Sunday, February 26, 2017

Pain: Weakness Leaving the Body

Pastor Terry White welcomed us warmly and began with announcements that included a reminder that Ash Wednesday is this week. There will be a soup and bread supper at 6:00 and special service at 6:30 p.m. here in the sanctuary.

After reading from Psalm 57 we entered into a time of worship that ended with "My Jesus I Love Thee." Darlene then invited the ushers forward to take the offering and introduced her granddaughter who played a beautiful tune on the clarinet. We shared a time of prayer before Terry White preached the message.

Pain: Weakness Leaving the Body

Today's sermon was a continuation of our study of II Timothy. Today's passage was II Timothy 2:3-13. Pastor White began by showing us a photo of a breakwall that the Army Corps of Engineers built at Canal Park to help keep erosion from occurring.

The breakwall image was then contrasted with a photo of the abandoned building that sits askew in the water 100 yards from the beach, destroyed because its arrogant builders didn't think they needed the breakwall.

There's a sense in which God is our breakwall, helping shield us from the damage the storms of life can bring.

Today's passage begins, "Join with me in suffering." Not usually selected as a life verse. Here's the passage in its entirety.

"Join with me in suffering." This is an aspect of leadership. Then Paul uses three word pictures to illustrate some ideas for Timothy.

In verse four, Paul uses the illustration of a soldier to make a point: that soldiers must keep focused on their objectives, and we need to live the same way, undistracted. Keep your focus on what matters.

In verse five Paul uses the image of an athlete who can only receive a victor's crown by competing by the rules. Terry asked us what the rules of volley ball are and cited a number of them. Rules are part of basketball, tennis, baseball and all other sports. The focus of the game is on competing, not complaining about the rules. Rules are something everyone must abide by.

The rules are part of what make the game. Eliminate the rules and what do you have? Chaos.

Then Paul notes the farmer as a metaphor. The hardworking farmer is entitled to get the first of the crops. Paul encourages Timothy to reflect on these things.

Leadership is not always fair. All leaders are subject to criticism. Paul was in chains because of the Gospel. Sometimes we pay a price to do what is right.

Life isn't always easy. For each of us there are moments of crisis, moments when we need someone else to be the breakwall. Being part of the body of Christ gives opportunity to step back into the safe places where we're receiving the necessary nurturing, shelter from the storms.

The goal is for us to grow up and become that shield for others.

Everything involved balance, however. There are times when becoming a shield goes too far and we become enablers who keep others from being able to mature into fullness. This is where we need to exercise discernment.

Pastor White closed by reading once again from Psalm 57.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Strong In Grace: A Message About Leadership

Today's baptism 
A balmy spring-like weekend has warmed a lot of us. Chuck Vanderscheuren, who just returned from a vacation in the Southwest, welcomed us today and told us about all the states he drove through and some of what he and Darlene saw.

This Wednesday, Feb. 22, a membership class is meeting, for anyone interested in membership, or who would like to learn more about the Evangelical Covenant Church.
Friday March 24 there is a Youth gathering at the church from 7-11:30. Anyone interested in learning more about our programs for youth, contact Curt Fernandez. (218) 348-6109
We can use help by having people sign up to do the treats once in a while. Sign up sheet in the back.
Thursday at 2 p.m. some folk from our congregation will be singing at Viewcrest Nursing Home.
Small groups will be beginning soon. The first and third Sundays in March, April and May (with the exception of Easter.)
There will be a Game Night on March 10 from 6-9:00 p.m. Bring a game, a snack to share and a friend.

After sharing announcements Chuck told us it was Pastor Terry's birthday today, leading us all in singing the traditional happy birthday song. He then had the worship team join him to sing a verse of Worthy of Worship which we then joined in singing along with several additional hymns.

During the offering Natalie performed a gymnastic dance that was quite special. This was followed by a time of prayer.

The theme this month has been family, so it seemed the right time for a baptism. Scott and Cheyenne brought their son Brecken to be dedicated to the Lord.

Strong In Grace

Pastor Terry began by filling us in on last week's message.

Sometimes book titles say a lot, even when you don't read the book. Terry shared this example: Adventures in Missing the Point. Today's message used this book as its springboard: Canoeing in the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory. The imagery is of canoeing in places where there's not a lot of water. This was a problem for the early explorers who were trying to cross the Rockies. There were more challenges than they anticipated.

Everyone's got a plan until they get punched in the mouth. It's a boxing metaphor, but applies to many times in our lives when the unexpected happens. We all have plans about raising kids, or many other things, but when reality hits us we can so easily feel sabotaged.

It's not about how things go wrong, but rather it's about how you react to what you run into that matters. When things don't happen the way you expect, will you become a tyrant and demand that things go your way, or will you become a leader?

II Timothy 2 is our passage today, which opens with the words, "You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

What does strength look like?

Galatians 6:9 says, "Let's not become weary of doing good...." Strength means continuing in the good fight, persevering when it would be easier to give up.

This kind of strength has to do with my capacity to make something happen. "God's strength is made perfect in weakness." Strength is a quality of character that roots decisions in that which is for a great good.

Too often, when everything falls apart leaders look for a scapegoat. This is not what Paul was looking for in Timothy.

When the explorers were going through the mountains, how far did they carry their boats? How do you know how far to go? Is the better plan to abandon the boats and build more later, or hope for water to show up over the next pass? Or do we make camp and send out scouts?

There is no way to predict the way life will hand things to us. Leaders do not always have a clear vision of which path to take.

"Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus," Paul wrote.

Terry is reading A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in an Age of the Quick Fix. "I don't mean an autocrat who tells others what to do... I mean someone who is clear of his or her own life goals and assumes responsibility and maintains a non-anxious presence in the midst of crisis, a radical peace in the midst of emotionally charged issues."

The author talks about how healthy cells frequently get invaded by unhealthy cells, and leadership must become the immune system for the family. That is, leadership helps establish boundaries. The role of the immune system is to kill off what is unhealthy so that the healthy can thrive.

Terry then read verse 2: "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others."

What does it look like to be so tight in Christ that we can step into uncharted territories as a leader? Notice how in the Old Testament all the battles Israel fought were executed in different ways. God doesn't want us to live by a formula. He wants us to recognize His voice and do what He asks us to do.