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Showing posts from November, 2016

Small Church Sunday

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Whether you join in the commercial chaos or not, I’m sure you’re all familiar with Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that has become the biggest shopping day of the year. I would guess that many of you are also aware of Cyber Monday, the first Monday following Thanksgiving, in which e-commerce businesses offer specials and deep discounts. But not as many of you may have heard of Small Business Sunday, an event established to encourage holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local.
One of the things I’ve always appreciated about small, locally owned stores is their personal service. When we lived in Freeman, SD I bought almost all my hardware and building supplies from Wipf’s Coast to Coast and Freeman Lumber Company. I was willing to pay a little bit more for the convenience and service. Whenever I was in the middle of a do-it-yourself home improvement project I could drive five blocks, purchase my supplies and get expert advice from Monte, …

Live Every Day as If It's the Last

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[Jesus said,] “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:37–42). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! A few years ago, Tim McGraw had a hit country song. It was about a man who received a disturbing diagnosis from his doctor. Realizing that he might not have much time left on this earth, the man decided to live his final days to their fullest. In addition to sky diving, Rocky Mountain climbing, and riding a bull named F…

Thanksgiving Prayers for All People and Our Leaders

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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! I must tell you: I started to think about this theme about six weeks ago, long before the recent presidential election, but certainly during the heat of the campaign when the outcome was still undetermined. It is not intended to be a celebratory spike of the ball in the end zone. It is not intended to be a sore loser’s lament. It is not intended to be political in any way—though given today’s climate in which even one’s choice in entertainment, fashion, or food source, is seen to have political ramifications, I realize this is a futile goal. In our text, St. Paul exhorts: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). In Romans, Paul instructs: “Let every person be subject to …

In the Real World

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“They shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up My treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Malachi 3:17-18). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! A few years ago, The Matrix trilogy offered the premise that the world we see and experience is not real, but computer-generated. This is a secret known only to the few humans who’ve been liberated. Only after being freed from the machine do they finally see how deceptive what they thought to be the “real world” truly is! In our text, the people of Israel had their own perception of the “real world.” They were still living in the glory days when their nation had been very powerful and God had blessed them with peace and prosperity. Sadly, they failed to remember how the…

Jesus, Your Redemption, Is Drawing Near

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“Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! The story of the boy who cried wolf is intended to teach an important lesson. If you don’t speak the truth, you become known as a liar. And when you have a reputation for tall tales it doesn’t take long before no one will listen to you. The boy in the fable amused himself by crying, “Wolf! Wolf!” when there was no wolf. Then when there was a wolf, no one would help him. This story has a vital lesson, but it also has an application to the Church and our teaching on the end times. The preacher sees this text and he wonders: Are the people going to listen? Or are they going to think I’m just “crying wolf”? Have they been conditioned to just dismiss it and say: “Yeah, yeah—the end is coming. We’ve heard that before! Tell us something we can use now!” We ac…

A Hospice for Sinners

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One of my pastor friends posted a picture of the old sign that was in front of the church he is serving. They were getting ready to celebrate their 125th anniversary and had just got the lights on the sign working after many years. Some thoughtlessly commented on the condition of the sign. “It’s your 125th anniversary, shouldn’t you get a nicer looking sign?” they asked, somehow forgetting that they might be offending someone. Maybe this sign was the best the congregation could afford. Maybe there was sentimental value. I was more struck by the message on the sign than anything else: “A hospice for sinners.” What a wonderful motto for a church!
Oh, I know, when we think of the word “hospice” it conjures up unpleasant thoughts and emotions: sickness, death, sadness, grief, mourning, just to name a few. But what is the purpose of the hospice? It offers palliative care (comfort) to patients whose medical condition is determined to be terminal and for whom no further medical treatments of…

Beloved Children of God

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“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure” (1 John 3:1–3).  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! This short text is brimming with Good News:“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.” Did you hear that? God deals with us in love and calls us His children.  Not only that: He calls us “Beloved!” Much loved. Dearly loved. We’re not just some orphan children God brought into the world and then left to fend for ourselves. God is not some deadbeat absentee father. We are His dear children; He is our dear heavenly…