Sunday, April 24, 2016

Giving to the Lord

The morning broke chilly and grey, but inside the sanctuary the bright lights and lively warmth from our gathering church family. Brad welcomed us and signaled his message would be about money in a roundabout way by encouraging us to think about how God has blessed us, and how we in turn can be good stewards of those blessings.

Reminder: Saturday May 21 there will be a Rummage & Bake Sale Fund Raiser and Silent Auction. The event will be held at Grand Lake Town Hall/Community Center from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Contributions and volunteers welcome. Hosted by the NLCC Women for new church. 

Darlene ushered us into worship with a sensitive melody. Brad then read from Psalm 103 and invited us to sing a set of choruses. The ushers then gathered our tithes and offerings. After a time of prayer Pastor Brad presented the message.

Giving to the Lord

How many of you ever had the thought that it would be great to have lots of money when you grew up? How many thought that if you won the lottery you would be a truly good steward of that windfall?

It's interesting that people who do gain wealth are sometimes embarrassed by it. Its interesting that some people who have wealth don't even know it.

If you haven't experienced wanting to be wealthy, it would be unusual.

Paul addressed the matter of money in I Timothy 6:17-19
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

What is essential to grasp is that every blessing is a gift from God. Paul tells Timothy to warn rich people to not become arrogant about their well. And command them to be generous.

What is wealth? What does it mean to be rich? How much money would you need to consider yourself rich?

It's ironic that people who make 50K a year say, "If only I were making 75K." And when you have 100K you think 200K is what would make me wealthy. But the truth is, we're nearly all blind to the wealth we already have.

If you have kids and you can take them to the zoo, or to the library... or dentist... you are wealthy. Brad outlined things we do that are signals of our wealth compared to true impoverishment.

Solomon, the wealthiest man of his day, acknowledged that all his wealth was a gift from God.

If you make $33,000 a year you are in the top 1% in the world. If you are making over $80,000 then you're one of the top one-tenth of one percent in terms of the world's wealth.

Brad cited various signals that show we have tremendous wealth. Yet when we talk about our wealth we don't seem to feel it. But what Paul says our wealth is a gift from God, for our enjoyment. God doesn't want us to be embarrassed about these blessings.

But this wealth isn't just for us. We have been given this blessing to make a difference in the world.

Brad then shared Mark 10:17-31, the story of the rich young ruler.

Wealth has negative consequences. First, we tend to cease being dependent on God. Second, because of our wealth we can become more easily distracted because it gives us more opportunities to do things.

Jesus said, "To whom much is given, much is required."  And "Do not lay up treasures for yourselves."

Brad ended the service with a song, "I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God."

After the service we re-convened for our semi-annual congregational meeting.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Go and Make Disciples

The sanctuary was filled with light as the congregation filtered in and filled the room with energy and warmth as people greeted one another. "Good morning," Pastor Brad said as he welcomed us.

Next Sunday there will be a Congregational/Semi-Annual meeting after the service.
Iron Sharpening Iron, a men's group led by Ted Sexton, is meeting at Clyde Iron Works at 9 a.m. till noon. Jeff Larson will be bringing a carload of men from here. He will be leaving from the church at 8:00 a.m.

The quartet led us in worship today. Chuck shared a story and a passage about God's light from I John 1:5-7, an apt intro for The Lighthouse. We all sang a pair of great hymns and then Susan Jessico brought a fishing pole ad some other gear this morning for a children's message. What do we need to catch fish? First, we need the right equipment, and then we need to go where the fish are. Finally, we have to be patient. She then shared the story of how Jesus called his first disciples, who happened to be fishermen. (Matthew 4:18-22) "Come, follow Me and I will make you fishers of men."

The quartet then sang A Taste of Heaven as the offering was taken. This was followed a time of prayer.

Go and Make Disciples

When Jesus died and rose again, before He ascended, his last words to his disciples was, "Therefore, go into all the world and make disciples..."

The word "Go" here is more literally, "As you go." In other words, "As you do life, are you making disciples?"

What is a disciple? It's more than going to church, or having a fish sticker on the back of your car. A disciple is a learner, a follower, an adherent.

The original followers of Jesus were called disciples. They were not initially "Christians."  And these early disciples had an aim in their hearts. "Jesus, I want to be like You."

Making disciples is a way of life. When you are in the workplace, you look for opportunities to make disciples. Wherever you go, you are looking for opportunities to share Jesus.

In America, we are not making disciples very well. We live in a culture that tends to make us observers rather than participants in life.

There are a number of reasons we don't share Jesus and make disciples. Many people just don't feel ready. But you are called to make disciples. It's one of our most important life assignments.

Brad made the point that all of us who know Christ need to help others move further into the life of Christ. But he also brought out that we all benefit from a father-figure in our faith, a mentor, someone who can teach us more. We need humility to allow this, but it is essential to growth in Christ.

Paul was a spiritual father to Timothy. Paul was an example, and teacher. Paul himself wrote to the Corinthians to follow him as he followed Christ.

Brad had a message for parents, also. It's parents' responsibility to disciple their kids. It's not the church's job. We are role models, whether we like it or not. They will imitate what they see. Children will tend to imitate the world, and we're not supposed to be like the world. This is our calling, to be examples.

Our words can make a difference. Encourage. Speak truth in love. And you can let people wiser than you speak into your life and strengthen you.

Brad's final thought: If you're not making disciples, ask yourself if you are really a disciple of Jesus. Go... as you do life, make disciples as you go. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Pastor Brad welcomed us on a wonderfully sunny morning. He then shared the evolution of his thoughts toward the central idea in today's message which would be on worry.

Gail shared that there is a rummage sale coming up. She invited us to sign up to help gather things for the rummage sale and bake sale or to help during the event itself.

The opening call to worship was taken from a classic prayer from ancient times. "Father of majesty unbounded..."

Brad led us in a number of songs and the invited Tom Engelmann from the Gideons International. "These Bibles touch a lot of lives," he said. The Gideons place Bibles in hotel rooms and also share pocket testaments. Internationally the Gideon have access to the schools, but not in the U.S. These Bibles are handed out and shared. All gifts to Gideons go to Bibles, not to any administrative expenses. For more information visit Even if you cannot donate, we invite you to pray for us as you partnet with us. Gideons is now sharing God's Word in 190 countries.

After the ushers received the offering, Brad led the congregation in a time of prayer for the needs of our church family.


Life is full of uncertainty. And when our anxiety and imagination get hold of this we can be quickly undone by it all. Pastor Brad gave some heartfelt insights on this topic today in a very strong message of hope and comfort in the midst of our hurricane of worries.

What ifs can plague us all. What if the economy turns down? What if I lose my job? What if my company is sold? "I'm so scared."

II Timothy 1:7 says, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind."

Two local churches now have people who members assigned to keep watch to make sure no one comes in with a gun. They have the doors locked when gathered for worship.

We live in fear because we know we are not in control. We live with anxious hearts. It makes life difficult. "An anxious heart weighs a person down."

Brad then asked a half dozen questions so we could self-assess.
1. Are you rattled when things don't go as expected?
2. Do you worry about things that are out of your control?
3. Do you lose sleep over things that are on your mind?
4. Is it hard for you to turn off your mind?
5. Does the unknown intimidate you?
6. Do you often imagine the worst case scenario?

Some people dislike being a passenger in a car because they want to be in control.

Bottom line: You are never ever in control.  The reason many of us live in fear of losing control is because we live in the illusion that we had some kind of control in the first place.

Often, it is the things most precious to us are the things most outside of our control. Many people live with anxious hearts without ever realizing how much this is weighing them down.

How do we experience God's peace in the midst of life? Answer: We must take our minds off the "what ifs" of fear. What ifs can mount, and unsettle us.

Luke 21:14 "Make up your mind not to worry." When? "Beforehand"

The program Wide World of Sports every week on ABC always began with "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." Everyone who remembers this show remembers the image of a skier crashing on a steep slope and sliding, rolling out of control. How many of you can remember the image of "the thrill of victory"? We tend to remember the bad.

Brad shared the rabbit hole of worry his mind runs down when Brooke is late. Why does God tell us not to worry? Because worry never changes anything. "Do not worry," Jesus says.

As Jesus said, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?"

Here's another thought. Satan has a number of tools. One of them is fear. Brad noted that when farmers have a garden being attacked by birds, he puts a scarecrow out in the field. Scarecrows are powerless to do anything, but the achieve their aim by fear. So it is that Satan scares us even though he is powerless to hurt us. And where do scarecrows get placed? In the fields of good corn. As we mature we should go looking for scarecrows because that is where the good crops are.

Even Jeremiah used this scarecrow metaphor. Jeremiah 10:6

Isaiah 26:3 "Thou will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee." or in another version, "whose mind is steadfast."

Trust the Lord, and lean not to your own understanding.

Faith changes things. God responds to our faith. Worry changes nothing.

This is a real truth: "Cast all your cares upon the Lord because He cares for you." (I Peter 5:7) Let go and let God.

* * * *

EdNote: Frequently these blog entries include hotlinks to Bible verses referenced during a service. The online Bible resource I use is Bible Gateway, which offers many versions of the Bible, from King James to Modern. has many features including a verse of the day which you may also receive via email. I recently learned they also have an app which you can download to your iPhone. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

What It Means To Care

"I'm grateful you're here today," Pastor Brad said as he greeted us today. He noted today's theme briefly, that if you are called to be a follower of Jesus Christ, to say that we care and do nothing at all is to not care at all. " He shared it is, and has always been, important to him that we stake our reputation on being known as a church that cares.

1) VBS is approaching and we are seeking volunteers. See Brooke for details on the opportunities to serve.
2) Susan Jessico shared that it's that time of year to sign up to be Secret Sisters. See Susan for details.

Darlene opened the service with a medley of beautiful songs and then we began a time of corporate song from the blue songbook.

We had a moment for mission this morning. Tim Hafvenstein, a maintenance worker at Covenant Park, shared about the influence this camp has had since its founding in 1940. He noted, "I get to go to work. Other people have to go to work." He has been there for four years, along with Leonard. "We'll never know how much impact this camp has had over the years," he said. We were encouraged to pray for the staff, for the needs, the counselors, and the kids who go there. One of the needs is finances. Covenant Park has 21 buildings, boats and appliances that all need maintenance. There are a variety of ways to help. Encourage kids to be a part of camp. One special week will be MAD Camp in July, featuring Music, Art and Drama. It's a special week that has been successful elsewhere and they hope to see it flourish here.

The offering was taken and she shared a time in prayer before Brad's message.

What It Means To Care

We are called to care for the needy. It is not a choice.

Brad began with a story about his brother who was the victim of a woman who tried to proselytize him in an aggressive way that showed she did not really care about him, but only her agenda. It illustrated a key distinction in how we reach out to those around us. When we try to win people to Christ are we collecting scalps for our personal glory? Or do we really care about the people themselves?

In one of the Apostle Paul's letters he wrote, "I don't have anyone to send you except Timothy who really cares about you."

Brad's main point, which he repeated several time, was that to say that you care but to not act is the same as not caring at all. Caring isn't just a feeling. It is an action. In fact, "I would argue all day long that true compassion demands action. Compassion compels us," Brad said.

In the New Testament wherever it says Jesus felt compassion it shows Him taking action.
Matthew 14:14, Matthew 20:34 and the last part of Mark 6 are all examples.

"The closer I get to Christ, the more I care about the things He cares about," Brad said. And the converse is true. The further I get from Christ, the more I care about myself.

Brad then told the story of the Good Samaritan.

When we see people in need we always have a conversation in our heads, and always have a reason to justify not getting involved. But as Christ-followers we're called to care so deeply that we act.

A couple takeaways from this story.

1. Compassion will interrupt your life. It will interrupt your schedule. It will be something you didn't plan on, but perhaps it is something God planned on.

After a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side of the road, a Samaritan took pity on him. Pity is compassion and it always interrupts your own agenda. And if you are sensitive to the promptings of God you will get an opportunity to

2. Compassion will cost you something.

In the story of the Good Samaritan he takes money out of his purse and promises to cover any additional expenses. It may be money, it may be time, but true compassion may inconvenience us.

3. Compassion always changes lives.

The act of compassion leaves people changed. They recognize it was necessary. And it changes you, because just passing by on the other side will leave a tinge of guilt and sometimes even shame, and you don't get a second chance in that situation.

Paul wrote, "I don't have anybody like Timothy. He really cares about you."

Bottom line: when you care you get closer to Christ.

And in this manner we become the light of the world.

At this point we together celebrated the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.