The Problem Of Loneliness

The Problem Of Loneliness Sermon Audio Here

Ecclesiastes 4:7-12

An Answer for Loneliness: Remember ~

The Benefits of Interaction
Ecc. 4:7-12 the “vanity” of work for work’s sake

  • v7-8 the context of work: “for whom”?
  • v9 good return: sum greater than parts
  • v10 help – the benefit of community
  • v11-12 survival – efficiency of community

The Blueprints for Interaction
Heb. 13:1-6 how do we get out of that slump?

  • v1 keep on loving – ONGOING
  • v2 love outside comfort zone
  • v3 reach into uncomfortable situations
  • v4 protect faithfulness in marriage (keep it honorable)
  • v5 remember mere stuff doesn’t make your lives better

v6 When we’re at our most lonely, we’ve got to look for God’s presence. Satisfaction is found in Christ, not mere “stuff”.

What Time Is It?

What Time Is It Sermon Audio Here
Time Is Passing
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Consider the famous Einstein quotes about time. One of the first that comes to mind is:
“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”
A less known, but well appreciated quote is, “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
But the most apropos quote for us today: “Time is an illusion.”

What Is It Time For?

Time is For Passing, Pleasure, and Purpose
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ~ Look at the Time, Activity, and Season

  • Time=Chronological
  • Activity=delight/pleasure
  • Season=an appointed occasion

“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” ~ Henry van Dyke

Time is For Preparation
Revelation 21:1-6 ~ At The End of Time

  • v1 all this is temporary
  • v2 God preparing for our arrival
  • v3-4 God’s presence with us reason for joy
  • v5 time to make everything new – old will pass away
  • v6 Jesus is our context for life

What time is it? Time to live as if Today is the Day!
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” ~ Mother Teresa

The “Evangelical” Label

reflection
Warning: Rant Ahead

I answered a telephone survey yesterday for pastors. There were the standard questions about the size of my congregation, the percentage of adults in leadership, and others. However, towards the end of the survey, they started asking demographic questions, designed to put labels on me (to be charitable, I’m assuming that this is to give context to my answers, but that might not be the case at all.)

And the question came up: Are you an Evangelical?

Since I couldn’t see the text of the question, I didn’t know if the survey was asking if I was a member of the Captial E Evangelical Movement, or if I was a small-letter e evangelical. I had to take a few moments, and assume if they were asking if I was Captital E – to which I replied, “no, not anymore”.

The next question: Are you Mainline?

Well, I’m not nuts about label either! After a few moments, I answered, “yes.” And then I said, “Wait, are those the only two choices?”

I was telling my family about the phone survey, and my 16 year old daughter asked, “What *is* an Evangelical?”

My reply – and the reason I’m writing this blog entry – is worth some reflection on my part, and perhaps will be valuable for some of my readers.

I said:
“A Capital E Evangelical believes that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and therefore is so concerned about people’s souls that they’re willing to try and influence culture as a whole in order to bring people to Jesus. That means that they’ll try to pass laws to regulate the behavior of people who are not yet followers of Jesus to *act as if they were*. In doing so, they try to make their surrounding culture SIMILAR to the Kingdom of God, without actually being a part of it.”

“Small-e evangelicals also believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and therefore, try to introduce people to Jesus directly. They’re not about changing the culture; they’re about introducing people to Jesus, so that HE can change their hearts.”

“I’m not an Evangelical; I don’t want to change the culture to be more Christian-LIKE. I’m an evangelist: I just want people to come to Jesus, and I think it’s the work of individual followers of Jesus to introduce their friends and neighbors to Him.”


That’s part of the work of the church; to encourage those in the Kingdom of God to live and laugh and love so well that the outside world looks on in wonder at the changed hearts of those who follow Christ.


So – apparently, I’ve outed myself. I am no longer an Evangelical… but I’m more of an evangelist now than I ever was.

If this has sparked a question in you about *your* relationship with Christ, and has caused you to wonder where you stand with God, I’d love to talk with you about it. Leave a comment, message me, give me a phone call, or show up at Warden Community Church. I’d love to sit and talk with you over a good cup of coffee and an open Bible…

Pleasure, Work, Wisdom

Pleasure, Work, Wisdom Sermon Audio Here
Thoughts from the Teacher - a study in Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes 2:1-3; 9-11

Ask yourself: how do you take in:

The Purpose of Pleasure
What can we learn looking inside?

  • v1 we test our hearts; what is discovered?
  • v2 what is accomplished?
  • v3 take pleasure in fun, guided by wisdom?
  • v4-8 take pleasure in work?

The Worth of Work
How do we judge the value of our work?

  • v9 keep your head, no matter circumstances
  • v10 hard work give sense of accomplishment
  • v11 but it doesn’t last

=> Ever notice that when your cup of happiness is full, somebody always jogs your elbow?

The Warning of Wisdom
Is there an often-ignored danger here?

  • v1-3 hoarding wealth not same as accumulation
  • v4-5 injustice & self-indulgence connected in God’s economy
  • v6 power of judgment and sentencing is God’s alone

The worldling says—live to Pleasure as I die to God.’
The ascetic says—’I live to God as I die to Pleasure.’
The Christian says—’Lord, in my life, let both united be;
I live to Pleasure as I live to Thee.’

All This Is Temporary

All This Is Temporary Sermon Audio Here
Thoughts from the Teacher - a study in Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes 1:12-18
How can we prevent worldly distraction?

Think Carefully

Apply Ourselves to Learn Wisdom

Absorb Wisdom Together

Abide in Wisdom

It’s okay to appreciate solid information, or logical rhetoric, but at the core of it all, hold onto godly wisdom. LIVE in Christ.

Whatever Is Praiseworthy

Whatever Is Praiseworthy Sermon Audio Here
the Whatevers of Philippians 4:8
Ephesians 1:3-10

I have been working on memorizing Philippians 4:8 for about 30 years. I’ve had difficulty getting all fo the “whatevers” in order in my head. That’s one of the main reasons I decided on this sermon series – to help me wrap my head around the contents of Philippians 4:8. I found that I can remember the contents with the word “PEALPRiNT”. It’s the contents of the verse in backwards order. I turn PEALPRiNT around, to get T,N,R,P,L,A,E,P – True, Noble, Right, Pure, Lovely, Admirable, Excellent, Praiseworthy. It might seem silly, but I find that coming up with little challenges like this really helps in memory work.

As we’re led to consider the last word in this verse, we ask:

What Prompts A Response of Praise?

Praise in the Presence of God
Psalm 85:8-13 ~ Psalm deals with what is needed for revival

  • v8 we listen for the Word of God
  • v9 remember: salvation is for God’s glory
  • v10-11 results of God’s presence with us: love, faithfulness, righteousness, & peace
  • v13 our borrowed righteousness prepares people for His presence

Praise for the Providence of God
Ephesians 1:3-6 ~  God looks out for us – for His sake!

  • v3 God gives every spiritual blessing
  • v4 first blessing is being chosen to receive holiness
  • v5 through adoption (His choice, not ours)
  • v6 He is worthy because of His gracious choice

Praise for the Purpose of God
Ephesians 1:7-10 ~ What does God intend for us?

  • v7 to buy us back into freedom from sin
  • v8 He knows our worth (even when we don’t)
  • v9 His work in us clues us in; we are being changed
  • v10 so that we will be brought to Christ for HIS glory

What is God’s most fervent desire? Reconciliation of the Lost with Him. “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, Calling for you and for me.”

Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, my brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if there is anything excellent or praiseworthy, let your mind dwell on these things.”

Taking the opportunity to teach

imageToday is my sister Janet’s birthday. She died a couple years ago, and has joined others in our family who have shuffled off their mortal coil: Mom, Dad, all my grandparents, my father-in-law, my nephew Norman, and I could go on.

indeed, that’s the challenge, isn’t it? To go on; to continue to live life as best you can, knowing that such important people are no longer a part of your living existence.

What brought on this moment of reflection, you ask? A blog post about a Korean cabbage dish called kimchi. You see, a wonderful nam from my congregation asked if I’d like some shredded cabbage – he and his wife are trying their hand at making sauerkraut, and they had some cabbage left over.

As a pastor, I have a personal rule to say “yes” if anyone offers to give my family food. God provides… often more than I could ask or think… because let me tell you, I would never have imagined THIS much cabbage. My friend gave us… oh, I’d guess between 5 and 7 GALLONS of shredded cabbage. A kitchen garbage sack, about half full!

I am *very grateful* for this kind of provision! and blessedly, it happens fairly frequently. But this bounty has gone beyond my knowledge of how to process this volume of cabbage… so I’ve been hunting for recipes and ideas. I’ve already put up 3 quarts of what it hope will turn into sauerkraut (we’ll see), and I’m going to set aside a bunch for tonight’s stir fry dinner. I still have about 2/5ths of a bag left, so I thought of kimchi.

At the end of this blog I’d found was a statement that made me feel as if I’d been punched in the gut: “No matter how many years I’ve been cooking, she still never misses a teachable moment. But, I know I am very blessed that she’s still around to do that.” 

So, let me take this opportunity to say: pour into the lives of those around you. Love them with your heart, of course, but also with your history, your experience, your wisdom, your favorite jokes or treasured memories. Take every opportunity to teach those around you -because as you do, you leave a piece of your heart and mind with them… And you get some of theirs back as well.


Pastor Ed Backell

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