Ponderings of the Preacher...

June 15, 2021

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     This coming Sunday is Father’s Day, a day that has been set aside to honor fathers.  One of God’s greatest gifts to us is family.  We appreciate the earthly families that we have and if you can say thank you to your dad and express your love to him, then I encourage you to do so.  We as Christians are a part of a spiritual family and we have a wonderful Heavenly Father.  Don’t forget to tell Him thank you for His blessings and to express your love to Him.  Do we really appreciate the fact that we have been adopted into His family and that we are able to call Him “Father”?

     Professional boxer George Foreman has five sons. Their names are George Jr., George III ("Monk"), George IV ("Big Wheel"), George V ("Red"), and George VI ("Little Joey").  Some people have accused Foreman of being egocentric, but Foreman explained his reasoning.  He never knew who his father was.  He was often picked on and shamed for not having a father at home.  He grew up with a hole in his identity, never knowing who he really was.  He has dedicated himself to being a better father to his sons.  By giving them all his name, he intended to give them the gift of identity.  As their father he was claiming them proudly as his own.  Our Heavenly Father proudly calls us His sons and daughters!  What a blessing!

     Christian writer Faye Neff remembered a time when he wanted to call his father by his first name.  He thought it meant that their relationship was taking on a more adult tone.  His father didn’t object at all, but he did point out something significant to Faye.  He said, “You can call me by my first name if you like.  There are hundreds of people who do.  But there are only three people in the world who can call me Dad.  Which name do you think carries more weight?”

     Consider this: we have the privilege of calling the Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, Father.  What an incredible privilege. 

     I hope to see each of you this coming Sunday morning.

                                                                                                          C U N   Church,


June 1, 2021

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     In my last “Ponderings”, I shared with you the announcement that I had made concerning my retirement.  In this column, I would like to share with you an important prayer request.  Please be praying for our congregation as preparations will be made to call a new senior minister to this field of service.  This is not a minor undertaking.  The task that God has assigned our congregation to accomplish is large, difficult and of utmost importance.  The new senior minister will be leading you and working with you to accomplish that mission.

     The one prayer request that I mentioned actually is composed of many parts.  The following list is certainly not all inclusive but hopefully it will help you be more specific in your prayers.

     1. Pray that our congregation will remain united and continue to demonstrate love for God, each other and our community.

     2. Pray that God would open our eyes to the work that He would want our congregation to be doing here within this community.  Pray that God would help us see how we might be able to reach our community for Christ.

     3. Pray that God would show us through His Word the general character that a man of God is to possess and demonstrate.  Pray that we would also be able to understand what the Scriptural duties and responsibilities of a senior minister are.

     4. Pray for the leaders of our congregation as they lead you in the search and selection of the new senior minister.  Pray that they will be able to be of one mind and submissive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in this process.

     5. Be praying for the next senior minister whoever he might be that God would begin preparing him for leading our congregation.  Also be praying for his family (if applicable) that they would be supportive of him and able to become a part of this church family.

     There are many other requests that can be made but these are some basic ones. 

     I hope to see you on Sunday and be able to greet each of you personally.

                                                                                                        C U N   Church,



May 18, 2021

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Yesterday following our morning worship service, I announced to the congregation my retirement plans.  Many of you were not present, so I thought it would be good to print that announcement in the newsletter so that you might be able to read it yourself and not just hear it second hand from someone else.

     About six weeks ago, it was announced that I had finished my 13th year as senior minister here at First Christian Church.  During those 13 years, we have experienced good times and bad times.  We have seen new members come and old members leave either by death or by choice.  The face of the congregation has changed during those 13 years.  I have tried to be the servant of Christ during those 13 years attempting to preach the word of God to be instant in season and out of season.  Not only have I completed 13 years of service with FCC, I have also completed 47 years in the preaching ministry.  During those 47 years the methods of ministry have changed drastically.  When I first started in ministry, there were no computers, no copy machines, no cell phones, no social media.  It is interesting to me that I struggle more today to write 1 sermon than I did 40 years ago to write 2 sermons, a Sunday School lesson, youth group lesson, print a bulletin and publish a newsletter.  After much prayer and consideration, I have decided that it is time for me to retire from the full time vocational ministry.  My retirement will commence on April 1, 2022.  Until that time, I will continue to serve as the senior minister working with the elders to make the transition from my ministry to the next senior minister as smooth as possible.  I will continue to be active in ministering to the needs of this congregation.  I ask for you to continue to pray for Irma and me as we begin a new chapter in our life.  We love you all.  You are our Christian family and you are precious to us.  I ask for you to continue to pray for the eldership of this church as they begin the process of searching for a new senior minister.  Please give them your support in the coming months.

     I hope to see each of you this coming Lord’s Day morning when we come together for worship.

                                                                                                                  C U N   Church,


May 4, 2021

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday.  In honor of all mothers and those ladies without children who have had a motherly influence on many kids, I dedicate my column.

     Several years ago, Gigi Graham, daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham, wrote the following about her mother:

     My first impression of Jesus was my mother.  I could have sung this song, “Jesus love me, this I know, for my mother shows me so.”

     Mother never considered it a sacrifice to stay home with us children.  We were full of life and quite a handful, though she never complained.  I think at times that it must have been difficult knowing that her husband was traveling the world, meeting interesting people, seeing exciting places, and doing what many considered a great work for the Lord.  She must have now and then felt “confined” to the mountains of North Carolina, with five small children and all that this entailed.  I never realized just how hard this must have been until I had my seven.  Mother has often been asked how she raised us with Daddy being gone so much of the time.  Her immediate replay has always been, “On my knees.”

     Those words remind me of the two mothers that have played such an important role in my life.  First of all, I would mention my wonderful wife, Irma.  I can’t count the number of times that I was gone and Irma was left at home taking care of our kids.  She undoubtedly would like to have been with me on many of those occasions but she stayed home with our children.  Both of our children are followers of Jesus and I owe a debt of gratitude to Irma for the impact she has had on both of them!  Thank you sweetheart!  Young mothers, please remember that you have a once in a lifetime opportunity to influence your child for Jesus.  When you are caring for your children, you are involved in a vital ministry.

     Second of all, I would mention my own mother.  I won’t mention the countless meals she prepared and the clothes she washed.  I do want to mention the Bible stories she read to me and the Sunday School and VBS lessons she taught.  The knowledge I have of the Bible did not come from a Bible College education but from a godly mother who taught me and who exposed me to opportunities to learn from God’s Word.  Thank you Mom!

     Praise God for Christian mothers, grandmothers, and women!  You are and have been a blessing to our world and to the church.

     I hope to see you this coming Lord’s Day morning!

                                                                                                         C U N   Church,


April 18, 2021

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Yesterday was the 18th of April.  When I thought of that I was reminded of Longfellow’s poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”   The second line of that poem was “‘Twas the eighteenth of April of ’75 and hardly a man is now alive who remembers that famous day and year.”  Revere is given the credit for sounding the alarm to the people of Lexington and Concord that the British were coming.  In response to his message, the minutemen came out to face the British soldiers.  Minutemen were the colonial civilians who formed militia companies who would answer to the call to arms at a minute’s notice during the American Revolution.

     As Christians we are called to be minutemen and women.  We have been called by God to perform His service at a moment’s notice.  Are you a member of our Chain of Prayer?  If you are then throughout the course of the day you might be notified of a need and asked to pray for the individual and his/her particular need.  When you receive that call, you probably spend a moment asking for God’s help or a few minutes praying for that situation.  Romans 12:12 commands us to be “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.”  (King James Version) 

     Another situation in which we must be ready to respond instantly is sharing our faith.  Peter wrote, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).  Paul said it this way. “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2).

     One other time of which I can think that we must be ready at a moment’s notice is God’s call to us to leave this world.  Although death is certain, the time of our death is uncertain.  We do not know when God will call us home.  In order to be ready for that time, we must continually be making preparation.  I am thinking about our dear sister in Christ, Reenie Miller, who was suddenly and without notice called to go be with Her Lord.  Reenie was prepared although she did not know when God would call her home.  Knowing these things should encourage us to live each day as if it were our last one.

     I hope to see you this coming Lord’s Day morning as we come together for worship!

                                                                                                           C U N   Church,



April 6, 2021

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Easter 2021 is now history.  Thanks to everyone who helped make the celebration of the death and resurrection of our Lord an encouragement and inspiration to all of us.  Thanks to all who prayed during our Good Friday chain of prayer.  There were several who took more than one time slot.  I know that each person who participated was blessed.  Thanks to Martin for leading in the Good Friday worship service on Friday evening. 

     Sunday’s services were truly a blessing!  There were 30 people who attended the sunrise service.  What an amazing experience to be able to celebrate Christ’s resurrection while watching the sun rise above the horizon.  Thanks to Martin and Troy for sharing devotional thoughts and to Jane Ann for leading the music.  Thanks to the ladies who prepared casseroles for breakfast.   It was special being able to share a meal with your church family after a year when that was not possible.  What a great service the regular morning worship service was!

Praise God for the baptism of Lauren Rahn!  Thanks to the choir for sharing the 2 special musical numbers.  It was wonderful to see faces in our services that we hadn’t seen for many months.  Counting all of the different people who worshipped with us at both the sunrise service and the regular morning worship service, there were 101 different people.   It was a blessed day all the way around.

     As we come to the close of the Easter season, I want to share the words of the Apostle Paul found in 1 Corinthians 15:58.  “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

     I will be finishing the sermon series on “The Greatest Story Ever Told” based on Philippians 2:5-11 this coming Sunday.  I hope to see you then!

                                                                                                                     C U N   Church,




March 16, 2021

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Easter is three weeks away.  This Easter may be a little more like those we are accustomed to than what last Easter was during the pandemic.  With the different activities associated with Easter, it might be easy to lose sight of the true meaning of the “holiday.”  I hope the following story will help remind you of what Easter is all about.

     The story is about a 12 year old boy named Jeremy who was living with a terminal disease.  He seemingly was unable to learn and often seemed unable to comprehend what others were saying.  In order to make his life as normal as possible, Jeremy’s parents had enrolled him in a parochial school.  Although he was older, Jeremy was in second grade with 18 other children who did not have any learning disabilities.  The teacher of the class, Doris Miller, often was exasperated with Jeremy in the class.  Despite her frustration, Doris determined to do her best at reaching out to Jeremy as well as continuing to teach the other children.

     As spring approached, the children began to talk excitedly about Easter.  Doris told them the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and then to emphasize the idea of new life, she gave each child a large plastic egg.  She instructed them to take the egg home and bring it back the next day with something inside that showed new life.  She wondered if Jeremy understood and decided she should call his parents to make sure the assignment was understood.  However because of other issues, Doris completely forgot to call his parents.

     The next day at school, all of the children including Jeremy brought their egg back putting them in the basket on the teacher’s desk.  Following math class, it was time to discuss the eggs.

One egg held a flower, another one contained a plastic butterfly and still another a rock with moss on it – each demonstrating new life.  She explained how each of them showed new life.  The fourth egg had nothing in it at all.  Doris knew that must be Jeremy’s egg and in order to prevent embarrassment set it aside.  Before she could take the next egg from the basket, Jeremy spoke up.  “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?”  She responded, “But Jeremy, your egg is empty!”    The boy looked into her eyes and softly said, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty.”  When Doris was finally able to speak, she asked Jeremy if he knew why the tomb was empty.  “Oh yes!”  Jeremy went on to explain, “Jesus was killed and put in there.  Then his Father raised him up!”

     The recess bell rang and the children excitedly ran out to the playground.  Doris Miller cried.  All of the exasperation she had ever felt toward Jeremy disappeared.  Three months later, Jeremy died.  Those who paid their respects were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of the casket, all of them empty.  Many may have wondered at the meaning of those eggs but one teacher and 18 classmates understood completely.  Don’t forget – because the tomb is empty, we have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven.  John 11:26

                                                 C U N   Church,


March 1, 2021

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     The signs of spring are beginning to be visible everywhere.  Some of you have tulips, crocuses, and daffodils coming up.  Spring and summer clothing has made its appearance on the racks at the store.  I watched the first spring training baseball game on TV yesterday afternoon.  It won’t be long before grass will need mowed, gardens will be planted, and a host of other spring activities will begin.  Easter is only 5 weeks away.  Let me share with you a few of the activities that will be a part of our spring here at First Christian Church.

     I am encouraging you to join me in reading once again the story of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, the greatest story ever told.  I have compiled a reading schedule for you to follow that has the accounts broken up into very easily read segments.  If you did not pick up a copy of that schedule yesterday, it is available online on our website.

     The possibility of strong storms is always a part of the spring season here in the Midwest.  If a tornado would hit our city, how would we respond?  We are offering a workshop on Emergency Preparedness on Saturday, March 13 to equip us to be God’s hands and feet in case a disaster would occur.  Ed Sanow a representative from International Disaster Emergency Services (a mission we regularly support here at FCC) will present that workshop.  Everyone is invited to attend.  Check elsewhere in the newsletter for more information.

     On Palm Sunday, March 28, the children will present a program that is a continuation of the Christmas program.  It is entitled, “An Easter Letter to the Son.”  If you were blessed by the Christmas program, you will certainly be blessed by the Easter program.

     On Good Friday, April 2, we are inviting you to join us in our annual Good Friday Prayer Service.  A sign-up sheet will soon be available for you to sign and be a part of a time of continual prayer from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.  For those who have never participated in this activity, you will commit to a 15 minute time segment of prayer.  More details will be available soon.

     On Easter Sunday, we will have a Sunrise Service.  Weather permitting; we will have this service outside.  The sun rises at 6:34 on April 4, so the tentative time to begin the service is 6:15.  The theme of the service is “Because He Lives, I Can …” I am looking for different individuals who might be willing to share their testimony based upon that theme.  What could you share with you church family based upon that statement?  Because Jesus lives, I can ________________________.  You fill in the blank.  Let me know if you would like to share a short testimony at that service.  We are also organizing a choir to present special music at both that service and at the regular worship service held at 10 a.m.  Let me know if you would like to be a part of that choir and able to sing at one or both of those services.

     Have a great week and I hope to see you Sunday!

                                                       C U N   Church,



February 16, 2021

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     I am sitting at my desk looking out the window watching the snow fall.  Snow can be a problem but it truly is a beautiful thing to watch.  The Middle Eastern climate in which many of the events of the Bible occurred was not conducive for a lot of snow.  The words “snow, snows, and snowy” appear 23 different times in the New International Version of the Bible.  The Bible teaches us that God is the ultimate source of our weather including snow.

Job 37:6 – He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth,” and to the rain shower, “Be a mighty 


Psalms 147:15-16 – He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.  He spreads the 

                    snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.

Snow is a part of God’s plan for providing moisture for the earth.

Isaiah 55:10 – As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it

                     without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed

                     for the sower and bread for the eater.

More than half of the times when snow appears in the Bible, it is used in a comparative sense  and not as a condition of the weather.  Three different times the appearance of leprosy is described as white like snow.  Two different times clothing was described as being white as snow. 

     My favorite way that snow is used in comparing it to something else is when it is used to describe how my sins are forgiven.  David in Psalms 51:7 begged for God’s forgiveness.  “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”  The Lord promised forgiveness in Isaiah 1:18.  “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.  “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”  A vacant lot can have a lot of debris scattered across it but when a snowfall occurs, those blemishes disappear from our sight.  Instead of a trashy yard, you have a beautiful landscape.  Even as snow covers over many blemishes in nature, so the blood of Christ covers my sins and makes me pure in the sight of God.  Thank you God for the snow and thank you God for the blood of Jesus that makes me white as snow?

                                                                                                               C U N   Church,




February 2, 2021

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Today we are celebrating one of the big holidays of the year – Groundhog Day.  The first official celebration of Groundhog Day occurred in 1887.  If any of you don’t know the significance of the day, let me explain.  If the groundhog comes out of its burrow and sees its shadow, it means there will be 6 more weeks of winter.  If it comes out of its burrow and doesn’t see its shadow, then it signifies an early spring.  Although I don’t see it as a part of the tradition, I wonder if the groundhog, afraid of its own shadow, is scared back into its burrow.  Is there any application for us as Christians in this “hallowed” tradition?  Maybe not, but I would like to make an application.  I received the following from a missionary friend of mine named Douglas Montague He used the turtle as the example but I would like to change that to groundhog in honor of the holiday.

     When we see all of the events that are transpiring around us, we can become a little frightened and unsettled.  Does God see what is happening?  Are things out of control?  Certainly our God is not asleep in relation to all the nations. He knows what is going on, and He is the living and active One, not passive, not unconcerned.  Yet a temptation for many saints is to imitate the lowly groundhog, which when it feels there is the slightest threat (its own shadow) nearby, to just pull itself back into its burrow.  It just waits, hoping for danger to pass by.  But we are not groundhogs.  We may at times feel like fearful Gideons.  But the testimony of Scripture says that our Lord took that fearful little man, and turned him into a fearless and bold leader of men to drive away the enemy.  There are still prayers to be prayed, Scripture to be read, saints to seek out for fellowship, churches that are not to be forsaken, and truth that must be quoted to the lost so that Jesus is lifted up to continue drawing them to Himself.  None of that has changed regardless of what has transpired upon the political stages of each and every nation.  And thankfully, our Lord Jesus was never elected to sit at the right hand of the Father. He is the King forever above all governments.  He will call all nations before Him one day to separate sheep from goats.  So let us keep our eyes on the prize, and that prize is the hope and promise that we shall one day cross over, and be welcomed into His glorious presence, and we shall see His smiling face. We shall live forever in His Kingdom where everything is righteous!

     I hope to see you this coming Sunday.  If you are unable to be with us in person, please join us online. 

                                                                                                        C U N   Church,



January 19, 2021

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     In 1903 Nicholas II who was the Russian Czar at that time noticed a sentry posted for no apparent purpose on the Kremlin grounds.  Upon inquiry, he discovered that in 1776 Catherine the Great found there the first flower of spring.  "Post a sentry here," she commanded, "so that no one tramples that flower under foot!"   For over 125 years a guard stood at that spot.  The purpose for that posted guard had long been forgotten but the practice continued for over a century.  It is a sad state of affairs when purpose is lost and forgotten.

     The Church of Jesus Christ must never forget its purpose.  This coming Sunday morning, we will be looking at Philippians 1:12-18.  In that passage, Paul talks about the purpose of the church and how he as an individual fitted in with that purpose.   Paul identified the purpose of the church as “advancing the gospel,” “speaking the word of God,” and “preaching Christ.”  When he saw that purpose being fulfilled, he rejoiced.  It may not have been in the way he envisioned it, but it was being accomplished and that brought him joy.

     Our purpose as a church must coincide with that God-given purpose revealed in the Bible.  Our purpose statement is as follows: “First Christian Church is a family of believers in Christ who loves God, one another, and our community called by God to restore the principles and practices of the New Testament Church.”  How are we doing in accomplishing our purpose?

     I look forward to sharing the message with you this Sunday and joining together with you in worship.  If you are not able to be present with us, then please join us online.

     Keep praying for our church, our community and our nation!

                                                                                                                     C U N   Church,


January 5, 2021

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Yesterday, the 117th Congress met for the first time.  New representatives and senators were sworn in to office.  The processes of our democratic republic continue.  One of the amazing things about the events yesterday in Washington was that the session was opened with prayer.

This is a long standing tradition and one that hopefully will continue for as long as our republic exists.

     I listened to the opening prayer offered by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver from Missouri.  I really appreciated his prayer and thought it was extremely applicable to the present situation faced by our nation.  However, I do not understand how he closed his prayer.   At the end of his prayer, he said “Amen” but then added “Awoman.”  Could it be that the honorable congressman not understanding what the word “Amen” means and in order to not be offensive toward women decided to give equal coverage to both genders?  I don’t believe it was ignorance of the word that motivated his misusage of it.  Not only is he a congressman but he is also an ordained United Methodist Minister.  You can listen to his prayer at https://www.foxnews.com/politics/rep-cleaver-ends-opening-prayer-for-new-congress-amen-and-awoman

     A few days ago, Nancy Pelosi introduced new House rules that she said will help the body become more inclusive. A 45-page package that will be voted on Monday (today) strips all mention of gender-specific pronouns and terms such as "man," "woman," "mother" and "son."

Perhaps the congressman from Missouri was lending his support to the Speaker’s proposed rule changes.  I don’t know his thoughts or motivation.  Congressman Cleaver can vote for that rule change, he can speak in favor of that rule change, he can lobby his fellow congressmen to support that rule change but using the time of prayer unwisely to promote that change is quite a different matter (if in fact that was what he was doing.)

     For your information, the word “Amen” is not a gender related word but simply means “let it be so.”  In regard to most of his prayer, I could have said “Amen” but I am not sure what I would have been saying if I had said “Awoman.”   In my opinion, It has no meaning other than promoting a political agenda.   Let’s be faithful to God’s Word regardless of cultural pressures we may face!

                                                                                                           C U N   Church,






December 1, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . . 

     I was disappointed that I was not able to be in church on Sunday.  I was really looking forward to sharing with you in a special thanksgiving service.  I had selected the songs to help us focus on the items I had mentioned in my sermon on November 22.  Praise God and be thankful to Him for His creation, His faithfulness, His plan and Heaven.  I trust that those of you who were able to be there were able to experience a great time of praise.

     The health experts had been encouraging us to have a "quiet" Thanksgiving.  Just exactly what is a "quiet" Thanksgiving?  I believe their intention was that everyone was to stay at home and celebrate on their own.  That sounds ok because to many people the Thanksgiving holiday is more of a passive event.  I mean, a typical Thanksgiving consists of sitting around the table and eating or sitting around the family room and watching TV (football or Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade).  We bow our heads and give thanks to God.  Is a quiet thanksgiving what God would have us to observe?

     Quiet is a word that actually has several shades of meaning.  It can mean uneventful.  If it is a quiet weather day, then that means there really aren't any major weather disturbances.  If you have a quiet wedding or celebration, then that might mean that the event is a private one.  In baseball, if the bats are quiet then that means there aren't many hits by the offense.  If the lake is quiet, there isn't any activity on the lake.  So, is that the kind of thanksgiving we are to celebrate?  No action, no noise, and private?  Not according to what we are taught in the Scriptures.

     In Psalms 105:1 we are told to "Give thanks to the Lord."  Are we to do that quietly or privately?  Just read the next several verses and you will be struck by all the action verbs.  We are to call on his name, make known among the nations what he has done, sing to him, tell of all his wonderful acts, glory in his holy name, look to the Lord, seek his face always, and remember the wonders he has done.  That is a lot of action!  How about silent thanksgiving?  I am reminded of the leper who was healed by Jesus.  He came back to Jesus and thanked Him "praising God in a loud voice." (Luke 17:15)

     Let's not allow thanksgiving to be restricted to only one day of the year.  Let gratitude and thanksgiving be a part of each day!

     I look forward to the next time I will be able to be with you.

                                                                                                                      C U N   Church,




November 17, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     The Duke of Wellington was the great British military leader who commanded the forces that defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.   His given name was Arthur Wellesley.  Following his career on the battlefield, Wellesley became Prime Minister of Great Britain.  He was a brilliant and demanding man.  As he grew older, he realized that there were areas in his life that needed to change.  In his old age a woman asked him this question, “What would you do differently if you had your life to live over again?”  He thought carefully and replied, “I would give more praise.”

     That is a good lesson for all of us to learn.  We should become a people of praise and thanksgiving.  Throughout the Bible we are taught to give thanks to God.  As we enter into this special season of Thanksgiving, I would like to share some ways to practice an attitude of thankfulness in our everyday life that I found on the internet.

     Thank and praise God for everything in your life.  That includes not only the good things but also the trials that we all go through.  “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15)

     Don’t allow yourself to complain about anything.  We can always find things to complain about, but when we complain we are emphasizing the negative.  Instead of complaining, let’s think of ways we can verbally offer God the sacrifice of thanksgiving.

     Don’t compare yourself with others.  When we compare ourselves with others, we always compare ourselves with those who seem to have more than we do or with those who seem to have it easier than we do.  It is never with those who have less or who are experiencing harder times.  When we begin to thank God for what we have rather than comparing ourselves with others, it opens the door for God’s blessings.

     God smiles when we praise and thank Him continually.  Few things feel better than receiving heartfelt praise and appreciation from someone else.  God loves it, too.  An amazing thing happens when we offer praise and thanksgiving to God.  When we give God enjoyment, our hearts are filled with joy.”  - Rick Warren

     May you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

                                                                                                                C U N   Church,


November 3, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .   

     This Tuesday which is Election Day, someone is going to get some bad news.  It doesn’t matter who wins the election, someone is going to be disappointed.  That someone could be you or me.  How do we handle bad news?

     “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. … He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.  His heart is secure, he will have no fear;” (Psalms 112:1b, 7-8a)

     There are a variety of responses that can be made to bad news.  When you receive bad news, you can fall apart and then make bad decisions.  You can try to lessen the impact of the news by using humor.  Or you can be like the man in Psalms 112 whose heart is steadfast and secure having no fear.  I don’t know about others but I want to be the man who has no fear when bad news comes.  The key to being able to do that is “trusting in the Lord.”

     If I am trusting in the Lord, then I will be praying.  When the prophet Daniel received the bad news that practicing his faith which specifically included praying was illegal, the first thing he did was pray (Daniel 6:10).  If I am trusting in the Lord, then I will be giving thanks for what I have – even if everything has been taken from me, I still have God.  Job was the recipient of some bad news.  He lost his flocks, herds, servants and his children but he still was trusting in God (Job 1:13-22).

     The lesson I learn then from this passage is keep trusting in God.  Throughout life, I will periodically get bad news but I don’t have to be afraid of bad news because God is still in charge.

     This is a preview of my sermon for this coming Sunday.  I hope that you will join us for our worship service either in person or online. 

                                                                                                                              C U N   Church,




October 20, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Before Jesus left this earth to return to the Father, He gave a specific command to His disciples.  We know that command as “The Great Commission.”  It is found in different forms in the gospel accounts and Acts (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:45-49; John 20:21; Acts 1:8).  The early church was obedient to the command of Jesus and sent missionaries out to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

     One of those churches that sent missionaries was the church at Antioch.  This church sent Paul and Barnabas out to share the message with those who did not know Christ (Acts 13:1-3).

Paul went on three of those missionary journeys (those are the ones we have record of in Acts).

A part of the process was that at the end of those journeys, the missionary would come back to the church and report on the progress of the work being done.  “From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.  On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14:26-27).  Other instances of this are recorded in Acts 18:22-23; 21:17-19.

     It is important for the ones who have been sent to share the good news with others to report to the ones who have sent them about the work being done.  That is what is happening right now during our Faith Promise Rally.  We are hearing about the work being done for Christ by the ones we have been supporting with our financial gifts.  I am happy to report that every one of our missionaries has sent a report to us.  When a church supports a missionary, the question is often asked, “Do we ever hear anything from them?”  Our missionaries are being faithful and responsible in the use of the money we have sent them. 

     Yesterday and next Sunday, you had and will have opportunity to hear what has been happening on their field of service.

     Please be praying this week concerning what God is challenging you to promise to give for the cause of world-wide missions during the coming year.

     I hope to see you this coming Sunday but if you are unable to join us in person, please watch the services online.

                                                                                                            C U N   Church,


October 5, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     God continues to pour His blessing out on our congregation!  We have been able to have our in-person worship services for a period of four months.  This seems like a small matter but after going 11 weeks without being able to come together in worship (March 22 – May 31), the privilege of being able to assemble as a church becomes a much bigger blessing!  During that period (June 7 – October 4) we have averaged 55 in attendance.  There have been over 100 different people who have come to worship with us.  What a blessing!  This doesn’t count the number of people who continue to watch our services on the internet.  I hope the pandemic has made each of us realize what a blessing it is to be able to go to church.

     Two things normally happen in October in the life of our church.  Due to the Covid-19 crisis, one of those things will go on but just in a little different fashion and the other one will not go on.  We have been holding our Faith Promise Rally in October for the five years.  During our rally we hear reports from our missionaries concerning the work they have been doing in their respective fields of service.  Our missionaries have often been present to personally share those reports.  This year it will be a little different.  They will not physically be present but several have sent videos that will share with us what has been going on with their mission.  On October 25, we will be asking you to make a promise in faith to share financial gifts over and above your regular giving to help support the work of our missionaries.  Please be praying about what God is asking you to share for the work He is doing around the world.

     The event that normally happens in October is our Treat Town.  Because of the crowded conditions and our inability to sanitize our facilities during the event, treat town has been cancelled for 2020.

     In November we will be preparing shoe boxes to send to children around the world in Operation Christmas Child.  During a time of fear and hopelessness, children need to know that God still loves them and He sent His Son to die for them.  When there doesn’t seem to be any good news, we can share a message of hope.

     As always I hope to . . .

                                                                                                     C U N   Church,


September 15, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Before I came to the office this morning, I was in the garden working on cleaning it off.  Most of the plants have died and it’s time to get it ready for tilling before winter gets here.  Yesterday, we had a family outing to pick pumpkins.  It was a lot of fun watching our granddaughters pick them and choose some to take home for decorations.  The pennant race in Major League Baseball is in full swing.  Although the season is only 1 ½ months old, it will be over soon and it will be time for the Fall Classic (World Series).  I can begin to see a little bit of color change in the leaves as I drive around town.  You put all of these together and you come to the conclusion that fall is almost here and winter will soon follow.

     The seasons of the creation change but our Creator remains the same.  “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. “ (James 1:17).  The seasons of our life change but our Savior remains the same.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Man’s knowledge and understanding changes but God’s Word remains the same.  “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).  Our physical strength and mental understanding diminish but God’s strength and understanding remain strong.  “Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom” (Isaiah 40:28).

     In a time when the news is often bad and discouraging, remember the good news: Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world”  (John 16:33).  In a world where nothing seems to stay the same, keep trusting in the one who does! 

     I hope to see you on Sunday whether you are here in person or you are watching our services online.  Have a great week!

                                                                                                   C U N   Church,


September 1, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     I was able to watch an amazing baseball game on Sunday afternoon.  The Cardinals beat the Indians by a score of 7 to 2.  That is only a summary of the story that unfolded before and during that game.  The Cardinals went into that game on a four game losing streak and a pitching staff that was tired and worn down.  The pitching staff and the team desperately needed a pick me up and a shot in the arm.  They needed someone who could step forward, stop the losing streak and get the team moving in the right direction again.  On Saturday night after the heart breaking loss to the Indians in 12 innings, Adam Wainwright (the oldest active player in the National League) stepped up.  He texted the manager and told him “I got you.”  This was Wainwright’s way of telling the manager that he would “fill the gap.”  In essence he was telling the manager that he would do everything within his power to be the guy tomorrow who would pitch as many innings as needed.  The veteran pitcher true to his word pitched a complete game (something very unusual in today’s era).  Wainwright did it on his 39th birthday; most guys have retired from major league baseball at that point in their life.  What a great story!

     So what’s the application for us as Christians today?  “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30).  A gap in the wall of a city would allow the enemy to enter the city.  Who would step up and fill that void?  In the days of Ezekiel, God didn’t find anyone to fill the gap.  Will He find anyone today to stand in the gap for our own country?  We need to be those “gap fillers” in our own community and we should pray that there would be others who would rise up to stand in the gap for God on the state and national level.

     I hope to see you next Sunday in our services.  If you don’t feel comfortable yet with in person attendance, please join us on the internet.  Have a great week!

                                                                                                               C U N   Church,


August 18, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Yesterday I began a sermon series on heaven.  A few years ago the following article was making its rounds through church newsletters.  I thought you might be blessed by reading it again or perhaps for the first time.  It is entitled “Life tours, Inc.”

     Accommodations:  Arrangements for first class accommodations have been made in advance.  “In my Father’s house are many mansions … I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2).

     Passports: Persons seeking entry will not be permitted past the gates without have proper credentials and having their names registered with the ruling Authority.  “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27).

     Departure Times: The exact date of departure has not been announced.  Travelers are advised to be prepared to leave at short notice.  “He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”  (Acts 1:7)

     Tickets:  Your ticket is a written pledge that guarantees your journey.  It should be claimed and its promises kept firmly in hand.  ““Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”  (John 5:24).

     Customs: Only one declaration is required while going through customs.  “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”  (1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4).

     Immigration: All passengers are classified as immigrants, since they are taking up residence in a new country.  The quota is unlimited.  “Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”  (Hebrews 11:16).

     Luggage:  No luggage whatsoever can be taken.  “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”  (1 Timothy 6:7).

     Air Passage:  Travelers going directly by air are advised to watch daily for indications of imminent departure. “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”  

(1 Thessalonians 4:17).

     Vaccination and inoculation: Injections are not needed, as diseases are unknown at the destination.  “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  (Revelation 21:4).

     Currency:  Supplies of currency may be forwarded ahead to wait the passenger’s arrival.  Deposits should be as large as possible.  “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”  Matthew 6:20.

     Clothing:  A complete and appropriate new wardrobe is provided for each traveler.  “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.  For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,”  (Isaiah 61:10)

       Reservations:  Booking is now open.  Apply at once.  “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”  2 Corinthians 6:2

     Coronation Ceremony:  The highlight of the journey is the welcoming reception and coronation which awaits each new arrival.  “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”  (2 Timothy 4:8).

     This sounds like a trip I want to definitely take.  I hope to see you this coming Sunday as we continue our study of heaven.

                                                                                                               C U N   Church,



August 4, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Yesterday, I shared a message entitled “The Prayer That Saved A Nation.”  The sermon was based on the prayer that King Hezekiah offered up to the Lord at a critical time in Judah’s history.  Things looked hopeless as powerful Assyria threatened the existence of his nation.  I did not mention how God answered that prayer.  An angel from God struck down 185,000 soldiers in King Sennacherib’s army and the Assyrian king withdrew in disgrace.  Judah was saved temporarily.  But then Hezekiah’s son Manasseh led Judah into sin again – to the point of no return (2 Kings 21:10-16).   Judah eventually fell to the Babylonians being punished for their sins.

     I had mentioned the article from The Christian Standard written by Bob Russell.  I made copies of that article available but I am afraid that they may not have been very legible.  I apologize for that.  If you want a better copy, please contact me and I can either email it to you or send a hard copy through the mail to you.  I do encourage you to read it.

     Delaine Donaldson informed me that Mr. Russell had also published a prayer for America this past Independence Day.  You will find that prayer printed elsewhere in this newsletter.  Please read it and please continue to pray for America!

     This coming Sunday I plan to share a message with you dealing with the great revival that King Josiah led the nation of Judah in.  You can read about that in 2 Kings 23:1-30 and

2 Chronicles 34-35.  Please be praying for me as I prepare that message.

     I am so thankful for those who are faithfully attending our services and also for those who are continuing to watch our services online. 

                                                                                                       C U N   Church,



July 21, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 wrote, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.  Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new’?  It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.”

     How often have you heard it said in recent months, “We are living in unprecedented times”?  Is that actually true?  If we believe the Word of God, we would have to disagree with that statement.  In our short memory, we can’t seem to recall a time when there was a disease that had no vaccine to prevent its spread or antibiotic to treat its symptoms.  Some of our older citizens surely remember the dreaded disease polio.  Although it has almost totally been eliminated there was a time 70 years ago when polio was terrorizing our population.  The vaccine was developed in 1955, the year of my birth.

     How should we respond to this current pandemic as a church?  The church has been handling epidemics for 2000 years.  In the second century A.D. there was a plague that killed off a quarter of the Roman Empire but it led to the spread of the Christian faith as Christians cared for the sick.  Christians shared the message that this plague was not the work of an angry god but had come as a result of a broken creation in revolt against a loving God.

     In the third century, the Plague of Cyprian broke out.  In his sermons, Cyprian the bishop of Carthage told Christians not to grieve for the plague victims because they lived in heaven but to make more effort in caring for the living.  A century later the pagan Emperor Julian talked about how the Christians would care for even non-Christian sick people.  Those early Christians took very seriously the instructions of Paul in Galatians 6:10.  “Therefore, as we have opportunity. Let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”   The claim has been made that the death rates in cities with Christian communities during that plague may have been just half that of other cities.

     These times may be unprecedented for us but not for the family of God.  Through the centuries in the face of pandemics, persecutions, wars, depressions, and disasters the church has continued to point people to the Lord Jesus Christ as the answer to our problems.  May we be found faithful to the One who has called us even as those who have gone before us were faithful!

                                                                                                             C U N   Church,


July 7, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     There are some verses in the Bible that in our minds just seem out of place.  However, God has a reason and purpose for every verse that is found in the Bible.  Sometimes it just takes a little time and a lot of effort to discover that purpose.

     One of those verses is 1 Kings 16:34.  “In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho.  He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the Lord spoken by Joshua son of Nun.”

I have read that verse many times and saw it as a verse that just recorded an obscure piece of history.  Only in the last few days have I seen it differently.

     I now see it as a commentary on the very troubled times through which the nation of Israel was going.  Approximately 500 years before this, Joshua had pronounced a curse on anyone who would venture to rebuild Jericho (Joshua 6:26).   For 500 years people respected the boundaries God had set.  Then those boundaries disappeared.  People no longer respected the sacred things of God.  Why did that happen?  A key to understanding why this rule and pattern from the past was ignored and torn down is found in where Hiel was from.  He was from Bethel, a center of calf worship.  Calf worship had just come into prominence 60 years before courtesy of Jeroboam who was the first king of the northern kingdom of Israel.  It only took 60 years of God’s worship being neglected and forgotten for the sacred things of God to be disregarded.

     Could there be a parallel in our own time and circumstances?  Interestingly enough it was 58 years ago that the Supreme Court ruled that school sponsored prayer was unconstitutional.    Since that time, some of the sacred things of God have been ignored and disregarded to a greater extent than ever before.  Some of the things that the Bible declares to be holy in the sight of God are life, marriage, sex, the Sabbath Day, the tithe, and the name of God.  I am not

under the illusion that before 1962, we lived in a perfect country.  I do contend that the respect for sacred things has deteriorated substantially in the last 58 years.  By disregarding God and His Word, a society opens itself up to a host of problems.

     Into the mess that existed in Israel God sent the prophet Elijah with a message.  Into the mess in which we find ourselves today, God is sending His church with a message.  May we be faithful in sharing that message with our culture even as Elijah was faithful in sharing his message!

                                                                                                                C U N   Church,


June 23, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Can you believe that this year is almost half over?  It has surely been an unusual one and one that we all hope will not ever happen again.  These are interesting times in which we live.

     Is anyone in charge of this mess?  Psalms 31:14-15a says, “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’  My times are in your hands;”.   What an encouraging passage of Scripture!  Despite the uncertainty of the times we can always rest secure in God’s care.  Our times whether they are bad, good, certain or uncertain are in His hands.

     Psalms 11:3-4 says, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?  The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne.”  We can certainly identify with the first part of this passage.  It seems like many of the things that we once thought were secure and reliable (the foundations) are crumbling.  How should we respond?  We can respond with confidence knowing that our God is still in charge and on His heavenly throne.

      It seems like that I have written these words before during this current crisis.  I don’t mean to be repetitive but there are some truths which we need to be reminded of frequently.  One of those truths is that God is in control and He is going to take care of His people. 

     Writing to the Philippians Paul said, “It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you” (3:1). Peter in his second letter said, “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.  I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body” (2 Peter 1:12-13).  These two apostles knew there were certain ideas that Christians needed to be reminded of often.  They were not embarrassed to be repetitive in their teaching.

     Let’s remain faithful always trusting in God’s care.  Let’s stay the course always being faithful in serving our Lord.

     I hope to see you in one of our services on Sunday.  If you feel uncomfortable in being there in person, I encourage you to continue to watch our services online.

                                                                                                                             C U N   Church,


June 9, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     I am sure that many of you have been wondering how the services went on Sunday.  It was the first time we had gathered together as a church family since March 15.  Almost ¼ of the year has gone by since our last church service.  That comes out to 2 ¾  months, 12 weeks, or 83 days.  It was so good to see everyone who was present.  In the two services that were held, there were 54 who were present;  33 for the first service and 21 for the second service.  There were 8 who attended the first service who also helped with the second service.  Let me express my appreciation to all those who came and especially to those who helped make both services run smoothly. 

     The first service was recorded and later posted on Facebook and YouTube.  In addition to those who were at the services in person, there were approximately 30 others who watched online on one of the two social media venues.  Let me remind you once again that the joy of the Lord is our strength.

     We will continue to hold two services for the next several weeks to help make social distancing possible as well as protecting those who may be more susceptible to the Covid-19 virus.  Thanks for your cooperation in using the designated seating areas.  We hope that you will feel comfortable in attending our in-person services but if you don’t then we want you to know that the services will be available for your viewing on Facebook and YouTube.

     Elsewhere in the newsletter you will find a study guide for the books of the month for June and July.  I will be preaching from those books in the coming weeks.  In the days in which we live when our nation is facing troubled times, there are many lessons we Christians can learn about how to help make our country more Godly.  I encourage you to read these books prayerfully asking God to speak to you through the events of ancient Israel.

     The last thought I want to share with you is a special invitation (also found elsewhere in the newsletter).  Irma and I are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary on July 5.  We are having a reception in the church fellowship hall.  Please stop by on that day to share a moment or two with us and our family.

                                                                                                                          C U N   Church,


May 26, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher  . . .

     As I am writing this column, it is Monday afternoon, Memorial Day 2020.  It is a beautiful day in Effingham, Illinois, USA.  All seems to be peaceful and calm.  One of the reasons why I am able to enjoy a peaceful afternoon is because of those brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to secure and ensure my freedom.  May we remember those who died for the cause of freedom!

     Freedom is a concept that has become a little more real and dear to our hearts in recent weeks.  Because of the lockdown due to the Covid-19 crisis, some of our freedoms have been limited.  The freedom that most readily comes to mind is the freedom to assemble for worship.

To prevent the spread of the virus, governors in most states had forbidden the meeting of churches.  In some instances, when those executive orders were violated, arrests were made and fines were levied.  Three months ago, I could not have imagined this happening in America.

I understand the reasoning on the part of the government for taking such actions.  I am not ignoring the importance of what our government has asked the churches to do.

     However, I want you to think with me for just a moment.  Isn’t it interesting and unsettling how quickly one of our most cherished freedoms, the freedom of religion and worship, was suspended?   How quickly we willingly gave up that right.  We were obedient to the governing authorities even as we are commanded to do in Romans 13.  How quickly the position of the church in the nation was recognized as a threat to the health and well-being of our society rather than a contributor to the health of the nation.  How quickly we went from being essential to being non-essential.

     Today it was the suspension of our freedom for a legitimate reason.  What will tomorrow bring?  Since it seemed so easy to get the church to comply with lockdown restrictions today, perhaps it would not be difficult to get them to comply with other restrictions tomorrow.

     "The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."  John Philpot Curran (Irish lawyer, orator and statesman of the 18th century)

     I urge you to continue to pray for America and to always be on guard to preserve the freedom that was bought for us at a great price.

                                        Hoping to see   C U N   Church really soon,


May 12, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Two great leaders in the 1960’s had a dream and each one shared that dream with America.

The first great leader was President John F. Kennedy.  He shared his dream before a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961.  In his own words this was what his dream was.  The United States "should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."  Eventually the country bought into that dream and on July 20, 1969 a mere eight years later the dream was achieved.

     The second great leader was Martin Luther King, Jr.  He shared his dream on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963.  In His own words, this was his dream.  “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed : ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’  … I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. …I have a dream that one day … little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.   Fifty seven years later, that dream has still not come to fruition.

     What is the moral of the story?  I see the moral of the story as  “It’s easier to go to the moon and back than it is to love one another. “  Why is it so difficult to love others who are different than we are whether we are talking about color of skin, political persuasion, or faith?  We certainly do not have to agree but we can agree to disagree without hating one another.

     In a time when tempers are flaring and harsh words are being directed toward those with whom we disagree, may we not forget the second greatest commandment.  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  I don’t know about you, but I think I need to pray a little harder asking God to help me put that second commandment into practice.

                                                                                      Hoping to  C U N   Church really soon,




April 13, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     If you would have told me a month ago that our country would have been “shut down” by the Corona Virus, I would have not believed you. Who would have thought that businesses would close their doors?  Who would have believed that other businesses would be limiting the number of people who can come into their buildings?  Who would have thought that many people would be wearing protective face masks?  Who would have imagined that we would have canceled church services for an extended period of time?   Isn’t it amazing that something so small can cause such a disruption of our schedules and plans?

     This is a reminder to us that we are not always in charge of our destiny.  Each of us had probably laid out some plans for the spring.  We knew what we were going to do for Easter.  However, those plans did not work out.  The events of these last several weeks certainly verify the truth of God’s Word.

     Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year 

     there, carry on business and make money.”  Why you do not even know what will happen

     tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then

     vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 

     As it is you boast and brag.  All such boasting is evil.  Anyone, then who knows the good he

     ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.   James 4:13-17

There is an old saying that goes like this: Man proposes, God disposes.  What does that mean?  Simply put it means people can make plans but whether or not they are successful in carrying them out depends on God.   This is a quotation from a devotional work written in Latin by Thomas a Kempis in the 15th century. 

     One of the greatest generals of all time, Napoleon as he was laying out his plans for the battle of Waterloo commented about this quotation when he was reminded of it by one of his generals.  Not appreciating the idea that someone else might have a say so in his plans, the arrogant general replied,  “I want you to understand sir, that Napoleon proposes, and Napoleon disposes.”  Napoleon’s battle plans failed because of something rather tiny – a raindrop.  Multiply that one raindrop by approximately 21 trillion and you have a muddy mess.  The history of the world was changed because of the tiny raindrop.   The tiny Corona virus has also changed many of our plans and undoubtedly written its way into our history books.

     As we make plans for our lives after the Covid 19 lockdown, let’s remember to consider what God’s will is and try to follow His leading. 

                                                                                         Looking forward to C-ing  U  N   Church,



March 29, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     ‘I have never seen anything like this.”  How many of you have said this or have heard it said by someone else in the last few days?  These are interesting and unusual times aren’t they?  I have certainly missed being able to be together for worship and fellowship with my church family during these last couple of weeks and I know you have too.  Sundays just aren’t quite the same.  I would remind you that this too shall pass.  Have you ever noticed how many times in the King James Version of the Bible the phrase “It came to pass” appears?  (According to Biblegateway.com the phrase appears 463 times.)  Please notice “it came to pass”, it did not come to stay.  We will get through this. 

     One of the things we all need to do is to keep looking to God for strength and help.  As God’s people we can remain optimistic because we know that God is in charge.  I have just recently started posting devotional thoughts on Facebook.  I have been on Facebook more in these 10 days than I had been on that site in the last 10 years.  The reason for my renewed activity on Facebook is that I feel Christians need to be leading the way in bringing encouragement to our friends and neighbors.  Some of you have seen my postings.  Some of you who do not have access to the internet have not.  For your benefit, we will reprint those postings here in the newsletter.  I hope that they will be an encouragement to you.

     Our newsletter will look a little different this time because of all our activities and services being canceled until after the Covid 19 crisis is past.   This does not mean that the church has been shut down.  As I have seen on Facebook and I agree – the church is not empty, the church has been deployed.  If all we are known for is that we meet at 901 N. Henrietta Street in Effingham, then we are not fulfilling our mission.  Look around.  See who you might be able to assist and encourage whether it is by phone, text, email, delivery, mail, prayer, etc.  We are the body of Christ – His hands and feet.  Let’s be active in serving Him!

                                                                                            C U N  Church after Covid 19,


March 17, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     The books of I & II kings and I & II Chronicles record the history of Israel during the times of the kings.  Following the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon, the nation was divided into two kingdoms, Judah (the Southern Kingdom) and Israel (the northern kingdom).   During the time that the nation was divided, there were many kings who led the two kingdoms.  We are unfamiliar with many of the names of those kings.   Let me tell you about one of those kings.  The king’s name was Asa.  He was Solomon’s great-grandson.

     On one occasion, the Cushites came against Judah with a vast army and many chariots.  Asa called out to God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty.  Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army.  O Lord, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.”  (2 Chronicles 14:11)  God enabled Judah to defeat the superior force from Cush.  All in all, Asa was a good king.  However, there is one final note on Asa’s life that casts a shadow on his life and reign.  It is recorded in 2 Chronicles 16:12.  “In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet.  Though the disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.”

     This reminds me of our present situation with the corona virus.  Should we listen to the advice of the medical professionals?  Absolutely!  Should we be careful to follow the instructions on hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus?  You bet!  Are these the only resources we have available?  Definitely not!  Let us continue to call on the name of our God asking for His help and intervention.  We did this on Sunday as we participated in the national day of prayer that the President had called for.  Let us continue to pray for His help:

     1. Ask God to stop the pandemic and to save lives.

     2. Ask God to give wisdom to our government leaders

     3. Ask God to use this situation to help people realize their need for Him.

     4. Ask God to protect our missionaries and their families around the globe.

“God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea” (Psalms 46:1-2)

I hope to see you this coming Lord’s Day morning.

                                                                                                                 C U N   Church,


March 3, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     The Bible is not boring and sermons shouldn’t be either.  Preachers must do their very best to make sure the sermons are prepared and presented well.  Sometimes, this preacher fails to make the proper preparation and his presentation is not as good as it should have been.  However, let me remind you that the preparation and presentation of the Sunday morning message is not totally dependent upon my abilities.  God is also involved in it; you are involved in it too!  In the next few “Ponderings” columns, I want to share some suggestions with you on how you can become better listeners.

     The first suggestion is to prepare.  Before the sermon ever begins, prepare you own heart and life for God to speak to you.

     1. Protect Sunday morning so that you can be physically and mentally present.  Sometimes work or health may prevent us from attending church.   But as a rule you and your family need to know that Sunday mornings are reserved for worship with your church (Hebrews 10:25).   Irregular attention to biblical preaching within the congregational setting weakens our heart muscles so that when we do hear a sermon, we are much less prepared to respond.

     2. Pray for God to open your eyes and give you a willing heart to respond to Him.  Pray for God to guide the preacher in his preparation and in his presentation.

     3. Confess your sin.  Ask God to reveal sin in your life and repent of it.  Sin will create a calloused and unresponsive heart.  Examine your practices and change your pattern of life.

     4. Expect God to be present in the service.  When God’s people are together, He has promised to be present with us.

     5. Arrive early.  This allows you to prepare yourself to listen.  It also encourages others to be ready to join in the service and listen to God’s Word.

     6. Get rid of distractions.  I know that many people today use their phones to read the Bible.  If you can do that without yielding to the temptation of answering a text message or checking email, then that’s great.  However, if you are distracted by the phone, you might resort to the old fashioned method of reading the Bible in the book form when you are at church.

     The bottom line: if you want the best experience in listening to the sermon, you have to prepare yourself to do so.  My next column will deal with participating in the sermon.

     I hope to see each of you this next Sunday and be able to greet you personally.

                                                                                                                C U N   Church,


February 18, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Do you ever feel discouraged in serving God?  Some people might think that this is not something a “true” servant of God would ever feel.  If he/she is feeling discouraged, then it must be a lack of faith that is causing that.  Before we become too quick to jump to that conclusion, let me tell you about a couple of men who became discouraged.  After reading about their experience, then maybe you can understand discouragement in service a little better.

     The first man was really excited about serving God.  However, no one around him seemed to share that excitement.  In fact, he thought that he was the only one who was still loyal to the cause.  His life had even been threatened because of his service and faithfulness.

     The second man was serving God by being a missionary.  The pressures of the mission field were really getting to him.  He wasn’t even sure he was going to be able to stick it out.  He found no joy in life and his heart was weighed down with despair.

     According to some people, they must have been lacking in faith.  Before you agree with that assessment, let me identify these two men.  The first one’s name was Elijah.  Read about him in 1 Kings 19.  The second one’s name was Paul.  Read about his feelings in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

     God reassured Elijah that there were still many who were faithful to him (7000 in fact).  Paul realized that he was going through tough times so that he could understand that he needed to rely on God and not himself. 

     Let’ remember the words Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:58.  “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

     I look forward to seeing you this coming Lord’s Day morning.  Let’s all do our very best to be present when First Christian Church gathers for worship!

                                                                                                            C U N   Church,


February 4, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow on Sunday.  According to legend, that means we will have an early spring.  Despite the fact that the winter has not been hard or severe, I believe everyone is ready for spring to arrive.  You may already have made for those months when we are blessed with warmer weather.  I don’t know that I have made definite plans but certain indefinite plans have been circulating through my mind.  I look forward to gardening, fishing, golfing, watching Cardinal baseball and just enjoying a nice summer evening out on the porch.

     It doesn’t hurt to make plans, but we should always remember that we should make them with the understanding that our time is in God’s hands.  We must remember the words found in James 4:13-16.

     Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year

     There, carry on business and make money.”  Why you do not even know what will happen   

     tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then   

     vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “if it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 

     As it is, you boast and brag.  All such boasting is evil.”

Consider the words of the poem “Life’s Clock.”

The clock of life is wound but once,

And no man has the power to tell

 just where the hands will stop

at late or early hour,

To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed;

To lose one’s health is more.

To lose one’s soul is such a loss,

As no man can restore.

The present only is our own.

Live, love, toil with a will-

Place no faith in “tomorrow”

For the clock may then be still.

Let’s use and enjoy today!  I hope to see all of you this coming Sunday!

                                                                                                                C U N    Church,



Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     For the last several weeks during our Sunday worship services, I have been sharing with you thoughts and ideas about our purpose statement.  I hope those messages have been helpful and challenging.  One of the benefits of a purpose statement is to keep a person or group on task.  It is so easy to become involved and focused on doing things the right way but forgetting

the reason for doing them.

       One of golf's immortal moments came when a Scotchman demonstrated the new game to President Ulysses Grant. Carefully placing the ball on the tee, he took a mighty swing. The club hit the turf and scattered dirt all over the President's beard and surrounding vicinity, while the ball placidly waited on the tee. Again the Scotchman swung, and again he missed. Our President waited patiently through six tries and then quietly stated, "There seems to be a fair amount of exercise in the game, but I fail to see the purpose of the ball.   Although a great deal of attention was being given to the stance prior to the swing and a lot of effort was being put into the actual swing, the main purpose of the game was not being achieved.

     We can become focused on making sure our building looks beautiful, our services are pleasing to those who attend, our finances are stable, our teaching is biblical, and our reception to guests is friendly; yet we can forget our purpose as Christ’s Church.  We want to be a family of believers in Christ.  We want to love God, one another, and our community.  We want to be true to God’s call to be His Church.

     I hope to see each of you this coming Lord’s Day morning as we come together to worship our God.  Our worship service without your presence just won’t be complete!

                                                                                                                      C U N   Church,


January 6, 2020

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Yesterday morning I was sharing with you thoughts about our purpose statement.  I asked the question about whether our purpose was to survive, succeed, or to be significant.  As a church our desire should be to be significant – to make a difference in the lives of our members and in our community.  Sometimes it is hard to see beyond the pressing issues of each day.  Unfortunately, our goal often becomes little more than meeting those immediate needs and simply surviving to see another day.  I want each of us to see our participation in the life and ministry of First Christian Church as important.  It is more than mere survival

     With which of the following three workers do you identify?  A traveler came upon three men working.  He asked the first man what he was doing and the man said he was laying bricks.  He asked the second man the same question and he said he was putting up a wall.  When he got to the third man and asked him what he was doing he said he was building a cathedral.  They were all doing the same thing but their perspective on the work they were doing was quite different.

When it comes to your service for God, how would you describe it?  Are you welcoming people to church, serving Communion, teaching a class, trimming bushes, sweeping floors, serving food or are you building the Kingdom of God, helping prepare people for heaven and helping people come to know Jesus.  Your contribution of time, talent or treasure helps our church accomplish its God-given purpose.

     I look forward to seeing you this coming Sunday.  During the month of January, I will be sharing more thoughts about our purpose as a church.  Please make you best effort to be present for our Sunday morning worship services.

                                                                                                                      C U N   Church,


December 16, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Besides the Christmas Story found in the Bible, two of my favorite Christmas stories are A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and The Gift of the Magi by O Henry.  The story told by Dickens is quite familiar having been made into movies and used by countless TV programs so I really don’t have to tell you anything about it.  However The Gift of the Magi is less familiar, so let me tell you a little about it.

     This short story is about two young people recently married.  Their names are Della and Jim.  Like many couples just starting out, they were strapped financially.  Between the two of them, they had two things of value: Della’s magnificent hair and Jim’s gold watch.  It is Christmas time and they have no money to buy one another gifts.  Della had saved $1.87 but that would buy virtually nothing worthy of her Jim.  She decided to sell her hair and received $20 from the transaction.  She then searched through town looking for just the right gift for Jim and finally found it.  It was a platinum chain to go with his gold watch.  Della was so excited and couldn’t wait to present the gift to Jim.  When he came home and saw that she had cut her hair, a peculiar look came over his face.  She didn’t want him to be upset with her and explained that she had sold her hair to buy him a gift.  Jim had also bought a gift for her and gave it to Della.  That gift was a set of beautiful combs that she had longed for in order to adorn her magnificent hair.  Now that the hair was gone the combs were of no use.  Her disappointment didn’t last long because she still had her gift to give to Jim.  When she showed him the gift she had gotten for him, he simply smiled and suggested they put their gifts away for a while.  He then told her that he had sold the watch in order to buy the set of combs.  Both had sold their most valuable possession in order to buy a gift for the one they loved.

     To many the actions of Jim and Della were foolish.  However sacrificing your greatest treasures for someone you love is not foolish but actually wise.  That kind of giving is in imitation of our God who gave what He treasured most – His Son.  What will we give to Him in return?  Can we give any less than our best?

     Please join us for Sunday’s service and then for the candlelight service on Christmas Eve as we continue to celebrate God’s greatest gift.

                                                                                                                           C U N   Church,


December 3, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     We are now in the middle of the holiday season.  I am sure that your calendar is filling up fast with events and engagements.  I want to encourage you to set aside time during the holiday season to remember the reason for the season.  We are celebrating the greatest gift ever given.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

     In addition to all the activities you are involved in within your own family, school, job, and community, I want to remind you of the activities within our own church family.  Please make time for these so that you can be reminded of God’s incredible gift.

     Here is a list of the services being held at First Christian Church in December.

     Sunday morning, December 8 – “The Wrapping Paper”

Sunday morning December 15 – Children’s Program

Followed by the all church Christmas Dinner in Beebe Hall

Sunday morning, December 22 – “The Gift Exchange”

Tuesday evening, December 24 – Candlelight Christmas Eve Service at 5 p.m.

Followed by caroling at the hospital

Lighting of the Advent candle each Sunday by the youth of our church

     I want to remind you that the theme of the messages in December is “An Amazing Gift from God.”  These messages are based in the gospel of John.  The message that I will be sharing this coming Sunday is entitled “The Wrapping Paper.”  It will focus on the incarnation of Jesus.  Jesus’ incarnation is truly one of the most amazing teachings in the Bible.  The doctrine of the incarnation could be summarized in the following words: Jesus, who is the non-created second person of the triune God; took on a human body and everything that is human and became both man and God.

     May each of you be truly blessed this Christmas season!  I hope to be able to greet each of you personally this coming Lord’s Day morning.  Let’s all try to be present when First Christian Church meets for worship this Sunday.

                                                         C U N   Church,


November 19, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Thanksgiving is next week.  What a wonderful thing to have a national holiday dedicated to the giving of thanks to God!  An emphasis on thanksgiving is good because ingratitude seems to come easily to us.

     Someone once said, “As a rule, a man’s a fool.   When it’s hot, he wants it cool.  When it’s cool, he wants it hot – always wanting what is not.”  The renowned philosopher Immanuel Kant said, “give a man everything he wants and at that moment, everything will not be everything.”  Regardless of what a person possesses, he never seems to be satisfied,  always wanting more or something else.

     Our nation could be characterized by ingratitude.  We have been blessed in so many ways and yet we have forgotten the source of that blessing.  The great Puritan minister Cotton Mather said, “Religion begat prosperity, and the daughter hath consumed the mother.”   America became prosperous because of our Christian roots but in that prosperity we have forgotten God.  We like the fruit, but not the root.

     Two of our greatest leaders offer some keen insight into the subject of gratitude.   George Washington said in his First Inaugural Address, “No people have more reason to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.  Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token or providential agency.”  Washington said America should be grateful.  He was the first President to declare a National Day of Thanksgiving to God.  Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an annual event.   He said, “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven.  We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity.  We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God.” (underlining mine)

     May we as God’s people lead our nation in giving thanks to God for all of His abundant blessings!  May you and your loved ones have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving.

                                                   C U N   Church,



November 5, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     To me it seems incredible that our Faith Promise Week was only a week ago.  There has been so much going on in my own family that it seems like a long time since we were listening to reports from our missionaries.  Before any more time goes by, I thought that it would be good to share some reflections on the events of Faith Promise Week.

     God is certainly at work in the lives of our missionaries throughout our world.  We heard evidence of that from Kenya to Costa Rica, from Russia to the Dominican Republic, from Oblong to Flora, from Neoga to St. Louis, and from Effingham to Charleston.  The missionaries whom we support are being careful stewards of the money we send to them.  People are hearing about Jesus, workers are being trained to share the Gospel, and physical needs are being met in the name of Christ.

     We certainly did eat a lot during that week’s period of time.  But I have to say that not only was my body fed but my spirit was fed as well.  I was encouraged by the accomplishments for God’s Kingdom.  I was challenged in my commitment to participate in the great task of spreading the good news of Jesus to people around the world.

     I was overwhelmed by the response of our congregation on Promise Sunday.  Harvey Waddelow was used by God to speak to our hearts.   So far, the total amount promised for the cause of world-wide missions is $53,492.  God was certainly at work in our hearts.  May we continue to pray that God will provide the money that we have promised so that others may know Jesus and be helped in His name!  During the next several months, you may want to share with others in the congregation how God has provided the promise you made.  That will be a blessing for the congregation to hear those testimonies.

     I look forward to seeing each of you this coming Lord’s Day morning.  Let’s all plan on being present as His church gathers for worship and fellowship.

                                                                                                                    C U N   Church,


October 15, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     One of the things most people want today is to be able to make a difference in the community, nation, and world.  As we look around us at the monumental needs that exist, we might be discouraged and think that there is no way that I can make a difference in the world.  Let me encourage you by saying, “You can make a difference.”

     You can make a difference in many different areas but the area upon which I want to focus is the eternal difference in the lives of people.  As we prepare for our Faith Promise Week, we will be challenged to consider making a promise in faith to give a certain amount of money for the cause of world-wide evangelism.   You will be tempted to think that the little dab of money that you have cannot make any real difference in the lives of others.  That is a lie that Satan would love for us to believe because we are then tempted to spend that money elsewhere.   The truth is that each dollar that is given through our missions program at First Christian Church can and does have an impact upon the lives of others.

     Consider for a moment the dollar that is given to Oil Belt Camp.  Because of that dollar there is a child that hears about Jesus and gives his/her life to Him.  That dollar has made an eternal difference in that person’s life.  Another dollar given to the camp may help a young person to be challenged to give his/her life to specialized Christian service.  In the coming years that young person may touch many lives for Christ in his/her service through the local church or on the mission field.  Once again the dollar you have given has an eternal impact on someone’s life.

     Our money does make a difference!  I urge you to take advantage of the opportunity to hear the reports from those missions we support.  See and hear what God is doing with your dollars to make a difference in the lives of others.  Please be praying that God would speak to you letting you know what He wants you to do in respect to world-wide missions.   Check out the activities for our Faith Promise week (a listing is found elsewhere in our newsletter) and plan to be present as often as you can.  It looks like a great week.

     I hope to see each of you this coming Lord’s Day morning and be able to greet you personally.

                                                 C U N   Church,



October 1, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Thank you for being involved in the study of “Take God at His Word.”  Through this study, I hope that you have been both encouraged and challenged in your giving back to God for His work.  As we come to the close of that study, I will present one last thought for your prayerful consideration.  This is in the form of a “Stewardship Creed.”

     Stewardship is more than the giving of money; although it is that.  It is more than giving of my talents, although it involves that, too.  It is more than the giving of time, although it involves that.  It is the offering of my total self to Him.

     This means that in all the relationships of life, I shall seek to give a good account of my stewardship.  In the home, I shall, along with the other members of my family, worship Him.  I shall share in the closeness of the family council my concerns, my hopes, my wisdom, my experiences, so that together we may fulfill the purpose God has for us.  I shall so organize my life that the way I earn my money and the way I use my money shall contribute to the advancement of God’s will and the Kingdom among men.

     It means that in my church I shall seek to be faithful to the responsibilities that I carry as a member of the body of Christ.  I shall attend church regularly.  I shall consecrate my talents to God’s service at the place where I can make the fullest possible contribution to His Kingdom.  I shall give of my money directly; proportionately, as God has prospered me.

     All this I shall do, not out of any compulsion, save the compulsion of my gratitude to God for all He has done for me.

     I hope to see each of you this coming Lord’s Day morning.  Our worship attendance had been a little sporadic during these last several weeks.  Let’s all do our very best to come together for worship and fellowship this coming Sunday!

                                                                                                               C U N   Church,



September 17, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     In 1859 Charles Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities.  One of the bestselling novels of all time, this was a story about the difference between two different places that were not so far apart geographically but worlds apart politically – England and France. The story had its setting in 1775 as the French Revolution was beginning to take shape.  Dickens began his story with these words:

     It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was  

     the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it

     was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it

     was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,

     we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.

It seems incredible that life could be so different for those who were living just a few miles apart, but it was. 

     I have another story to relate.  I call it the “Tale of Two Bills.”  Here’s how it goes.

A well-worn one dollar bill and a similarly distressed twenty dollar bill arrived at a Federal Reserve Bank to be retired.  As they moved along the conveyor belt to be burned, they struck up a conversation.  The twenty dollar bill reminisced about its travels all over the country. 

     “I’ve had a pretty good life.  Why, I’ve been to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, the finest restaurants in New York, performances on Broadway, and even a cruise to the Caribbean.”

     “Wow!” said the one dollar bill.  “You really have had an exciting life!”

     “So, tell me,” said the twenty, “where have you been throughout your lifetime?”

     “The one dollar bill replied, “Oh, I’ve been to the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Christian Church …”

     The twenty dollar bill interrupted, “What’s a church?”

     Whether we take our twenty, fifty, or hundred dollar bill to church may actually determine whether the people of this world will experience the best of times or the worst of times; whether they will be going direct to heaven or going direct the other way.  We can have an impact on our world by the monetary gifts we share.  In a few weeks, we will once again be challenged to consider making a promise in faith so that others can hear about Jesus.  Let’s begin to pray that God would lead us in making that decision.

                                                                                              C U N   Church,



September 3, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     This past Sunday, we distributed the book Take God at His Word written by Dr. Kregg Hood.  This begins a four week series of sermons and lessons on the topic of giving.  However, I do not want you to think that this is only about giving.  The purpose of this study goes far beyond the goal of increasing our giving.  This study will help us experience the blessings that God wants to share with His children.  This book and the sermons and lessons that accompany it will help us all better understand what the Bible has to say about money, financial decisions, and trusting God to care for our every need. 

     Doug Parsons a minister near Houston, Texas wrote the following about Take God at His Word.

Money, money, money.  Everybody has his hand out.  There is a style of asking for dollars that offends.  Instead of trying to sweet talk, harass, coddle or plead – why not try the scriptural way of giving?  That’s why Dr. Kregg Hood’s new book, Take God at His Word, is so on target.  In this small, easy-to-read, but dynamic book, he presents a biblical, honest, and encouraging study of the promises of God as they pertain to giving.  It is an excellent guide because it covers a subject on which, we need a sound, biblical perspective.  I recommend it to all who seek to do God’s will.

    For many of you, the book will simply be a confirmation of truths you have already discovered and experienced.  You have been practicing biblical stewardship for a long time.  That’s okay because we all need to be reminded periodically of the truths found in God’s Word.  Perhaps for some of you, the book may be a real challenge to your faith.  You have never really looked at what the Bible says about stewardship.  Regardless of which group you may be in, please pray that God will speak to us during these next several weeks and that He will be glorified.

     I hope to see each of you this coming Lord’s Day morning when the First Christian Church gathers for worship.

                                                      C U N   Church,


August 20, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     In the book of Joshua we have been reading about a “holy war” that was waged by Israel against the Canaanites.  The Canaanites lived in the land promised by God to the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  God had commanded the Israelites to totally annihilate the Canaanites and take possession of their land.  That sounds like jihad to me.  Jihad is a term that we have associated with radical Islamic terrorists.  Actually the term jihad can have different meanings and unfortunately the meaning we have associated with the word has become the dominant one in our thinking.  One of the other meanings is “the human struggle to promote what is right and to prevent what is wrong.”  That sounds like a worthy and admirable struggle to me.  In fact, that is the kind of struggle in which we as Christians are involved.  We are trying to change the world; we are trying to promote what is good and we are trying to prevent what is wrong.

     We do not wage our jihad with guns, missiles, or bombs.  “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. “ (2 Cor. 10:3-4)  So what are some of the methods we use in our holy war? 

     “Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with God’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  It is possible as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12:9-21

     I hope to see each of you this coming Sunday morning.

                                                                                                   C U N   Church,


August 6, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     In light of the recent shootings and the strife that divides our country, I am reminded of the words of a song that first became popular in 1965.  Here are some of the lyrics of that song.

   “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love.  It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”  The lack of love for one another will eventually and certainly destroy us.   That sad and awful truth is illustrated very clearly in the following poem.


The Cold Within

Six humans trapped by happenstance in bleak and bitter cold.

Each one possessed a stick of wood or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs, the first man held his back

For of the faces ‘round the fire he noticed one was black.

The next man looking cross the way saw one not of his church

And couldn’t bring himself to give the fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes; he gave his coat a hitch

Why should his log be put to use to warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought of the wealth he had in store

And how to keep what he had earned from the lazy shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge as the fire passed from his sight;

For all he saw in his stick of wood was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group did naught except for gain;

Giving only to those who gave was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death’s still hand were proof of human sin.

They didn’t die from the cold without; they died from the cold within.


     The words of that 1965 song are still true.   “What the world needs now is love sweet love.  Not just for some but for everyone.”

The golden text of the Bible, John 3:16, says that God loved the world.  If we are to be like our Father in Heaven, we also need to love the world or as Jesus instructed us, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

     I hope to see you this coming Lord’s Day morning.  Let’s all do our best to be in attendance at our worship service!

                                                                                                                         C U N   Church,



July 17, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     On Thursday, July 4, our nation will celebrate 243 years of independence.  Praise God for the United States of America.  It is still a land of freedom and opportunity.  It is my privilege to be a citizen of this great country.  Our country is indeed unique among all the others on the face of the earth.

     Only in America can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.

     Only in America are there handicap parking places in front of a skating rink

     Only in America do people order double cheese burgers, a large fry, and a Diet Coke.

     Only in America do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counter.

     Only in America do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and leave useless things and junk in boxes in the garage.

     Only in America do we use answering machines to screen calls and then have call waiting so we won’t miss a call from someone we didn’t want to talk to in the first place.

     Only in America do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.

     Only in America do we use the word “politics” to describe the process so well: “Poli” in Latin meaning “many” and “tics” meaning “blood-sucking creatures.”

     Despite the obvious and sometimes humorous paradoxes that are a part of our lifestyle, I still wouldn’t trade my citizenship in America for citizenship in any other country on earth.

     As we celebrate our freedom on Thursday, let us also pause to pray for our country, its leaders and its citizens.  Let’s give thanks to the Author of Liberty for our liberty.  Let’s repent and ask for forgiveness for our sins.  Let’s ask for His guidance and help so that we might be a nation that honors Him and follows His commands.

     I hope to be able to see each of you this coming Sunday and personally greet you.  Let’s all do our best to be present for our worship service!

                                                                                                              C U N   Church,


July 2, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     On Thursday, July 4, our nation will celebrate 243 years of independence.  Praise God for the United States of America.  It is still a land of freedom and opportunity.  It is my privilege to be a citizen of this great country.  Our country is indeed unique among all the others on the face of the earth.

     Only in America can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.

     Only in America are there handicap parking places in front of a skating rink

     Only in America do people order double cheese burgers, a large fry, and a Diet Coke.

     Only in America do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counter.

     Only in America do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and leave useless things and junk in boxes in the garage.

     Only in America do we use answering machines to screen calls and then have call waiting so we won’t miss a call from someone we didn’t want to talk to in the first place.

     Only in America do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.

     Only in America do we use the word “politics” to describe the process so well: “Poli” in Latin meaning “many” and “tics” meaning “blood-sucking creatures.”

     Despite the obvious and sometimes humorous paradoxes that are a part of our lifestyle, I still wouldn’t trade my citizenship in America for citizenship in any other country on earth.

     As we celebrate our freedom on Thursday, let us also pause to pray for our country, its leaders and its citizens.  Let’s give thanks to the Author of Liberty for our liberty.  Let’s repent and ask for forgiveness for our sins.  Let’s ask for His guidance and help so that we might be a nation that honors Him and follows His commands.

     I hope to be able to see each of you this coming Sunday and personally greet you.  Let’s all do our best to be present for our worship service!

                                                                                                              C U N   Church,


June 18, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Will anyone remember what we have done?  Probably not.  Oh, for a short time we might be remembered, but those memories will soon be forgotten.  Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:11, “There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.”  For that reason, there is a concentrated effort to make sure we do not forget.  We celebrate holidays and anniversaries to help us remember.  Most recently, we celebrated Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that our country might be free.  Ten days later we observed the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in World War 2.  It won’t be long before all of those brave men who participated in that invasion will be gone.  May we always remember what they did for the cause of freedom! Those days are important and should continue to be observed, lest we forget.

     Will anyone remember what I have done?  If anyone does remember, what is it that they will remember?  This past week at Upwards Soccer Camp, I had the privilege of teaching the kids.  Those lessons were about what the Bible says concerning playing, practicing, sportsmanship and a few other subjects. At the end of the week I was walking across the parking lot when I passed a mother with her little girl.  The little girl pointed to me and said to her mother, “He told me about Jesus.”  I was impressed.  She remembered.  If I could choose one thing that people would remember me for that would be it.  He told me about Jesus.  It doesn’t matter if they remember my name or anything else that I did.  What matters is that they would remember that I told people about Jesus.  That would be the legacy I would choose to leave.

     I look forward to seeing you this coming Lord’s Day morning and being able to greet each of you personally.  Let’s all do our best to be at church this coming Sunday!


June 4, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Yesterday morning as Delaine Donaldson led in the Communion mediation, he mentioned that in our culture vice (sin) has become virtue and virtue has become vice.  This is not the first time  in history this has happened.  Isaiah who lived 700 years before Jesus came to this earth wrote “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20).  Obviously, this same thing was going on in ancient Israel.

     This does seems to be an accurate description of our culture.  During this last legislative session of the Illinois General Assembly, there have been several pieces of legislation that have been approved.  Our governor and many state legislators are proud of their accomplishments.  They have called it successful,  progressive and good for the people of Illinois.  That description may fit some of the legislation that has been passed.  Time will tell.  But other pieces of legislation passed have designated what used to be called evil good.  Let me mention a few of these.

     1. Legalization of recreational marijuana – For years using marijuana has been illegal.  It was thought it would lead to using stronger drugs.

     2. Legalization of sports betting – This has not been approved yet but it probably will be.  For years, gambling was considered a sin and thus a crime.  No longer.

     3. Relaxing the restraints on abortion – While many states are passing laws intended to protect the unborn, Illinois has passed a law that denies the unborn have any rights at all.

      4. Requiring the sexual preferences of historical figures to be taught to school children – I am not sure what the sexual preference of historical figures has to do with their contributions to  our country and world, but if that person is a part of the LGBT community, it must be noted.  The Bible still calls homosexuality a sin.  This legislation is just another way of negating the teaching of God’s Word.

     If we dare oppose this agenda, we will be branded as intolerant and judgmental.  Just ask Cory Musgrave, a minister from Fairfield, who had the prayer to open the day’s proceedings in the Illinois House.  Some legislators walked out and others turned away from him.  He was condemned on social media. 

     But we cannot remain silent.  We must continue to speak God’s Word in love.  We have been called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  “Dear God, please give us the strength to be your people in this place and at this time.”

     I hope to see each of you this coming Lord’s Day morning when we come together for worship.

                                                                                                       C U N   Church,




May 21, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher  . . .

     Why am I a Christian?  This was the question that was posed in Sunday School this past week.  It is a good question to consider.  Am I a Christian because my parents were Christians?  Am I a Christian because that was the way I was raised?  Or am I a Christian because my faith is based upon facts and is true?  My faith is not just a subjective (based on personal feelings and choices) thing but is based on historical facts.

     May is the month of graduations.  High School students are soon to be leaving the protection of their parents and going out into a very hostile world.  When I say “hostile,” I mean unsupportive of their faith.  This is an extremely critical time for these students.  Will they remain true to the faith that they have confessed or will they renounce it?  They will be facing many challenges intellectually and morally.  Let’s pray for them as they go into the world.

     Let’s also continue with the work of preparing our kids who are still at home to face a world of unbelief and skepticism.   Let’s prepare them to carry out the command found in 1 Peter 3:15.  “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.”  There are reasons why we believe what we believe – more than “Mom and Dad believed it,” and “The Bible says so.”   Our kids as well as their parents and all believers for that matter need to be able to give a reason for their faith.   Let’s remember what Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:16.  “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

     I encourage you to come to the adult Sunday School class for the next several Sundays to learn the reasons for our faith.  You will be glad that you did.

     I hope to be able to greet each of you this coming Lord’s Day morning when we gather for worship.  Let’s all do our best to be present!

                                                                                                                      C U N   Church,


May 7, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

             In 1930, the Southeastern part of Illinois was the top producer of Red Top grass seed. Red Top grass is grown for hay, pasture, and erosion prevention. It seems amazing that Southern Illinois was the top producer of anything, and this fact might lead to being proud of that accomplishment. However, when you consider some other facts, that pride is short-lived. At that point in time Red Top was grown because the land in this part of the state was not suitable for producing other crops. The quality of the soil was poor, and it was not considered fertile. Thankfully, the fertility of our soil has dramatically increased in the last several years. We have gone from a really poor soil to a better soil. This was accomplished through much effort, investment of resources, and time. Poor soil does not become better soil merely by accident.

A week ago, I preached a sermon about identifying the type of dirt we are. Jesus’ parable about the sower and the seed identified four different types of soil. Some of the soil was poor quality and didn’t produce any crop, but one soil was good and it produced a crop. God wants us to be productive in order to show Him to others and bring glory to His name. If we are identified as hard packed soil, shallow soil or soil infested with thorns, let us not become discouraged. We are not without hope. Poor “spiritual” soil can be changed into productive soil even as the poor soil of the 1930’s was built up to become the productive soil it is today. But we must remember that improvement did not happen without effort.

Remember the “formula” Jesus gave in Luke 8:15. If we will listen to God’s Word, meditate on it (think about it, pray about it. Study it), and persevere (keep on putting forth our best effort), we can with God’s help become productive soil. May we pay attention to the admonition that Jesus gave at the close of that parable. “He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:9)

I hope to see each of you this coming Lord’s Day morning as we come together for worship.

                                                 C U N   Church,



April 16, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     I want to encourage you to be in church this coming Lord’s Day.  Typically Easter and Christmas are days where church attendance goes up.  I hope ours does.  We need to be reminded periodically of what our potential for attendance really is.  As you are making plans to attend, why not invite a friend, family member, or neighbor to attend with you.  Easter is a time of year when people are probably more open to an invitation to attend church than at other times of the year.  Some regular attending church folks become upset when the attendance goes up on those special days.  Their reasoning is that those who only come on special days ought to be coming throughout the year.  That’s true, but if they come on Easter then they are at least hearing the message about Jesus one time.  That’s better than not hearing the message at all.  It may only take one time for God to plant the seed in their heart and great things may result.

     The theme of our service on “Resurrection Sunday”  is “An Easter to Remember.”  There will be a photographer available prior to the services to take pictures of you and your family.  I hope you take advantage of that and you preserve some memories through photos.  Since not everyone can get their picture taken at the same time, come early and then enjoy the light  breakfast in the fellowship hall.  The message I will be preaching on Sunday morning is entitled “An Easter to Remember” and comes from Mark 16.  Something unexpected, unforgettable and unstoppable happened on that first Easter morning and our world has not been the same since.

     We will be celebrating Jesus’ resurrection in song and also by observing the Lord’s Supper.  Each family group whether that is 6 or 1 will receive a free copy of Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ Answer Booklet.”  This is a tool that will help strengthen your faith in Christ and can be given to a friend to help them in their faith walk.  Those will be available at the Information Center.

     I hope to see each of you this coming Sunday morning!

                                                 C U N   Church,




April 1, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . . 

     Most people like jokes.  Today is April 1 a.k.a. April Fool’s Day.  For those people who like jokes and tricks, this is their holiday.  I hope that you enjoy the day but temper your jokes with a little bit of kindness and understanding.  Don’t be mean or cruel in the tricks you try to pull on others.

     April Fool’s Day is also a holiday for another group of people – atheists.  I am very careful about calling anyone a fool.  Many years ago in high school, I was friends with a boy who often called people “a fool.”  I began doing that as well until my parents told me about a passage in the Bible that warned about calling anyone a fool.  “But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:22b)  Upon learning about those words Jesus spoke,  I stopped that practice immediately.  Be very careful about calling another person “a fool.” 

     However, I believe I am on safe and solid ground when I call an atheist a fool.  Listen to what the Bible says about those who deny the existence of God.  “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Psalms 14:1a)  That statement is repeated in Psalms 53:1a.  If God calls an individual a fool, then I am safe in making that evaluation as well.

    Although it is true that anyone who denies the existence of God is a fool, I must not make that statement with a mean spirit, but I should be saddened by the state of that person.  Let’s not say that the person is a fool self-righteously, judgmentally or vindictively.  Rather, let us say that in humility – But for the grace of God that could be me.  Let us say that in compassion – caring for that person in their lost state.  Let us say that prayerfully – asking God to touch their hearts so that they might turn from their unbelief and come to salvation.

     I hope to see each of you this coming Lord’s Day morning and to be able to greet you personally.

                                                                                                                C U N   Church


March 19, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Yesterday morning I shared a message about attaining righteousness before God.  Moses in Deuteronomy 6:25 told the Israelites that if they were careful and obeyed completely the laws of God, they would be righteous before God.  The kicker in that is the phrase “obey all this law.”

 What if we obeyed 99.9% of the time?  That means 999 times out of a thousand chances to obey, we got it right.  Wouldn’t that be good enough to be declared righteous before God?  Is 99.9% good enough?  Take a look at the following statistics and I think you will agree that as good as 99.9% is, it is still not good enough.

     If 99.9% were good enough then:

107 incorrect medical procedures will be performed by the end of the day today.

2 million documents will be lost by the IRS this year.

22,000 transactions will be deducted from the wrong bank accounts in the next 60 minutes.

268,500 defective tires will be shipped this year.

103,260 income tax returns will be processed incorrectly this year.

18,322 pieces of mail will be mishandled in the next hour.

291 pacemaker operations will be performed incorrectly this year.

20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions will be written in the next 12 months.

114,500 mismatched pairs of shoes will be shipped this year

315 entries in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language will turn out to be misspelled.

12 babies will be given to the wrong parents each day.

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t look acceptable to me. 

     As hard as we try and as good as what we might be, it is still not good enough!  “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law” (Romans 3:20a).  But praise God we can be declared righteous in his sight by faith in Jesus Christ!

     I hope to see all of you this coming Lord’s Day morning.  I will finish the series of sermons from Deuteronomy by preaching on the “The Greatest Promise.”  See you then!

                                                      C U N   Church,


March 5, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Six men were gathered on top of a mountain (Luke 9:28-36).  Three of them were sleeping and three of them were talking with each other.  These six men were truly a “Who’s Who” in religion.  Their names were Peter, James, John, Elijah, Moses and Jesus.  If you had been a part of that group, what would you have wanted to talk about?  Perhaps the crossing of the Red Sea or the receiving of the Ten Commandments would have been your choice of topic.  Or maybe the challenge on Mt. Carmel with God answering prayer with fire may have been your focus.  The three that were conversing were talking about Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension (Luke 9:31).  In the coming years the three that were sleeping couldn’t stop talking about Jesus, His life, death, resurrection, etc. This simply emphasizes the importance of Jesus and His sacrifice for us.

     There is something else that stands out about the three men who were engaged in conversation.  It has to do with their graves.  Elijah never had a grave because he was taken into heaven without ever having to die.  Moses has an unknown grave because no one witnessed his burial.  God Himself buried Moses.  Jesus has an empty grave because He was raised to life never to die again and is now at the right hand of God in heaven.  The Bible tells us that as followers of Christ we will be like either Elijah or Jesus.

     If we are alive when Jesus returns, then we shall not die but we shall be changed and caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:17) We shall never experience death.  However if we should die before the Lord returns, then at His coming we shall be raised to life never to die again. (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).  That sounds like a win-win situation.  “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thess. 4:18).

     I hope to see each of you this coming Lord’s Day when we will continue to talk about Jesus and all that He has done for us.  Let’s all do our best to be in church this coming Sunday!

                                                                                                               C U N   Church,





February 19, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     A week ago on Wednesday night in our Bible Study, we were discussing the parable of the Good Samaritan.  It is one of the most well known teachings that Jesus shared.  In that parable, Jesus taught us to show compassion to others.  In the words of that story, He explained what the Golden Rule would look like if actually put into action.  In my column this week, I thought that I would share a couple of stories that illustrate compassion and concern in action.

     Dwight Morrow, the father of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, once held a dinner party to which Calvin Coolidge had been invited.  Coolidge at the time was not President of the United States.  After Coolidge left, Morrow told the remaining guests that Coolidge would make a good President.  The others disagreed.  They felt Coolidge was too quiet, that he lacked color and personality.  No one would like him, they said.  Anne, then six, spoke up: “I like him,” she said.  Then she displayed a finger with a small bandage around it.  “He was the only one at the party who asked about my sore finger.” 

     “And that’s why he would make a good President,” added Morrow.

     Mamie Adams always went to a branch post office in her town because the postal employees there were friendly.  She went there to buy stamps just before Christmas one year and the lines were particularly long.  Someone pointed out that there was no need to wait in line because there was a stamp machine in the lobby.  “I know,” said Mamie, “but the machine won’t ask me about my arthritis.”

     You know, people can watch a church service on TV or listen to one on the radio, but I hope that they choose to come to our services because they know someone will ask about how they are doing and really care about the answer.  I am convinced that we do have a caring congregation.  Keep up the good work!  Let’s make sure that people who attend our services really know that we care for them.

     I look forward to seeing you next Sunday morning.  Let’s all do our best to be present!

                                                                                                                C U N   Church,


February 3, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

             Super Bowl LIII is now history.  That’s a relief for fans who like lots of scoring.  The game Sunday night was the lowest scoring game in Super Bowl history.  USA Today said, “The game was so blah that the NFL’s halftime commercial, which featured some of the game’s all-time greats in a promotion for the upcoming 100th anniversary season, was the highlight of the entire night.”  How blah was the game?  It really depended on your perspective.  Defense is definitely a big part of the game so punters and defensive coordinators would have loved it.

The disappointment in the game by a vast majority of fans points to the one-sided focus many fans have.  If it is not a high scoring affair, then it is a boring game.    

This reminds me of how some people might feel about church services.  They like the spectacular and the glitzy.  If a worship service isn’t entertaining, then it is “blah” and boring.

I wonder what the reviews on the worship services held this past Lord’s Day around the country would be.   I am afraid that many of the reviews would say that church was boring and dull despite the fact that Jesus was in our midst, the very Word of God was preached, the Lord’s Supper was observed, praise was given to God in song, and communication was made with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.  Worship truly is amazing.  Over emphasis of the spectacular has prevented the appreciation of the amazing.

When you come for the worship services next week, be prepared to experience the amazing presence of God.  He will be there–will you?

                                             C U N   Church,


January 15, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Already we are half-way through the first month of this new year.  Time has a way of passing by doesn’t it?  Opportunities come and go and we must be ready to take advantage of those opportunities when they present themselves to us.  In Colossians 4:5 we are encouraged to “make the most of every opportunity.” 

     I want to remind the men of some upcoming opportunities.  For the past several months on one Saturday evening a month, we have been getting together for a time of food and fellowship.  This gives us a chance to spend time together, become better acquainted, and encourage one another in our walk with the Lord.  The next time we will be getting together is January 26.  You are invited to come and be a part of this gathering.

     As amazing as what it may seem, this will be almost the last newsletter in which I can promote this next men’s event.  Oil Belt’s annual men’s night is being held on Friday night, February 8.   There have been several men from First Christian who have attended this event in the last several years.  I want to encourage you to go with us to Oil Belt on that night.  Supper will be at 6 p.m. with the service at 7 p.m.  The registration is $20 but the church has felt so strongly about the importance of our men attending that they have agreed to pick up the cost of registration.  The theme for the service is Man Up: Make Disciples.  Please let me know if you would like to go.  This is only about three weeks away!

     Finally, I want to say thank you to all the men who are serving Christ in our church.  I appreciate your willingness to be doing His work!  Remember the encouragement we are given in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14.

     “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.  Do everything in love.”

     Our attendance at church this past Sunday was down due to the weather.  If we miss out on this next weather system predicted for the weekend, let’s do our best to be in the worship services this next Lord’s Day morning.

     Have a wonderful and blessed week!

                                                                                                               C U N   Church,


January 2, 2019

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Happy New Year to each of you!  I pray that God will bless you abundantly throughout this new year of 2019.  I also pray that each of us will remain faithful to Him throughout the New Year.  Thanks to Brother Martin for reminding us this past Lord’s Day morning to set some goals for the coming months.  In the next few lines, let me offer some challenges for the New Year in the form of an acrostic.


     Help others who are in need

    Assemble with other Christians

    Pray earnestly every day

     Pray for great blessings

     Yield not to temptation


     Neglect not your opportunities

     Examine yourself daily

     Work diligently for the Lord


     Yield to God’s will

     Exercise yourself in serving God

     Aim at being like Jesus

     Redeem the time


     The thought that I would like for our congregation to be focusing on during these next several months is “Christ, Above All.”  The books of the month, the sermons, Bible studies, etc will focus on this theme.  Let’s join together in learning how we can put Christ above all in the life of our congregation and also in our own personal lives.

     I hope to see each of you this coming Lord’s Day morning.  Let’s start the New Year off right by being in church!

                                                                                                                  C U N   Church,


December 18, 2018

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Do you hear what I hear?  When Christmas time rolls around, I hear the songs that I have heard for years and that convey the message of Christmas.  Some of you may be tired of hearing the Christmas songs blaring on the radio, but bear with me.  In this and the following paragraph, I have shared some thoughts about Christmas and within these words have included the titles of 25 different Christmas songs.  See if you can find all of them.

     We (Irma and I) wish you a merry Christmas!  As we think about Christmas and the wonderful gift God gave to us in the person of His Son Jesus Christ, there are many thoughts that might come to mind.  To some, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but to others it can be a really blue Christmas.  Christmas is a family holiday and since there’s no place like home for the holidays many promise themselves and their family that “I’ll be home for Christmas.”  Many of the things we associate with the holiday such as a white Christmas, winter wonderlands, and sleigh rides have more to do with the weather of the season rather than with the meaning of the season.  To many, Christmas is about Santa Claus coming to town and keeping an eye out for Rudolph the red nosed reindeer.  Unfortunately we forget to keep our eyes peeled for the Savior who may come at any time.  His first coming brought joy to the world on that silent night so many years ago.  Will His second coming be welcomed by people today regardless of whether it comes at mid-day or even if it came upon the midnight clear?  Good Christian Men, rejoice at the news but be sure to go tell it on the mountain so that everyone may be ready for our coming Lord and not be left wondering, “What child is this that was born in that little town of Bethlehem?”  To be able to say that I heard the bells on Christmas day whether those are silver bells or just jingle bells will not be sufficient; we must also know the One for whom those bells ring.  O come all ye faithful Christians and proclaim the glad news that the Savior was born and be ready to welcome Him along with all the angels from the realms of glory.  So once again, may we encourage you to have a merry little Christmas or as some might say have a holly jolly Christmas!

     I hope to see each of you this coming Lord’s Day morning!

                                                                                                                              C U N   Church,


December 4, 2018

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Former President George W.H. Bush died this past Friday, November 30.  He was the forty first President of the United States.  There is a story that has been shared about the former President that should motivate each of us to be better citizens of our country.

     In 1989, President Ronald Reagan began a tradition that has continued with each succeeding President of leaving a hand-written note to the man who would be taking over the job of leading the nation.  President Bush left such a note to Bill Clinton.  Although Clinton had defeated Bush in the 1992 election and they disagreed on a number of issues, the note that Bush left Clinton contained nothing but encouraging words.  The last words of the note were “You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.  Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.”  In a time where strife and division characterize our country’s leadership, those simple words should motivate us to have a little more understanding and respect for others.  We may vehemently disagree with others on different issues, but we should never allow that to cause us to be disrespectful and hateful toward others.  Somewhere along the way, we have lost that sense of patriotism that the older generation seemed to have.  May God help us to love and respect our American neighbors.

     I want to remind you of all the activities that are coming up in December.  Be sure to read this newsletter to see what is coming up.  I hope that you can be a part of these activities and enjoy the blessings of this Christmas season.

     I hope to see each of you this coming Lord’s Day morning when we gather for worship.

                                                     C U N   Church,



November 20, 2018

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Since Thursday is Thanksgiving, I thought it would be good to share with you some thoughts about giving thanks.  Thanksgiving is not always an easy thing to do.  Some might even call it art.  That is the title of the following article.

     It is thanking God for the gift of life by living it triumphantly.

     It is thanking God for your talents and abilities by accepting them as obligations to be invested for the common good.

     It is thanking God for all that men and women have done for you by doing things for others.

     It is thanking God for opportunities by accepting them as a challenge to achievement.

     It is thanking God for happiness by striving to make others happy.

     It is thanking god for beauty by helping to make the world more beautiful.

     It is thanking God for inspiration by trying to be an inspiration to others.

     It is thanking God for health and strength by the care and reverence you show your body.

     It is thanking God for the creative ideas that enrich life by adding your own creative contributions to human progress.

     It is thanking God for each new day by living it to the fullest.

     It is thanking God by giving hands, arms, legs, and voice to your thankful spirit.

     It is adding to your prayers of thanksgiving, acts of thanks-living

-          W.A. Peterson                                                                             

     May each of you have a blessed Thanksgiving and may each of us be able to live our lives in such a way so as to express our thanksgiving to the One from whom all blessings come.

     I hope to see all of you this coming Sunday.  Let’s all do our very best to be present for our services this coming Lord’s Day.


November 6, 2018

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Thank you so much for all the kind expressions of appreciation given to me and Irma during the month of October (Pastors’ Appreciation Month).  We are thankful for your support and encouragement whether it was by word, card or gift.

     Yesterday (October 28) sitting at the table eating lunch, we began to see something interesting unfold.  As you know Henrietta Street is under repair and the section of street just past our house to the north is closed.  There is a sign posted at Henrietta and Temple saying that the road is closed and only local traffic should use the street.  Despite the notice, we daily see several vehicles attempt to go through Henrietta.  They have to turn around and go back.  Yesterday, it was more than just several who tried to go through on Henrietta.  Due to the parade in town, there was a huge amount of traffic.  In just about an hour’s time there were approximately 100 vehicles that tried to go through on Henrietta but were forced to turn around and go back.  At times there were as many as five vehicles in front of our house.  Some were circling in the clinic’s parking lot across the street while the others were waiting their turn to do the same.  For an hour there was an uninterrupted stream of traffic on a street that led nowhere.  They were all trying to find a way to get to the big event – the Halloween Parade.

     I was reminded of how people are trying to get to heaven.  God has told us how to get to heaven.  Through His Word the Bible, He has posted clear instructions.  Jesus is the Way.  All the other ways have been closed.  Despite those instructions, people still try to bypass “the Way” and go an alternate route.  They travel down life’s road until they can travel no further and are forced to turn back.  It would have been so much better if they would have heeded God’s directions and warnings.  Portions of lives that have been wasted living for sin and self could have been used for Christ and His Kingdom.  Praise God that many have eventually heeded God’s instructions and turned around to go the other way!   However, there are some who never listen.  Even yesterday in the “great parade” on Henrietta, there were some who chose to bypass the road closed signs and go through.  The ones on Henrietta were able to make it but those who disregard God’s warning signs will eventually perish and be lost forever.

     I want to encourage you to continue walking faithfully on the “Way” that God has shown you and to continue to try to help others on the wrong road see the right way.

     I hope to see each of you this coming Lord’s Day morning

                                                          C U N   Church,




October 15, 2018

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Sometimes, preachers say the dumbest things.  In the early 1970’s, David Bycroft came home from a church conference and announced to his church (averaging less than 100 in attendance) in Tyro, Kansas, that someday their congregation would increase to 500.  Someone in the congregation laughed that day.  That individual probably thought the preacher was out of his mind.  Preachers can say the dumbest things.  The church now averages close to 1000 in attendance.

     Yesterday, Andrew Bloemker from Feed the Crave stated that he thought the world could be won to Christ in his lifetime.  Preachers can say the dumbest things.  However, after explaining how that could actually be accomplished, it didn’t sound so dumb after all.  We can make a difference in the lives of our friends, family, and neighbors.

     Next Sunday, we are asking each of you to consider what you might be able to give so that others in our community, our region, and the world might be able to hear about Jesus.  You might be saying that the little bit of money you have available to give can’t really make a difference.  With God’s blessings, it can and will make a difference.  Even as a boy’s lunch of five loaves of bread and two fish was used to feed a multitude, our small amount of money with God’s blessings can be used to bring the message of salvation to many.  Be praying this week, asking God to guide you in your decision.

     Who can I personally influence for Christ?  Invite someone to come with you to church.  Your personal invitation is a powerful thing.  You can make a difference!

     I hope to see each of you this coming Lord’s Day morning.  Let’s all do our very best to be present for our worship time!

                                                                                                   C U N   Church,


October 2, 2018

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.  Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  Colossians 4:2-6 (bold print and italics are mine)

     When it comes to opportunities to share the message of Christ with our family, friends and neighbors, we need to make the most of every opportunity.  I want to remind you of some of those opportunities that are approaching.

     Don’t forget the Faith Promise Rally in October when we will have the opportunity to learn how we can partner with our missionaries in sharing the gospel of Christ with others.  Remember, you can make a difference!

     We need your help in our community outreach at Treat Town on October31.  We will have the opportunity to interact with dozens of children and their families.  May we use that opportunity to share Jesus’ love with them!

     Operation Christmas Child is coming up in November.  We will have the opportunity to share the message of God’s love with children from around the world.  Plan to be a part of that.

     Salvation Army will be looking for volunteers to help with its bell ringing campaign on the weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Sign up to help with that program that helps administer God’s love to those in need in our community.

     The Christmas season provides a good opportunity to invite others to come to our church services.  Christmas is one of those seasons when people are more receptive to an invitation to come to church than at any other time.  Invite your family, friends, and neighbors to come for our children’s program, the adult Christmas play, and Christmas Eve candlelight service.

     The next three months are packed with opportunities for us to influence others for Jesus.  Pray that God will use our efforts to reach out to others.

                                                                                                            C U N   Church,



September 4, 2018

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     I hope that all of you had a safe and happy Labor Day weekend.  Labor Day is exactly what it sounds like, a day to honor those who work.  According to Wikipedia, Labor Day had its origins in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew.  Trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor and Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894. 

     Labor is commanded by God.  After God had planted the Garden of Eden, He placed Adam in the garden to “work it and take care of it.”  We often complain about having to work, but the Bible teaches us that work is actually a gift of God.  “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.  That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil-this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13).  God created us for the purpose of working and honoring Him.  “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).  The Bible urges us to work for men as if we were working for God.  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24). 

     I am grateful that my salvation does not depend on my work.  However, because God has saved me, I should be working for Him.  My love for the Lord should be a motivating factor in my service to Him.  In writing to the Thessalonians, Paul mentioned their labor prompted by love and the work produced by faith (1 Thessalonians 1:3). 

     In addition to these Scriptures, there have been many songs written encouraging us to faithfully serve our Lord.  Among some of those songs are “To the Work, To the Work,” “We’ll Work ‘Till Jesus Comes,” and “Work for the Night is Coming.”

     Let’s be faithful in our service to the Lord!  I hope to see each of you this coming Sunday morning as we gather for worship.  Let’s all do our best to be present. 

                                                      C U N   Church,


August 20, 2018

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.   He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

(2 Corinthians 1:3-4) New Living Translation

     It was my intention to have written this column this morning.  However, things did not work out so that could happen.  Let me tell you about three of the things that kept me from writing..  The first incident involved a man by the name of James.  He was sitting out in front of Wal-Mart with a sign indicating he needed help.  As we passed by, Irma rolled the window down and asked him if he was hungry.  He replied that he was.  She told him to meet us at McDonalds.  We bought him some breakfast sandwiches and a drink.  I believe that we were a comfort to him.  When I got back to the office, there was a man by the name of Dave waiting.  He needed help in getting a copy of his birth certificate so that he could acquire an I.D.  After making four phone calls to Chicago and making a couple of trips to Wal-Mart, we were able to help him get that worked out.  I believe we were a blessing to him.  This afternoon, a man came by the office to talk with me with the express purpose of encouraging me.  He certainly was a blessing to me!

God brought comfort into my life so that I might be able to pass it on to others.

     Even as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians, God comforts us in our difficulties so that we can pass that comfort on to others who may need it.  Who are you blessing today?  To whom are you supplying comfort? 

     Make me a blessing!  Make me a blessing!

     Out of my life may Jesus shine.

     Make me a blessing, O Savior I pray.

     Make me a blessing to someone today.

     I look forward to seeing you on Sunday and being able to greet each of you.  Let’s all do our very best to be present when the church meets for worship!

                                                                                                                    C U N   Church,


August 7, 2018

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Pride is a dangerous thing.  We are warned in Proverbs 16:18 that “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”  Paul admonishes his readers in Romans 12:3, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”  Despite these instructions found in the Bible, pride continues to be a problem each of us deals with.  I found a website on the internet that even gives a list of things of which we can be proud.  That list included your attitude, what you have learned in life, your accomplishments, your financial decisions, your leisure activities and hobbies, your relationships and compassion for others, and your physical achievements.  John warned his readers that the boasting of what he has and does – doesn’t come from the Father but from the world.  He added to that thought by saying “the world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:16-17)

     Is there anything about which we can boast?  Jeremiah wrote in his prophecy, “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me that I am the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

     Aren’t you glad that you know the Lord and have been able to walk with Him?  Aren’t you glad that you have experienced His grace and His wonderful blessings?  Aren’t you glad that you have a loving Father and a loving Savior who died in your place?  Yes!  Yes! And Yes!  How blessed we are! 

     But even in this boasting about knowing the Lord, may we not be puffed up with pride, but may we make that boast in humility and in gratitude.  May that humility and gratitude motivate us to share the message with others so that they too can say, “We know the Lord.”

     I hope to see each of you this coming Sunday as we worship together.  Let’s all do our very best to be present.

                                                        C U N   Church,


July 17, 2018

Ponderings of the Preacher . . .

     Another VBS completed.  Thank you to all who helped with VBS this past week.  It requires a big sacrifice of time and energy to make a VBS program work.  I found a poem about a VBS worker that I would like to share with you.

                            ODE TO A VBS WORKER

My dishes went unwashed today, I didn’t touch a bed;

The kids and Dad just had to go a little underfed.

But there’s a real good reason for this overwhelming mess,

And that’s because it’s time again for my church’s VBS.

My dishes and my beds, you know, will always wait for me.

But those little children there at Church won’t wait that patiently.

For they are growing up right now before our very eyes,

And I must do my part to see their souls‘needs supplied,

I’m tired and weary now; it’s true, and just a bit undone;

But, thank you God, for your small friends – I love them everyone.

Lord, give me strength and patience and a heart that’s full of cheer,

That you might find me once again in VBS next year.

It is impossible to know the results of a VBS at the time it takes place.  The love that is shown, the Word that is shared, the encouragement that is given, and the lessons that are taught will produce fruit sometimes many years removed from the actual time of VBS.  Only God knows what kind of results will come from our efforts.  Continue to pray that the seeds that were sown will sprout, grow, bloom, and produce fruit.

     I appreciated having Mark Wilkinson share the message this past Sunday morning.  I will be back in the pulpit this coming Sunday and Pastor Martin will be preaching the last Sunday of this month since it is a fifth Sunday.

     Let’s all do our best to be present for our worship time this coming Sunday.  I hope to be able to greet each of you.

                                                                                                               C U N   Church,