<![CDATA[Countryside Christian Church - Pastor's Blog]]>Sat, 24 Feb 2018 11:05:38 -0600Weebly<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Tue, 20 Feb 2018 19:34:07 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew9299844​You may be wondering about my sermon title “23 and ???” but if you watch very many commercials you should know that this is about DNA! Our DNA is, according to the dictionary, “the fundamental and distinctive characteristics or qualities of someone or something, especially when regarded as unchangeable.” It is a mix of 23 chromosomes and it is what well, makes you, you! It is why some people have blue eyes while others have brown. It is what causes birds to have two wings and giraffes have long necks.
Today, lots of people, Trudy and I included, are doing more research into our family history. So far, we have not had our DNA analyzed, although it would be fun! My family is interesting and Trudy has actually done more work on my family tree than I have. I do know that my great-grandfather fought in the Civil War and that one of my grandfathers (6 generations removed) fought in the Revolutionary war—on both sides! On my dad’s side, there is a castle in England that is part of our family history and one of my grandfather’s was knighted after returning from the Crusades!
But how do we determine our spiritual DNA or is there such a thing? God made a covenant with Abraham and Sarah that contained 4 points: I will make you a great nation, I will bless your name, all who bless you I will bless, and those whom cruse you I will curse. (Genesis 12:1-3) Notice that Abraham did not ask for this, God just offered it to him. Today, our spiritual DNA can be traced back to Abraham. Today, because of Jesus, we too, are now “Children of God” and we have Abraham’s DNA to prove it! Amen.
<![CDATA[A View From the Back View]]>Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:50:54 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-view​Some wise person once said there are three things that are important in real estate: location, location, location! In our scripture reading for today, location is just as important! Mark’s Gospel is what I like to call the “Readers Digest Condensed Version” of the Gospel story. In this very fast moving story, we read about three very important things that happen in the life of Jesus: his baptism, his temptations, and the beginning of his ministry.
Baptism comes first, so here is my question—if John the Baptist was baptizing for the “remission of sins,” why did Jesus (who was without sin) feel the need to be baptized? The answer is simple—Jesus set an example that we are to follow. In his closing words in Matthew’s Gospel (28:19-20) Jesus leaves us with instructions to do three things: go make disciples, baptize them and teach them!
Why then was Jesus tempted? Each day we are tempted, not by God but by Satan, just as Jesus was. Once again. Jesus gives us the perfect example as to how we are to handle temptations. Jesus relied on the scriptures and so should we. How many times each week do you spend time in God’s Word?
Finally, Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee, proclaiming the “good news.” Read the words Jesus says as he begins his ministry: “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near…” That kingdom is still just as near today as it was the first day Jesus spoke those words. How close to that kingdom are you? Amen.
<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Thu, 08 Feb 2018 17:12:52 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew6906619​In our scripture reading for today, the story of Elijah and Elisha comes to an end. Elijah is best known for his conflicts with the monarch of the Northern Kingdom, Ahab and his Phoenician born, Baal-worshipping wife Jezebel. Ahab erected a temple and an altar to Baal in his capital Samaria and made an asherah (a tree-like post symbolizing a fertility goddess), that places him at odds with Yahweh and Elijah. Elijah burst onto the scene announcing a drought against Ahab.
This finally comes to a head as Elijah positions himself against 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the ashera. Elijah sets up a “contest” to settle the question “who is God?” Two bullocks are prepared for sacrifice. Both sides are to lay it on wood on their altar but they are not to set the fire. Both are to call on their “god” to set the fire. The prophets of Baal go first and they pray and pray and pray while Elijah chides them! As the evening nears, their sacrifice remains untouched by fire.
Elijah builds his altar of 12 stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel. He surrounds the altar with a ditch, lays the sacrifice on the wood and pours water over it until even the ditch is filled. He calls on Yahweh to let all the people know that He is the God of Israel and Elijah is his prophet. Fire immediately not only consumes the waterlogged sacrifice but the wood, the stones, the dust and the water that was in the ditch! Faced with such a demonstration, the people declare Yahweh to be God and Elijah slaughters the losing prophets!
Elisha becomes friends with Elijah and stays by his side continually. As Elijah is prepared to be taken by God, Elisha never leaves his side. Elijah asks what he can do for Elisha and Elisha makes a rather odd request—a double portion of Elijah’s spirit! He did not ask for wealth but he asks for a double portion of the spirit that Elijah had! He did receive this and Elisha follows through will the unfulfilled commissions that Elijah was given on Mt. Horeb. I wonder what would happen today if was asked the same of God?
<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Tue, 30 Jan 2018 17:59:39 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew1991385​Just in case you don’t already know this about me, I love the game of golf! It all began when I was about 11 years’ old and Cherokee National Golf Club opened up near where I lived. My good friend Steve Davis introduced me to golf and I was hooked almost immediately. We “hung out” at the golf course lots of times during the summer and it amazed me how some of the men could make a golf ball go exactly where they wanted it to go!
I came to realize that making that little white ball go where you want it to go is not as easy as some people can make it look! I did not take practice seriously when I was in high school but once I enlisted in the United States Navy, I was introduced to the world of competitive golf and that really changed the way I practiced. I read books about golf and I watched videos by famous teachers. I also began to notice how golf courses were designed and how they were (or were not) maintained.
I played college golf at what is now Upstate Carolina University in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Upstate is part of the University of South Carolina system and we had a very competitive golf team. Our coach told us something that has stuck with me all these years. He said, “Before you tee up the ball on the very first hole, you have to decide—are you going to play to win or play not to lose?” That is a great question and one that I still ask myself often.
Golf is the only professional or amateur sport where the player actually calls rules and violations on themselves! I have said that if I play one round of golf with a person, just 18 holes, I can tell a lot about them by what they do on the course and with the rules! There really are only two rules in golf (not really, but all the rules center on one or both of these two things!): play the ball as it lies and leave the course the way you found it. The same hold true for life. We don’t always get a “good lie!” But we always have a choice – we can make the best of a situation or we can work to change it. Someone once said that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade! Golf has taught me many things about life—hopefully you can learn something from this even if you hate golf! Amen. 
<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Mon, 22 Jan 2018 21:22:21 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew1055934​When we hear the word, “prophet” today, what do we thank about? Do we think of all the amazing prophets from the Old Testament? Do we wonder if there are modern-day prophets still today? In our text for today, Deuteronomy 18:15-20, Moses is thinking about a person who foretells the future when he thinks about a prophet. The truth is Moses was a prophet and did, on occasion, prophesy in God’s name about the future. However, there is much more to being a prophet and to prophetic speech than future-telling!
Biblical prophets spoke, “the word of the Lord, to the Lord’s people—reflecting on the past, giving an understanding of the present, and anticipating what the Lord might be bringing in the future.” A true prophet always insures that those listening to them, or reading their words, knows when the Prophet is “speaking the word of the Lord,” because they will identify it by either beginning with “the word of the Lord came to me and said…” or will close their prophecy with, “thus says the Lord!”
<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Thu, 18 Jan 2018 17:22:29 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew7897136​Jonah’s story has always intrigued me. As a child, that story was scary! Growing up in the country was fun and there were so many things to do. There were several farm ponds around and one of them was very large, actually covering about 15-18 acres with water. This pond was stocked with really nice fish and some of them were really big. In fact, one of my closest friends caught a state record large-mouth bass in the pond!
From time to time, “city kids” would come out for a day in the country. Many times they would end up at the “big pond” swimming with all the “locals.” It did not take long before we were telling the city kids that there was a fish in that pond big enough to swallow them. Of course at first, they would argue that a fish could not swallow a person! Then we would always point to the Jonah story and, more times than not, they were a little reluctant to take the chance of going into the water.
Later, as I grew to view the Jonah story in a different light, it amazes me that once Jonah was regurgitated from the belly of the big fish, and he finally did what God wanted him to do in the first place, he was successful! He went to Nineveh and preached just as God had wanted him to do. And, the people of Nineveh listened and repented! Now, one would think that Jonah would have been glad that the people listened and their city was spared sure destruction. But Jonah was mad that God did not destroy Nineveh!
Today, how many times do we share God’s story and people respond and we get mad about it? I hope we never are disappointed when someone listens to what we say and respond in a positive way to God! That is what we are called to do – tell the story. We don’t have to “close the sale”; that is reserved for the power of the Holy Spirit. We just have to tell the story and leave the rest up to God. We have a very easy job and should not be afraid that we will fail! Now, go to Nineveh and preach the Word! Amen.
<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Thu, 11 Jan 2018 16:57:06 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew5002025​In the Eagle’s song titled “New York Minute,” the chorus has these words: “In a New York Minute everything can change.” How true that statement really is. Sometimes a regular trip to the doctor’s office for a routine exam uncovers something that will change your life forever! How many times each day do automobile accidents claim the lives of unsuspecting victims? Not all things that happen in that mystical New York minute are bad however.
Think about the very first time you met that really special someone. That one moment when we meet that special person changes our lives forever. Or, how about the birth of a baby? Yes, I know that those do not come as a surprise, but I can tell you from personal experience that the first time you see that new-born daughter or son, everything changes – in a New York minute.
God does not promise us a life filled with all roses, there are times in everyone’s life that bad things happen, even death. However, as Christians, we find hope and promise in those unexpected happenings. As Christians, we know that no matter what happens, good or bad, we can face it because God is with us. Contrary to what some say, the saying “God will never give you more than you can handle” is NOT in the Bible! What is in the Bible is the promise that no matter what happens to you in this world, we do not have to go through it alone. God will walk with us even through the “valley of the shadow of death!”
God’s promise of being with you and with me is something we can always count on. My best suggestion is to always be prepared for the worst, but always hope for the best. Either way, God will be there to help us along! Amen.
<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Fri, 05 Jan 2018 14:58:47 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew5239477​First, Trudy and I want to express our gratitude to all y’all for the wonderful cards and gifts we received for Christmas. Your generosity and care for us is overwhelming and we appreciate each of you so very much. I would also like to thank you for all your prayers while I was ill with Type-A flu! This was not on my list of things I wanted for Christmas and it certainly was not appreciated. However, your prayers were greatly appreciated and I am glad to be back at work!
We are beginning a new year, and with the new year, always comes New Year’s Resolutions! My New Year Resolution for this year is not to make any New Year’s Resolutions! For me, they don’t last too long so why bother? Now, that may not be the case for you so I have a couple of suggestions should you be looking for something for your New Year’s Resolution.
Maybe resolve to come to our Bible Study. We have lots of empty seats in both the 10 am meeting and the 5:30 meeting! We are nearing the end of our study on the Gospel of John and I am considering beginning a study on Islam when we finish. I would like to know your thoughts about that. Or maybe you could resolve to get involved in our incredible music program. Gabe is always looking for voices for the chancel choir and ringers for our wonderful bell choir. There is always a place for you to “make a joyful noise!”
There are lots of opportunities for you to help out – all you have to do is ask! I wish the best for each of you and for Countryside Christian Church (DOC) and I feel so blessed to be a part of this congregation. Thank you again and Happy New Year as we celebrate this first Sunday of 2018 and Epiphany!
<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Thu, 21 Dec 2017 16:10:32 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew2336793​Ready or not, Christmas is HERE! Just last week I was having a discussion with two young ladies. One of them said, “I sure wish Christmas was always on Sunday like Easter!” I agreed with her but that is just not the way it works out. However, I do like it when Christmas comes on Sunday or like this year, Christmas Eve. To me it just makes it a little more special.
Easter always comes on a Sunday because we know for sure when Jesus died and when he was raised by God from the dead. That most important event was centered around Passover and Passover takes place on the very same Sabbath day that it has for somewhere around 5,000 years! Christmas, however is different! We have not “proof-certain” when Jesus was born. The date of his birth is not mentioned in the Bible at all. We do have two Gospel accounts of his birth (Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-56, 2:21) but neither mentions a date. The truth is that the early church did not celebrate the birth of Jesus at all!
The first mention of a date for Jesus’ birth appears around 200 ACE and places the date as January 6. There is no plausible explanation for that date unless we take the approximate date of Jesus death as April 6 and couple that with the myth that a prophet always died on the date of their conception! For a long time, the birth of Jesus was celebrated on January 6. By the mid-fourth-century, the date was changed to December 25. Some say it was the Pope who changed the date while others argue it was changed to coincide with the Julian calendar which has the winter solstice as December 25. At that time, the belief was that December 25 was the date of the “nativity of the sun.” It seemed logical then to celebrate the birth of the Son of God who had participated in the creation of the sun on the same day – December 25.
Regardless of when Jesus was born, the important thing is we believe his birth was special. We believe that God came in human form; born to poor parents and his first bed was a feeding trough. He came so that you and I can have life eternal. And, just to add some more to this story, January 6 is still an important date in the life of the church. Today, we celebrate January 6 as Epiphany and from December 25 to January 6 we have “the twelve days of Christmas!” Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night…
<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Tue, 12 Dec 2017 20:38:19 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew6510799​“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.” Those two short sentences are the opening sentences from our scripture reading for today. Many times these days it is somewhat difficult to “rejoice always!” As I am writing this, news out of New York City is that another suicide bomber as struck. This time, however, they were not very successful! Maybe the bomb went off prematurely or maybe the bomber decided to “chicken out.” At any rate, even the bomber survived! How have we, as people of this world, gone so far down that some will kill innocent people all in the name of their religion? That makes no sense at all to me!
As we bring to a close the third week of Advent (the Sunday of Joy!) there are still many ways we find joy. We find joy in the eyes of a child on Christmas morning as they open presents. We see joy in the face of parents and grandparents as we watch our children and grandchildren opening their presents. My hope is that we pray for our families without ceasing as well! Yes, we live in a troubled world but we must remember that as Christians, this world is not our home! Mary Reeves Davis wrote about this in a song titled “This World is Not My Home.”
“This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.”
Those words should be comforting to us as we continue the journey toward the First Advent and the coming of the Christ Child. Amen.