Renewed Hallelujah

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Unacceptable Worship

If your car starts once every three tries, is it reliable? If the postman skipped delivery every Monday and Thursday, is he trustworthy? If you don’t go to work once or twice a month, are you a reliable employee? If your fridge stops working for a day or two every now and then, do you say, “Oh well, it work most of the time.”? If your water heater provides an icy cold shower every now and then, is it dependable? If you skipped a couple of electricity bill payments do you think Western Power would mind? If you fail to worship God as He desires, would you expect to be called a faithful Christian?

We expect loyalty and reliability from things and other people; isn’t it reasonable then that God just might expect the same from us?

    God is passionate for us to have passion for Him.   Jesus as He spoke to the woman at the well in John 4:23-24 said, “But an hour is coming and now is when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  

    Do we offer God worship that is acceptable and pleasing or unacceptable worship?  Worship of false gods, worship of God that is created to suit our desires, worship of God that is self-styled or worship of God that is done with a wrong attitude of the heart are all forms of UNACCEPTABLE WORSHIP.  Why then do we continue to worship in this way?  Is this Biblical worship?4
    No matter how pure our motivation, how sincere we are in our attempt, God cannot and will not bless unacceptable worship.  Instead we receive the same indictment the Israelite received from God in Isaiah 1, 

    “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?  I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle; and I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats.  When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you this trampling of My courts?  Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me.  New moon and Sabbath  the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.  I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feast, they have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them.  So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen.”

     True worship is based in redemption; God’s redemption of you.  True Worship is not about you, it is about God.  You have been created to worship Him, redeemed to worship Him, called to worship Him… will you surrender yourself to worship Him?

    For the full message shared on 08-25-13 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
    Lifestyle Worship Part 2

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      What is Biblical Worship and are we doing it?

      Over this past week I had the privilege of leading a conference on worship up at the Family Retreat.  As I prepared I received a stronger and stronger prompting to bring this subject to the attention of our congregational body. 

      I’m not sure of the history here in this church, but a decade or two ago there were the worship wars.  The worship wars focused mainly on the various styles of music that dominate the service,  Some churches proudly stated that they held to a traditional view of worship which meant they sang only hymns.  Other churches boasted of their contemporary worship meaning they sang praise choruses.  Others (like our church) have settled in the middle blending hymns and choruses.

      Worship is not based on what or how we sing.  It actually has little to do with us; worship is to be focused on the object being worshiped.  However, when our worship gets skewed, we must ask, is it because we have diverted from the worship of the One who deserves our worship.

      As I prepared, I kept being drawn back to something Jesus said to the woman at the well, in John 4, beginning in vs. 21: “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

      I bring this topic before you because I believe many churches and many believers have lost the true meaning of worship.  “The true calling of a Christian is to live in the ordinary but realize that through lifestyle worship life becomes extraordinary.” ~ David Adams

      Are we worshiping God biblically?  

      For the full message shared on 08-18-13 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
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      Living by Faith

      This past Sunday our youth ran the service.  They played and sang leading our corporate song service and Chad Dillard, our Youth & Children’s Intern, brought the message.  They all did a great job and I am looking forward to the next opportunity to let them shine for Jesus.

       It’s hard to live by faith.  We each want certainty in our lives, but faith requires us to believe in that which we are not certain of; or does it?  Faith is not placing our hope in uncertain circumstances, but in the God who controls all things.

      Faith, as defined in Hebrews 11:1 is: “…the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.”

      God, the unseen Creator of all things, the Sustainer of all things, the Sovereign over all things, is the One in whom we are to place our trust.

      Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us to “Trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

      He will direct your path… Sounds like our faith needs to be acted upon.  In fact, James tells us just that; “Faith without works is dead.” (2:17).  The Israelite saw the truth when they chose not to act on their faith in God, but rather refused to enter into the land of Canaan.  God then sent them on a walk in the wilderness for forty years.

      God wants you and I to walk with Him; if we don’t He may send us walking.  Are you willing to live by faith and walk with Him?

      For the full message shared on 06-30-13 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
      (Coming Soon)

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      Global Gathering

      A few weeks ago I had the privilege to attend the Church of God Global Gathering in Anderson, IN.  I took my family with the intent to have a brief vacation, since our last vacation was a whirlwind of activity surrounding my daughter’s wedding; but to my surprise we were constantly going from one activity to the next.

      Now, don’t get me wrong.  The experience was fantastic, but exhausting.  I needed to come home, just to get some rest.

      Global Gathering consisted of 63+ countries being represented, and speakers from a variety of backgrounds presenting messages focusing on the church “Standing Together”.

      Basically it was a call to unity.  Below I have provided links to the archived videos.

      Archived Messages

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      Unity of the Body: Walking Worthy of the Call

      EPHESIANS 4:1-6

      Therefore as a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

      For the full message shared on 06-09-13 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
      Walk Worthy of the Call

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      Choose to Serve the Lord

      I wish to thank my good friend Osmar Aguilar for filling in for me while I was away attending my daughter’s wedding.

      Osmar is the Executive Director of YFC (Youth for Christ) in SE Wisconsin.  I have had the opportunity to experience his passion for seeing Christ glorified in the ministry of reaching teens for Christ.  As he came to FCOG-Racine, he challenged us to “Choose to Serve the Lord.”

      For the full message shared on 06-02-13 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
      Choose to Serve the Lord

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      The Consequences of Secret Sin

      You know what I’m talking about…  those SECRET SINS.  The sins that we want to keep hidden in the closet where nobody looks.  Those sins that we try to dismiss, but when we are alone or outside of the “Christian scene” they rear their ugly heads.  Those sins.

      Shhhh!  We don’t want to talk about those sins.

      What tends to happen is these secret sins have public consequences.  Scripture provides example after example of the consequences of secret sin.  

      Adam and Eve tried to hide their sin from God – ultimately they were cast out of the Garden.  Cain denied killing his brother Able and was cursed and forced to wander the rest of his life.  Ananias and Sapphira tried to hide their sin and each died as a result.  Each of these examples reveals the personal consequences of secret sin, but the lives of two other biblical characters, Achan & David, discloses the fact that the consequences of secret sin are born by the corporate body, not just the individual.

      {Read Joshua 7 for more information on Achan &  2 Samuel 11 & 12 for more information on David.}

      There are three truths we need to understand regarding sin:
      1. Sin will always take you further than you wanted to go…

      2. Sin will always keep you longer than you wanted to stay…

      3. Sin will always cost you more than you wanted to pay.

      For the full message shared on 05-26-13 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
      The Consequences of Secret Sin

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      Sin = Missing the Mark

      Human history empirically validates the fact of original sin, but this doctrine has fallen on hard times lately.

      People would rather believe that insanity drives the behavior of those who would massacre people who would do them no harm.  Or that the rights of individuals to do what they want with their bodies justifies providing the service of killing the defenseless baby in the womb.  Or that the violence and unruly actions of our youth is just a product of our society.

      The truth is these and more are SIN and are an abomination before God.

      But whatever became of sin?  It is a word that we rarely hear these days.  Karl Messinger asked this question in his book of the same title:

      “[Sin] was once a word on everyone’s mind, but now rarely if ever heard. Does that mean that no sin involved in all our troubles – sin with an “I” in the middle? Is no one any longer guilty of any thing? Guilty perhaps of a sin that could be repented and repaired and atoned for?… Anxiety and depression we all acknowledge, and even vague guilt feelings; but has no one committed any sins? Where, indeed, did sin go? What became of it?” 

      Romans 3:23 expresses the severity of our dilemma… “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Sin is a problem we each face; it is a issue of the will and desire.  We are known by our actions, and defined by our nature.  Jesus taught that people do sinful things because they are tainted.  

      “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.   All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”  Mark 7:21-23

      R.C. Sproul put it this way: “We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners.” 

      The heart or mind of a person is already polluted with something that is opposed to the authority of God or the idea of surrender – something that sets itself up against the life of purity and discipline. This what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, 

      “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Romans 8:5

      Dogs bark. Birds fly. Bees sting. Sinners sin. Each one is done for the same reason: it is their nature to do so.

      When the will is changed; however, the power of sin is broken.  This is the miracle of conversion.  To find a change, true repentance must take place.

      For the full message shared on 05-19-13 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
      Sin = Missing the Mark  

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      Mother’s Day Gifts

      Mothers, we know that you have a twenty-four-hour-a-day job, one which demands not only all your time, but also all of your attention and energy. Because of that realization, we salute you today, in the fashion that we should honor you every day – for all you do for us and for all you give to your family.

      We give all sorts of gifts which range from the extravagant to the simple, from store-bought to the homemade, from fancy flowers to fattening foods. We should shower Mother with gifts, for indeed she needs to be reminded of our love and gratitude for all she has done. My chief concern is that this gift-giving not be relegated to just one day a year. We should give to Mother each day. 

      I want to suggest several gifts of a non-materialistic, noncommercial nature, which are necessary in the Christian family and should be given each day.

      Children – these are two gifts you should offer your mother every day.

      Honor– A child’s life-style reflects on his parents. Children, if you want to give honor to your mother, then live an honorable life. When you’re out with your friends, having the time of your life, far from your parents’ eyes, ask yourself, “Would my mother be proud of what I am doing? Are my actions honoring her?” The way you go about your school work, the way you conduct yourself in your profession, how faithfully you exercise your spiritual life – all those things can bring honor or shame to your parents.

      Obedience– As long as you live in the household of your parents, you have an obligation to obey them – provided they don’t demand that you act contrary to God’s word and will. For the Bible says in Ephesians 6:11 (and Colossians 3:20), “Children, it is your Christian duty to obey your parents, for that is the right thing to do.”  I realize that there are times when you think that your mother knows absolutely nothing about the way life is in the twenty-first century. I am aware that there are many times you think you know what is best for you, much more than your mom does. But let me tell you something that may come as a surprise to you in your youth: Your mother is much wiser than you are. She has a wisdom that can only be gained through years of living.

      Mothers – two gifts you can give to your family include…

      An Exemplary Life– The first gift you must present to your children is to be the kind of person you want them to be! You must give them a Christian example in what you say and do. Notice how a little girl mimics her mother. If Mom wears high heels, she will slip into them also. She will stand before the mirror and pretend to put on makeup. The child wants to be like Mother in every way.  For this reason, Mother, it is your sacred duty to live an exemplary life in word and deed. Mother, you are one of the most powerful influences on your child’s life through your words and deeds. Are you giving them a Christian example? Do they see you pray and read the Scripture? Do they hear you witness to your love for Christ? Do they see you serve him in the way you live? If they do, your children will grow up to call you “blessed,” as we read in Proverbs 31. 
      Your Time– The second thing you must give your child is your time! Each one of us knows how hectic life is these days. There are more demands on us and our time than ever before. And the sad result of all the time-consuming activity in our society is that we leave such precious little time for our children.

      As Psalm 127 says, “Children are a gift from the Lord.” They are a gift which must be nourished, cared for, trained, and disciplined. And that takes time – lots of time. Children must take priority over social engagements, clubs, adult activities, and in some cases, even work. Your children need you more than they need clothes. They need you more than they need a new bicycle or more toys. They need you – your time, your attention, and your affection – more than they need any other thing on earth.

        For the full message shared on 05-12-13 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
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