It was a different sort of service this morning, made all the more meaningful by the various contributions of our members and friends of the church family. Pastor Brad Shannon opened by quoting the Proverb, “Commit your ways to the Lord, trust in Him and He will act.” He went on to affirm that God has acted and He continues to act in our lives. It was a fitting opening for all that followed.
There were several announcements, including mention of the Covenant Conference Annual Meeting next weekend in Poplar and a clean up day next Saturday morning from 9-11, to finish the work that interfered with by this weekend’s inclement weather.
Pastor Shannon had just returned from a denominational conference in Chicago and noted for us that the Covenant Church is the fastest, or one of the fastest, mainline denomination in terms of church growth. BUT, 95% of that growth is from churches planted in the last twelve years.
One reason planting new churches generate such results is that church plants have a high percentage of people who believe God can use them, motivated by a sense of mission. We of New Life Covenant do not want to lose sight of our mission to this community.
Worship this morning was led by Ellie and Friends, with special music by Dana.
A guest, Pastor John Sheets, read this morning’s Scriptures, both from the New Testament… Acts 2:42-47 and John 10:1-10.
After a time of prayer we were treated to a skit by Eric Borndal and Ed Newman about Barabas, the criminal who was released when Jesus was crucified at Passover nearly 2000 years ago. See Matthew 27:11-26 and Luke 23:13-23
With earnest enthusiasm Eric Borndal, our youth leader, presented the message this morning. First he shared a slideshow of the recent Minneapolis M.O.V.E. event which several of our young people took part in. The weekend included worship, fellowship and service. Said Eric, it was good to “get outside of my Hermantown bubble.”
Eric’s sermon amplified the MOVE theme with several key insights.
(1) Move It Or Lose It
All too often we use to word “move” as a command for others. That is, “Move out of my way.” We’re action oriented and don’t like people getting in our way.
Being on the move, in action, is actually a good thing though. he noted. The Great Commission is a call to action: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” And James writes that faith without action is dead.
The second reason we don’t move, he said, was that often we are scared. Certainly the disciples demonstrated this. After the crucifiction they went into hiding, and after the resurrection they were not easily found.
Jonah, too, allowed his fears to overrule God’s command. He wouldn’t go to Nineveh. He knew it was a rough town and didn’t go.
Our failings make us question… “Who am I to Move?” We feel unworthy to speak in God’s name, to do things for Him.
Yet when we look at the Apostle Paul, we learn that this man was an even worse sinner than any of us. He was a persecutor of the church, and was on hand at the stoning of Stephen.
Eric reminded us that no matter what sin we have done, God can use us.
Too tired. Too busy. These and other excuses hold us back.
He then shared an illustration which he shares with kids at camp. If you have a bucket, a large stone, smaller stones and sand, can you get the large stone into the bucket if you fill it with sand and small stones first? No. But if you put the large rock in first, the small stones and sand can fill out the rest of the space.
This is how our lives are, he noted. The large rock is God. If we place God in the bucket first, there is plenty of room for smaller stones and sand.
Eric reminded us that D-Day, the Normandy invasion, was only a beginning of the end for World War II. Even though it was a great victory, the outcome of the war would have been very different had the Allies stopped there. So it is with the mission of the church, and the mission of this church. We’re doing many great things here. Youth, men’s group, women’s group, and individually… there is much good happening here. But we must ask ourselves where we need to move. We can’t stop and be content. We need to keep moving forward.