Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fill My Cup

Good morning… Brad welcomed us with a warm greeting and a few comments to introduce his theme. He made the observation that we are accustomed to saying things like “How’s the weather?” or “How’s your health?” But today his aim was to talk about not the condition of the weather or your health, but of your soul.

We're looking for volunteers to come in once a month for cleaning. Contact Chuck or Brad.

Darlene ushered us into worship with a tender and delicate rendition of "Be Still My Soul."
This was followed by worship, offering and a time of prayer.

Fill My Cup

Pastor Brad began by reading us the opening to the Third Letter of John:
1 The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

It’s hard to talk about our souls. We’re not typically asking people this question "How's your soul?" And the answer is not a matter of quantifying our devotional lives or the emotional intensity of our feelings when worshipping.

Our selves are comprised of a body, mind, volition and emotions. The soul integrates all these parts of us. Brad illustrated Biblical references to the soul with a pair of verses from the Psalms.

Psalm 42: “Bless the Lord, oh my soul.”
Psalm 43: “Why are you downcast, oh my soul?”

Your soul is deep. There’s a depth to you that you can’t fully grasp.

Job 7:11 states,
“Therefore I will not keep silent; 
 I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, 
 I will complain in the bitterness of my soul."

In other places the soul is described as hungry, thirsty, never satisfied. As stated in Ecclesiastes:
Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. 
This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. ~Eccles. 6:9

Ultimately, the reality behind human dissatisfaction is a sinful soul. This, our sinfulness, is why we are dissatisfied.

All of us have known longing, craving, and dissatisfaction. The message this morning offered three actions for us to take.

The first thing we need to do is practice confession. And that first thing we should confess is our chronic dissatisfaction. How many of you have ever been dissatisfied with your work? How many have ever been dissatisfied because you’re not married? Or because you are? Your lack of money? Your hairline? Your waistline? Your neighbors? Your relatives?

So we must confess our chronic and constant dissatisfaction… Our soul will never find rest till it finds rest in God. (Psalm 65)

Here’s a thought for you as you go through your week. We all talk to ourselves, but Brad suggested that when (or if) we talk to our soul it's different. Our soul lives in the presence of God. When we talk to our soul, it turns into prayer.

Second: Surrender to God. Stop living simply to satisfy your own desires. You will never be satisfied. We need to surrender our perceived need to always get what we want. Does everything always have to be about me?

Third: Practice less self-preoccupation. When I die to myself my soul is made more alive. And we become more aware of the needs of others. Every person you meet has a soul.

Last observation: I want us to remember that the ultimate aim in our universe is not my satisfaction. It’s God’s satisfaction, not mine or yours.

Brad then cited the Lord's parable of the rich fool, as recorded in both Mark and Matthew.

"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' 

Scripture uses an accounting metaphor to describe our lives.  Your soul is ours on loan. They were made for God. And at some point a final payment is due.

Brad then described what happened to Jesus at the cross. It's sometimes called the Doctrine of Satisfaction. We can’t satisfy our need for this final payment. Bt Jesus made that payment for us.

As the Scripture says, "He (God) will see the light of life and be satisfied." (Isaiah 53:11) At the cross the Gospel writers describe our Lord's agony. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Jesus didn’t suffer just in his body but in his entire being.

When Jesus comes back He will make everything right. And, the Bible says, God will look on His creation and will be satisfied. On that day will you have trusted your soul to God, and not to everything else that leaves us dissatisfied. Are you ready for that day?

The service closed with It Is Well With My Soul sung by Chuck, Darlene, Gwen and Brad.

Sunday, June 14, 2015


"I want to talk about joy again this morning," pastor Brad stated after welcoming us on a sunny, summer morning. "There sometimes exists a gap between the joy we feel we’re expected to have, and what we’re experiencing. The hardships of life often leave people cynical. I come to bring you good news."

1. Brooke shared details about this year’s VBS program that will start in 24 hours… “74 kids pre-registered this year. 25 youth volunteering and 30 adults. Thank you!!”
 2. There's a council meeting Tuesday.

Darlene played "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" to lead us into worship this a.m. Offering taken, we entered into a time of prayer after which Brad began his message.


The 16th chapter of the Gospel of John takes place in the hours before Jesus is taken captive by the Romans, leading ultimately to His crucifiction.

Jesus tells his disciples, "In a little while you will see Me no more, and then after a while you will see Me" The disciples ask themselves “What does He mean by ‘in a little while?’”

Jesus zeroes in on what they are talking about and responds, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy."

Brad's message focused on the implications of this passage beginning with this metaphor of childbirth. The joy of giving life outweighs the pain of giving birth. Pain is temporary but worth the result, a great joy. Though life has its hardships and pain, in the end there is going to be great joy.

Shortly after this Jesus was crucified, but it was not the end yet. When Jesus was risen, the joy was astounding and nothing could take their joy. Paul later wrote to the early church how though they suffered they were generous. 2000 years later, we’re resurrection people, we have pretty good lives, but the level of joy may be lost on us. Jesus says we’re supposed to have joy, yet why do we so often not see it?

Jesus’ ministry began at His baptism. fully aware of His being loved and accepted. When John the Baptist baptized Him He hears a voice. “You are My son whom I love, in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus’ ministry begins here.

Brad stressed, "Identity and acceptance comes before achievement and work."

Jesus hears this voice… "You’re My son and I love you."   Jesus depended on God’s acceptance.

Out of His fullness we have all received grace. And He wants that joy to be complete, a sense of constant well-being based on the reliability of God. Ultimately I know all is well with me because I am loved. Paul doesn’t just say “Rejoice,” He writes “Rejoice in the Lord.” As Nehemiah writes, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

Matthew 11:19 asks what are the ways God replenishes your spirit? How do you like to get re-filled? Jesus never said life would be easy, but no matter what it is like in our outside circumstances, our hearts can be full.

Brad underscored that my life isn’t just about me. It’s about God’s life flowing through me out into the world.

Do you know who you are apart from money, power or reputation? Significance is about who we are before anything we do. We have a part to play that is way beyond ourselves.

On one occasion the Lord's disciples asked, “Aren’t you hungry?”

He replied, “My food is to do the work of Him who sent Me.”

Life's hardships -- cancer, war, huger, hatred -- all raise why questions. Jesus said in effect, "In a little while I will be back and set all things right." Sin and suffering and death will be defeated. Then there will be no more questions.

If you're tempted to get impatient, if you wonder when this will ever happen, I will tell you. In a little while. In just a little while. In only a very little while.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Everyone Gets A Vote

“Good morning. Wasn’t it great to have the community come out to celebrate with us and worship with us last week?”

Pastor Brad welcomed us warmly, then shared today's theme. “God is not willing that any should perish. This is an incredible mission that God has given us. As we move forward in life we sometimes get anxious because we don’t always have answers for everything we are facing, but Jesus isn’t anxious at all."

VBS training after the service. This year we have more kids signed up than ever before. Thank you for your help and support.
Softball Tuesday eve at UMD Field #3 at 7 p.m.
10 a.m. Friday will be setup for VBS at the Community Center

Chuck and Darlene led the worship time this morning. He began by noting that the Holy Spirit leads us and challenged us to look for His leading this week. How is the Holy Spirit leading you? They also sang a beautiful duet while the offering was taken.

Everyone Gets A Vote

Brad began by reading from the opening verses of the Book of Acts.

The Book of Acts begins after the resurrection of Jesus but before His ascension. These are his last words to his disciples, which include the statement that "you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you wll be My witnesses."

Brad shared how he was thinking about letters he receives from missionaries who are having real hardships, and make our own “hardships” to be so small in comparison. How do we learn to handle conflict when we don’t feel in control? How do we live this faith mission we are on?

"I decided today that we’re going to vote on our future together. We’re not going to vote about carpet color or seat arrangement. We’re going to vote on something far more important.

"I want you to think about that statement at the beginning of the service… God is not willing that any should perish. God wants to redeem every person He has ever created."

Brad drew a graph to show the extensive population growth in the past century. God is not willing that any should perish.

If you could live in any other point in human history, and you wanted to make a difference for God, when would you want to live? History has significant moments which are unlike others. One of these was the first coming of Christ. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent His son….”

"I think this included the historical time period, the Pax Romana that let people move around and the common language that enabled the story to spread. The world was connected in ways that never had been before or since… until now."

Today is again such a time of global interconnectedness as never before.

Brad noted the YouVersion app that enables people everywhere to download a free Bible on the phones with the click of a button.

Our God is able. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.   ~Eph. 3:20, 21

Does anyone here ever feel inadequate? Sometimes our problems seem enormous… But then Paul says our God "is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine.”

Brad reminded us that God is not willing that anyone should perish. And it is through the church that He has planned to do this work.

“But you will receive power," Jesus said.

Brad then brought this all home, detailing the history of New Life Covenant Church.

On June 24, 1939 three men had a vision… “We need to have a place to worship.” In 1951 there was only one survivor and he turned this over to others.

The primary founders of this church were not professional pastors. They were lay people who responded to the Spirit. There were times that the church almost didn’t make it…. It's an interesting history. Two years ago we took another step and started a stewardship campaign…

What makes a church great is when the people say, “By the power of the Holy Spirit in my life…" The vision of the church is what produces life. Once the church's focus is survival it is already dead.

The kingdom of God moves forward when a church has a sense of mission.

This is a choice for us: Mission vs. survival?

The questions you get to vote on are these: What is one thing the church could do to bless the world in a tangible way? Am I doing my best to help God accomplish this mission?

Here is what a yes means for this second question: I will seek to surrender to my God anew every morning and live my best for Him every day. I will give God the best out of my resources. I will give up my sin and live for Him.