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When the Situation Is Desperate

clay pot

What do you do when you’re in a bind and don’t know what to do?  If the situation is desperate enough, you might well resort to desperate measures. In 1990, a 26-year-old man by the name of Danny Simpson of Ottawa, Canada was in dire financial straits.  He wasn’t quite sure what to do, but since his situation was desperate, he decided he should...

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The Big Difference

Durer Betrayal

This article introduces the upcoming sermon from Mark 14:43-52....

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Christ's Passion: Gethsemane

agony in the garden

An introduction to our upcoming sermon from Mark 14:32-42...

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Is Greatness Defined by Facebook or by God?

We’re addicted to ourselves. If you’re not convinced, just log on to Facebook sometime. Facebook is widely known as a narcissistic playground where most people broadcast the best, funniest, and most charming aspects of their lives. It seems that everyone on Facebook appears to have an awesome life, one filled with fun adventures, exciting romances, amazing jobs...

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Prayers for Desperate Times

Sermons on prayer have a way of disturbing me. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sermon on prayer that didn’t take me beyond conviction to the point of feeling guilty and/or inadequate. I may be a pastor, but I’m not what you call a prayer warrior. I pray, but not intensely. Not fervently. Unless of course I’m terrified of my circumstances. Then...

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God's Shakeup Call

Back in 1973 I was suddenly shaken out of my bed in the middle of the night. My first thought was that my college roommate had pulled some kind of prank on me. But when I glanced across the room, there was my roommate, also sitting on the floor, wondering what had happened. Later we would discover that a minor earthquake registering 4.7 on the Richter scale had struck the ...

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The Purpose of the Mosaic Covenant

Long-term commitments are scarce these days. Apparently long-term commitments are also scary. The thought of entering into a marriage relationship “’til death do us part” frightens a lot of people. So the covenant of marriage is often avoided. Many of the vows that are made these days lack the permanence and commitment of former days. But it’s not j...

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Sound Theology Has a Way of Doing That

In a Peanuts cartoon strip Lucy and Linus are staring out the window, watching it rain. The magnitude of the storm impresses Lucy. “Boy! Look at it pour. What if it floods the whole world?” “It won’t,” Linus assures her. In Genesis 9, God promised Noah that would never happen again. The sign of that promise is the rainbow.” Turning back ...

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When You Find Yourself in Trouble

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). At this time of year we are reminded of this wonderful announcement which the angel made to the shepherds on the night of our Savior’s birth. There is no sentim...

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Use Your Imagination

Remember Candid Camera? The show used hidden cameras to film ordinary people being confronted with unusual situations, such as a florist delivering flowers C.O.D. Sometimes trick props were involved, such as a desk with drawers that pop open when one is closed. When the joke was revealed, victims would be told the show's catchphrase, "Smile, you're on Candid Camera.”...

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Hijacked

The incident began mid-afternoon on Thanksgiving eve, November 24, 1971, at Portland International Airport in Portland, Oregon. A man carrying a black attaché case approached the flight counter of Northwest Orient Airlines. He purchased a one-way ticket on Flight 305,a 30-minute trip to Seattle, Washington. Once the plane was airborne, the man called to the flight a...

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The Christian Life Is a Thinking Life

Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Colossians 1:9). This prayer challenges two notions that many American evangelical Christians have about the connection between our intellect and our faith. The first one is the belief that ther...

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There's No Escaping the Conflict

The Bible uses a lot of different word pictures to describe the Christian life. For instance, the Bible compares the Christian life to biological growth. Christian growth is a maturing process, beginning with drinking milk and culminating with eating of meat. We progress through various stages of maturity as Christians, from infancy to becoming young men and ultimately to ...

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A Sheepish Tale

Once upon a time, there was a pack of wolves. Not just any pack of wolves, but the most vicious and deadly pack of wolves ever to roam the countryside. They had ruled the land unopposed for countless generations, chasing down the fastest of the rabbits, outsmarting the smartest of the foxes, bringing down the most majestic of the elk, laughing in the face of the grizzliest...

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Beauty and the Beast

At first glance the story of Esther looks like an ancient version of Beauty and the Beast. But this is no fairytale story of a poor, Jewish girl falling in love with Prince Charming. There’s nothing romantic about the story of Xerxes and Esther. Rather, it is a dark and uncomfortable tale of abduction and even abuse. The king’s men scour the empire for its fair...

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What Is This Story Doing in the Bible?

Many Christians have a pretty clear-cut idea of what the Bible ought to be about. It should be about God. It should come right out and tell us how to live. It should reflect spiritual and historical truth. It should be solemn and serious. This is how much of the Bible is written. But there is one book of the Bible that is different. The book of Esther never mentions God, n...

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Does Jesus Need Us to Accomplish His Work?

We come now to the end of the series of sermons from John’s gospel. Most of the time I’m eager to move on to the next series, but I’m a little reluctant this time. I discovered so many enlightening things about Jesus while working through the Gospel according to John. Back in January we began a series on the miraculous signs in John’s gospel that Je...

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Drinking the Cup--The Denial

Peter was ready to face anything for Jesus Christ. Or so he thought. Perhaps he thought that he had endured the worst of his trials with Christ in the Garden. He had impulsively drawn his sword, slicing through the air until his mark lopped off the ear of the high priest's servant. None of the other disciples had acted so courageously. Peter stood alone. Pumped by his gla...

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Drinking the Cup--Smitten of God

For the past few weeks we have been focusing on the cup from which Jesus drank—the cup of judgment and of wrath. He tasted the bitterness of this cup when he was betrayed and arrested. He sipped deeper from this cup when Peter denied him. The bitterness intensified through the rejection of the Jews and of Pilate. Ultimately, Jesus would finish drinking the cup as he ...

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Drinking the Cup

Last Sunday we completed the seventh of the signs recorded by John in his account of the Lord’s life and ministry. There is one more sign that Jesus performed—the miraculous catch of fish. Instead of jumping ahead and considering the significance of the last sign now, I want to go back to the first sign and draw out some themes that are common to the first and ...

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Comfort Food

Today I want to talk about a subject that interests every single one of us, every single day of our lives—eating. Eating is important to us because it’s much more than fuel for the body. Food means things to us. Have you ever heard the term “comfort food”? Comfort food is a simple, traditional food that does more than fill you up—it brings to...

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It's Worse than You Think

Introduction to Sunday's sermon on the healing of the man by the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15)....

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What's In A Name?

This Sunday we'll be looking at the story of Hosea. In the first chapter God tells Hosea to name his children very upsetting names. They were to be living illustrations of God's relationship with His people. Thankfully, that isn't the end of the story....

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There's a Problem, But It's Not What You Think

It's true that many people today do not find the church appealing or relevant. But the problem with the church isn't with the gospel. And it isn't even ultimately with the church. The problem is somewhere else, and in Romans 10:14-21 Paul is going to put his finger right on it....

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Sentiment Isn't the Only Emotion on Mothers' Day

Mothers' Day is coming up this Sunday. It's a time to express love and appreciation to our mothers, which of course we should do often, not just on this particular day. Mothers' Day evokes an outpouring of sentiment for our mothers, expressed through cards, flowers, a nice meal out, and a phone call if you and your mother are separated by distance. But sentiment isn't th...

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Oh, What a Relief It Is!

Romans 10 talks about man's responsibility. In particular is the issue coming up this Sunday - when it comes to salvation, your righteousness doesn't matter....

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God's Sovereignty and Man's Responsibility

This week we come face to face with one of the most difficult questions in Romans 9: If God chooses some for salvation then how can He blame the other folks who do not believe? How do you reconcile the sovereignty of God with the responsibility of man?...

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Pepto Bismol Sermon Series Continues

This week in Romans 9:13-18, we'll see that God's mercy is free, not deserved. What's so upsetting about that? Well, by emphasizing the awesomeness of God's mercy, these verses actually deconstruct our sense of entitlement. But they also create a new sense of wonder and gladness and relief. It is such a relief to stop trying to make God behave the way we think he should be...

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Awesome Mercy

You might think about skipping church the next few Sundays because Romans 9 will push you out of your comfort zone. But we don't come to church to be made comfortable by a Jesus of our own making. We come to church because we want the real Jesus....

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The Struggle

God wants you to go through Romans 7. He wants you to struggle with sin because that experience is meant to drive you into the arms of Jesus Christ. The struggle that you are undergoing in your life now doesn't mean you're a failure. It makes you an excellent candidate for the grace of God....

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How Grace Changes Us

The more you sin, the more grace you get. So if you want more of God's grace, you can have it by thinking of creative ways to sin. What's wrong with this logic? It all comes down to this: If you truly want to be forgiven of your sins, you will want to change....

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Worth the Wait

Simeon's Song is about waiting. Luke tells us that Simeon was "righteous and devout." He also tells us that the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that "he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ" (c.f. Luke 2:26). So what was Simeon doing with his life in the meantime? He was waiting....

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Silence

Our Advent sermon series this year is "The Songs of Christmas." The messages are based on the oldest Christmas songs in the world. These songs are not found in the hymnal but you will find them recorded in the Bible....

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When It's Hard to Trust God

Why is it hard for us to trust God? That's the question we'll be dealing with this Sunday. In the last half of Romans 4, we see how Abraham trusted God even though it wasn't easy....

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How About a Nice Rotten Egg Omelet?

What does it mean that we are all "under sin?" It means we are biased toward sin, that we live under its control. We are not under sin in the sense that sin holds us down against our wills, but rather that sin has seeped into our wills, into our good intentions, into our self-images, even into our morality. Sin feels normal and acceptable. And this is true of us all, witho...

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Respectable Sinners

We survived Romans 1. But Romans 2 is staring us right in the face. In Romans 2, Paul teaches that when we look down our noses upon someone else and we think to ourselves, "What a sinner, what a loser, what a terrible person," then we have committed the sin of being judgmental. That is what Paul is talking about in these opening verses of chapter 2....

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Avoiding Dark Thoughts About God

This Sunday we'll investigate some sticky questions. I'm not going to run away from them as much as I might like to. So I'll give you a biblical perspective on these thorny issues. But that's not my primary objective, nor is it the primary objective of Scripture. The primary objective of Scripture is not to protect us from the living God, but to show him to us. ...

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Why Everyone Needs To Be In Church

Everyone needs to be in church. There are benefits you reap from coming to church that you could never enjoy by staying at home, or by "worshipping God" on the golf course or on the lake. It's something Paul talked about in Romans 1:12 - "mutual encouragement in the faith." ...

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This is What We Need

Whenever the Book of Romans is proclaimed from the pulpit, studied and revered by God's people, God brings reformation. Why is it that? One reason stands above all others. The book of Romans speaks with clarity and power about the gospel. This is what we need. We need reformation. We need the power of the gospel to continually transform us....

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The Phrase of Praise

This Sunday we'll focus on the significance of these concluding words as an act of worship. I hope you'll be there as we come to the conclusion of the deeper meaning of the Lord's Prayer....

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Goldfish, Porcupines and Forgiveness

In the Lord's Prayer, as well as in the story we read, it is clear that our being forgiven is tied closely with our forgiveness of others. If indeed we have received the forgiveness of Christ, we must extend forgiveness to others....

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Daily Bread Living

Life is uncertain. Most of us don't have enough savings to get through another month if our income suddenly stopped coming in. You can be doing fine one day and the next day your life can be turned upside down. One reason God lets those things happen is to move us away from self-sufficiency to God-sufficiency....

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Who's In Charge Here?

For the longest time a popular saying could be seen on the rear bumpers of a lot of cars. God is my co-pilot. At first glance it seems to be a noble declaration. God is with me wherever I go. But if God is just the co-pilot, doesn't that make you the pilot?...

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The Kingdom Comes First

The Lord says, when you pray, I want you to focus on the things that are most important to God, not what is most important to you. We are self-centered by nature. We seek the things that matter most to us. But as we have been learning in our study of the Lord's Prayer, prayer doesn't begin with our concerns; prayer begins with God's concerns....

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Taking God's Name Seriously

So when Christ says: Pray this way, "Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name" what does he mean? By God's name he means everything through which God is known....

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Is Your Relationship With God Based on Performance or Status?

Jesus says that you can approach God in two ways. You can pray like the hypocrites or like the Gentiles, coming to God on the basis of the performance of your prayers. Or you can pray as Jesus teaches, and come to God on the basis of your status as his child....

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A Second Chance

Jonah's life does illustrate a biblical principle that reflects on the role of mothers in every age and in every place. It's the principle of first time obedience....

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When a Fish Catches a Man

It is the story of struggles, of disobedience, of problems and of prayer. But above all, it's a story about God's sovereignty and his grace. God's sovereignty is evident everywhere in this story. God is in control of the wind, the sea, the fish, and over humans. And we see his grace marvelously displayed throughout the story of Jonah....

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From Tragedy to Triumph

Imagine winning a victory and not even knowing it. But that's what happened when Jesus resurrected. His followers thought he had been vanquished. But in reality, Christ had pulled off the most astonishing victory of all time. It is possible to be a winner and still live as if you are a loser. ...

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The Most Controversial Issue of All

In 1 Corinthians Paul dealt with just about every controversial subject a church is likely to face. And now, as he wraps up this letter, Paul deals with one last controversial issue - the issue that some might consider to be the most controversial of all. It's the matter of giving....

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Is There Ever a Right Time to Die?

Is there ever a "right time" to die? I've never heard someone who lost a dearly loved one say, "Glad to see him or go. Good timing." The only times in which we welcome death for ourselves or our loved ones is when death brings an end to suffering. But it is the end of suffering, not the end of life, certainly not the departure of the person we loved, that we welcome. ...

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The Best is Yet to Come

Have you ever noticed that everyone wants to live long, but no one wants to grow old? It's true. If you want proof, just consider the five B's of middle age: baldness, bifocals, bridges, bulges, and bunions. Nothing works right. Our bodies slow down, decay, sag, groan, and wear out. We may brag about our strength but a tiny microbe can kill us. ...

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Doctrine Matters

Doctrine matters. Everything you do, every decision you make, is a demonstration of something that you believe. Everything about your life can be described in terms of it being an application of some sort of ultimate belief. Doctrine matters. Therefore, it is necessary and right that we think about it....

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A Matter of the Heart

The resurrection is central to the Christian gospel. The resurrection is central to all the facets of Christian doctrine. So if we could just submit all the convincing evidence that points to Christ's resurrection, then that should be enough to convert the world, right? ...

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Building Up the Body

Some people love speaking in tongues. The church at Corinth apparently had a lot of people like that in their congregation. For the Corinthians, speaking in tongues was the premier gift. Nothing was more desirable than the ability to speak in tongues. That's because they measured their spirituality and their giftedness according to their tongue-speaking ability. But G...

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It Has Nothing To Do With Marriage

There's something we need to see from chapter 13 - something that transcends even the solution to the problems brought up in chapters 11-12. Love. Love is vitally important to Christians. It should govern our relationships with everyone in the body-especially those with whom we strongly disagree....

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For the Common Good

When spiritual gifts are used incorrectly, the results are disastrous. You have divisions. You have strife. You have jealousy. A worship service can turn into a circus. The Spirit of God does not give gifts so that you can do sensational things and get plenty of public attention. The purpose of gifts is simple. They are to be used for the common good. ...

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Bad Table Manners

There's a right way and a wrong way to behave at the table. Some of the folks in the church at Corinth had terrible table manners. Church services were a lot different in those days-much more informal. They met in homes. A large house could accommodate 30, 40, or maybe 50 people. Instead of using their after church potlucks as a way to build community, they used the L...

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Expressions of Communion

Even though communion is a regular part of every worship service, I'm not sure we fully understand why we take communion. We just know we're supposed to pass a tray of Welch's around and stare at the floor in silence to please God. Communion is often taken in a somber mood of dismal introspection as we focus on the death of Christ....

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Concentrate on Doing One Thing Well

We can't be all things to all people. We can't provide programs for every conceivable need. But one thing we can and must do is this. We can share the gospel. Advancing the gospel must be the motivation for everything we do....

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When Things Don't Go the Way You Expected

So, what do you do when you are confronted with the unexpected? What do you do when your plans don't work out? How do you handle circumstances that are beyond your control? Most all of us have had to handle the unexpected...

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The Irony of Christmas

Genealogy was of extreme importance to the Jews. I'll explain in more detail on Sunday. But for now there's something of tremendous significance. In Jesus' genealogy we find some surprises. In particular is one girl,Rahab, who was especially naughty. But she found grace in the eyes of God. ...

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God's Time

When our Lord Jesus returns there will be no such thing as time. At the second advent of Christ He will stop all the clocks and calendars and, once again, there will be only Eternity. That event will happen right on time. But the first advent was right on time, too. ...

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The Same Old Arguments

Just because something is legal doesn't mean it's moral. Just because the government accepts it doesn't mean God accepts it. That's essentially what Paul has to say about it....

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How the Reformation Changed the Church

Most of us know a little bit about the Protestant Reformation, but relatively few of us seem to understand either the evils from which the Reformation delivered us or the blessings which the Reformation won for us....

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Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles

This Sunday we will host a special presentation of Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles by Micha Cohen of Jews for Jesus....

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A Life That Matters

When you’re on the verge of leaving this world, you can’t help but wonder if you’re ready—ready to meet your God...

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Hell: Fear the Place or Fear the Idea?

Should we fear going to Hell or the idea of Hell? Should we tone down the centuries old message of "Repent or suffer the fires of Hell" into something a bit more palatable in today's church? We'll examine that this week......

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Scripture Alone- The Ultimate Authority

What is the ultimate authority in our lives? Where do we find truth? Do we determine it for ourselves? Do we let Hollywood, our culture, or even the church tell us what to believe? As believers in Christ, we must place scripture as the ultimate authority....

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A Better Hope

The idea of Heaven is fascinating. It’s actually one of the few universal human fascinations. Pretty much everybody thinks about heaven....

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The Severest Test

The temptations just keep getting more severe. First, there was Potiphar’s wife enticing Joseph into an affair. That was a serious test for a young man. But Joseph did what he had to do to escape the trap......

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When Hopes Are Dashed

This Sunday we continue Joseph’s story in Genesis 40. When it looks as though the butler will be able to make an appeal to Pharaoh on Joseph’s behalf, Joseph’s hopes seem to be dashed on the rocks of reality....

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The Testing Times of Faith

An introduction to this week's sermon about Joseph and Potiphar's wife....

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A Father's Love

The world is filled with examples of great fathers.  These are men who have been faithful in bringing up children that made a difference for good in the world we live in.  They are characterized by being loving, stern, playful, understanding, protective, nurturing, wise, and a host of other qualities.  However, I wonder how often we think of fathers as sacri...

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A Guilty Conscience

Guilt is a strange thing.  It can be a highly motivating force or a paralyzing emotion.  Some people like to use guilt on others to manipulate them in order to get what they want.  Perhaps they see themselves as a kind of sad travel agent as they send those around them on guilt trip after guilt trip.  Parents use this tactic on their children as they sa...

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Doctors and Plumbers

Did you hear about the plumber who was called to fix a leak at the doctor’s house? The two minute job cost $200.  The doctor was aghast. "I don't charge that much and I am a doctor.” The plumber replied, “I didn’t make that much when I was a doctor either.  That’s why I became a plumber.”  What we need in the church today ...

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The Final Vital Sign of a Healthy Church

A brief introduction to this week's sermon regarding Biblical Church Leadership....

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What's It All About?

What’s It All About? If you ask the average American – for that matter, ask the average human being anywhere in the world – what religion is about and he or she would be very likely to say something like this: There is a God. He cares about how we live. He wants us to be kind to others, honest in our dealings, and faithful in our relationships. He wants ...

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Taking Church Membership Seriously Sermon

This week's sermon about Church Membership is now available online to listen to or download....

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When Sin Happens

Check out this week's introduction to Sunday's sermon....

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