Answering The Call


Answering the Call continuums

Here is a sermon preached at hilltop Chapel in What Cheer Iowa November 19, 2017. I have included the two continuums that were presented during the sermon.

A video is available of this sermon on Facebook. Message me if you would like to view it.

Rev. Burt Schwab

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In response to another tragedy


It is doubtful that the recent tragedy in Texas is a direct attack on the Church. Rather it was an easy target to allow full vent to some unknown rage. We live in a world that for decades has declared “whatever you want is okay.” It is the fault of the Church as much as it is society in general. We have declared with a unified voice that God is not where our trust is. We have put our trust in personal choice, which includes the choice to unlovingly criticize others who do not share our beliefs.

     It is past time to put away our religion and quit acting like we are better than others and show through word and deed that we believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ our redeemer, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in truth. This can start with a genuine smile and kind gesture such as holding a door for someone. It must also include a genuine change in our lives on every day including Sunday.

Rev. Burt Schwab

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Pastor Appreciation


Every October Hilltop Chapel celebrates Pastor appreciation month with a special service and fellowship time for our Pastor. I was asked to preach a short sermon for this years event and decided to share the audio with my online audience. Enjoy!

Rev. Burt Schwab

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7 Myths of Repentance part 2


This is part 2 of a two part series titled ‘7 myths of Repentance’. The sermons were inspired by the book ‘REPENTANCE’ by Richard Owen Roberts.

It is my desire that these sermons help clarify some misunderstandings about repentance and help guide the listener into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.

Rev. Burt Schwab

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7 Myths of Repentance part 1 of 2


A few years ago a friend gave me  book titled ‘REPENTANCE’ by Richard Owen Roberts. Chapter 4 of that book is titled ‘7 Myths of Repentance’. The chapter intrigued me so much that I turned that material into a two part sermon series with the same title.

Today I am posting the first of the two sermons and next week the second sermon will be released. I hope you can find some enlightenment and encouragement from these sermons.

Rev. Burt Schwab

 

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I am revising this blog site. Several friends request audio of sermons when I preach. This is an attempt to fill that ministry request.

On October 8, 2017 this sermon was presented at Hilltop Chapel in What Cheer, Iowa. This is the raw audio recording with no apologies for sound quality.

This sermon is about 43 minutes in length and may require a download to play. Please be patient with me as I learn more about sharing audio on this site. Thank you.

Rev. Burt Schwab

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Grow where you are planted.


 

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On a trip through the Great Smoky Mountains I encountered this tree that had grown on some rocks in a river. Although this tree has been dead for some years now it still tells a story. It reminded me of the words one Pastor I know is fond of saying and that is “grow where you are planted.”

This tree certainly had done exactly that. The roots of this tree were firmly imbedded in the rocks where it was planted. The roots were thick and far-spreading which allowed the tree to stay in place during the inevitable floods it encountered during its life cycle. I don’t know how tall this tree may have been or how old it lived to be. I do not know if it was a lovely tree or one marked by scars of a harsh environment. I do know that even in its death a visual reminder of strength and endurance remains.

In just a few days I will be transplanted to a new home in Iowa. I came to Illinois almost thirty years ago with less than five dollars and all my belongings in a suit case. I was a wayward high school drop out from Texas that came to the Chicago area in search of work. It was my full intention to go back to Texas within a year. Like that tree washed up on the rocks either as a sapling or seed, I found myself planted where I landed.

There are many memories of living in the suburbs of Chicago that haven’t been pleasant. At the same time I would not be the same man without them. Somehow, against the odds, my life has taken root in the rock Jesus Christ and that has allowed me to stand firm in my faith as the floods of change threatened to carry me away. I suppose there are some noticeable scarring from life storms that I carry. That isn’t uncommon, in fact, it makes us all unique and beautiful in some special way. The best anyone can hope for in this world is to live a life that leaves a legacy for years after to inspire others to stand firm in Christ. That is what I want. How about you?

I have decided to make this my final post for this site. I may start a new blog to chronicle a new life. For now, thank you for following this blog. My prayer is that somehow you have found comfort or at least a nugget of wisdom in something that was written in the posts. When the time to renew this site comes up in a few months I will let it lapse into whatever happens to unpaid blog sites.

God Bless you and thanks for reading!

Rev. Burt Schwab

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I have bought a field…


247.jpgIt has been a true blessing to have so many people involved in helping during this time of transition. My wife and I have spent the last few weeks either planning or setting up our new home. It hasn’t been easy because we are working in one state during the week and traveling to another on the weekends. There are some dedicated friends and family helping out in big ways but this is still stressful times. Anyone who has ever moved or changed jobs can understand the unique stress of those types of changes.

An unexpected change has occurred in all this commotion. My time in scripture and prayer has been disrupted by a flurry of activity, planning, and projects. At first I convinced myself that once we closed on the new house I would be able to relax during the week because it appeared there wouldn’t be much to do. After all I am over four hours away from home during the week so it seemed reasonable I could spend time concentrating on spiritual rest and growth. That has not been the case at all. Instead my evenings are filled beyond full planning “priority” projects. One such project is much needed kitchen cabinet replacements. By the time the cabinets are purchased I will have spent multiples more hours in researching them then the time it will take to install them.

I do look forward to our new life and in particular the blessing of serving in a rural community as a minister. Somehow it seems unlikely that others will learn from me how to have fellowship with the creator God if I am so easily distracted in life. In thinking about this, the parable Jesus told about a great feast that many were invited to attend and yet they all began making excuses to not be dinner guests came to mind.

Luke 14:15-24 Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!”

16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”

The first excuse given really hit me hard. “I have just bought a field and must inspect it.” The obvious question is who in there right mind buys a field without first inspecting it? Before buying a house I am inspecting top to bottom and behind every hidden spot I can access. Time is spent looking at the neighborhood, yard, streets, and even the surrounding community. I would not even consider making an offer until after looking at every valve, outlet, cabinet, and tree on the property. If I inspect a property for sale it will be obvious to me what condition everything is in. Besides banquets are an evening event, who is going to be looking at a field in the dark? Then it occurred to me the excuse is the same one I’m using. My mind has become preoccupied with a large purchase. Most of my time is spent strategizing improvements and how best to get them done. So much for spending my free time in fellowship with God…

Think about a banquet. It’s more than food, it’s a time of celebration and fellowship. Nobody invites guests to a banquet and expects them to prepare the food and plan the entertainment. The guests are invited to relax, have fun, connect with the host and such. We as Christians are invited into daily fellowship with Christ. It should be a time of celebrating the day and not thinking about tomorrow.

I get it that this parable was not talking about our earthly fellowship with Christ but there are eternal connections. So often we focus on the temporal instead of the eternal. We make excuses such as “there is too much responsibilities with my job or house to spend time with God today.” Another one is “my family responsibilities don’t allow personal time in prayer.” What about the times we place our focus on relationships rather than God? In the parable an excuse given was “I just got married.” In other words “my new relationship is more important than your invitation to fellowship.”

If the time spent on earth is focused only on the things of this world a day will come when we will miss out on the great banquet in heaven. Think about that instead of the latest distraction in your life.

Rev. Burt Schwab

 

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Seeking a heart of intercession


I don’t like to be nice to people who are insistent, or wakes me in the middle of the night wanting my help. I like people who say “please” and “thank you” all the while waiting for an appropriate moment to make a request of me. There is a good chance you have a similar viewpoint. Yet Jesus describes the act of interceding in prayer as being purposefully insistent.

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Intercessory prayer includes having a sense of urgency, a willing love, and persistency that prevails. It is also important to recognize inadequacy, admitting you do not have what is needed. A faith in prayer will give confidence in the certainty of a rich reward.

It is not possible to schedule times of need that require intercession. Most often the need for intercessory prayer is due to some form of crisis that could not be readily foreseen. Look at the parable Jesus told as recorded in Luke 11:5-6 about a visitor that arrived in the middle of the night.

Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’;

Notice the word “friend”. The requestor knows both the one he asks and the one in need. It is frequent in my work travels to be approached by street people looking for a handout. If I am in a giving mood I may give a dollar or two. Yet, I have friends that would provide me with thousands of dollars if I had a great need. The difference is the relationship that allows us to be friends.

It is selfless love causes us to act on the needs of others. It is a sense of urgency that motivates us to intercede for the needs of others. All that is required is a simple, confident faith that God will give. Intercessory prayer stems from a recognition of inadequacy, understanding we just don’t have what is needed.

Luke 11:7 and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’?

In this parable the person bringing a request runs into an obstacle. “I can’t help you right now.” In intercession it may seem that God is saying “I can’t help you right now”. More likely God is saying “the timing is not right” or it could be that God is teaching you perseverance.

Luke 11:8 I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

God desires us to be persistent in prayer, seeking Him having the confidence that He will provide. You cannot grow in strength lifting a heavy weight just one time and you cannot grow in faith facing a challenge just one time! God highly prizes our confidence in Him. Expect that He will do whatever is necessary to train us to trust Him to do what is right and best for us.

 

Rev. Burt Schwab

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Moving forward


There are several reasons I have not written any blogs lately. Near the top of the list is low readership. I wish the number of readers and followers did not dictate what and how often I blog but it does. After all who really uses social media because they are interested only in what other people are doing? We all want a little spotlight on ourselves. It’s human nature. Not being sarcastic just a little transparent.

Another reason why I haven’t written is because many big changes are occurring in my personal life. The story really goes back about five years ago when I answered God’s call for me to become a pastor.

There are a few ways to be “qualified” by human terms to be called “Pastor”. The easiest by far is to click on one of those cultic internet sites, pay your $15 or whatever the current going rate is and print out a piece of paper that calls you Reverend,  Pastor, Elder, or whatever title you choose. Good luck finding a church job with that!  Another way is to attend an accredited ministry school or seminary and follow the prescribed procedures to “earn” credentials as a minister. That happens to be the route I took. There are some people that faithfully follow God and are raised up in the church and through scripture study and a fruitful life are elevated to position of Pastor. There also exists those that are family, close friends, or politically connected that are hired into church positions just because they know the right people. Unfortunately this is often the case of church employment. What, did you think that only happens at secular jobs?

Back to where I am and a little of how I got here. About five years ago I began a three year ministry school track. With great ignorance it seemed to be a sure thing that with a personal calling, a little schooling, and perseverance many opportunities would present themselves as a minister. Actually many opportunities did occur just not in a church setting. I counsel, marry, teach, etc. and so forth on a consistent basis.

Once I finished school I excitedly began applying at churches in need of a Pastor. After all so many say that it is difficult to find anyone that wants the job of lead Pastor. With my enthusiasm it seemed fitting that it would be difficult to decide what church is where God wanted me. Well, the big truth is there are a lot of lies that people believe. Such as the lack of qualified ministers. (One church that turned me down admitted to having over 120 applicants.) Another is that credentials mean anything to other people. They are as self serving as writing blogs and a lot more expensive to maintain.

At some point in time, that is a little fuzzy in the memory banks, my wife and I heard clearly that we would sell our house and move. After eleven months with very few lookers we took it off the market. The next couple of years was an emotional roller coaster that shook me to the core and rattled loose almost all my pride. Lost a job because I let my temper get the best of me. Lost the next job due to politics completely outside my control. End up working for a man with multiple psychological issues that still haunts my dreams. In God’s infinite wisdom He has placed me in a position that has allowed me to heal some wounds.

After two years of unsuccessfully seeking work as a minister I quit applying. Literally I told God that if this was going to happen He would have to do it because I quit. His answer was clearly “I have been telling you to get out of your own way!” Just a few days later a Pastor friend of mine asked me to consider helping him at the church he leads in another state. That was last year around October, I think. A lot has happened since then and dates are lost in memory. Anyway, my wife and I prayed about it and wouldn’t you know that God impressed on our hearts to say yes.

I am not willing to share the location of this church right now nor the size of it. It is not important to you as a reader anyway. What is important is that there are people in that church and town that God has placed in my life path to minister to. Many of them are smarter, better looking, funnier, wiser, and whatever else a person is judged by. But God did not call me as a judge He called me to be a Shepard. A persons calling is way more important than social status.

In late February of this year (2017) we put our house up for sale. It took only two weeks to sell. If I wrote down all the blessings we have experienced since then most folk would think it an exaggeration. Part of that blessing was finding a new home, in a different state and closing the sale of both houses on April 28, 2017. I will tell you that the rain stopped every time we were loading or unloading the moving truck just long enough for us to finish what needed done. That was really neat! We will spend the next several weeks traveling between one state and the next because  we have job commitments When you have made a commitment it is proper to do anything possible to keep it.

The day after closing we moved into our new home. My wife and I were blessed by many people that spent nearly twelve hours helping us unpack and set up house. There are no words to express how grateful I am for that. In fact there were a couple of young men that did not know us that helped. At lunch when it was time to bless the food those young men immediately removed their hats and bowed their heads. I felt a lump in my throat witnessing that. Folks there are still some respectful younger people in this world!

It will be a bit of a struggle to always be sure that the sermons I preach are not self serving. Just like writing blogs the temptation in preaching is to try to be someone different. It really does not matter how many people attend the church God places me in it only matters that I attend to the needs of those people.

All this blathering to say that the best place to be in life is in God’s will. Maybe you just need to get out of your own way to get there…..

 

Rev. Burt Schwab

 

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