Sunday, June 29, 2014

Shelter in the Storm

"Good morning!" Pastor Brad exclaimed with enthusiasm.

He stated that he's been living in the Psalms this summer, and this weekend we'll be looking at Psalm 91, about God as our refuge. It is in God's nature to want to provide a place of safety. God wants to be a refuge for you and for me.

Announcements/Life of the Church
1. Walt shared about the progress being made across the street. They've excavated where the building will go. Footings will be dug the week after the Fourth of July. A well will go in sometime in the next month. The week of the 27th of July the building will be delivered... pre-assembled. If all goes according to plan the building will be standing there in early August, on time and on budget.
Brad noted that there will be ample opportunity to contirbute sweat equity once the building is up.

2. Brooke ran forward to share highlights from VBS and thank everyone who helped make it happen. Then the children were invited forward to sing the theme song from this year's VBS experience with a lively musical accompaniment on video. "Jesus loves us... no one else could love us more, it's amazing.. Jesus' love is one of a kind; He loves us so much we're always on His mind."

Transitioning into the service we sang How Great Thou Art followed by the classic hymns Immortal Invisible and Holy, Holy, Holy.

The prayer time included praise and numerous prayer requests.

Shelter in the Time of Storm

Brad began by reading the wonderful Psalm 91.

I was thinking about the game "tag." One cool thing about the game is having a safety zone where you can rest and catch your breath before heading back into the chaos of the game again.

God wants us to experience a safety zone. In Old Testament times justice was harsh, "an eye for an eye." In the case of a murder, there would be appointed a blood avenger to settle the score. But what happens when an unintentional homicide occurs? God established six "cities of refuge" in Israel where people could find safety.

What about you? Is anyone here under stress right now? Does it sound like a gift to have a temporary shelter or refuge?

Brad shared about how on one of the last days of his snowmobile trip to the arctic he was exceedingly cold, bitterly cold clear through. In the middle of nowhere, at a place near Owl River, they came upon a cabin where they found shelter and renewed their strength.

He illustrated the concept by pointing out the safe harbors being created for boats on the North Shore. Also by sharing how a mother goose shelters her children when crossing a road while a car is coming.

After a time of shelter, when God lifts his wings, we feel a little stronger.

Cities of Refuge didn't mean too much for the average citizen of Israel, but when you need it, it is such a relief that this refuge is there.

"All who are oppressed may come to Him," the Psalmist writes.

Because we tend to be independent, self-sufficient people we don't always call out to God. We need to admit we need the City of Refuge or it is not going to help, even though God's shelter is available any time, anywhere.

Psalm 62:8 states:
Trust in him at all times, you people; 
pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Jeremiah was a man called to speak God's Word to Israel, but he was everywhere rejected, even beaten and worse. In Jeremiah 20 he finally pours out his heart to God, cursing the day he was born. This openness with God results in God drawing near and renewing his strength. In the end he praises God, and returns to the task for which he was called, even though he knew the people wouldn't listen the next day.

Brad shared his own struggles at times in trying to fulfill God's mission to our community, and how he himself has found refuge in God, and renewal.

The only way you can live above the line of despair is to learn how to find God's refuge.

Ultimately, there will be a final City of Refuge, that will be absolutely safe. No more loneliness, no more physical limitation... accessible through Christ and open to all. It's called Heaven. This is the heart of who God is...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Divine Power to Overcome

Pastor Brad is out of town this weekend, so we ushered in a team of musicians to provide an uplift to our souls on this summer equinox weekend. The days are long, but there is still night here. We look forward to that day when we dwell forever in the light with hearts filled with songs. And there will be no more tears.

Major Bill Cox from the Salvation Army will deliver the message on this 2nd Sunday of Pentecost. The service was organized to bookend the message with a period of singing and making music.

Chuck Vanderscheuren welcomed us with a "Good morning." He started by congratulating Pam Johnson for finishing Grandma's Marathon yesterday. A number of others ran the half and the Borndal boys were also runners in one or the other.

Life of the Church
~ VBS was complete success this year, with more than eighty kids every day and 127 one day. It was a great week.
~ The group performing here this morning has been playing in some local nursing homes.
~ Cindy and Dwayne need our prayers at this time for more health issues with Cindy.
~ Pray for Kent of Fastliine Graphics. There will be a fundraiser soon at Skylinie Lanes.
~ Other needs were lifted up.

After a number of songs Chuck introduced Major Cox.

Divine Power to Overcome

"This message this morning I felt strongly was more than just for us," Major Cox began.. "It is for Christians everywhere, for we live in perilous times."

He began by reading from Acts 4:23-31. After Peter and John were released from being arrested for preaching the Gospel, they went back to the church and re-charged.

God has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower believers to live a Christ-like life. This morning he talked about four areas where God gives us His power.

1) Prayer
There is power in the prayer of righteous men and women.
And yet, Paul writes in Romans 3: "There is no one righteous, not even one."

"Holy schmoly I don't measure up," he said. Yet, Paul goes on to say we who trust in Jesus are imparted his righteousness and their prayers will be heard. God asks us to tap into the power that has been made available to us through the sacrifice of Jesus. Don't underestimate the power of prayer.

2) The Anointed Message
There is power in the anointed message.  See I Corinthians 2:1-14.
The passage notes that Paul himself was nothing special, yet accomplished much by God's anointing. We should pray for our pastor when he preaches, that he bring forth God's word with power.

3) The Anointed Witness
God will give you the words to say. (Luke 12:12)
When we look for opportunities to witness, we can experience God with us and in us.

4) The Fellowship of Believers
"Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am also," Jesus said. God's power is in His presence with us when we gather in His name.

There are other kinds of power, he said, including the power of Agape self-less love. God has given us everything we need to make a difference in the world today just as the early church made a difference in its day.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Today is Pentecost Sunday. Pastor Brad welcomed us by stating that today we will focus on this idea of the church... not pews and programs, but the Church, with a capital C, that spreads over all space and time. And the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And it started with twelve followers that continues to this day.

1. Two weeks till the bloodmobile is here, June 27. We still need three
2. Seeking volunteers to help with water, etc. at Mile 13 of Grandma's Marathon
3. VBS is in 7 days... We need help with the meal on that Thursday. There will be training this Friday at 9:30 a.m. for all the volunteers.
4. Next week we will give recognition to our grads

Chuck, Ken and Darlene led us into worship singing One Scarred Hand. After several tunes from the new songbook the offering was taken followed by a time of prayer for our many needs and requests.


"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. Because we know that things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal." ~ II Corinthians 4:18

The real church is not something you can see, but it's like your soul... It is there but we see one another's faces.

Jesus didn't say, "Go to church." He said, "Follow Me." But then, after the disciples followed Him a while, He gave a further instruction, which is today's passage from Luke 9:1-6.

This is not a call to be a duffer (the person who sits in the middle seat of a canoe and watches). It is a call to actively "do what you saw Me do."

Throughout history, you find that the church flourished best when the people did not have staffs, and buildings and bags.

In verse 10 the disciples returned and told Jesus what they saw and experienced.

But Luke's account is not about perfect people. The stories Luke reports are about imperfect people who make mistakes. No matter how inadequate you might feel, Jesus in inviting you to step out.

Jesus didn't say He was looking for spectators who will watch. He said He was seeking people who would go, people who God could use.

In Luke 10, Jesus now sends out 72. The movement is expanding. But there is still a call for more who can complete the work. "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few."

They are sent two by two because this is not about individual superstars, but a community of faith. He also instructs them not to get distracted from their mission.

There are a hundred ways we get distracted. But we have a mission, that Jesus has given to us.

Brad also shared how Jesus sent them out as lambs among wolves. And when they came back they were filled with joy as they shared the amazing things they experienced. And Jesus told what He saw in the invisible realm while they did this: "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."

In other words, hell was trembling because the Church was on the move. Despite their shortcomings, the message would go forth. Despite their being lambs among wolves, the message of light would conquer the darkness.

The Lord of the Harvest is looking for workers.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A New Covenant

"Good morning! Thank you for being here," Pastor Shannon exclaimed as he welcomed us this morning. "We worship a great God. This is where we begin to focus our energy, minds and hearts on worshiping the God who created us, redeemed us and sustains us. Today we’re going to reflect on this New Covenant."

1. We need to gather our softball team together. First game is Tuesday.
2. The youth will meet next week at 9:00 a.m. to go innertubing. Will be meet at church, and will be back at 2
3. Ladies Day… call Paula if you are coming so we can know how much food to have on hand
4. VBS starts two weeks from tomorrow… This year’s “Family Night” will be Thursday that week at the Grand Lake Community Center, 6-7 p.m. Also need a volunteer who is good with photos and computers to make a slide show. And finally, we need people who can help drive kids to and from VBS. Prayer support is always welcome.
5. Ruth Ann is recruiting people to give blood for the bloodmobile. Sign up in lobby. June 22 will be the day of the event.

Darlene ushered us into worship with a gentle medley beginning with I Surrender All. After worshipping in song we worshiped with our giving. Then turned to the Lord in a time of prayer, lifting our needs to Him.

A New Covenant

Sometimes we have a need to step back from our busy lives and activities in order to reflect on the character of God, as I want to do this morning. Jesus said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you...."

Nowadays, we are more familiar with contracts. But the word covenant is more than a contract. It is more like a parent-child relationship, unconditional in nature.

If there's a new covenant, there must have been an old covenant. Outlined in Exodus 24, "This is the blood of the covenant...." A covenant that recognizes the cost of sin, established by blood, and the price of the agreement. There the Law was handed down. But the history of the Old Testament is about the failings of the people of God with regard to the laws of God.

Brad illustrated the way he breaks his own covenants with himself, using the illustration of his intentions to eat better after having high cholesterol. In the same way, we fail to keep our promises to obey, despite our own intentions within ourselves.

Jeremiah observed that this old covenant wasn't working, and pointed to a future covenant in which God would give His people a new heart. "I will put My law in their minds and on their hearts." It would be a day when God forgives His peoples' wickedness. The New Covenant will deal with internal matters, not externals.

God's promise was to re-shape our interiors. Paul writers in II Cor 3:3 that the new work will be by the Spirit, in our hearts.  Instead of obedience being a work of fear, it becomes a work of love.

The New Covenant is not a set of laws hanging on a wall. It is a promise of a greater intimacy of God, and God does it. It's God's nature to want us to know Him, not just know about Him.

Jesus said, "I have made God known, and I will continue to make God known."

Finally, the New Covenant offers a different kind of forgiveness. In the Old Covenant, sins were covered, but not forgotten. The New Covenant: "I will forgive and forget." God says when we confess our sins they are gone.

It's not because our sins don't matter. They do matter because they separate us from God, and from one another. It cost Him His own blood. It is costly love, but because He is God He is able.

This is the promise of the New Covenant that Jeremiah wrote about. Centuries of failure followed until one day Jesus appeared in human history. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and to make possible a life-giving relationship with God. Jesus paid the penalty necessary for our sins to be forgiven forever.

After becoming His followers we sometimes get it right and discover the joy of living as Jesus' disciples. But sometimes, no matter how hard we try or how committed we are, we will stumble and fall. It's in those times that we can discover the hope of living as His disciples.

The God who invites us to this table is the God of a New Covenant. He's a God who loves you and me so much that He just couldn't sit back and watch as we stumbled along. He needed to take action, to do something. And so, the night before He died on a cross to pay the price for that New Covenant,  on that cross, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." (Luke 22:19, 20)

At this we shared in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.