Sunday, October 25, 2015


Today is Youth Sunday, a new tradition which we'll be conducting on the fourth Sunday of each month here at New Life Covenant. There are a lot of moving parts to the program and a lot of energy in the room as the church family and friends assemble for worship on a crisp but sunny day.

Pastor Brad welcomed us warmly and stated that his only announcement was that we would be our semi-annual meeting

Brad had us stand as he read the Gospel text for today's message, the story of a blind man named Bartimaeus as recorded in Mark 10:46-52. Then Brad and Darlene shared a song as an intro to a period of worship.

The congregation joined in a pair of songs and the youth sang a special song, "I Am Yours and You Are Mine." The congregation joined in again with "Open the Eyes of My Heart."

A ten-year-old named Grace played "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" during the offering, which stirred a strong response from the congregation afterwards.

Brooke then invited our youth to come forward and get recognition. This summer they went to Hancock and selected their favorite fabrics, which were then sewn into pillow cases for pillows to be placed in the church youth room. We dedicated the new youth room and the youth in our church family.


Brad began by noting that this man, a blind beggar, was a man going through a difficult season. And so many of us here today are likewise going through a difficult season. It could be your work, or marriage, or finances or physical suffering or depression... So many ways hardship can hit us.

But here is the story of Bartimaeus. It begins with Bartimaeus sitting by the side of the road as a large crowd goes by. These are not perfect conditions for reaching out to Jesus. The crowd could have been in the thousands, though we don't really know. What we do know is that the beggar was needy and it was indeed a crowd.

Brad stated that no matter the circumstances, the time to call out is always right now. Conditions are never perfect and will not become more perfect later.

A second note extracted from this story came in verse 47. The beggar could not see Jesus, but he heard that He was near, and he began shouting, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." He used what he had to reach out to Him. Concentrate on what you have.

Third, he played to an audience of one. He wasn't concerned with what others thought of him. The people around him rebuked him, but he shouted all the more. Don't worry what others think when calling out to God.

Sometimes when we're trusting or hoping or praying there are people who suck the faith out of you, people who tell us not to hope, that your prayers are useless.

Bartimaeus was alone, isolated, and others were saying just shut up. But he didn't listen to them.

Faith is sometimes embarrassing. Noah built a boat... and the neighbors made fun of him. But his trust was in God, and God had said to build an ark. He obeyed, and he was rewarded for his faith, along with his family.

God is alive, and He is active. And Jesus responds. Despite all the noise and chaos of the mob, Jesus hears the cry of this single blind beggar.

In verse 50 Bartimaeus throws his cloak aside to go to Jesus, and Brad suggests that the gospel writer did not put this detail in for no reason. Brad then asked what we have to throw aside. Is it pride? Bitterness? Whatever it is needs to be cast off.

In verse 51 Jesus asks what the man wanted. The blind man was honest and direct. "I want to see."

Jesus replied, "Your faith has healed you." And immediately he received his sight, whereupon he also began to follow Jesus.

* * * 
After the service we had a semi-annual meeting to address church business and approve the budget. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015


After welcoming us, Brad shared the theme that was discussed in Sunday School today, which served as preface for today's message. There's always going be a time when we sense God calling us to do something that demands a sacrifice from us. These are the moments that reveal where we stand with regard to our faith.

Semi-annual meeting next week after the service.

Chuck Vanderscheuren began our transition to worship by telling how he had an opportunity to share his testimony in the courthouse this past week.  The worship team then sang several heart-warming songs as sunlight shimmered off the leaves outside. 'What a day, glorious day that will be."

While the tithes and offerings were taken Natalie Brewer shared one her gifts with us, as a dancer, followed by a boisterous applause.

Brooke shared a Mission Moment, essentially outlining a number of outreach actvities our church is involved with, both locally and abroad through Covenant World Relief, which you can follow on Facebook.

This was followed by a time of prayer, and then the message.


Brad opened by having a volunteer read Luke 18:18-30, the story of the rich young ruler.

What is the opposite of Good? In Timothy there is an interesting passage that seems to contrast "loving what is good" with "lovers of self." The opposite of good is not necessarily the word bad, but when it comes to making a really good choice, self-interest may hinder us, even if it isn't a "bad" thing we are doing. Sometimes doing something that is good really can be "bad" if it keeps us from something essential.

The story in Luke begins with a conflict in views of the meaning of the word "good."

Jesus then outlines a list of the commandments, and this fellow actually says he kept them all, which may not be surprising in light of our natural tendency to see ourselves as better than we really are.

In Mark's version of the story, Jesus "looked at him and He loved him."

Goodness starts when God gets hold of the heart He is meeting with. Jesus knew exactly what this guy was missing. The young ruler kept the rules, but did God have his heart? His possessions possessed him. He had a self-serving bias that got in the way of what real goodness looks like.

This guy asked, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Brad said it was the wrong question because an inheritance is a gift. It is not something you do or earn.

Once you receive His goodness, how do you grow it? You want to be part of a community that builds your soul. This is why Jesus Himself went to synagogue each week. You have to put yourself in an environment where God's goodness can be poured into you, whether small group or devotional community.

This kind of life may inconvenience you and Brad listed examples of ways that following Christ might result in our being inconvenienced. He noted that the end results may surprise us.

As it is written in Acts 20:35  "There is more happiness in giving than receiving."

And in Galatians 6:9  "Let us not become weary in doing good."

Brad closed with this familiar passage from Matthew 25

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

The kid who made fun of you at school? That's Jesus. The unwashed homeless person who smells like a mixture of urine and whisky, that's Jesus. The person dying alone in a nursing home. That's Jesus. That neighbor woman who lost the love of her life. That's Jesus. The person who walks in here asking questions, wondering if there's a God. That's Jesus. The dying, the crippled, the unwanted...

When we see the world as He sees, there is plenty of opportunity to do good, and be with Jesus.