Sunday, February 16, 2014

Be Prepared

The chilly weather remains, but the days are getting longer and there are hints of spring in the air. Our guest speaker this morning is Joel Osterlund, Director of Covenant Park Bible Camp.

Chuck welcomed us and proceeded into the announcements.
Emma Rose's birthday is today.
Youth Group Lock-In is this coming week.
The Youth Group is looking for a used sofa if possible.
Baseball is coming up. New Life Covenant is going to assemble a softball team. Guys and gals mixed league.
The loan request from the covenant has been approved. We currently have received over $250,000 of the $400,000 goal for the building. The aim is to see us begin in May.
Women's Meeting will be next Sunday after church and Secret Sister exchange started.
No council meeting Tuesday.

Chuck shared an email from Brad who said he went 380 miles yesterday and is still feeling good. Many more good words. Chuck, Ken and Darlene led the worship. Chuck first shared from Psalm 32. And then they sang a medley about God's marvelous grace followed by a series of songs from the silver song book. As the offering was taken Ken, Chuck and Darlene sang that old time Gaither favorite, The Lighthouse.

Before beginning his sermon, Joel Osterlund shared briefly about Covenant Park Bible Camp along with a video showing last year's highlights. "We look forward to making a great impact in 2014."

Be Prepared

14 New Life youth were at the Toby Mac concert last night and Joel shared that he also was there with some youth as well.

The message began with the reading of II Timothy 4:1-5, with the key verse being the second verse.

Being prepared involves three facets.

1. Being prepared means having the right equipment. 
A story was told about all the gear Joel brings along when he goes ice fishing. There's quite a bit of equipment involved when you want to do it right, and on one of his recent ice fishing trips he somehow failed to have equipment he needed for that day's fishing. It had inadvertently be left behind.

In our case, the building we're undertaking is not the goal. Our ministry is to connect, grow and become, and the building is a tool toward this end.

2. Being prepared also means having the right knowledge.
The story of David and Goliath illustrates this insight. After setting up the story, he shared from I Samuel 17:38-39, equipment that didn't work for David's situation. Instead, David shed the armor and took the equipment he was familiar with, his sling and five smooth stones.

In everyday life, such as in our worship service, we have a keyboard and a piano, but these are of little use without someone who knows how to use them or play them. Applied knowledge is what makes the equipment useful.

3. Being prepared means having the right attitude.
It is necessary for us to be willing to go forth. One example is the story of Moses. In Exodus 3:9 God calls Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt. But Moses protested. "Who am I to do this thing?"

By way of contrast, in Isaiah 6 God calls, and the prophet replies, "Here am I. Send me."

At Covenant Park the goal is to prepare young people for life. To equipment them, to give them knowledge and to help them have the right attitude as they walk toward their futures.

The key piece in our lives is having the right attitude. In Philippians Paul instructs us to have the right attitude, the attitude of Christ, who humbled Himself... even to a death on a cross. The world will be changed, our local communities will be changed when we have the right attitude. This is what will make us light and salt in this community.

When we're not prepared, we will miss out on being part of a great God-moment.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Ordinary Steps of Faith

Sunshine brightly fills the sanctuary along with a large assembly of worshippers. After the service we will be sharing a chili dinner together as Pastor Brad kicks off his 1500 mile snowmobile adventure/fund raiser.

After beginning by saying "I'm grateful you're here," Brad shared how special this snowmobile trip is as a tool to raise funds and awareness for the faith adventure of building the new facility across the street. God is pleased when we step out. And when we step out, God will be found faithful. For updates on Brad's snowmobile adventure along the way visit the New Frontier Expedition website.

Darlene and Brad led us in worship this morning. The offering followed as we generously demonstrated our appreciation for God's generosity toward us.

A variety of needs were shared and lifted up during our prayer time.

Ordinary Steps of Faith

Wandering in the wilderness was not the endpoint of God's plan for Israel in its exodus from Egypt. They would eventually need to take new steps of faith requiring new levels of courage. The text Brad read from was Joshua 1. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.

One problem with courage is that we define it incorrectly. We think about extreme sports like those snowboarders doing flips over seven stories high.

God is not talking about that. He's talking about telling the truth. He's talking about the courage of being a single parent. He's taking about the courage required to ask for help with a substance abuse problem. Doing big things for God boils down to how to do the daily little things.

The second thing is that courage is not something you think about, it is something you do. Here are some ways God invites us to risk.

Joshua 1 begins, "After the death of Moses..."

Moses was the quarterback. Moses was the one who took responsibility, the one who did the leadership thing. But once Moses was gone, someone else would have to step up. This was Joshua's responsibility.

I don't think most of us have any confusion about where our responsibilities lie. For most, the problem is our not doing it, not dealing with things that need to be dealt with.

Avoiding responsibility, failing to take initiative, will lead to low self-esteem, insecurity and depression. God created us to take responsibility, to take initiative.

Israel had become accustomed to wandering in the desert. After 40 years this was their "normal" existence. All of a sudden they are being told by God to move into the land and settle there. This was a scary thing because there were other people already living there who didn't want them there.

Change stirs up fears. For Israel it was the Canaanites. But we all have different "giants in the land" that seem bigger than we can tackle because we forget how big is our God.

Sometimes walking away from a situation seems the easiest thing, but the greatest act of courage in many situations is to stay put, to not change.

The closest I came to leaving ministry was when I was in Bloomington, Brad said. He received scars, but stuck it out and learned so much more than he could have imagined. God could do so much through even the smallest acts of everyday courage.

We're also called to courageously take God at His word.

When Israel crossed the Jordan, the first barrier was the walled city of Jericho. God instructed them to march around the city for seven days, which they did. They took God at His word, and He delivered the victory.

The best model of taking God at His word was the first century carpenter Jesus. Jesus practiced this every day, even to the cross. Interestingly, "Jesus" is the Greek version of the name Joshua. And He certainly felt it profoundly when He read those opening words, "As I was with Moses, so will I be with You, Joshua."

Yes, God made a promise to Moses that He would be faithful to His word, the same promise He made to Joshua and to Jesus. And to this day He makes it to you. When we feel weak, God gives us His strength, and the courage to cross that river from wandering to purpose, courage and faith.