Sunday, November 9, 2014

Measuring a Church

How Do You Measure The Success of a Church?
Instead if giving you the sermon sketch, a summary of Todd Spieker's sermon, and adding my own interpretation of the topic, you can watch the sermon for yourselves. Several of you have asked for this recording of my son's sermon at the 20th anniversary of Living Hope Covenant Church, so I have placed it on Youtube. The first video is of the whole sermon (http://youtu.be/8engOoStrbM), but it was taken from the back of the church and harder to see Todd's expressions and movements. So, I have added closer, shorter clip that came from my cell phone (http://youtu.be/JXEu_1R9dsA). 


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Press On

Philippians
Chained and imprisoned Paul spoke of freedom and pressing on. At this years women's retreat Pastor Win Houwen spoke on this topic. Starting in the first chapter of Philippians Win paints a picture of Paul chained to his guard, surrounded by the stones walls of his cell. Here Paul pours out his love and loneliness for his friends in Philippi in his letter to them. He sends them instructions and tools to press on in their striving to please God. He tells them to hope in God, have confidence in His will and to press on. For from God will come peace, love and grace. They in turn had their world turned upside down. In their weakness they could stand firm, sorrow turned to joy, fear to courage, discouragement to to hope and loneliness to loved.



In the second chapter we learn that the next step is to press in together. Paul places the words to a spiritual hymn in his letter. We know that he would often sing in his prison cell. Look closely to the prison guard and you will see him rolling his eyes. It must have driven him crazy. Paul continues to teach, and encourage in his letter. Do everything without grumbling or complaining so they may shine like stars!





Before we can press on we need to press out. Press out all the laws, rules, and rituals that many of us try to replace the grace of  God with. Rules about circumcision, tatoos, rock music, how we dress. Rituals of how long we pray, mouthing the Lords pray with no meaning, how much we give or don't give. Whatever it is that we decide God is requiring of us to be one of His. Or how about saying bad words? Paul apparently did not have any qualms about this. He tells of all the good reasons he should be allowed entry by how "good" he is. A Roman citizen, a Jew, studied in the scriptures, and honored. But he counts it all scoobalon. The Bible now says "rubbish" but the original word is scoobalon. This word is the same as our sh** word. You know crap! Love God and your neighbor, this is what God requires of us. But even in this we are covered with the unending river of His grace. Win used the illustration of a car going down the road leaving all that behind us. She used a Barbie car as an object lesson. I have drawn Paul riding in the Barbie car, now labeled for Christ. Out the back of his car he leaves behind scoobalon!



Press on. Fight the good fight and run the race. Finally, Paul lets his friends know after they've been encouraged. instructed, and given a fresh word that they must, and can, press forward. He wanted them to think peaceful, pure and true thoughts. The organ of thoughts to the Jews was not the brain but the heart. He asks them to stand firm in joy and in Christ Jesus. He sends greetings to two faithful but arguing women. He speaks of not dwelling in worry, not making it they're way of being but to be anxious for nothing. Worry, is okay, just don't make it who you are. 

Win described the word "gentleness" as being like a war horse. Powerful, muscular and strong but gentle enough to ride on and do our bidding. Notice the guard now has changed his expression to one of interest and hope. Many of the guards were influenced by Paul to come to know Jesus. 

So, that is what we learned at camp. :-) Don't you wish you could have come? 


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Everybody Matters

Everybody Matters

If you REALLY want to obey the scriptures, then love your neighbor as yourself. If you wish to receive mercy without judgement, then show your mercy. That's right, giving someone mercy instead of your judgement is loving your neighbor.

Tall, short, wide, skinny, any color, belief, opinion, or condition is loved by God. All are shown His mercy and so should we. As I listened to this sermon I tried to draw as many kinds of people as time allowed. Do you see yourself here? Pastor Greg taught us that EVERYBODY matters to God.

Sometimes I am saddened by what I see on Facebook. The battle of opinions do not always sound like love.  How can we soften the rhetoric  and show mercy to those that we disagree with? Can we show love and acts of merciful words toward Obama, Bush,  abortion, undocumented aliens, police, races, sexual orientation, guns, budgets, public schools and home schooling parents? Sure. it's okay to have an opinion, but when have we stopped listening to the other side, discussing, and debating, instead of name calling and over the top hateful words?

And that is my sermon for the week. :-)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Zacchaeus The Tax Collector

Zacchaeus The Tax Collector

Okay, we've all heard the story. A short guy climbs a tree to see Jesus. But Pat Dorbin, who spoke to our church a few weeks ago, brought out the underlining meaning of the event. Jesus came to meet with Zacchaeus, one on one. He sought the little Z out, to meet him on a very personal level.  

I don't think Zacchaeus ever expected to get to talk to Jesus. Much less having Jesus declare he was coming to his house that day. I know it sounds like Jesus invited himself over for dinner, but Pat explained that at that time, in that culture, coming to someone's house was a tremendous honor for the host. It meant acceptance, a stamp of approval. No wonder the religious leaders dropped their jaws and stuttered out their condemnation. Tax collectors were not well thought of. They had a reputation of over charging on taxes and keeping the extra for themselves. Then for Jesus to have dinner at the man's house was outrageous. Sort of like Rush Limbaugh taking Hillary Clinton  out to lunch and announcing his backing for her presidency. Or Obama doing a commercial for Fox News.  

The tax collector was also astonished. He was so moved he declared he would give half his money to the poor, and anyone he had cheated he would give them four times the amount back. Now that is repentance! Jesus thought so, too.

Pat reminded us that God has a habit of meeting his creations one on one. He seeks us out. We see it all through the Bible. Moses and the burning bush. Mathew and Peter's call by Jesus. Not to mention Paul's visit from Jesus after he rose again. 

You are not just one of the crowd to God. He is seeking you, on a personal, one-on-one search and rescue. If you know Him rejoice in this. If you haven't yet had this amazing encounter, He is personally waiting to meet  . . . with YOU. 



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cut to the Heart

Cut to the Heart
"What do we do?" the people cried.

My son Todd, now Pastor Todd, preached this sermon on the Pentecost when we visited his church at the beginning of the summer. Peter and the disciples were in Jerusalem, and the Holy Spirit came down on them. They began to speak in tongues. Fire appeared on their heads. Peter began to preach to the amazed crowd. 

He knew what they would understand the most. He spoke right from the scriptures. "What was spoken about in Joel is happening, right now!" They understood immediately, and the words did not simply go in one ear and out the other. They cut to the heart. The words spoke of a new way. They tore down the old. But the power of the Holy Spirit gentled their hearts, softened their resolve to the law. Peter went on to remind them that it was they that crucified Jesus. These word cut again deep and brought them to tears. They shouted, "What do we do?" Peter answered with a mighty cry, "Repent. Turn, turn from your wicked ways." And they did! They listened, they repented, and told others of Christ. That was the beginning of the Christian church. 

This topic makes me think of an older generation of Christians that do not want to listen to the younger ones coming along. The ones that are trying to remind us we need to take a look at where the church has been taken these last years. Have many in the church become slaves to laws that make it impossible for the lost to find Jesus? Other churches have walled themselves in. Afraid of a secular world. Or have become complacent on how they represent Christ. Do some of us need to soften our hearts, listen, and repent? Even though it may hurt to change we need to evaluate where we have focused our energies. Is it politics? Ranting about Hollywood? Or seeking out the tender places of peoples hearts and lives that need God's healing. Then rolling up our sleeves, and jumping in with both feet to fight for, not against, the ones that need us most.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

GIVE

GIVE

What practical advise the Bible can give. At times I am amazed. Here Paul does not say, "Give to God." He says here are practical ways to do so. Such as don't wait for when the need to give money arrives. Then reach in your pocket to give the change that has been left over. Set some aside ahead of time. Make sure you have a supply to give. He asks us to give to the gospel and give the gospel. In other words, give resources to help get the gospel out there, and also do the work yourselves. Giving time and talent, caring and  listening, being aware of those around you that need your help, that need to hear the gospel.

Honor Leaders

It is all too easy to complain, and discourage those we have chosen to give us direction. Sitting on the bleachers it can be tempting to yell at the umpire and second guess his choice. We can let our feelings be heard, but then trust that God is leading through these servants of God. Yes, not our servants, God's.

Above are two different versions of the same picture. They show the many hands of the church working together to create the beauty of the Gospel.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Peace in the Storm

Peace in the Storm
This sermon sketch probably says it without my added words. This is from the 1 Corinthians series that Pastor Greg preached on. What should you do when your life is filled with worry, confusions, and fear, like a bird caught in the perfect storm? Cover yourself with the word of God, fill your nest with prayer, wait, and trust. When things are going well the peace is easy, worry doesn't strike, and things seem clear and direct. How would we know how strong God's peace can be unless it is tested in the storms?

This week I have been plagued with worry over a particular situation. Confusion and fear can slash through the skies on what seems like a cloudless day. cutting into your stomach like a lightening strike. Washing my mind in prayer held me up for a time. White knuckling my trust got me through the nights, until about 1:00 or 2:00 am. The peace would come, I'd drop my guard for a fraction of a second, and the floods of "what if's" would deluge down. 

I went to my weekly job of taking care of three especially, wonderful children. With their winning smiles they convinced me to come to the storage room so they could listen to Adventures and Odyssey and work on their Legos. Somehow having me there with them was important. So, they set up a cushy office chair by the raw wood shelves, and I sat down with my cup of coffee, feet up on the plastic Lego box. I glanced to one side and saw a piece of paper, with printing on it, taped to the shelf. I recognized my own handwriting. It was a verse I had once printed out for the kids with green marker, sometime last year. It read: In an acceptable and favorable time I have heard and answered you; and I will preserve you. This first sentence of the verse was all that I needed at the moment. Thanks, God, for planning ahead to build my faith. And the word of God finished my covering in the storm.