Saturday, August 29, 2015

"The Miracles of Jesus", Part VI: Failure Begins with "We"

Focus passage: Mark 9:14-29

Joe began the men’s club meeting with a sigh. Only three people had shown up again. What was the use of even trying to hold the meeting? There weren’t enough people to get anything done. He remembered just a few years ago when the group numbered twenty each month. Now look at it. Some had suggested that the whole group disband, but Joe enjoyed the fellowship with the few who still came. This was a good group of men. There just weren’t many of them. What should they do to make it better? Why can’t we succeed like we did before? It was in such chaos that Jesus miraculously triumphed. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Story: Campfire Stories

Campfires are perfect places for tales to be told and stories to be shared. The timbers crackle and pop. The smoke curls up to the heavens.  As people relax by the fire’s warmth and glow, it doesn’t take long before the stories flow like a rushing stream. Sometimes, people tell ghost stories or tall tales meant to entertain and thrill an audience. More often, people tell the intimate details of their lives. Bob tells you about events at work and asks for your advice. Carol shares the delight

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cincinnati Zoo

One of the nation's best zoos is in Cincinnati. A recent visit reminded me of the diversity of the animals and how easy the zoo makes it to enjoy them. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

“The Life of David”: 1 God’s kind of leader

Focus Passage: 1 Samuel 16:1-13

In sports, leaders can boast about their statistics. We look for .300 baseball hitters. We count sacks or touchdown catches in football. We want winners. Churches often measure the weekend worship attendance, the offering in the plate and the square feet of the building in the same way. Yet, the bible doesn’t talk about leaders that way. God talks about the heart and not the outward achievements because the achievements of people like Abraham, David and Paul are the work of God and not men. In our first look at David, we see why God would want this shepherd boy instead of his stronger and more handsome older brothers. Samuel will get a lesson on what God looks for in a leader and why. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

"The miracles of Jesus", Part V: Seeing Clearly

Focus passage: Mark 8:19-30

Jesus had used five loaves to feed 5000 people and seven loaves to feed 4000 people. Yet, it was clear that the disciples did not understand what Jesus had done. He is frustrated at the limits of their faith. Yet, it is still the experience of people today. You first discover Jesus as your Savior and then slowly grasp what it means to be a disciple of Jesus over the course of your life. You grow in knowledge, but more important you have to grow in your ability to serve and to witness to others. Jesus heals a blind man in stages in Mark 8:22-26 that parallels the disciple’s statements of faith in the verses following the miracle. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Story Introduction 1: History's story is your story, too

He is ancient history. He was president before I was even born. Yet, I found myself fascinated this summer at President Truman’s library and home. Here was a common man who had worked the soil, never went to college, and who lived in a home that many of us could afford today. He became president in a time of war. He is most remembered for his command to drop an atomic bomb that saved over a million lives and ended the war. I found myself amazed at his story because I could see, almost sixty years later, the impact that this man had on our country. Decisions that he made still have repercussions for our nation today. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountain Park

Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a great place to get in touch with history and with nature. You can hike, drive or just get out and explore the buildings.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Who is God? Answer: God is Generous

Focus passage: 1 Chronicles 29:1-17

Somehow, we have become convinced that if I want more, then you must have less. We have been taught that there is only a finite amount of wealth in the world. The truth is that God’s treasury knows no limit. If God wants to give an abundant corn crop, farmers benefit. If God wants to let people discover a new vein of gold or river of oil, wealth will be produced. God can give without taking from others. When we look at the wealth of King David mentioned in 1 Chronicles 29:1-17, we can see the generosity of God in action.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

"The miracles of Jesus", Part IV:Great Provider

Focus passage: Mark 8:1-9

It sent a shudder down his back. Steve had been in this waiting room before sitting in this padded chair looking at his reflection in the buffed floor and hearing people’s foot steps in the hallway to his left. His wife had woken with chest pains. Here in the hospital waiting room he was terrified. Would it be a heart attack like last time? Would she need surgery again? The memories flooded back over him. He began to pray and a different kind of memory surrounded his fears. Last time when there was little chance of recovery, the Lord had worked a miracle. Suddenly, he could feel God’s presence. He was not alone. God was there at his side. There is power in remembering what God can do. Sadly, the disciples did not remember in Mark 8:1-9 what Jesus was capable of. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Mt Rushmore, South Dakota

Mount Rushmore pays tribute to four of the great presidents of the United States. Carved by Gutzon Borglum, this monument has almost three million visitors a year.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

"Who is God?", Part IV: God transforms our lives

Focus passage: Galatians 5:13-26

Many people give up on Christianity because they think that it is too hard. Christianity is often seen as a religion of dos and don’ts, but I see my faith as my freedom. The Holy Spirit transforms me so that I am free to live the life I want and not be a slave to my desires or to the world. My God is the one who frees me from the desires of this world and the expectations of others. Because of God, I can succeed where others will fail. I will have joy in life where others find drudgery. God transforms my life so that I can be different in three very special ways. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

"The Miracles of Jesus", Part III: Simply Amazing

Focus passage: Mark 6: 45-56

Bob sat and just stared out the window. He wanted to be anywhere but sitting at the kitchen table this morning. The hospital bills were piled high and he wasn’t sure how to pay them all. The doctor said Bob’s wife Judy was doing better, but Bob couldn’t see it. With his head in his hands, he felt helpless. He began to cry as he prayed to Jesus. Why Lord? Don’t you care about us? Give me a sign so that I know what to do. As he prayed, he opened up the Bible and came to the story of the disciples helpless in the boat. In the margin of his bible, he had written “Helplessness can teach us to lean on Jesus. He began to pray for Jesus’ help.