Sunday, August 28, 2016

"Can't See the Forest..."

The late summer morning is overcast, but hearts are warm and bright here as we gather at New Life Covenant. There's a liveliness in the sanctuary that is welcoming. Upon entering we put on name tags to make it easier for us to get to know one another, especially with all the new faces. Chuck Vanderscheuren greeted us and invited us to say hello to interim pastor Terry White and his wife Leah after the service here this morning. There will be a 9:30 coffee and conversation opportunity to informally meet with Pastor Terry and Leah on Wednesday this week.

Other announcements included Rally Sunday on September 11. Saturday the 17th will be a Fish Fry with the new Sunday School season beginning the 18th.

The worship team included Pastor White's accompaniment on drums.

During the offering Chuck & Darlene's grand-daughter Scarlet played The B-I-B-L-E.... That's the Book for Me. From here we went into a time of prayer for needs in the church family.

Our worship time followed and then Pastor White was introduced.

"Can't See the Forest..."

Terry White began by sharing that he felt compelled to introduce himself and share his life story briefly so as to give a context to who he is as he is beginning a relationship with the New Life church family.

Part of being an interim here is to help carry on the work that is already going on. He also mentioned that part of being an interim is that he is filling in after the loss of our previous pastor, which includes honesty about our mourning. Some mourn quickly and for others it takes a little longer. Terry's candor in all this was refreshing.

The good thing in our situation is that there is no big drama that led to this current set of circumstances.

* * *
The sermon topic is an expansion on Paul's prayer that the Ephesians would know God better. Hence, this message would be a broad overview of all that God is as revealed in Scripture.

Exodus 3:10-15 is about the call of God to Moses to lead God's people out of Egypt. It's the story of the burning bush, and God explains to Moses that when the Egyptians question his authority, Moses is to say, "I AM sent me."

God is. This is the first thing to know about God. He is. He exists. And He's bigger than we can comprehend.

There are images of God that we are comfortable with and hold on to. He is kind, faithful. He is love.

But there are other features of God that are uncomfortable. He sometimes hides Himself.

God has many names...
Elohim... the all-powerful creator.
Emmanuel... He is with us.
And many others...
The Lord who provides.
The Lord who is my peace.

How can God be both merciful and just?
How can God be sovereign yet give us free will?

He's our Savior.... and He's our Lord.

Many of these faces of God are two sides of the same coin... Justice and mercy present an especially good example.

Terry said he wants us to be moved by knowing God's love, not to be moved out of fear. Could it be that God is bigger than any box that your imagination can construct? Absolutely.

He is servant and savior. He's the Ancient of Days... and more attributes and names still, an author, potter, redeemer, the uncaused cause.... our strength and shield, Messiah, fire from heaven, freedom from the curse of sin, suffering servant, coming king, great high priest, faithful pastor, everlasting covenant, Good Shepherd, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.... He is. The Alpha and Omega, the Great I Am.

Why does all this matter?
There's a name that is above every name....

Isaiah 6:1-5
1 In the year that King Uzzi′ah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; 
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

On the day when you and I have the most clarity about God, it is still a minimum. There is so much more to know.

The service ended with this video about the names of God.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Living from the Inside Out

Blue skies and a beautiful summer day. Chuck Vanderscheuren welcomed us and led the first portion of the service.

Gail announced a Fish Fry  is slated for the 17th of September, noon to five. Volunteers welcome to help with this event.
The Bloodmobile will be coming that same day...  Eat Fish, Give Blood.
The church director is being updated. See Nancy to verify your information.
Pastor Terry White is excited to be coming to minister to our church family as interim pastor. He feels like he's coming home. He will begin the last week of August.

The quartet ushered us into worship with a beautiful rendition of The Midnight Cry. After an opening prayer by guest preacher Jeff Hagen the quartet then sang Dallas Holm's "I'll Rise Again." A time of worship, the offering, and a time of prayer followed, and then Jeff Hagen was invited to speak.

Living from the Inside Out

Our speaker brought a baseball to show us as an object lesson. He asked if we knew what was inside a baseball. Underneath the leather coating there tightly wound layers of different material, of yarn, twine and felt... but it's very core is a solid ball. He then asked what was at Paul's core? What is at our core?

Paul's letter to the Philippians was written while he was imprisoned in Rome. Paul recognized that challenging times served to drive our roots deeper into Christ to draw more strength. James also underscored the same when he wrote "Count it all joy when you encounter various trials" because testing produces patience and deepens us.

Testing forces us to draw on God's resources. In Phil 3:10-11 Paul writes about his desire, "that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."

He followers by declaring, "I press on to the goal..." (see verses 12-16)

In Philippians 2 Paul points to Jesus as our model, He who stepped down from Heaven to accept being humbled even to the point of death on a cross.

About Jesus, the Gospel writer John wrote, "In Him was light, and this light was the light of men."

Paul himself has seen this light, and embraced it and is devoted to sharing this light.

Jeff Hagen noted that people are like trees, and we need deep roots. Trials deepen our roots, as does meditating on the Word of God.

In conclusion, here's the question. Do we want to transcend our circumstances and change the people around us? It is dependent on our learning how to deepen ourselves with intentionality.

He ended  with Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3:
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.

20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Powerful Teamwork

A weekend of sun and blue skies like summer ought to be. Chuck welcomed us and shared a pair of announcements:
1. Someone lost a key last week. See Chuck.
2. Nancy Peyton shared an announcement about the prayer chain. They would like to try it with email this year.

In the past months we’ve begun our services with a call to prayer. Last Sunday our call for prayer was for our nation. This week our prayer is for people with addictions.

Darlene ushered us into worship with the hymn Bind Us Together.

Prayer for the Best family…. Bonnie lost her husband, the children lost their dad.
Prayer for the Paul family who was on their way to do mission work in Japan until struck by a truck in Nebraska.
Prayer for other special needs

Powerful Teamwork

Jeff Hagen was a speaker today. He began with an anecdote about the Minnesota Vikings and how Coach Zimmer is helping the Vikings define their roles on the team and unite them to move toward a common goal... a championship and then a Super Bowl.

He then had us turn to Romans 12:4-8. We each have gifts that different gifts. One of the gifts God has given Jeff Hagen is teaching, and he will be exhorting us this morning.

Jeff is part of an organization called Resolute. The founder is part of the Eagle Brook church in Minneapolis. The objective was to help men form a team. It’s intentional, and has a process. In two-and-a-half year they have graduated 500 men through this program.

When we made the decision to move from the building across the street to this building, it was a remarkable team effort. God has given us gifts to accomplish this, and now are we open to allowing God to mobilize us for the next phase?

There are three key ideas for "church" to work: pray together, play together and work together. “Unless the Lord build this house, they labor in vain who build it.”

Work together, promote events, engage compassionately with the community. The building exists here to engage the lost. God desires compassion more than just coming to church. The church is not just an exclusive club. When we engage the community things can sometimes get broken.

He told the story of the parable of the man who built his house on a rock, as opposed to the one who built his house on sand. What was the difference between the two? The one did what Jesus said to do, and the other did not.

In the Old Testament Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt, but it was Joshua who was called to lead them into the Promised Land. The manner in which this occurred was significant. Joshua and the ark entered the Jordan and got their feet wet, obedient to God, and then God stopped the flow of the river till the people went across, replicating the Exodus across the separated Red Sea. They had to step out in faith first though. There was initially no evidence the river would stop to let them across until they got their feet wet. In this manner the people received affirmation that God was with them in this, and also that Joshua was the man to lead them.

In Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, habit #2 is Begin with the End in Mind. What do you want written on your tombstone? “He slept through life and sleeps here today.” Or “He touched a multitude or lives.”

The Spirit of God stepped in when Israel stepped into the river.

Mr. Hagen then read the Paul's prayer for the Ephesians in chapter 3.

God’s eternal purpose for the church is to be a city on a hill -- salt and light for the world.

"This is my prayer for New Life Covenant," he said, "That everyone will see that New Life Covenant Church is a City on a Hill."

We then shared Communion.