Sunday, December 18, 2016


Temps of minus 30 were seen on many thermometers this morning as the arctic chill of the upper atmosphere descended overnight on a crisp early winter morn. Music and warmth from the hearts of our church family soon dispelled the chill as we gathered here today. Christmas cheer spilled everywhere.

Chuck Vanderscheuren welcomed us and began by sharing these announcements.

--Christmas Eve Worship  4:00 Saturday.
--Christmas Morning service will be in the Fireside Room and you are all welcome.
--If you are interested in becoming a member, contact Chuck, Pastor White or Pam Johnson.
--The Covenant World Relief Offering (soup cans) will be collected in January.
--Pastor Terry invited us to read a chapter a day in the new year, starting with the Psalms.

This being the Fourth Sunday in Advent, the Mehle family came forwad to light the advent candle.
After reading Isaiah 52:6-9 the candles were lit and a passage read about the meaning of this candle: Shalom, which is "Peace."

Chuck read from the Book of Matthew about the birth of Christ followed by a song -- beautifully performed by Chuck, Ken and Darlene -- about Mary and the birth of her son, "Mary Did You Know?"

Ed sang a medley about the Lord's birth in a manger as the offering was taken. This was followed by a time of prayer for needs in our church family.


Introductory notes: Terry White began by thanking us for the many ways our church family serves our community. "It's a great thing to be a part of it." He also shared some of the things we're looking forward to in 2017, including two of the items noted in the announcements above.

Pastor While also invited the young people to share about their Holly Jolly experience. Hayden stood and shared how this touched him because the core of it is about giving. Another gentleman stood and shared how he was moved by it and how it gave him a fresh perspective on giving, and that it wasn't just for the kids. A third stood to share how it was exciting to be part of the youth group as they experienced the power of giving together.

God's invitation is to walk alongside Him and be part of what He is doing. When you enter into these kinds of projects there's a reason why we experience peace and feel inwardly "I'm on the right track. I'm doing exactly what God would be doing if He were here in this moment." When we align ourselves with the way God lives His life, it is good for our lives.

* * * *
Today's theme: Peace.

It's a tricky word. Peace to dictator means, "Do what I ask."
Peace to an alcoholic is when people don't call him an alcoholic.

But peace is not simply the absence of conflict.

Terry stated that peace is ironic. Peace comes through truth, but truth seldom brings peace.

Jeremiah 6:13-16 "They cry 'Peace, peace' when there is no peace."

What does peace really men?

Verse 16 is one of Pastor Terry's favorites....
“Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.

Jesus said, "Blessed are the Peacemakers." But peace has an ironic aspect to it. Peace comes through truth, though truth rarely brings peace.

The message today revolved around Ephesians 2:14-22. "For He Himself is our peace who has made the two groups one...."

It's not easy to be one, in part because we are so different.

In math, when you add fractions what you have to do is find the lowest common denominator. When it comes to our human existence, the lowest common denominator is this: Every single one of us has the same exact problem. That problem is sin.

If we have other things determine what is in and out, such as being united only if we like the same football team, or have the same age group.... these are limiters.

The passage in Ephesians 2 is about making two things one. Our lowest common denominator is Jesus. This is how we become one.

The word peace comes from the Hebrew word "Shalom." Shalom is a word that doesn't translate well because the word is a concept that is much more than peace. The word contains this sense of "Completeness" and "Fullness." That my life is healthy and full and whole, and safe. Shalom speaks of prosperity, rest...  and fully paid for.

Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men is something more...

Ephesian 1:22-23  I can't wait to be not afraid of the dark, to not be afraid of the future I don't know.

What does peace look like in your world?

Hope, Love, Joy and Peace are not based on circumstances. Jesus Christ is our peace. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Making a joyful noise unto the Lord.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


On a snowy Sunday morn....

Important dates of note:
--Christmas Program this Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Dinner to follow
--The following Saturday: Christmas Eve Service 4:00 p.m.
--Salvation Army Adopt-a-family: Sign up sheet on the information table.


A mom was preparing pancakes for her young sons. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their Mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, "Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait." The oldest boy turned to his younger brother and said, "You be Jesus."

Joy (According to Webster): A feeling of great pleasure or happiness.

There is a certain measure of this… There are events for which people in the Bible express joy. Marriage, birth of children, gathering of a harvest, military victory, deliverance from Egypt, return from exile, the restoration of Jerusalem, happiness associated with salvation and life in Heaven.

There are a variety of words to convey the same thought. Joy, gladness, mirth, rejoice, rejoice and be exceedingly glad. In the Old Testament there is the idea of being bright, shining that carries this idea of joy. When you see someone with Joy, what do you see.

• Amazing Grace: When we’ve been there 10,000 years
• Be Thou My Vision: High King of Heaven, When Victory’s won, May I reach Heaven’s joys
• Great is Thy Faithfulness: Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
• How Great Thou Art: When Christ shall come, with shout of acclimation and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart
• It Is Well: Lord haste the day, when the faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll, the trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, even so it is well with my soul.

Along with many other qualities we associate with God, Joy is one of those qualities.
How do I know that? The Fruit of the Spirit. When you and I are attached to this vine of Jesus, we will bear fruit. Those fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

These are qualities that God grows in us. They are His qualities, not a random selection of qualities separate from Him.

One of those qualities is joy. Now for some of us this seems problematic. I know people for whom an expression of Joy seems pretty easy. For me I was shocked that being a cynic wasn’t on the list of spiritual gifts. For me, I’ve been gifted by God with an ability to see things as they are, and to see where things need to be. If you’re a developer personality like me, joy seems to be harder to come by, because I can never be satisfied where I am, I want to get to some place I’m not, at some point you begin to lose, a sense of contentment, a sense, of thankfulness, you can begin to lose hope, and then peace, and joy seems like a distant memory as well.

The Christmas Story
Pastor White then read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. It’s hard to mention a character in those two chapters without hearing about joy, rejoicing or good tiding s of great joy. Joy has gone viral in the Christmas story, it’s contagious, it’s infectious, by the end of the Christmas passage joy has been on the lips, in the ears, or caused a physical reaction to almost everyone in the story, There shall be good tidings of great JOY for all the people. Luke is conveying a message that stands in stark contrast to the way his world sees things. This is a story of Joy and it is rooted in the story of Jesus.

To me it’s a lot like Pilate in the Easter story. Pilate is a footnote in the story of Jesus. If Jesus came to a different place or time, none of us would know anything about Pilate, we know him because we know Jesus.

Pilate is known because Jesus is on the scene. In the same way Joy in known because Jesus is on the scene.Here’s a lesson we learn about joy verses happiness.The joy in the lives of these people all falls under the category of being connected to Jesus. Happiness is fleeting, happiness is genuine, there is nothing better than a good enjoyable emotional response.

But joy, hope, love, peace these waters run deep in us. They are to be unshaken by circumstance. In moments when they are shaken, it’s a reminder to trust God more, know God more, yield to God more.

A couple of years ago we started singing a song with these words.”I’ve let my hope fail.” Those words really struck me as I was considering where I was at. I have some responsibility to choose hope, choose joy, choose peace, it all has to do with having Christ at the center of our hearts to gain his perspective about life rather than our own.

Increase your Joy
1. Count your many blessings. Choose how you see things. We live in a day where we love the dramatic tale of woe. Critic is actually a job title. If you got together with your friends, families or fellow church members and shared your joys how would that get received?
2. Find joy in other peoples’ joy!! Rejoice with those who rejoice.
3. Joy is found in the challenge of God’s Kingdom.

Hebrews 12:2 New International Version (NIV)
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

4. Joy is linked to obedience. John 15:9-13 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

You know that moment in your life when you know all is well and you’ve done the right thing in the eyes of God. This is a place where joy is born. All is well between God and I, reconciled, one, nothing between us.

What is a Biblical definition? To be honest, I haven’t really found a very good working definition. I think it looks a lot like happiness, I think there is a physical expression. A deadpan robotic statement of my joy in not convincing. But a real deep abiding sense of joy is a heart confident in God, satisfied in God, thankful to God, recognizes the blessings of God, lives in an unwavering trust of God, willing to do/go/say what God asks of me and has a deep sense that regardless of the circumstances of my life that all is well with my soul.

When Peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Don’t be afraid of laughter, it’s good medicine.

Standing on the Promises of God, not Standing on the falleness of News.

Where does happiness end and joy begin? Joy begins when the circumstances of our life can’t shake this internal quality.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Incarnate Love

Chuck Vanderscheuren welcomed us this morning. After a few opening remarks he noted that the Salvation Army would benefit from having children's clothes shared. New or slightly used clothes for children 5-9 can be brought to the church the next two Sundays.

The Brewers lit the Advent candle today and then we entered into a lively time of singing, beginning with Feeling Mighty Fine and closing with O Come, All Ye Faithful.

The light snowfall this morning reminded us that it's December here and the sanctuary is nicely decorated for the season. Important dates to remember this month include:
-- Due date for the St. Louis County Prison Ministry Cookie Donations is December 14. Please send your cookies in containers that do not need to be returned. RuthAnn Schelinder will make sure they are delivered.
-- The New Life Christmas Program is Saturday, December 17 at 4:00 p.m. with dinner to follow.
-- December 18 will be Sunday School cocoa at 9:00 a.m. with special music from the Christmas program during worship.
-- The December 24 Christmas Eve Candle Light Service is at 4:00 p.m.

Incarnate Love

Pastor Terry White began by telling a story about a man who was walking around in a field with a large butcher knife. The police called Terry to go talk with the man as an intervention in case something were developing. It turns out the man was purportedly using it to harvest mushrooms.

* * * *

"God so loved the world that He gave." Love is a word that is used in a lot of different ways. We love pizza and sports and puppies. If someone came to earth and heard all the ways people talk about things they love, what would be their conclusion about what love is.

Love is... patient, kind, doesn't envy or boast. I Corinthians 13 is a familiar passage that spells out the meaning of love and and its attributes.

God doesn't "have" love. God is love. Love is not a commodity that God stores in a warehouse in heaven. Nor is it something we can measure.

John in his first letter wrote, "Beloved, let us love one another for love is of God...  God is love."

The truth is that we not only love God, but God loves us.

Terry then explained that the love that we share with each other is actually God's love flowing through us.

"Dear friends, since God so loved us we ought to so love one another. God lives in us and God's love is made complete in us when we love one another."

God's love is made complete when we take the love that God has poured out into us and we share it with others.

When children crawl into our laps we often feel like they are showing us love. But often it is because they themselves need love. When we show love and share love, those whom we love have the same need as these children. Because we're grown ups we don't say it.

Terry then took the butcher knife he brought to the pulpit and cut a large onion in half. He then pulled out the tiny heart of the onion and held it up. As he displayed it he compared it the kind of love a 7 month old knows... relatively undeveloped. He then produced the next layer and compared it to five-year-olds. The next layer from the center outward was compared to teen love, which is still immature. The next layer he compared to young adults and early marriage. Commitment is another layer of love that is another step in our journey of what it means to love.

Finally, in displaying the last layer comes, he shared loves full flower after a lifetime together. It's only later we fully appreciate what sacrificial love is about.

Philippians 2:3-8

Life is a journey in which we're figuring out what it means to really love.

G.K. Chesterton once spoke of the "furious love of God." Furious, Terry noted, is something of a strange word for love. When he investigated, he discovered that there are several definitions for the word furious. The fifth is this: A frenzy of being inspired.

Rich Mullins, a songwriter who was himself inspired by Chesterton, once wrote about the love of God with these words:

There's a wideness in God's mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God
Now I've seen no band of angels
But I've heard the soldiers' songs
Love hangs over them like a banner
Love within them leads them on
To the battle on the journey
And it's never gonna stop
Ever widening their mercies
And the fury of His love

"I hope that you're caught in the reckless raging fury of the love of God," Pastor White said.

We ended the service by sharing Communion.