Chad’s Corner and more…

March 19, 2023
Stay Away From Them Places
On the old TV show “Hee Haw,” Doc Campbell is confronted by a
patient who says he broke his arm in two places. The doc replies,
“Well then, stay out of them places!”
He may have something there. We cannot regularly put ourselves in
the face of temptation and not be affected. When faced with the
problem of temptation, we need to take the good doctor’s advice
and “stay out of them places.” Jesus gave us some good advice when
He said we should pray for God to “Lead us not into temptation, but
deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13, ESV). This is what I am calling
the prayer of guidance and deliverance. The Bible is full of people
who prayed for guidance and deliverance – like David, Daniel,
Esther, Peter, and Paul. God was there to answer their prayer and to
help them. That same God stands ready to help you too. When you
are tempted, you are in need of God’s guidance and when you fall
into temptation, you are in need of God’s deliverance. God makes us
this promise in Scripture, “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will
deliver you, and you will honor me” (Psalm 50:15, NIV).
This morning, as we continue in our current sermon series:
“Kingdom Come: Bringing Heaven to Earth” I will share with you
some Biblical and practical steps you can take to receive guidance
and deliverance from evil and temptation.

March 12, 2023
Christ Be With Me – the Prayer of St. Patrick
I have been preaching a series of messages on the topic of prayer,
specifically “The Lord’s Prayer” found in Matthew 6. Jesus’
disciples had seen Him pray many times. They must have made the
connection between Jesus’ intense prayer life and the power He
showed in every aspect of life. So, Luke tells us that one of them
asked Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:2-4) and Jesus gave
them this simple, yet powerful, prayer that we have been studying
in this series. Next week we will look at the final part of the prayer,
“And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil
one” (Matthew 6:13).
The Bible instructs us to “Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds
of prayers…” (Ephesians 6:18, NCV). Since this Friday is Saint
Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d share with you a prayer that is been
accredited to Patrick himself: “Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ where I lie, Christ where
I sit, Christ where I arise, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks
of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me, Christ in
the eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. Salvation is
of the Lord. Salvation is of the Christ. May your salvation, Lord, be
ever with us.”

March 5, 2023
Before Asking for Forgiveness
A Sunday School teacher had just concluded a lesson on the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6 and had explained to her students what it means to ask the Lord to “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (verse 12). “To forgive our debts,” she explained, “means to
forgive our sins.” She wanted to make sure she had made her point and asked, “Can anyone tell me what you must do before you can ask for the forgiveness of sin?” There was a short pause and then, from the back of the room, little Johnny spoke up. “Sin,” he said. The Bible says when, not if, but when we sin, we can ask God for His forgiveness and He will forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9). One of the most effective lies the devil gets us to believe is that our sins aren’t really forgiven, despite the promise of God’s Word. Demons hate when people are delivered from their grasp, and they like to plant seeds of doubt in our minds about the reality of our forgiveness and salvation. This is why Jesus said, when we pray, say, “Our Heavenly Father… forgive the sins we have done, just as we have forgiven those who did wrong to us” (Matthew 6:1a, 12, ICB). This morning, we continue our study of this prayer and will look at the attribute of God’s great mercy to forgive us our debts, sins, and trespasses.

February 26, 2023
The Wonder of Bread
When I was a child, the only bread we ever had at our home was Wonder Bread. You can still buy Wonder Bread today and in fact there is a Wonder Bread Bakery in Stockton. Since 1921, Wonder Bread has been a staple in millions of homes across the US where
it’s packed in lunchboxes and even served in restaurants. Today, you can go into any grocery store and find dozens of types and brand names of bread. The aroma of warm bread beckons us to sit, eat, and savor the wonderful taste. Bread plays an important role in the pages of the Bible as well. Not only is bread a staple food, but it also has various meanings and symbolism. The Israelites always kept twelve loaves of bread on the altar in the tabernacle and later in the temple of the Lord. Bread was used to represent the relationship between God and the Israelites and then in the New Testament between Jesus and His followers. Jesus would say of Himself, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). This morning, I am continuing our study from Matthew 6 and the prayer that Jesus taught His
followers. What does it mean when we are commanded to pray “Give us this day our daily bread” (verse 11)? Let’s explore God’s Word together for the answer.

February 19, 2023
The Serenity Prayer
We are in a series that I have entitled “KINGDOM COME: Bringing Heaven to Earth.” Our key Scripture text is Matthew 6:9-13 and we often call Jesus’ Words there “The Lord’s Prayer.” I did some research on the most popular prayers and of course this prayer is usually #1 on most lists. There were Old Testament ones, like the prayer of Jabez from
1 Chronicles 4:10, and prayers of the Apostles, such as Paul’s prayer for the Church in Philippians 1:9-11. However, there were other prayers that although not in the Bible, were written by men and women who had an obvious love of God and His Word. One of those prayers was penned by a theologian named Reinhold Niebuhr called “The Serenity Prayer.” Now most of us have heard the 1st part of this prayer: “God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” But did you know there is more to that prayer? It goes on to petition the Lord, “Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting
hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.” I cannot help but think that he had the prayer Jesus taught His followers in mind as he wrote those words.

February 12, 2023
The Name of God
Last week we began a series of messages that I have entitled “KINGDOM COME: Bringing Heaven to Earth” that will take us into the Spring and Easter Season (which believe it or not, Easter Sunday is just 7 weeks away). We are looking at the prayer Jesus taught His follower in Matthew 6:9-13. Last week we discussed the fact that this prayer is more of a model to follow rather than just words to memorize and repeat. God is interested in our hearts when we pray, not just the form or words we use. Jesus began this model for us
to pray by first reminding us that we are praying to our Heavenly Father and in this 2nd sermon, we will look at the importance of remembering that God’s Name is holy and to be revered. Jesus taught His followers to pray that God the Father would “hallow” His
Name. Knowing God, our Father, by His Personal Names is one of the greatest privileges for His Children. The word God (Yahweh or Jehovah) is found throughout the pages of the Bible, but the Lord reveals Himself more personally through the Names with which He
introduces Himself in Scripture. Although there are many, this morning I will share with you 4 Names of God from the Bible, what they mean to we who believe, and how they can help us when we address Him in prayer. King David wrote, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:10).

February 5, 2023
The Kingdom of God is Like
This morning, I am concluding our series of sermons on being Kingdom Builders. However, as our theme for 2023, I will be preparing and preaching more messages throughout this year on what it means and some practical and Biblical ways we can be Kingdom Builders. In this final message, we will see what Jesus had to say about the Kingdom of God. Jesus preached that the Kingdom of God is like the smallest of seeds and that is like a living seed, which when it grows will become “larger than all other garden plants” (Mark 4:31-32). Jesus only had a handful of disciples, they were small in number and yet what a difference they made in building the Kingdom of God. Even in our own lives, God’s Kingdom may have a small beginning in our hearts, but it will grow. The question for you this morning is, what is God doing in you to spread through you and into the lives of others as you build His Kingdom?

Next month, I’ll start a new sermon series that will take us into the spring that I am calling “Kingdom Come: Bringing Heaven to Earth.” We will take an in depth look at Jesus Words in Matthew 6:9-13, where He teaches His disciples how to pray for God’s Kingdom to come and His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. I hope you will make plans to be a part of this teaching and learning to be Kingdom Builders in 2023.

January 29, 2023
The Kingdom of God is Like
This morning, I am concluding our series of sermons on being Kingdom Builders. However, as our theme for 2023, I will be preparing and preaching more messages throughout this year on what it means and some practical and Biblical ways we can be Kingdom Builders. In this final message, we will see what Jesus had to say about the
Kingdom of God. Jesus preached that the Kingdom of God is like the smallest of seeds and that is like a living seed, which when it grows will become “larger than all other garden plants” (Mark 4:31-32). Jesus only had a handful of disciples, they were small in number and yet what a difference they made in building the Kingdom of God. Even in our
own lives, God’s Kingdom may have a small beginning in our hearts, but it will grow. The question for you this morning is, what is God doing in you to spread through you and into the lives of others as you build His Kingdom?

Next month, I’ll start a new sermon series that will take us into the spring that I am calling “Kingdom Come: Bringing Heaven to Earth.” We will take an in depth look at Jesus Words in Matthew 6:9-13, where He teaches His disciples how to pray for God’s Kingdom to come and His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. I hope you will make plans to be a part of this teaching and learning to be Kingdom Builders in 2023.

January 22, 2023
The Importance of Fellowship
We are on the downhill side of this first month of 2023 already. In February, we will have our first church fellowship event with several others planned throughout this year. I always enjoy and look forward to our Fellowship Ministry Events. I believe they are one of the most Scriptural things that we do as a church family, and they are certainly essential as we are striving to be Kingdom Builders in 2023. Our fellowship ministry is much more than just decorating a room, sharing a meal, making chili or baking pies. It’s a chance for us to get together as a family outside of our regular worship services and Bible studies. It’s an opportunity for you to invite someone to meet our church family and see what Christian fellowship can look like without inviting them to a “church service.” Most importantly, it provides an avenue for us to fulfill the commands to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). The early church was devoted to the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, prayer, communion, and fellowship (see Acts 2:42). This year I want to encourage you to be devoted to our fellowship, to build the Kingdom, and to fulfill our GOOD Mission. If you would like to learn more about our Fellowship Ministry and become
more involved, please see me and/or one of the elders. We are also having a meeting after service next Sunday (January 29th) about our Fellowship Ministry – so I hope you’ll make plans to join us.

Chad’s Corner
January 15, 2023
The Rock on Which Jesus Built We are in the middle of a New Year’s Sermon Series and our Church Theme for 2023: “Kingdom Builders.” The Kingdom of God was a major theme in the ministry and teaching of our Lord in the Gospels and of the Apostles in the New Testament Epistles. In fact, the word “kingdom” is found more than 150 times in the New Testament. As Kingdom Builders, we regularly pray, “God’s Kingdom come” and strive to live out the command of Jesus to “seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). The Kingdom of God is any where Jesus is King – the church, our jobs, at school, in our home, and most importantly in our hearts. If Jesus is the King (Lord) in your heart, the Kingdom of God is within you (see Luke 17:21). Because Jesus is King in Heaven, the Kingdom of God is also in Heaven (see Psalm 103:19). When Jesus walked the earth, He used miracles to announce that the Kingdom of God was with them (see Luke 11:20), and someday He will return and then the Kingdom will have fully come to Earth as it is in Heaven (see Revelation 5:10).

This morning, in this 3rd message of 2023, I will be sharing with you a Biblical Blueprint of the Kingdom that we are striving to build. When Peter announced and confessed that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16), Jesus said, “You are Peter and, on this rock, I will build my church.” We have the opportunity to join in the building of the Church on Earth, where Jesus is King and therefore serving as Kingdom Builders.

January 8, 2023
The Kingdom of God
Last week I introduced the 2023 theme: “Kingdom Builders.” Throughout this year, I will be preparing and preaching sermons that will focus on what it means to cooperate with God in the building of His Kingdom. We tend to spend a lot of time and energy building up our own lives, careers, hobbies, savings, etc. Jesus has called us, as His followers, to turn all that self-interest completely on its head: “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24, NRSV). This is not an easy task, but the good news is that you are not on your own. We are building the Kingdom together relying on the Power of the Holy Spirit at work within and through us. Let’s get building together! Now you may be asking, “What is the Kingdom of God?” Well, I am glad you asked. It’s often referenced in the Gospels by our Lord (see Mark 1:15; 10:15; 15:43; Luke 17:20 for a few examples) and in other New Testament passages (such as Acts 28:31; 1 Corinthians 15:50). The Kingdom of God is at times used synonymously with the Kingdom of Heaven. The concept of the Kingdom of God takes on various shades of meaning in different passages of Scripture. Throughout the year, my prayer is that you will have a better understanding of what the Kingdom of God truly is and how we as His Church can cooperate with God in the Building of His Kingdom.
In my message this morning, I will share with you three essential aspects of the Kingdom.

January 1, 2023
Welcome to 2023 at Ham Lane Church of Christ. It is hard to believe that today is the first day of this New Year. I believe that God has great plans for you and for this church family in 2023. I am excited to introduce you to our church theme for 2023: “Kingdom Builders.” The theme Scripture for this year is the Words of our Lord in the Gospel of Matthew: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come” (24:14, NKJV). I want to encourage you to take time to memorize this verse. Our Lord had a lot to say about God’s Kingdom: He reminded us to seek it above all else (Matthew 6:33). He often reminded His followers that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). To repent because the kingdom is near (Matthew 4:17). In the prayer He taught His Disciples, He encourages them to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Jesus is the King of Kings (Revelation 19:16) and He is our King. We are His subjects and we have been called, as the church, to be Kingdom Builders! As Kingdom Builders, we have a great purpose to live for, great principles to live by, a great power to live on, and some great people that we build with! Throughout 2023, we will explore together how we can be Kingdom Builders. God’s Kingdom is about righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). The Kingdom God is using His Church to Build here will last forever – “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does” (Psalm 145:13).

December 25, 2022
Happy Birthday Jesus!
Carol Cymbala wrote a song called “Happy Birthday Jesus!” The opening verse says, “Happy Birthday Jesus. I’m so glad it’s Christmas. All the tinsel and lights and presents are nice, but the real gift is You.” If you look up Christmas in a dictionary it says, “the annual Christian festival celebrating Christ’s birth, observed primarily on December 25th as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.” But is today, Christmas Day, the birthday of Jesus? Well, no matter what you read online or watch in a TikTok video, the truth is we do not know! The Bible does not tell us the day nor even the month that Jesus was born nor is there any extrabiblical record of His exact birthday. In fact, we really don’t even know for sure the exact year of our Savior’s birth (most scholars place it as early as 6BC and as late as AD 1). Both Matthew and Luke’s Gospels give us some very specific details about the birth of Jesus, but the day is not one of them. That fact is, it is impossible to prove whether Jesus was born on December 25th or not and ultimately, it does not matter! The fact that He was born, He came into the world to be God with us, died for our sins and was resurrected to give us eternal life and He is alive today and someday will return! That is why we celebrate Christmas. It is the Good News
of Great Joy that is for All the People (Luke 2:10). The song writer got it right… The real gift is Jesus today and every day!

December 18, 2022
A Christmas Verse
If you do a search in any Bible Program (or a Topical Bible Study Book) for “Christmas” you will find results like… “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:17). “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to
be with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). “And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14). And many, many more. Of the 31,373 verses in the Bible, the most wellknown and most popular single Bible verse is John 3:16. However, have you ever thought of John 3:16 as a Christmas Verse? John 3:16 is all about God’s love and God’s gift and that’s what Christmas is all

The true meaning of Christmas is a celebration of love – the incredible love of God for the whole world. You see it was God’s love that brought the Savior to the Earth to save us from our sins and offer us the gift of eternal life. This morning, we are in the 4th and final week of Advent and our Christmas Sermon Series. Today’s theme is “LOVE.” In Jesus we have a love that is already here and a love that is yet to come.

December 4, 2022
There are some Christmas movies that come and go in popularity and others that we argue if they even are Christmas movies (by the way, Die Hard IS a Christmas movie). If I had to pick one Holiday Classic that has been a staple for the Christmas season, has stood the test of time, and proved to be an ageless favorite to all who have seen it, it’s A Charlie Brown Christmas special. However, for the first time since 1965, CBS will not be airing this animated special. Apple TV+ now owns exclusive rights to all things Peanut-related, including the iconic Christmas special. If you, like me, do not have a subscription to this streaming platform, take heart… you will be able to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas for free from Thursday 12/22 – Sunday 12/25 on the Apple TV+ streaming site. There is a classic scene in the show where the main character, the beloved blockhead Charlie Brown, asks the question “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” “Sure Charlie Brown,” responds Linus, “I can tell you what Christmas is all about.” Then he goes on to quote a well-known Christmas passage from the Gospel of Luke which includes the often-recited phrase, “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men” (2:14). During the Christmas Season we see the phrase “Peace on Earth” all around but is that truly possible? In a world filled with chaos and conflict, how can we have peace on Earth? This morning, I am preaching the second message in our Christmas Sermon series: “ADVENT: The Already Here & The Yet to Come.” We will spend some time in God’s Word to see how Christmas through Jesus brought us a peace that is already here and the promise of a peace that is yet to come.

November 27, 2022
The Season of Advent
On the Christian Calendar, today is the first Sunday of the Advent Season. This season is typically observed in more liturgical churches (Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, etc.) in various ways. However, in recent years, other church traditions have begun to have Advent celebrations as well. The word advent means “arrival” or “an
appearing or coming into place.” The word advent is nowhere found in our English Bible translations. However, the concept and the importance of advent is seen throughout the entirety of the Bible. The Story of Scripture is Someone is coming – Someone has come – and Someone is coming again. That someone is Jesus! Advent is all about what has come and what is yet to come. The Season of Advent lasts four Sundays and ends on Christmas Eve. The themes of Advent are traditionally, Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. I think it is essential for us, as the Church, to commemorate and celebrate the fact that Jesus came and that He is coming again. So, this morning, I am kicking off a new Advent Sermon Series that I am calling: “ADVENT: The Already Here & The Yet to Come.” Throughout the next four weeks we will look at the Biblical themes of Advent. This will lead us up to our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service (Saturday 12/24) and our Christmas Day Service (Sunday 12/25). I hope that you will make plans to celebrate the Season of Advent with your Family of God here at HLCC.

November 20, 2022
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays – yes for the family and the food and the football – but also because it is one of the few holidays that hasn’t been commercialized. It is, or at least should be, simply a time for family and friends to get together and celebrate God’s goodness. The First Thanksgiving Observance was issued by George Washington during his first year as President. It sets aside Thursday, November 26 as “A Day of Publick Thanksgiving and Prayer.” Signed by Washington on October 3, 1789 and entitled “General Thanksgiving,” the decree appointed the day “to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.” More than seventy years later; Abraham Lincoln, in 1863 wrote: “It is the duty of nations as well as of men to owe their independence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.” More than a thousand years before the above proclamations were penned; the Apostle Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NASB). Notice here in the Scriptures that giving thanks to God is more than a proclamation, more than a once-a-year holiday, it is a command. As Christians we have so much to be thankful for and we ought always to give thanks to the Lord our God. My message this morning – “Always Grateful.”

November 13, 2022
Bob’s Blog
God is clear that He wants His people to lead holy and pure lives, but sometimes we
may not understand exactly how to do that. The writer of the book of James gives us a
hint in his first chapter, verse 27:
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans
and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Today has been set aside by many of God’s people all over the world as Orphan
Sunday. It’s not just a good idea to care for orphans, but through the Scriptures God
reveals His heart for those often neglected. If God cares about them, so should we. The
message today will be about God’s heart for the “fatherless,” and He passes His concern
to His people.
A number in this church family have adopted or have been adopted, some have
fostered children, and some watch out for the rights of those who otherwise have
nobody to plead their cause. The problems of the fatherless are not few. Here are a few
• It is estimated that there are about 153 million orphans worldwide (UNICEF). To
give you an idea of the enormity of the numbers compare it with the population of
the United States, which is just a little over 331 million.
• 60% of orphan girls will become victims of the sex trade. 10-15% or orphan
children will commit suicide before age 18. 70% of orphan boys in Eastern Europe
will become criminals.
• 250,000 children are adopted annually but 14,050,000 orphan children will grow up
and age out of the orphan care system without ever having been part of a loving
There are ways to make a difference in a child’s life. Are you willing to make that
Adoption, becoming a foster parent, providing respite care, monetary donation, and
becoming an advocate for children in the “system” are but a few ways we can “look
after orphans…in their distress…”
Agape Villages, a local foster and adoption agency affiliated with the church, is in
need of foster families. There are many more children in need than are currently
provided for. Please contact them, or see Bob or Lyn Oates for contact information.
Grace to you, and peace!

November 6, 2022
Missions & Orphans Sunday 2022
Sunday November 13th will be our Missions & Orphans Sunday here at
HLCC. Although the Bible never uses the phrase “missions,” God is
certainly missions-minded – “For the Son of Man came to seek and save
the lost” (Luke 19:10), and His love extends to all the world (John 3:16).
The salvation of all nations should be a concern for every Christian. I
and your elders here believe that we, as a church, should be involved in
missions because God desires all people to be saved and to come to the
knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). We believe the offer of salvation
in Christ alone is made to “whosoever will” (Revelation 22:17). This is
why we preach, teach, and stress the importance of sharing our faith and
supporting those who dedicate their lives to Missions work here and
around the world.
Next Sunday, our elders will give us an update on what we have done,
what we are doing, and what we prayerfully plan to do this new year in
our support of missions both here in the states and throughout out the
world. Sunday November 13th is also National Orphan Sunday. It is
fitting that we would give you an update on the orphanage in Russia that
we support, because that too is truly a mission of sharing the love of
Christ with those children. I want to thank you all for your continued
faithfulness and generosity in giving and I hope you will make plans to
be here next Sunday for our Missions and Orphans Sunday.

October 30,22
Celebrating Halloween
Yesterday we had a great time at our annual Trunk-or-Treat Event (although I
am not sure people over 45 should be victims of the dunk-tank). I love this time
of the year for many reasons, but I have always enjoyed the Halloween Holiday.
Christine and I love to dress up in costume and view it as innocent and harmless
fun. It is my bride’s birthday– so we have that to celebrate too. Now, I have
known some sincere believers who view Halloween as a satanic holiday
established to worship evil spirits and promote darkness and wickedness. Are
they right and am I wrong? Is it possible for Christians to celebrate Halloween
without compromising their faith? Since tomorrow is Halloween, let me share a
few brief thoughts with you on celebrating Halloween.
First, I fully acknowledge that no matter how commercialized, Halloween does
have pagan origins. Although it can (and I would say “should”) be fun and
innocent, I don’t think it’s something to be taken lightly. This is why we do
“Trunk-or-Treat” and have “Fall Festivals.” We have fun with dressing up but
stay away from “dark” or satanic costumes. The Bible doesn’t speak to
Halloween, but there are some obvious principles that should not be ignored. For
example, in the Old Testament, witchcraft and divination were punishable by
death (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27). The New Testament also makes
it clear that the church should have nothing to do with the occult (Read the story
of Simon in Acts 8:9-24).
When it comes to celebrating Halloween, I believe it’s a matter of choice and
conscious. For we who do, we must make a conscious choice that our attitude,
dress, and most importantly behavior reflects a redeemed life (Philippians 1:27).
For those who don’t, be sure not to pass judgment on those who do (see Romans
14). We should never allow our own convictions on disputable matters to cause
division in the body of Christ, nor should we use our freedom to cause others to
stumble in their faith. Let us do all things as to the Lord.

October 23, 2022
Meet Peter’s Brother Andrew
How many of you could name the 12 Apostles that Jesus chose and
called to follow Him in the Gospels without looking them up on your
smartphone? I am sure most would think of Peter, James, and John
since they are mentioned more than the others. Matthew may come to
mind due to the story of his conversion and the fact that along with
John, he wrote his own Gospel. Judas is remembered due his betrayal
of Jesus. But how about Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter? He is
only mentioned 12 times in the entire New Testament – and four of
those times are simply lists of the 12 apostles. Yet, Andrew was the
first apostle Jesus called and the first to claim that Jesus was the
Messiah (the Christ). In fact, if it were not for Andrew, his brother
Simon Peter may have never met Jesus. The Bible says that after
Andrew met Jesus “the first thing Andrew did was to find his brother
Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ).
And he brought him to Jesus” (John 1:41-42).
This morning, I am preaching the second message in our new fall
sermon series: “A Friend You Should Know.” Jesus is the best friend
you will ever have and He is the friend that we should know. Like
Andrew, after we have met Jesus, we should tell others and bring them
to Jesus. Simon Peter is a very important person in the Bible and
Church History, but if it were not for his brother Andrew, we may have
never heard of Peter. He brought him to Jesus.

October 16, 2022
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
We sometimes sing the old hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” It
was originally a poem by a preacher named Joseph M. Scriven back in
1855 to comfort his mother, who was living in Ireland while he was in
Canada. He first published it anonymously and it wasn’t until the 1880s
that he would receive full credit. Then in 1868, Charles Cozat Converse
composed the tune to the words that we still sing today some 150 years
later. It is well written and has a beautiful harmony and melody. It has
been covered by artists throughout the years from Aretha Franklin to
Alan Jackson. However, the song is much more than just a nice tune to
sing, it teaches a strong Biblical truth – Although Jesus is the Son of God
and the Lord of Lord, He also calls us “friends.” In John 15:15, Jesus says,
“I have called you friends.” Jesus not only saved us, Jesus not only is
worthy to be Lord of our lives, but we have a friend in Jesus.
This morning, I am starting a new fall sermon series that I am calling “A
Friend You Should Know.” Now, spoiler alert… It’s Jesus! Jesus is the
best friend imaginable. The Bible says, “Greater love has no one than
this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). And
that is what Jesus did! He is the best friend we can have and He is a
friend we should know! This is why, although written over 150 years ago,
the song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” is an appropriate song for us
to sing and celebrate Jesus’ love for us.

October 9, 22
When We Sing on Sunday
We sing all the time and everywhere. We sing in the shower. We
sing in our car. We sing at sporting events. We sing at birthday
parties. We sing at weddings and at funerals. When we attend
concerts, we sing. We sing in the rain and in the sunshine. We sing
during the day and at night. But when we sing together as the
Church on Sunday, our earthly voices join the choirs of heaven and
that singing is like no other. Dwight L. Moody said, “If a man just
stops to think what he has to praise God for, he will find there is
enough to keep him singing praises for a week.” I agree with the
Psalmist who said, “My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to
you; my soul also, which you have redeemed” (Psalm 71:23). The
Bible tells us to “Praise God in His Sanctuary” (Psalm 150:1) and to
“Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing to his name…(Psalm
135:3). I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been moved as
I added my voice to the beautiful, engaging, powerful,
awe-inspiring, robust singing of the Church on a Sunday.
This morning, I want to share with you a special sermon I wrote on
what the Bible says happens when we sing. I have asked the Praise
Team to share a few extra songs to help emphasize each of the
points I want to share with you. Let us open our hearts and our
mouths as we sing to the Lord and worship Him in Spirit and in
Truth. “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise
to the rock of our salvation!” (Psalm 95:1)

The Hands & Feet of Jesus
In 1999, a band named Audio Adrenaline released an album with a hit
song entitled, “Hands & Feet.” This song is written as a prayer of a Jesus
follower who wants to make a difference in his world but struggles when
he cannot do what he wants to do. The chorus says, “You give me strength
when I say: I want to be your hands. I want to be your feet. I’ll go where
you send me. I’ll go where you send me.” To be the hands and feet of
Jesus means that we, as Jesus followers, are obedient in our commission
to preach the gospel and to co-labor with Christ to love, serve, and heal
the broken, hurting, and hopeless of this world. Feet go and hands do.
Jesus tells us that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers
and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
Yesterday, our feet went and our hands worked as we raised awareness
and funds for the people around the world who are in desperate need of
clean water in our 4th annual Walk4Water (W4W) event. We partner with
an organization called Healing Hands International (HHI) to meet both
the physical and spiritual needs of people literally all around the world.
This morning, Sean Judge from HHI and I will be sharing the stage with
an update on the results of our walk and a wrap-up message in our
current sermon series, “Hope Overflowing.” This Wednesday, 10/5/22,
Sean will be at our mid-week service at 7PM to make a presentation and
share a little more about the history of HHI and what, in addition to
W4W, they are doing to be the hands and feet of Jesus. You won’t want
to miss it!