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Aug 272023


   My Senior year of High School was 1971. The pop song of the year was a song written by Carole King for her Tapestry Album. As soon as James Taylor heard it, he recorded it for his new album Mud Slide Slim. The song went to # 1 on Billboard Hot 100. It became the song if the Year. It won Best Male Vocal Performance for James Taylor. It won Song of the Year for Carole King. She was asked about her song in 2021 why its popularity has held for over 50 years. She said “it was the most inspired song she ever wrote”. She said “The song really wrote itself. It was as if something outside of me wrote the lyrics and used me to share it.” On their Remembrance Tour…Taylor and King are bringing it back to America’s consciousness. Why does it still touch a nerve among us today? She said she wrote the song after hearing Taylor’s Fire and Rain lyrics that said “I’ve seen fire and rain; I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end; I’ve seen lonely days when I could not find a friend”. It was that that inspired You’ve Got A Friend. The rest is history. 

     Also on November 3rd 1971 ABC movie of the week was Brian’s Song. It recounted the life and death of Bear’s Running Back Brian Piccolo. He contracted testicular cancer. James Caan played Piccolo and Billy Dee Williams played Gale Sayers. Sayers became a friend to Piccolo and stood by his side until his death. He said “I love Brian Piccolo and I want you to love him too. 13 million viewers watched it. 50 years later people still talk about its impact. James Caan, celebrating its 50-year anniversary said “men still come up to me and say that is the only movie I ever cried at”. Why? Because it was sad. No because it touched a nerve about how in times of crisis we all need a friend to lean on. Again, listen to Taylor ask us “Ain’t it good to know…you’ve got a friend. David responds by saying It certainly is. We find ourself saying “amen”.


I Samuel 18:19





 Posted by at 9:40 pm

The Cross is in the Cross-Hairs!

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Aug 202023

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “The Cross is in the Cross-Hairs!”

     This week I received a video from an Evangelist friend of mine, Dr. Winston Mazakis.  It was a video that showed a group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, demanding the removal of Christian symbols from a Chapel of the East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma.  The school, intimidated by the threat of a law suit, agreed to comply.  But after seeing the response of Christians from all over the world they have halted the removal and are having a committee study their options.  Currently, they are still there one year later.  But the battle is not over.  There is a hatred for public display of Christian symbols, especially demands to remove the cross from a military site at Mt. Soledad and Camp Pendleton in California.  This is just the beginning.  It is good for Christians to let their passion and devotion for the Lord, and His Cross to be known. 

     It made me think of three of my favorite quotes about the cross.  One is by Brennan Manning.  He is discussing the indignity of the Cross…yet it being the greatest display of the Love of God, this is what he said, “But the answer seems to easy, too glib.  Yes, God saved us because He loved us.  But He is God.  He has infinite imagination.  Couldn’t He have dreamed up a different way of redemption?  Couldn’t He have saved us with a pang of hunger, a word of forgiveness, a single drop of blood?  And if He had to die, for God’s sake-For Christ’s sake-couldn’t He have died in bed, died with dignity?  Why was he condemned like a criminal? Why was his back flayed with a whip?  Why was His head crowned with thorns?  Why was he nailed to wood and allowed to die in frightful, lonely agony?  Why was the last breath drawn in bloody disgrace, while the world for which he lay dying egged on his executioners with savage fury like some kind of gang rape by uncivilized brutes in Central Park? Why did they have to take the very best?  One thing we know-we don’t comprehend the Love of Jesus Christ.  We see a movie and resonate to what a young man and woman endure for romantic love.  We know that when the chips are down, if we love wildly enough we will fling life and caution to the winds for the one we love.  But when it comes to God’s love in the broken, blood-drenched body of Jesus Christ we get all antsy and start to talk about theology, divine justice, God’s wrath, and some begin to turn toward the heresy of universalism!” (The Ragamuffin Gospel 1993).  That Cross is the public demonstration of the genuine love of God that would give His best to save us from our worst!

     The second quote I love about the cross comes from Malcolm Muggeridge.  He came to Christ late in life.  He talks about how the cross always had a drawing power for him, and that he should have yielded to the Christ of the Cross at a much earlier age and would have had more years to love and serve Him.  He wrote, “I would catch a glimpse of a cross, not necessarily a crucifix; maybe two pieces of wood accidently nailed together, on a telegraph pole, for instance–and suddenly my heart would stand still.  In an instinctive, intuitive way I understood that it was something more important, more tumultuous, more passionate. was at issue than our good causes, however admirable they might be…It was, I know, an obsessive interest…I might fasten bits of wood together myself or doodle it.  This symbol, which was considered to be derisory in my home, was yet also the focus of inconceivable hopes and desires…As I remember this, a sense of my own failure lies leadenly upon me.  I should have worn it over my heart:  carried it, a precious standard never to be wrested out of my hands…it should have been my cult, my uniform, my language, my life.  I shall have no excuse:  I can’t say I didn’t know.  I knew from the beginning and kept turning away” (Jesus Rediscovered. pp.24-25).  His cross should be our cult, our uniform, our language, our life!  But the last quote lets us know that it is not just a private devotion to the cross.  The cross was public!  Very public.  It must always remain that way for us!

     George MacLeod reminds us of that very fact.  He says, “The cross must be raised again in the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the Church, (or the University chapel steeple), I am claiming that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves, on the town garbage heap, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan that they had to write His title in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.  At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble, because that is where He died, and that is what He died about…and that is where His followers ought to be, and what His followers should be about!”  (Only One Way Left. 1966 p. 38). Amen!  Keep cherishing “that Old Rugged Cross!”



1 Samuel 30: 1-8


 Posted by at 9:37 pm

SIN: Refine Our Sins or Remove Them?

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Aug 132023

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “SIN:  Refine Our Sins or Remove Them?”

     In the First Epistle of John, the Aged Apostle is writing to his little children in the faith, seeking to teach them to experience the Word of Life, just as he and the other Apostles did during “the days of His flesh”.  He encourages them to join in the partnership and fellowship that enables them to follow Jesus, just as they did, letting His Eternal Life be manifest in their lives.  Jesus, the Eternal Life who existed in the beginning with the Father, and became flesh and dwelt among us, walking a divine life, as the Sinless Righteous Son of God, is our Example and Enabler.  Jesus choose the Vine and the branches as the metaphor of life and fruitfulness for the Christian life.  Being in Him, as the branches are to the vine, shows how His life can flow through us, producing fruit, more fruit, and much fruit. (See John 15).  John calls this kind of relationship as a Walk in Life.  It is also a Walk in Light.  Jesus was light, and in Him was no darkness at all.  When we are empowered by His Person, Presence, and Power, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we can walk as He did.  Just a real as when Jesus commanded Peter to walk on water (Matt. 14:28-29), and He miraculously empowered him to do so, so with us!  Jesus said, “He that commits sin is a slave to sin, but those who know Him, intimately, knowing the Truth, is set free” (John 8:34-36).  Such a relationship makes one “free indeed!”  John in I John chapters 1 and 2 indicates that knowing Him as “life” and “light” results in waling in “Liberty” from sin.  This is a subject that needs to be emphasized to Christians today!  It is true that our sins have been “removed from us as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12); and that “our sins have been cast into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19); and that they have been “cast behind God’s back” (literally “between His shoulder blades” Isaiah 38:17; and that they are “remembered against us no more” (Isaiah 43:25/Heb. 8:12), every Christian knows that in daily practice, that sin is still our besetting issue.  Even the great Apostle Paul called himself “as miserable wretched man” and asked “who will deliver me from this body of death” (Rom. 7:24).  Every Christian can identify with Paul’s confessed dilemma.  Josh Billings vividly describes the catch-22 that describes most Christians when it comes to their battle with daily sin.  He says, “The hardest sinner of the whole lot is one who spends half his time sinning and the other half in repentance!”  Most Christian find themselves praying like the Ancient Roman writer Seneca, who prayed “Oh that a hand would come down out of heaven and deliver me from my besetting sin!” The writer Goethe, described this dilemma when he wrote the following poem- “Two spirits dwell at odds within my heart; And each from the other would gladly part; One seems with a single urge possessed; To keep the friendly earth within my heart; The other draws me forth in a willful quest; Of visions to an inner world apart!”  We live our lives like Lewis Carroll, in Through the Looking Glass, describes the Lock running around looking for the right key, asking “won’t someone please unlock me?”  That unlocking key is to be found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   Jerry Bridges, in his book Disciplines of Grace, says “Preach the Gospel to yourself.  Face up to your own sinfulness, then flee to Jesus through faith in His shed blood and Righteousness”. But just knowing Jesus, through saving faith in His work on the Cross, though the basis of forgiveness, is not enough for victory alone, it must be applied to daily life, availing ourselves to His Person, His Presence, and His Power through a divine incarnation of Christ in us, our only “hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Paul calls this a mystery!  That is the only answer to the failure of Christianity to deal with the sin problem in a practical way.

     A.W. Tozer addresses the failure of modern Christianity to provide relief for the Christian today.  He wrote, “Religion today is not transforming people, rather it is being transformed.  It is not raising the moral level of society, it is descending to society’s own level, and rationalizing that it has scored a victory, because society smiling accepted its surrender!” “Christian Liberty is freedom from sin, not freedom to sin. The abuse of the harmless thing is the essence of sin!  A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which is on earth that is most like God.  This is MAN’S GREATEST TRAGEDY AND GOD’S HEAVIEST GRIEF!”  When the Angels announced Jesus birth, they said, “You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).  That is what the Hebrew name Jesus means- “Yahweh saves”.  But Jesus did not come to just save us from the” penalty of sin”.  He came to save us from the “power of sin”, and eventually from the very “presence of sin”.  We live in the reality of the first mission of Jesus.  That is our justification.  “If any man be in Christ, there is therefore now no condemnation” (Rom. 8:1). But Paul asks, “Since Grace abounds, should we let sin abound too?”  He answers quite clearly, “God Forbid!” (Romans 6:1) In the Greek it is “me genito”- “may it never be so!”  Tozer says that we as Christians need to take a long look at this situation to resolve it.  He writes, “We Christians must look sharply at our Christianity.  We must make sure we do not refine our sins, without removing them!” Maybe that is what we as Christians are most guilty of- “refining our sins” but not “removing our sins!”  On one occasion Charles Spurgeon was visiting Cambridge College.  He was shown a bust of Lord Byron on display in the University Library. From one side all the glory of Lord Byron was so apparent.  Spurgeon said, “what a man!” The librarian told him to view the bust from the opposite side.  Spurgeon gasped, “What a demon!”  By design the sculptor has so made the bust.  He wanted to show, not only the two faces that resided in Lord Byron, but the two faces that reside in each one of us!  Eugene Peterson, author of The Message paraphrase of the Bible, was given a portrait, painted by his Church custodian.  It was horrible.  Peterson asked why the painter had painted him that way.  His response was, “I wanted you to be reminded of what you could look like is the grace of God was not active in your life!”  Peterson put it on the wall of his office as a daily reminder.  We all need such a portrait!  Adrian Rogers described the difference between sin in the life of the sinner and the saint.  He said, “The sinner leaps into sin and loves it!  The saint lapses into sin and loathes it!”  Basically, that is true.  Sin takes a toll in every way on the life of the Christian. The Bible says, “The way of the transgressor is hard!” (Proverbs 13:15).  David, after committing adultery and covering it up with murder, talks about how he suffered because of it.  He wrote “When I kept silent about my sin, my bones wasted away in groaning all day long.  Day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped from me!” (Psalm 32:3).  Solomon, the wisest man in the world, chose to follow a life of idolatry and immorality.  His evaluation was what he wrote in Ecclesiastes.  Lesson learned!

     The only help for the Christian is to face his sin truthfully and with sincerity.  The best book I have ever read on the Psychology of Growth in the Christian life is in a book by W. Curry Mavis.  He was professor of Psychology at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.  He wrote a great book titled The Psychology of Christian Experience.  In it he says that for a Christian to have any progress toward maturity and victory over sin daily, he must be truthful and sincere about his choices and life.  He quotes Joseph Goldbrunn, from his work Holiness is Wholeness, “When the soul does not live up to its own truth, the vision of God’s truth becomes clouded.  Spiritual wholeness involves our whole thinking, our whole emotions, and our whole will.  Without full involvement we have no accurate spiritual perception!”  J. R. Sealy concurs.  He says, “The one incurable vice is insincerity!” that is not being truthful with ourselves! J.B. Mozley puts it even more succinctly…” The victim of passion may be converted.  The thoughtless may be converted.  The ambitious may be converted…anyone of these.  But who will convert the hypocrite?  He does not know that he is a hypocrite.  The greater the hypocrite that he is, the more sincere he must think himself to be!” That is the dilemma that the Christian who has blinders to his sin has!  Wearing a mask as to who we are, hides the truth from others, but also hides the truth from ourselves, therefore cutting us off from any of God’s daily remedies to our sin problem. Anne Morrow Lindberg dealt with this issue clearly.  In her book Gift From the Sea, she writes, “I am shedding hypocrisy in human relationships.  What a rest that will be!  The most exhausting thing in my life, I have discovered is to be insincere.  That is why so much social life is exhausting: one is wearing a mask.  I have shed my mask!”  Christians could avoid a lot of spiritual exhaustion by heeding her advice. Shed the masks! My favorite poet of all time, Thomas Stearns Eliot, called this insincerity “the hell of make believe”. In his poem, Murder In The Cathedral, he writes “In the small circle of pain within the skull; You shall travel and tread the endless round; of thought to justify your actions to yourselves; weaving a fiction which unravels as you weave; pacing forever THE HELL OF MAKE BELIEVE; WHICH NEVER IS BELIEF!”  The wisest man in the world, Solomon saw this clearly.  He wrote, “Keep your heart in all diligence-out of it flows the issues of life!” (Proverbs 4:232).  Again, he admitted, “He that covers his sins shall not prosper!” (Proverbs28:13).  T.T. Munger agrees- “God has nothing good or high in store for one who does not resolutely aim at something God and high. A purpose is the eternal condition of progress and success!”  The Christian that longs for a higher purpose and aim than struggling daily with his sin, and trying desperately to cover it up can find help and hope! The story by Max Bearborn, The Happy Hypocrite, tells of a man who falls in love with a beautiful lady.  To win her he put on a beautiful mask to hide his hideous nature.  He succeeds and she marries him.  But eventually his past catches up with him.  He is forced to take the mask off and reveal his true nature.  But in the interim, due to his love and relationship with his new wife, when he removes the mask, everyone is surprised to find out that his ugly features have been transformed to the beauty of the mask!  He therefore becomes the Happy Hypocrite.  Paul tells us if we will keep on beholding the unveiled face of our Savior Jesus.  Love Him daily.  This intimate relationship with Him with transform us from glory to glory, (II Corinthians 3:18).  That is what the Apostle John is telling his little Children. Jesus is your answer not only to the penalty of sin, but also the power of sin, and someday the very presence of sin.  You have an Advocate with the Father. Jesus Christ The Righteous One!  Let Him transform you-daily!


                        Psalm 51





 Posted by at 1:24 pm

“Making the Daily Christian life Really Daily!”

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Aug 062023

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “Making the Daily Christian life Really Daily!”

     Someone, hoping to catch the witty cowboy entertainer Will Rogers off guard, asked him, “If you knew you only had 48 hours to live how would you spend them?” He responded, “One at a time!”  Days, like hours, (and minutes and seconds for that matter), must be lived one day at a time.  A cleaning lady was once heard telling her customer-“the problem with life is that it’s so daily!”.  Howard Hendricks used to say, “The problem with the Christian life is that it is so daily!”  There is truth to that.  The children of Israel grew “weary” of the daily manna from heaven.  We become weary with our daily gifts of 24 hours from God.  We take them for granted and miss out on their intended fulness.  Ralph Waldo Emerson used to say “If the stars only came out one night a year, we would stay up all night to look at them!”  But because they are daily, we take them for granted.  That being said, there is a special opportunity to embrace the Christian life being “so daily” and making it “Really Daily!”…by making sure that it is lived to the fullest intention of God!  Otherwise, we might be wasting our days instead of living them.  Again, Emerson was convicting at this point.  He said, “you cannot kill time without injuring eternity!”  The challenge before us as Christians is to live one day at a time with the measure and meaning God intended, In his book For The Living Of These Days, William Elliott Jr. observes, “The reason why so many of us are overwrought, tense, distracted and anxious is that we have never mastered the art of living one day at a time.  Physically we do live one day at a time.  We can’t quite help ourselves.  But mentally we live in all three tenses at once-Past, Present, and Future…And that will not work!  The load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, carried today makes the strongest falter!”  He might be onto something…we see a lot of “faltering Christians”.  Maybe it is because they have not yet mastered “the art of living one day at a time”.  The Bible has much to say about the living out of our days.  It reminds us “Our days upon earth are but a shadow” (Job 8:9).  “Are thy days as the days of man?” (Job 10:5).  Man that is born of woman is “few of days” (Job 14:1).  It is no wonder Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).  The Bible gives us some wisdom as it discusses daily activities that will ensure that are daily lives are “Really Daily” from God’s perspective.

     First of all, our days are to have a Daily Code.  The dictionary defines a “code” as a “systematic code of law”.  For the Christian his Daily Code is of course the Word of God.  Days not spent in the Word of God are days robbed of Divine Perspective and Purpose!  One of God’s great servants used to call the Bible “The Kings Highway Code”.  Others have called it “The Christians Road Map”.  We all should keep a daily appointment to spend quality time in God’s Word.  It should be read; it should be studied; it should be memorized; it should be obeyed; it should be shared DAILY!  We read that the Berean Christians were First Century examples for us.  “They received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures DAILY whether those things were so or not!” (Acts 17:11. Peter told the believers he was nurturing to “as newborn babies desire earnestly the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby” (I Pet. 2:2).  A baby’s number one desire, above all else, is for “milk”.  They desire it daily…several times daily!  That is the kind of appetite that God delights to see in His growing children.  The nineteenth century British statesman William Gladstone echoed that sentiment when he spoke of Christians needing to spend time in God’s word.  He said, “This great spiritual library shows me how to meet and overcome life’s temptations, sorrows, and oppressions.  It furnishes me techniques for the mastery of fear, anxiety, and despair.  The Word of God corrects my perspective, and saves me from being undone by the immediate.  It gives me something which all of us need so much in these desperate days-the long view.  It tells me-in Emerson’s words ‘what the years and centuries are saying as against the hours’ “ We need that daily-OUR DAILY CODE!

     The Psalmist points out to us another imperative “daily activity” to help us make our daily lives REALLY DAILY.  He reminds us of our Daily Call.  He writes, “LORD I have called out daily unto thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee” (Ps. 89:9).  Asaph writes, “Offer unto God thanksgiving: and pay thy vows unto the MOST HIGH and call upon me in the Day of Trouble: and I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify me!” (Ps. 50:14-15).  I believe that every day should involve the daily call.  Some call to the LORD as they start their day; others all throughout the day; others as they close out their day.  Actually, we are told to “pray without ceasing” meaning that our days should be filled with daily calls to the LORD, that is one thing the disciples learned about Jesus.  He could not go long at all even during His busy days without “CALLING HOME TO THE FATHER”.  One of the touching scenes in E.T. is the expression of his heart’s desire to “phone home”.  That should be our daily heart’s desire.  We are people of the Daily Call!  One of the things I regret the most is that while living away from my parents that I did not call and talk to them more.  Oh, to be able to do that today!  Don’t let your prayerlessness cause you to regret.  Practice faithfully your Daily Call.

     A third gem from the Book of Psalms reminds us of another Daily Discipline.  The Psalmist writes, “So will I sing praise unto thy name forever, that I may perform my daily vows!” (Ps. 61:8).  There it is-we have a Daily Chore.  The dictionary defines a chore as “a small or odd job”. In his Devotional Book Daily Readings, W.E. Sangster tells of a shy Christian who sought the face of God for a way to minister by his life.  God led him to have a ministry of encouragement by sending cards.  Cards to those who were sick.  Cards to the discouraged.  Cards to the bereaved.  Cards to family; cards to strangers; to people he read about in the paper; he heard about in conversations.  His whole life took on a new twist.  What a small insignificant thing to do.  But only eternity will reveal the impact of that secret single daily chore of a dedicated servant of Jesus.  Can you and I find some daily chore to vow to do for God.  Seek His face.  Make that commitment.  Daily keep your vow!  We have given our days some structure.  A Daily Code; A Daily Call; A Daily Chore; now let’s go a little deeper.  Jesus insisted that our Days must include our Daily Cross!  Listen to Him as He says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross DAILY, and keep on following me!” (Luke 9;23).  We all have our own little interpretations of the the “crosses we bear for Jesus”.  But A.W. Tozer makes Jesus’ intention very clear...”we must recognize that the cross was the symbol of death; it stood for the abrupt, violent ending of if the life of a human being.  The man who took up his cross and started down the road in Roman times had already said goodbye to family and friends.  He was not coming back.  He was not going out to have his life re-directed; he was going out to have his life ended!  The cross made no compromises, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely, and for good.  It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim.  It struck swift and hard, and when it was finished, the man was no more!”  So, it is when you give your life to Jesus.  Your life. lived only for yourself, and for your interests, benefits, and desires, has be lost in His cause.  To lose it, is to gain it.  To try to keep it is to lose it all.  Daily pick up your cross.  Paul said, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).  That is the essence of the Daily Cross.  I love Elizabeth Cephane’s hymn/poem demanding nothing less.  She wrote: 

     ” I take, O cross, thy Shadow For My abiding place;

       I ask no other sunshine than The Sunshine of His face;

       Content to let the world go by, To know no gain or loss,

        My sinful self my only shame; My glory all His Cross”

     Lastly there is our Daily Care.  Jesus had a daily burden.  He said, “the Son of Man came to seek and to save them that are perishing” (Luke 19:10).  Jesus invested His days as the Good Shepherd seeking the lost sheep.  That was His Daily Care.  It took Him into locations; into individual lives; into conversations with sinners, publicans, harlots, and demoniacs, not to mention lepers, and even criminals.  On the cross hear him engage with criminals about heaven and the forgiveness of sin.  We talk about the weather; about the Cubs winning the world series; about our jobs; our families; our hobbies.  How about our Savior?  Daily?  Stephan Olford tells about a converted cleaning lady named Aunt Sophie.  After she found Jesus, she used to say that she was “called to scrub and preach Jesus”.  Daily, she engaged everyone she met about her Savior Jesus.  Someone made fun of her saying that they saw her talking about Christ to a wooden Indian in front of the town’s Cigar store.  Sophie heard about it and said, “Perhaps I did.  My eyesight is not too good anymore, but talking to a wooden Indian is not so bad as being a wooden Christian and never talking to anybody about the Lord Jesus.”  Something we are told to do daily, some of us never do at all ever!  To make our Daily Christian lives Really Daily we need that Daily Code-Daily Call-Daily Chore-Daily Cross-and Daily Care.  Don’t let today pass without them!  If you do you are “killing your daysand injuring eternity!” 

SERMON:   Making Life So Daily

                    Psalms 90:12

I.  A Daily Code

II.  A Daily Call

III.  A Daily Chore

IV.  A Daily Cross

V.  A Daily Care

 Posted by at 1:17 pm