<![CDATA[Countryside Christian Church - Pastor's Blog]]>Tue, 12 Dec 2017 23:22:29 -0600Weebly<![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.
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<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Tue, 05 Dec 2017 17:53:23 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew6193297How many of you have either children or grandchildren who have a “count-down-to-Christmas” calendar? Our grandchildren living in Derby have one. Each day, they remove a number from the calendar so that they know just how many days it is until Santa comes! My guess is that whoever thought this up had children that were constantly bugging them asking “How many more days?” or “How much longer do we have to wait?”

Patience—is it a virtue or a curse? Actually patience is one of the nine “Fruits of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) But let’s face it, we just don’t like to wait! I know I get impatient when the traffic light takes too long to change or McDonald’s drive through takes too long. Why is that? I could say it is because patience is something I lack and that would certainly be true, but is it something deeper?

We live in a fast-paced, instant-gratification world. Take coffee for example. When I was a young child, my mom would perk coffee on the stove each morning. Even though I did not like the taste of coffee (and I still don’t) I loved that smell as it brewed. And it took time for the brew process to be complete. Today, we have a Keurig and I can “brew” Trudy a cup of coffee in less than a minute! There is no aroma of brewed coffee to fill the kitchen, but it is fast and she loves their coffee!

As we now are in the second week of Advent, I plan to take some time to just slow down and smell the coffee (when I can find it brewing at say Waffle House!). Patience is something each of us should strive to have more of! The scriptures remind us to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a) One cannot be still without having patience! Amen.
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<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Thu, 30 Nov 2017 17:51:37 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew6688295My how time flies – there are only 22 shopping days until Christmas! It seems like it was only a month or so ago that Trudy and I moved here and I became your minister! As we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent (the Sunday of Hope) what is it that you hope for? That is a very broad question so let me narrow it down. What do you hope for in your personal life?

For me, I hope that this year will be a healthy year and that things here at Countryside CC continue to move forward. I hope we can bring in some younger families and I hope that our music program continues to provide uplifting and meaningful music, which, by the way, makes our worship services more meaningful! I hope that my family has a healthy and prosperous year as well.

What do you hope for? As Christians, we most certainly have hope that this world is not our final destination. This reminds me of some words from an old Southern Gospel song: This world is not my home I'm just a 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. (This World Is Not My Home by Jim Reeves)

Today, this world is in a mess. People are killing each other over miniscule things. Radical terrorists make many places in this world un-safe. Christians are persecuted more than any other religion. Racial tensions possibly are higher than they were in the ‘60’s. Many times I wonder how long God will allow this world to spiral downward! But then again, my guess is that this is not the first time the world has been in this kind of condition!

​As we begin this season of Advent, let us begin with hope – hope that this Christ Child who came to this world to bring salvation to all who claim him as their “personal lord and Savior” will come again. Let us hope that we will be safe through another year. Let us be thankful for the gift of the Christ Child in whom we always have hope. Amen.
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<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Mon, 20 Nov 2017 21:22:53 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew1139150​I trust that all y’all had a great Thanksgiving and that you did not eat too much or watch too much football! Believe it or not, Christmas is just around the corner. I also hope you survived “Black Friday” without any serious injuries! It amazes me that more and more these days, Christmas celebrations seem to begin earlier and earlier! This year, the Hallmark Channel began playing Christmas movies BEFORE Halloween! Are we in that big of a hurry for Christmas to come?
 
I love the season of Advent. Maybe that is because, as a child, Advent was something we did not celebrate. We went straight from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Advent is a time to prepare for Christmas. It is four weeks that slowly leads up to, or builds up to Christmas. The First Sunday of Advent this year is one week later than normal! That is because Christmas Eve just happens to fall on a Sunday! That places the First Sunday of Advent on December 3. Each Sunday of Advent asks us to celebrate, to contemplate on four different themes.
 
The First Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of Hope. Prior to the birth of the Christ-child, the nation of Israel hoped for a Messiah-one who would set them free from Roman oppression. Today there are lots of people who think they have no hope but in that tiny child born to poor parents anyone and everyone can find hope if they will just look.
 
The Second Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of Peace. We live in a world today that is torn apart in so many ways we stop to wonder if there ever will be peace. Jesus did not come to bring world peace, but a peace that resides inside those who choose this tiny child as “their personal lord and Savior.” The Third Sunday in Advent is the Sunday of Joy. Even today, there are still so many things that bring us joy. That first smile from a new-born comes to mind!
 
The Fourth and final Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of Love. God loves us so much that God’s only Son was sent to die for you and for me! These four Sunday’s of Advent allow us to prepare for what happens on Christmas morning and it is NOT the arrival of Santa.  Hope, Peace, Joy and Love are four of the reasons this tiny child was born to begin with. Let us go through these weeks of contemplation and be prepared to greet this child born “King of the Jews!” Amen.
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<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:33:54 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew4069908​In our sermon text for today (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11) the Apostle Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica concerning the Second Coming of Jesus or what we call the Apocalypse! This letter is the oldest piece of “Christian” literature we have, pre-dating Mark’s Gospel by some 20 years. It was also written some 20 years after the death/resurrection/ascension of Jesus. Paul is concerned about the newly formed “church” in Thessalonica. He and timothy had not been able to spend much time in Thessalonica but they did “preach” in the Jewish synagogue there with the result being several Jews and lots of pious Gentiles converted to this new movement called The Way.
 
In our text for today, Paul addresses the Second Coming and he uses the metaphor of darkness and light to drive home his point. He reminds those Christians there that they are not in darkness (v4). Why – because they “are children of light and children of the day…” I believe the point that Paul is making here is that as Christians, we should not be surprised at the Second Coming of Jesus when it happens. He relates the Second Coming to a thief in the night and because they are Christians they will be prepared no matter when or how that Second Coming happens.
 
The very same holds true for you and for me today. As Christians, we must remember that we are no longer children of the darkness—now we are children of the light and the day. If the Second Coming should happen in your life-time, it should not surprise you. Truth is, we ask God to send Jesus back every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer (“Thy Kingdom come!”). As Christians we should expect that coming to happen just any time! IN fact, pray more for it – things will be much better when Jesus does return. Amen.
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<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Wed, 08 Nov 2017 16:11:44 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew7361789​Last Sunday as we worshipped here at Countryside, a most heinous act was taking place in a small town in Texas. A young man walked in and mercilessly shot and killed 26 people and wounded 20 more. Almost every person sitting in worship that morning was either killed or wounded and all in a small town (less than 1,000 people).
 
Churches used to be a place of safety. In fact, there have been multiple times in our nation’s history where people actually sought refuge in a church. Churches were a safe place but not so much anymore. Back in the Old Testament, synagogues were places where people could legally seek refuge. That has gradually changed over the centuries and today, it is illegal for churches to harbor criminals (although many churches will still do just that). The Catholic Church actually kept sanctuary rule as part of their Code on Canon Law until 1983.
 
My question is simply this: what has happened to the morals of our society when one person walks into a church during Bible study or Sunday morning worship and opens fire on innocent people? Hate is a strong emotion and hate causes people to lose track of what is just and right and moral. We may never know the real reason for the senseless murders in Texas, but I can assure you of one thing – until the people of this great nation have a change in heart, things like this will continue to happen.
 
We can place blame on guns but what about the man who rented a truck recently in New York City? Truth is if someone wants to kill lots of people, they will find a way! What then can we do, as individuals or as a church to get things straightened out? First, we can pray and in that prayer we should ask God to give us the courage to “go make disciples!” If we, as Christians could be as enthusiastic about telling the Jesus story to others as we are about, say cheering for our favorite college football or basketball team, could we change the world in which we live? Amen.
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<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Tue, 31 Oct 2017 20:19:08 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew8283835​In our scripture reading for today (Matthew 23:1-12), Jesus issues a stern warning: “Do what the scribes and Pharisees teach you but DO NOT do what they do!” (paraphrase mine) Jesus stops short of calling them “hypocrites” but he does say that they do not practice what they teach! He points out that they place heavy burdens on the backs of the people and they themselves will not even lift one finger to help others.
 
The scribes and Pharisees placed themselves above others. They worked hard to gain a “better seat” or a prominent position in the synagogue. Their heart was in the wrong place! Instead of working to set an example for others to follow, they worked solely for personal gain. Titles meant something to them and they really wanted to be called “rabbi!”
 
Jesus points out that they have only one teacher and that none of them should be called “rabbi” because they are all students! While they appeared on the surface to be very pious people, they were far from piety! Jesus wants those who hear his words to understand that the kingdom of God is marked by humility. In other words, those who follow Jesus must recognize that there is only ONE master and it ain’t us! When we are able to keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, and when we follow his examples and his commandments, then we will understand that all the glory goes to God and God alone.
 
Think about what Jesus did. Jesus never took credit for any of the miracles he did—he always gave the credit to God. Over and over Jesus points out that he does nothing except through the Father. We should take that same view. I can tell you this, every time I have gone out on my own, leaving God behind, I messed things up. It is only when I listen to God, when I turn things over to God alone, that my life begins to make sense. Try it, you just might be surprised! Amen.
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<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Wed, 25 Oct 2017 14:43:27 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew7796976​As Paul writes his letter to the Christians living in Rome, he gives us a complete view of his thoughts concerning how one is to live the Christian life. In our scripture reading for this week, (Romans 3:19-28) we find the first step in what is known as the “Roman Road.” This “Roman Road” is four passages of scripture that we can use to answer the question, “Why do I need to be a Christian in the first place?” We find the answer to that question in our scripture reading for today – Romans 3:23.
 
“For all have sinned and have come short of God’s glory.” (paraphrase mine) Notice closely what that one verse tells us. ALL have sinned – not most, not just a few, not everyone but me; rather ALL have sinned and that sin causes us to “fall short of God’s glory” or heaven and life eternal. The interesting thing about this too is found in the Greek text. The word translated as “sin” is ἁμαρτάνω (hä-mär-tä'-nō). It is an archery term and it literally means not just to miss the bulls-eye, but to miss the entire target!
 
Then we have an interesting thing in the verb tense for sin. It is in a tense that we do not have in English and it means that we sinned yesterday, we will sin to day and guess what, we will sin again tomorrow. Sin is, no matter how hard we try, just a major part of our lives. As hard as we try, we will sin and that sin separates us from God. It separates us that is unless we have Jesus to act as a “go-between” for us, paying for our sins when we have no method of paying for them ourselves.
 
Now, just in case you want to know, the other 3 verses of the Romans Road are 5:8, 6:23 and 10:9-10. Take some time this week to read these four scripture verses. Memorize them so the next time someone asks, “Why do I need Jesus in my life anyway?” you will know how to respond! Amen.
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<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 15:31:54 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew8478832​“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:16-17 NRSV) Whether you realize it or not, little children are the only group of people that Jesus specifically says to let them come to him! There are four important reasons children should be in church.
  1. Discipleship – In the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:19-20) we are commanded by Jesus to go to all the nations and make disciples and teach them. The Greek word translated as nations literally means ethnicity or people—that would certainly include children. We teach children best by example, so children should be in church so that they learn how important being in a right relationship with God really is.
  2. Education – In Deuteronomy 6:4-7 we read what is called the Shema. It begins “Hear O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might…Teach them to your children and talk about them…” (My paraphrase) It is imperative that we teach our children to love God above everything else.
  3. Tradition – Jesus went to synagogue as a child and I imagine that many of you did too. It is the best way to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy!” In 2 Timothy 2:15 we learn that it is tradition to study God’s word so that we can be in that right relationship with God.
  4. Opportunity – what better place to teach children true Christian values than with other children? God entrusts parents and grandparents with the most precious gift God can possible give to us in the world – a child! I remember visiting in a home with one of my ministers from the church where I grew up. The young couple had a small boy, about 3 I think. He was running across the floor and fell and let out a few “choice” words! His mother was embarrassed and said, “Well, I just don’t know where he learned those words.” Phillip simply said, “O, I know exactly where he learned them!”
We, as Christians need to set a good example for our children first by the way we live our lives. We are to show children the same type of Christian love as we would show to an adult. After all, they are “precious in His sight! Jesus loves the little children of the world.” So should we! Amen.
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<![CDATA[A View From the Back Pew]]>Thu, 12 Oct 2017 16:48:12 GMThttp://csidechristian.org/pastors-blog/a-view-from-the-back-pew9131014​“Finally brothers (and sisters), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing these things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9 NRSV) These are encouraging words written by Paul in the conclusion of his letter to the church in Philippi. What point is Paul trying to get across to the church there and to us today?
 
Paul is encouraging what we might call “right thinking.” All of the things Paul lists in these two verses are positive things. Look at the words he uses: true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellence, worthy—all positive things and good qualities to have. Do we today “think” on those things? These are things that matter, things that will help us to live a more Christ-like life. That is exactly what Paul is wanting for the church in Philippi – to live a most Christ-like life.
 
That is why Paul said in chapter 3 of Philippians that he counts all his past as loss or more precisely dog dung compared to his life in Christ Jesus. Guess what, so should we! We too need to think more about the positive things in life, we need to think more about doing what is right instead of doing what is convenient! Think on Paul’s list of positives and you just might find that there is not much room for negative thoughts! Try it, you might just like it! Amen.
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