Monday, December 27, 2010

2011 Project - Paint The Pump

There is an old Chinese proverb that says: Insanity is doing the same thing in the same way, and expecting a different outcome. If that's true, then I think it's safe to say that former U.S. President Harry Truman was not insane.

While reading David McCullough's biography of Truman, I came across a humorous incident that occurred in Truman's younger years. It seems that young Harry was afraid of the dark. McCullough writes:

"Coming home alone in the dark, he [Harry] could get 'scared to an icicle'...He was afraid of getting knocked on the head by the hoboes who hung about at the point where he changed trains at Kansas City, fearful of both ghosts and hoboes as he made his way home on foot from the Grandview depot on nights when there was no moon."

I especially enjoyed this part of the story, as McCullough continues:

"Once approaching the house in the pitch dark, groping his way to the kitchen door, he [Harry] walked headlong into the pump. The next day, he painted the pump white."

For Harry, running into the pump once was enough. This nonsense was going to stop - and it was going to stop now!

As we close out another year and look ahead to another, can you think of any pumps in your life that need to be painted?

As I recall, it was during the summer of 1982, on a Wednesday evening. Kathryn, Kandi and I were headed to church and I had the radio tuned to the local Christian when a minister began to expound upon a familiar verse in Hebrews:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us... (Heb 12:1)

On that evening, the Holy Spirit used the minister's words to help me to identify my pump.

You see, I loved to read, but I was spending most of my time reading about the music and entertainment world (People, Rolling Stone, etc.), and wasn't spending anytime reading the Bible. I had been a Christian for over a year at that time, but I wasn't growing. I kept running into the same besetting sin.

So that evening, by the grace of God, I painted the pump. Don't misunderstand - I've had to do some touch-up work along the way, and there have been other pumps to paint, (and I'm sure there'll be even more!). But by the grace of God I haven't run into that same one again.

As we close out 2010, perhaps we should pray in this manner:

All-seeing, All-knowing Father: help me to identify the sins that I keep running into again and again, the things which are preventing me from making progress in the Christian race. Grant me the grace, the spiritual strength and determination, to deal with these besetting sins, to repent, and yield myself to You that You may continue the work You began in me - conforming me into the image of Your dear Son. Amen.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

You Can't Outrun the Fallout - Find Shelter Immediately!

I had always assumed that a nuclear attack was not survivable. It appears I was wrong.

It's hard to imagine a more horrible scenario than that of a nuclear detonation. According to the White House's Planning Guidance for Response to a Nuclear Detonation, by-standers miles away would witness a 100-mph fireball shooting five miles into the sky. Sun-surface heat, hyper-explosive pressures and 900-mph winds would level buildings for half a mile. Between 50,000 and 100,000 people would vanish in smoke and flame. Fallout would rain down for hundreds of miles.

How does anyone survive such devastation? Somehow, Tsutomu Yamaguchi did – twice! On August 6, 1945, Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima, Japan on a business trip. At 8:15 in the morning, a U.S. bomber dropped an atomic bomb on the city, which killed 140,000 people. Yamaguchi, face and arms burned, hearing damaged, and suffering temporary blindness, somehow lived. The next day Yamaguchi traveled to his home town, 190 miles away. His home city was Nagasaki. If you know your history you're aware that on August 9th, another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing some 70,000 people. Once again, however, Yamaguchi was not one of them.

Yamaguchi wasn't the only one to survive. Although 210,000 died in the bombing, some 260,000 people actually survived the blasts. But how?

On July 8, 2010, leaders of a dozen state, local and federal agencies took part in a simulated L.A County security exercise code-named Operation Golden Phoenix. One of the things they learned from the exercise was that a big-city nuke attack is a survivable event. It all comes down to shelter.

Without any shelter for 24 hours, 285,000 caught in an L.A. blast would develop radiation sickness or die. Just getting into a wood-frame house could save 160,000 people. Shelter in place - that's the single biggest message. Radioactive fallout, which is the greatest danger, passes in six to 24 hour's. And since you can't outrun radioactive fallout, find shelter and remain there.

When you think about it, there are many other types of fallout in life. There's a marriage that has imploded, and there is the fallout of angry words and distrust. There's a loss that has broadsided you followed by the fallout of grief and regret. There's a friendship that has blown apart and the fallout of confusion is falling all around you. Your son or daughter has made decisions that have shattered your heart and the fallout of perceived failure on your part is showering down upon you. What's a person to do? Take shelter.

Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! (Ps 61:4)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Ps. 46:1)

It's comforting to know that the God of the universe has revealed Himself as a shelter.

It's impossible to eliminate fallout while living in a broken creation, however, there is a well-proven shelter we can run to – our Triune God. Remember – you can't outrun the fallout, so find shelter and remain there.

Pastor Van

Friday, December 3, 2010

This Advent -Celebrating the Coming of Our Advocate

I'm ashamed to admit it, but in my pre-teen years I had a very foul mouth. A boy named Gary, the neighborhood bully and three years older than me, lived next door to me and my family and he always threatened to tell my dad about my well-hidden sin.  Many Sunday mornings he would stand in his driveway as we loaded up for church, smiling his devilish smile, and say, "Good morning Mr. Morris."   I was petrified.  I'll never know why, but Gary never did tell on me.

In the Old Testament book of Zechariah 3:1-10, Joshua the high priest stands before God's tribunal in heaven.  Defiled, like me, his filthy garments exposed his guilty heart.  Like Gary, who threatened to accuse me before my father, Satan, the ultimate accuser, was standing ready to accuse Joshua.  Yet the Lord rebukes Satan and commands that Joshua's stained clothing be replaced by spotless festal robes - a preview of a deep cleansing to come, when God's servant the Branch arrives.

During this Advent season, leading up to Christmas when the Church celebrates the incarnation, I'm sure you'll join me in celebrating the fact that our Advocate; the Lord Jesus Christ has come.  The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:33-34

Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Who will bring any charge against God's elect?  No one praise God!  Not even Gary.

Pastor Van




Friday, August 13, 2010

C.C.C. and Eat, Pray and Love

Did you know that Calvary Christian Center and the new movie Eat, Pray and Love have something in common?  The movie (which I don't plan to see), opens August, Friday 13th, starring Julia Roberts.  There's been a lot of hoopla surrounding its release, so I thought I'd read up a bit.

One reviewer called the movie, which is based on the book by the same title, a, "A thin story, on paper as well as on screen." It's story about a privileged, 30-something woman who ends her marriage for vague reasons and decides to get in touch with her true self. She begins her journey, supported by a $200k book advance, in Italy first, for the cuisine; then it's on to India to meditate and then on to Bali in Indonesia to find love.

It's the Bali connection that C.C.C. shares with the movie.  Back in 2009, C.C.C. partnered with Faith Comes by Hearing to provide the New Testament on a Proclaimer, a digital player dedicated to playing God's Word, in this case, in the Balinese language.  We raised $6,000 to provide Proclaimers  for reading groups in small villages throughout Bali.  

It's our continued prayer that the Balinese people find love in Bali as well – the love of God in Jesus Christ!

Pastor Van

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Purchasing Access or Receiving Access

It must be tough being a Duchess these days.  I didn't realize that the financial benefits were so measly that one would have to resort to selling access to your former husband, the Prince!  Poor Fergie.  If she just could have lived a hundred years ago she wouldn't have had to worry about video and Internet technology.  Now the whole world can view her, caught in the act of offering to sell access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, in return for 500,000 pounds (about $724,000).

Don't misunderstand me.  I'm certainly not throwing any stones.  I think I can understand why Fergie would do such a thing.  I remember as a teenager when I realized that my older cousin was married to Bill Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys.  Why I'd have been more than happy to sell access.  Twenty bucks would have worked for me!  Before I have any takers I must sadly report that they are divorced.  Hey…wait a minute, that didn't stop Fergie!"

Actually this small nugget of news reminded me of something precious.  I'm sure there would be many who would and have paid to gain access to a famous person.  How about access to God?  How about having access to His mercy and His listening ear?  There are many who try to earn such through a transaction.  They offer their good works, their best efforts, in hopes that God will accept them.  But according to the Bible access to God is not something we pay to receive.  It's already been paid for:

For through him [Jesus Christ] we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Eph 2:18)

Jesus didn't come and try to sell us access to the Father.  Instead, He paid the price for access at the cost of His own life.  And if you want to catch Him making this transaction you won't find it on a video on the Internet – you'll have to look to the cross at Calvary.

Pastor Van


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Babies and Their Creator

In September of 2009 I began preaching through the New Testament book of Romans.  In chapter two of Romans we noted that we have been endowed by our Creator with a sense of right and wrong.  Recently, I ran across an article that I considered to be thought provoking, so I want to share it with you.

Pastor Van

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I'm Pulling For The Nice Guy

Opening day for baseball was yesterday.  Now I'm not a huge fan of baseball, but this year I'm going to keep a closer watch, especially on the National League – particularly on the St. Louis Cardinals.

Yes, I know that most people around this area most likely will pull for the Cincinnati Reds, but not me.  I'm pulling for the Cardinals.

My reason is very simple – Trevor Miller is a relief pitcher for the Cardinals.  Trevor and his wife Pari were once members at C.C.C., back when Trevor was, interestingly, signed with the Reds.  Sadly they had to leave us, when Trevor moved on to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Someone told me they recently heard a baseball commentator speak of Trevor, saying that he was known as "the nicest guy in baseball."  Wow!  What a compliment.  And from what I remember of Trevor, I would have to agree 100%.  The Miller's were and still are a dear family.

And by the way, here's an opening day highlight – Cardinals 11, Reds 6.

Pastor Van

Easter 2010

We set the target, we aimed, and we hit it – and then some!  Our goal at C.C.C. was to have 500 in attendance for our Easter services this year, and at the end of the day we had a grand total of 529 – praise the Lord!

This is a great tribute to our congregation, for we would not have reached our goal without their diligent effort.  Many within our church family have been inviting friends and family members for weeks.  Simply put, our success was not the result of a brilliant publicity campaign, nor was it the result of a community mail-out campaign (though I think there is nothing wrong with that approach), rather, our success was the result of our dear people inviting people.

O how I thank God for our caring people.

Pastor Van

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Sin Beneath the Sin of Hypocrisy

This month the hunt for the Air France jet that disappeared in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean last year will resume.  However, it's not going to be all that easy to find, considering that the area where the plane went down is up to 13,000 feet deep.  That's why an armada of the world's most advanced underwater robots are being used in the search, leading some involved in the project to say, "If it's in there, they'll find it."

Wouldn't it be great if hypocrisy was that hard to find?  But it's not – is it?  It's not that difficult to detect when one is pretending one thing while in fact practicing something contradictory.  The question is, however, why does one behave hypocritically?  What is the sin beneath the sin of hypocrisy?  Why is driving hypocritical behavior?

The New Testament, in particular the words of Jesus, are very helpful in answering our question.  For example, he warned his disciples about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees:

"…he began to say to his disciples first, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." (Luke 12:1)

The Pharisees were among the religious leaders of Jesus' day, and he warned his disciples to beware of the leaven (the corruptive influence) of the Pharisees – which was hypocrisy.  There it is for all too see, Pharisees pretending one thing while in fact practicing something contradictory.  But what's driving such sinful behavior?  Let's make it more personal – what drives our hypocritical behavior?  Jesus tells us:

"They do all their deeds to be seen by others." (Matt 23:5)

There it is!  Send all the robots home, we don't need them, Jesus has discovered and revealed for us the sin beneath the sin of hypocrisy – it is valuing the praise of man over the praise of God.  We enjoy the honor and praise of men so much that we will work overtime to keep up an outward show, all the while concealing the inner disposition of our heart.

For many who hear the gospel message and begin to take a closer look at Christianity, they are put off by the hypocrisy of some who profess the faith.  If you're one of those people, what is the remedy?  How can we keep from getting caught in the vicious circle described by Kenneth Bailey? :  "Law-keepers often condemn lawbreakers as 'sinners'.  Lawbreakers generally look at law-keepers and shout 'hypocrites.'"  So what must we do?

We must be like the woman who came to the house of Simon the Pharisee, to wash the feet of Jesus with her tears (Luke 7:36-50).  Her total focus was upon Jesus.  May that be our focus as well.

Pastor Van Morris

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


On Sunday mornings at C.C.C. I've been preaching through the book of Romans, and recently we looked at St. Paul's statement in chapter two, verse 16:

"…on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus." (Rom 2:16)

It appears that God's ability to discover "secrets" is being put to the test.

A new iPhone application called the TigerText allows users to set a time limit for a text to hang around after it has been read.  When the life span has been exceeded, the message will disappear from the recipient's phone, the sender's phone and any servers.

In addition, those who need an even more comprehensive way to cover up their mis-deeds, the "delete history" option will eliminate any evidence of a given phone call. No more getting caught by the old "press redial" routine.

Just think, if this works cheating spouses can relax, knowing their "secret" is safely suppressed.  They can now move about freely, destroying their family and others.  Teens who are in to "sexting" can expose themselves without fear of their youthly indiscretions coming back to haunt them later in life.

So for now we can all breath easier.  There is, however, one final test as to the effectiveness of this device - Judgment Day.  So we'll have to wait and see.

Pastor Van



Monday, February 15, 2010

What's Your Worldview?

What is your worldview?  How clear is it?  Are you seeing what you need to see?

My wife and I took our granddaughters , ages 12 and 10, to a Titanic exhibition at the Louisville Science Center.  On display were 150 items brought up from the ocean floor of the chilly, northern Atlantic where the "unsinkable" Titanic sank.  There were stories of those who survived, as well as the sad stories of those who perished in the wee hours of April 15, 1912.

Being a student of history, and being especially interested in this particular oceanic disaster, I was listening and observing very carefully.  One of the details mentioned during the exhibit was the fact that Titanic's lookouts had no binoculars, thus severely limiting their view.

This particular detail reminded me of something I had read earlier in my own amateur research of the Titanic's demise.  Years ago I had purchased an original newspaper, the Tri-Weekly Gazette and Bulletin from Williamsport, Pa., dated April 24, 1912.  On the front page was the latest news concerning the disaster.  The main title read: "FATAL BERG SEEN AND REPORTED BY TITANIC LOOKOUT".  The additional sub-title read: "Would Have Discovered it If Provided With Glasses as Customary."

The story covered the Senate Committee investigation into the sinking of the Titanic, especially the testimony of one witness.

Fredrick Fleet was one of the lookouts on the  doomed liner.  Fleet acknowledged that if he had been aided in his observations by a good glass he probably could have spied the berg into which the ship crashed, in time to have warned the bridge to avoid it.  Fleet added they had, "...asked for them (binoculars) at Southampton and were told there were none for them.  One glass, in a pinch, would have served in the crow's nest."

Fleet also testified that he saw, "...a large black mass...about the size of two large tables."  However, amazingly, the iceberg Titanic struck was actually 50 to 60 feet high.

Could it be that the limited view of Titanic's lookouts resulted in the loss of over 1,500 lives?

Can a limited or obscured worldview also lead to a much more serious disaster?

By worldview I mean the platform on which we choose to stand and from which we look out and see the world.  Author Nancy Pearcy defines worldview as, "a mental map that tells us how to navigate the world effectively."  Worldview is the vantage point from which to see what Emile Cailliet called "the landscape of reality."

A person's worldview can be derived from any kind of ideology or influence.  For example, some view their life as originating from mere chance, the result of Darwinian natural selection.  Others, however, view their lives as creatures created by God in His image - creatures who must one day give account to their Creator.  These are two, totally opposing views.  Let's say, for the sake of consideration, that perhaps the second view is true, that we are all on a journey headed toward the Berg of God's judgment.  If the worldview we hold doesn't enable us to see this and to prepare for it, then our worldview is limited, it's impaired, it's insufficient.  And the result is we will crash headlong into God's judgment unprepared - and great will be our loss.

There is, however, hope.  The Gospel is the good news, the announcement that a new relationship with God is available by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Jesus took the judgment of God in our place on the cross.  Our sins were placed upon Him; He took our punishment that we may in turn have His righteousness placed to our account; He was raised from the dead for our justification.  Through Christ, the Berg of God's judgment has been dealt with.

Does your worldview include this hope?  If not, your worldview is severely limited.

Pastor Van Morris       


Friday, January 15, 2010

What You Need If You Have A Screw Loose

On a recent visit to the Gordon Food Service DC in Shepherdsville, Ky. where I make a weekly visit as a chaplain, after going through some stretching exercises with the maintenance department, one the guys reminded his co-workers that due to the continual operation of the machinery the entire warehouse was constantly vibrating.  He continued to tell them that this could result in screws and bolts gradually becoming loose, and in some cases possibly backing out all together.  This of course could potentially lead to a dangerous situation so he encouraged everyone to be on the lookout.

This got me thinking.  We live in a broken, imperfect world that is in need of constant maintenance.  Things come loose and need to be tightened up.  Constant vigilance is required to avoid and prevent accidents.

I remember reading about a man named Asaph who was coming undone.  He wrote about his experience in Psalm 73.  Asaph was a devout follower of the God of Israel.  He was deeply convinced of God's goodness to His people.  However, Asaph began to notice the prosperity of the wicked.  They had no interest in and no devotion to God - and in spite of this they were doing quite well.  

Asaph couldn't believe what he was seeing.  He couldn't understand it, it made no sense to him.  Asaph even began to question his own devotion to God.  Asaph was coming undone.  He needed some maintenance.  Asaph needed to be tightened up - but how?  Let's look:

But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.( Ps 73:16-17)

Asaph came to worship, and it was there that the Spirit of God began to drive down the truth of God's Word deep into Asaph's soul.  What the agitation of a life lived in a fallen world had worked loose, the worship of God had tightened up.

If you feel like you're coming undone (at times we all do!); if  the world has shaken you so severely that you're not seeing things clearly; I encourage you - come in for some spiritual maintenance.  Come and worship God together with God's people.   

Pastor Van