December 28 2014

One God, One Community, One Mission

Today we celebrate Village Missions Sunday.    Village Missions is the missionary agency that placed my family in Oak, NE, where I serve as a missionary pastor.   Once a year, we spend some time in church talking about what Village Missions is, and what they stand for.   Today's message is from Ephesians 4:1-6, as well as a reading from 2 Peter 3:9 and Luke 15:1-7.   In today's message, we see that Christians should be ONE.    We serve ONE God, in ONE Community, under ONE Mission -- to reach the lost with the Gospel of Christ.    

Listen in as we look to Ephesians 4.   
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December 21 2014

Advent Week 4 - Peace

Have you ever heard of Travis Tritt?  

Now he’s a famous Country singer, but before he made it big, Tritt spent years playing in small out-of-the-way bars and taverns. He said that (as you might expect) these were dangerous places. His fans were mostly drunks who had a hard time controlling their tempers. Thus… bar fights would break out, and even entertainers were in danger. How did he handle those risky crowds? (He wrote:)
“Just when [bar fights] started getting out of hand, when bikers were reaching for their pool cues and rednecks were heading for the gun rack, I'd start playing 'Silent Night.' 
It could be the middle of July -- I didn't care. Sometimes they'd even start crying, standing there watching me sweat and play Christmas carols."

The singing of a few Christmas carols brought peace to a bunch of drunken men in a tavern. And you know, Christmas Carols can do that, because original Carol promised exactly that: “Peace to men.”

Today, we read Luke 2:1-14

 Peace To Men - that was the promise of that first carol.
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December 16 2014

Advent Week 3 - Joy

On this 3rd Sunday of Advent, we are talking about Joy.    Oftentimes, we think of Joy as something that makes us happy.   But…what is JOY?   Why do we sing “Joy to the World”?    What is so joyful?      What does this mean?   What IS Joy?    In the first century….it was joy at the promise of the Messiah coming….of the one that would save us from our sins.        It’s more than just happiness, though…it’s about more than that.   

Phil 4:1-7

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December 10 2014

Advent Week 2 - Love

As a kid, Saturday night was family tv night.    My dad would pop some popcorn, and we would gather as a family around the television.      Back then….you didn’t have 120 different channels to watch.  You didn’t have a 60” flatscreen tv with a booming sound system.   No….we had I think a 27” console television.  It might have been smaller than that….but it SEEMED so much bigger!   Anyway……we’d gather round and watch one of our favorite shows.    You might have heard of it.  It was about a guy that was captain of a big ship.    He and his crew were usually getting into all sorts of adventures.   They’d usually go to the same place each week….but there would always be new people to meet.     Oftentimes, some of them would come back for repeat trips…but there would always be new passengers as well.   To a 10 year old kid, this show seemed wonderfully entertaining.   

The Love Boat was a cruise liner that promised its passengers an adventure in love.     If you were a single person, chances are very good you could meet someone special on this boat, for some reason.   

This isn’t the only television show, of course, that has ever been aired about love.    Whether television shows, movies, or even the music we listen to on the radio, it seems that the popular culture has many ideas of what love is.   

Before The Love Boat aired, or Tina Turner asked  “What’s Love God to Do with it?”, though….God had a lot to say about it.

The New Testament uses 3 different words in the original Greek Language for “Love”:

“Eros” -  romantic love

 Help me out folks…..anyone know what the “City of Brotherly love is”?     It’s Philadelphia.        Anyone know why they call it that?     

“Phileo”- brotherly love  

“Agape”  - an unconditional love….not based on romance…not based on a familial bond….but an unconditional love based on NOTHING

This is the kind of love that the 2nd week of Advent is symbolized for:    The Love of God  

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December 2 2014

Advent Week 1 - Hope

Are you ready?   Are you ready for Christmas?    Now that Thanksgiving has passed, the Christmas, or Advent season has “officially” started.    We call it “Advent” season…which is a word we use that simply means the arrival of an important person.   Our looking forward to Christmas REALLY started months ago….for many stores it began before Halloween.     But TRADITIONALLY, Thanksgiving has marked the time when the Christmas season starts.  

So….for the next month we’ll have our kids’ Christmas programs at school.  We’ll have Christmas parties at work, school and other organizations we’re a part of.   Some of us will be traveling out of town to see relatives….some of us will be hosting relatives in our homes.   

Most of us are going to be faced with buying gifts for family and friends.     We will see Santa make an appearance at many of the stores we may go to—that man sure gets around!     Many of us will spend entirely TOO MUCH on those gifts.        

In the busyness of the season….we can forget that it’s not just about a holiday where we give gifts, or receive gifts.   It’s not just about a fat man in a red suit coming down our chimney.   It’s not just about a bunch of pretty lights, a tree, or cookies.     

This is a time when we hope for and we look forward to something entirely different.    We celebrate the birth of our Messiah.    It is with hope that we look forward to this season.

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