Sunday, July 26, 2015


Pastor Brad led worship today.
This has indeed been a beautiful summer, so the theme today certainly resonates with that. Brad welcomed us with his usual "I'm grateful you're here today." The message will be based on a familiar passage from Acts 3.

Junior High kids will be taking a special trip to the MUUUCE Retreat August 6-8.
The Bloodmobile is coming. Call Ruth Anne for details.
Gordy & Becky are having a 50th anniversary next Sunday at Gethsemane Fellowship at 2:00 p.m.

Our worship began with Come Thou Fount and 10,000 Reasons. After we spent a few minutes greeting one another we sang Jesus Messiah and closed with Cornerstone.

The offering taken, Leonard was invited forward to read Acts 3:1-10 then we moved to a time of prayer and praise.


Just after Pentecost Peter and John were going to the Temple and had come to the gate called Beautiful where they found a man who could not walk, a man who had been lame from birth. A miracle takes place.

Brad pointed out that the miracle is told as an event in history, but notes that the Biblical writers are writing about something bigger. In our modern era people argue about whether such miracles really happened, but the meaning of this story is not about whether miracles happen or not.

First, miracle gives us a basis for hope. This miracle took place at the Temple. The Temple was the place where heaven and earth met. And it took place at the gate called Beautiful. This gate was wonderfully awe-inspiring, a work of art. Right next to this gate is a line of broken people.

Is this the way the world is supposed to work? If God is here is this the way the world is supposed to be? Where is God in all this brokenness?

Then and now, it is the same story. Marriages on the rocks, abused children, alcoholism, self-destructive behaviors... Where are the miracles?

So it was that Peter and John were going into the Temple and this man lame from birth, after an exchange with Peter, began walking, and leaping and praising God. What's significant here is not that he got up and began walking. The language echoes an Old Testament prophesy from Isaiah 35 which states, "Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped, then the lame will leap like a deer and the mute tongue shout for joy." When God comes back to restore the brokenness of this world, Isaiah says, these are the things you will see.

In other words, this man's healing was a sign. It was the fulfillment of Scripture, an affirmation that Jesus was who He said he was and the power of God has been released into the world in a new way.

It should be noted that Jesus' miracles were not like magic tricks designed to wow people. Rather, Jesus was all about healing suffering. The Lord's miracles were used to take broken things and make them right.

Jesus' miracles are about making things the way they were supposed to be. Illness and death and hatred and hunger are unnatural. Jesus's miracles are not a suspension of the natural order; they are a restoration of the natural order.

One day every wrong will be righted, one day every lame person will walk and leap and sing for joy. There will be no more death, there will be no more tears.

The miracle gives us hope and gives us power.

This miracle is similar to one in Mark 2 by Jesus, and another in Acts 14 by Paul. In each there is a person who can't walk. And then there is a healing. And then an explanation.

In each case, the explanation diverts away from the miracle and focuses on sin. In Mark, the story of the man lowered through the roof in which Jesus states, "Your sins are forgiven." Jesus is implying, "You think you need to be able to walk, but what you really need is deeper still and that needs to be addressed."

More than what you are asking for is spiritual healing. In each of these miracles there is a call for repentance that follows. We often think we know what we need, but what we really need is spiritual healing.

Too often what we want is relief from our suffering. But as bad as our suffering is, it is not our biggest problem. What we need is a right ordering of our heart. If you have that relationship with God, you will have the power to overcome whatever you are up against.

Brad went further. These people who did miracles were not just anyone. They were themselves people who were broken that God's life might move through us. It's the way of the cross. As Paul stated, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me."

In the end, the purpose of life is not to our personal happiness or to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. It is to do the will of God come what may. Brad stated, "I pray for this for our church, for us to take up the cross and serve in His name... to be fishers of men, forgivers of wrongs and the lover of enemies... to care for widow and orphans, visit prisoners and minister to the poor and the hungry and the homeless... This is my hope for our church because I love Christ and you."

Sunday, July 12, 2015

When You Take Life Into Your Own Hands

Pastor Brad will be in Tennessee this week along with 15 youth from our church for the CHIC event there. The acronym means Covenant High In Christ, an event held every three years designed to be a catalyst to help young people grasp God's bigger life mission. Our guest speaker today was Dave Eaton, who was preceded by the ad hoc assembly of musicians with whom Darlene, Chuck and Ken regularly perform at nursing homes from time to time.

Chuck welcomed us with a hearty "Good morning" and introduced Dave Eaton, who is active at nursing homes and local hospitals, serving as a hospice chaplain.

After a time of prayer, Pastor Eaton read Psalm 139 and then proceeded to give the message.

When You Take Life Into Your Own Hands

Today's message focused on the life of David, perhaps Israel's greatest king. Specifically, Pastor Eaton focused on the stories related in the last chapters of I Samuel, the period in time after David had been anointed by Samuel to be king but before the actual ascension to the throne had taken place.

These were difficult times for David, who had become close to King Saul through his ability to sooth the king's anxiety by means of music. But David also made a name for himself as a leader in battle. As his fame grew for his achievements, the king became increasingly jealous and ultimately made attempts on his life. (I Samuel 26)

David was a man of action and passionate for God, but he was also flawed. Nevertheless, God called him a man after His own heart.

When he fled the kingdom he was pursued by Saul's army. On one occasion he was hiding in a cave and Saul came in to take a rest. On another occasion he also had opportunity to kill Saul, but he held to his convictions: "Touch not the Lord's anointed." He did not see it as the right thing to do, even though Saul was set against him and wished him dead. Instead he trusted in God. (I Samuel 26)

Dave Eaton noted that it is not easy to follow God on a daily basis. There is always a tension between our desire to follow Him and the actions we take on a daily basis. It's a tension between God's way or my way.

David decides that rather than remain on the run he will take the 600 men who have left Israel with him to go to the land of the Philistines. It's an impulsive move on his part, with consequences. Things don't go as planned. He provided for his army and their families by raiding other tribes in the region, but would tell the Philistine leader Achish that he had been raiding Israeli towns and villages. As a result Achish sought to recruit David to go to war against Israel with him.

Ultimately David was spared having to go because other Philistine leaders didn't trust him. But further dire consequences occur, and David become increasingly aware of the problems that come from not seeking God in all life's decisions.

With God there is always the possibility of grace and restoration. God wants us to look to Him for that way out. He doesn't want us to say, "I got myself into this mess, I'll get myself out."

David's bad choices lead to 16 wasted months and damage to families who relied on him. Ultimately, David found strength in the Lord, and took away many lessons from this misadventure including an important lesson about God's redemption and mercy.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Following Christ

After our traditional greeting Chuck and the trio opened the worship time with a patriotic song, Heal Our Land. We then sang a pair of hymns after which we dedicated and blessed Micah Ambrose Vanderscheuren.

In the Book of Mark it says, "People were bringing little children to Jesus in order for Him to touch them.... and He blessed them." This little fellow is indeed a cutie. Family members were invited up to lay hands on him to pray for and bless him.

Brad had someone read Luke 15:7 and we prayed for the young people who will be going to CHIC this coming week. Then we prayed for the needs in our church family and community.

Following Christ

Our God is still in the business of saving people and redeeming lives. There is rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents. This should be out

When we rejoice we actually obey God. Through various parts of Scripture it is a command. "Rejoice in the Lord always."

Why does the Bible command us to be joyful?  The big reason is Jesus. It's the Gospel.

Brad shared some thing to think about.... He died to save us. He has given us His Spirit to guide us. He has called us His children. He has given us an identity that can never be threatened and a hope for as long as you live.

Here's something interesting about being joyful. You give a gift to everyone you encounter. When we have joy it uplifts the people around us. As Christians you owe it to others to be joyful. Your joy isn't just about you.

When you're joyful your more generous. When you're joyful you develop more friendships. Joy also increases our health. Joy makes us strong. "The joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)

Being unhappy as Christians does a disservice to the mission God has given us. We are His witnesses.

Brad talked briefly about Roman culture and how status was an important quality. The but ambition was for honor, to be among the elite. The elite class was comprised of 2% of the population. The very bottom of the heap you would find the slaves. Just above the slaves was the freed men. Above these were the citizens. There were two elite classes. The low elite were equestrians. Above those were the senators. There atop all sat Caesar.

Freemen could wear a cap that designated their status. Citizens could wear a toga. Equestrians could wear a gold ring... This stratfication of the culture was pervasive and helps give understanding to a variety of passages in the New Testament.

Succeeding in Roman culture meant doing what was necessary to move higher up the ladder. And when you were knocked down a notch it was called "being humbled." All these ideas were designed to bring illumination to the remarkable passage in Philippians 2:5-11

"In your relationships with one another..."

People in Philippi would have been confused by this passage. It didn't compute. The way up is down... and God exalted Him above all.

The road to joy will never be about you climbing the ladder. The path to joy is the way of the cross. Deny yourself. See others as more important than yourself. "Take up your cross and follow Me and you will find joy."

So it is that Paul writes, "I've been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."

At this we celebrated the Sacrament of Communion.