Sunday, September 10, 2017

Deliverance: Finding Freedom in the Reign of God

Parush Parushev was a communist. He had a PhD in Mathematics. He taught at one of the leading universities in Europe. While teaching in Poland, he met a small group of Christ followers, and he was drawn to Jesus. Eventually, he converted and became a Christ follower himself. Several months later, he returned to his home country of Bulgaria. And soon after that, he began to receive invitations to preach in various Christian congregations in the area. So this former atheistic Communist mathematician was now preaching the good news of Jesus!

One day Parush received an urgent call from a preacher in a neighboring gypsy village. There was a woman who was dying. This preacher asked Parush to come and pray over the body and anoint her body with oil. She was dying quickly, so they asked him to hurry. As he arrived, he heard the loud wailing of the mourners. It was their custom to wail loudly at such occasions and the stench of incense was strong. Listen to how Parush describes what happened next:

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Lord In Our Midst: Parents & Children—Turning Our Hearts Toward Each Other

We have spent the last several weeks in the prophets. They have reminded us of many things. Our God is One who demands justice. This same God is a holistic God of wrath and love. We’ve been reminded that God is with His people, and that we were created for a mighty purpose. And Malachi reminded us that God cares how we spend His gifts.

We are concluding our study on the prophets, and once again, we find ourselves in the book of Malachi.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Lord in Our Midst: Honoring God With His Gifts

One epic that has always amazed me in American history is the story of the Native American. The most ironic thing about this part of our history concerns the way in which Europeans treated the land. First, they took what they wanted. And then they divided portions of what was left over and gave it as a gift to the Native Americans. Do you realize how odd that whole arrangement was? Europeans took the land that belonged to someone else. Then, they gifted some of it back to them! And what’s more, these European settlers took the best for themselves. The beautiful coastal regions of the East, the fertile soil of the southeast, the natural harbors at the base of the Mississippi River, the scenic mountainous and hilly regions of this “new” land. And they eventually gave the Native Americans Oklahoma! Now let’s just admit Oklahoma doesn’t have much to offer as far as natural resources or natural beauty. My parents lived there for a few years, and I’m sorry if you are from there, but the reality is: the land that is now Oklahoma was not the choice land of the past or the present!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Lord in Our Midst: Rose Colored Glasses

When I turned 40 last year, my vision began to change. Adam Dossey tells me this is normal for a 40 year old! I have to wear glasses when I sit at my computer for long periods of time or when I read. But I don’t like it! Glasses are designed to help us see better. But have you ever heard the phrase “rose colored glasses”?

This term was first used in the mid-19th century. It means that someone is not really seeing reality. They are seeing only the good and not the bad. During the Civil War, there are stories of doctors giving rose-colored glasses to soldiers. Those suffering from depression were given these glasses as therapy. It was believed that the rose or red tint would actually help their depression. It changed their perception of the world. I don’t know if that works or not, but I do know this: over time, rose-colored glasses have a tendency to cause blindness.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Lord in Our Midst: Living with God through Communion

Have you ever been broken? Do you know what if feels like to be broken? So far at the bottom of the pit that you can hardly see the light at the top?

The Velez family has been reminded what being broken feels like. You see a couple of years ago, their son, 23-year-old José Velez, was killed in Iraq. He had been on an operation near the Iraqi city of Fallujah. His unit came under fire trying to clear an enemy stronghold. After that funeral, José’s younger brother, Andrew, who was also a soldier, accompanied his brother’s body back to the states. The family has endured the stinging loss of José for a few years now. Well, not long after this happened, tragedy struck again. The Velez’s other son, Andrew, was on patrol in Afghanistan after he returned to duty. And he also was killed in the line of duty.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Lord In Our Midst: Created For A Mighty Purpose

Sometimes Christians can be so ridiculously uncooperative that their behavior actually becomes humorous. True story…

In the late 1800s there were just two deacons in a small Baptist church in Mayfield County, Kentucky. These two deacons hated each other and always opposed one another. On a particular Sunday, one deacon put up a small wooden peg in the back wall so the minister could hang up his hat. When the other deacon discovered the peg, he was outraged that he had not been consulted. The church took sides, and the church eventually split. To this day, they say you can find in Mayfield County, Kentucky, the Anti-peg Baptist Church.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Lord In Our Midst: God With Us

Have you read a good fairy tale lately? Don’t you just love how the good guy always wins in fairy tales? The stories always turn out the same way. Some bad person enters and causes all kinds of havoc, but in the end, the good guy always finds a way to win. It’s no different in the movies. Wonder Woman and Spiderman win, sorry to spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it yet. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and Toto return home safely and the wicked witch is defeated. In Star Wars, Luke and the Force defeat the Dark Side. The hero always rides off into the sunset on his trusty horse with the love of his life right by his side. In the period of two hours the world is turned upside down. Then the hero enters. And the world is saved.