From Dave's Desk...
March 26, 2020
Feeling cooped up by Coronavirus?
Take some time to consider Psalm 1 in the context of the outdoors.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)
I imagine that Jesus pondered this Psalm on many occasions as He was growing in his relationship with His heavenly Father.
When we think about Jesus ministry it was largely an outdoor public encounter.
Indoors he dined with and taught the small groups. Indoors He honed his relationship with his disciples and taught them. Outdoors is where Jesus did the bulk of his preaching, outreach, healing, and leading. One other thing Jesus did outdoors was meditate and pray. Consider the following verses.
- Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mk. 1:35
- After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. Matthew 14:23
- After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. Mark 6:46
- But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Lu. 5:16
- One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. Luke 6:12
The other day one of our church members told me they really were feeling cooped up staying inside all the time during the Covid 19 threat. I told them that a little fresh air would do them some good.
Go outside. Go to the park. One thing I've learned about the few public encounters I have had lately is that people are keeping their distance. Three weeks ago I could extend my fist and say "Don't leave me hanging, dude!" Today, its 6 foot diameter distancing if at all possible. But outdoors you can be one hundred yards away from the next person and still very close to your heavenly Father.
Go outside. Take a walk on the sidewalk in front of your house. If you have a wooded area nearby you are far safer from germs there than inside your house. If you meditate on Psalm 1, or 23 or anyone of the Psalms about nature, ask God to speak to your heart through the lesson of the connection between a tree’s leaves and fruit and the health of it’s roots, or through the green pastures and quiet still waters.
Otherwise, commit to delighting in Jesus by meditating carefully on his Word this week and see what happens. Maybe share with a trusted friend what God is speaking to you through your daily meditation or post it on Facebook. Whatever helps you through these times.
O’, and one more thought. I can imagine with the weather breaking into spring that we might be worshiping outdoors more in the near future. Just saying!
Remember I Thessalonians 5:24: The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
All my love,
12 March 2020
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (II Corinthians 4:7)
God has given us power through the blessed gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ and that is the treasure we have in jars of clay. We are but “jars made of clay.” We are but weak earthen vessels. We are susceptible to everything that any other human being struggles to overcome. From depression to disabilities, from famine to frustration, from sickness to sins and grievous temptations.
How do we “earthen vessels” handle things that come our way such as the Coronavirus threat for instance. Earthen vessels worry. Earthen vessels panic. Earthen vessels create scares. Earthen vessels react instead of respond. But we have this all-surpassing power that is from God and not ourselves. Does that mean that in the face of stock market threats, the agendas of world leaders and the spread of disease I am somehow ?
Should we be claiming as one pastor did that the coronavirus is God's "death angel,” blaming "the filth on our TVs and our movies" for what he views as divine judgment.
Author and co-founder of the Texas-based Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Gloria Copeland, famously claimed that believers should not be afraid of coronavirus because they have “Holy Spirit flu vaccines” Should I just keep saying “I’ll never have the flu, I’ll never have the flu?” as this pastor is promoting? Should I live with the expectations I can just name it and claim it and therein be protected against ever contracting any disease. Tell that to the preacher in Georgetown Kentucky who recently contracted the Coronavirus. I guess he must not have prayed that virus away.
On the other hand, do pray. Pray that God will intervene in a mighty was through yet another world crisis for whatever it takes to bring people to their knees. Corner House remembers the day when our church doors were closed in part to spiritual apathy but also do to the back-lash of world war and world politics and a virus known as “The Spanish Flu” that killed one fifth of our world population.
I recently attended a seminar on the topic of “vaping.” The OxyCotin, fentanyl and heroine tragedies that rocked our world the last ten years are now re-trending and re-disguising themselves in the guise of cocaine and even vaping. As the death toll rises the mortality rate decreases and according to recent studies is plummeting steadily. Soon it is projected to reach all time lows. By the way, the lowest levels were typically measured during war times.
We have much more to worry about than the Corona Virus could bring our way. Yet we should respond as responsible Christians.
Many Christian sources are encouraging us to understand that the Bible does not promise immunity to sickness in this lifetime, and if believers are near an impact centre for the coronavirus or any other contagious illness they should take basic precautionary measures like the frequent washing of hands and good hygiene to avoid contracting the sickness.
At CHCC, we choose to suspend our Sunday morning meet and greet for a time allowing individuals to choose their own method of greeting people at the door and in the foyer and worship center. Please take time to notice our several hand sanitizing stations provided throughout the church building. Mostly, don’t forget to pray that God shows his mercy and his grace and that He will be glorified in yet another human weakness.
As human beings, we will likely have fears. Here are four different paradoxes from Paul’s life that he used to illustrate our weakness up against the assurance we have for faithful service.
The Apostle Paul found himself in some difficult circumstances. In his constant struggle to carry the gospel far and wide he pauses to give us some
Paul was afflicted, but not crushed (2 Corinthians 4:8). Let me now read for you the first part of verse 8 and see if this is this is not so. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed.”
This was the first paradox that Paul used to illustrate how his weakness as an
earthen vessel left no doubt about where the power for accomplishing the
work of the gospel that he was doing as a servant of the new covenant came
from. So, what is the meaning of the word “afflicted?” The word “afflicted”
(THLIBO) comes from a verb that means “to pressure.” Paul, as a minister of the new covenant, was continually pressured, or in other words squeezed, by what he had to suffer. In fact, Paul earlier in this same epistle referred to a very specific time when this was indeed the case.
Let me now read for you 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 and see if this is not so. “For
we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction
which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond
our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the
sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in
ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” So was Paul continuously
afflicted, pressured, squeezed as a servant of the new covenant? Absolutely!
This was his life.
But even though he was continuously afflicted, pressured, and squeezed and
so much so that he even at times even despaired of life itself, Paul was not
crushed. Let us continue to read 2 Corinthians 4:8 and see if this is not so.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed.”
The verb “to crush” (STENOCHOREO) means “to be confined to a narrow
or tight place.” So, what was Paul saying to his readers when he used this
word? When Paul used this word he was telling his readers that though he
was continuously afflicted, or in other words pressured and squeezed into a
very tight place by all that he was suffering, he had not been pressured or
squeezed to such an extent that his ministry had somehow been contained or
in other words confined. How could it be? His ministry was not being done
in the power of his strength but in the surpassing greatness of the power of
Lights in the Darkness
I’m no healthcare expert and I don’t play one on TV. But I am a minister of the gospel, and we have a place to go for any and all crises, including a health issue like this. That place is described in the word of God, which reminds us where to put our hope.
For believers, this is a good day to remember that our hope is not in what we save or even in our physical health. Neither the markets nor our current health status provides the source of our identity. Psalm 20:7 reminds us:
"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God" (Psalm 20:7).
Or, we might say,
“Some trust in our financial portfolio and some in our health status, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
This is critical to hold to when fear threatens to grab hold of our hearts: our God is not surprised by a viral outbreak. He is not disinterested in our fears. He is our rock, our light, and our salvation (Psalm 27:1). This might be a good time to look toward our Psalter instead of our news feed for support.
As American Christians we are accustomed to power and security. Suddenly as the possibility for reversal becomes greater, it is how we respond in times when we feel powerless and vulnerable that may offer the opportunity for growth for us and to witness to others we say we long for. Jesus told us to let our light shine in a dark world (Matthew 5:14-16), and our response in a time like this may be such a time to shine.
13 February 2020
Why should we host a “Financial Resource Workshop” at Corner House?
Some might wonder why Christians should get involved in the personal affairs of others by offering instructions on how to prepare financially for the future. We might be tempted to assume that is the role of a personal financial planner and the church should stay in the business of helping people with the spiritual and not the material.
Here are several good reasons why we should help others plan financially for the future:
Money is a topic Christians should discuss
Money is a big deal in the Bible. We're given more instruction in the Bible about money (more than 2,000 verses) than almost anything else. Although some might try to make us feel guilty about it, there's no biblical law against earning a living, or even succeeding greatly in our chosen field. What is important is how we use the money we make, and how we balance our time and attention so that we do not become obsessed with it.
Money is a powerful tool
With our money, we have a powerful tool to express our values through what we buy and how we use it. Each purchase is an extension of our Christian walk, and when we understand that, we can strengthen our faith and the example we set for others.
The Apostle Paul often collected money to care for impoverished Christians. Not all of us can be missionaries, traveling abroad to spread the Gospel. And not all of us can quit our current jobs and volunteer full-time for worthy causes. But even the smallest donation to one or another cause such as these can make a huge difference – and support others’ good works. As we understand that no donation is too small to matter, we can open our eyes to the possibilities of doing good beyond our limited means.
Money is a way to teach people the gospel
Financial literacy is important for everyone, but especially for those young girls and boys who will someday be in positions of great responsibility in our society. Beyond balancing the checkbook, strive to impart responsible lessons about the good that money can do and the importance of discipline and proper stewardship of it.
Money doesn’t make us who we are
We make choices and our choices turn around and make us.
There will always be people who have more money than you do, and people who have less. But nobody will be who you are: uniquely and very preciously you. The less we identify ourselves solely with our financial situation and tie it into our self-worth, the more we will become the individuals God has intended us to be. And as we grow in wisdom, we will also rise above our tethers to money and find ways to use it to promote God’s Word and love.
Money brings about the temptation of debt and debt can be dangerous
Debt is common these days; all forms of consumer debt are on the rise. Some debt may occasionally be necessary, but most kinds can be avoided with careful planning and discipline.
Scripture doesn't explicitly prohibit lending and borrowing, but it does teach that debt is a form of "bondage," since it makes the borrower a slave to the debt payment itself (Prov. 22:7). It also makes the borrower a slave to the lender in the sense that the lender has partial "ownership" of the time the borrower must work to pay the lender back.
Unless there's an overwhelming need to borrow, we shouldn't put ourselves under the bondage of indebtedness. At a minimum, we shouldn't frequently borrow, and we should always pay off debt as soon as possible (which is the wise thing to do regardless).
We should view our financial needs as an opportunity to trust God
Contentment allows us to trust God with our needs and not our own ingenuity. It frees us from worry and fear and allows us to cling to the Giver of good gifts (Jas. 1:17) for our sustenance and provision. This is what is meant by the prayer, "Give us today our daily bread" (Matt. 6). Everything we own is from the hand of the Father.
There are a lot of opinions in the church about money and finances, even among spiritually mature followers of Christ. Good people, sometimes in the same household, disagree on how much to give, the use of debt and what constitutes a good use of money. But certain basic, bedrock, biblical principles are things all Christians can and should agree on—and agree to pass on to the next generation.
January 16, 2020
Perhaps you feel as I often do - “overwhelmed by Christianity.” The things that Christ expects me to do including attending and involvement in my church, loving others, even enemies, witnessing, tithing and faithful prayer and meditation on God’s word. It would take a small miracle to major in all these categories.
Christian writer Kathleeen Norris tells one of the most incredible stories I have ever heard about an encounter with the Bible, in her book, "Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith".
Norris recalls a conversation she and her husband once had in a local steak house with one of their South Dakota neighbors, a grandson of “dirt-poor immigrants” who now owned several thousand acres and bought new cars for his family every year; a man who had now begun treatment for a probably terminal cancer. That night this man of few words who usually spoke about business when he did speak, began telling about receiving a wedding gift, many years before, from his devout grandfather. Norris says:
His wedding present to Arlo and his bride had been a Bible, which he admitted he admired mostly because it was an expensive gift, bound in white leather, with their names and the date of their wedding set in gold lettering on the cover. “I left it in its box and it ended up in our bedroom closet,” Arlo told us. “But,” he said, “for months afterward, every time we saw grandpa he would ask me how I liked that bible. The wife had written him a thank you note, and we’d thanked him in person, but somehow he couldn’t let it lie, he’d always keep asking about it.” Finally, Arlo grew curious as to why the old man kept after him. “Well,” he said, “the joke was on me. I finally took that Bible out of the closet and found that granddad had placed a twenty-dollar bill at the beginning of the Book of Genesis, and at the beginning of every book … over thirteen hundred dollars in all. And he knew I’d never find it.”
Arlo said, “I knew little about how to practice Christian faith when I first began attending church, in my early twenties. But I had heard the Bible is The Book for Christians. So I started reading…
Forty-some years later, I’m still reading the bible nearly every day, and still learning what life and the bible are about every day… There are still parts of life and the bible I don’t understand well. He said, through the years I have been given gift Bibles, and though I haven’t found money stuck inside the pages of any of them, I have found in all of them the gift beyond price… (See Matthew 13:44-45).
Maybe you feel like you don’t completely understand the Bible or why Christians are called to read it so often. But after prayerful study on your own and with other believers – you will discover that essentials like prayer, worship, witness, and works of mercy, justice, and love, the most basic practices of the Christian faith – all depend on listening to God through His eternal Word.
May God give us grace to open wide the scriptures – and find treasure far beyond price.
The grace and peace of Jesus Christ our Savior be with you.
December 19, 2019
My wife is a collector of Nativity sets. Awhile back I came across a single stable at a sale marked $2, so of course I bought it. (I got brownie points for that one!) The miracle of Christmas is that God chose to come be with us in Jesus Christ. While we may over romanticize the stable where Jesus was born, we can know that this birthing place speaks volumes about God’s infinite courtesy towards all people. Jesus was born in an earthy, raw, smelly stable, not in a temple or royal palace. In fact, most scholars tell us it wasn’t a stable at all, even worse -it was a cave.
Being born in such a place is God’s way of showing that Christ comes to us in all sorts of human conditions – earthy, smelly, broken and accomplished. No matter what we’ve done or haven’t done, God comes to be with us in Jesus Christ where we are in life, and out of his great love for all humanity. Wherever you find yourself this Christmas – let God come to you and transform you in that place into something worthy of his honor and glory.
November 15, 2019
Everything happens for a time and a purpose. Solomon reminds us that God makes
everything beautiful in his time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
I think it is God’s timing, and not my plan that we are doing a couple messages this
November about finances. I personally hate to talk about money. I’d like to tell you
that I am a great financial planner and that all my bill are always paid and that money
problems have escaped me, but that would be a lie. I would also like to tell you that I
give to God from the depths of my heart and never under compulsion but that too
would be untrue.
But in the past year God has been speaking to my gut about a couple of issues dealing
with finances. The question I have wrestled with is "How can we (CHCC) expect
people to give their ten percent and above and beyond when we haven’t taught them
how to better manage the other ninety percent?" So God began placing the
individuals in my path who were able to guide my thought process.
For instance: A Christian preacher who does financial planning with churches
engaged me over lunch a year ago; one of our local funeral directors spoke about
preparing for death at our Happy Wanderers meeting several months ago; One of our
members spoke to me about leading a Financial Peace seminar using trusted
curriculum from Dave Ramsey; Finally, one more member of CHCC has shared their
passion for helping people with important life choices. To make a long story short
the end result is that we will be offering a Financial Peace Class at Corner House in
the near future as interest prevails. On February 22nd we will be hosting a Financial Planning Seminar right here on these facilities. We will also hope to be offering a session or two for young people who are in college, trade school or who are anticipating post high school or college on how to get a debt free degree.
In II Corinthians 8 Paul is addressing the Macedonian Christians who took up a love
offering for the church in Jerusalem. Paul said that their generosity "exceeded our
expectations" because "They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by
the will of God also to us." Remember my flock, when we give ourselves first to the
Lord our priorities get straightened out rather expediently.
In doing some recent research, I came across an article that gave 5 reasons why
people are motivated to give to the church.
Reason #1: They See a Need
One reason why people gave to the church remodel phase one project is that
needs were established. Our foyer was bottlenecked and crowded – our
children’s classrooms were in need of updating. Although worship, or giving
to the Lord because it flows naturally from a heart that is attuned to God, is by
far the best reason to give, needs are one of the biggest motivators of giving.
Just note that when natural disasters occur, people are motivated to give based
on real needs of real people.
One of the primary goals of our Vision ministry is to establish a priority list of
needs for our congregation. We will then have the opportunity to give
sacrificially and joyfully in order to fulfill those needs.
Reason #2: They Believe in the Vision
Let’s face it - keeping the staff employed, the mortgage current, and the light
bill paid isn’t that inspiring. But being a part of a church that’s making an
eternal difference is a mission that will inspire people.
Think about what we could accomplish at CHCC in terms of ministry if we
didn’t have to worry about the bottom line of last year’s budget or weekly
giving stats. What if we could take the lid off the building and see far beyond
the parameters of the four walls? What is God’s vision for CHCC?
Reason #3: They Are Taught How To Give
Many people don’t give because they don’t know how. Beyond a sermon
series and a simple seminar, what else can we offer our people to teach them,
not only how to give, but how to manage their current resources?
Reason #4: They Understand the Bible
In a recent study of churches it was discovered that the average church teaches
on money for about the sum total of 90 minutes a year. When you consider
that the typical American household consumes more than six hours of
television each day, and that people are now spending on average 24 hours a
week on line, it’s no wonder people in the church don’t manage their money
differently. They get the worlds perspective on resource management and not
the biblical perspective.
We must teach them what the Bible says about money. There are more
passages in the Bible that deal with how we manage our resources than any
other topic including faith.
Reason #5: They Have a Relationship with Someone
Whether it’s the minister, a volunteer, or another Christian friend in the
church, relationships in the church are VERY powerful. When people are
relationally connected, they are more likely to financially contribute. When
people become disconnected, their wallet will leave quickly. Endeavor to
build solid relationships with other people.