Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Heart of Gratefulness in All Situations

Grey morning but sunny hearts in the sanctuary, which is abuzz with lively chatter as we await Pastor Brad's heartfelt welcome to begin the service. Pastor Brad opened by stating he's spent a lot of time this week thinking about gratefulness. Gratitude is important, and Brad asserted that nothing will pull us away from Jesus faster than a heart of ingratitude.

~Valentine's Day there will be a special event from 6-9 on the 14th, with special guests, salmon from Alaska, and a wonderful meal by Micah and Leonard.
~Wednesday will be a parents night at Youth Group.

Chuck led our transition to worship with an uplifting passage from the Old Testament before singing "Worthy of Worship" with the trio. Then we all sang a set of Gospel songs and choruses from the Silver Song Book. All good. During the offering we also joined in on "And I Know."

Children ages one to four were invited downstairs for the remainder of the service as we entered into a time of prayer in which quite a few brought up expressions of gratitude for so many things.

A Heart of Gratefulness in All Situations

Our goal as a church to spur each of us on to maturity in Christ. In thinking about this

What do you think is the greatest single barrier to awareness of Christ? Brad said the biggest issue for all of us is sin. The world is broken, but the problem is sin and that sin is within us.

Brad asked us to state aloud a family member we were grateful for. And then he asked about people outside our families like co-workers. And then he asked about experiences we were grateful for. And finally, what about gifts? Small gifts or big gifts...

We were then led through a series of Bible passages addressing this matter of gratitude.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 5:19

Colossians 3:16-17

We're not supposed to try to feel grateful. We need to remember what we are grateful for. Gratefulness will flow out of our remembering.

The word "benediction" comes from combining two words: bene and diction, which means "Good Words.

Here are three benes.

Psalm 103:1,2  "And forget not all His benefits."

There is a source of these benefits. This is God, our benefactor.

The beneficiary is the recipient of these good things. In point of fact, the gifts are undeserved. We are not worthy of these benefits.

Unfortunately, we live in a world of entitlements. People feel they deserve things and instead of receiving gifts with gratefulness they complain and grouse.

Here are two more passages of value: James 1:16-17 and Romans 1:21

How do we become more grateful as a people? I believe we must train ourselves for this.

Here are things you can do to train towards developing a heart of gratitutde.

The Jews in Biblical times had two prayers they practiced. The Shema, and the 18 Benedictions, which were designed to remind us of our many blessings.

Brad asked us to reflect tonight at the end of the day on each moment of our day, and reflect on how God was present in each moment, how each portion of your day contained a blessing.

Another way is to write a letter of gratefulness to someone, then deliver it face-to-face. This can be very powerful.

Even when things are going bad we have an incredible Hope... Attitudes can be godly despite circumstances.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Conversation

"Good morning!" Brad welcomed us, and then said that this morning he will deviate from the planned message to continue a discussion that had taken place in Sunday school previous to the service. The parking lot was filling up quite early as there were many here for Kristina and Jon Vanderscheuren's baby shower after the service.

~ Walt thanked everyone who has done so much work in the new building. The outside doors are now installed which enables them to lock the doors. Currently they are putting up the tongue-and-groove ceiling. Other projects will be coming up soon.
~ Walt also noted that on Friday the 23rd all who would like to be involved in celebrating Brad and Brooke's anniversary January 23 at the Pickwick. Contact Walt for details.

Darlene ushered us into worship by playing Great Is Thy Faithfulness. After a time of singing, the offering was taken and a time of prayer ensued.

A Conversation

We want to be a community of people seeking to grow, deeper in
Christ and broader in mission. We want to do this in an embracing way.

Brad shared how when he was young there was a joyful, passionate community devoted to water skiing. They loved being in the water. They supported one another and encouraged one another. Always pushing them forward with a spirit of gladness. That is what I would like to see happen here.

After many conversations with people here this week, he felt a desire to discuss how to move us to a greater life experience through Christ. We're in this together.

Brad asked, "What words would you use to describe someone else's spiritual life?" No one answered, so Brad shared the one thing Jesus said that mattered: "Follow Me."

It's not about being perfect. No one can be perfect. And you can't compare to others. It's all just simply following Jesus.

We read Luke 5:1-11 and discussed the meaning of being a follower. There is a difference between a follower and a fan or admirer.

Brad asked us, "What is the difference?" Different people spoke up.  Trust. Willingness to be inconvenienced for the Gospel. Cheering versus doing.

The disciples, when they encountered Jesus, were asked to leave everything... and they did. Could you do that?

One reason people don't make a deeper commitment to their faith is that they have questions. This is O.K., but if you go your whole life without actually making an effort to have your questions answered, then what? Brad's desire is to see us spur one another on and not allow us to stagnate.

The passage begins with Peter, a fisherman, washing his nets after a night on the lake. Jesus then urges Peter to put the boat out into the deep water and let down his nets. Peter obeys and there are so many fish he needs help from some other fisherman to pull them in.

How do you apply this to your life? In this instance Peter was always fishing, but it turned out differently when Peter did it Jesus' way. Perhaps it could be the way we handle money. Or things. Or relationships.

Until you trust enough to bring Him into your daily life, you will never experience that abundance He longs to give us.

Ultimately Jesus invited Peter to be a fisher of men. Leaving everything was not so difficult because he was already in the habit of obeying.

How is your walk?

We're on a journey together to discover what it means to follow Jesus.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Progress Report

With heat and electricity in the building great progress has been made despite the cold. Here are photos from Saturday's work crew efforts inside the new building.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Rest in the New Year

A sunny Sunday morning, but bitterly cold after last night's wind shift. Nevertheless Pastor Brad welcomed us warmly, as is his custom. "How many of you when you woke up this morning felt alive and energized and said, 'This is the day the Lord has made.'? And how many woke up and had a discussion about whether you should venture out into the cold and come to worship this morning?"

Brad suggested that he had a very special message that is both simple and profound and that he hoped he would be able to adequately convey it on this Communion Sunday.

Women's Bible Study is suspended for the time being.
Valentine's Day Leonard and Micah will be cooking a special Valentine's meal which will include fresh Alaskan Salmon, among other delights.

Darlene ushered us into worship with yet another beautiful piano solo before we joined in singing several hymns of the faith.

An offering taken, we spent some time in prayer.

Rest in the New Year

Brad wanted to share from a couple of passages. The first is from Revelation 3, the letter to the church at Philadelphia.

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens. 8 “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut; I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

The second passage came from I Corinthians 15:1-8

First he shared an insight about the different verb tenses in Greek. One tense means it happened and is done. The second means it happened but continues to impact the future.

Christ died for our sins. Past completed tense. But in the middle of many factual statements past complete, he uses the alternative tense when referring to the resurrection in verse 4.

And again we looked at Revelation 3. The statement that there is an open door uses this permanently future-facing tense. The open door was not for the church at Philadelphia only. It was for all time.

Soe the question I have again... as you look at the year ahead, what are the open doors God has placed in front of you for 2015?

No matter where you have been, no matter what your brokenness, each day you can begin by asking what open door is before you so that you're not just passing time but living a significant life.

We do not want to be a church that just gets on a drift mode. We want to be a church, and individuals, who live in the excitement of God's presence and possibilities.

At this we turned to share in the Lord's Supper.