Sunday, October 30, 2016

Healthy Roots, Healthy Shoots

Your faithful blogger was unable to be present this morning, so Pastor Terry White sent this summary of the message that was shared. As you who have been attending know, Terry raises Bonsai trees. Bonsai is a traditional Japanese art form using trees grown in containers. Bonsai uses cultivation techniques like pruning, root reduction, potting, defoliation, and grafting to produce small trees that mimic the shape and style of mature, full-size trees. 

Healthy Roots, Healthy Shoots

The number one thing I have changed in my bonsai hobby in the last 12 years is soil. My trees are more eager to grow, less disease, more certainty about corrective measures I need to take. Healthy roots, healthy shoots, when you take care of the part you can’t see, the part you can see will do very well.

This same attitudes lives in us as we place great trust in some of Christian heroes, new, old or ancient. Because they had great roots, there was fruit born in their lives. It’s easy for us to mistake taking some of this fruit for ourselves and thinking it means we have grown our own roots.

Sometimes in the spring, I get fooled about the health of a tree because I see some growth, sometimes that last bit of growth that a tree tries to put out is it’s last ditch effort to survive. There is no lasting fruit apart from the tree. John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

Much of this discussion about roots seems a lot like our consideration of the heart. The difference is the link that that the Bible makes between this unseen root. We see people, we make judgements/assumptions based on what we see, we don’t think much about what lies beneath the surface, without roots we have nothing. But there is this link between roots we don’t see and the fruit we do see.

Ezekiel 31: 1-9...   not unlike a more familiar verse:
Psalms 1:1-4 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.

Two steps to this well-rooted tree:
1. Guard your heart, don’t walk in step with wicked, get in way of sinners, be in good company with mockers.
2. Delight in God’s way of seeing the world, meditate on that so it becomes your way of seeing the world around you.

Over time, the branches get bigger, the roots grow deeper, fruit grows, not only does our life change, but we end up as part of the resource for the lives of others.

Luke 13:6-9 A parable of roots and fruits: What we all need in this journey…
Truth: Fig trees bears figs.
Grace: A plan, here is what we need, don’t write it off, give up.
Time: Fig trees provide two crops per year, this is more grace and time than we might be expecting.

Our roots feed our lives. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

The Bible speaks about these roots:
Ephesians 3:14-21 I pray that you being rooted and established in love… may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide, long, high and deep is the love of Christ

When I transplant/gather trees we talk about three seasons in getting established. Survive/ Alive/ Thrive. When that tree is established it really begins to take off. What does it mean for us to be established in love, this root of ours sunk into the love of God?

As a contrast, Hebrews 12:15 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

This root of bitterness. It’s possible that we allow other kinds of roots to feed our life. What happens when you and I allow a root of bitterness, a root of anger, a root of shame, a root of envy, a root of pride, to feed us. Roots feed us. Part of the discipleship process is to eliminate those other roots that are feeding our hearts.

From a plant standpoint, there are root I want to get rid of, roots I encourage. What happens when I take away the thing that feeds me?

Some people get used to chaos, feeding their life, if they don’t have it, they’ll manufacture it. Some people allow their busyness to feed their life, if they don’t have enough to do, they make more to do. Some of us have allowed our shame about ourselves to feed our life, when we cut that root out of our life for a time, it seems to grow back and we say…”hello old friend.”

God’s invitation to you and I is to be rooted and established in Him. That the life God offers to us would be received by us, this picture of a tree growing strong and mighty would reflect these fruits of the Spirit and we become blessing to the world around us, and all of this would all be for the glory Him who is making it happen in us.

Here’s the question for you this week… What roots are feeding your life? How are you helping your kids, friends, fellow church members develop deep roots in Christ? What would it look like if our roots were established in Christ and we were thriving?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Moving Targets

The Sound Team
Those who arrive early can capture the flavor of our worship themes as the worship team practices beforehand. As the sanctuary fills there are many new faces, and pastor Terry White has instituted the habit of having us write our names on name tags so we get to know one another by name and not just by face. (My name is Ed.)

After a sound check Pastor White invited us to come in and take a seat so we can begin our service. "Good morning," he exclaimed, and after

Fall craft and quilt retreat, October 28 & 29. Contact Amy D or Darlene.
Men's Iron Sharpening Iron is next Saturday at Clyde Iron, 9-12
Next Sunday there will be a Semi-Annual Congregational Meeting after the service.
And don't forget to keep in mind that Daylight Savings Time will end November 6. "Fall Back" one hour at 2 a.m.

The Worship Team
Pastor Terry stated, "Some people think we go to the Bible to find Truth, but I believe we go to the Bible to find Jesus." Then invited us to worship. The music team, comprised of Terry White's daughters and son-in-law Joe, led us in a special heart-felt series of worship songs rooted in Scripture and history.

After the offering and a time of prayer, Terry began his message.

Moving Targets

A Weekly Object Lesson
Pastor Terry shared how getting know us as a congregation helps his sermons become more on target, hence he enjoys taking time after the service to interact with us. He also noted that conversations are a way he can get better at liberating us from the things tripping us up or trapping us.

Another point he made was how life is sometimes a jumble because our head knows the truth but our hearts are cold or hurt.

The congregation was given an assignment last week: research the heart. Last week's message gad to do with the heart.
"If you're headed in the wrong direction, no point being in a hurry." As Jeremiah once wrote, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and there is no cure."

The Good News of the Gospel is that a stony cold heart can be removed and replaced with a heart of flesh.

Life is a difficult battle between having a thick skin and a soft heart. We live in a rough world and it would be easier if we could just harden our hearts to the pain, but what God wants is for us to keep our hearts tender as we thicken our skin.

A disciple is a fully devoted follower of Christ. Since Jesus calls us to "make disciples" we should understand what a disciple is.

It's important to be disciples ourselves, but also learn how to help others become or be disciples.

When our hearts are wounded we can wound others.

It is really important to understand where our hearts are at. This is very different from legalism where we wear a shell that lets people know we are Christians. God wants us healed and healing others from within, from the heart.

The challenge of being a true follower of the light is that the closer we get to the light the more messed up we discover we are. Yet this gracious God loves us as we are and invites us to draw nearer still.

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

In Psalm 32 David wrote, "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven." Terry went further and this passage should be read and internalized.And then we looked at Psalm 51.

When we fail, when we sin, we can seek forgiveness and it lifts us up. But when we continue in sin it's a downward spiral, causing shame and heaviness. Pastor Terry encouraged us to know the condition of our hearts.

He then talked about growing up in Kansas. He showed us a purple clothing item that initially led us to think it was a Vikings jersey, but turned out to say K State, short for Kansas State. Kansas State, where his uncles attended college, did not have a good football team. In fact they were very weak. But on one occasion when he was eight years old he went to a game between Kansas State and Kansas that was very dramatic, which their team looked to potentially win. In his excitement, young Terry exclaimed that that's what he wanted to do when he grew up. His father's response cut deep. "You'll never be good enough."

Terry wasn't looking for sympathy here. He was illustrating a point. Words can be powerful, and hurt us very deeply. We all carry painful moments in which something that was said simply crushed us.

He reminded us of the Beattitude: "Blessed are those who mourn will be comforted."

And then he shared the key to healing. Our hearts are filled with little things that gnaw at us. Forgiveness is a big part of getting our hearts straight and whole.

Lake Superior is a great parable. At times it is crystal clear. But other times there are storms and the water is murky, muddy and a swirling dark.

In closing he shared a song called Martyrs and Thieves that begins "There's place in the darkness I used to cling to..."  I strongly encourage you to read the lyrics here.

The Christian life is one of paradox, in which we are asked to give up something worthless in exchange for something of infinite value.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Believer's Hope In Troubled Times

There's a crispness in the air these days. But the sky is a pure crystal blue with streaming sunlight reflecting off the bright colors of our autumn leaves. Pastor White is on vacation and Pastor Galen Call is preaching this morning. Chuck Vanderscheuren welcomed us and shared a few announcements.

Adventure Club has started again, Wednesday evenings at 6:00 p.m.
There is a sign up sheet in the back for a Quilting/Crafting Weekend October 28-29.
Ted Sexton announced an Iron Sharpening Iron men's group meeting at Clyde Iron Works October 29. Contact Chuck or Jeff if you plan to attend.
Other items of note include our Semi-Annual Congregational Meeting which is slated for October 30.

The quartet led us in worship this morning, adding a new song to the mix, "To Worship You" after which Susan was invited forward with the kids for a "children's moment." She began by sharing that when she thinks of Sunday she spells it Sonday. She then shared a few facts about Sonflowers and how the real sunflowers always face sunward (Sonward) ending with a song about this interesting life insight.

The ushers took the offering while our quartet sang a beautiful song about the healing power of the Great Physician's touch, One Scarred Hand.

Cheryl led us in a time of prayer for the various needs in our church family.

The Believer's Hope in Troubled Times

Pastor Call began by noting that it doesn't take much to see we live in troubled times. Our divisions as a nation, our 20 trillion dollar national debt, the international threats we face all hang over us like a cloud. Then we also have our personal battles and struggles.

The text he chose today was drawn from chapter 9 of Hebrews, beginning with verse 24.

24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

As is readily apparent, the key word in this passage is the word "appear." Pastor Call did not discuss them in the order of their appearance however. He began with the second.

Verse 26 points to Christ's appearing at the end of the ages. This moment of time was the goal of all previous history, His appearing was here on earth, as a man, to become one of us.

We were reminded that Jesus was one person with two natures. He was 100% man, 100% God. He appeared in human form not only to live among us, but also to die among us. This passage addresses the nature of this death.

The Hebrews, well acquainted with the history of the temple, understood well the meaning of this sacrificial death. The Holy of Holies in the temple was so holy that the High Priest would enter one day a year to make this significant sacrifice. It was in the Holy of Holies that the shekinah glory of God was visible enshrined between the cherubim on the mercy seat.

This passage states that Jesus "appeared... to do away with sin." Sin has a legal claim against us, but Jesus came to nullify this claim.

Pastor Call went into detail of the Old Testament sacrifice of the two goats, one put to death and the second carried off into the wilderness, a symbol of God's freeing us from our sins so we no longer need to encounter them again.

In verse 24 the word "appear" is used to describe what Jesus is doing in the present on our behalf, interceding for us before God. Jesus is our advocate before the Father, praying on our behalf. He is praying for you today as your high priest.

In the Old Testament the high priest sacrificed goats and bulls. Our great high priest sacrificed Himself, and intercedes on our behalf.

"When I do not know what words to use, He knows what words to use. Jesus, our Savior, is there in the Father's presence, praying on our behalf," Pastor Call explained.

The third use of the word is in verse 28, a promise of Christ's second appearing. One day, future, Christ will appear a second time for those who are waiting for Him. He has not forgotten us.

This appearing will be different from the first. He will return with a shout. The trumpet of God will sound and the dead in Christ will be raised from their graves. This is the believer's hope.

The reality we live in is this: the world is not going to get better until Jesus returns and makes it better. This last appearing will bring the consummation of our salvation. One day the clouds will open up and Jesus will appear to receive us. This is our anchor and hope in troubled times.