School Opening Service
God Knows the Plans
Text: Jeremiah 29:10-13
There are only a few left who would remember this. It was the Spring of 2008. Christ the King had been given a small grant to start up a preschool. The search was on to find a location. We had been renting out Wadsworth Elementary School for worship, but we had no place to start the preschool. At the time, there weren’t a lot of spaces available in Palm Coast.
One of the first sites we looked at was the empty space attached to the gas station way over I-95 on the corner of Palm Coast Parkway and Clubhouse Dr. A contract was being worked out, but the owners became afraid of insurance liability with a school and they backed out. We didn’t know it, but that was a very good thing. Then we looked at one of the retail spaces behind Goodwill. But that was way too small.
Then we looked at the strip mall on Palm Coast Parkway right next to Sears. Right now the spaces are occupied by Massey. They were two big open spaces—big enough to seat both our Sunday morning worship and to host our preschool. It was perfect! No more lugging things in and out of Wadsworth every Sunday, dripping sweat and wasting time. One ministry location for both the church and the school. And a decent price, too! It was perfect! Quickly we signed the contract.
I’ll never forget the excitement I had on that one Sunday as I pulled the keys out of my pocket and announced we soon would be moving to a new, permanent. Everyone (which was about 25 people back then) cheered. But that very next week the city of Palm Coast said they wouldn’t allow a playground area there and we had to cancel the contract.
Dejected, the search went on. The next location was the landscaping business in Bunnell next to the campground and the storage facilities, across from Church on the Rock. It was spacious and very affordable. A contractor made drawings for the renovations. A contract was drawn up. It looked promising—until the agent didn’t return my phone calls. Finally, two weeks later he got back to me to say that he sold it out from under us to someone else. Read the rest of this entry
Vespers: Evening Prayer
Back to School
Text: Psalm 34
We made it. The first day of school. Done and over. Phew! The first day back to school is always interesting. There were smiles and happy faces. There were crying children. There were crying parents. Teachers were excited to get going again and to work with the new students. Parents were excited to get the kids out of the house and off their hands. Students, at least for one day, were excited to be back at school and learning.
You might call it the Back to School Syndrome. Homework and tests haven’t piled up yet. Students aren’t sick of each other yet. Teachers aren’t sick of students yet. For a time, everyone is truly focused on learning. Check back in mid-October and see if the Back to School Effect has worn off yet!
That Back to School Syndrome shows up in our Christian lives quite a bit. Sometimes we can be very fired up for reading and studying God’s Word. Maybe it was the excitement of CTK Bible Study Week. Maybe it was a topic that was particularly interesting to us. Maybe it was that we finally overcame our laziness and got our noses into the Bible.
But that Back to School Syndrome wares off in our Christian lives too. Suddenly we find ourselves too busy. We get tired of finding extra time to read the Bible. We get sick of taking extra time out of our day. We get lazy again. Like mid-October in a school year, we are downright tired of learning.
What better opportunity than on the first day of school to rededicate our Christian lives to learning? This evening you and I can get Back to School and do some learning of our own from Psalm 34. Read the rest of this entry
13th Sunday after Pentecost
School Opening Service
In Christ Alone
Text: Acts 4:12
“Knowledge is power,” the old saying goes. The more you know, the more powerful you are. Others have said similar things. Thomas Jefferson once said that, “Information is the currency of democracy.” Ronald Reagan said that, “Information is the oxygen of the modern age.” Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge and information you have the more powerful you become.
I watched an entertaining movie this last week where the White House was overtaken and the president was kidnapped. What did the terrorists want? Information. They wanted to extract codes to American nuclear bombs. Watch any good heist movie. What do modern bank robbers want? They don’t want piles of cash anymore. They want security codes and account numbers and passwords so they can wire the money to their accounts. What do cyber criminals want with all of their phishing schemes in your Email inbox? They want your information—your passwords, your bank account numbers, your social security number, your birthday.
Go to the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. and you’ll see all kinds of cool gadgets and gismos. There’s a reason we have a Federal Bureau of Investigation and a Central Intelligence Agency. Why? Knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have, the more powerful you become. Read the rest of this entry
The doorbell rang. Of course! Right when I’m in the middle of something!
I went to the door, looked through the stained glass, and knew immediately who it was. I could tell by the mid-length floral dresses. It was the Jehovah’s Witnesses–again.
I opened the door and they began their regular and rehearsed routine. But I cut right to the chase. “Thank you very much, but I don’t need information from anyone who denies that Jesus Christ is truly God.” They had the look in their eyes like they knew they were in for an up-hill battle.
The two ladies at the door couldn’t answer many of my points from Scripture about Jesus being true God and our true Savior who gives eternal life in heaven to all who believe (not just 144,000). They needed to bring in the cavalry for reinforcements.
I shared more truths from Scripture, but they simply wouldn’t listen. Finally, I made one last-ditch effort to wake them from spiritual slumber. They needed a huge wakeup call from the full force of God’s Law.
I smiled and calmly stated, “My name is Phil. I want you to remember that. I want you to remember so that on the Last Day when Jesus comes and you find out you were wrong, you will know that at least one person tried to tell you and warn you.”
Recently I have been writing about a particular topic–homosexuality. In a broader spectrum I have actually been writing about unrepentant sin of every kind–sinning against God without care, sorrow, or regret. The last two days these posts have been a hotbed of discussion and opinions. One of the more common things I have heard from people is this:
“It’s none of your business.”
“It’s none of your business what other people do. It’s none of your business what people do in the privacy of their own homes. It’s none of your business because it doesn’t affect you.”
But don’t get me wrong, I haven’t only heard this from people living the homosexual lifestyle or in favor of homosexuality. I hear this from the church prospect whose living situation isn’t pleasing to the Lord. I hear this from prescription pill addict who won’t admit he has a problem and is in danger of going to prison. I hear this all the time from many, many people. They all say the same thing:
“It’s none of your business.”
But listen to what the Lord said to the prophet Ezekiel 33:7-11:
7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.
10 “Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’
It was Ezekiel’s job, his commission, his mission, and his ministry to be a watchman for the people of Israel. Just as a city watchman would stand on the city walls and warn of impending danger, so Ezekiel’s job was to warn the people of Israel about the danger of their sins.
Amazingly, the Lord even told Ezekiel that if Israel did not repent of their sins and Ezekiel had not warned them, then he would share in the guilt and responsibility of their sins!
Ezekiel was to be a mouthpiece for the Lord. Why? Because the Lord does not desire that people go to hell. The Lord wants people to turn from their sin and evil ways, to repent, to be forgiven, and to be in heaven. That’s what the Lord wants, and that’s what the Lord wants us to tell others.
Imagine you are at the Grand Canyon. What a beautiful sight! But suddenly, to your horror, you see a blind person walking around the rim of the canyon. The person is using a cane, so he has some awareness of the danger. But he chooses to walk in danger anyways.
It gets worse! Terribly worse!
You see that blind person walking toward the edge. Slowly but surely he nears that edge. Then, sadly, he even walks off and falls to his peril.
You stood by and watched the whole thing take place. But you didn’t say anything. Why? Because it was “none of your business.”
Was it really loving of you to “mind your own business”? Would you not say that though that blind person brought on his own death, you also shared in culpability because you said nothing?
That’s exactly what God told Ezekiel, and that’s exactly what God tells his people today. We are his watchmen. It is absolutely, completely, definitely our business what other people do because it our job, our commission, our mission, and our ministry to speak the Word of God to others.
No, we are not to stand in judgment of others. That’s for God to do. No, we are not to look down our noses at others as if we have never sinned and we are so much better. That’s neither realistic nor loving.
But rather we are supposed to be God’s watchmen carefully, clearly, and lovingly proclaiming the truth. Listen to the apostle Peter:
15 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:15-16)
God wants us to be prepared to speak his truth, to be his mouthpiece, to be his watchmen. Yet–so importantly–he tells us to do so with gentleness and respect. It is in love for the eternal salvation of those living in sin that we proclaim God’s message: “Turn! Turn from your evil ways!” (After we preach the message to ourselves first!)
Many have told me before, “It’s none of your business.” Well actually, yes it is. God has charged me as both Christian and pastor to be a watchman and to proclaim his truth with gentleness, respect, and love.
And besides, I care! I do not want to see people walk off the edge of the cliff!
So, fellow Christians, stand your watch. Care. Love. Proclaim God’s truth.
It is your business.
What a life I have lived!
I’m well past three decades in this world now and marching quickly toward four. Those 30+ years have brought a lot of life experiences. Sadly, there are so many that I am so very ashamed of.
Sometimes I truly can’t believe the things I have done.
How could I have been so disrespectful and rude to my parents at times? My son would be grounded until he has great-grandkids if he pulled some of the same garbage I did.
How could I have said and done the things I did when I was in high school and college? The bravado. The brashness. The cutting words. The sharp tongue. The uncaring heart.
Pathetic! Read the rest of this entry