Sunday, January 24, 2016

We Need Each Other

With some renovation taking place where the "front" of the sanctuary has been, the chairs were re-arranged so we were facing North today. That's something not easily accomplished in the old sanctuary full of pews. Pastor Brad is back and about to greet us with his usual warmth. "Good morning. I'm grateful to be back with you. How are you doing?"

~ Mark your calendars for February 10, Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. This year we're planning a healing service, a time to pray for each other and to pray for healing in our lives.
~ Brooke shared that we are going to start a "Chair Ministry" in which people will sign up to come early to set up the chairs and move the chairs.
~ Also, there will be a gin up sheet to bring
~ Feb 5 & 6 there will be a free concert with workshop. Contact Brooke for details
~ Other ministry opportunities are listed in the bulletin

Darlene ushered us into worship with a tender musical arrangement. Then we sang songs from the blue song book followed by the taking of the offering. The youth helped with leading the singing and the offering.

After leading us in a time of prayer, Brad began his message.

We Need Each Other

Brad began by sharing a small note that was placed on his desk, "Blessed Beyond All Measure."

When we think of being blessed, we often picture it as having everything we need. Blessed for many is having all the money they need so they can be self-sufficient. It's the American way, to be independent, free of having to rely on others.

We're even this way in our relationships. People don't want to take time for relationships.

Without even doing it intentionally, we push people away so we can be isolated in the midst of others, totally independent. We go to the gym, put on our earbuds and create our own surround-sound.

What a lot of Americans are doing is experiencing a sense of blessedness that is superficial, blessed with external blessings -- cars, homes, things.  But God has a different idea of blessedness.

In the opening section of Genesis, the Bible states "It is not good for man to be alone." This became the basis of a key point the pastor would make in today's sermon.

Brad cited Ephesians 2.  "You are citizens ...members of the household of God... one body." We are knit together. We are not independent but part of a larger whole, a spiritual family. And God created us with this need to be a part of others' live --as opposed to apart from others -- which means if we're independent, we're out of touch with God's intention for us.

He compared the difference between how we relate to strangers and to family. When a stranger comes over, we would be surprised if they went straight to the fridge and began helping themselves. But when family comes home for the holidays, there is no need for them to ask permission to make a sandwich out of whatever they find in the pantry and refrigerator.

Being "family" means, "My home is your home." It's a willingness to share our space, and our hearts.

When we have that kind of love for each other, non-believers looking in from the outside wonder how we can treat one another so. It's all about being a community of people doing life together.

Romans 15:7 shows one way to praise God that we haven't thought about. "Accept one another, just as Christ accepted you, in praise to God."

It's a place where we are just who we are, as we are. Becoming a family takes time. It takes commitment. And it takes Christ.

If you say, "I don't have time for that," what you're saying is you don't have time for people.

It's challenging, but it's where life really happens. Every one of us needs a spiritual family. Because we all have needs, and those needs are met through the family of God, our spiritual family. We have a need for relationships braided together by the Spirit of Christ.

Christianity is about the shared relationship of spiritual life. Throughout Scripture we see this sharing of faith. "Wherever two or three are gathered together, there I am in the midst of them."

Too many of our lives are lived alone. We drive to work alone. We study the Bible alone. We cry alone. Jesus calls us to something more.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's Resolutions

Here we are, first Sunday of the new year. We've had a surprisingly mild winter thus far, and though overcast today it's sitll warm. Lubbock, Texas had 11 inches of snow one day this week. Pastor Brad greeted us and asked how we're doing. "I'm excited

"One of the lies the evil one tells us is that we can't change." People get hung up on being resigned to what we think we are. Truth is, God has the power to change us. We do not have to remain prisoners to the lies we tell ourselves. Today's message will address this matter of change.

Brooke and Brad are taking a trip in celebration of her 40th birthday which is coming up, so they will be away for a couple weeks.

Brad and Darlene opened the worship time by singing a duet, "All Is Well."

We had a guest here today, Cole Graves visiting from Lakeview Covenant. Cole is an engineer who is part of an engineering organization that donates its services around the world. The organization is called Sonset Solutions. His background is radio and television engineering. After a career with PBS he prayed about what the Lord had for him in the latter years of his life. Sonset Solutions is a missionary group that serves missionaries by helping provide technology for setting up radio stations.

One story he told was about how he met a man in a 94% Muslim country who was 90% deaf which resulted in him having to listen to his boombox very loudly with the result that many others in his village had come to Christ including the imam. Cole shared how God is moving in this country and the Gospel is making inroads in various ways, with power.

After the offering was taken we spent some time in prayer for needs in of the church family.

New Year's Resolutions

A lie that is believed as true will have the same impact on you as if it actually were true. Brad shared a couple examples, and stated that the enemy of our souls is a liar who will get us stuck

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  ~  I Cor. 10:3,4

The word used here for power is the same word we use for dynamite.

What are the strongholds that bind us?

First is this lie: "I'll never be good with money." Maybe there's a stronghold around finances.

Another is in relationships. We say, "I'll never find the right person." Or maybe, "My marriage will never be good." Maybe, if we

Habits is a major area of problem. It may be gambling. It may be looking at the wrong things. Or maybe it's a chemical -- alcohol, drugs, caffeine.

Maybe today would be a good day to be honest.

Maybe it's attitude. I'm grumpy, I can't change that. Or it could be irritability or swearing.

Spiritually, maybe we excuse ourselves but are a prisoner of lies. Others can have faith but I can't. Others have answers to prayer, but I don't.

Another is our self-deprecating way of seeing ourselves. "I don't like the way I look."

Satan keeps reminding us that we can't change. God doesn't have the power to change you.

But the truth is, God can set us free and can anything that is in us that is not like Christ.

Here are suggestions on how to find freedom...

First, we begin with our thoughts. Any thought that is inconsistent with God's Word, we will not allow to take root in us. Someone once said, "You can't stop a bird from landing on your head, but you can certainly keep it from building a nest there."

Paul writes, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (vs. 5)

We have to capture those thoughts before they become actions. God invites us to capture them and bring them to Him, to make it obedient to Christ.

"I can't stop this addiction." Capture the lie and replace it with God's truth. "I am more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ.

Deal with the words that come out our mouths. We need to release the right words.  See Proverbs 18:21. The tongue has the power of life and death.

What we need to capture these words and bind them, then release the right words.

Capture the thoughts that do not honor God. Transform your mind and you will transform your life.

Psalm 19:14  says, "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You, my Rock and my Redeemer."

Third tip: It takes work. "To this end I labor..." Paul wrote. With all the energy that powerfully works within him. It's not by willpower, but God's power within us. His strength doing what I don't have the ability to do. But it's not where we're passive. We work with Him. It's a struggle. Paul strained with all his strength to live a life that honored God, by God's power.

Surrender to God. Trust God's power to get it done. "It's no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me." (Galatians 2:20)

At this, we closed in prayer and celebrated the Lord's Table.