The Heartbeat
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this. - Psalm 37:4-5

So here we are on the first Sunday of the year (on what may be the coldest Sunday morning in years!) and I would like to direct our thinking way beyond this day, this month and even this year. Let's consider instead five years from now: 2023.

Should grant Ruth and me good health, in mid-February of 2023 our hope and plan is to head to California in a pick-up truck, towing a 30' travel trailer. There, just north of San Diego, we will dip our feet in the Pacific Ocean before walking – yes, walking – east. Approximately 21 miles later that day we will meet up with our truck and trailer. An individual or couple (with us for that part of the journey) will have moved the vehicles earlier in the day and found a good resting spot for the night. The next day we will do the same again. Day and after day, week after week, month after month, until in early September, 2870 miles later, we will cross the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey and again put our feet in the water. This is our planned "Walk Across America." To some it sounds exciting; to others it sounds insane. But that is our plan…our desire.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – 2 Timothy 4:7

Without question 2 Timothy was written near the end of Paul's life.

Indeed, the book of 2 Timothy is the final writing that we have coming from the apostle Paul. He may have written more at a later time, but if he did it has not survived. And so what we read above is, in a sense, his closing words. In them we see how he was able to look back on his missionary career and do so with some satisfaction. He had run a good spiritual race and was ending well.

Earlier this year, four Green Berets were killed in Niger by Islamist terrorists. While calling the mother of one of the Berets President Trump again made the news by making a remark that infuriated many. Speaking to the mother of Sgt. La David Johnson on the phone, just prior to her son's burial, President Trump supposedly said, "He knew what he signed up for." The comment was taken to be insensitive. President Trump later denied making the statement.

In speaking about the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible is quite bold in asserting that the second person of the Godhead was fully aware of who he was and why he was here. He knew what he had signed up for when he came to earth.

Give everyone what you owe him…if honor, then honor. - Romans 12:7

This past week one of evangelicalism's giants died: R.C. Sproul. Sproul was known as a solidly Reformed Bible teacher and Christian apologist, an author of some 90 books, and a much sought out conference speaker. I had the privilege of hearing Sproul several times in person. Those familiar with the Truth Project film series (shown here at Burning Hearts in 2016) will recall Sproul as one of the oft referenced speakers.

Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD… - 2 Kings 19:14

Bible college students come to learn two big dates in Israel's history: 722 B.C. and 586 B.C. These dates mark the downfall of Israel (the northern 10 tribes) at the hands of the Assyrians and the downfall of Judah (the southern 2 tribes) when they fell to the Babylonians. What these students also come to learn, over time, is that Judah was nearly defeated by the Assyrians back at the time of the fall of Israel.

If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman BECAUSE SHE DID NOT CRY FOR HELP THOUGH SHE WAS IN THE CITY, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. – Deuteronomy 22:23-24

I had initially thought of writing an article entitled "Another One Bites the Dust" or maybe "They're Dropping Like Flies." The article would have been about the current situation wherein so many American male celebrities are being called out for their past sexual "indiscretions." The article would have, like our current church sign, been a reminder to "Be sure your sin will find you out" (from Numbers 32:23).

Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens…Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken… – Hebrews 12:26,28

Consider…

1) When Donald Trump was elected president it was said of him, even as he said of himself, that he would "shake things up" in Washington. So far he has kept true to that promise.

2) Over the past week there have been a great number of earthquakes along the San Andreas Fault – 134 over the past 7 days. None of them has been "The Big One," but these shakings of the earth's crust are, believed by scientists, indicative of something very big ready to happen.

3) And just when we thought things might settle down in the world of accusations being made against our celebrities, the news came out about Charlie Rose. The media industry is being shaken to its core.

…Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. - Ephesians 5:20

I was recently with my sister and brother-in-law in southern Illinois. They now have a dog: a mixed-breed female with a strong pit bull ancestry. But instead of behaving in a manner characteristic of many pit bulls, their dog is the warmest, sweet-hearted animal one could ever imagine. When I commented on her pleasant demeanor they said, "We got her from the pound and, truthfully, we think she is just thankful to be alive and to be treated kindly."

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die. - Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

The old saying is "When it rains, it pours." Well, this past week it poured, really poured. I am speaking about the death of friends and acquaintances. Last Sunday morning was, of course, the incredibly terrible incident at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas. Because it took place at a church, it impacted me more than the even deadlier concert shooting in Las Vegas, or the equally deadly killing of children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School a few years ago. But the deaths I'm referring to (and writing about) were five people that all became known to me because of my role as a pastor.

Last Sunday was a big Sunday. Not only was it the 500-year anniversary of Martin Luther's posting of his 95 Theses on the doors of the Wittenberg Chapel (an act that later came to be regarded as the "official" start of the Protestant Reformation), but it was also the 7-year anniversary of Burning Hearts Community Church's vote to begin. So a double celebration, complete with some great music and what a good day it was! It was also the morning we invited people to our homes for dessert.

Timothy, my beloved child… – 2 Timothy 1:2a

In the past few months I have been able to share with several different men regarding the profound positive impact they had on my life. One of the men (Norm Heater) was a youth pastor I had in Phoenix, Arizona; another (Dr. Stan Gundry) was a professor at Moody Bible Institute when I attended that school; my own father (Bob Winne) was yet another. These opportunities to express my appreciation were, for the most part, because of a special event in each of these men's lives. My words of sincere appreciation were not contrived or forced. They came from my heart. I can only hope they helped to encourage these (now quite old) men.

In light of next Sunday – October 29 – I want to give you a detailed rundown on that day…

1. NO Sunday School. Because of the length of the day and desire that as many as can stay through the congregational meeting, there will be no Sunday School (for any age). (Reminder: This will also be the case on Christmas Eve, December 24.)

2. Special morning service. In many ways the morning service will be like others (praise, prayer, preaching), but there will be special pre-service music, we will be singing A Mighty Fortress is Our God, we will then be singing Logan Auker's favorite songs, the sermon will focus on Martin Luther's "Stand" and we'll close out the service with something out of the ordinary. So, stay tuned!

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit. - 1 Corinthians 12:13

The Bible teaches at least two kinds of baptism: water baptism and Spirit baptism. Water baptism is an act of obedience by which the believer publicly makes their declaration (in the manner prescribed in scripture) that they are married to Christ: dead to this world and alive to their Savior. Spirit baptism is that work of the Holy Spirit by which the believer is initially converted and brought into the body of Christ, and subsequently empowered with one or more spiritual gifts.

"Some have rejected these (truths) and so have shipwrecked their faith." – 1 Timothy 1:19b (NIV)

Last Sunday we briefly considered this phrase "shipwrecked" – something that was far more common upon the earth's seas in Paul's day than in our own. But regardless of how common or rare these maritime disasters have ever been, spiritually they have often taken place within the life of the church.

In my life, I have known several men who have "shipwrecked" their lives. As recently as this past week I was in the home of a man and woman whose lives have been turned upside down due to the husband's sin. Our own Bob Haehnle often has said "Sin makes smart people stupid"

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12

Mark DiNunzio is part of Burning Hearts Community Church. Maybe you know him. What you may not know about him is that his wife, Sue (who also comes to Burning Hearts when she is able), was part of the Jim Grohman family of six children – a family that was heavily steeped in Roman Catholicism.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. - Romans 8:22

Many people have commented on the seemingly increasing regularity and intensity of natural disasters: hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, record snowfalls, and so forth. To top it all off, maybe you have seen the recent reports of seismic activity near Yellowstone National Park – indications of a potential volcanic eruption. In A Short History of Nearly Everything author Bill Bryson highlights what a major volcanic eruption in that area could mean for the U.S. (and the entire globe)…and it is not good. So what is going on?

As we come closer to Reformation Sunday (October 29) on this 500-year anniversary of Martin Luther's bold stance for truth, it seems like a most appropriate time to focus in on what the Protestant Reformation was all about. While historians may focus on the growing independence of nations and sociologists focus on how the printed page helped to bring about the end of feudalism, theologians tend to focus on the doctrinal shift that took place in the church as a result of the Reformation. Over the course of this and the next four Sundays I am going to highlight this shift (with scripture). But here is how that shift has often been capsulized or summarized. It is called the "Five Solas."

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." – 2 Corinthians 3:18

As we come into this season of especially remembering the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, I want to remind us all that reformation is an ongoing process. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:18 we are BEING transformed. It is not that we WERE transformed. Our spiritual change, brought about by the Spirit of Christ, was not and is not a once and done event.

When I was still quite young in the faith, I ran across a book that proved to be a spiritual gold mine for me. It was entitled They Found the Secret: Twenty Transformed Lives by V. Raymond Edman. I'll explain WHY it was such a gold mine in a minute. But first let me tell you about my past week…

While visiting a new family at the church, the woman told me about how, back in the 1970s, God did such a marvelous work of grace in her life. She said that though she had named Jesus as her Savior since the time she was young, it was at this later time, when she was now an adult, that she came to know and experience the Holy Spirit.

"See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction." – Deuteronomy 30:15

The destruction brought about by Hurricane Harvey and its relentless rain is difficult to grasp. At least 23 dead; 100,000 homes damaged, if not destroyed; tens of thousands living in shelters. One has to wonder what good could come out of all this.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely…" - Hebrews 12:1a (ESV)

This September 10 marks 35 years that Ruth and I have been in the same house. Given that Americans move, on the average, once every five years, this is, we think, quite monumental! Certainly the Lord has been good to us and blessed us. We thank Him every day.

Upcoming Events

Young Adults Sunday School
01 Aug 2021 - 09:00AM
Older Adults Sunday School
01 Aug 2021 - 09:00AM
Worship Service
01 Aug 2021 - 10:30AM
INEVITABLE Musical
01 Aug 2021 - 07:00PM
INEVITABLE Musical
02 Aug 2021 - 07:00PM