After welcoming us, Pastor Brad shared that today's theme would be along these lines. We live in a world that glorifies giftedness. But there's something more important.
Today's chief announcement had to do with the upcoming Fish Fry, Saturday, August 24, from 1-4 p.m. with fish donated from Gordy's Hi-Hat in Cloquet, plus donations from Sam's Club, Super One, and McDonald's as well as Ken and Vicki Smith. (Thank you all.) Your only responsibility is to bring bars and spread the word about our event.
The service opened with the Trio singing "You Raise Me Up." Brad made note of Elsa's presence with us as we entered into worship. She is leaving soon for Pasadena, California where she will be attending Fuller Seminary.
Today's message, titled Inside Out, dealt with these contrasting sets of values, between the world we live in and God's values. There have been many sermons over the years about God's gifts and discovering our own gifts, but the giftedness spoken of here has to do with talents and skills, which may be valued by our celebrity culture but can be at odds with Kingdom values when not accompanied by Christlike character.
Judges 14-16 formed the basis for today's sermon. It was the story of Samson, a Nazarite from birth who was himself gifted but lacking in character. In the end, people without character become their own worst enemies.
Brad underscored one of the saddest verses in all Scripture that appears near the end of Samson's story after he's violated the third of his three Nazarite vows. "But he didn't know the Lord had left him."
Near the close he shared this maxim for Christians of all ages: We overestimate what can be done in the short term; we underestimate what can be done in the long term. This is our basis for hope.