Sunday, April 24, 2011


The morning sunlight contributed to the effervescence that spilled through the sanctuary this raising the pre-service decibel level about ten points as people greeted one another and awaited the start of worship. Brad opened by reminding us that this was the holiest of holy days in the Christian calendar, for "He is alive!"

After the Easter Greeting we jumped straight into "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today."

There was quite a bit of music today as we sang a medley of hymns and were treated to special music by Chuck and Darlene, and a little later by Gwen who sang "He's Alive!"

Brad had brought a video to share with us about Tagboard Testimonies where people share briefly what God has done and where they've been. He then had three young men from the Teen Challenge who were worshiping with us share how God had touched their lives. The video then went into greater depth with one of these men's stories.

Today's Scripture reading was from Luke's account of that first Easter morning, Luke 24:1-12. The sermon followed.


Brad began by telling about a close friend who invested in the stock market. On one occasion he'd found a hot stock that was guaranteed to go up. He claimed to have done his research and it was a guaranteed red hot investment, a sure thing. And Brad climbed aboard to profit from this find. It bellied up and went to worthless. "The only thing that makes me feel better is knowing that he lost more than I did in that deal."

Maybe you've lost money in investments or in other things you invested in based on assumptions you made in advance. Perhaps it was a relationship you invested in. You assumed one thing about the future but something different happened.

Our assumptions are often flawed. Sometimes in the moral realm, or assumptions about vocation, and we can even have flawed assumptions about God.

Peter, the day after he saw Jesus crucified, must have wondered if he had just wasted the last three years of his life. Jesus looked and acted and spoke like the Messiah of Israel. Here is was, nailed to a cross.

Yet, we see from I Peter 1:3 that whatever pain he went through during that dark time, in the end he'd not hoped is vain. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Wonderful words.... Hope. Resurrection.

A lot of things in this life are over-rated, Brad noted. Hope is not over-rated. We all need hope. New Testament writers use the word "hope" 71 times.

Hope is not mere optimism. Nor should it be confused with "the power of positive thinking." God's kind of hope sustains. God's hope heals. When breathed into empty shells it gives us life.

The cross was an instrument of death. Yet God transformed death into resurrection. The Bible calls it a "new birth into a living hope." Do I believe that Jesus has life changing power? I do because God showed up in my life.

When Jesus taught, He often referred to a thing called "child-like faith." He said we were to be like children, and here are four attributes of that.
1. Kids are energetic.
2. Kids are endlessly inquisitive.
3. Kids have a capacity to give and receive love.
4. Kids trust.

Brad closed with an appeal that we take on those childlike qualities of being inquisitive, energetic, active, trust-filled, and loving.

We closed the service with another great hymn, "Thine Is The Glory."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Who Do You Say That I Am?"

The service began with Pastor Brad welcoming us to the beginning of Holy Week. He reminded us of last week's message, especially noting that Jesus knows the burdens we carry.

Today is Palm Sunday and Brad commented that it was a day of momentary elation for His followers during the Lord's entrance into Jerusalem. Brad invited to enter into the story.

Announcements included an apology for the busy-ness of this week, but began with mentioning the Good Friday service at 7:00. Duane thanks all who have come to our needs assessment meetings and said there are two more, at 4:00 pm this afternoon to discuss music, worship and stage ministries, and 6:00 pm Monday for a discussion on overall facilities.

Brooke shared that Wednesday evening will be our last Adventure Club this season. VBS is just around the corner though, on the theme Pandamania. Next Sunday there will be an Easter Breakfast along with an Easter Egg Hunt for kids.

Darlene played Great Is Thy Faithfulness as an introit today preceding a time of worship. The Scripture reading was from Matthew 21:1-11. Ed Newman followed with today's special music, The Holy City, accompanied by Darlene on the piano.

Who Do You Say That I Am?

"Who is this Jesus?" That's what the people were saying when He entered Jerusalem at the commencement of Holy Week. It's a question that has caused controversy for two thousand years now, even from His birth which was announced a "good news of great joy."

The week began with great excitement. There were an estimated two-and-a-half million people gathered for Passover that week. No one who saw Jesus enter Jerusalem on the back of a donkey to crowds waving palms could have guessed the week would end in a tomb. The excitement of that Palm Sunday entrance can be compared to Times Square on New Year's Eve.

Jesus knew what lay ahead for Him and it undoubtedly weighed on Him. A cross, brutal suffering, death and separation from the Father. His disciples, whom He had been training for leadership were still acting more like followers. Instead of taking initiative to set up a place for the Passover meal, which would be their last supper together, they came to Him asking what to do, what next, etc. Jesus responded patiently, as always, with understanding.

The three features of Jesus' birth continue to be relevant today. He is our Savior, the one who died for our sins, saving us from the consequences of our sin and forgiving us.

He is also the Messiah, the one whom the Hebrews were looking for who would fulfill all the was written. Messiah means "deliver us from death." Indeed, He is the one in whom we find life.

Jesus is also Lord, leader, here to lead our lives now.

Jesus is longing to spend time with us this week. He is inviting into this story... to receive Him as our own personal Savior, Messiah and Lord.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

How Deep the Father’s Love Is for Us

After a warm greeting, the following announcements were highlighted.

Brooke shared with enthusiasm that it’s time for volunteers to begin signing up for Vacation Bible School. There was an orange insert in the bulletin with a list of needs to help orient us, which will also be available in the Narthex over the next several weeks as well. VBS will again be held at the Twig Town Hall.

There have been two important meetings in preparation for our needs assessment for the new building. They have gone well and two more are slated for next Sunday from 4-6 and Monday evening 6-8. Brad’s goal in this project is 100% participation.

This coming week is Palm Sunday. Among the activities schedules is a Good Friday service at 7:00 p.m.

The worship time began with Chuck Vanderscheuren reading the passage from Acts about Phillip and the Ethiopian. This was followed by two songs from the quartet, “Behold the Lamb” and “Worthy of Worship.”

Ken from the Gideon’s shared with us about the work they have done in sharing Bibles with the world in more than 190 countries and more than 180 languages. This was followed by the quartet singing “On the Jericho Road” and a time of prayer.

How Deep the Father’s Love For Us

Today Pastor Brad’s sermon centered on three incidents in the life of Jesus as recorded in Luke 7. Brad began by noting, perhaps with envy, Jesus’ strength. During the course of his years in ministry He poured Himself out, continuously being available to teach and meet needs. Luke 7 takes place immediately following the Sermon on the Mount, a day that was undoubtedly exhausting as Jesus ministered to a multitude.

The first incident occurs when a Roman soldier requested help from Jesus to heal his servant boy. Brad emphasized that there are no second class citizens in God’s economy. Jesus’ love does not discriminate between haves and have not, between sheiks and shoeshine boys. There is not partiality with Jesus. The fullness of His love is available to all, distributed freely. It’s only a matter of opening our hearts.

In verse 10 the boy is indeed healed.

In the next town on His journey Jesus is interrupted by a funeral. He asks who passed away and learns that it is the only son of a woman who has already lost her husband. Jesus felt a deep compassion and his heart went out to her. In response He goes to the casket and says, “Get up.” The young man comes to life again. Even though Jesus did not know this woman, His heart was moved.

The third incident in this chapter takes place in a town where all the important people have thrown a party for this special guest. It is an A-list type of crowd consisting of movers and shakers. At a certain point an uninvited guest arrives. It is the town’s “sinful woman” who enters and throws herself at the Lord’s feet, bathing them with her tears. She then pours ointment on His feet, as if to say, “You’re the only one on earth who can help me, I have sunk so low.”

The others at this party of bigwigs are mumbling to themselves, “If He knew what kind of woman this was He would not be allowing her to do this.”
But in God’s eyes, people who make big mistakes and cry sincere tears of repentance receive massive amounts of love and grace. This is why verse 47 underscores a significant truth: He who is forgiven much loves much.

Brad stated that if anyone should be most loving it should be him, for he has been forgiven much. But then , who amongst us has not?

If we are to be like Jesus, we need to become indiscriminate lovers of other people.

When the dinner party ended, the people there were asking, “Who is this man?” It’s a question people have been asking for more than two thousand years.

As noted earlier, Jesus stands at our heart's door, knocking, asking to be invited in. What will be your response?

Brad closed with a candid acknowledgement, “The fact that I am still loved by the creator of the universe still blows me away.” An apt introduction to our celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

Reminder: Next Week Is Palm Sunday, the commencement of Holy Week.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What’s Your One Step?

This morning we had with us a special guest, Karl Peterson, Covenant missionary to Mexico. Despite the dreariness outside, in part due to yet another late snow, the sanctuary is filled with a bright vibrancy as we prepare for worship.

We’re conducting a series of four meetings addressing aspects of the facilities, the first this afternoon at 4:00-6:00 and the second tomorrow evening at 6:00 p.m.

Next week will be our semi-annual meeting, which will include inducting new members to the council and a proposal regarding a new constitution.

Tuesday, women’s Bible study here. They will be watching a video “How Great Is Our God.”

Darlene opened our time of worship with a beautiful introit. Brad shared a psalm then led us in Shout to the North and several other songs.

The children were invited to the front to participate in demonstrating a truth about missions. One of the children was placed in the center of a Mexican blanket. Several others took hold of the corners to lift the blanket and carry the boy to the back of the sanctuary. Each one represented the various kinds of support missionaries need, from prayer to financial and practical resources. Mission work is a team effort.

Today’s Scripture reading was from Acts 8:26-40.

Karl’s dad was Bill Peterson who wrote a book of prayer that Brad reads from time to time. Brad read one of the prayers from the book and then prayed for Karl before leading the congregational prayer.

What’s Your One Step

Karl Peterson shared a message that he and his wife Sue have been sharing with the Covenant churches where they have been speaking while on furlough. The Petersons, who are currently staying in Hutchinson, are serving in Mexico City in the central district of Mexico where there are 18 Covenant churches.

“We see our work as incarnational. For some people, we might be the only Christians they will ever see.” Karl spent a several minutes sharing various ways Karl and Sue have been living out their faith through relationships, through participating in the Posada celebration at Christmas, and in other ways of serving.

Like the story of Philip from our Scripture reading, you have to listen to God and then go be with people.

A second aspect of ministry is proclamational. Karl shared examples of how some of the leaders in their church circle go about ministering and building new congregations, church planting.

He shared a concept called 3x3x3 in which church members set their cell phones each day as a reminder to pray for three minutes about three things: Unity, Planting new churches and a Seminary for training for new leaders, an important need.

A third facet of their ministry is relational, which was illustrated in a story about a young woman who was led into their lives in an unusual way, and ultimately came to be a follower of Christ. Another story was told about a woman who was being discipled by telephone every Thursday because of the impracticability of travel in Mexico City.

Karl closed by asking, "Who is God calling you to be incarnational, proclamational or relational with this week to lead them to God?"