Virtue in Not Overthinking

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

August 13, 2017

Text: Romans 10:6-7,  Old Testament: Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b,  New Testament: Romans 10:5-17

 

                Believing in Jesus isn’t meant to be complicated.  There is a simplicity to having faith in Jesus as God’s Son that doesn’t need explanation.  Just have faith.

                This is what the Apostle Paul says continually in his epistles.  “We are saved by grace through faith alone and this is not your own doing: it is the gift of God.”  That’s Paul speaking from Ephesians 2:8.   Reasoning is doing it on your own – especially when you try to reason your way to faith in Jesus.

                It’s works to reason with people why you believe Jesus is God’s Son when they’re skeptical.  Doubt creates all sorts of mental obstacles to having unconditional faith in Jesus.  Faith overcomes doubt, by simply believing without being bogged down by questions raised by rational skepticism.

                The most joyful Christians I know have a simple faith.  They trust God regardless of the circumstances they face, regardless of the obstacles to faith they have faced. [Read more...]

Transcendent Living

 Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

July 22, 2017

 Text: Romans 8:13 O.T.,   Lesson: Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24,  N.T. Lesson: Romans 8:12-25

                 Presbyterians have become familiar with identifying themselves as Christians who live in the world, but are not of the world.  Many Presbyterians like to think of themselves as walking about and interacting with people who are worldly. But it doesn’t affect who we are as Christians.

                We like to think we’re people who know how to survive in this world which so often denies God’s existence.  But we don’t think it influences what we believe about God.  We’re taught the ways of the world by worldly teachers.  But the lessons we’ve learned don’t change our faith in God. [Read more...]

Spiritual Healing

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

July 16, 2017

 Text: Romans 8:5,    O.T.: Psalm 119:105-112,    N.T.: Romans 8:1-11

 

                Most Americans define health as a condition of the body.  They consider health to be freedom from illness, disease, or physical disability.  As the nineteenth century Swiss writer Henri Fredric Amiel wrote, “Health is the first of all liberties.”   We feel most free when we’re healthy.  Health offers choices which illness, disease, or disability restrict.

But others warn that health is more than freedom from illness or disease.  Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “Health is the condition of wisdom, and the sign is cheerfulness – an open and noble temper.”  Emerson pointed to people like Helen Keller.  They were afflicted by what many of us would consider a physical disability, yet remain optimists despite of their condition.  They transcended their physical infirmity. [Read more...]

Freedom’s Temptation

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

July 9, 2017

Text: Romans 6:22,  Old Testament: Psalm 13,   New Testament: Romans 6:12-23

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name.  Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

                 Jesus taught us this prayer.  It’s inscribed on our hearts.  The sweetness of Jesus’ prayer blesses us.

                What if I were to tell you these precious words are offensive to people?  Some people consider them an egregious attack upon their personal integrity. These people believe the Lord’s Prayer forms the core of Christian judgmentalism. [Read more...]

Pillars of Independence

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

July 2, 2017

Text:  Rom. 7:22,  O.T.: Psalm 45:1-7,  N.T.: Rom. 7:15-25a

  

            Among the constellation of America’s founding fathers, no luminary shines brighter than George Washington.  Washington was the face of the American Revolution.  Reverence for Washington began while he led a ragtag army of idealists to victory against the greatest military power on earth.  Reverence for Washington grew from his humility and wisdom when he served as the nation’s first president.

                George Washington dedicated his life to serving the God-given right to liberty.  He disdained despots.  He was anxious that national appreciation for his leadership would alter the presidency into a monarchy.  He was reluctant to serve a second term in office and wrote a farewell address to the nation with James Madison’s help. [Read more...]

A Note from Dad

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

June 18, 2017 (Father’s Day)

Text: Ephesians 5:1,        Old Testament:  Psalm 145,        New Testament:  Ephesians 6:1-4

 

            Today we honor our fathers.  Many of us will give gifts or share a family meal remembering what your Dad is for you.  Have you ever received a thank you from your father on this day?  What if you did?  It might sound like this:

 

Dear Children,

            Thank you for remembering Father’s Day.  I appreciate your thoughtfulness very much.  You can be sure that I will always remember your gratitude.

            I know this note might come as a shock to you.  I’ve not been one to express my feelings.  Neither am I one for writing notes – as you know.

            In fact, as I think about it, I can only remember writing something to you on one occasion.  I’m sorry I haven’t written more.  But, perhaps this note will explain my affection for you. [Read more...]

Hearing His Call

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

June 11, 2017

Bellevue’s Sesquicentennial Day

Text:  Joel 1:14     Old Testament:  Leviticus 25:10-12, 18-25       New Testament:  Hebrews 10: 19-25

 

            On June 8, 1867, 33 property owners from Ross Township approached the Allegheny County Court of Quarter Sessions with a petition to incorporate as a borough.  It was a moment of community agreement on God’s call. 

James J. East led the petitioners.  He was from the Methodist Protestant Church.  His ancestors were French Huguenots.  He was born in England and had studied Latin at the King Edward VI Collegiate Institution.  He had left Allegheny City with his wife Annie for Ross Township’s cleaner air and was a church trustee who wrote against slavery and the influence of the saloon.[1] 

Hugh Forrester was a renowned Pittsburg contractor who hailed from Scotland.  Hugh’s 20 acres lay along Beaver Road -  the current Lincoln Avenue.[2]  Five years later he was a trustee of the United Presbyterian Church in Bellevue.[3] [Read more...]

One Against the World

 Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

June 4, 2017

 Text: John 17:11,       O.T.:  Psalm 68:1-10,           N.T.: John 17:1-11

  

                Memorial Day is about Christians making choices.  How we use our time.  Where we chose to go.  What we chose to do.  Who we are to meet.

                These choices are about ethics and values.  How we respond to different situations we face.  Whether we choose to return evil for evil, or do we choose to return good for evil.  We base our responses on values that are deeply embedded in our lives.  They come from our relationship with Jesus Christ, and the remembrance we have of others’ relationship with Christ.

                Today we remember the choices that were made in the intersection of the world with our lives and the lives of those we love.

                What drove those choices?  What principles lie behind those choices?

                Years ago a social psychologist conducted a study on the campus of Princeton Seminary.  A student was randomly chosen to lie on the sidewalk outside the Seminary’s chapel in the middle of morning classes. [Read more...]

One Against the World

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

 May 28th, 2017

 Text: John 17:11        O.T.:  Psalm 68:1-10    N.T.: John 17:1-11 

 

                Memorial Day is about Christians making choices.  How we use our time.  Where we chose to go.  What we chose to do.  Who we are to meet.

                These choices are about ethics and values.  How we respond to different situations we face.  Whether we choose to return evil for evil, or do we choose to return good for evil.  We base our responses on values that are deeply embedded in our lives.  They come from our relationship with Jesus Christ, and the remembrance we have of others’ relationship with Christ.

                Today we remember the choices that were made in the intersection of the world with our lives and the lives of those we love.

                What drove those choices?  What principles lie behind those choices?

                Years ago a social psychologist conducted a study on the campus of Princeton Seminary.  A student was randomly chosen to lie on the sidewalk outside the Seminary’s chapel in the middle of morning classes. [Read more...]

Keeping the Promise

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

May 21, 2017 

Text: John 14:15

O.T.: Psalm 66:8-20

N.T.: John 14:8-21

 

                This is Ascension Sunday, when we remember Jesus’ ascension into the Kingdom of Heaven.  His ascension occurred 40 days after the resurrection day – which would have been Thursday. It marks the close of the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection.  It begins the exaltation of Christ to the heavenly life about which He had spoken to the Apostles.

                In a practical sense, the ascension meant Christ’s humanity was no longer visible.  Ascension Day marked the end of being able to see Jesus as we see each other – fully human, accessible to each other by sight, sound, touch, hearing, taste, or smell.   He was lifted into Heaven where He now exercises power over Heaven and earth.  [Read more...]