Pastor George’s Message...
Sunday, February 2, 2014
Jan 26, 2014 “A Place to Stand” —John 14:5-14 —Pastor George Chatham
Feb 2, 2014 Pastor George’s LAST SUNDAY AT TR: “He Who Began A Good Work” —Phil. 1:6 —Pastor George Chatham
Feb 9, 2014 —Rev. Chuck Drake
Feb 16, 2014 —Rev. Doug Dalley
Feb 23, 2014
TRChoG Preaching Schedule...
Called By God To Be A Multicultural Church
Reaching... Loving... Caring... in Jesus' Name
Tillman Road Church of God
Fort Wayne, IN
A PLACE TO STAND
Scripture Lesson: John 14:5-14
Key Verse: (vs. 6) Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Those of you who were here last Sunday know that I share a little bit of my spiritual pilgrimage.
I shared how I was raised in a Christian home, how I became a Christian, and how I felt my call to the ministry.
Last Sunday I told you that today I planned to share another part of my spiritual pilgrimage in which I seriously questioned God’s existence.
This was the time between my freshmen and sophomore years in college.
It was during that time when I went through a real struggle sorting out what I believed vs. what I had been taught to believe… it was a time I came to my own faith, rather than living on my parent’s faith.
Search for Truth:
When you go off to college, especially a Liberal Arts college, one of the first things you are taught to do is to think critically! --not to believe everything you read or everything you’ve ever been taught!... You’re taught to think for yourself!
One of the most important endeavors of a college education is the search for truth!... learning to separate the truth from that which is not true… and learning to do it the rest of your life.
Of course the big debate is: “What is truth!”
Is truth a subjective thing where everyone decides for him/herself what is truth… and as long as you are personally convinced and sincere in your belief, then it doesn’t matter what you believe?
Or are there absolute truths… truths you can know for a certainty.
And so how do you decide what truth is?
Of course this question of: “What is truth!” is not a new question.
Jesus was asked the same question by Pilate during his trial in John 18:38.
After my freshman year at Warner; --and after my first Bible classes in which I found out that some of the simple Sunday School answers I had learned, might not be the whole truth; --and after I had been through a couple introductory sociology and psychology classes, I really begin to wonder, what can and what do I believe?
Does God really exist?... or is all this Christianity and religious stuff just a figment of my imagination?... something that we have made-up in our own minds?...
And then the more questions I had in my mind, the more I felt guilty because of all the doubts and questions I was having.
I had been taught to believe that if you had any doubts… it was showing a lack of faith.
I spent a troubled summer between my freshmen and sophomore years wrestling with these questions.
And because I spent that summer driving a tractor 50 and 60 hours a week… I had a lot of time to think.
I can’t imagine what I would have done, if I had not been at a Christian college where I had some help and guidance working through some of these questions.
What would have happened, if instead, I had been at a secular school where the existence of God was either completely denied or highly questioned?...
In my search for what was truth, one of the foundational premises that I was taught my first year at Warner was that “truth is truth regardless of what its source”.
If something is really true, then there is nothing to be afraid of.
As Jesus said: John 8:32: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
We don’t have to be afraid of truth if it is really true.
But again we need to realize that Satan is the author and source of all “lies” all that is “not truth”, and so he will always do his best to paint something as being “true”, when in reality it’s not.
So we’re back to the question of what is truth… and how do you know what truth is?...
Another important thing I learned, especially from a lecture I heard from Elton Trueblood: Was that questions and doubts can be a good thing, because they drive you to seek what is really the truth.
I.E. I didn’t need to feel guilty when I had honest intellectual questions about God and about the Bible.
Elton Trueblood assured me that God was big enough that he would still be there when I got done asking all my questions and expressing all my doubts and skepticism.
Through some of his writings and a couple of his lectures I heard, Elton Trueblood assured me that faith was not just a blind leap off a cliff, with the hope that there would be someone along the way or at the bottom to catch me.
But that there can be a reasonable, logical basis for our faith.
That we can be intellectually honest people and still be Christian.
I’ll never forget the relief that the night my sophomore year at Warner Pacific College, when as he was lecturing and I began to realized that I could have honest doubts and still be a Christian… that I could have honest doubts and still have God “calling me to ministry”.
Is There a God?:
One of my big questions that I was wrestling with that summer was the question: “How do we know for sure that God exists?”
Is God just a figment of my imagination?
Is God a “crutch” or an “opiate” which society and culture has invented to help us get through the hard times in life.
Or is God real? --can a reasonable, intellectually honest person believe in God?
One of the arguments of the secular scientific world is that since God can’t be proven scientifically, therefore he can’t be real.
You can’t put God in a test-tube and weigh or measure Him.
You can’t prove him with absolute certainty.
One of the things I learned in my science classes at Warner was that even in science there are very few things, if any, that can really be proven with absolutely certainty.
All of science, --the whole scientific method is based on the premises that we live in a world of order and that there is a cause and effect relationship at work in everything in our world.
To prove something scientifically you begin with a hypothesis and you set up tests and methods to prove or disprove your hypothesis.
And what usually happens is: The more you think you know the more you find out you don’t really know.
So what about the existence of God?
I learned that there are some logical reasons we can believe in God.
I’m not going to go into all the arguments for the existence of God right now… we don’t have the time…
But the one that made the most sense to me was the very same reason and premise that science is based on, and that is the fact we live in a world of order which has cause and affect relationships.
In the world of science, the evolutionist will try to explain how things came about by saying that everything evolved from energy and matter, --and thus we have Einstein’s famous formula: E=MC2.
But the scientist can’t explain where energy and matter came from to begin with.
Descartes, the famous philosopher, said: “I think, therefore I am.”
You and I are here this morning! We exist!
But where did we come from? --our parents?
And where did our parents come from? --and their parents? --and their parents?
And you can keep going back until somewhere you have to come to the first parents and from them, the first cause of everything.
The fact our world exists, --the fact that there is energy and matter, says to me there must have been a Creator of some kind in the very beginning, --the “first cause” of everything.
And if logic says there has to be a “first cause” for everything, then why not have that “first cause” to be God the creator of the Bible.
Illustration: If you were Robinson Crusoe walking along the beach and you found a watch lying in the sand on the beach.
--Maybe you didn’t even know what it was, --you had never seen a watch before in your life....
--Simply by looking at the design of that watch by itself, you could tell that someone, a creator, had made that watch, --that the watch hadn’t just happen by itself.
For me the existence of the world, --the design and the order of this world, is one of the greatest proofs that there must be a Creator God.
And the opposite of all that is: When things are left by themselves alone, they turn back into chaos and disorder… which is the 3rd law of physics.
The problem with this concept and view of God is that it leaves us with a very impersonal kind of God.
Who’s to say that God didn’t just create everything, --kind of wind it up like a clock, and then went over into some other corner of the universe and went to sleep to let the world wind-down on its own.
And so that leaves us with the question of: Does God really care about me personally?
And BTW: Most people believe in some kind of Creator God!
So what difference doesn’t it make whether you believe in God as “the mother earth”, or God as Allah, or God as the inner being and potential of one’s self, or God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
Secular society and most secular universities teach that it makes no difference what kind of God you believe in as long as you are sincere and believe in something… even if it’s an Oprah Winfred kind of God.
A Place to Stand:
This where the key verse of our Scripture Lesson becomes so important.
In (vs. 6) of our Scripture Lesson Jesus says: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
This statement by Jesus is probably one of the most important and most audacious statements ever made by anyone, ever in the history of the human race.
Let me give you an illustration used by Elton Trueblood to show you why this statement of Jesus is so important and audacious.
As you can probably tell by now, the late Elton Trueblood is a hero in my life.
That fall evening at Warner Pacific College Elton Trueblood in a lecture gave the illustration of Archimedes.
Illustration: Archimedes is credited as being the inventor of the lever.
As the story goes Archimedes was showing the King of Salem what all the lever could do.
By placing the short end of a long board over a fulcrum and under something that was heavy, one person could lift tremendous amounts of weight, --more than had ever been lifted before.
Up to that time an average man could maybe life 1 or 2 times his own weight, but with the lever, a person could lift 3, 4, 5, 6 maybe 20 times or more his own weight.
The King of Salem was very impressed, and so he asked Archimedes, just how much can you lift with a lever.
And Archimedes replied with what has now become his famous line: “Give me a place to stand and I can move the world.”
Elton Trueblood went on to say: “Jesus Christ is our place to stand.”
And with Jesus Christ as our place to stand we can move the world.
In the Key Verse of our Scripture Lesson, Jesus says: (John 14:6) "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus is our one and only way to God.
He is not one way among many others; he is “the way.... no one comes to the Father except through me”, Jesus says.
Jesus also says: “I am the truth”.
There may be a lot of things we can’t comprehend or fully understand about God and the way He works.
I may not understand fully how prayer works.
I may not fully understand how God created this vast universe.
I may not understand why there are bad things that happen to good people.
These are all mysteries to me.
But just because we can’t understand everything about God, --just because his ways are beyond our human ways, --just because God is too big to be put into a scientific test-tube and weighed and measured, does not mean that God does not exist or is not real.
Jesus also says: “I am the life…”
Jesus is saying in affect: If you want to have real life, I’m “the life”; --I will give you, not just a bare existence, I will give you abundant life.
It is in Jesus that we learn that God is not some far away, uninvolved, uncaring Creator.
But God loves and cares so much about us that he sent his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
And so if you want a rational, reasonable basis for your faith, --if you need a place to stand to build your life, begin with Jesus… he’s the one and only place to stand.
It all comes down to whether or not Jesus was real and who he said he was… and that is another Easter Sermon I have preached…
But the fact Jesus was a real historical person!
The fact there is reasonable, eye-witness evidence that Jesus died and rose again from the dead, just as he said he would, says to me Jesus can be believed, --that’s he’s the one solid place that I can stand.
And with Jesus as my place to stand, I not only have a foundation on which to build my faith, but with the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus promised and sent you and I can moved the world.
This morning in closing… since this is my last official sermon to you, I want to close by sharing Paul’s words from: Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV) 3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
You all here at Tillman Road will always carry a special place in Laura and my hearts… you all will continue to be in our prayers… we all should continue to keep in mind that this has been a “partnership in the gospel from the first day and until now.”
And so this morning I leave with the same confidence that Paul expresses here in verse 6: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Some of you have asked: “What are you going to do next?”
In a few brief minutes I want to respond to that question.
First: I am not retiring from Ministry:…
God does not uncall us from ministry, just because we are quote “retiring”…
I’m not retiring from Ministry… I’m just changing my focus in ministry… or maybe I should say: “Allowing myself to be more flexible in following what God wants me to really do.”
Thursday I was having my devotional time and since the first of the year I’ve been reading Oswald Chamber’s book: “MY UPMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST, and I ran across this thought and I want to share it with you; He writes: “The only way God plants His saints is through the whirlwind of His storms. Will you be proved to be an empty pod with no seed inside? That will depend on whether or not you are actually living in the light of the vision you have seen. Let God send you out through His storm, and don’t go until he does. If you select your own spot to be planted, you will prove yourself to be an unproductive, empty pod. However, if you allow God to plant you, you will “bear much fruit”. (John 15:8)
God has not uncalled me to his heavenly vision… but in retirement I want to be more open than ever before to “allow God to plant me” where he wants me… whether that be continuing to teach my ENL Class for the time being… or going on a Mission Work camp… or doing some leadership training in Thailand… or whatever.
I want to be available for God to “plant me” where I can be most fruitful.
Secondly: I Have Some Home Work to Do:
Right now Laura and my plans are to relocate closer to Anderson… after all we have a Grand-daughter to spoil and we can’s properly do that just seeing her once or twice a month.
--Which means there is some work that needs to be done on the house before we can put it on the market to sell.
So between now and September, when Laura plans to retire, I have some “Home Work to Do”.
Even before that I have an office here at the Church to close out.
The Board has given me permission to take a couple weeks or so to close out my office.
I scanning all my old sermons manuscripts and purging my files, so that will take some time.
If you find some boxes back on the table next to the Fellowship Hall with books in them, feel free to take any of them.
Also when spring comes around, we’re planning some garage sells to down size all the stuff we have… so we’ll let know when those are and we’ll try to give you a good deal.
Third: We Hope to Do some traveling:
Laura and I have family and friends scatter all over the US and world.
Laura’s family is in Idaho and Tennessee… my family is in Colorado, Kansas, Oregon and Alaska.
My hobby is genealogy, so there are some trips we would like to take to Maryland and Virginia and maybe even England, Scotland, Germany.
So we hope to do some traveling… some RVing… maybe spent the winter in Thailand or wherever Ben and Nang may be.
We will probably make Anderson our home base… as long as Jon & Sarah are there.
Laura and I hope to have enough equity in our house to buy a condo or something like that in the Anderson area.
But wherever we might go… or wherever we might be, we want to be open to opportunities to “partnership in the gospel” wherever and with whomever God might open the doors… “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you and I will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”