On a sunny Sunday morning we gathered again for worship here at New Life Covenant Church. Notes from our breakfast meeting and dialogue will be shared at the end of today's summary of the service.
Chuck welcomed us this morning, informing us that Pastor Brad took an impromptu vacation. Today's message would be delivered by guest speaker Erin Swanstrom. There were several announcements.
1) August 14 is the Twig 5K Run, and our church family will be represented. Details to come.
2) The Harvest Festival is September 12 at the Twig Town Hall.
3) Walt & Gwen Crestman have invited the church family to a Pot Luck and Beach Day. Anyone desirous to be baptized might consider this a special time to do so.
4) The September Sale is approaching, scheduled now for 9/11. Begin assembling items to bring...
5) There is a Modest Home Makeover fund raiser at Five Guys hamburger joint from 4-8 p.m. August 2. 10% of all proceeds from sales that evening will go to the MHM project.
After the announcements the quartet ushered us into worship, and even sang a bonus song during the offertory which followed.
This morning Nathan Deloach spoke to us about the Modest Home Makeover project which several people in our church are involved with. MHM is a takeoff on the television show Extreme Home Makeover. Nate began by sharing a video about the project and the beneficiaries of this rebuilding project, Brenda and Rick Hallfrisch. We were informed that $36,000 has been raised for this $150,000 three-bedroom house that is being built, but that with all the donated services by local contractors, the real financial burden is significantly less. Rick has been battling cancer since age fifteen and has had as many as forty surgeries. Their involvement in local ministry has included prison ministry, ministry to racers, Teen Challenge, foster care and more. A special offering was taken after the service, but those who wish to contribute further or participate in upcoming fund raisers may also go to the Modest Home Makeover website.
After the Scripture reading (Galatians 5:1,13-25) and a time of prayer, our guest speaker was introduced, Erin Swanstrom.
Erin began by commenting on a billboard she saw which intrigued her: Your success is our passion. Although the idea of preaching a "success" gospel seemed a bit off-putting to her, she shared that there are actually two definitions of success. The first is "a favorable outcome." It would seem that any of us could embrace this definition. Today's message did focus on the second definition, the attainment of wealth, position, honors. Erin shared with us insights from the experience of King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4.
King Nebuchadnezzar was an emblem of success, a great re-builder. Nebuchadnezzar's problem was not his success, but his pride. Though few of us could be considered "King of the World", in a very real way we do share this with Nebuchadnezzar. We want to be recognized. Nebuchadnezzar wanted the world to know, "Look how great I am."
In the earlier chapters of Daniel, God has sought to get Nebuchadnezzar's attention, but failed. Now, God has taken more drastic measures. The king has had a dream which he strongly desires to understand, about a large tree which is cut down.
God knows how destructive pride is. And it appears in various forms, Erin said. Our need to get the last word in, or jealousy when others receive recognition are just two manifestations of pride takes. Our drive for recognition is is another.
Pride's impact can damage our lives in a variety of ways. Its effect on our ministry or service, its effect on our attitudes in relationships, its effect in our view of sin... and its impact on our walk with God because pride conceals the true condition of our hearts. This is why it is written, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
In verse 34, Nebuchadnezzar looks up. He has been humbled, and he not only receives his sanity back, but also his kingdom. Erin referenced an Andrew Murray quote that states that "humility is an attitude of dependence on God."
The struggle with pride is common to us all. We can't "make" ourselves humble though. It is a gift of being in Christ. Ask God to do whatever it takes to cultivate humility in us.
She closed by sharing a story about a most humble man whom she encountered who said, "I don't deserve to be here. I'm just grateful to serve."
Pam Johnson led this morning's discussion as we continued dialoguing about the 25 questions we've been exploring this summer. Today we continued with the question, "Where is the Lord in all this? And what Bible stories reflect where we are at as a church today?"
Pam began by reading Luke 7:47-49.
Today's discussion seemed especially rich. Some of the Bible stories brought up in answer to the question included:
The parable of the talents
The story of David
Noah and the ark
John the Baptist
and Nehemiah building the wall.
There was additional discussion regarding how to discern God's will versus our will, and an insight about rural communities and loneliness.
The second question we began to dissect was whether our leaders are catalysts or stabilizers. Some said we have a nice mix of both, and that there is a measure of intentionality in the leadership to do both. Leonard noted that a catylitic converter and the true meaning of catalyst involves both change and stability, that the ultimate end of catalytic change is to create stability.
The conversations have been rewarding and we encourage all who are able to attend to do so.