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posted Feb 16, 2016, 10:22 AM by Pastor Chuck   [ updated Aug 2, 2017, 10:00 PM by Video College Avenue ]

When He's Right, He's ...

posted May 20, 2015, 2:43 PM by Pastor Chuck   [ updated May 20, 2015, 4:28 PM ]

There are not too many topics that will get Christians much more excited than a discussion about evolution.  For many years, it has been assumed that a true Christian would never endorse the study of evolution.  Evolution represented the humanist's greatest challenge to God's existence.  Many Christians still believe it is totally incompatible with true faith in God.  It is assumed that to believe in evolution is to mean you had ceased to believe in God as Creator.

So the headline of one news article on the internet this week probably drew instant criticism and condemnation from some folks in some Christian circles.  The headline read, John Glenn: Evolution Should Be Taught In Schools.  Has 93 year old John Glenn, heroic astronaut of Friendship 7 who orbited the Earth in 1962, who served as a Senator, who at 77 years old became the oldest space traveler in history, lost his faith (or just his mind?!)  Let's take a look at the article and consider what it is that John Glenn is actually saying.

The article, after its stirring headline, immediately begins with John Glenn's declaration at a news conference from the flight deck of the space shuttle; "to look out at this kind of creation out here and not believe in God is to me impossible."  Then the writer immediately contrasts Glenn's current belief 'that facts about scientific discovery should be taught in schools and that includes evolution.  Glenn said that he sees no contradiction between believing in God and believing in evolution.  Glenn, a Presbyterian, said it this way, "I don't see that I'm any less religious by the fact that I can appreciate the fact that science just records that we change with evolution and time, and that's a fact; It doesn't mean it's less wondrous and it doesn't mean that there can't be some power greater than any of us that has been behind and is behind whatever is going on."'  

The paragraph above describes three short paragraphs in an article that never mentions its headline again.  By far the article talks more about Glenn's career as an astronaut, his being overlooked for further space flight until he was 77 years old along with items about his work with Ohio State University and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, his military experiences, and the death of fellow astronaut, Scott Carpenter a member of the Mercury 7 team, leaving Glenn as the last survivor of the team.  

The reason I say this is to let you know the priority the Associated Press and Fox News gave John Glenn's comments by making three paragraph's of a 14 paragraph article the headline. Now that they have our attention, let's look carefully at what John Glenn really said.

Glenn is a devout Christian who also happens to be a scientist and an astronaut.  He is a very intelligent Christian who has gone on record about his faith in Christ and God.  People who really know John Glenn will testify about his faith as genuine.  

Yet there will be those whose views on evolution are so strict that anyone who may have a different opinion will be judged as apostate (if he every really had any faith at all.)  Folks with these kind of views will have very little grace for Glenn because he has committed their unpardonable sin.  He has dared to disagree with them.  

Glenn is one of those thinking Christians.  Obviously he believes that Truth as we know it in Jesus can stand the test of public discussion and debate.  The truth, all truth whether scientific or theological or philosophical belongs to God.  God's truth has stood the test of humanities attacks along with the spiritual assaults of powers and principalities.  God's truth has stood the test of all time.  

So John Glenn is not any less of a Christian because he thinks evolution should be taught in schools or even if he sees some truth in evolution.  You are not any more a Christian because you think evolution should not be taught in the schools.  We are Christians because we have trusted Jesus and chosen to follow Him.  Trusting Jesus is what makes people Christians.  We do not have to agree on evolution to be Christians.  Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life can withstand our questions, misunderstandings, mistakes, and discussions.  

At the end of the day, John Glenn is still one of my generations heroes.  He is still one of my greatest heroes because he has had the courage to speak from his heart openly and honestly.  It is alright that John Glenn thinks evolution should be taught in the schools.  He is right that science records what it observes.  Scientific truth belongs to God and our children deserve to learn about scientific truth too.  May we have the wisdom of God to teach our children to be good thinkers and people who spend a lifetime learning the great truths...all the great truths... of our wondrous and glorious God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  

Adults Only!

posted Dec 17, 2014, 10:02 AM by Pastor Chuck   [ updated Dec 17, 2014, 10:17 AM ]

This blog is for adults and youth ONLY.  If your are a child, this one article is not for you.  Close this site immediately and DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER.  You will be disappointed if you do!  Turn around!  Go back!  Don't read any further!  You've been warned!  Stop Now!  Before it is too late! 

Now that I have your attention, let me tell you about my topic.  The topic of today's blog is Santa Claus.  I heard that "awwww" of disappointment.  You were maybe expecting something more exciting?  What could be more exciting at Christmas than Santa Claus?  
Actually my blog is about more than just Santa Claus.  It is not a debate about Santa or even telling your children about Santa.  No, my concern goes much deeper.  For you see, I believe that Santa Claus is a useful tool in our culture.  As strange as it sounds, I believe that every Pastor ought to play the role of Santa Claus at least once each Christmas.  Hear me out on this one.

(Beware: This is the adults only part)  
This year, I was blessed with the privilege of playing the role of Santa Claus in our Alpine Christmas Village.  I shared the time with Gary Lee, Troy Smart, and Henry Tomlinson.  We each worked different shifts on different days.  It was a delightful time and a part of the Christmas Village I greatly enjoyed.  Let me tell you my back story.  

Years ago, before Becky and I were married, I worked for Sears to get through college.  My first fall at Sears was spent building the toy department.  I was then informed that I would be the store's Santa Claus for at least the Thanksgiving weekend.  Two ladies from the advertising department were in charge of my make up and costuming.  And on Friday morning after Thanksgiving, I was taken to the headquarters of the High Point Fire Department.  From there I road "into  town" on a hook and ladder truck as Santa arrived at Sears to kickoff the Christmas season.  And that is how I became a professional Santa Claus.  I walked around the store and sat at my "north pole" station listening to what children desired for Christmas.  Except for preaching, that was the most fun I have had working in my entire life.  For a week, hundreds of children told me what they wanted for Christmas while some others simply cried and refused to sit on my lap or have anything to do with me.  

So this year it was very exciting to have another chance to play Santa Claus.  It was something I looked forward to because I really do love children.  I only made two slip ups.  Once when a sweet child asked me for a present, I almost told her "Poppaw will do his best."  But I quickly replaced Poppaw with Santa.  The other was with one of our little girls from church.  She was eating with her grandparents during our supper break and began to talk with me.  Suddenly her eyes narrowed and she said, "you were Santa at the Christmas Village."  I smiled and said surely she was mistaken.  But she insisted that it was me; she could hear it in my voice.  She knew me by my voice.  The Thomas', Becky, and I were delighted with her sharp mind and we laughed more than once at her insistence about me being Santa.  But that is not why every Pastor ought to be a Santa.

No, there is a better reason.  As I listened to the boys and girls talk with me I was spell bound by their wants and concerns.  There were the popular X-boxes, cell phones, dolls, and four-wheelers.  But every once in a while a child would ask for something unique.  It began with one little girl who asked that her Mom find a house she could live in.  The next one was a little boy who wanted to make sure everyone had enough to eat and somewhere warm to sleep.  One boy asked for peace on earth.  Even as I write these words my eyes fill with tears.  What could I say? Where is the hope for such children?  What can Santa hope to be able to deliver on such requests?  I told them we would have to pray about that.  That we would have to work on those requests.  

As I looked into the eyes of each of these little ones I could not help but remember the words of Jesus: "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the One who sent me."  So I came up with something I could say to each child at the end of our visit.  It was something that I felt like would be welcoming in Jesus' name.  I would say something like this, 
    "You know, I check my list every day.  I check it twice.  And do you know whose name I find
     on the "nice list" almost every day?"  
At this point I would get all kinds of facial expressions.  From doubt to hope to joy.  Some of the children would ask whose name I found.  Others would be silent with wonder.  A few would excitedly exclaim, "Mine!"  
I would finish with a wink, and touching the end of their noses I would say, 
    "YOURS!  I find your name on the nice list almost everyday!  Keep up the good work.  Santa 
    loves you.  And Jesus does too!  Merry Christmas!"  
And each of them would smile really big and hop down off my knee.  A little girl with special needs got so excited, that she hopped off my knee and began to dance round and round.  She stayed in front of the sled for a little while, rocking back and forth with joy and excitement.
Some of the children would tell their parents what I said.  I heard one parent tease their child, "Is he sure about that?  Maybe he made a mistake."  The child insisted I had not made a mistake.  But I wondered how many of those children would wonder if I had made a mistake about them. How many children seldom hear a word of affirmation and encouragement?  Which ones have become convinced that they simply do not measure up to someone's standard?  

In a world so full of grief and sorrow, agony and pain, hopelessness and despair, how often do our children wonder about whether or not they are loved?  Is there anything good about them?  Are they really worth all the trouble?  Does anybody really care about them"  It is my hope and prayer that God will use my little time with those children to convince them that there is something good about them that God loves!  That God sees something so good in them that He came as a little baby in a manger to be their Savior...the Savior of the whole world!  Something so worthwhile that He would die for them on a cross and rise from the grave!  Oh dear friend, may you too know that joy of Christmas!  The joy that God sees something good and worthwhile in you because He loves you!  

May God use all of our efforts in the Christmas Village to plant the seeds of the Gospel in the hearts and lives of these children and their families.  May we open the door for them to come into God's family through faith in Jesus Christ.  I had a great time being Santa.  And in my next blog, I will tell you why I think every Pastor ought to play Santa at least once in a while.  \

God loves you and I do too!  See you Sunday!  

X Marks The Spot

posted Sep 29, 2014, 9:52 AM by Pastor Chuck   [ updated Nov 18, 2014, 11:24 PM ]

We have lived in Lenoir for four years now.  Lenoir is a wonderful community with wonderful people.  We are blessed with a variety of cultural activities and events throughout the year.  The sculptures and other types of art give our city its own unique personality.  The Harper School of Music provides wonderful concerts throughout the year.  Our high schools have some wonderful chorus programs along with the various band groups and ensembles.  

Our business community is another example of the creative spirit that lives in Lenoir.  From small shops to long time businesses you can find all kinds of goods and services here in Lenoir. As Google, Exela, and other new businesses locating in our city, you can find a variety of products, jobs, and services to choose from.  These wonderful businesses and the people who work there are community leaders who also contribute to our city's unique personality.  

With all there is to love about Lenoir, there is one thing that I miss.  Signs of what I miss can be found in a variety of places.  I cross one every time I come the church.  They can be found in the streets and by the side of the road.  In a few places they appear above the streets.  Sometimes they run along side older buildings.  They cross creeks, ditches, and valleys.  Occasionally you will find one that is very well lighted with flashing red lights.  And almost everyone of them is marked by a cross.  You might say X marks the spot. 

By now you've probably guessed that I'm talking about railroad crossings.  I fell in love with trains when I was a boy.  My grandparents lived in a large house with a large yard that was across the street from the railroad tracks that ran by the old ice house.  As a boy I used to love watching the trains roll by there.  When we were in the car, my heart would race whenever we approached the railroad crossing with the black and white crosses and the lights began to flash, the bells began to ring, and the crossing arms began to lower.  Soon I would be counting the engines and then the rail cars as the train roared by.  Even today, my heart will skip a beat whenever I hear that train blow its horn and see the crosses that mark the spot it will soon pass. I still get a certain sense of excitement and child-like joy when I see those railroad crosses.  

The cross holds an even greater place in my heart as a follower of Jesus.  When I see a cross, it is more than just a grave marker.  It is more than a popular piece of jewelry.  It is more than a mere icon or piece of art.  The cross is the very crossroads of death and life in our world.  For centuries, death had held sway over all people of every age!  No one could avoid death save two men from the Old Testament days.  But when Jesus came, He was born to die on the cross.  The old picture of the manger with the shadow of a cross cast over it tells the story well.  Jesus died on the cross for you and me.  When He rose from the grave, Life everlasting became a reality in our world.  And ever since that day the cross has become the point in history where Christ defeated sin and death to give us forgiveness and eternal life.  For Christians X marks the spot. For everyone who believes in Jesus, the cross makes a world of difference.  The cross makes our hearts race with excitement, hope, joy....LIFE!  The cross marks the turning point in the history of humanity.  

Everyone who turns to faith in Jesus as their Savior and Lord recognizes the cross as that great crossroad in their life where they left death behind and walked into life everlasting.  May the cross always make our hearts skip a beat and then begin to race as we remember the wonderful gift of salvation that has come to us through the grace of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  How about you; does your heart still skip a beat whenever you see the cross?  
God loves you and I do too.  See you Sunday!

Fall: A Season for Changes

posted Sep 29, 2014, 9:40 AM by Pastor Chuck   [ updated Sep 29, 2014, 9:50 AM ]

Here we are on the 29th day of September and things are beginning to change.  The falling temperatures this week reflect the changing of the seasons.  The sun is going down around 7:15 each evening.  In four weeks, the time will change back to Eastern Standard Time and it will begin getting dark around 5:45.  By then the peak of the changing colors will have passed along with the falling of the leaves.  The tree branches will be bare, gray, and lifeless. By the week before Christmas it will be getting dark at 5:30.  For many folks, it will be dark when they go to work and dark when they come home.  And all of this is just a prelude to a dark, dreary, and cold winter.

These changes are both quick and gradual.  It will take a full four weeks for some of these changes to come to pass.  Others will take almost three months.  Yet, it will seem like some things are changing in a matter of days, while other things seem to drag along slowly.  In reality each of us knows that time moves along at the same steady pace all the time.  We really know that changes do not speed up or slow down.  Change moves along at the same pace for everyone.  So what makes change seem to move faster at times and slower at other times?  

Perspective.  How we look at things makes a big difference in how we perceive them.  For example, when the dentist is drilling one of your teeth, it may seem to him just a short few moments.  To you (the one being drilled) it may drag on for eternity.  It is all how you look at it.

Or how about that traffic light that seems to catch you every time you are late for work or school?  If you are early and relaxed the traffic light will only hold for 45 seconds...less than a minute.  That is not very long when you think about it.  But if you are running late and tensions are running high, that same 45 seconds will seem like 45 minutes.  You will be uptight and fussing all the way to my work.  It is all about perspective.  

Many times, life is just like that.  With all of the changes going on around us, it is important for us to make sure we have the proper perspective.  As believers in Jesus, we need to see things through the eyes of Christ.  When we do, it puts things into proper perspective.  All too often we choose to see things through our own eyes from our own sinful and self-centered perspective. Things will always look very different from there.  That perspective is always twisted and out of focus because it focuses on "me" rather than Jesus Christ.  When our focus is on "me" we find ourselves at the mercy of changes we cannot control.  The believer in Jesus does not have to live like that.  Jesus offers to set you free from that kind of frustration.

Our study in Philippians challenged us to have the mind of Christ; to think like He thinks.  See as He sees.  Speak as He speaks.  Let our priorities be set by Jesus.  As we do, He begins to change our perspective.  In some things, it will change quickly.  In others, more gradually.  But we can trust Jesus to help us live and grow through changes.  When we see change through the eyes of Christ, we can see His Holy Spirit at work changing us more and more into the living image of Jesus.

Are you frustrated and frightened by changes in your life?  Why not trust Jesus to help you see things more clearly from His perspective.  Casting Crowns sings a song with a wonderful line. Let me end with their words about perspective:  
        "So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away.  You're not alone, stop 
        holding on and just be held.  Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place.  
        I'm on the throne stop holding on and just be held."  

In the midst of uncontrolled changes trust Jesus and see things as He sees them.  His way of looking at things will help you see how by His grace, things really are falling into place.  In changing times you can trust Jesus.
I love you and look forward to seeing you Sunday.  

Within Sight

posted Aug 7, 2014, 12:45 PM by Pastor Chuck   [ updated Aug 8, 2014, 6:02 AM by Kasey Dixon ]

I had a wonderful conversation with some of our men on Tuesday night of this week.  Morris Reaves, Troy Smart, Wilbur Woodall, and Tony Swanson were attending our semi-annual WMU circle meeting.  We are invited to attend the cook out and Christmas celebrations of the Circle of Caring Hearts.  So twice a year, we become honorary members of the WMU.  

We were talking about how fast our world is changing.  Morris reminded us of the old Dick Tracy comics where Dick Tracy talked to people on his wrist phone.  What was once comic strip lore is now reality.  It seems that technology, medicine, and all kinds of science are expanding our knowledge almost faster than we can record it.  Before you can get it written down they have discovered something else.

This morning, the wonders of our age were brought home in a new way to me.  I went by to change cars with Becky and she was talking to our daughter.  Not by telephone, not texting, not email, or facebook, but facetime!  Using one of her co-workers phones, Becky was looking at our daughter in Honduras and talking with her in real time.  Stacy showed us where she was staying and working.  It was very much like seeing her on television.  Although occasionally her signal wavered, we pretty much talked and saw each other uninterrupted.  It was just like Dick Tracy!  But I looked and talked to her like she was within sight.  

It was a wonderful experience to get to see and talk with my daughter like that.  There are all kinds of wonderful experiences just like that.  We should give thanks to God that we are blessed to live in a time like this.  

But there is another part of these wonderful things we talked about.  It is a side that is not always easy to address.  As science and technology race ahead at breakneck speed, what happens when our culture begins to match its movements and speed.  How does the church respond to such rapid change?  How do you respond as a follower of Jesus?  What do we do when we disagree with each other about the changes and our responses?  

First, I believe that as followers of Jesus, we should be able to listen to others and talk with them even if we do not agree.  When we listen to each other, new discoveries come within sight of us.  For example, Morris and I did not agree about some of the aspects of global warming.  Yet, we continued to talk without getting angry or ugly.  We shared our views and respectfully listened to each other.  While I do not believe either of us convinced the other of our view, I learned a great deal from Morris and his views.  By listening, I gained a new viewpoint of the issue that will help me grow and find God's direction in my response to the problems of our environment.  I further discovered that Morris and I share a common concern for being good stewards of the earth God has created.  We agree that God expects us to take care of our world.  

By taking time to talk and listen to each other, we were blessed with opportunities to learn and grow.  As Christians we need to take time to listen to each other even if we do not totally agree.  It is amazing what God can teach us if we will have a teachable spirit and listen.  

Second, the rapidly changing culture and social climate of our time offers us a unique opportunity to share the Gospel.  Certainly, through the technology and sciences we can talk to more people in more places at more times than any other time in the history of the world. People are almost in constant contact with each other, sharing activities, messages, pictures, selfies, blogs, and videos.  We are able to communicate with each other more easily than ever. Yet, the times we live in continue to see troubled people.  From angry people to lonely people to depressed people who go as far as taking their own lives.  With so much communication going on you would think these problems would disappear.  Instead, they seem to be increasing.  

With the best of medicines, the best of internet communication, the best of entertainment, and leisure time to use it all, something continues to be missing in the lives of people.  That something is love.  Love is a relationship.  For Christians it is our relationship with God and our relationships with each other.  Perhaps this is something we do better than anyone else. Our Gospel is based on these loving relationships.  This love brings a personal touch to everything we do.  Love brings an intimacy that no technology can duplicate or imitate.  Love meets a need that nothing else can meet in the lives of people everywhere.  

If we expect to reach people with the Good News of Jesus, we will have to do some things the same and other things differently.  The Gospel will be that constant Good News that God loves us and wants us to love Him.  The ways we communicate that Good News will be constantly changing.  This is one of the best times to be a Christian.  Will we rise to the challenges of our times?  Reaching people with the Gospel in new ways is something that should always be within sight of where we are in following Jesus.  

Well, that is a little long, but it gives us something to think about.  Let me know what you think.  I would be glad to hear from you.  Talk with you again soon.  

Next blog:  I will pick up on how we can meet the challenges of our times and the importance of being the voice of ethics and morality in our culture.    

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