A Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser for Garrett Franks was announced during the service. Dinner will be served from 4-6:00 p.m. on Saturday March 13 at Mr. D's Bar & Grill to raise money to help medical costs. Garrett and wife Christine are a young couple with immense medical expenses as a result of his early onset of diabetes, without health insurance.
We also sang Happy Birthday to Dawn Walsh, who turned 40 this weekend.
We were treated to an entertaining drama about Lent by the New Life Covenant Players. What is Lent about? We learned that it's about 40 days. (Actually, it's a time to reflect on what Jesus sacrificed for us.)
The offering was followed by three songs from the Kids Choir, which is always a treat.
Eli read from John 5:1-15 and Pastor Brad led us in prayer, preparing us for the message.
As is often the case, Brad began with the light touch, presenting a caricature of our modern Narcissistic culture. "I am Brad Almighty. I have an I-phone. I subscribe to Self magazine. My favorite song is Toby Keith's 'I want to talk about me.' My favorite movie line is from Finding Nemo: 'Mine, mine, mine.'"
Brad moved toward his topic. Not only do we tend to be self-centered, we also tend to think we should be self-sufficient. This is especially a problem when we're trying to overcome addictions and other personal failings. "It's a big mistake to think we can do it on our own. Self-help is an oxymoron."
Brad shared about a book he's been reading by Judith Twenge called Generation Me. The subtitle is, "Why Today's Young People Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled -- and More Miserable Than Ever."
Yes, we should pour encouragement and adoration on out kids. But we can go too far and lead them to an excessive pre-occupation with self. But Dr. Twenge notes this is the first generation in history to have self-esteem as a curriculum in school. Kids have grown up learning that, "I should do whatever makes me happy."
The Bible has a different prescription for us. "You shall have no other gods before Me." We always suffer when we put other things on the throne before God.
So it is when we deal with life's problems, we're look outside ourselves to for help. Self-deception and self-reliance always leads to self-destruction.
Do you want to get well? Do you want to live free? The first step to walking free is brokenness. When we admit our powerlessness and say, 'I am done pretending'... then we can begin to get well.
Brokenness and feeling bad are not the same thing. It is possible to be miserable and still remain unbroken. True brokenness prepares us for surrender.
Citing the Beatitudes, it is when we realize we're spiritually bankrupt that we can begin to be transformed. Blessed are the meek, Jesus said. Ask for help.
In II Corinthians 1 Paul writes frankly about the hardships he suffered during one of his trips.
"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead."
Paul says they felt doomed, but this was so they would learn to rely on God in a more profound way.
Brad asserted that whatever we're struggling with, we're not alone in this community. The key question, however, remains... Do you want to get well?
God is willing and able to deliver and heal us, Brad affirmed, referring us to a favorite passage, Isaiah 57:18,19.
18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will guide him and restore comfort to him,
19 creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel.
Peace, peace, to those far and near,"
says the LORD. "And I will heal them."
Are you ready to surrender your life? "Let go and let God" sounds cliche, but it is still true. There is a God who is bigger than you. A mustard seed sized faith is all it takes.
If your idea of God is wrong, "fire that God," Brad said. Our God will not fail us, will not bail on us. Here are just a few of His promises.
Psalm 56:8 states that God stores our tears in a bottle, and is well aware of our sorrows.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
Brad closed by stating, "You need someone bigger and stronger than yourself. Walking free begins with surrender."