Category Archives: Sermon Notes – 2021

Anxious and Worried – June 6, 2021

Howard Hughes Jr. was born in Texas on December 24, 1905. His father was a successful investor and businessman from Missouri.  Howard grew up under the expectation that great things would happen to him, but he needed to work hard to stay ahead of the game.

He did not disappoint. Howard invested well and he loved science and technology. He became an engineer, record-setting pilot, oil magnate, film director, RKO studio owner, and philanthropist. He is still known as one of the most successful men in history.

Like John D. Rockefeller, who was the richest man in US history, Howard Hughes felt pushed to succeed and he was never satisfied. By 18, he was a millionaire, and by some accounts, by the age of 21 he was a Billionaire.  Most of us believe, if we lived a life like that, we would be able to live a life of ease and tranquility.

The truth was, after all the accolades, Howard felt more pressure to succeed. Those around him said he was always anxious and worried about something. In the later years of his life, he was plagued by health issues and a worsening obsessive-compulsive disorder. The walls, literally began to grow closed around him, – because he was worried that people were out to get him.

When Howard Hughes died, he was unrecognizable and living under an alias. He died alone, locked behind doors, living in fear of germs, and terrified of nearly everything. His estate was valued at 1.5 Billion dollars, but he had given much more than that away.

Auto Tycoon Henry Ford once said, “Money will ruin the life of any man who treats it like anything but a tool.” And then he added, “I was happier when I was doing a mechanics job.” And Billionaire Andrew Carnegie once said, “Millionaire’s seldom smile.”

But the lack of money or abundance of it is not the only thing that worries us. In an opinion poll released on October 21, 2020, 62% of Americans said they were more anxious now than in previous years.

When asked what made them extremely or somewhat anxious, Americans said the top issues were: keeping themselves and their family safe (80%), COVID-19 (75%), their health (73%), gun violence (73%) and politics (72%). No surprise there!

Anxiety is a secondary emotion brought on by worry, fear, stress, and general prolonged unease. It can raise your blood pressure, cause sweating, dizziness, trembling, and a racing heartbeat. Played out over a long period of time, it can destroy your physical and mental health.

The national Center for Health under the CDC reported in February of this year that 1 in 4 adults have reported that they deal with increasing levels of unhealthy stress since Covid began. 

I think this adds extra emphasis to what Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew Chapter 6, verses 25-34, “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow.

“They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, that not even Solomon in all his splendor, was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Now, let me back up a little. Just to be clear, it is normal to feel anxious occasionally. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t get nervous, afraid, scared, or worry from time to time. But prolonged worry and anxiety can lead to depression, hopelessness, and a possible breakdown.

Ongoing anxiety is real and scary and can also lead to panic attacks, paralyzing fear, and/or addiction. But you are not alone in this fight. I have discussed this topic with many Christians. We are not exempt!

The Apostle Paul was an expert on this topic because it plagued him. Imagine, being a persecutor of Christians and to than become one! Not only that, but to also to become a vocal one in public. Paul not only believed others were out to get him, he knew it for a fact.

In 2 Corinthians Chapter 11:23-28, Paul goes on ‘to list all of his challenges’, “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, and I have been constantly on the move.

“I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily, the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”

I think Paul has ‘a pretty fair understanding of anxiety and worry’, don’t you? Yet, to the church at Philippi, Paul writes,

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9) 

The same paradox Paul and others in history faced, is the same paradox we face. We do not know what things will come our way today or tomorrow, or the weeks or years ahead.

What is it you worry about?

Your job? Your kids? Your finances? Your own health? The health of a loved one or extended family? I hope you don’t worry about where your next meal will come from, but some do. I get it, I’ve been there; I have lived through tough times and walked with others through them too.

Recently I have been listening to a song that came out in 2007, by the Christian hard rock band P.O.D. called, “It Can’t Rain Everyday”. It deals with the real struggles, anxieties and worries people have in life, and the Chorus goes like this,

“Even though you feel alone,

  It can’t rain everyday,

  It can’t rain forever.

“The sunshine may be gone, but I know,

  It can’t rain everyday,

  It don’t rain forever.

Here are 3 thoughts I found in Paul’s passage on dealing with anxiety.

First, capture your wandering thoughts. Being in control of your thought life is critical. Don’t wander where you have no control. As Paul says in Philippians 4:8, think about the things that are pleasing to the Lord, and you will be filled with more peace.

Second, see anxiety for what it is, then see God for who He is! Prolonged anxiety keeps us from being productive Children of God. It hinders our witness and takes away our freedom. But God enables us. When we trust him, he gives us the ability to see beyond out troubles, to better days ahead.

And third, don’t be afraid to ask for help. When you are struggling and hurting, talk to others. Many of us have already been down this road and we can walk it with you. Don’t suffer alone!

Remember, God will never leave your side. So, pray, breathe, cry out, but know this…nothing can steal God’s glory from you.

When I think of an example of a Christian outside the Bible who lived above the anxiety, stress, and worry, I think of the survivor of the Titanic, ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’. She was dismissed, ignored, looked down upon, and yet she remained unshaken.

Molly was a devote Catholic who trusted in Jesus more than anything else. Like Paul, she survived a shipwreck and came back stronger. She spoke out against injustice, for equality, and refused to step down if someone needed help.

So, don’t sweat the small things or the big things. God is greater than anything this world can throw your way.

Your assignment is…To join me in repeating the 23rd Psalm. Then, I want you to re-read it several times this week. It will be on the screen or, if you have a hymnal close by, it is, #137.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.

Revisit that this week – and Trust the Good Shepherd.

                                                                        “And all God’s People said, Amen”

The Devil went down to Ephesus – May 30, 2021

This last Monday, the R&B singer John Davis passed away at the age of 66. Known as a backup singer for many years, his voice was deep, soulful, and powerful. He was highly respected in the music industry and expected to go far. That is, until he got caught up in a scandal that pretty much tanked his career.

His name probably doesn’t sound familiar, but if you listened to the radio back in the late1980’s and early 90’s you heard him. Founded in 1988, the pop group ‘Milli Vanilli’ achieved international success. With songs like ‘Blame it on the Rain’ and ‘Girl you know it’s true’ they literally took over the airwaves. In fact, the group was awarded a Grammy for best new artist in 1990.

The back story goes like this, the record company was worried that the actual singers were not very good looking. So, they hired two male models to front the band. But during interviews, some questioned their poor speaking skills and their ability to sing. Then, during several live performances, it came to light, that they were only lip syncing the songs.

The two men confessed; they were not the actual singers. They were stripped of their Grammy and Milli Vanilli would go down in history as an ugly mark on the music industry forever. Had the real singers been promoted, who knows how far they could have gone. I do have to admit, they were not artists I cared for, but they were memorable for the legacy of controversy they left behind.

Lip Syncing is moving your lips in time with a pre-recorded music. Sometimes singers do it because they are sick or having vocal issues. But in worse case sceneries, it is a façade, a lie, or a person pretending to be something they are not.

Our scripture from Acts, today, deals with this specific issue. Paul had been traveling from city to city, working and sharing the Gospel of Jesus. He was laying the foundation for the early church by meeting in homes or addressing issues on the road.

When Paul traveled to Ephesus, he met some disciples and he asked them, “Did you receive the power of the Holy Spirit when you came to faith?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So, Paul asked them, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

 “John’s Baptism”, they answered.

Now, I want to stop here for just a moment. Did you know you could have an illegitimate baptism? I am not talking about what denomination you were baptized in; I am talking about whose Name you were baptized in?. 

Jesus gave his disciples clear instructions in Matthew 28:18-20. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

These disciples admitted they were baptized by John not in the name of the triune God (Father, Son & Holy Spirit). So, Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.” In other words, they had missed out on the power and transformation that only comes through the blood of Jesus and the work of the Father and the Holy Spirit.

So, then Paul told them about Jesus. He was the Messiah, the one who gave his life for our sin. Without Jesus, we are not made complete. If you miss that, you miss everything.

Scripture says that on hearing this, they accepted Jesus and were baptized into his name. And when Paul put his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in other languages and prophesied. It was kind of like a mini-Pentecost with the 12 of them.

As Paul traveled further into the city, he also preached and taught in the synagogue, but he was greeted very coldly there. So, he and the disciples left and went to teach in a lecture hall in Tyrannus, where they stayed for two years. Notice, the Word of God was rejected in the Synagogue, the one place it should have been welcomed. 

The Word of God does not conform to us, we must conform to it. We cannot change words, just because we don’t like it or because it is hard. Many people have their own idea of who God is and again, if it is not Jesus, they have missed the boat. Their faith is worthless.

Because Paul had great faith and others believed, God did extraordinary miracles in Ephesus. He, that is Paul, was driving out evil-spirits, healing the sick and lives were saved. All this was done in the name of Jesus. Again, I want you to notice, Paul is just the instrument.  It is God’s work, through Jesus’ name by the power of the Holy Spirit.

So, all the people in that area, Jews and Greeks heard the Word of the Lord. All of this was possible because Paul went to the people. He did not wait for them to come to the synagogue, in fact, he was kicked out of it. They were too hard-hearted, sad to say.

Have you ever heard that there is power in the blood? Have you ever heard God is in control? Do you believe in the work and movement of the Holy Spirit? Paul did and so did the people.

Paul did not have authority or confidence in himself, but in God alone. He was not saying, “I, Paul, am the healer”. No, he was acknowledging the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were doing the work.

I imagine most of you have heard Charlie Daniels most famous song, “The devil went down to Georgia’, right? It begins,

‘The devil went down to Georgia; he was lookin’ for a soul to steal
He was in a bind ’cause he was way behind
And he was willin’ to make a deal

When he came across this young man sawin’ on a fiddle and playin’ it hot  –  And the devil jumped up on a hickory stump
And said, “boy, let me tell you what”

“I guess you didn’t know it, but I’m a fiddle player too
And if you’d care to take a dare, I’ll make a bet with you

“Now you play a pretty good fiddle, boy
But give the devil his due
I’ll bet a fiddle of gold against your soul
‘Cause I think I’m better than you”

The boy said, “My name’s Johnny and it might be a sin
But I’ll take your bet, you’re gonna regret
‘Cause I’m the best there’s ever been”

Johnny is not exactly humble! You know the song; they both play their fiddle and Johnny beats the devil. And he gets his fiddle of gold. Then Johnny declares that any time the devil wants to try it again, he will battle him and beat him again.

Now, I wouldn’t encourage you to run out and seek battles with the devil for your soul. Many have tried and many have suffered or died. The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8-9,

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”

To me that says, don’t go looking for an argument, but be ready if one comes and you cannot avoid it. Know where the power comes from and stand firm in the faith. Some translations say, be of sober or clear mind and on watch. Don’t get caught in the lion’s mouth.

But for some reason, there are folks who like to take the devil’s challenge. I can have a one-night affair, no one will ever know. Right! I can do drugs and not get addicted. Uh huh. I can steal and not get caught. Sure.   But even if you don’t get caught, God knows! And the devil has you, right where he wants you.

Let’s go back to Acts. Along comes some traveling Jews, itinerant exorcists by trade. They were the seven sons of Sceva, a more than likely self-proclaimed Jewish Chief priest. There is no mention of a High Priest by his name in Jerusalem back then. And it wasn’t uncommon for so called frauds or con men to take on lofty names.

These Jews pretended to cast out evil demons and heal people by using magical arts they tied to King Solomon. The Jewish writer Josephus wrote that Solomon had religious leaders who cast out demons by invoking angels for help. So, if these snake-oil salesman had a good reputation, they could get very rich.

There seven men went around declaring they were driving out evil spirits and demons in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preached. One day, as they were trying to drive out an evil spirit, the demon answered them, “Jesus I know and I know about Paul, but who are you?”

Let me just say, you do not want to be in this position. It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. They were pretending to know Jesus and were trying to imitate Paul’s success. Yet they had no real faith and no real power, and it was about to backfire on them.

Then the man who was possessed by the evil spirit jumped on them and gave them such a beating, that they ran from the house in tattered clothing and bleeding from their wounds. You see, the fate of false prophets is that they will one day they be found out.

I actually think the people learned more by this, than what they did from seeing Paul’s miracles.

Scripture says, “When this became known to the Jews and the Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high regard.” (Acts 19:17)

The devil and his demons went down to Ephesus — and things didn’t turn out as well as the song.

Sometimes I watch certain people around me proclaim Jesus’ name like they are close friends of his, but their lifestyle fails to live up to that standard. They wear their crosses or thank God when something good happens to them. Sometimes they carry around Bibles, they never open. Or they have those fish decals on their cars, which you notice, just before they cut you off in traffic.

Please Lord, don’t let me be like that! You see, it takes only 1 demon or the devil to defeat 7 men. But it only just 3, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to beat the entire army of Satan.

We all better be on the right side of that battle.

Let me just say, knowing about Jesus is not the same thing as having a personal relationship with him. And attending church is not the same thing as worshiping with a family of believers. Can I get an Amen!

Today is Peace with Justice Sunday. Notice, peace comes first. And yet, there are times we must take a stand for what is right. I pray you will do it under the power and authority of the one who stands for real justice, Jesus Christ.

The Bible warns us to never go into battle without the proper equipment. This insight comes from the city of Ephesus, the place these seven men took a beating. Ephesians 6:11-13 reads,

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Your assignment is…to read Ephesians 6:10-18 this week.

Read about the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and so on. But remember, all that gear still won’t help you – if you don’t have faith in Jesus Christ first!

Believe. Trust and be transformed.

“And all God’s People said, Amen”

The Better Half – May 9, 2021

I was introduced to ‘The Battle of the Sexes’ at an early age. I had an older sister, Tammy, who was always telling me that girls were smarter than boys. I never gave it much thought until I went to school and the boys informed me that she was wrong…boys are smarter than girls!

Studies done on children in the United Kingdom and the United States in 2012 and 2018, also reveal that, on the average, girls score 9 percent higher on most test subjects across the board. In part, that is because girls tend to mature faster than boys. So, maybe my sister was right after all.

In school, we often played games that pitted boys against girls. And our education system often set boys against girls. While boys were the fastest runners and better at sports in general, the girls often surpassed us to win the spelling bees.

From an early age, I found girls to be fascinating. They wore pretty dresses, smelled good, and had ponytails that I could pull. But it didn’t take long to recognize they were more delicate and would cry more easily. For instance, during dodge ball, they did not like getting hit with the ball.

Occasionally I would run into a tomboy, a tough girl. They were rougher and played harder, but we were always taught to be sensitive. It was ok if a girl hit you, but you could never hit them. I am glad we don’t teach that one anymore. No one should hit anyone.

In our house, my sisters seemed to get the best of everything, and I was always in trouble. My mom and grandmother gave them the benefit of the doubt. Not the case with me. I always heard that boys were troublemakers. To be honest, it was my older sister who pushed the boundaries. I was the middle child and I was always trying to make peace.

I always thought it would be great to be a girl, they were cute and seemed to get everything they wanted. But my older sister informed me, that wasn’t true. Women wanted equal rights, equal pay, and equal opportunities. Apparently, life is tougher than we imagine as children.

When I was little, ‘Father knew best’ and kids were never as smart as adults. ‘Leave it to beaver’ taught me that. I often wondered why everyone would ‘love Lucy’, after all the crazy things she did. Today, many television shows portray the smart wife and kids and the dumb dad. Funny how things change.

Over the years, I tried to get a handle on the differences between men and women. There have been many attempts to explain it. I read all the best sellers, like, “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” or the popular, “Men are like Waffles and Women are like Spaghetti”.

In a world where our sexuality has been turned upside down, the topic is more confusing them ever. Do children need both a father and a mother in the home? If not, why did God create both men and women to be so different? I am sure he had a good reason for creating the family the way he did. It made me wonder, what started this battle of the sexes and what was God’s original plan. 

We have to go back to Genesis to see the root cause of our troubles. When God created A-dam (the man) in the garden, he noticed he was lonely, and no suitable mate could be found.

So, God gave him a little anesthetic and created, Eve (a Women), for Adam from his side (Scripture says from a rib). (Genesis 2:21)

When the angel, Lucifer, saw how much time God was spending with his new creation, he became angry and jealous. So, Lucifer disguised himself as a snake and tempted the couple with fruit from the forbidden tree in the garden. (Ezekiel 28:11-19 and Luke 10:18 fill in the back story)

We know that both Adam and Eve ate the fruit and then they lied about it, to God. The first sin was born and the people and the world was changed forever. But here is what I want you to notice…God created Eve to be Adam’s equal. They were equal in value, dignity, and in worth. Together, they were the perfect couple. There was trust, love, honor, and respect. They were equal heirs to the Kingdom of God. They complimented one another.

Adam recognized the tremendous gift and worth of a woman. The first man saw the queen inside of her. She was to be coveted, protected, and cherished. Along with his relationship with God, she completed the balance of his life. With his work and relationships, Adam had purpose and love.

This woman was not something to be used or abused. She was not to be tossed aside; she was his crowning glory. Together they subdued the earth, cared for and ruled over creation, and would start a family. She was not a competitor to overcome but rather, a companion to walk with on his journey. Proverbs 12:4a reads, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.”

She was not a threat to his ego, but a helper for whatever was needed in a time of crisis. She was God’s gift to Adam and the world and helped establish that all God had created was Very Good. But ‘The Fall of Mankind’ drove a wedge between us and God. Scripture says it also separated us from the earth and the animals. Finally, it caused the division between men and women. Sin kept us from felling unified with one another. That was the devil’s plan from the beginning; he was trying to tear apart God’s creation.

That wedge has laid the seeds of male chauvinism, sexual harassment, demeaning comments, and jokes, abuse of all kinds (physical, sexual, and emotional), downplaying housewives, and marital unfaithfulness.

As Faithful Christians, we are to work at restoring a right relationship with God and each other. We need to keep that first model, God’s perfect plan between males and females, as our focus.

No one does that better in the Bible than Pricilla and Aquila. Pricilla and Aquila were a first century Christian missionary couple described in Acts and are traditionally listed among the first Seventy Disciples. They have been called the most famous couple in the Bible since they are mentioned 7 times, always as a couple and never individually. You can find them mentioned, 4 times in Acts 18, and they are found in Romans, 1 Corinthians and finally in 2 Timothy. Here is their story…

While in Corinth, Paul met a Jew named Aquila, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Pricilla, because Claudius in 52 AD had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker, as they were, he stayed and worked with them.

Their tents were made of rough goat’s hair fabric, which took great skill to cut and sew properly. It was a job always in demand, since many Hebrews had tents that needed repair. And it was a great way to remain inconspicuous, while Paul shared the gospel on the side.

Even in Corinth, teaching and preaching about Jesus could get you thrown out of the synagogue. Many people resisted and some might report them to the authorities. So, they began teaching in homes, Titus Justus was one of the first to invite them in. (Acts 18:7)

Paul stayed on in Corinth with them for about 18 months. Then he left and sailed for Ephesus, accompanied by Pricilla and Aquila. They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul eventually left them there as he went on to Caesarea. In Ephesus, Pricilla and Aquila met a man named Apollos, from Alexandria, who spoke boldly in the synagogue. Apollos was a learned man, who knew his scriptures. But he knew more about John the Baptist and his prediction of the coming Messiah, than he did about Jesus.

When Pricilla and Aquila heard him, they were so impressed, they invited him into their home for dinner. Once he was there, they explained to him, the work of God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Pricilla and Aquila may not have been accomplished public speakers, but they were diligent students of the word, and they loved to share it with others. Mind you, they had a year and a half with Paul, listening, questioning, and mastering the life of Jesus. They were willing to invest the time necessary, to take one young man under their spiritual care and pour into his life, the things of Jesus Christ. It created a life-long bond between them.

As a result, of this encounter with Aquila and Pricilla, Apollos became a more effective servant of God whom some of the Corinthians later placed on a level with Peter and Paul.

Scripture says Pricilla and Aquila risked their lives for others and that their home became a ‘house church’ for sharing the Gospel. (1 Corinthians 16:19)

Here are some facts I want you to notice…

1) They worked together, ministered together, and are always mentioned together; they were a true model of a Christian couple. Of those seven times mentioned in scripture, five times Pricilla’s name is mentioned first. That is very unusual in their day, because it was the custom to list the husband’s name first. This reversal indicates Pricilla’s importance in the minds of the New Testament writers. Some even suggest that she was the real evangelist.

On a basic level, it does indicate that Pricilla was not teaching as a secondary partner, under the ‘covering’ of her husband’s spiritual authority. They were equal in status and practice. She wasn’t off in the kitchen while the men talked. There was respect in their home and Pricilla was a leader as well.

2) They knew what they believed. They studied their Scriptures and were some of the first theologians. They were willing to mentor younger people of the faith and challenge them. They kept God first in their relationship, and they had the right priorities. They surrounded themselves with good people of the faith and stayed strong in the synagogue. They prayed together, worked together, and remained committed to one another.

3) Finally, they shared all that they had with others. They were giving and compassionate. They raised money for Paul and for Apollos. They were hospitable and even opened their home to travelers and as a safe shelter for other Christians.

They learned to trust each other, support each other, and remain open to the call of the Spirit even in a world that was openly hostile to Christians and women of faith. To find a clergy couple so equally matched was very rare, if not impossible.

As Christians, I think we need to learn to put the battle of the sexes behind us. Acts 2:17 reminds us, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”

Paul gives us this insight in Ephesians 5:25 -28, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So, husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself…”

On this morning we need to recognize and bear witness to God’s purpose for us, as men, in relation to women. God’s intent was for men to be blessed with their presence. I think that is why Saint Augustine called wives ‘our better half’ way back in 397 AD.

God gave Adam a wonderful gift in Eve. Women are a joy and the perfect companion to men, and that is what God intended. While I may not be perfect, I know I have been blessed with Cindy. I married up! I am better because she is in my life. I am also blessed to still have my mother. I am honored to have two beautiful daughters (And a son). They keep my faith fresh with challenging questions and honest debate.

I learned so much from my grandmothers and aunts. They are the reason I have the faith. Without women in my life, I simply would not be the same person.

I hope you can look at the women in your life and say the same thing. And I pray that each day, we continue to appreciate them just a little more.

Your assignment is…to thank the women in your life and to do everything you can to love them and honor them. Call them, visit them, send cards, send flowers, or just thank God for them if they are gone.

And, if there is a separation between you and the women in your life…forgive them. Seek reconciliation, if possible. The only one that wants division is Satan. And he has already done too much damage.

Make this a day to honor women.         Happy Mother’s Day.

“And all God’s People said, Amen”