Sunday, November 29, 2009


Pastor Brad welcomed us warmly, saying, "I'm delighted you're here today." Commenting on our Thanksgiving week he added that he was grateful for our church family. We were reminded that Advent means "coming" and in addition to being a reference to the Lord's having come, He is also coming again. The Lord keeps His promises and will return.

Announcements were many including the following.
Next Sunday there will be an open house at Shannon's from noon to 3:00 p.m. as a way of giving back, of thanking us for having them
Dec. 10: Christina DeLoach Ministries is putting on a Christmas concert which will include songs from her recently released CD "Father's Heart." Program starts at 7:00 p.m.
Sunday Dec. 13 is our own Christmas Program, starting at 4:00 p.m. with a meal served after. See Paula if you can help, setup on Saturday or finishing prep Sunday.
Pam shared that we have received the name of the family our church can help for Christmas dinner and gifts. For more information contact Pam Johnson in the church directory.

Since last week's service the church got a Christmas makeover and looked quite ready for the season. The ladies who made all the ornaments for the trees, upstairs and down, and helped decorate were all thanked heartily. Darlene's introit then ushered us into a worship time that included the lighting of the first Advent candle.

The children collected our soup cans filled with change for Covenant World Relief. A short video showed the various ways our contributions are used to help needy people, including health, education, women's empowerment, food and micro enterprise. With the children all gathered at the front, Brad took the opportunity to share four lessons we all need to learn about money: how to earn it, how to spend it responsibly, how to save it, and how to give so that we can help the marginalized and oppressed.

After the offering, Brad read to us from Luke 21:25-36, led us in a time of prayer and turned the pulpit over to Leonard Armstrong for the sermon.


Leonard, who has grown up in this church and stated he will no doubt die her, began by sharing how when the family was together over Thanksgiving his older brother, who had been at seminary when Len was young, began giving advice on how to do a sermon. Len was 13 or 14 when his brother graduated seminary and apparently had taken his share of ribbing at being the "little brother." Leonard grabbed his older brother and held him up to the ceiling, noting that his brother may be the older brother but was no longer the bigger brother.

With some amusement and his winsome self-deprecating style, Leonard established his authority as an amateur, as opposed to his seminary trained older sibling. (Note: As all of us know intimately, Leonard is well versed in his knowledge of the Scriptures.)

The theme of the message was based on lessons from the life of Jeremiah. His starting point was Jeremiah 33:14-16.

14 " 'The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.

15 " 'In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.

16 In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it [a] will be called:
The LORD Our Righteousness.'

Jeremiah was famously honest with God, sharing quite openly his complaints and frustrations. He also spoke out against his enemies, to the extent that the the word "jeremiad" originated with him, which means "a prolonged lamentation or mournful complaint."

Jeremiah did not want to be a prophet. These were very dark times in Israel's history. Advent means looking toward the light. Jeremiah did that.

Leonard shared a Civil War anecdote. When Savannah had surrendered to Sherman after the Union army's march to the sea, Lincoln wrote in a letter that "Now the people have seen a great light." The war was not over, but there was evidence here that an end was in sight to the suffering which tore apart the young nation.

Though Jeremiah lived in dark times, he saw the light that was coming. One who would promote justice and do what was right was coming.

Jeremiah didn't only speak out, he also did things. On one occasion he smashed a vase to make a point, and on another he was instructed to go out a buy a belt, which led to another anecdote from the days of Pastor Hartmark because the King James Version called it a girdle. Pastor Hartmark had 15 children. Mrs. Hartmark was home watching the young 'uns one Sunday and when the kids came home from church she asked what their father preached on that morning. They said he'd preached about girdles.

Leonard noted that the Lord had instructed Jeremiah not to marry, nor to go to feasts. There were hard days ahead for Israel. The days of Israel's exile had already begun. For these reasons Jeremiah has been referred to as "the weeping prophet." He was a man who knew loneliness.

During this period of Israel's history there were very few good kings, most were bad. Unfortunately, one of these good kings did not listen to the Lord or His prophet. Josiah was told not to attack Pharaoh Neco and the Egyptians who were on their way to attack the Babylonians. Neco requested permission from King Josiah who evidently accepted bad counsel and refused it. As a result Josiah went to fight the Egyptians where they clashed in the plains of Megiddo. Josiah was killed.

Josiah's passing left Jeremiah disheartened and resulted in his writing of his laments, which became the book of Lamentations. After Josiah's death bad kings took the throne, persecuting Jeremiah. On one occasion Jeremiah was thrown into a cistern.

Leonard noted that God was fed up with Israel at this point, but Jeremiah was concerned and continued to pray for them even when God had had it with them. Here's a typical passage from that period, Jeremiah 22:13-17...

13 "Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness,
his upper rooms by injustice,
making his countrymen work for nothing,
not paying them for their labor.

14 He says, 'I will build myself a great palace
with spacious upper rooms.'
So he makes large windows in it,
panels it with cedar
and decorates it in red.

15 "Does it make you a king
to have more and more cedar?
Did not your father have food and drink?
He did what was right and just,
so all went well with him.

16 He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
and so all went well.
Is that not what it means to know me?"
declares the LORD.

17 "But your eyes and your heart
are set only on dishonest gain,
on shedding innocent blood
and on oppression and extortion."

Kingdoms are not intended to be about power and back-stabbing. Love is God's way.

In dark times we look forward to light. God, Leonard reminded us, is not looking for greatness but rather childlikeness. As Paul writes in the second chapter of his letter to the Philippians, there is a day coming when "at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow... and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

That is the light we see in the future.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Ruler of the Relationship

What a contrast between the grim and dreary weather outside and the warm glow of fellowship inside our church this morning as Pastor Brad proclaimed a cheerful "Good morning!" and welcomed us to worship this day. In his customary manner he briefly highlighted his theme for today's message: re-thinking our relationships. He also reminded us that it was Christ the King Sunday in which we proclaim Jesus as Lord of our lives.

Announcements were many.
1. Tonight at 7:00 there is a Thanksgiving service at St. John's Lutheran Church.
2. Don't forget to bring your soup can offerings next week for Covenant World Relief.
3. December 10th there will be a special Christmas concert featuring Christina Deloach.
4. Friday at 6:00 all who wish to participate may come to the church to decorate it for Christmas.
5. The first bike for the Congo is almost paid for, with the goal being for two.
6. The school supplies for local schools were distributed and appreciated.

Darlene played the introit and ushered us into a worship time led by Brad, Ellie, Pearl and Mae.

Caryn Pederson was with us today to share about the work of Pioneer Ministries with which she is involved. Pioneer is a missions organization involved with planting churches in difficult places, including Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia and Afghanistan among others. Caryn, who has been with Pioneers for ten years, is joining a "prayer tank" in Wales. Her enthusiasm was infectious as she said, "If we're not living recklessly for God, then what are we doing?"

The Scripture reading today was from John 18:33-37. After a time of prayer, including some praises, Brad shared the message which God had placed on his heart.

The Ruler of the Relationship

"Anytime we don't do what we feel led to do, things start to go downhill," he began. It was a great opening to a message which clearly came from a deep place in his heart. Our disobedience is not just bad for others, it is an act of self-betrayal.

Brad indicated straight up that he was hesitant to get into this passage of Scripture because of the somewhat hard truths it addresses. His straight talk, and compassionate approach gave a special power to the words he shared as he sought to convey what was behind the words Paul had written to the Colossian church nearly 2000 years ago.

From Colossians 3:12 to the end of the book Paul is writing about relationships. Today's passage, beginning in verse 18, calls us to radically re-think husband and wife relationships, parent-child relationships and employer-employee relations... and ultimately our relationships with each other in the family of God.

18Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
22Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.
Colossians 4
1Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

This passage flows directly out of the previous verse in which Paul states, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Paul is saying that in your relationships, whenever you sense you should do or say something that will honor Jesus, don't betray that feeling. Do it with a grateful heart, in honor of the one who has done everything for you.

Context is important when studying Scripture. In that culture, which Paul was writing into, women had no rights. Men could treat their women any way they wanted, and often did. He could abuse her, he could be unfaithful, he could hurt her in any way and she had no legal recourse.

Paul says, "Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands." A difficult request. But he follows it with another admonition to the husbands, to love their wives and not be harsh with them.

Brad immediately reminded us of the passage in Ephesians where Paul states we are all to submit to one another "out of reverence for Christ." This is to be the general attitude in every Christian home, in every family, in every group. Wives, husbands, kids... submit. In another place Paul wrote, "In Christ there is no male or female," and by this he indicates that submission does not cancel out our individuality.

Brad explained submission in this way. "If I submit a bid on a building project, I am saying in effect, 'Here are my service, I am offering them.'" In the same manner, when we submit to one another, we are extending this same service, offering our talents, our wisdom, our minds, gifts, our whole self into the relationship. The wife who submits to her husband is doing so in honor of the one who submitted everything for us, including His life.

Brad quickly asserted that this is not a blind submission. Paul writes, "as is fitting in the Lord." Wives don't have to submit to husbands who urge them to do immoral things. Nor do they have to submit to physical abuse, or let their children receive such abuse. Nor do they have to submit to husbands who assault or coerce or traumatize them. That's not fitting in the Lord. Women are "not called to submit to being a punching bag," he added.

The reciprocal command is for husbands to love their wives. It's a command with no qualifier.

The next section deals with parent-child relationships. Again, Paul was writing into a culture where children had no rights. Parents could even sell their kids into slavery if they wanted to. Yet Paul writes, "Obey your parents in everything." The Scriptures teach us to honor our parents. Jesus Himself obeyed his parents, even though they were sinful and fallible.

To parents, Paul gives clear instruction that their children have value. "Don't embitter your children." Parents can go wrong on both sides when raising children. They can be too controlling, uptight and thereby driving them away. Or they can be so lax with so much freedom that the children are insecure because they have no boundaries.

Brad shared details about how eagles teach their young ones to fly. They have no intention of keeping the baby eagle in the nest forever. One day they nudge the eaglet out of the nest onto their backs and fly high, high, high up into the sky, and then with a little flip drop the young eagle off their backs to give it a chance to learn how to use its wings. The parent drops down and catches the young one and flied up again to give another chance. Eventually the young eagle finds his wings.

So it is that parent let go, but do not abandon their young. We help them find their own wings. Parents provide protection and security, but also prepare their children for life in the real world at large.

Paul doesn't quit with family relationships but also addresses employee/employer relationships. Again, context is extremely important for grasping this passage. At the time slaves comprised one third to one half of the Roman empire. Why didn't Paul lambaste slavery? Why didn't Paul talk about the rights of slaves? Instead he said, "Slaves, obey your masters."

There is a radical principle here. Real change always begins in the heart. The Gospel is a message directed to heart change, internal change.

"I'm not in favor of Internet porn or drug use or abortion," Brad said, but his heart breaks over the emptiness that people are experiencing that leads to these things. "You can change laws, but if hearts don't change, what good is it? Real change begins with a changed heart."

Paul was sowing seeds that would ultimately overthrow slavery and abuse of women. Real change is internal, not structural.

So, Paul's message to slaves, and to employees today, is this: "It is the Lord Christ you are serving." We who are employed are to work as for the Lord. Your employer pays your salary, but it is the Lord whom you are working for.

In exchange, employers are commanded to do right by their employees. Pay fair wages. Encourage them. Treat them with respect.

From here Pastor Brad proceeded to draw attention to a few of the rich jewels that one can easily extract from reading between the lines in the final passages of this great letter to the Colossians. For example, in verse 10 Paul writes what appears to be a rather non-descript statement, "My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings..." Most people just pass over this, but who was Aristarchus? This was a man who had been loyal to Paul through much hardship, and stands as an example to us as the kind of friendship that hangs with us through great hardship. These are very special people. In Acts 19 Aristarchus stood with Paul in a situation that resulted in his being beaten to within an inch of his life. And in Acts 27 we find that Aristarchus was still there for Paul and endured a shipwreck with him. These kinds of friends are special. They don't bail when times get tough.

Proverbs 17 says, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."

Another brother-in-Christ mentioned by Paul here is Tychicus, a dear brother. Now here's a dear brother and what did he do? He delivered a letter. He was faithful, and Paul affirmed him with these words of encouragement.

Brad then shared how a friend of his, whose wedding he recently participated in, once shared words of encouragement with him. It was only a moment in time, 30 to 45 seconds, yet they were life giving words and invaluable.

Relationships, of all kinds, are important. That is why God calls us to a radical re-calibration of our relationships.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Being Wise Toward Outsiders

Music is such a meaningful part of the Christian life. From ancient times songs have risen in men's hearts in moments of celebration, for expressing gratitude and adoration, and for other purposes and occasions. This morning we opened with the chorus, "I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever." After announcements, Darlene's piano introit expressively conveyed another great song, His Eye Is On The Sparrow. The song is so rich, it seemed appropriate to share a portion of it here.

Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows fall
Why should my heart be troubled,
When all but hope is gone?
When Jesus is my fortress.
My constant friend is He.
His eye is on the Sparrow,
and I know He watches me.
His eye is on the Sparrow,
and I know He watches me!

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

A Very Special Sunday

Today the youth of the church carried the Operation Christmas Child gift boxes to the altar which had been assembled for needy children. Then the children's choir sang several songs for us.

The Scripture reading, and the passage upon which the sermon was based, is from Colossians 4:2-6

2Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Pastor Brad ascended to the pulpit and after leading us in a time of prayer began his message.

Being Wise Toward Outsiders

Brad began by quizzing us about "famous last words" from Nathan Hale to Dwight Eisenhower and ended with this one. "Who said, 'Please leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub.'?" As at least one member of the congregation knew, it was Conrad Hilton.

This amusing intro was a lead in to the importance of last words in general, and Paul's last words to the Colossians specifically. For most people their last words touch on issues of significance, and so it is with Paul's letter here, the last time he will be addressing the Colossian believers. There were two things burning on Paul's heart, prayer and spreading the Word.

Brad demonstrated his depth of understanding of ancient languages and by explaining to us what the meaning of the words "devote yourselves to prayer" mean. "It means, devote yourselves to prayer." In other words, pray a lot, whether alone or in groups, in all circumstances, in the morning and in the evening and when you're up and when you're down, when you're worried, sick, burdened, broken hearted or when you're soaring and setting records; pray when you're busy and pray when you're bored.

He noted this insight from Dallas Willard. "The more often we pray, the more we think to pray."

In another letter Paul admonished, "Pray without ceasing." It's an ongoing dialogue with God throughout the day.

Brad compared it to having a headset on in which one ear is tuned continually to God's voice and the other to what we are experiencing here and now. Whether driving in a car, or sitting in a meeting at work, we can have an ear open and a dialogue going. "Lord, help me to be effective in this situation."

There's a second component to the life of prayer that is equally important. It is a healthy discipline, to set aside time apart exclusively for prayer. In Matthew 6:6 Jesus said, "When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen..."

In short, both of these are important components of the life of prayer, the ongoing dialogue and the time set apart.

In the next portion of this passage Paul spells out what he wishes prayer for, which also has two components. First, he asks them to pray that God will open a door for the Gospel. This is a very important truth. You can't cram Christ through closed doors. God prepares hearts and He does this through our prayers. John 6:44 states "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." Prayer has to precede evangelism.

Second, he asks them to pray that they will make the message clear. It is clarity, not cleverness, that wins souls and changes lives. Paul did not ask to be impressive, only effective through a clear presentation of the words of life. When the door to peoples' hearts is open, you want to be clear.

Brad shared three values that were important to him when presenting the Good News of life in Christ.

1. "I want the person I am talking to to know our God is filled with love and compassion, that His arms are open to all."

2. "No amount of human effort will make people right with God. You can't save yourself."

3. "There is a decision that needs to be made. You don't drift into faith. You either opt in or you opt out."

The passage encourages hearers to be wise toward outsiders and sensitive. Simultaneously, our conversation is to full of grace, seasoned with salt, which is an interesting description. Paul asks the Colossians to be attractive representatives on behalf of Jesus: loving, winsome, fun, grace-filled. But this little phrase "seasoned with salt" is also an intriguing part of the request.

Brad noted that the salt helps give an edge to the food and that there may be moments when we can make our message clear, but out of fear of offending we may hold back from what we really mean. He cited the Rev. Billy Graham as being a master at this throughout his adult life. He teaches a clear message, prays that God will open doors, treats unbelievers respectfully, and when it comes time for the invitation says there' room at the cross for you, asking people to stand up, to make a decision and not wait for tomorrow because there are no guarantees for tomorrow. This is the salt.

The death rate is 100%. We ourselves and everyone we know is going to die one day. No one escapes that. Thus, it is worth a prayer every morning to ask God to open a door for you to share the Gospel, to be used to transform a life. Then, leave it in God's hands.
The message is our responsibility to share.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Extreme Makeover

At the start of the service the gregariousness of our congregation was bubbling effusively this morning with high energy and good vibes. Pastor Brad had to really shout to be heard as he welcomed us with his loudest "Good morning! I'm delighted you are here to worship today."

Several announcements were made, as follows.
1. Covenant World Relief soup cans were being distributed again this year to help with needs throughout the globe.
2. Operation Christmas Child is gathering momentum. Wednesday the 11th we will be serving dinner and packing shoe boxes. Everyone is invited.
3. A thank you from Albrook school was conveyed to us for helping with school supplies, etc.

Today marked a first (or a first in a long time) as we assembled a modest choir to usher us into worship. A nice rendition of Father Almighty was followed by Worthy of Worship. Thank you Chuck and Darlene for spearheading and leading this... and to all who made it happen. (Very brief practice next week directly after the service so we can discuss best time for rehearsals.)

The Scripture reading from Colossians 3:12-17 was the basis for today's sermon.

12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

During our time of prayer we lifted up many needs including the families of victims of the shootings this week. Norm and Mae will be visiting the children's home ministry in Phoenix which has become a big part of their lives. Duane reminded us, too, that today is the annual day of prayer for Christians and martyrs who have been and are being persecuted for their faith.

Extreme Makeover

Brad opened by by reminding us of one of the continuous threads in this sermon series on Colossians: the need to do a 180 degree turn in life. This morning, he said that sometimes a 180 has to begin with a 360. This is what he meant by that.

There's a show on cable television which aims to convince people that they are in need of an extreme makeover in their attire. It does this by bringing them into a room called the 360 degree mirror. The results are highly embarrassing and motivational. Similarly we ourselves need to see the 360 degree view of our lives in order to prod us to take the necessary steps toward making the 180 degree turn from self-destructive habits and bad behaviors.

We are God's chosen people, Paul writes, set apart for a different kind of life. Therefore, we are to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, etc. as outlined. In other places the New Testament also refers to clothing as a metaphor for putting on the Spirit filled life. Jesus told the disciples in Luke 24 they would be clothed with power from on high, and Peter writes in his chapter five of his first letter that we are to be clothed with humility. And in another place the New Testament states, "be clothed with the fruit of the spirit."

Brad proceeded to confide that this passage was quite pointed for him this week as he prepared his message, confessing that he has failed to be as compassionate, patient and kind as he ought. With this familiarity with his shortcomings he was able to bring into focus the real value of our new attire.

Clothe yourself with compassion. This simply means having a soft heart for people different from you. Whether circumstantial (young, old, single, married, black, white) or with special needs, we need to learn to see the world through the eyes of others.

Clothe yourself with kindness. We can often be kind to strangers and not be so kind at home as we ought. Most of us have been in a situation where the words being spoken are laced with irritation or anger, then the phone rings and one person or the other sweetly answer, "Hello, hey how ya doing?" We're capable of kindness but sometimes do not want to be.

Clothe yourself with humility. This is an attitude of brokenness. Paul came to this place when God brought him to his knees. It was the starting point for being used mightily.

Clothe yourself with gentleness. This does not mean that we become wimpy. The Greek word here means "power under control." Brad illustrated it by describing a solidly built power lifter who was very strong, yet carried his young daughter with a special tenderness. Jesus Himself demonstrated this kind of gentleness when He could stop a raging storm, yet still cradle children on his lap.
Clothe yourself with patience. Brad asked how patient we are when driving. Somehow it seems when we get stuck behind people driving too slow they're idiots, and when we have people cruising up against our rear bumper because they want us to go faster they're morons. Alas, are we the only ones who get it right? Usually we're short on patience with this and many other areas of our lives.

Forgive one another. "How are you doing on the forgiveness front?" Brad asked. And ultimately, put on love. "Be honest with yourselves. When you do the 360 degree mirror, how do you fare?"

The next section, he pointed out, had both expected and unexpected statements. Verse 15 speaks of us being members of one body, connected. Being connected to the body of Christ, and fellow believers, is important.

Moreover Paul writes, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." Jesus said, "My peace I give unto you." Some people today are under so much stress that the only way they can survive is by having the peace of Christ in their hearts. When the peace of Christ rules, even if the worst should happen it is well with your soul.

The 16th verse, though, had an unexpected piece. Yes, one would expect the first part, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly..." but here's something unexpected. We're instructed to teach and admonish one another with singing, with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. In other words, transformation is occurring when we're sharing hymns, spiritual formation is occurring while worshiping in song and even when singing to one another. "Don't blow off the song time," Brad said, because there are significant things happening.

It's a fact that by tomorrow you will forget 80% or more of the words from this sermon, but we often remember the songs.

As an aside, Brad commented that sometimes we have outsiders with us who are seekers but do not know what we're really all about. Occasionally, and maybe often, these people are here to see if we are just going through the motions of religious activity or really believe what we're saying and doing.

As for the songs we sing, no matter what songs come up, bear with one another. Joyfully learn our grandson's songs.

Brad closed with a long anecdotal story about a guy who behaved badly, forgetting to pick his wife up at the beauty salon so that she had to walk home in the rain a couple miles. He was hours late, due primarily to his own neglect, and when he got home he well deserved being assaulted by his wife because he was supposed to help clean the house and get ready for having his parents for dinner, who were arriving just behind him. She meets him at the door with a twelve inch knife. Instead of her giving a lashing, she says, "Hey, it's no big deal. I knew you'd forget... just give me a kiss and let's enjoy the evening with your parents."

What kind of kiss would you give? A little peck on the cheek or a condescending smooch. No, it's going to be demonstrative, appreciative and expressive.

So it is that our Maker and Master awaits us... We have repeatedly failed Him and know it. He has a sword in His hand which could be used to destroy us, and we would deserve it, but says instead that by His own blood He paid a price to enable us to be forgiven and reconciled. How do we respond to such a God as this? A peck on the cheek? A smile? No, you're going to say thank you, I love you, I worship you for this love and forgiveness and understanding. You are an incredible God.

It is out of this kind of heart that Paul writes, "And whatever you do whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through Him."

This message was followed by the breaking of bread and communion.