Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sermon Notes: 9/25/05--Helpless, but Not Hopeless

Note: These notes are taken from outlines of sermons by the pastor. Actual Sermon was not videotaped, sorry)

Text: Jonah 1:17; 2:1-8, 10

As you all can see, I had a bit of an accident. (note: Pastor sitting in wheelchair due to knee injury). Right now, I am feeling fairly helpless. I cannot walk on my own, I need the aid of crutches. I cannot flop on the couch or in the recliner, I need to sit in this wheelchair monstrosity. And, there are many other things I cannot do right now that I used to do. I am feeling helpless, and almost hopeless. I go to the doctor to find out if surgery is needed, and where to go. I cannot fix this. I am in trouble.

Well, this reminded me of Jonah. You know, we kid around with Jonah in that Vacation Bible School song about the whales and the hand gestures. However, think about it some. Here Jonah was, dead set on preaching to the fine folks in Jerusalem, and God was telling him to go preach to those mean folks at Nineveh, people who had mistreated his fellow Israelites. Jonah tried everything to thwart the will of God, and look what it got him...trapped in the belly of a whale. Ugh! Maybe this chair is not so bad after all....

But seriously, because of his pride and arrogance, Jonah ended up in that whale. He knew what HE wanted. He knew where HE wanted to go. Yet, God called him, humbled him. I can think of few experiences more humbling than being stuck in the muck of a whale's belly. Ugh, the smell, the sights! I can think of few things scarier, maybe crutches and a wheelchair.

Because of my own pride and arrogance, here I am, in this chair. I was careless and had an accident. Now, I am humbled. I took mobility for granted, but now I realize the tremendous gift it is. Being able to stand at that pulpit instead of sitting here takes new meaning. I no longer take my mobility for granted. Jonah was humbled into realizing God has a plan for us, and He will see it through. To fight it is to risk more than death, but eternal damnation. Just think what would have come next if Jonah had not been humbled and in being humbled had his heart softened to accept God's mission.

I have a long road ahead. I am supposed to go to Rehab and work to get back on my feet. Jonah had to go and preach to those in Nineveh, whom he did not like and who didn't care for him all that much. It is not without hope. Even in the midst of the darkness of a whale's belly, in the midst of being stuck in a chair, God is there. As long as there is breath, there is hope. He showed us that by sending his Son to die for us, even though we had sinned so much. Even though we may despair of our lives, there is hope in Christ Jesus. Imagine the depression and hopelessness of giving up absolute power and Godly beauty for the form of a simple man, and being rejected, at that. Imagine the hopelessness He felt in the Garden, when He talked about the Cup of suffering being taken away, if possible. That was a cry for help. And God gave Him the strength, not to run away, but to persevere. You see, God doesn't make things easy sometimes. It is not to punish us, it is to refine us. It is not to hurt us, but to help us come to a better appreciation and understanding of Him and his glory.

Yes, I am pretty helpless right now. We all are, when we think of it. We are helpless in the face of evil. Our bodies are so weak! Our minds are so weak. We sin without thinking, injuring our eternal selves, and pat ourselves on the back for it. We are so frail. When the injuries mount and we are laid low, we truly feel how helpless we are. IF we don't call out for God, we are hopeless. However, even if we fall into bad things like drugs and addictions, as long as there is life there is hope. As long as we are alive, God is reaching out to us, much as people reached out to me to help get me the care I needed. We have to accept, and believe that the offer is genuine. We have to have faith that the crutches will hold, that they won't drop you. God will never let us fall, He will carry us to victory, if we first admit that we can't get there without Him. Otherwise, we will find out soon enough....

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sermon Notes: 9/18/05--ABC's of Salvation

Text: 1 John 4:13-19; Romans 10:9-12

NOTE: video of this sermon available ...see pastor for details

As I was driving along, I saw an interesting sign at a church next to a school. Of course, I did not tell the ACLU who I am sure would ask the sign be non-religious or force the church to move. The sign said, "SALVATION, easy as ABC--Admit, Believe, Confess. As I thought about it, I began to think about how this sign was correct and to apply it.

Let's look at the A--Admit. With most things, you have to admit there is a problem. That is the first step to recovery, to reconciliation, to salvation. We have to admit that we cannot do it alone, that we are missing something in our lives. So many times we try to find it in other things. We try alcohol, drugs, sex, eating, hobbies. Still, there is an empty place. If we do not admit it is there, we think we can ignore it. This leads to a growing emptiness, which leads eventually to perdition.

We must admit that we are missing something, we are missing God. We must admit that we cannot get to ultimate happiness, to being complete. We have to admit it that we are a sinner and fallen short.

Next, let's get to the B--Believe. We have to believe in a loving God. We cannot take the view that God is just sitting there powerless over many things. We cannot subscribe that God is just an observer. We must believe in a God who is living and active, who sent His Son to die for our sins. We must believe in a God who knows us and desires a personal relationship with us. That is what God craves, and really what we crave. We look at other things, but this is what we crave.

And it is hard. We want to believe the lie that we can do it on our own, the myth of independence. We are dependent on God, even if we don't believe it. We need to believe that God desires a relationship with us, because, as the adage often goes, seeing (realizing) is believing. We have to believe in order to see the Truth around us. God is living and active, capable of miracles, like the fire chief of survived the collapse of the Twin Towers. Like the boy in Jackie's neighborhood who was never expected to walk again, yet now he is walking. We have to believe in a God who is, not was.

Lastly, the C--Confess. We have to confess that Jesus is Lord, that he is the way the Truth and the Life. We have to also confess that we are not perfect. We need to come before Him honestly and openly. To show Him that hole in our hearts so He can fill it. We have to be willing to stand uncovered before Him, to put aside the pretenses of our politically correct society and be revealed for the fallen creatures we are.

This has the effect of cleansing, it also has the effect of establishing that holy relationship, that closeness, with the Almighty. We need to not only confess our sin, but our joys, our sorrows, our needs, wants, and our highs and lows. Christ, God, wants nothing less than to be the source of your strength, your Rock, your friend. And we should be smart enough to accept this great gift. However, we must first follow these ABC's, to begin our education in Christ.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sermon Notes: 9/11/05--We Have Forgotten

(Note: These are transcribed from Sermon notes used for the Service, actual Sermon given on video available from Church, ask for details)

Scripture Texts: Nehemiah 4:14, Jonah 2:7, Deuteronomy 6:4-12, Jeremiah 3:21

The country singer Darryl Worley wrote a song a few years ago in which he asked the question, Have you Forgotten? in reference to 9/11/01. The answer, it seems as I look around, appears to be: yes, we have forgotten. In a temporal sense as well as a spiritual sense.

In the news, the anniversary has passed with no memorial mention hardly of the lives lost. No, all we get is political rhetoric of who did what and when and how we may or may not have been misled. We get no spiritual remembrance, no instead we get a few tv movies.

Remember 9/11, when everyone seemed to be coming back to God. Church attendance swelled. People began realizing that humanism was not the answer. We sought comfort from God, rejuvenation from God. And He complied. We grew strong again, we healed some wounds, we rejoiced in saved lives and in new opportunity.

Now, five years later, we are back at it again. Humanism is back on the march. Instead of calling people terrorists, they are freedom fighters, or insurgents. Instead of calling them demonic, we call them akin to our Founding Fathers. Instead of seeking comfort in God, we are returning to the ways of humanism. We try to convince ourselves yet again that there is no evil in this world, despite the vast evidence to the contrary. We are lying to ourselves. And, we when lie to ourselves we set ourselves up for a real fall.

There is evil out there. Osama, Saddam, Zaqawi, they are all evil. They have been infected with the spirit of Satan and they are evil men. How else can you delight in leaving innocent children fatherless, of killing innocent people on the way to work? Yet, that is what they do.

The mainstream would have us believe that this is silly, this notion of evil. However, it is there. We saw it. Even the humanists saw it. However, they are relying on the adage of time healing wounds. Time can do that, but we must resist the urge to forget. We want to forget, we don't want to remember the pain. However, in failure and in pain there is great learning many times.

As we must learn from the security mistakes, we must learn from the spiritual as well. We can sit idly by and just believe that there is no evil...

Because, when we do that, we end up being like those Israelites. They kept coming to God and drifting away, coming and leaving, that finally they were scattered. There is a day coming when we will be held to account for our own coming and leaving. And that, dear hearts, will make 9/11 seem like a small rainstorm. The great cataclysm is coming. The end of days will be here, and we must remember the lessons of times past, including 9/11, to realize we do need God. Our tallest buildings can be knocked down, and still people think we are the be all and end all. Woe unto them when God humbles them, and I pray we will not be amongst them, but amongst the chosen believers who remembered the 9/11s, who remembered the failures to help lead us to eternal success....

Charge Conference Announced

Charge Conference will be October 30th, Sunday, at approximately 12:45pm, following services and before our Fall Festival luncheon, where we will prepare the boxes for Samaritan's Purse, Franklin Graham's ministry. Rev. Mike Starkey of Mt. Nebo will be the presiding elder...See Mark if you would like to be nominated for an office or would like to serve in any way....

Monday, September 05, 2005

Sermon Notes: 9/3/05--Forewarned is Foresaved

Sermon Scripture: Revelation 3:2-3; Revelation 22:7, 12-3, 20
(Note: Live Sermon may be slightly different, these notes based on Outline of Sermon given 9/3/05...Live Sermon available on video, ask for details)
This nation faced a terrible tragedy this past week, with the decimation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of people have been displaced, homes destroyed, scores killed. It has been a calamity. Our hearts and prayers go out to those who have been affected, and we will endeavor to provide aid and assistance however we can as a church and as the Lord's servants.

However, in everything we can see lessons to learn. Right now, there is a huge blame game going on, in Louisiana. The governor is blaming the mayor, the mayor is blaming the governor, and many are blaming the federal government. We are not going to discuss that today, but we are going to use the situation at hand to teach us about heeding warnings.

The sad part about Katrina is how many people did not heed the warnings. And, folks there was plenty of warnings. For four days, people were told this hurricane was coming. Many heeded the call and packed up and left. The calls became more urgent over last weekend, as the hurricane grew closer. Some, however, chose to stay. The chose to stay and "take their chances." They waited for someone else to make the move. They wanted to stay and protect their stuff. They waited and saw. They waited for whatever reason. Why did they not heed the warnings? We will talk about that in a bit.

Christ has been issuing warnings for almost 2000 years now. I read a few of those "warnings" to you. He has been warning us of the impending storm of the Endtimes now, but it is a warning of encouragement. While it is a life and death struggle, we are not leaving comfort for destitution. We are leaving destitution for comfort and a new home. Christ has warned us that all of us are accountable, and that if we do not heed the warning/invitation to be saved and repent, the End Storm called Revelation will consume us. And it will make Katrina look like a summer Thunderstorm here in Ohio. And the horror and misery will last for eternity. People had two-four days warning about Katrina's coming. It didn't just happen. They knew when it would hit. We won't know when Christ will come again, He tells. He will come like that thief. It will be that quick. It will be sudden. However, Christ has told us it is coming. He is trying to forewarn us to make sure we are Foresaved. He is trying to get us to prepare, to not be caught out in the Storm when it comes. He is trying to tell us the time to leave this doomed world of sin and despair is coming. We have to evacuate now, to remove ourselves from the dependence on this world.

However, God has an evacuation plan. Unlike, evidently, the powers that be down south, there is a real viable evacuation plan. It is called the path to Salvation. First, realizing you are not perfect, that in fact you are a sinner. Second, realizing you cannot get there by yourself. Third, asking Christ to come into your heart and set up shop. And repenting, and earnestly seeking Christ. If we do these things, and follow the two basic commandments (from which the other ten follow) of loving the Lord your God and loving your neighbor as yourself, we will be evacuated rom the impending cataclysm.

Why did some of the people stay? In light of all the warnings, why did some people stay? Some did not believe the hurricane would come. Others doubted the messenger, I mean, the weather guys have been wrong alot, right? Others were waiting to be told, and received mixed messages from the mayor and state government, first saying to evacuate, then not to evacuate, then should we declare martial law, or not declare martial law...This sent a mixed message that in some cases doomed people to seek to leave after it was too late and traffic was jammed.

Sadly, the same thing goes on in terms of our faith today. Many Christian leaders will not even announce the warning. The Book of Revelation is too scary. Some Christian leaders don't believe there will be an end. They beieve that Revelation is just some fairy tale to scare people into belief. Even as they are saying we need to save souls, they are not talking about from what, exactly. They are not saying, well, if you don't get on Jesus's evac bus, then you will be doomed because of what is coming. They are more worried about the ritual of Christianity, being accepted by the Politically Correct world. These people are sending mixed and dooming messages, much the same as the mayor of New Orleans did. There is a Great Cataclsym coming. And if we do not heed the warnings, that we have been forewarned with for centuries, then what we will go through for eternity will make New Orleans seem like a vacation. Some in our Faith have been blinded by the wiles of this world and refuse to understand that this is Eternity at stake. This is not about looking acceptable and conforming to the will of the many, this is about salvation. Remember, Noah's neighbors laughed at him until the storm came.

Why don't we heed the warnings? Why don't we get on the nearly empty buses of salvation running around, trying to take us from the sin and impending doom of our world of sin and into the world of salvation? WE don't heed Christ's storm warnings because we are worried about our "stuff." We are afraid of losing our "prized possessions," our status. We are afraid of looking weak, like we have to depend on someone else. Well, I have news for those of us like that. All of this stuff--the pools, the cars, the houses--all of it is temporal and will vanish someday. The house my grandmother lived in is no longer even evident across the street from the church. It is an empty lot. Our stuff is not even remotely as valuable as our lives.

I love my collectibles. I love the toys, ball cards, autographs. I love my car. However, if it means saving my family and myself, I will leave them behind. I will be angry, I will be sad, but I know there is a greater calling and a greater purpose than "stuff." We are God's creation, in His own image, and we are more precious than any stuff. We can rebuild stuff, we can't rebuilt lost souls or lost lives.

Contrary to popular reports, there was transportation to take people out of the city. It was a free ride, no strings attached. All it took was the initiative to realize you were in danger, make the decision and get on the bus. Many near empty buses were leaving the area for safer areas. The ride was there, many were too consumed with stuff or fear or loathing to get on the bus.

There is a free ride for us, as well. It has been bought and paid for with the greatest treasure of all: God's Son. Christ died to pay for the bus of salvation to guide us to safety. All it takes is the initiative of realizing the Storm is coming, and we can't do a thing about it. Just as, quite frankly, no one could stop the hurricane. Many people think the President should have ripped off his shirt, revealing a Big Red S underneath, and changed the course of the hurricane. Some in the Church think that maybe, just maybe, if they can do a little extra good or make things look good, that God will divert the end. Not true. It is on the way. The 2nd Coming and Tribulation is coming. The Buses are there. They are paid for. It is time to make the Call. Get on and be saved, or stay behind and "take your chances." Of course, there is no chance. In this Storm, there will be no survivors. Their will be no innocents left, as in this sad situation. People will have made their choice, and they will have to live with it.

However, even now, Christ is there, our brothers and sisters in Christ are there, flying into the heart of people shooting at them with the slings and arrows of this world even as we are trying to save them from the Coming Storm. These people are firing because they don't understand, they are jealous, they are envious, they have been corrupted by the storm. Their sinful natures are laid bear, and rather than be saved from it, they would rather not change.

The Bus is here. We face a choice. Do we get on, and leave our stuff in favor of safety in the Arms of Christ, starting a new Life of Eternal, Amazing Grace and eternal Life, or do we become wedded to our stuff, thinking, we can ride it out, it isn't real, or some such nonsense?

The choice is clear. Christ has been warning us and encouraging us to evacuate. Evacuate from our dependence on the things of this world and our imaginary independence and self-importance, which leads only to destruction. Evacuate from the Storm and go to Sanctuary in Christ. However, it takes initiative. It takes will. It takes faith. I pray each and every one of us will take the initiative to get on the Bus. I pray we will be able to get others to come with us on the bus, to be disciples and aid workers for Christ to help save others and get them not to let the bus go by. However, there will be some that will let the buses go by, and there will be empty seats. I pray that we will all be on the Bus, that we will help to fill our Buses by being good Christians, by loving our neighbor, by following the Commandments, and by seeking to be more Christ's people. After all, that is what He did for us, and what we need to do for each other. We cannot play the blame game. There is not enough time, and there are too many to save.

Seek to get on that Bus and ride it to Salvation. The road is not always smooth, but it is the right way. It is not easy, but it is the Only Way. Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We may lose the riches of this world, but we gain eternity. We gain new opportunities. Each second is a new opportunity to get on the bus, to encourage others. I pray we will all do that.

(Closing Prayer)

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Welcome to the blog of the New Hope United Methodist Church, located in New Hope, Ohio. We are situated in SW Ohio, Brown County, between the two towns of Mt. Orab to the North and Georgetown to the south. We are conveniently located just off of Rt. 68. Check back here for announcements, sermon notes, birthdays, prayer requests, etc. God bless and welcome!

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