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“Better Vines, Better Wines” – now, that’s a sermon title I wouldn’t have used as a Baptist preacher! There are probably some wine connoisseurs listening or reading this sermon; I’m not going to put anyone on the spot. I did some research. Here are some things I learned about grapes and wines. Grape vines can live as long as 120 years. Vines start producing grapes in about 3 years and slow down production after about 20 years. So, there’s a 17-year window of opportunity. When the vine slows production, the taste of the grapes is better, more intense. Regardless of the age of a vine, its flowers and fruit develop on the new growth.

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I’m glad I didn’t live in the first century, before Calvary, before the resurrection. I couldn’t have processed everything that was happening and come out with the right conclusion. I doubt I would have believed what people were saying about Jesus. I probably would not have accepted what He said about Himself. We’re quick to criticize Thomas, Philip, and Judas for their questions. (Actually they were statements in question form like,  “Are you wearing that?” “Is that all you’re eating?”)

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Few Christians (only 39 to date) become American presidents. All Christians are priests.  People are amazed when I tell them I was saved at age 12 and called to be a pastor at age 16. I spent the next 14 years of my life training to become the person God called me to be. My ministry began where the ministry of Jesus ended. In fact, I’ve spent 10 times as much time in ministry as He did and I haven’t accomplished in 30 years what He did in 3! I’m still learning the basics, still making mistakes, still striving for success. God doesn’t call all of us to be pastors but He does call all of us to be priests. That’s today’s message: what does it mean that you are God’s priest?

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Poor Howard’s dead and gone and left me here to sing his song.

Poor Howard had a wife and she nagged him all his life
So he used his butcher knife---like I said he had a wife

Now poor Howard's dead and gone...

His last words were "Friends, goodbye. Don't you worry; don't you cry.
I don't mind this a gettin' hung, at least I stopped her naggin' tongue."

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This has been another crazy week as far as American politics go. I had no idea how crazy things would get when I started this sermon. I’ve listened to politicians on both sides of the aisle express “concern” about particular groups of individuals. I think it’s more about political power than people concern. Whatever it is, it sets the stage for Tuesday, January 30, when the 45th President of the United States, Donald John Trump, will give his State of the Union Speech. The President will outline his accomplishments and present to Congress and the American public his recommendations for the coming year.