Monday, August 29, 2011

From Rebellion To Restoration

Good Monday Morning to you!

Another week is past and once again it is my honor to be able to spend these few minutes with you. Were you one of those who suffered from the effects of Hurricane Irene? I hope not, but if you were, please know that the Friendship Harmony Baptist Church is praying for you, and I make this invitation: If there is any assistance that we can provide, please contact me.

Last week was very busy for Bess and me. On four consecutive days I saw two doctors, and two labs. One doctor was all the way on the other side of the county. We have big counties here in Florida, so it was quite the trip. This week I see one more doctor, and visit one more lab, then hopefully it will settle down. Let me offer you this bit of advise: Don't ever have a heart attack. It is absolutely too time consuming! I thank God for the insurance provided to me by our church, but the co-pays are killers. Like I say, it should ease up after this week.

Today begins a great week here at Friendship Harmony. First, this date marks the one year anniversary of the founding of our church. As I look back over the past year, I can clearly see where the hand of the LORD has guided us every step of the way. His blessings to us have been phenomenal and quite numerous. One of those blessings bring me to another event for the week. On Wednesday, August 31, at two o'clock, our newest small group begins. It is called “The Jewish Roots of Christianity.” I am as excited about this as I have ever been. The last time I was this excited, the Big Red Machine was still playing baseball! Seriously though, have you ever read your Bible and wondered why something was done or said as it was? If you understand the culture of that day, not only will your study make more sense, but practical, modern day application to our own lives becomes much easier. This is called Human Geography and happens to have been my major at Miami University. Can you see now why I'm so excited? I promise you, this is going to be a blessing to all. Please contact me for more information. If you are here in the area, try to come. It is open to all; members and non members alike. By the way, just so you know, Miami University is not in Florida. It is in Oxford, Ohio near my home town of Cincinnati, and was a major University when the land upon which the University of Miami, Florida, sits, was hunting grounds for the Seminole Indians.

Yesterday we met King Manasseh of Judah. You can read about him in 2 Chronicles 33, and 2 Kings 21. He was an evil king who with each passing day, out-did his own wickedness. He was rebellious to put it mildly. However, he finished well: he went from rebellion to restoration. He gave his heart and life to the LORD, and was blessed by the Almighty for it. The next time you are telling someone about the love of Jesus and they tell you their sins have been too bad for the LORD to forgive, take them to 2 Chronicles 33. Show them the account of this man's life. Let them know that just like Manasseh, they are not too bad for the grace of Jesus. Precisely because they are bad is why it is called grace.

I hope you have a blessed week. Go out this week and intentionally be a blessing to someone else. When you do, watch what Jesus will do. I'll see you next Monday Morning With Pastor Vic!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Eclectic Ramblings

Good Monday Morning To You!!

Last week I promised you that I would show you a picture of our “new” pulpit. I say “new” because it dates back many years. Here are a couple pictures. Many thanks again to Pastor Jim Rankin for making it available, and Bill Wolfe for stripping and refinishing it. Also thanks mom for letting it live in your garage for several months. I hope you had a great week.

Last week was a good week for Pastor Vic and Bess. We saw Bro. Keith Lancaster up in North Port, and met other people who are working in “traditional” churches. Friendship Harmony is classified as a traditional church. We sing the old songs out of hymnals, and conduct services, “in the old fashioned way.” I’ve been to contemporary services, and they are fine if you enjoy that. Their music is Scripturally sound and the messages are Christ centered. I preached in a contemporary service onboard the cruise ship, “The Jewel”. However, I’m more comfortable in a traditional church. I like songs like, “Redeemed How I Love To Proclaim It,” and “Love Lifted Me.” Our minister of music, Ken Birdsong, feels that way too. His selection of music each week makes our services tremendous! I wish all you readers could experience a Friendship Harmony service. The LORD’s presence is strong with us. I pray it is always so; we certainly do not deserve it, nor have we earned it. It is sheer grace.

Yesterday I returned to my roots and preached an expository sermon with no notes. I studied all week, opened my Bible, and had the time of my life. Preaching is my joy and my calling. My cardiologist in Cincinnati said in order to relieve stress, normally they would retired me. However, he went on to say that for a preacher, not preaching would be more stressful than preaching. My message yesterday came from Isaiah 50:2-8. This is one of those passage with several applications. The first is called the primary application. In these verses, the primary is concerning the Messiah. They are called Messianic. This passage shows why the Book of Isaiah is called the fifth gospel; Isaiah writes it as if it has already happened! The next is called the secondary application. This is where the example can be applied to our life.

In this passage, God calls Israel to remembrance in verses two and three. He does so to remind Israel of who He is. The secondary application is that He also calls us to remembrance. This is done to help us remember that God is worthy to serve, and doing so is safe.

Verse four is the key to this section; it all revolves around this verse. Notice the statement, “… that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary…” This is the reason for the call to remembrance. As we remember who God truly is, and what He has done for us, we then can “speak a word in season to him that is weary.” This is what is meant in the beginning of the verse when he speaks of, “the tongue of the learned.”

In verse five, he speaks of being open to God’s teaching. Are you open to it? Sometime it comes through prayer, sometime through Bible study, sometime through revelation, but most time through experience.

What does God equip us with? Experiences! Experiences where He, through His majesty and might, has carried us, sustained us, and delivered us. Remember what He has equipped you with and why. The what is personal with you. The why is so that, (verse four), so that I can, “speak a word in season to him that is weary.”

Have a good week and remember Pastor Vic, Bess, and family in your prayers. We pray for you, too. I’ll see you next week on Monday Morning With Pastor Vic.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Four Friends And Old-Timers

Good Monday Morning To You!

How was your past week? Mine went from boring to busy and back again; talk about a roller coaster ride! Some of the time I was resting and recovering, and other times I was visiting this doctor, or this lab, or… You get the picture. It if it was not for the medical profession, I’d have nothing to do and nowhere to go. When I was a kid, I’d hear the “old-timers” talking like this. Have I become an old-timer? Perish the thought! I’m still a youngster who has mysteriously gotten trapped into an old timer’s body. Oh well, in Heaven I’ll be 17 again.

When I was in the Bethesda North Hospital, one of my preacher friends who came to visit was Bro. Jim Rankin and his wife Lisa. Jim told me about a message he preached called “Four Friends Of A Believer.” He named the four friends and I thought I would really like the people at Friendship Harmony to meet these four, as well as the faithful readers of this blog. Later that night while still in I.C.U., I began to think about the direction of this message. The LORD directed me as I developed it, and I have included the notes here. I wish I could have heard Bro. Rankin’s version; I imagine it was tremendous! He’s a good preacher and a good friend. Thanks Jim!! Here are those notes.

Four Friends Of The Believer
Mark 2:1-5
Main points by Pastor Jim Rankin
Sub points and fill Victor Cooper

Intro: These are not a believer’s only friends as introduced by Scriptures, but get to know each of them. They’ll never let you down!

I. These friends are only introduced by Jesus. V1
A. The Bible says your body is a temple. 1 Cor. 6:19
B. You can only meet these four if Jesus is in your house.
C. Is He in your house?

II. V3. The name of the first friend is Compassion.
A. The man was brought by his friends. They believed Jesus could and would help.
B. They were willing to take of their time to help their friend.

III. V4a The name of the second friend is Hope.
A. Hope = from the Greek elpis, the expectation of good
1. The key word is “expectation.”
B. Man’s definition of hope - “I hope my lottery ticket wins those big numbers.”
C. They expected good from Jesus.

IV. V4b The name of the third friend is Perseverance.
His nickname is Longsuffering.
A. They kept at it. They refused to quit until their friend met Jesus.
B. Most people give up at the first sign of a problem.
1. Their pat excuse, “Well I guess God wasn’t in it.”
2. Noah worked on the ark 120 years.

V. v5 The name of the fourth friend is Faith.
A. Jesus commended their faith.
— Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
When Jesus saw their faith -- It is remarkable that all the three narratives call it "their faith" which Jesus saw. That the patient himself had faith, we know from the proclamation of his forgiveness, which Jesus made before all; and we should have been apt to conclude that his four friends bore him to Jesus merely out of benevolent compliance with the urgent entreaties of the poor sufferer. But here we learn, not only that his bearers had the same faith with himself, but that Jesus marked it as a faith which was not to be defeated -- a faith victorious over all difficulties. This was the faith for which He was ever on the watch, and which He never saw without marking, and, in those who needed anything from Him, richly rewarding.
B. His sin was not forgiven due to their faith, but his healing came as a result of his faith and theirs.
1. Often folk are healed, delivered, blessed, etc… due to the faith and prayers of others.
C. His forgiveness indicated that he too had faith.
D. He definitely was the one who had asked to see Jesus.

Conclusion: Are any of these four friends of yours? Jesus wants to introduce you to all four. It took all four to carry the sufferer. Are you suffering? Get acquainted with these four friends and they’ll bear you along.

I enjoyed preaching this one. This was my first time back in the pulpit. When I stood to preach, I was not feeling as good as I had wanted. However, as soon as I read the text and began, I could feel a surge of energy running through me: I preached as I did in my thirties. If I can get stronger, I might get back to preaching like I did in my twenties. Watch out!! Seriously, I thank the LORD for the gift of being able to stand and deliver His word. I can’t wait to see what the LORD has for us next week.

Speaking of next week, I’ll try to post a picture of our new pulpit. Pastor Jim Rankin gave it to me to be used at the church. It is actually an old-timer itself. Yesterday it made its debut at Friendship Harmony. I bet that old pulpit has heard many fine messages in its past. I just hope the ones it is yet to hear is just as good. Certainly they will be Scriptural. Bill and Patty Wolfe picked it up from my mom’s garage in Cincy a few weeks ago. Bill spent many hours restoring and refinishing it. I cant’ wait for you to see it. It definitely has that “wow factor.” I don’t know if I can post a picture, but I’ll try.

Have yourself a good, prosperous, and healthy week. I look forward to seeing you next Monday Morning With Pastor Vic.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Back In Florida!

Good Monday Morning To You!

Bess and I are back home in Florida again after an “extended” vacation. I saw the cardiologist in Cincinnati, Dr. Stephen Lewis, last Monday morning. He said all looked well and felt safe to allow me to travel by car back home. It is 1050 miles from my mom’s front door to mine. It is 17 hours as hard as you can drive. In my younger days I drove it straight through, As I “aged” I got smarter and we would drive it in two days. Last week we took three days. We started home last Tuesday morning after a nice breakfast my mom fixed and we drove to Athens, Tennessee, about 45 minutes north of Chattanooga. The next morning, the motel lady told us of a cafeteria up in town that the locals liked. She was not joking! The country cooked food was awesome. We drove that day and made it to Lake City, Florida. Next destination: home! We got home Thursday evening and my dogs were thrilled. They jumped and whooped and hollered. It is great when someone is glad to see you!

While I was in the Bethesda North Hospital in Cincy, my son Jason flew up to be with us. Bess can tell you he was a great help to her and mom during that time. He flew back to Ft. Myers on the Sunday before Bess and I left on Tuesday. All four kids would have been there if they could - our family seems to draw together during a crisis. I’m proud of each of them!

Yesterday was a super day at Friendship Harmony, although I cannot recall us ever having a routine, ho-hum service. Bro. Daryl Ellis preached as I was not quite ready to do it. I thought last week that I probably could, but after I did the announcements, I was glad he was there. He preached a fine message from 2 Corinthians chapter twelve. He spoke about personal weaknesses; we all have them. Bro. Ellis reminded us that while society tells us we should “be strong,” and “exercise your will power,” Scriptures never issue such commands. Our strength comes from the LORD. As far as will power goes, we follow Christ, not our own desires.

When we recognize a weakness, Pastor Ellis suggested a three step plan. First, admit the weakness to yourself. Next, admit the weakness to God. Finally admit the weakness to someone else. It is easier to work through something if someone else is assisting and praying. He preached it is as easy A-B-C. Admit the weakness. Believe in the sufficiency of God. Consecrate your life to following Christ.

Thanks Daryl for some much needed advise as to God’s way for handling personal weaknesses; fine words from God’s word.

Next Sunday morning, the LORD willing, I’ll be back in the pulpit preaching, “Four Good Friends Of The Believer.” It comes from Mark 2:1-5. I’ll give more details, including the notes next week.

For those in the vicinity of the Church, this coming Saturday morning at The Twisted Lemon on Pine Island Road is our men’s meeting. It’s a time for the men to come together and talk about whatever. We have the private meeting room in the back, and the food and service is exceptional. The time is 8:00 A.M. I hope all you guys in the area can attend. Also this coming Sunday after services is our monthly carry-in dinner. Again, I’d like to invite all to come. We have many fine cooks in our Church, and it seems as if they just keep getting better. You do not have to be a member of Friendship Harmony to participate; just come and fellowship around the table with us.

Have a good, safe, and healthy week. Thank you for the continued prayers for me as I continue to recover, and for my family as they are going through together.

I’ll see you next Monday Morning With Pastor Vic!