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June 27th, 2016

Any reading of Scripture that increases my pride is not a biblical approach to the Bible.

Psalm 19; 2 Timothy 3:14-17

 

Many paths to arrogance

Pastor Paul and I decided this summer to focus our Corinth sermons on a series of topics rather than on a book of the Bible, as we usually do. We’re calling these sermons “Truths that Live.” We hope we have some topics that connect your life and God’s truth.

We begin with “Biblical Authority,” because it’s the foundation for every other topic we’ll touch this summer – or anytime. A “Reformed” church seeks to base our identity, our worship, our preaching and teaching, and all of our common life on the Bible.

I have lived most of my adult life hearing two very different approaches to the Bible. Thirty-eight years ago God called Linda and me into the United Church of Christ, and there have been many times during the years I have heard – from inside the church! – views of the Bible that sounded to me like outright disdain. Whether it was the language for God or how we discuss what’s right and wrong, sometimes there was outright mockery of the Bible. Read more »

June 12th, 2016

Sunday Evening at Doxa Deo Church, Chisinau, Moldova

Genesis 12:1-3; Matthew 16:16-18; Revelation 22:20

June 12, 2016

Giving glory to God

I am so impressed with the number of people in Moldova who speak both Romanian and either English or Russian or both.  Before we begin I need to ask Vitale, my interpreter, some questions to be sure he is qualified.  Vitale, what is the English word for someone who speaks two languages?  (Bilingual)  What is the English word for someone who speaks three languages?  (Trilingual)  What is the English word for someone who speaks one language?  (American!)

The title for my sermon tonight is “Why God Is Not Worried.”  Pastor Fyodor has said the purpose of our trip is to bring glory to God.  To give glory to God is to lift him higher.  This morning we talked about giving glory to God in our suffering.

I bring you greetings from Corinth Reformed Church in Hickory, North Carolina, USA.  Our church is full of young adults like you.  We honored our high school and college graduates last Sunday.  Colby Ingle, who shared his testimony, plays on one of our three church basketball teams.  I quit playing basketball on the church team years ago when I realized I was getting more fouls than points.

Back in North Carolina, our church has invited a Christian psychiatrist, Dr. Curt Thompson, to speak to us twice.  He has the same last name as I do, but we are not related.  On one of his visits Dr. Thompson made a startling statement: “God is not worried about your children.” Read more »

June 12th, 2016

Sunday morning at Doxa Deo Church, Chisinau, Moldova

 James 5:7-12

June 12, 2016

Greetings

I bring you greetings from Corinth Reformed Church in Hickory, NC, USA.  Corinth feels a special bond with Doxa Deo Church after several mission trips and multiple visits of Pastor Fyodor Lupanciuc to Corinth.  This is my first trip.  Thank you for your hospitality.

In some ways we are very different from you.  We are a Reformed Church and you are a Baptist church.  We are Americans and you are Moldovans.  We use the same alphabet as you do in English, except that our vowels don’t wear hats consonants don’t stand on commas.

In more ways we are the same as you.  Our church is full of families.  We love our children, love to have fun together, and enjoy games.  Our children have just finished their school year, and we will have Vacation Bible School in about two weeks. Read more »

June 5th, 2016

What evidence can I produce that I see myself as a manager of God’s wealth?

 James 5:1-6

June 5, 2016

First response

James writes,

1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

After the Scripture reading in 8:30 and traditional service, the pastor generally says.  “This is the Word of God for the people of God.” The people respond, “Thanks be to God.”  Today I wasn’t sure you could say that with a straight face so I cut it out!

What’s your first reaction to this passage?  You may wonder if James was having a bad day.  Or if he has been listening to Bernie.  My hunch is that when James begins, “Now listen, you rich people,” you focus on the word “rich,” which has a negative connotation that almost no one likes to own.  Financial advisors don’t market themselves by saying, “We help rich people get even richer.”  “Wealth” is a nicer word.  Financial advisors are in the business of wealth management. Read more »

June 3rd, 2016

I always knew there was a special bond between Barbara Robinson and me, but I never knew until Wednesday what exactly it was.  That’s when I found out that two of her favorite things were Dairy Queen ice cream cones dipped in chocolate and Werther’s caramels.  Ask anyone in my family – ice cream, chocolate, and caramel are my great weaknesses. Dairy Queen is definitely one of my favorite places.  I didn’t have a Dairy Queen tie, but I did wear one with a giant ice cream cone in her honor!

It’s really a shame that the first book of the Bible has become for many people a battleground.  People argue whether the earth is 6,000, 10,000, or 5 billion years old, and use the book of Genesis to prove their point.  I don’t think Genesis is designed to answer that question.  It is designed to teach us something about ourselves by teaching us about our beginnings.  Read more »