I shuffle along the ground a half-step at a time.  I looked up a bit ago and saw you running across the lawn.  How can you do that?

Kathryn:  I worked for K-Mart for twenty-eight years and it was constantly "Kathryn, run there;" Kathryn run thither."  I got in such a habit of running I just can't stop.

True story.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Zero to Hero: Peter the Zero

In Mark Chapter Eleven, we see Jesus relating to his disciples that he must die.

Peter rebukes Jesus. "You gotta have guts to rebuke Jesus."

Jesus rebukes Peter. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

Peter:  Blah, blah, blah.

When God's plan doesn't line up with your plan: Blah, blah blah.
What do you do?  How do you respond?

Days later in the upper room Jesus is prophesying desertion, betrayal, and denial by people in the room.  Peter again:  Blah, blah, blah.

In the garden, Jesus praying, sweating as it were great drops of blood, is distraught.
The disciples are sleeping.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  The same men who said they would die for him were sleeping on the job.

Enter another Zero:  Judas.  Judas had in mind a world plan for Jesus, not what Jesus had in mind.  Perhaps the betrayal was an attempt on the part of Judas to force Jesus hand, to force him to "take charge" and establish his kingdom.

We betray Christ for our own dreams.

During the trial Jesus is questioned.  Outside, so is Peter.  Peter denies Jesus.  Curses.
Peter is always saying too much, getting himself into trouble.  He had not counted the cost.
Peter wept bitterly.

Peter was dealing with shame.

We don't talk about shame in the church.  Shame  is the feeling one has in believing he can't get it right, did not live up to his own expectations.  Shame is crippling.

"Peter was constantly dealing with shame, thinking less of himself than he should have.  This is why he talked too much.

Peter was a disciple of the Christ, but in his heart he was still a fisherman,  What a loser.

Four days later Mary found the tomb empty.  The emissary:  "Jesus is alive and well.  Go tell his disciples AND Peter.

Jesus handed out grace, not condemnation.

Some of us carry shame; deny ourselves God's grace.
Put on a front?  You need grace.  You do not need to bear shame.

Jesus paid it all.

Regrets can turn into shame.  Shame will keep you from your full potential.  Shame will cripple you.

"Lord, forgive us for living in shame, for talking too much.  Give us grace.  Put within our hearts and minds the vision of who we are in You.  We need your grace."


Grace always goes too far.
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Drive-time pastime

She was driving, I trying to relieve the tedium of the journey.

"I woke up at three-thirty with a fierce hot flash, threw off the covers and soon I was shivering."

"Know what you mean; been there.  I guess you are getting in touch with your feminine side."

"There's no doubt that the estrogen is beginning to overpower the testosterone."

"We definitely have both female and male hormones."

"You know how that came to be?  When God made Eve he took the rib from Adam which generates estrogen, and thus she has the bulk of the female hormone.  Adam still had some 'e' floating around in his system, and Eve acquired some of the 't' in the transaction.  So yes, we have both types of hormones."

"I suppose you could be right."

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Zero to Hero: Cathedrals of the Faith

The 12th century was a time of religious unrest.  Yet it was a time in which many Gothic cathedrals were built.  They stand yet today as monuments to faith and to the builders.  But we do not know who built them.  Oh, the Catholic Church, yes; but the individual architects and engineers are unknown to us.

Exodus 1, 2.  The story of Moses birth, hiding away, the placement in the reed basket, the adoption by Pharaoh's daughter, and Moses' own mother becoming his nursemaid.

Moses was a giant of the Old Testament, a great leader called and anointed of God.  Without him our faith would look very different.

Moses is a type of a cathedral, a hero, but his mother was a hero first.  She is not named in this story though we later learn that her name is Jochebed.  She is the "invisible builder."  The mother's name means "to the glory of Jehovah."

Jochebed was amazing!

  1. She saw something special in Moses.
  2. She taught him the values of nurturing and caring for people.
  3. What she did saved a nation.
Part of a mother's task is to help a child find God's purpose for its life.

What you do matters.  Every life you impact matters.

In delivering Moses, Jochebed delivered a people.

Mothers' efforts often receive little recognition.
  God sees what you are doing, Mother.  Your life is making a huge difference.   We celebrate you, and I want you to know that God celebrates you.  You are the completing factor.

The invisible builder deserves some credit.  The unmentioned hero is a "Cathedral of Faith."

Who built that?

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Wes and Joan

Throwback Thursday.  Today BBBH posted on her facebook timeline the top picture above and this short paragraph:
  • Twelve years ago we had a wonderful visit in New Mexico with David’s life-long friend Wes and his wife Joan.   Wes’s parting words: "If we don’t meet again here we will see you at the Marriage supper of the Lamb.” We did not know it would be our last meeting on this Earth.  Both are rejoicing on the other side.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Zero to Hero

[This is the introductory message to a series which will look at some Old Testament Heroes, and perhaps some zeroes, too.  Notes on the sermon.]

The Scripture lesson is from Genesis chapter three, verses one through sixteen wherein we find the woman tempted of the Serpent, succumbs and shares of the forbidden fruit with the man.  God finds them naked in the Garden.

Verse fifteen is crucial in which the victims of the Serpent's wiles are told by God, "I will put separation between you and sin."

Serpent = villain
Plan: to topple everything which God made and pronounced "Good."  It worked.
God = Hero: He saves (v. 15).

What does it mean to us?

Adam and Eve were victims, but God is Good.  There are no victims in God's Kingdom.  God does not allow us to be victims.  He saves us. "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly,"  --Romans 5:6

God through Christ removed victimization from our lives.

We are to live our lives as He modeled for us.  God helps the helpless, and we are responsible for assisting in His plan.

[Pastor cited several examples of hurting people and need in the world, places where we might make a difference.  For example, he stated that it is estimated that there are thirty-five million people in the world today who are enslaved.]

If every decision we made impacted someone, could we give up our desire to benefit the someone?

It is easy to say what we can do to "save the world" but can we do what needs to be done?
Are you willing to do what is hard, to let go of control to help the helpless?

Are we willing to do all we can in order to meet the convictions God places in our lives?

Characteristic of a Hero:  One who goes the distance.  God did.  Shouldn't we?

We can make a difference through every decision we make.

Pastor Joe Deckard
Sunday morning

Saturday, May 2, 2015