Foundation of Hope

Sears.Willis.Tower

During free time at a conference in Chicago, Illinois, a group of us toured the Sears Tower, now renamed the Willis Tower. This 1450-foot skyscraper has 110 stories, at one time the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Up on the observation deck, a model structure explained the massive construction. Although not visible, the tower’s strong foundation makes it possible to withstand the strong winds in Chicago. The 100-foot cement foundation also includes embedded cylinders for added strength. This is indeed a strong foundation.

Bill Mansell, a life coach, recorded on video his impression of the Sears Tower. He made application to our lives—that we need character-building values for a strong foundation to support our daily lives. I’m reminded of Jesus’ story about houses built on either rock or sand. (See Luke 6:46-49.) Only those houses built on a strong foundation will withstand the winds of change in our lives. All other support is sand. Since Christ is the foundation of faith, we have hope in no other.

We have a sure hope in the foundation of Christ’s “precious blood” (1 Peter 1:19). We are born anew by the imperishable seed “through the living and enduring word of God” (v. 23). That is the sure foundation of our hope. Praise Jesus!

O God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come. Be thou our guide while life shall last, And our eternal home! –Isaac Watts 

The Rock is Jesus. Build life on His firm foundation.

–The major part of this was first published in Opening the Word, Herald and Banner Press, Saturday, April 6, 2019, based on 1 Peter 1:17-21

God’s Will – Pastor Bill Coker

This will give you an idea of the format of Bill’s sermons (with a bit of change due to copy and paste). ~AC

Book.ribbons

APPOINTED TO KNOW HIS WILL (Part I)

Acts 22:14 (1-16)

In Paul’s testimony about being confronted by the risen Christ, two questions:

      Who are you, Lord?What shall I do, Lord?

Important, because they are equally significant for us:

Who is Jesus of Nazareth? ║ What does God want us to do?

There is an inseparable relationship between believing and living. As we noted last week in commenting on Paul’s differentiation between external religious practice and internal spiritual reality, we are genuinely Christian only if that relationship is maintained and is actually working in our lives.

We want to focus today on Paul’s second question, What shall I do, Lord?

  • and on the statement which Ananias made to him in Damascus: The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will.

Not hard to believe, because we know that God chose Paul to be the “apostle to the Gentiles.” God sometimes has specific tasks for specific people, and He makes known to those people His purposes for their lives.

But, CAN WE KNOW THE WILL OF GOD? Are we also appointed to know God’s will? In a sense, this is more difficult for us than the idea of a personal encounter with God. (Because we tend to equate experience = emotion; whereas knowing = reason.) Maybe in a general sense, but can we know in particular?

FIRST, we need to settle the relationship between God’s will and what happens to us.

> Common explanation of both tragedies and blessings. But is everything that happens to us the will of God? Leslie Weatherhead, The Will of God.

  1. What God Purposes

> Does God order tragedies for which we would put a person in jail or in an institution for the criminally insane?

–As Weatherhead asks, do we resist the will of God in attempts to save the dying?

> What about sin and the effects of sin?

–Did God command Adam & Eve not to eat and then will them to do it?

> Clearly, God’s sovereignty does not negate human freedom

–John Calvin, who argued strongly for predestination, also argues that people sin of their own free choice.

> Some things have happened to you and will happen to you that are not God’s purpose for your life.

  1. What God Permits

> Not all that happens is God’s will; yet nothing happens outside of His will

–Tragedy and injustice are permitted to happen.

–Horns of the “Great Dilemma”: God’s omnipotence ║ love

> Price of human freedom. We are not just victims!

–How often we see people who are bitter toward God for their own consequences.

> God’s restrictive activity

–Case in point is found in Job’s life. God restricts Satan’s power to test

Job: Behold, all that he has is in your power; only upon himself do not put forth your hand. .   . . . Behold, he is in your power; only spare his life.

–Similarly, Paul’s promise to the Corinthians:

God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (I Cor. 10:13).

> God’s miraculous intervention

–Two errors into which people fall:

  1. Some have trouble believing that God ever intrudes into life
  2. Others want to make God’s intrusion a promise to everyone

–Placing ourselves in His will to make the most out of whatever He allows

  1. What God Promises

> Two promises which every Christian can hold onto:

–Ultimate purposes of God are never defeated by present circumstances.

The will of God must not be considered apart from eternity.

The meaning of Romans 8:28. God weaves everything into His design:

  1. Our mistakes, our sins

2.  What others may do against us

Here is how we learn to handle what we view as tragedies

–The presence of God is in every place and the provision of God is in every situation:

I will not leave you, nor forsake you (Jos 1:5)

Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

> One of John Newton’s hymns:

                  Though troubles assail, and dangers affright,

                   Though friends should all fail, and foes all unite,

                  Yet one thing secures us, whatever betide,

                   The promise secures us, –The Lord will provide.

                   The birds, without barn or storehouse, are fed;

                   From them let us learn to trust for our bread:

                  His saints what is fitting shall ne’er be denied,

                   So long as ’tis written, –The Lord will provide.

                   When Satan appears to stop up our path,

                   And fills us with fears, we triumph by faith;

                  He cannot take from us (though oft he has tried)

                   The heart-cheering promise, –The Lord will provide.

                   No strength of our own, nor goodness we claim:

                   Our trust is all thrown on Jesus’s Name;

                  In this our strong tower for safety we hid;

                   The Lord is our power, –The Lord will provide.

Anticipation

Perhaps I’ve told this story before, but it’s a foundation for what’s on my mind today. When my siblings and I were young, we’d find out about an invitation to a party when Mother started to get us ready to go. She had already purchased the birthday gift, so all we had to do was get cleaned up and dressed in our party clothes. We were not allowed to anticipate the party. Why? Mother did not want to hear us ask (numerous times over): ‟When is it time to go?” As a mom myself, I can understand her reasoning. But anticipation is part of the fun. Don’t you agree?

Yesterday we anticipated the arrival of Chrissa and Leo from North Carolina. On Becky’s smartphone she saw text messages as to their ETA. This soon alerted us that their car broke down near Knoxville, TN. Bad news: transmission needed and costly. Good news: it had not happened while driving through the mountain range, but near a big city with a dealership. More good news: a car rental place ‟happened to be” across from the dealership. They decided to leave their car with the dealers until the return trip. A good rental car was made available for the rest of the journey to Indianapolis. Now they anticipate a decision whether to have the car fixed in Knoxville. Throughout their troubles, Leo decided not to get frustrated but to stay in control, to trust God for the answers. Their ‟detour” added about five hours to their trip and to our anticipation time.

Tomorrow our friends Bonnie and Mary Jo are coming here from Wilmore, Kentucky. We’ve not seen them since May 2015 when we attended Bill’s ATS Golden Grads celebration. We anticipate a good time together, playing catch-up on our lives’ journeys. We’ll also have the traditional chicken curry dinner on Monday.

Bloody Crown of Thorns

The grandest anticipation happens during this season of Lent. We look forward to celebrating Good Friday, Palm Sunday, and Easter Sunday in our church and with our family. Yes, even the crucifixion of Christ is worthy of celebration. He died for us. Jesus suffered as the sacrifice for our sins, so that we may celebrate His salvation. And after that is the big rejoicing day: He arose! He arose! Hallelujah, Christ arose! That’s something to anticipate each year. In fact, every Sunday.

My Writing Life

Books.tied

I do not call myself an author because I’ve not published a book. That’s the distinction I make. I am a writer; that’s what I do. So what’s it all about – the why and the how?

The reason should come first. I’ve been motivated to write a mission statement. That sounds like a business term, and yet that’s what my writing is, a career, even though somewhat faulty. I write because I enjoy the struggle of writing. It’s not easy for me; the words don’t flow. But I write anyway. I want to write – to put my thoughts on paper (whether that’s in a journal or on the computer). Pages fill up with my thoughts. And then I share; I don’t write to be published. Yet it’s not enough to write for myself. I want others to know what I’m thinking, what moves me, what demands my attention. Editing is also a joy, getting it right – the proper grammar and the best words for relating and reacting. Writing demands re-writes; making sure it’s my best work.

Does that cover why I write? Not hardly. Pleasing God with my writing is important, whether that’s for my private journal or in a published devotional, article, or book. My writing must be acceptable to God, to honor Him and give Him due praise. God must shine through my writing.

How do I write? My day begins with reading God’s Word and writing reflections in a journal. Sometimes what I select is seasonal, like now during Lent, I’m reading the Gospels. I started with John because the major portion of his book is about Jesus’ last days. I even edit my journals, looking back over the day’s entry to make corrections. I keep white-out handy.

I have several writing projects going at the same time and choose one to work on most days of the week. I post a to-do list on my calendar: it may be starting an assignment for a devotional, adding to an incomplete article, or working on those two books in process. It’s not a strict discipline as to what I write, only that I do write. I don’t wait until I’m “inspired.” It’s a simple strategy, for writers write. Making time is now not a problem because I have the time. The problem is sticking to what’s a priority and eliminating distraction.

Writing includes the learning process, so I read about writing and also take courses. Taking notes (that’s also writing) is my way of collecting and connecting what I learn. An author and an agency are my favorite teachers: Jerry Jenkins and Steve Laube Agency’s Christian Writers Institute. Writers Conferences also help to contact publishers, agents, and other writers.

Looking over this piece there are a lot of “I’s” and yet it’s a personal work. Most sentences start with the subject, and that subject is me. So I went back and edited. As to how I put words together to complete a project, that depends on the purpose of the work. Devotionals are quite different from a magazine article. So is this blog. Thanks for reading what I write.

What do you see?

Peek-eyes.Ostrich

What we see:

  • Yields attitudes and actions
  • Understands it may or may not be true
  • What is not + What is + What can be

What does a University or Church see?

  • Past – “Hold the fort” mentality

Tradition – Pleases our forbearers

Orthodox, but not opportune

  • Present – “Status Quo” mentality

Don’t rock the boat – Pleases our constituency

Secure, but not satisfying

  • Future – “Visionary” mentality

Serves our age best by always becoming

Risky, but not rancid

We need the past – the value of tradition (as long as it serves).

We need the present – the value of continuity (as long as it works).

We need the future – the value of anticipation (as long as it’s true).

Bill Coker’s outline notes for a message (1991). You fill in the application.

Listen

We’ve watched Netflix’s first season of ‟Anne with an E” and we’ve been enthralled with the characters. One observation I’ve had: people don’t listen. Someone will be talking and another will interrupt, and with strong objection. The first party will not get to finish what’s on her mind. Then later the second party finds out that the information that was trying to be offered could have troubling consequences if not heeded. The one engaged in conversation, seemingly to change another’s mind, but too often did not complete their exchange of ideas.

Then Sunday evening we had a sort-of annual meeting at our church. I grabbed the printed report off the table and there on the cover was the title or theme: ‟Listen.” I tried to figure out how this was associated with the meeting or report. Throughout the meeting, we listened to the pastor and laypersons give reports and testimonies about their involvement in the church. We left with the mandate: ‟Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19b, ESV). We can tell them. Will they listen?

God has had and continues to have problems with His people not listening. The account of the kings of Judah lists a see-saw of either doing what was right or evil in the eyes of the Lord. Some of the kings led the people astray because they did not obey the Lord. One king, Manasseh, started out as doing evil, for he paid no attention (didn’t listen) when the Lord spoke. After being taken as prisoner by the king of Assyria, Manasseh humbled himself and asked God for mercy. ‟The Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea” (2 Chronicles 33:13). Here we have the assurance that God listens to His people.Girl praying                   When I think of prayer and the exchange between me and the Lord, I approach God with my words of thanks and petition. But if I want to hear what God has to say, I listen by reading His Word, the Bible. That, to me, is the two-way street of prayer. I know God listens to me as I pray, but I also listen to Him as I read the account He has left of His people. Be still, listen and learn.

Contact Information

‟In case someone needs to get in touch with you.” That’s all Harvey said, but my eyes moistened as I connected with events of February first of the same year. This one sentence brought up a remembrance, although not uppermost in my mind.

In February we had vacationed with friends in Florida. Desperate to reach us and frustrated with our answering machine, our youngest son phoned his sister and asked, ‟Where’s Mom and Dad?” Securing the phone number from her, he called us early that Sunday morning. The wife of our middle son had died during the night. We had little time for it to sink in, for we needed to change our flight schedule, return home to Indiana, and then drive to Lexington, Kentucky, where my husband would conduct the funeral service for our daughter-in-law, dead at age thirty-four, cause unknown.

‟You never know,” Harvey concluded our brief lesson on keeping the ship-to-shore radio tuned up to high volume. My thoughts snapped back to the present. We were again on vacation for a few days and again enjoying the generosity of friends.

Harvey, manager of the floating grocery at the Patoka Lake Marina, didn’t have to emphasize the importance of availability. This time we had given our location and phone contacts to all four children, just in case.

black rotary telephone on white surface