Monday, December 3, 2018

What Does It Cost To Be A Christian?


“Any of you who does not give up everything he has, cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:33

What does it cost to be a Christian?

I grant freely that it costs little to be a mere outward Christian. A man has only got to attend a place of worship twice on Sunday, and to be tolerably moral during the week — and he has gone as far as thousands around him ever go in religion. All this is cheap and easy work — it entails no self-denial or self-sacrifice. If this is saving Christianity and will take us to Heaven when we die — we must alter the description of the way of life, and write, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to Heaven!”

But it does cost something to be a real Christian, according to the standard of the Bible. There are . . .

  • enemies to be overcome, 
  • battles to be fought, 

  • sacrifices to be made, 

  • an Egypt to be forsaken, 

  • a wilderness to be passed through, 

  • a cross to be carried, 

  • a race to be run.

Conversion is not putting a man in a soft armchair, and taking him pleasantly to Heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory. Hence arises the unspeakable importance of “counting the cost.”

True Christianity will cost a man . . .

  • his self-righteousness,

  •   his sins,

  •   his love of ease, and

  •   the favor of the world. 

A religion which costs nothing — is worth nothing!

A cheap, easy Christianity,
without a cross — will prove in the end a useless Christianity, without a crown!

by J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Church Bulletin Bloopers


For generations Sunday Church Bulletins have been a popular way to keep congregations informed. But often there are typos and bad grammar that have given us a treasure trove of bloopers. Here are some that we hope will give you a chuckle:

The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.

Miss Charlene Mason sang “I will not pass this way again” giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister’s daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.

The 1991 Spring Council Retreat will be hell May 10 and 11.

The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, “Break Forth Into Joy.”

Rev. Merriwether spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.

Due to the Rector’s illness, Wednesday’s healing services will be discontinued until further notice.

The women of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sabbath.

Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

Our next song is “Angels We Have Heard Get High.”

The Fasting and Prayer Conference Includes Meal

Thursday at 5 PM will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club. All wishing to become Little Mothers, please see the minister in his private study.

Please join us as we show our support for Amy and Alan in preparing for the girth of their first child. 

Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p.m. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Methodist. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.

On a church bulletin during the minister’s illness: GOD IS GOOD; Dr. Hargreaves is better.

Applications are now being accepted for 2 year-old nursery workers.

If you would like to make a donation, fill out a form, enclose a check, and drip in the collection basket.

Next Sunday Mrs. Vinson will be soloist for the morning service. The pastor will then speak on “It’s a Terrible Experience.”

Don’t miss this Saturday’s exhibit by Christian Martian Arts.

We are grateful for the help of those who cleaned up the grounds around the church building and the rector.

A worm welcome to all who have come today.

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

The rosebud on the altar this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Reverend and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the church basement on Friday at 7 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person(s) you want remembered.

Let us join David and Lisa in the celebration of their wedding and bring their happiness to a conclusion.

Helpers are needed! Please sign up on the information sheep.

Diana and Don request your presents at their wedding.

22 members were present at the church meeting held at the home of Mrs. Marsha Crutchfield last evening. 

Mrs. Crutchfield and Mrs. Rankin sang a duet, The Lord Knows Why.

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?”. Come early and listen to our choir practice.

The third verse of Blessed Assurance will be sung without musical accomplishment.

The music for today’s service was all composed by George Friedrich Handel in celebration of the 300th anniversary of his birth.

A song fest was hell at the Methodist church Wednesday.

Today’s Sermon: How Much Can a Man Drink? with hymns from a full choir.

Hymn: “I Love Thee My Ford.”

Announcement in the church bulletin for a National PRAYER & FASTING conference: “The cost for attending the Fasting and Prayer conference includes meals.”

The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility.

Ushers will eat latecomers.

Potluck supper: prayer and medication to follow.


Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around. Don’t forget your husbands.

Don’t let worry kill you off – let the church help.

The senior choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.

The Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 to 8:30p.m. Please use the back door.

The sermon this morning: “Jesus Walks on the Water.” The sermon tonight: “Searching for Jesus.”

For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Nelson’s sermons.

Women’s Luncheon: Each member bring a sandwich. Polly Phillips will give the medication.

During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.

The ushers will come forward and take our ties and offerings.



Sunday, November 25, 2018

Reagan's Lost Letter of Faith

While he was president Ronald Reagan wrote a personal letter written to his dying atheist father-in-law. It was recently found and published in the Washington Post. There could be no more gracious, truthful and tender words that could be shared with a dying doctor than about hope and salvation in Jesus Christ.

For eight years I had the privilege of working for this great man in several capacities. He was such a decent, humble and honorable man - a gentle man of winsome faith. I still miss him a lot.

 
Aug. 7 [1982]

Dear Loyal,


I hope you’ll forgive me for this, but I’ve been wanting to write you ever since we talked on the phone. I am aware of the strain you are under and believe with all my heart there is help for that.


First I want to tell you of a personal experience I’ve kept to myself for a long time. During my first year as Governor you’ll recall the situation I found in Calif. was almost as bad as the one in Wash. today. It seemed as if the problems were endless and insolvable.


Then I found myself with an ulcer. In all those years at Warner Bros., no one had been able to give me an ulcer and I felt ashamed as if it were a sign of weakness on my part. John Sharpe had me on Malox and I lived with a constant pain that ranged from discomfort to extremely sharp attacks.


This went on for months. I had a bottle of Maalox in my desk, my briefcase and of course at home. Then one morning I got up, went into the bathroom, reached for the bottle as always and some thing happened. I knew I didn’t need it. I had gone to bed with the usual pain the night before but I knew that morning I was healed. The Malox went back on the shelf.


That morning when I arrived at the office Helene brought me my mail. The first letter I opened was from a lady — a stranger — in the Southern part of the state. She had written to tell me she was one of a group who met every day to pray for me. Believe it or not, the second letter was from a man, again a stranger, in the other end of the state telling me he was part of a group that met weekly to pray for me.


Within the hour a young fellow from the legal staff came into my office on some routine matter. On the way out he paused in the door and said: “Gov. I think maybe you’d like to know — some of us on the staff come in early every morning and get together to pray for you.”


Coincidence? I don’t think so. A couple of weeks later Nancy and I went down to L.A. and had our annual checkup. John Sharpe, a little puzzled, told me I no longer had an ulcer but added there was no indication I’d ever had one. Word of honor — I never told him about that particular day in Sacramento.


There is a line in the bible — “Where ever two or more are gathered in my name there will I be also.”
 

Loyal I know of your feeling — your doubt but could I just impose on you a little longer? Some seven hundred years before the birth of Christ the ancient Jewish prophets predicted the coming of a Messiah. They said he would be born in a lowly place, would proclaim himself the Son of God and would be put to death for saying that.

All in all there were a total of one hundred and twenty three specific prophesys about his life all of which came true. Crucifixion was unknown in those times, yet it was foretold that he would be nailed to a cross of wood. And one of the predictions was that he would be born of a Virgin.


Now I know that is probably the hardest for you as a Dr. to accept. The only answer that can be given is — a miracle. But Loyal I don’t find that as great a miracle as the actual history of his life. Either he was who he said he was or he was the greatest faker & charlatan who ever lived. But would a liar & faker suffer the death he did when all he had to do to save himself was admit he’d been lying?


The miracle is that a young man of 30 yrs. without credentials as a scholar or priest began preaching on street corners. He owned nothing but the clothes on his back & he didn’t travel beyond a circle less than one hundred miles across. He did this for only 3 years and then was executed as a common criminal.


But for two thousand years he has ... had more impact on the world than all the teachers, scientists, emperors, generals and admirals who ever lived, all put together.


The apostle John said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that who so ever believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life.”


We have been promised that all we have to do is ask God in Jesus name to help when we have done all we can — when we’ve come to the end of our strength and abilities and we’ll have that help. We only have to trust and have faith in his infinite goodness and mercy.


Loyal, you and Edith have known a great love — more than many have been permitted to know. That love will not end with the end of this life. We’ve been promised this is only a part of life and that a greater life, a greater glory awaits us. It awaits you together one day and all that is required is that you believe and tell God you put yourself in his hands.


Love Ronnie

Monday, November 19, 2018

John Piper's IOUS


In chapter 9 of his book When I Don’t Desire God, John Piper presents a helpful acrostic for how to pray before reading Scripture called I. O. U. S.
I—Incline "Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain." (Psalm 119:36)
O—Open "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law." (Psalm 119:18)
U—Unite "Unite my heart to fear your name." (Psalm 86:11)
S—Satisfy "Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love that we may rejoice and be glad all our days." (Psalm 90:14)
I—(Incline!)
The first thing my soul needs is an inclination toward God and his Word. Without that, nothing else will happen of any value in my life. I must want to know God and read his Word and draw near to him. Where does that “want to” come from? It comes from God. Psalm 119:36 teaches us to pray, “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” Very simply we ask God to take our hearts, which are more inclined to breakfast and the newspaper, and change that inclination. We are asking that God create desires that are not there.

O—(Open!)
Next I need to have the eyes of my heart opened so that when my inclination leads me to the Word, I see what is really there, and not just my own ideas. Who opens the eyes of the heart? God does. So Psalm 119:18 teaches us to pray, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” So many times we read the Bible and see nothing wonderful. Its reading does not produce joy. So what can we do? We can cry to God: “Open the eyes of my heart, O Lord, to see what it says about you as wonderful.”

U—(Unite!)
Then I am concerned that my heart is badly fragmented. Parts of it are inclined, and parts of it are not. Parts see wonder, and parts say, “That’s not so wonderful.” What I long for is a united heart where all the parts say a joyful Yes! to what God reveals in his Word. Where does that wholeness and unity come from? It comes from God. So Psalm 86:11 teaches us to pray, “Unite my heart to fear your name.”

S—(Satisfy!)
What I really want from all this engagement with the Word of God and the work of his Spirit in answer to my prayers is for my heart to be satisfied with God and not with the world. Where does that satisfaction come from? It comes from God. So Psalm 90:14 teaches us to pray, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”