Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Father often said, "There's nobody funnier than people.

I finally realized that he meant "funny strange," not "funny haha."

Sunday, December 18, 2016

How Art Happens


I:  (After sitting for excruciatingly long minutes working across the table from her.) There. I finished the picture for the Christmas greeting.

She: Looks like the work of a six-year old.

I: That hurts my feelings.  (Not kidding.)  Look at it again.  What do you see?

She: A palm tree and a guy on a camel.

I: (Feeling validated.) Exactly!

She:  Okay; eight-year old, then.  So if that is a wise man, where are the other two?

I:  Read the bubble. (Holding it closer to her.)

She:  Hey.  Wait up!

I: It was easier than trying to draw three wise men.



Friday, December 16, 2016

Mrs. Warr, talking about a grandson:  "Twelve is such a wonderful age for boys.  They are still in touch with their feminine side; so sweet.  Then they turn into butt heads until they're fifty.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Hello?

Hi.  Hey, Rick I am appointing you Secretary of Energy.  Maybe that will help you remember the name of the Department.

Friday, December 9, 2016

ASAP

Someone needs to take someone's smart phone away from him.  And put him in timeout.

Please!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Heart Healthy for the Holidays


Today's message continued the series "Christmas at the Movies" and featured clips from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

The shriveled heart condition exists not only in the world at large but within the church as well.

What causes a heart to be so small?
The causes of a shriveled heart are often our hurts, our habits, and our hangups.
1.  Words have the power to hurt and the hurt is magnified when those words come from someone we love.
2.  Habits can be destructive both to the self and to others.  Are we going to fix the bad habits or allow them to continue the destruction?  We may think too highly or too lowly of ourselves.
3.  Hangups are those external forces that play a role in who we are but over which we have no control.  Good behaviors build, bad behaviors tear down.  What has been modeled for us determine our hangups.

THE GOOD NEWS
     The good news is that no matter the hurts, the habits, or the hangups 
God can redeem our hearts. 

Freedom from hurts, habits, and hangups = redemption.

Life in Christ should be joyful.  God provides joy.

In the scripture lesson from Acts chapter nine we see the conversion of Saul, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee on his way to Damascus to rout out the followers of Christ.  Saul, or Paul as we now know him, was shaped by the teachings in which he was trained (hangups) and in his lights he was doing what was right.  But God intervened, Paul was converted and became the greatest planter of Christian churches the world has known.

(A footnote:  Ananias when directed by God to go to Paul was reluctant to go because of the past hurts in his life.)

If you claim your heart has been changed but your actions have not changed, it is time to reassess your claim.  Even for the Grinch, the change in his heart changed his actions.

Through Jesus God turned our
     hurts into hope
     habits into health and healing
    hangups into joy! 
Only God can change our hearts, but we have a part in the process, too.  We must open the door and tear down the walls we have built up.  God does the cleanup.
Notes on the message  of
Pastor Josh Delph
Sunday morning

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Redeem the Holiday



This is the first Sunday of Advent.  This is the first in the sermon series "Christmas at the Movies."
The harried and hurried lives we live is illustrated by a clip from the movie, "Christmas with the Kranks."

A lot of what we do at Christmas time leaves Jesus out of the picture.

REDEEM THE HOLIDAYS.

     The real reason for celebrating Advent is lost in the wrappings all the wrong things.
Boycott the spirit of Christmas and exchange it for the Spirit of Christ.

     The Spirit of Christ says ":Less is more."  Less stuff, less hurry, more joy!
The simplest things bring the most joy, the most peace, the most satisfaction.

What it means to cultivate the Spirit of Christ
     Less spending, more giving.  In Acts 29 we read "It is more blessed to give than to receive."  
Buying is often more about how it makes us feel.  True giving is not about the amount of money but about the thought behind the gift.
  
The spirit of Christmas is about spending; the Spirit of Christ is about giving.

LESS HURRY, MORE PEACE
     " See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."  --Ephesians 5:15,16

REDEEM THE TIME
   The temptation to hurry is one of the greatest evils of our time.

     MEMORIES ARE NEVER MADE IN A HURRY.
     SLOW DOWN.
 Hurry robs us of time with those in need; hurry robs us of time for prayer.

GOD CAN GIVE YOU PEACE
     Hurry is the spirit of Christmas; Peace is the Spirit of Christ.
What would it look like for you to redeem the time?

THERE NEEDS TO BE LESS ME AND MORE JESUS.
    Let Christ be the center of your life all year-round.  Let your life revolve around Him.

John the Baptist said, He must increase; I must decrease.
     And so it must be with us.

FOCUS ON THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST WHO WRAPPED HIMSELF IN HUMAN FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US FOR OUR SAKE.
     In His heart of giving He gave everything He had.

>Advent is not just about looking back on His coming as a baby, it is about looking forward to His coming again!<

IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT WE ARE NOT WRAPPED UP IN THE WRONG THINGS WHEN HE DOES.
     
Notes on the message by
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning
 



     

 


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving dinner

I avoid most of the click bait when scrolling down a facebook page but occasionally one is just too tempting and I bite, usually to my regret or at least to my dismay.

Yesterday the bait was something on the order of "ten things that should never appear on the Thanksgiving dinner table."

Just about every traditional item served on Thanksgiving was listed along with snide commentary on each.  What an ingrate.  It is Thanksgiving and some spoiled "Me-only" is whining because his cheeseburger and lollipop is not on the table?

Such an attitude of ingratitude is a direct result of people believing that nothing and no one beyond the self matters.

At the least, be grateful for the air you breathe.  I'm trying real hard to be thankful that I can share it with you.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Prayer of "Send Me"


The scripture lesson is Isaiah 6:1-9 in which is revealed to Isaiah the holiness of the Lord.  He
recognizes his own unworthiness, is cleansed and then accepts the mission God has for him.


The prayer of "send me" is a dangerous prayer; it is more scary than it is glamorous.  The prayer implies that the "I" no longer cares about its wants, but about what God wants.

1. One response to the message of service is "Here am I, I'm not going."  Jonah is a scriptural example of this response.  His response was rejection of the assignment by way of going in the opposite direction from God's purpose.  The Book of Jonah details the story and the travails of the man and how he finally turned to God's purpose.

2. A second response to God's calling is "Here am I, send someone else."  Moses gives us an example of this response.  In Exodus 4:13 we hear Moses literally tell the Lord to "send someone else."  Seeking something that suits us better than what God wants is a sign that we prefer being served to providing service.  If you are more concerned about being served  than being sent, go to a restaurant.

Everyone has a call of God on his life. There is something special that He wants you to do.

3.  The third response to God's call is "Here am I, send me."  (Isaiah 6:8) This happens out of true conviction.  Like Isaiah, we must experience the presence of God in all his glory and holiness. (Rev.4)

To pray this dangerously
We must experience the presence of God in all his holiness.

The magnificence of God determines the magnitude of your mission.

We must realize the depth of our own sinfulness. (6:5)  We are unclean; God is holy and we are not.

We must have a real experience with the grace of God. (6:7) The coals represent cleansing, sins atoned for.

Something should happen that we must cry out, "Send me!"

Come to the end of self, learn to live in the shadow of Grace.

Grace:  When your sinfulness and God's holiness come together

 Terrifyingly beautiful

 Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Is there hope?

It seems we have become an unruly mob of riff-raff who will assemble and shout down the President as he attempts to express a valid idea.  I mean, he is the President.  What is the matter with us?

Too many years of "If you want it you should have it; if you don't have it someone should give it to you." ?
Too much self-absorption, undisciplined living?
 Or just plain disrespectful of self and everyone else?

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Perspective

Good morning!  How's your day?

The entomologist:  Everything bugs me.

The ornithologist:  It's for the birds.

The cosmologist:  Deep, very deep.  And dark.

The cosmetologist: Hairy.

The criminologist:  I haven't a clue.

The psychologist:  How do you feel about that? 

The old man on the corner who shines shoes and sells newspapers: The bees are buzzing, the birds are singing, the sun is shining in a clear, blue sky.  Not a worry in the world, and it is going to be a wonderful day today!

 The moral:  <write your own tagline>
ib

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Last night a certain solid centrist city hastily instituted a sensible emergency ordinance prohibiting either Donald or Hillary costumes for Halloween.  After all, the council reasoned, Halloween is merely for scaring people in good fun, not scaring them to death.

BOO !

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Rambling


The container complements the contents.

The problem in the instant is that the container for the thing contained has sprung too many leaks. 

The holey container may continue its existence but it will soon be empty.

Bar's to the rescue!

Alas, some things are irremediable.

Contents lost and the container is lost as well.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

39 and Holding

More dollars than sense.

Outdoor temperature 55o F.

Don't know price of a new car, but have seen four-year-olds advertised in the 85k - 90k range.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Time Over Time


Scripture readings:  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Psalm 90:12; James 4:14.

1. The family matters.
2. The key to changing the culture, society, is the spiritual development of the family.
3. Spiritual development for the most part happens in the home.

The lesson develops to show that raising children is time intensive and must be intentional.

    Are you playing for fun, or are you playing for keeps?
For keeps matters over the long haul.  To become more intentional as a parent, must give time over time.

    Stop trying to make every second count and start making history.
You are making history with your kids.  Always work the time.

    There is no room for shortcuts when it comes to raising kids.

    It will always be worth the time put in.
The clock will run out; take advantage of the moment while you have it.

    The church can equip us for the time we have but the church can never put in the time needed to play for keeps.

SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT IS CRITICAL TO THE CHILD, TO SOCIETY.  SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT FOR THE MOST PART OCCURS IN THE HOME.

Tag team:
Pastors Johnnie and Amanda Blair
Sunday morning

Saturday, October 1, 2016

All right, then

A certain sort of smart begets a special sort of stupid. --Church Curmudgeon

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Architecture

As I was strolling through an older neighborhood I espied an elderly gentleman tending the roses around his front porch.  The house was a Victorian painted lady and exceedingly attractive.

"Beautiful home!"  I remarked.

"Isn't she just?" the man replied.  "She was built in 1893.  I bought her twenty years ago and spared no expense in restoring her to her halcyon days.  You wouldn't believe how baroque I am."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

"Here, Puppy!  Nice doggie.  Come get your chew toy."

And the silly dog comes running, grabs the toy, strychnine and all.

Oh, my.  Cruella De Vil had nothing on that woman.

The amazing thing is that the pup has such limited discernment that he could sit on a hillside chewing on a decades-old non-issue while the world burns.  Clueless.

Nero had nothing on this guy.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

We Reach Out

The scripture lesson is from the first sixteen verses of the third chapter of The Acts of the Apostles in which we see Peter and John entering the gate of the temple.  There, looking down, they see the lame man begging alms.  Defying societal norms, they look at the man who in turn is so beaten down by society that he does not look at them until Peter tells him to do so.

Having no money they offer the man what they had saying, "In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise and walk."  Then Peter, again in contravention of social expectations, reaches down and grasps the man's hand, helping him to his feet.

Leaping and praising God ensues.

Today's culture is torn by disparities, an "us/them' mentality prevails.  White/black; legal/illegal; democrat/republican; rich/poor; straight/gay; liberal/conservative; male/female.  It is all about us and them.  Everyone has answers, no one has answers; little gets done.

"They need to get over it."

"It is not our fault."

Us and them mentality is a scheme of the devil.
     It creates hatred and division.  It is an attack on God Himself to whom every person counts. 
 The Kingdom of Jesus Christ offers peace and unity which the world does not understand.
The Church must stay true to God's Word.  Moving away from those we are called to reach is not the answer.  Jesus lived among us so that He could minister to us.

The only way to overcome the us/them mentality of division is to see us in them and them in us so that it becomes "WE."

We need Christians who understand the core of the problem, not just the symptoms.

With Jesus Christ there is no "us" and "them."
In a world of divisions, what would it look like to offer the radical love of Jesus?

Who is the hardest person for you to love?

In what ways does Jesus want you to personally reach out?

Notes on message by
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Compassion or Judgment?

 As I was entering the church I met Marvin and Annie who had attended the early service.  Annie told me I was going to hear a wonderful sermon.  She was right.

Today's lesson is based on Acts 2:42-47 in which we see the growth of the early Church, the new adherents living in joy and in accordance with Christ's purpose.  This was the fifth sermon I have heard preached from this passage in the past ten years.  I should be "getting it" by now.  *smile*

 The Church is Christ's gift to a world that is lost.

      Sadly, too many allow their religion to get in the way of their relationship with Christ.

The Church will be recognized by her message.
     "They devoted themselves to the Apostles' teachings."  (v. 42)  The message is one of hope, not of fear.

The Church will be recognized by her love.
     "The believers were together and had everything in common... they gave to anyone who had need."  (vv, 44,45)
We are to offer compassion, not judgment.  Cast mercy and grace; leave judgment to Christ.

The Church will be recognized by her reputation.
     "Praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people."  (v.47)
The Church is to be a place of authenticity rather than hypocrisy. 

Do you want to be a part of the movement that Jesus started?
 Praise with gladness and a sincere heart. 
 We must be
    1) joyful and 2) sincere.

We must be moved with compassion not judgment.

 When we encounter the hurting it is not sufficient to merely feel sympathy, we must be moved to do something.

We are good at talking love but not showing it.


Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Disconnect

It is better to be uninformed than to be misinformed.

Unplug the tv and unsubscribe the "news"paper.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Share the Story

How do we connect people with Jesus?

The lesson is from Acts 2:1-41.  The power of the Holy Spirit moving on lives impels and empowers disciples to tell the story of Jesus Christ.

"Peter raised his voice and addressed the crowd."  (v.14)

The power of the story can change lives.

We as Christians are responsible for sharing the story of salvation through Jesus Christ.
 I need to tell the story-- my story.  When my story and God's story come together there is power to draw people to God.

 In many ways the Church has separated itself from the world we are called to love.
 For example, the Church has created a language of its own, a language which the world does not understand.
So that we might reach people for Jesus, God will enable us to speak the language of the culture.  We must be relevant to the culture we are attempting to reach.


The Church should do its best to break down barriers.

"Then Peter standing with the eleven--" (v14)
Each and every disciple was making disciples.

 Disciples make disciples.  It is what disciples do.

Are you making disciples?
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

There. I said it.

It is increasingly clearer each day that Mr. Trump is not only running against Hillary and the democrat party, but he is also up against the "press."  Virtually all news outlets are slanting everything in favor of his opposition.  Worse, for him, many in his own party are in opposition to the man.

What are his chances?  Probably better than you think.

And he, as is the case for his opponent, is unsuited to the job he seeks.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Waiting

Snippets from today's message.  The Scripture lesson is Acts 1:4-11 in which Jesus gives final instructions to the Apostles immediately prior to His ascension.

Key phrase:  Wait for the promise of the Father.  (v.4)

In waiting we confront the enemy.  "We have met the enemy and he is us."
    Waiting can be painful. Waiting is a direct attack on selfishness and pride. 
In God's plan there is no room for you.  You must be full of the Holy Spirit.

   Waiting must be prayerful.  
When you can't control a situation your best bet is to pray.

    Waiting should be purposeful.
Waiting is learning to rely on God.


Waiting doesn't mean "do nothing."
Waiting is not an ending but the beginning of something new.
Waiting is painful because we are no longer in control.
Waiting is what we do.

Bible examples, some who waited on the Lord.
Noah, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Elisha, the Israelites, Jesus, the disciples, Paul.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."  Isaiah 40:31

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning
Eagle Soaring

 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Thickheaded

Google the title word and click on 'images.'  The Donald's picture will come up (along with many other images).  Scroll down a bit farther and Hillary appears, too.   fwiw

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Love of God

Fittingly the hymn the worship leader picked for this morning was "The Love of God."  This is a beautiful song and one I like to sing.

"The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell."

Sermon notes

Did you ever embarrass your parents?
How many times do we embarrass God?
How much do we fail?
How much does God love us?

John 3:16  God is head-over-heels in love with us; so much so that He gave his only begotton Son to die for our atonement.

What kind of people does God love?
We were the lowest of the low.  God worked out a plan of salvation.  We were born in sin; Jesus died to save us from our sin.

John 3:1  The children of God
God loved us so much that He adopted us.  We are His children!

Jeremiah 31:5  God loves us with an eternal love.

Romans 8:35 Nothing can separate us from God's love.
When we begin to be conformed to the image of Christ we begin to look, act, and think like Him.
God does not want us to remain in sin.
He wants us to be better than we are.
Make the decision to live for Him.  God loves you! 

Pastor Joe Deckard
Sunday morning

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Anointed to a Purpose

Today's lesson is from Exodus 31.  

Background
      In chapters 25-30 we see God reaffirming His covenant with Moses then He gives detailed instructions for the building of the Tabernacle.

The Tabernacle is to be completely portable.  This indicates that God's presence will always be with the people; He will go with them.

Now Moses was a "big picture" guy so certainly he would have been overwhelmed at the detail the Lord gave him.

God's vision overwhelmed Moses and His vision should always overwhelm us.

When Moses was overwhelmed God said, "I have chosen Bezalel and others to take care of the details."

Bezalel was given the Spirit of the Lord, an anointing to do the works God had directed of Moses.

Leadership capacity is not tied to your title but to your perspective.
God wants to use you.
God's mission should challenge you.  If you feel charged with a mission that does not challenge, perhaps it is not of God.
When you have the Holy Spirit on your life there is no holding you back.

Moses was God's anointed leader but God called Bezalel out of the shadows.  Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit he used his God-given skills and abilities to direct the construction of the Tabernacle.

God has a calling for you because He has a purpose for you.
Perhaps God brought His Spirit upon you for a specific purpose.

Bezalel was a good steward, a manager, and he had a strong work ethic.
Upon completion of his task, Moses examined the work and saw that it had been done perfectly as God had commanded.
Moses blessed him.

You have something that only you have to be used in the Kingdom.  Do it and God will bless you.
God wants you to do something so far beyond yourself that you will have to rely completely on Him.  God wants to do His work through you.

=The gifts and abilities you see as useless God sees as priceless.= 

When God gives you a task He will provide you with the talent to tackle it.
Whatever He calls you to do, He will equip you to do it.

It will scare the daylights out of you so that you will rely on Him.

 


Pastor Johnnie Blair
 Sunday morning

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sermon in The Park

 (Today's service was in the pavilion at Tipton City Park)

The past several weeks we have looked at some of the lesser-known heroes of the Bible.  Today's hero is mentioned, though briefly, in all four gospels.

There are three categories of Christians.

Have you ever tried to be something you are not?
First category: Counterfeit Christians.  There are too many fake Christians.

Second category:  Closet Christians.  Today we see a closet Christian in the Bible.  This was Joseph of Arimithea.  This Joseph was a secret disciple.  He was a prominent leader among the people.  He came to be a believer in Jesus, but he feared the religious leaders.

Being a good person does not mean one has a relationship with Christ.

Joseph, the closet follower of Jesus, was changed when he saw Christ crucified.  He now became a member of the
Third category:  Bold Christians.

Though Jesus was crucified as a criminal, Joseph recognized that he should be honored with a proper burial.  He went to the authorities, claimed the body, and boldly prepared it for burial and entombed it in honor.

Joseph went bold as a believer.  That is what the world needs.

Being a closet Christian is dangerous.  People need to see the bold believer.

How many times have you missed an opportunity to be bold for Jesus?

If you live boldly for Jesus it will radically change not only your life, but the lives of those around you!

People are seeking hope.  We cannot serve our God out of fear.

Romans 3:23   Bad news, good news.
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 5:8  
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 6:23  
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 10:8 
 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

"God knows you are a sinner but He sent His Son anyway!"
What is keeping you from being "all in" for God?
(Following the message, eight people were baptized, thus "going bold" for Jesus!) 
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday noon

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Not a Joke

When does the  air-conditioning unit fail?

On the eve of the hottest day of the year.


Knock, knock.
Who's there?
BRS Mechanical!

Back up and running by 3:00 p.m.  Thank you, BRS.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

I Believe in the Healing Power of Jesus

Because I have seen it.
Because I have experienced it.
I believe the healing power of Jesus is available to us today.

The scripture lesson is from John 5:1-15 in which Jesus walking by the pool beside which are waiting the afflicted for the troubling of the waters so that someone might be healed.  There Jesus saw a man, crippled, doubtless dirty, unable to get into the pool unaided, yet for thirty-eight years he was shunned, stepped over or stepped around.  But Jesus saw him and asked of him, "Do you want to be well?"

The man, shunned and ignored, a social outcast, possibly embittered, had for years hoped for healing, yet he was still hoping.   Jesus said, "Pick up your mat and walk."

Jesus speaks possibility into impossible situations.
 "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."  Matthew 19:26

Jesus sees you.  God does not see us or define us by our affliction, our disease, our addiction.  He knows the you you are designed to be.  He knows your name.  He does not step over you, he sees you.

Jesus knows your struggles, your pain.  He wants to take your story and merge it with His. 
Your identity is defined in Him.
We are paralyzed by fear, by regrets, by bad habits.  Jesus can save us in the midst of the paralysis.
He says, "Get up!"

At the conclusion of the outline card, Pastor asked me to write a prayer of how I need Jesus to help me.
Dear Jesus, I need you to rule in my life that I might reflect You according to your perfect will.
Love,
Bob

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Definition of a Miracle:
When God's story comes in contact with a human story and something changes.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Keep a civil tongue in your head.

We often give grace to idiots simply by keeping our mouths shut and moving on with our life.  This is as it should be, for our judgmental "idiots" may be totally off-base; we've no idea what they have been through today.  And how often might we be in need of the same grace when viewed by others?

If you've nothing nice to say, say nothing. 

To follow this advice could contribute greatly to civility in our land.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Praise, Worship, and Contemplation

Today I attended St. Mattress Cathedral while the Mrs. worshiped at Bedside Chapel.  Following this we both found ourselves refreshed.  If you cannot sleep at night, you have to sleep sometime.

To spend a few extra moments with Jesus on this Lord's Day, here are some observations by vanilla and his Beautiful Beloved Better Half.

 The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.  --Psalm 24:1

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

More about Aging

The mind says, "Yes, you can,"  and still ya
Hear your body say, "Do it and I'll kill ya."

"Listen to your body." --My physical therapist.

Ancient?

Young woman hurried around me to get to the door ahead of me.  She reached out, opened the door and with a smile indicated that I should enter ahead of her.  Young lady holds door for poor old man.

I am officially old now.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lydia's Hospitality

The Scripture lesson is Acts 16:11-15 in which is related the story of Lydia coming to Paul and bringing her family to be baptized.

"Imagine if you will, close your eyes if need be and picture a quiet, still pond.  Then throw a small stone into the  pond and watch the effect.  The ripples move out in every direction, moving across the pond until all the pond has been affected by the stone.

"The pond is the world.  The stone: each and every action you do every day which will affect someone."

The story of Lydia who appears in only seven verses of the Bible is important to us today.  Lydia was a businesswoman, a seller of purple, the head of her household.  She clearly possessed stature in her community.  She heard Paul's message and she was completely changed.  She recognized that she needed Jesus and she knew that her family needed Him, too.  She went to Paul to be baptized and presented her family to be baptized as well.

She worshiped God; she opened her heart, and something happened to Lydia.  Paul brought the message, but it was the Holy Spirit who softened her heart.

Lydia persuaded Paul and his entourage to come to her house. (v. 30).
This gathering represents the first church plant in Europe.  
*We may be gathered here today because of Lydia'a hospitality.*

Missionaries are really amazing people; missionaries and missions are often confused.  The mission field is the world, and our own neighborhood is part of that  world.
We are all called to be missionaries.
We are not just saved from the past, we are called to something, that is, to be witnesses for Christ, to tell others of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus died for me and for the world.  The mission field is all around us
Every broken life has potential.  Think of the ripple effect that your life has.  If you are not leading others to Christ you can't call yourself a Christian.  We are called to much more than comfort and ease.  We are not called to be comfortable.

*If you are not bearing fruit you are dying.*

We must share our story.  The Holy Spirit does the work; we just have to show up.

Three steps to sharing our story.

1.  Look for lost people.  Think Lydia's family.
2.  Pray for those lost people and tell them.
3.  Craft your story and share it often.

"I know God, He knows me, and I want to know Him more every day.

"That's my story.  What's your story?"
 

Pastor Joe Deckard
Sunday morning

Sunday, July 17, 2016

From Great to Good

Pastor Johnnie announced that this is the first in a series of sermons on "Hidden Character."

Today we study Barnabas; lesson is based on Acts 11:20-34.

Why was Barnabas considered "Good"?

Barnabas was a good man.  What does that mean? What does it mean to be "a good man"?

1.  Barnabas was good when it came to money.
     His first appearance in scripture is as a generous giver.  Generosity is a sign of goodness.

Barnabas was trustworthy in handling money for others.  How we handle possessions is a sign of goodness.  Good people have integrity.

2.  Barnabas was good in dealing with outsiders.  He sponsored the new convert, Saul, who would later be the Apostle Paul.  Saul tried to join the Christians but they were afraid of him, justifiably so, given Saul's history.  Barnabas witnessed in Saul's behalf.  He sponsored Paul, an outsider.  Barnabas took seriously the call to "Go, make disciples.:
Barnabas is called the Son of Consolation.

3.  Barnabas was patient with others.  Barnabas gave John Mark a second chance, and in opposition to Paul.

SO, DO YOU SEEK TO BE GOOD-- or would you rather be great?
Greatness has more to do with fame and worldly success.  Goodness has to do with moral excellence. 
Ordinary people can be good.
Even great people can be good. 

 SO HOW DO WE BECOME GOOD?
     Goodness can only be achieved through the Holy Spirit.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning
Too many people have the gift of discouragement.  
They are like vacuum cleaners.  They are really
loud, and they really, really suck.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Sold Out to Mammon

Dear Grandson,

As you launch your career following your recent graduation from university, we wish you a long, happy and fulfilling life.

Counsel?  Of course, and I know you did not ask.  But here's the thing.  I have lived a long time and have observed many things, so please attend to this.

It is an admirable thing that you will launch yourself into the work force at a starting salary of 50k and money is the thing that will provide you with the wherewithal to keep body and soul together.  But many people I have known sold their time too cheaply.  I do not mean in terms of money, for I know a man who is sixty years old and has a salary of over 300k.  He has sold his time too cheaply.  Not because the salary is too small, but of what he gave up to achieve it.

He is a husband and a father of two children.  He possesses a fine residence on Snob Hill with four-car garage, and each bay home to a Mercedes model or a Land Rover.  My point is, he does not want for stuff.  What he does lack is a relationship with his children, and whatever he once had with his wife is long gone.  How did this happen?  He sold his time too cheaply,  In order to climb the corporate ladder to his current level, he sacrificed his family.   He never had time to play pitch-and-catch with the kids; he never had time to take the family on camping trips.  Oh, he did take them along from time to time when he was sent to an exotic place by his company, but he never spent any of that time with his family, either, unless you count the time sealed into the tube of an aircraft.

The man sold his time too cheaply, sold it for a high-powered salary and a semblance of power and influence.  Sold out, one might correctly say.
My advice?  If you have read this little account, ponder it and decide carefully what you are going to get in exchange for your time.

Love,
Grandpa Bob

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Secret Place of Prayer

 Speaking to a broad range of spiritual temperaments ranging from "on fire" to "cold and hardened."
A guess: The majority are probably in-between.

What are spiritual disciplines?
1. They are ways in which we open ourselves up to receiving more grace from Jesus Christ.
     Mercy, grace and love of God are all around us, but it is up to us to funnel or channel them into our spiritual lives.

2.  They are to move us beyond surface-level living and into the depth of the spiritual life.--Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, 1998.

How should I start practicing spiritual disciplines?
     Most disciplines start with prayer.

What did Jesus teach about prayer?
     Read from Matthew 12, Mark 8, and Luke 9.

In Luke 5:16 we learn that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray.

What does it take for me to have the kind of power Jesus displayed? 
     Matthew 6:5-8 --“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him."

Here follows the model prayer Christ gave us.  Note, too, that Jesus does not command his followers to pray.  He said, "When you pray. . ." assuming that we will pray.

How do I develop my prayer life?
To get started you need only two basic things.

1.  You need a secret place.
2.  You need a specific time.

How am I to begin?
He knows your needs before you ask.  Your prayer is a celebration of discipline.  Jesus teaches about prayer in Luke 9.

With God prayer is His idea, not mine.   In all other religions prayer is a one-way street.
Our God is ready to hear us and He will respond.
Prayer is a conversation that is on-going.  When you enter your prayer place you are joining the conversation.

Prayer is God's gift to you.  Paul said, "Pray without ceasing."

Practical development of your prayer life.
1.  Your prayer life should dictate how you make it through the rest of your day.
2,  The more you have "going on" the more time you should spend with God. 

  Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Friday, June 24, 2016

Today we met with the surgeon.  Next week we meet with the hospitalist.  As nearly as I can figure, a "hospitalist" is a medical doctor who specializes in adding another layer of expense to the cost of treatment.

But I have been wrong before.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Equal Protection under the Law

"The benefits of diversity" the Supreme Court's rationale for allowing violation of your Constitutional rights.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Leading your family


The Scripture lesson is Philippians 2:1-11:
"Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,  fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (NKJV)

This important passage presents an important description of Jesus's example in which he led with humility and sincerity. 
The King of kings and Lord of lords humbled himself to walk as an example before men.

To lead like Christ means that you understand that you must

 1.  recognize the power of your influence;
Recognize it or not, your life is a powerful influence on others.

 2.  choose to serve rather than be served;
Once a parent, one no longer makes decisions for himself alone.  He must serve.

3.  communicate feelings and instruction often, clearly, and with compassion; 
Don't allow loved ones to assume you love them.

4.  spend time investing in relationships;
Relationships are like bank accounts.  If you only withdraw without making deposits, you'll soon be in trouble.  Invest in relationships that matter most.

5.  model spiritual excellence in all you do;
Call before you dig to keep life from blowing up in your face.
[Pastor related an incident in which he cut a gas main with a post-hole digger.  No injuries, other than his pride, but instructive.]

What can you do to improve your influence, to make the spiritual atmosphere of your life better?  Tend to the little things.  Call before you dig.

What if we lived and led like Jesus Christ? 

 
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Political Commentary



Cock who crows before sunrise apt to be in stew pot before sunset.
 
 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Four Chairs, or Condition of the Heart

Pastor's illustrative presentation:  Four chairs lined across the platform.  For each segment of the sermon he sat in a different chair, each chair representing a heart condition.

The scripture lesson is found in Mark 4:3-9.
Jesus taught them saying, Hearken: Behold, the sower went forth to sow:  and it came to pass, as he sowed, some seed fell by the way side, and the birds came and devoured it. And other fell on the rocky ground, where it had not much earth; and straightway it sprang up, because it had no deepness of earth:  and when the sun was risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.  And other fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.  And others fell into the good ground, and yielded fruit, growing up and increasing; and brought forth, thirtyfold, and sixtyfold, and a hundredfold. And he said, Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Jesus began by saying,  "Listen!"  God expects this.  He finished the story with the same admonition.

The disciples asked, "Why do you speak in parables?"  Their understanding, our understanding relies on the condition of the heart.  Hearing alone is not receiving.  Reception of the Word relies on the condition of the heart.

Each one of you is likely seated in one of four chairs, each chair representing a condition of the heart.

1.  In the first chair are those whose heart is like the stony ground on which the fallen seed is stolen away by Satan.  The stony ground is a hardened heart characterized by critical attitudes.  The enemy has stolen the joy from the heart.  If this is your condition you need a miracle of God.

ONLY THE PREVENIENT GRACE OF GOD CAN BREAK THE STONY SOIL.

( Here Pastor offered a prayer for the hard of heart.)

2.  This chair represents those whose heart received the Word with joy, but have no root.  This is the Shallow Heart.  When life gets messy, they wither.  These are characterized by the wearing of masks, superficial, looking the part.

GOD DESIRES THAT WE BURN BRIGHT, NOT THAT WE BURN OUT.

(Prayer for those of the shallow heart.)

3.  This condition is that of the Distracted Heart.   So many other things go on in your life that you cannot maintain focus.  "Seek ye first the kingdom of Heaven."  There is no room in the heart for distraction or busyness.   
"If the devil can't make you bad, he will make you busy." 

GOD REQUIRES NOTHING LESS THAN YOUR ALL.

(Prayer for the distracted heart.)

4.  The heart condition of the occupant of this chair is one of striving to achieve, to hear, to accept, and to produce a crop.  Hearing is not enough.  We must accept, let the Word take root and produce.
Are you bearing fruit of the Holy Spirit, of righteousness?
Are you sharing your faith with someone? 

IF YOU OBEY YOU WILL GROW.

We must want to be like those who occupy this heart position, like those who "get it."  There is no age requirement, just a heart requirement. 

JUST BE THE SOIL THAT ACCEPTS THE SEED.  My prayer is that God will take my heart and form it into the soil that produces fruit. 


Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Waiting Room

Seated back-to-back, Little Old Lady and I have appointments with ophthalmologist.  The Mrs. seated next to me, behind her LOL's companion, her son, I think.

Son:  Plan to go camping this weekend.

LOL:  Where?  We used to go to Pokagan a lot.

Son:  I'd like to go up there, but it's so far away.

LOL:  We used to do things all the time.  Don't do anything since I married Burl.

(Pause)

LOL:  Don't get me wrong.  He's very good to me.  He just doesn't ever want to do anything.

(I lean into the Mrs. and whisper, "Story of your life.")
\

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Children of God

"I can do it myself."  
How many times has that gotten you into trouble?

Pastor related that his father was very handy and quite knowledgeable, and very willing to be of help.
 "Father is just a call away."

The scripture lesson is from Romans chapter eight.  [Reading of Romans 8]

Verse 2:  We are free from the law of sin and death. 
Living in the flesh the mind is set on the flesh.
Life in the Spirit is life and peace.

Verse 3:  God sent His own Son to stand in our stead, offering freedom from the law of sin.

Verse 15:  We receive the Spirit of adoption whereby we are children of God and joint-heirs with our elder brother, Jesus Christ.  God is our Father and we may call on Him:  Abba (Daddy).

 I John 3:1  Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are! (HCSB)  We can know who our Father is!

Being children of God we have obligations.  We must grow:  We cannot be in the family of God and remain a child.

God is not our last resort.  He is the first, the ONLY resort.

Why do we suffer?  Why does God allow pain and grief?  It is part of growing.
Slaves live in fear.  God's children live in love, security, and warmth.

Call on Him.

  Pastor Joe Deckard
 Sunday morrning

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Right Answer

Met the Mrs. in the hallway a few minutes ago.  Embraced her tenderly in both arms, kissed the top of her head.

"Why don't you love me like you used to?"  Said in fun.

"Because I love you more,"  she replied in all seriousness.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

How much is God asking for?


How do you measure your faith?

Faith is the capacity to trust God with everything you are, everything you have. 

Do you trust God with all your weight?  Are you leaning on God?

How much is God asking for?
 
The scripture lesson is from I Kings 17 wherein we find Elijah as a guest in the house of a woman who was destitute due to famine, who had virtually nothing.

We must remember that God will always provide.

 When Elijah initially asked for water, the woman immediately "was going to get it."
Basic Hope:  When you do the little things with a sense of hope.
The woman perhaps was thinking, This is a man of God.  Maybe something good will happen.  This is a hope more than trust.

When Elijah asked for a "piece of bread" She didn't know how, but she trusted that God would come through as Elijah promised.
Obedient Trust:  When you do the right things that require trust.
Her basic hope was turned to obedient trust. She fed not only Elijah, but herself and her family.

When her son ceased breathing (v.17) the woman no doubt thought, What do you have against me, God? (v.18)  Elijah responded, Give me your son.
Sacrificial Faith:  When you do the hard things that require strong faith.
How much have you surrendered to God?  Would you be able to give as much as the widow gave?

Have you surrendered your whole life to God?  Is there something you are holding back?

Pray and ask God to forgive you, and help you trust and surrender to his will.

When God takes something from you He always wants to give you something better.
 God wants your all, your hopes; your dreams; your ambitions; your cars; your home; your land; your spouse; your children, just so He can have you. 


"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." -- Romans 12:1,2 (ESV)
   
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning
 


Sunday, May 22, 2016

You Don't Belong Here

"This world is not my home."

Who are we called to be?  We are God's people.
I Peter 2: 9-10
"You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession."
 Our identity is in Christ alone.

Where are we from?  We are ambassadors of Christ's kingdom.
I Peter 2:11-12
" Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us."
We are here to be examples.

How are we to live?  Live good lives as free people.
I Peter 2:13-17
"Live as free people but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves."
17 "Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers,  fear God, and honor the emperor."

We do good not because we have to do good, but because God has given us the freedom to do good.

To dishonor those in authority is to discredit the sovereignty of God.

Political freedom can affect your religious freedom; but your political freedom should never affect the liberty we have in Christ.

"My prayer is that in a world where freedom and liberty is at times questioned, you will find you truest and purest form of freedo0m in Christ, and in Christ alone.  --J.B.  

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Friday, May 20, 2016

Your court

Herk:  I saw you out here trimming the hedge during the news hour.  You should have been in watching the news.

Bob:  You are the news junkie.  I pay little attention to that sort of thing.

Herk:  But how can you be prepared if you don't know what is going on?

Bob:  And what is it you can do about it if you do know what is going on?  Look, isn't it the case that good news is no news, hence the news is a presentation of bad news?  And what good can come of listening to bad news?  Much of it is tailored to scare the living daylights out of you, right?  The scarier the thrillier, right?

Herk:  You're weird, you know that, Bob?

Bob:  Okay, but when the apocalypse comes, or whatever disaster it may be, it will "get" me, unprepared as I am.  And it will get you as well.  The difference?  I have lived with peace of mind, not worrying about what might be.  You, on the other hand, have consumed much mental and emotional energy worrying about stuff you can do nothing about.  Game, set, match.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Engage Faith

Spiritual growth is a must.
I Peter 2

We must grow beyond adolescent problems.
 I Corinthians 2:1-3

We learn to live obediently as children of God.
I Corinthians 13:11; I Peter 1:13-14

As we grow in grace we become like Christ.
 Romans 8:29-30; I Peter 1:15-18
  • Everything in life should point forward.
  • In spiritual life it is imperative that we learn how to grow.
  • We like the freedom of adulthood but not the responsibility:  not going to happen.
  • "Grow up in salvation."  I Peter 2
  • Spiritual growth should be normal.  I Peter 1
If we are to grow we must rid ourselves of malice, slander, deceit, hypocrisy, envy.  These are spiritual immaturity. 
  • Adjust life to live obediently to the will of God.
  • Christ commands love God, love people.
  • As we walk with Christ we are destined to become like Him.
  • It is God's will that we grow up in our salvation.
If you follow Christ taking steps toward Him, His will for you will be revealed.

Make Christ the center of all you do and you will find yourself in the center of His will.

Seek the face of God so that when others see you they will see the face of Jesus.

God expects big things of everyone.  He desires and wills that we grow up in our salvation. 

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Family Impressions


We teach our children either by accident or on purpose. 

1.  Parenting by accident involves things we did not mean to teach them.
2.  Ask yourself, "What am I doing on purpose?"





Parenting on purpose.

Teach your children to
1.  Fear God.  " Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear."  I Peter 1:17 (NIV)

     God is Holy.  First fear God; see not only the love of God but also the wrath of God.

"Until you fear God you will not understand grace and the depths of His love."

2.  Seek God.  Search for Him with all your heart and soul.  "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near."  Isaiah 55:6  (NIV)

"It is the parents' job to help their children find God." 

3.  Love God.  "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."  Matthew 22:37  (NIV)
 
Jesus taught that this is the first and great commandment.


4.  Serve God.  "Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always."  Deuteronomy 11:1

"As a parent, it starts with me.  I have to get my heart right if I am going to positively impact  my kid's heart for Jesus."

Help the kids to serve by creating an environment where they can figure out what God has placed in their hearts.

"As a parent I must model the things I would have the children do."
 Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Puzzled

Primary election day which is pretty meaningless regardless of the ticket one pulls.  However the local elections make it mandatory to go to the polls.

On the national level there is one thing above all others that has me puzzled.  Why did the Trump person choose to destroy the Republican party rather than the other one?  That may ultimately make for some curious historical footnotes.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Engage Summer

I went to church this morning, honest I did.  I took notes.  But the eye hurts too badly to attempt to transcribe the message.  Check the Scriptures and put it together.

Be blessed this week.



Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday Morning, May 1

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Jesus the Light of the World

The lesson is from The Gospel of John 8:1-12.

       Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  --verse 12

Jesus is teaching on the Mount of Olives where a woman taken in adultery was brought to him by the religious leaders, brought to him for confirmation of the stoning judgment.  Jesus said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone," bent and wrote with his finger on the earth.  We know not what he wrote, but when he looked up the woman's accusers were gone.

"Where are those who condemn you?" Jesus asked the woman.

"There are none." 

"Neither do I condemn you.  Go, and sin no more."

1. The law always reveals our guilt.

2.  Justice always demands an answer.
     Jesus answered with grace.  
Grace gives us the key to freedom.  Grace liberates us from punishment and from the inclination to sin.  It provides a provision for freedom from sin.
Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more
3.  Light gives us hope.
     The enemy wants us to remain in bondage.  To hide the sin is the relinquish hope.  To reject the Light is to reject the only One who can give us freedom. 

God's love gives grace.  The Light of the World offers hope.



Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Jesus: the Resurrection and the Life


I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. --Jesus Christ

The scripture lesson is in the eleventh chapter of John's Gospel.  It is the account of the death, burial, and resurrection of Lazarus.

Death puzzles and disturbs us   But death is something we cannot beat.
We don't like death because we were not made for it.  We were designed for much more.


What lesson can I take from this scripture?
  • Many are breathing but dead.
  • The disciples in this lesson were dead in their doubt, to the point that they were attempting to instruct Jesus, trying to explain things to God.
  • Do you have doubt?  Where there is doubt there is darkness.
  • Delay: things may get worse before they get better.
In the midst of doubt, discouragement and delay He will change your life.

Those who are dead in trespasses and sin come alive in Jesus Christ!

Jesus asked where is the tomb, then being led there, he ordered the stone rolled away, called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth."  Lazarus in his graveclothes came from the tomb.

What is your tomb?  What graveclothes are you wearing?

God can call you out of your grave, your graveclothes.
"Come forth."

Christ gives New Life!

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Easter Sunday morning