From Dave's Desk...
Resist the devil. We should keep as much distance between us and the devil as possible.
“Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
When my boys were young, they seemed to enjoy reptiles. I never was one to be enamored by snakes, lizards and ooiegoos (made up word). Those little guys would pick up and play with the kind of creatures that gave me nightmares. Yikes!
While traveling on a weekend getaway several years ago we came across a Serpentarium. I found myself reluctantly paying the cashier for 3 tickets and off we went into the world of the deadly and venomous. The tour guide looked like the son of the devil himself. As we stood behind a mesh barrier, he proceeded to feed three of the most deadly snakes on earth including a Spitting Cobra, a King Snake and a huge Python. He warned guests to be very quiet on his behalf because one mistake would be all it would take.
Jesus and I had one thing in common for sure. We both hate snakes. You may recall that Jesus called the devil “That old serpent...” (Revelation 12:9). He knew how deadly just one venomous strike could be. Lately I’ve been sensing the devil is on the prowl and looking for someone to devour. The serpent is ready to strike. Please be in prayer for the Church of Jesus Christ.
Also, "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might" (Ephesians 6:10). This literally means, "Strengthen yourselves in the Lord." The first thing we must realize is that in our own strength, we are no match for the devil. He is a powerful spiritual being that we must not try to engage on our own.
Satan recognizes that God is your powerbase. Therefore, Satan's goal is to get between your soul and God. He tries to separate man's heart from God and inspire man's confidence in himself instead.
I found a list of several ways Satan attacks churches. Please use this list to pray for Corner House against the Devil’s many schemes.
1. Congregational Division (1 Cor. 1:10–17).
I've seen churches divided over budget decisions, paint colors, worship styles, Bible versions, community outreach, global missions, staffing choices, service times, choir robes, small group curriculum, and church vans. The enemy still knows this truth: believers make little dent in the darkness when they shoot each other in the back. When groups compete against each other, and ministries fight for their turf, the Enemy is winning.
2. Family Breakdown
We don't need to look far to find this problem in the church. Even the seemingly healthiest families don't always stand in the armor of God to fight off the enemy's arrows.
Some churches, I am convinced, would continue to exist for some time even if God withdrew His presence. That is, they operate in their own strength and ability, but they do it well.
4. Believers turning on believers (1 Cor. 6:1–8).
The Corinthians apparently regularly filed grievances against one another rather than try to work them out in Christian love. Internal strife marked their congregation.
5. Sexual immorality in the church (1 Cor. 5:1–13).
There's a reason Paul so often spoke against sexual sin (e.g., 1 Cor. 6:12–20, 10:8) and called believing couples to give themselves to each other physically lest Satan tempt them (1 Cor. 7:5). This temptation is real and powerful.
6. Discipleship Distraction
The enemy delights in churches that have no strategic, effective discipleship strategy. After all, these churches have no plan to teach believers how to wear the full armor of God (Eph. 6:11). They frequently leave new believers to fight battles on their own, select unprepared persons for leadership, and then provide no training for those leaders. Because no one discipled them, their members often lose battles in a spiritual war they did not know existed.
It's easy to get here. Church leaders give all they have to give, yet with few results. The church is dying but unwilling to change. Lay leaders protect their turf. Staff members sometimes battle among themselves. Seemingly, no lives are experiencing transformation. "What's the point?" the enemy asks. "Why not just give up?"
8. Competition over spiritual gifts and talent. (1 Cor. 12–14).
When we think we're more gifted than others, or that our gifts are more significant than others, we're playing into the Devil's hand.
9. Unwillingness to forgive a repentant believer (2 Cor. 2:5–11).
When we don't forgive a returning brother or sister in Christ, we open the door to the Enemy's influence.
10. False teaching in the church (2 Cor. 11:1–15).
From debates about the Lord's Supper to questions of the resurrection to preaching about "another Jesus" (2 Cor. 11:4), the Enemy seeks to sow falsehood in the church—often through teachers who seem to be angels of light.
Which of these strategies is most evident in your church? What steps are you taking to counter the Enemy's work? What steps are you taking to prepare for his attack?
We do have hope, of course, in Jesus' words: "I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it" (Matt. 16:18b). The enemy is viciously strategic against the church, but we need not let him win.
In Galatians 6:10, the Apostle Paul encourages both the church in Galatia and the church today: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
In Acts 10:38, Peter said that Jesus went around doing good. Here in Galatians, Paul is talking about doing good in terms of “sowing to the Spirit” (Gal 6:8), promising that we will reap a harvest of good by sowing good.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Galatians 6:10
Anytime we see a “therefore” in the Bible we must ask ourselves what it is there for? Paul says don’t hesitate, it’s time to take action. It’s time to do something to move ahead.
#2 “as we have opportunity,”
There are opportunities to do good in the name of Christ all around us. Like the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25), will we see the brother in need as an assignment from God?
#3 “let us do good to all people,”
God blesses “all people” and so should the Christian.
#4 “especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
The New Testament places a priority for helping the members of the Church because the Church is a family. The Christian and the local church should seek first to care for those in the family of God as part of God’s means to care for his dear children.
Maybe you’ve felt that tug to encourage a brother or sister in need, but you hesitated because you were unsure how they would respond. I’d like to challenge us today to push through the awkwardness and prayerfully act upon God’s prompting.
I am personally blown away at the number of opportunities we have at Corner House to do good.
You can support a church camper; cook a meal, make a dessert for Sunday morning, serve at the rescue mission or at our food giveaway, be a door or parking lot greeter, volunteer in the church office, teach a child, help maintain the church grounds, or serve in any of a number of ministry groups including Fellowship, Discipleship, Greeters, Welcome Center.
So let’s continue as the Apostle Paul said to spur one another on to love and good deeds, (and) let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.… (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Blessings as we serve Christ together.
We marvel at the stories of the triumph of God’s people over evil in the Bible. Whether it’s Joshua’s conquest of Canaan, David taking down Goliath, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s refusal to bow or Esther and Mordecai’s triumph for God’s people in Persia - we see a divine plan unfolding through the Bible leading to a cross. Those Old Testament stories serve to remind us of the three-fold message of the book of Revelation.
1) God wins
2) God shares the victory with His people
3) Life is hard in between
Somewhere between points 1-2 comes the reality that, at least at some point, life is going to get tough. The pandemic should have hinted that to the Christian world. It’s hard to see a victory when the central aspect of Christianity is coming together to celebrate one and to do it regularly when the world around us was shouting “don’t gather!” Now a potential war following a pandemic sounds like a perfect storm, that is, if you like storms.
For the children of Ukraine, that storm is a reality. For believers in the Ukraine, life is hard right now. Christians in the Ukraine might be praying for Christ’s immanent return. What should we be praying for on their behalf?
One Christian Pastor from Ukraine was asked what the West should be praying in regards to their situation. His reply was that we pray, first and foremost, for people's safety. Pray also for wisdom and pray that God would somehow be glorified in the midst of it (the war). Pray that the Holy Spirit fills them (the Ukrainian people) with wisdom and understanding and with the peace, comfort and empowerment to get through these tough times. He also believes Christians need to pray for protection for fleeing unbelievers. And with words reminiscent of Christ's call for Christians to love their enemies, he also encourages prayer for Russia's leader. Pray that God shows up and brings revelation to Vladimir Putin and his need for a Savior. Pray that Russia's military men will encounter the Lord. Mostly pray for divine intervention. Pray that God in his sovereignty and control intervene in a divine, supernatural way that makes people realize that ‘Wow, that could only be God.’ Finally, he concluded, pray for the other countries' presidents that God guides them on how they are supposed to be stepping up with supplies and militaristically.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has also prompted some of America's most prominent evangelical leaders to raise a provocative question — asking if the world is now in the biblically prophesied "end of days" that might culminate with the apocalypse and the second coming of Christ.
"Why does God permit evil like this to continue? …. Are we near Armageddon and the end of the world?" asked one Christian leader?
"We are living in the last days," replied one pastor, "We've been living in the last days for the last 2000 years. We don't know, is this the end? Is this the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning?"
Russell Moore, public theologian at the evangelical magazine Christianity Today, said it's wrong to try to connect world events to end-times prophecy, noting that Jesus himself said his second coming would be unexpected and unconnected with "wars and rumors of wars. It's not consistent with the Bible and it's harmful to the witness of the church," said Moore, noting that the world has outlived many episodes of end-times speculation.
Hopefully more Christians are concerned about Ukraine's well-being. We are aware of the efforts of TCM (Taking Christ to Millions) with offices in Western Ukraine, Austria, Poland and throughout western Europe. According to Tony Twist, the President of TCM - TCM has approximately 3,000 students and alumni directly impacted by this war. Their Regional Representatives and partners in the countries surrounding Ukraine have established aid stations to provide food, water, clothing, medicines, beds, and other needed provisions. In addition to prayer, they will share the love of Jesus and His Good News with them and help them find permanent housing and church connections.
If you want to provide help gifts may be mailed to TCM International Institute PO Box 24560, Indianapolis, IN 46224-0560 - also online at www.tcmi.org/give.
Preaching in a most desperate hour, while he could hear bombing in the distance, Sergey Nakul, pastor of Grace Reformed Church in Kyiv, Ukraine, delivered the only message he believes will keep people safe, no matter what. "God is with me right now. God is with us … and He says, 'Don't be afraid, I am with you." He concluded, "People are so open to right now, when they understand that their life could just end any moment — and nobody knows who is next."
On line sources:
One day, a professor announced a surprise test. He distributed a paper to each student, with the
front side facing down. Then he asked the class to turn the page and start the test, but there were no questions on the paper – just a black dot in the center of the page. “I want you to write a few lines about what you see on the paper”, the professor said. Puzzled, the students started the
Once everyone was finished, the professor collected all the tests and started reading the essays out loud. Without exception, each student had written about the black dot. One wrote that the dot
signified their smallness in the great plan of creation. Another wrote that the black dot pointed to the lack of perfection in even the most successful enterprise. Still, another wrote that the black
dot stood for the power and purpose of diversity and difference.
Some mentioned the size of the dot, others the position, still others expounded brilliantly on the color of the dot. One by one, each essay was read aloud and after reading the answers, the professor addressed the class.
“None of you will be graded on this test. I only wanted you to ponder over something. All of you wrote about the black dot, yet no one concentrated first and foremost about the white part of the paper. The same thing happens in our lives. We all have white paper to observe and learn from, yet we always seem to focus in on the dark spots. We have so many reasons to celebrate – our
parents, co-workers, friends, good health, a satisfactory job, a child’s smile, the miracles we witness every day. However, we often limit our horizons by focusing on just the dark spots; our disappointments, our frustrations, our fears and anxieties. In our day to day lives, we tend to take so many good things for granted rather than focus our energy on insignificant dot-like failures and disappointments.
Take your eyes off the dark spots, the black dots of your life. Look and focus on what brings life and the larger picture. Most of all – look for the good.” I think, looking for the good is another way to describe the journey of faith. Looking for the good is looking for God. This, of course, is not to deny the problems or avoid the problems that demand our attention. Rather, it means that the darkness does not overwhelm us.
Only last week, after reading the headlines, I was overwhelmed. I grew angry over what I had read and began dwelling on negative thoughts. I opened morning prayer for that day and read this from Ephesians:
29 No rotten word must proceed from your mouth, but only something good for the building up of the need, in order that it may give grace to those who hear, 30 and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 All bitterness, and rage, and wrath, and clamor, and abusive speech, must be removed from you, together with all wickedness. 32 Become kind toward one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as also God in Christ has forgiven you. (Eph. 4:29-32)
The writer of Ephesians is simply echoing what Jesus proclaimed in calling us to love one another. Ephesians challenges us to focus on what brings life – the larger picture. Perhaps it is the pandemic we are still trying to navigate, or the troubling times in our nation’s history, or the difficult moments in each of our lives. Whatever it is that threatens to overwhelm you, perhaps these are moments challenging us, like the letter to the Ephesians, to make a choice. Will we focus on the black dots, the problems and pain, or will we look for the good? Will we look for God? This is the journey of faith! Stay strong my friends. Love one another and always - remember the One who holds you forever.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great JOY for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were AMAZED at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying, and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. (Luke 2:1-21)
Later in Simeon’s prophecy. “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:45b)
I can be a little moody at times in late November and early December, as the sun goes down earlier each day.
If you were to select one word to use in describing the atmosphere at Christmas time, what would it be? One word that comes to mind is “emotional.” All the elements that combine to make the Christmas celebration tend to fill our hearts with emotion. In our text, Luke attempts to describe the emotions felt on that first Christmas. He tells of the baby being born, of angels filling the heavens and the shepherds visit to the manger.
What are the emotions of Christmas? Let’s look here at Luke’s description of the first Christmas and see if we can identify some of them.
JOY: (V. 10) Perhaps one of the most favorite songs of Christmas is “Joy to the World.” And rightly so, for the message of Christmas is “Good News of great joy.” The Good News is that, because of Christ’s coming, we can have true joy. Christ came to take away our sins, to roll off our curse, to unbind our chains, to open our prison house, to cancel our debt; in a word, to give us the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Is not this joy? Where can we find a joy so real, so deep, so pure, so lasting? There is every element of joy – deep, ecstatic, satisfying, sanctifying joy – in the gospel of Christ.
LOVE: 2. Love - v. 14
The angels sang of God’s love which made it possible for men to have peace. The story of Christmas is about God reaching out in love to make peace with men. God expressed His love by giving the gift of His Son. The gift that is given often tells you much about the giver. From the gift you receive, you can tell if the giver wasn’t very thoughtful, or if they were cheap, or if they were simply “going through the motions” without much concern for you personally. If you really care for someone, you will put more thought, more planning, more sacrifice, more effort into what you give, because you want them to know of your love for them. You will make the effort to give them something that they really want or need. When God decided to give us the gift of eternal life, it wasn’t something that He just thought of on the fly. Long before there was a town called Bethlehem, a garden called Eden, and a planet called Earth, a decision was made in eternity past that God would send forth His Son, born of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those that are under the law.
AMAZEMENT: vs. 17-18
Those who heard the story related by the shepherds were amazed at what God had done. The Word of God had come to the world of men.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” - John 1:14 (NIV)
SADNESS: (V. 35b) “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” There is yet one more emotion often associated with the modern-day celebration of Christmas. That is sadness. Psychologists say that for many people Christmas is the most depressing time of the year. Sometimes the sadness comes because of the demands of the season. To others the sadness comes because they recognize more clearly than at other times the emptiness within. They see another year completed, yet no more has been accomplished in their lives. Most often the sadness of the Christmas season is caused by the awareness that the future will never be exactly like the past. Those who have to face Christmas without a loved one they lost during the year experience a certain degree of sadness in the midst of the Christmas revelry.
Some of the sadness is inevitable. The demands of the season are depressing at times. There are some people whose lives are empty. The facing of Christmas alone does hurt. Some of this sadness is inevitable.
But that’s why people need to discover the true meaning of Christmas! May this Christmas be a time when God’s people rediscover the joy, love, and amazement experienced by those who were part of the first Christmas so that the true meaning of Christmas might be revealed through the way we celebrate our Lord’s birth.
Christmas greetings friends of Corner House,
Wow, it just can’t be Christmas time already. Twenty, twenty-one is nearly in the books.
The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us (John. 1:7). Christmas celebrates God’s dwelling among us. We experience Christ’s presence every Lord’s Day when we come together. I pray that those of you who worship online have not laid aside the need to partake of the bread and the juice in celebration of and devotion to the body of Christ. At Corner House we have been fortunate to be able to give three options to our worshipers during the past year and a half, nearly through the entirety of the covid-19 pandemic. We worship together at 9:50 in our parking lot service; we worship together in our 10:30 worship center service; we worship together on-line during our live stream accessible at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzgINHegE9rqnvd_ncFKk5g. Or our Facebook page at facebook.com/cornerhousecc.org. Don't forget to hit the subscribe button to remind you that we are streaming.
But we must not forget. We are the body of Christ. Do not forsake assembling as some are in the habit of doing but encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25). If you attend the parking lot church or if you are worshiping with us via the live stream, we encourage you to find fellowship in the body of Christ. Stay in contact with fellow Christians. Attend a Bible study if that is more convenient. Above all matters, prayer matters, so pray for one another. The Christmas miracle is always Immanuel, God with us! Let that miracle impact your life making your Christmas sparkle with moments of love, laughter, and goodwill. And may the year ahead be full of contentment and joy. Have a Merry Christmas!
I pray the pandemic has caused an epidemic of worship.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
You know, some things never change even when the world around us does.
People still need people. Throughout the Corona Virus pandemic of 2020 and the subsequent shock waves of Corona Virus 2.0 and the Delta Variant people have lived like two porcupines caught in a dilemma. One chilly night two porcupines found themselves alone out on the plains. There was no shelter or place to keep warm. They only had their body heat. But they were scared that if they stood too close together during the night one could prick and even kill the other by mistake. After experimenting they found the right distance to stand next to each other. They debated as to whether it was 3 feet apart or 6 feet apart, so they compromised at four and a half feet. They were close enough together that their bodies gave heat to each other, but far enough apart that they would not prick each other during the night. And so, for the last eighteen months we have debated public educate, six foot or three; Masks, or no masks; Vaccine or no vaccine; Fist bump or handshake (forget about the hugs) Public gatherings or no public gatherings? Bottom line is that people were created to need each other.
The body of Christ needs to be together in order to thrive. Romans 12:5,1 Corinthians 12:12–27, Ephesians 3:6, 4:15–16 and 5:23, Colossians 1:18 and 1:24 all speak of the body of Christ. One of the top reasons for the early church had success was in their numbers. The growth of the church is referenced in the book of Acts on no less than 20 occasions using phrases like “The number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem” (Acts 6:7)
The average church has seen their re-opened, in-door attendance come in around 36% of previous levels. Few Christian leaders expect church attendance to jump back to pre-COVID levels for quite a while. While it has been great to have Facebook Live worship and our outdoor worship, it is truly wonderful to be in the sanctuary together.
People still need Jesus.
Our mission as Christians was the same yesterday as it is today and will be tomorrow. The world, however, is changing faster than ever before, and stuff happens that is beyond our control. However, the condition of humankind is still the same before God. We are sinners in need of a savior.
When the children of Israel displeased God in their wilderness wanderings God allowed poisonous snakes to invade the camp. Many were bitten and the poison-virus was spreading through their veins, and causing pain, and death this was symbolical of the world lying in the misery, restlessness, and spiritual death, which came from the Serpent's victory in Paradise.
So “Moses made a serpent of bronze and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live” (Num. 21:9).
In His famous discourse with Nicodemus Jesus referred to this symbol when He said: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” The record reads that everyone who looked to the serpent was healed. But why a serpent? Why not a nicer more noble symbol? What is Jesus trying to tell us?
Paul plainly informs the Ephesians that there is a spirit, who he identifies as the prince of the power of the air, which now is at work in the sons of disobedience. (Eph. 2:1-2) He further tells us that we once were among them following the passions of our flesh, that is, our self-for-self nature. But, by God's mercy we are now made alive together with Christ.
How did we receive this new life? By what means were we healed? We looked to Christ. The scriptures relate that Jesus was made to be sin for us. His identification with us went so far that He became what we once were. More than that, He did not hang on that cross alone – we were there with Him. Paul writes, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20) When we became believers the old man died to this world.
We have become new creatures (II Cor. 5:17) so that in a world of fluctuation and change we can keep our footing as we fix our eyes on Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our faith. (Heb. 12:2) Finally, always remember, brothers and sisters “The one who called you is faithful, and He will do it.” (I Thess. 5:24)
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:3-7)
I believe it is crucial that we understand that on the cross our old self died. The serpent Moses lifted up refers to that old serpent, Satan, the usurper who indwelt us before we looked to Christ. He is now chased out of the temple by One who is stronger and who has now found a resting place within us.
April 2, 2021
A CHILDLIKE WONDER
Just one week ago we hosted an Easter event for the Autistic community. It wasn’t the most well organized gathering in our church history. There were only a few games for the children to play, a smattering of exhibits for Special Needs people, and, of course, a featured Easter Egg hunt. The event itself featured fire trucks, police cars, and special presentations by a group called “Bunnies in a Basket” therapy bunnies and an organization known as K-Dogs Kidz Mission featuring motorcyclists whose motto is “a voice for innocent (bullied) children.”
The weather was a perfect reminder of the beauty of spring. One day sooner or one day later and strong winds and rain would have put a halt to this event. But not on this day.
One of my tasks was to replenish the eggs out in the field as quickly as these special children could gather them. The hunt itself was a bit of a free for all. All I could see coming at me from every direction were happy children. All they aimed to do was fill their baskets with eggs. All I could think of at the moment was “Thank God for this field, this amazing opportunity and the joy of spring the moment brought to all who participated. Thanks to all CHCC regulars who were able to jump into the fray and lend a helping hand. If you didn’t know about the event or were unable to attend there will be plenty of opportunities in the future.
As we were getting ready for Easter, a season of renewal, it was the unbridled excitement displayed by those children that let me experience joy in a new and unexpected way.
And through it all, I am reminded of the empty tomb and the childlike wonder of those who witnessed it—who stood at the entrance of the place where just hours before, the turning point in history had happened: human feet on holy ground. Hearts filled with the utter delight of God’s love made visible in a way that it had never been before.
That’s what I want on Easter Sunday. Even more than egg hunts and chocolates and new clothes and ham dinners, I want to be filled with His joy in a new way, and let it spill out everywhere.
And I believe the children in our lives have a lot to teach us about joy.
Jesus knew it, too:
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-3 NIV
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.