Sunday, September 19, 2010


A five star autumn morning and a five star sermon made it another special service here at New Life Covenant.

Brad opened by commending the leadership team that worked so hard to make last week's Harvest Festival such a special event. We were also reminded that our new fall schedule features Sunday School at 9:00 a.m. and worship at 10:15. Other announcements included:
1. On October 3 and 6 there will be a music festival at our sister church First Covenant in Lincoln Park.
2. There will be a women's tea at noon, October 9 here at the church.
3. Gail thanked everyone who helped or contributed to the success of the rummage sale which raised $340 last week.
Darlene then blessed us with the introit, which was followed by a time of worship, which included a taking of the offering. Ellie read today's Scripture reading, Luke 15:1-10, which was followed by a time of prayer.


Brad opened by reading these words from what is probably the most famous sermon of all time, Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." ~Matthew 7:24-27

The contrast is clear. A rock is solid. A rock foundation is a place of stability in a world where everything is uncertain.

Brad delineated just some of the experiences of recent years which have rocked our worlds. The 9-11 attack, anthrax fears, the tech stock crash, housing market collapse and banking crisis which have combined to make us less confident about our economic futures.

Having a job is no guarantee of security these days either. Companies get bought and sold, and jobs shuffled or eliminated. Brad cited a very recent example.

Some people who have lost everything say, "Well, I still have my health." They find security in having good health. But this, too, can turn around overnight in a hundred different ways, as we so painfully see year in and year out.

Family and friends are a source of security for many people, but even the best friendships are temporary for as we all know, life itself is a temporary stay on this earth and sooner or later one of us must go.

Brad noted that the introit Darlene played was that classic hymn, The Solid Rock, with these memorable words:

"On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand."

ALL other ground is sinking sand... The only really solid foundation is a relationship with Jesus Christ, whose 24/7 love for us is ever present and without fail. With Christ you also get a permanent pardon for your sins.

Brad noted that in a relationship with Jesus we also get rock solid power, power to build bridges with others, to control our tempers, our greed and our lusts. And power to get through hard times.

Jesus also gives us a rock solid sense of guidance and purpose. God will guide our futures, and will be there with us all the way through. Of this we can be confident instead of leaving us to face uncertain tomorrows alone.

And most significantly, with Christ you have a rock solid assurance of where you're going to go when you die. All of this is available through a relationship with Christ.

Many people who go to church know all these things and want these things, but still don't know how to get it, Brad has observed. Over the years he has met many a person who has taken a run at faith, but feel and say "it didn't work."

Brad asks these people, "Well, what did you do?" and often the answers go something like this: "Oh, I tried to get into God and tried to clean up my life and promised God and myself that I would use less profanity and drink less beer and go out partying less. I'd be a better boy scout... but there wasn't much joy in it. I didn't know if God was happy with me so I bailed."

Someone else might reply that they decided to get involved with more charities, serve in a soup kitchen... "and after that I felt O.K. but I never knew if it was enough. I never got to the place where I really felt secure."

How do I get from the shifting sands to the solid rock?

No one makes it through human effort, through their own power. The only way is for a third party to lift you up and place you there. God alone can do this for you, and He will do this when you take a humble, sincere step of faith. As it is written, "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." It is a gift from God. This is the only way to go from shifting sand to Solid Rock.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Harvest Fest

The Harvest Festival at Twig Town Hall was wonderfully attended and a really fun time for the church family as we interacted with the local community. The hot air balloon was grounded because of brisk winds, but everything else was pulled off as planned. Treasure hunts, art projects, Belgian horse-drawn hayrides, and that most appreciated gift of sunshine over the whole morning. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

The service at eleven was a special event in the middle of the festival, with some of the best singing from our church family quintet, opening with "Heaven On My Mind." There were lots of photos taken which will no doubt be shared soon.

We shared in the singing of some great songs and then Brad read a passage from the Psalms and led us in prayer. The sermon was brief but pointed and delivered from the heart.

Missing Ingredients

Pastor Brad began by stating that his new fall sermon theme would be about Missing Ingredients. He noted that he enjoys watching masterful chefs at work, and cited that "look" a chef gets when he's taken a taste of whatever he's stewing up and is trying to determine what ingredient is missing that would make it a perfect concoction.

Today's sermon was about purpose. And his starting point was the book of Ecclesiastes, written by a man who had done everything he could think of to find satisfaction. He successfully pursued money, power, pleasure and everything else under the sun that he could think of... but concluded that all was vanity. We were made for more.

One form of torturing prisoners is to make them dig holes and move dirt and then make them move it back again, turning their labors into futility and pointlessness. This kind of purposeless labor is emotionally devastating.

Brad told how he sometimes gets the wheels turning in peoples' head by drawing a circle and asking "Do you look inside or outside yourself when seeking purpose?" It's natural to look inside oneself, he noted, but not smart.

Brad talked about how purposeful God is. We live in a broken world, a self-evident truth when we look at all the poverty, oppression, injustice, pain, war, etc. God has His hand stretched out to each of us to partner with him to redeem, mend, heal, restore this broken world.

The pastor read Acts 13:36 for us about David serving God's purpose in his generation, and noted that we are called to partner with God's purposes in our own generation. We've been designed to live with purpose. God's appeal to us is, "I'll work on that with you if you are willing to participate with Me."

If you joined us for the Harvest Festival we hope it was a very special time. The pictures here only tell part of the story. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Public Invited to Community Harvest Festival at Twig Town Hall

New Life Covenant Church is sponsoring a community Harvest Festival at the Twig Town Hall on Sunday, September 12. The event will include free food and activities for kids and adults of all ages.

In addition to the usual fun and games, there will be:
Hot Air Balloon Rides from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (weather permitting)
A hayride with Belgian horses
A pie tasting contest
Treasure hunt for the young
Art fun
A bounce house
And more. …

Activities begin at 8:00 a.m. but will run through mid-afternoon till 2:30 p.m. Everyone is invited to join us for worship at 11:00 a.m. at the Town Hall

Celebrate the harvest season with New Life Covenant Church.
For more information call 729-5476

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Memory Loss

As the summer closes, Brad's series of messages on the life of David also have been completed. Today's communion service served as a transition into fall. Next week is our big Harvest Festival at the Twig Town Hall, and we were all encouraged to invite our neighbors. We still need volunteers for some activities. Please call church leaders for details.

Other announcements included:
1. September 11 will be the Rummage Sale, which now will be at the church. There is a need for clothes racks and plastic bags.

2. There will be a day long Beth Moore Simulcast event on September 18. Twenty dollars also covers the cost of lunch. See Peggy.

3. We'd like to get a sense of how many kids will be involved with Sunday School so we can order materials. Contact Joanne if you did not sign up your children yet.

4. Dawn and George have been married 40 years!

The quartet became a quintet this morning as Carol joined the music team. They sounded great. After the tithes and offering was taken Pastor Brad read from Luke 14:25-33, which was followed by a time or prayer, and then the sermon.

Memory Loss

What would it be like to have complete memory loss? Brad shared the story of a man named Jimmy who lost all his memory as a teen. by the time he was fifty, he still had no memory and when he looked in the mirror he did not know who the man was whom he was looking at. Brad stated that who we are is dependent upon our ability to remember.

Today's sermon drew upon a passage from Paul's letter to the Corinthians, beginning at I Corinthians 11:23ff. In this passage are the famous words of Jesus, "Do this in rememberance of Me."

Did Jesus think His friends would forget him?

The word remember has long roots in the Old Testament. Brad cited the passage where Joshua had the 12 tribes of Israel gather stones as a rememberance of the crossing of the Jordan. The "Ebenezer" marks the places where God has helped us in our journeys.

Other passages involved with remembering include remembering the Sabbath, remembering the Exodus, remembering the years in bondage and the liberation wrought by Passover. The Christian faith is a theology of remembering.

The reason remembering is so encouraged and important is because of our natural capacity to forget God, living as if God doesn't love us, has forgotten us.

Paul, therefore, says we must avoid spiritual amnesia. When we remember, what was real before becomes real again. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a living God. He is our God.

This passage about remembering Jesus isn't just about warm memories. It is also about blood, real blood, and suffering, and death... a body broken for us.

There's another problem we have with memory. We often forget what we should remember, but also all too often remember what we should forget. Brad reminded us that God is not only the greatest rememberer, but also the greatest forgetter. As stated in Psalm 103, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgeressions from us."

There are things we need to forget. We should not be tortured by our past failings, our past sin. We live under a new covenant: Grace.

Brad shared a story about how he once blew through a stop sign in Texas on his way to a mission outreach in Mexico. The police officer who stopped him was merciful and did not write up a ticket. The result was that Brad was far more careful as a driver the rest of that summer. He did not take this act of grace for granted. Grace is not a free ticket to continue bad behavior. The policeman's mercy changed his behavior.

When Jesus was crucified between two thieves, one thief asked Jesus to remember him. Jesus replied with words that affirmed He would not forget him: "This day you will be with Me in paradise."

At the end of the sermon Brad returned to the story of Jimmy. One day the doctor treating him found him in the chapel and was amazed at what he saw. "In the moment of communion, he found his soul."

At this we shared in the breaking of the bread...