Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Holy Spirit and Theology

Pastor Terry welcomed us, and thanked everyone who helped his family move last weekend.
Announcements included a reminder that Sunday August 13 we will be meeting at the home of Walt and Gwen Cressman, a service that will include baptisms.
Pam shared that we are seeking to fill a part-time office position on the staff. Contact Pastor White.

Terry read from Ephesians 1:3-14, to set us on fire for today's theme, the Holy Spirit. We spent time in worship,gave generously and were led in prayer by Pam Johnson.

* * * *
The Holy Spirit and Theology

We turned to John 16 for our message today. Terry began by noting that the Spirit is a part of the Gospel we do not talk about a lot, so for the next few weeks this is our theme.

In the New Testament the Holy Spirit is explicitly talked about as a seed planted within our hearts to bring us to salvation. In the Old Testament the Scriptures approaches this differently. In Book of Judges we see again and again how "the Spirit of the Lord came upon" so and so and they did mighty things for God.

The Old Testament also talks about the Spirit of the Lord in conjunction with prophets and prophecy.

To some extent the way we use the word "spirit" can create confusion. The Holy Spirit is a person, the third person of the Trinity. The way we use the word is different. "Jack is a good-spirited fellow."

In the New Testament, Jesus talks about how He is going to be leaving soon. (John 16:1-16) What He promises is that the Spirit will be coming in His stead, counseling, revealing, comforting and guiding.

One of the words to describe the Holy Spirit is advocate. The advocate is one who speaks on our behalf, watches over us to protect and represent us. The Holy Spirit is with each of us and can be with all of us at all times. Jesus, in bodily form, He reminded them, could only be in one place at a time.

The Holy Spirit inspired and drove the writing of the Bible while simultaneously illuminating our own souls as we read the Bible. The Holy Spirit is the one who makes the Bible come alive for us.

Another part of Jesus' last talk with the disciples is that the Spirit will receive from Jesus what He makes known to us.

In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit fell with flaming tongues of fire and they spoke in other languages. In another place Paul writes about the gifts of the Spirit and in Galatians he details the fruit of the Spirit. And in another places there is a command to be filled with the Spirit.

What is the meaning of all these things? In one place it is written that the Holy Spirit is a downpayment, or a deposit. In another we're commanded to be filled. How do we go from the deposit to the fulness, to the place where we are filled? This is what Pastor Terry will be talking about next time he preaches.

The Good News is that every time the Holy Spirit came upon people in the Old Testament it was for a great task that was humanly beyond them. God can do the same for us in this day and age.

* * *

Sunday, July 9, 2017

He Knows My Needs

Upcoming Events
--Women's Bible Study will be starting up again in September. A sign up sheet is in the back of the sanctuary.
--There will be a baby shower after church next Sunday, July 16, for Braelynn, daughter of Levi Landsverk.
--Pastor Terry is moving to his new home this month and could use help moving his Bonsai trees next Saturday. To help moving other things ask Terry for recommendation on best ways to help.

Children's Sermon
Susan Jessico invited the little ones up to the front and began by sharing a blueprints of our church building to show and share how important plans are. The key takeaway was how God has a blueprint for our lives, and that is what the Bible is. The children took turns sharing verse that address the various features of God's blueprint... to pray, to hide God's Word in our hearts and to trust God.

Baptism
We set aside time for the baptism of Lydia Glesner, daughter of Tom and Mary Glesner. Terry shared a few insights on how there are different views on baptism in different denominations. Most believe one view or another when it comes to baptism of infants or baptism of new believers. The Covenant Church holds a both/and position as opposed to either/or.

The Glesners came forward along with godparents and Pastor Terry blessed and prayed for Lydia and baptized her in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The family then came forward and all were prayed for.


* * * *

The ushers came forward and took the offering as the congregation sang "'Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus" followed by a time of prayer before the message.

* * * *

He Knows My Needs

In order to grow in the life of faith we need to know God better, to know who God is. As an illustration Terry brought a package of bread from Great Harvest.

This familiar passage from the Sermon on the Mount was our text: Matthew 7:7-14. What Jesus taught us was to ask each day for our daily bread. Ask, seek, knock...

If you, then, know how to give good gifts, how much more will God take care of you, give you good gifts. God is good. Do you believe this fundamental truth? God will take care of you.

The Lord's Prayer outlines the essentials of His care, that His kingdom would come and His will be done, that that our debts/sins would be forgiven and that we we be able to forgive others, that we be delivered from evil, that He would protect us from temptation,

Today we live in a moment of great promises. Sometimes they are short in coming and other times they are long in coming, but God is faithful and he will fulfill what He has promised.

Hold on to God's promises. God is good. Trust that He can do what He has promised.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Serve With Love

Terry White welcomed us and then invited us to join in pre-service discussions about faith and life. Among other things we received a reminder that the second Sunday in August we will be eating at Cressman's for church.

As we turned to worship Terry read from Psalm 150. We then sang a mix of hymns and worship songs

After taking an offering and spending time in prayer we received the message for today.

Serve With Love

Terry began by reacting to the worship and prayer time, expressing that it's a blessing to experience unity, as a body of believers or as families. He then gave an update on things that are happening with regard to the sale of his house and the transition from what was to what will be.

Through the month of June Pastor White has been sharing a series of messages based on the acronym BLESS. The message today features the letter S, for Serve.

One of the best ways to live is to live as servants. But our natural inclination is to serve ourselves, not others.

Terry cited the TV show Survivor and how many things we do and choose are for the benefit of others or for the benefit of ourselves. The more that is at stake, the more we see what is in their hearts and ours.

Today's text was John 13:1-18, the story of Jesus watching the disciples' feet.

Terry points out how God doesn't ask us to do things that God wouldn't do. In this case we see Jesus humbling Himself, serving, modeling servanthood.

The key verse here is verse 14: "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet."

We're called to serve, and sometimes we do and it feels good. But there are times and situations where it feels like we are doing all the work. Resentment sets in and we wonder thoughts like are we being enablers for bad behavior?

A life of service is a powerful witness.

Terry read from Rich Mullins, paraphrased here: God has called us to be lovers...  Most of us give up ourselves as long as our investments pay off. We even resent those who we pretended to love.

We are called to be the hands, feet and voice of Christ to the world. This is our calling, our responsibility. Matthew 25:31-45. Service is the heart of the Gospel.

We also read Philippians 2:1-8. There's a reason it feels good to do good. It's because we're aligning ourselves with who God is and His purpose for us. It feels right.

We closed with the song Take My Life & Let It Be.... Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Eat Together

Chuck Vanderscheuren welcomed us and then invited announcements before we began a time of worship.

Announcements
~Thursday June 29 there will be a baby shower for Alicia Benson and Jacoby, 10:00 a.m.
~New Dimensions W.L Group, Wednesday 6:30
~Faith in Fabrics Kickoff, Friday and Saturday September 9 & 10
~VBS was awesome this year with over fifty kids every day and ample numbers of volunteers.

Chuck read a passage from Jeremiah about the prophet's visit to the potter's house, in which God showed Jeremiah this truth:: "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in My hand."

After a time of singing from the blue hymnal an offering was taken with the VBS young people singing a song they learned this week. "I was made for this, built  for a purpose," a truly important message in our post-modern age with its cynical messages that say life has no real meaning or purpose.

Darlene led us in prayer this morning, beginning by reminding us that God is always there for us, even when we don't feel it.

Eat Together

Terry began by sharing the uplift he received from watching everyone serving during VBS this week, the ways they shared and showed their gifts and abilities. It was another way of getting to know our church family better, seeing more than just our faces on Sunday mornings.

The current sermon series is called BLESS, an international evangelism initiative. The Acronym goes like this:

BEGIN with prayer
LISTEN with care
EAT together
SERVE with love
SHARE your story

Eating together is one of the special times in our holidays, a time in which we connect, tell stories, listen to stories. It's a time we share with our families. It's a moment of intimacy and of hospitality.

Pastor Terry turned to Luke 19:5-10 and the story of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a tax collector, one of the most hated people in the community. Yet Jesus, who saw him, said he would welcome the opportunity to go to his house and dine with him.

We then turned to Acts 2:42-47. Notice how the common things of eating together is listed in the midst of these other "spiritual" activities they share, prayer and teaching.

Eating together is a way we connect.

He then asked us what Hospitality was. Words like caring, friends, welcoming, inviting and sharing were shared.

"One of my favorite authors is Henri Nouwen who said hospitality is the ability to invite people into your home and life without making them keep all their stuff outside." Being able to have them in your home as they are, including the baggage they bring. We need to let them bring who they are into our presence, not make them drop that at the door.

Intimacy is the ability to be close with someone else. We've sexualized it so much that we can hardly talk about it anymore.

Fear is the great enemy of intimacy. The aim of intimacy is freedom so that we're able to have interactions in which we can be ourselves.

* * * *

We love God because He loved us first. That love teaches us that we're accepted as we are. And we're invited to extend that same kind of "as you are" love toward others.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Listen With Care


A dreary Sunday morning brightened when we entered the sanctuary where the walls were decorated for our upcoming week of Vacation Bible School theme, Maker Fun Factory: Created By God, Built for a Purpose.

Announcements
1. Dawn shared that we want to update our directory. A sheet is being passed around. Update or add your information.
2. VBS starts tomorrow!
3. Pastor Terry shared the news that their house has sold their home, but on the flip side the house they were seeking to purchase fell through. Pray for their next step.

Terry shared from Psalm 31 before leading us into a time of worship.

Karen shared details about the week ahead. In conjunction with VBS there is always a mission for which we raise money, in keeping with providing a vision beyond our own walls. Melissa shared what this year's mission will be supporting: clean water. Kelly then provided details, noting that every 20 seconds a child dies due to lack of access to clean water. Kelly read a letter from an 11-year-old girl from India who described their struggles to have water. The need is great in many parts of the world for this precious resource that we take for granted.

A massive thunderboom wiped out the power just as the children prepared to lead us in a song, We stood to sing but waited as the sound system was re-booted. High energy and a romp filled the church once the music returned.


Cheryl Borndal led us in a time of prayer before Pastor White came forward to share the message.

Listen With Care

Terry began by talking about the Ponderosa Pine he brought to today, to accompany his Azalea. Ponderosas are resilient. In contrast, the Azalea, so beautiful, is tender and not so resilient.

The sermon today was about evangelism and the Gospel. The theme for five weeks uses the acronym BLESS to bring home five points. Last week Terry spoke about the letter B.

B: Begin with prayer.
L: Listen
E: Eat
S: Serve
S: Share

This week is about listening. How well do you listen? How well do you hear what is said by others or by God?

The truth is that we don't listen well. Terry asked, "What are some things that keep us from good listening?"A number of responses followed including:
Distractions.
Thinking about what we're going to say while the other is talking.
Hearing aids.
Sometimes a person wants to talk and we try to fix things instead of just letting them share. Assumptions are a problem.
Changing the subject.

He then shared how there are inner questions many people have and we can hear what is taking place inside others if we become better listeners.

Am I alone in this world? People have a longing for community and friendship as well as purpose. By listening we can affirm people's value, and also help them feel connected to a community.

There are certain questions that rattle around in inside people no matter where they come from. Here are four basic struggles people have questions about:

Is there meaning to life?
Is there any hope in this world?
Do I belong in this world?
Is there anything beyond this?

All this served as a preface to a sermon on John 4, the story of the Samaritan woman at the well.

The disciples had gone into town. Jesus is by a well when a Samaritan woman comes along. He asks for water. She then asks a question, to which He replies in an indirect manner. Terry pointed out that only 3 times in NT does Jesus answer directly. More than 200 times He is asked questions, and Jesus' answers frequently move the dialogue to unexpected places.

We live in an era in which the basic truths of Christianity are no longer a part of our national understanding. Terry shared how missionaries have to approach their work in different ways based on the culture they find themselves in. They are sensitive to where the culture is at and it affects their approach to dialogue.

Ultimately, the basic questions are universal. Why am I here? Is there hope? What is life all about? What comes next after life?

Your assignment this week will be about learning to listen, and finding ways to turn conversations to the Lord, with the aim of hearing what is really happening in people's hearts. Your objective is not to convert people, but to sow a seed. If that person ever decides he wants to come to the Lord, they will know who to come to.

* * * *

Here is the passage from John 4 which Terry read from today.

John 4 (NIV)

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Not New, New Things

A grey morning outside but warm spirits in the sanctuary as we gather for worship again. Chuck welcomed us and shared how things change. Chuck told a story about how he bought a bike in an effort to lose weight and be healthy. When he was riding his new bike he kept hearing a click-click-click sound. As he tried to figure out where the clicking sound was coming from he finally discovered what it was. It was his knees!

The story was shared to bring home thid point: Next week we will move to our summer hours, so the church service will start at 9:30 a.m. next week. Things change, and our schedule is changing for the summer.

Darlene played a beautiful introit on the piano, and then we turned to our hymnal and sang some great ones.

Cheryl Borndal invited the ushers forward to collect the offering, We then shared a time of praise and prayer.

Pastor Terry introduced a guest from the Gideons, Tom Engelmann. The Gideon's are not simply people who place Bibles in hotel rooms, but also are our partners in saving souls. Tom shared a story about a college student who became so depressed she wished she could take her life. By chance a Gideons Bible was there, arranged by circumstances orchestrated by God.

Not New, New Things

Terry opened with a story underscoring the importance of God's Word. He then had us turn to the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Terry's in the middle of a renovation at his house and he shared that it can be  real challenge. In order to move forward you have to often move backward to make progress. Like mountain climbing, you see that when you reach the current peak there is a lot more ahead of you still.

This is the cycle of life, not only in a house renovation project but also in our personal life goal. So we turned to Ecclesiastes 2:17-23.

17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.

Sometimes we complicate life. We overthink it.

God has given toil to us as a gift. Why do we see these things as a weight, as anything but a gift?

Eccles 3:22 says,
So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?

Ecclesiastes 9: 9, 10
9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

It's all worship. Whatever you do,

Ecclesiaster 11:1-6 also addresses our relationship to work.

In closing Terry had us look at Jeremiah 6:16 ...
This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.  

What does it look like to have rest for your soul?

And when we find the good path, we're encouraged to walk it. As you walk it, you will find rest for your souls.

Physical reality, emotional reality, social reality... these realities are all linked. And they all need to be healthy and well.

Every single moment every day, God wants us to love what we're doing and to honor Him.
Ne

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Life's Classroom

Today is Mother's Day and as is a custom here the men produced a marvelous breakfast spread for the Mothers and the church family. Wonderful breakfast flavors wafted through the lobby and lingered in the sanctuary to bring a satisfying lift to our spirits. Special thanks to Duayne Anderson for helping organize this noteworthy feastlike celebration.

Pastor Terry welcomed us with enthusiasm. In addition to announcements and a Happy Mother's Day welcome he noted that today is Confirmation Sunday.

Announcements
--We have two small groups meeting and you are invited to join. The Terry White group meets on the 1st and 3rd Sundays. The second group meets at the Cressmans. Contact Walt and Gwen for details.
--VBS is coming, a sure sign that summer is near. Volunteers always welcome..
The Rummage Sale raised over $600 which will be used to send kids to Camp.
Duayne stood and thanked all the men who helped make the breakfast and reminded us that this was especially for the Moms.

Pastor White read from Deut. 6:4-9 and then we entered into a time of worship.

Cheryl Borndal called the ushers forward to take the offering and then led us i a time of prayer before inviting the youth were confirmed today. There were many needs on our hearts which we lifted to God.

Terry began with a humorous story and then reminded us that tradition for tradition's sake doesn't mean it's useful. Nevertheless, there are reasons confirmation makes sense at this age. He explained that in 6th, 7th and 8th grade our frontal lobe is growing faster than ever, and the brain is being rewired for adulthood. For this reason, Junior High aged young people are the age we have training in the faith and for life.

Joanne Winship, who has been teaching confirmation for a number of years, came forward to share and then introduced McKenzie Lysher, Nolan Mehle, and Spencer Smith. Confirmation, she said, is a time in which young people learn to be sure about God and themselves, and their place in the world and the church. The program is two years of study, beginning with how none of us are in the same place as regard faith and experience. Next there is Bible study. And then the youth came forward and shared their faith journeys.

Each of the confirmed was given a Life Application Resource Study Bible, which was followed by a brief message from Terry.

Life's Classroom

What does it look like to be good parents and good parishioners? Deuteronomy 6:4-9 addresses this. Our children watch us and learn from our example. This is why it is essential for us to model our faith by living it, not just give lip-service.

If we would live out just the first line from this passage it would change us. "Hear Oh Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

Terry shared insights about how pride leads to fancier philacteries and braids and symbols of faith so we can show off how holy we are. The Pharisees were perfect examples of Adventures in Missing the Point.

One of the points Terry made was that being a good listener as a parent is important. If we listen to our children, our children will listen more to us.

The Bible is something to live out, and our kids will learn about God and our faith by the manner in which we treat one another. How we respond to hardship, disappointment and neighbors will teach them much.

What God does for His people: 10 When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

God's desire is to bless us. In the same way that we watch out for our kids' safety while they are clueless of your watchfulness, so also God is watching out for us, watching over us, keeping us from falling into pits and other traps. God is faithful, and we closed the service singing about His faithfulness.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

"What's God Up To In Your Life?"

Pastor Terry White: "Good morning! It's a good day to be in God's house."

Announcements
Ladies Bible Study & Pot Luck, May 2, 10:00 a.m. till Noon.
Wed. May 3, Youth Group: Who Are You In Christ, at the River Church
May 7: Last Sunday School till Fall
May 9: New Life Gospel Singers, Edgewood Vista
May 14: Confirmation Sunday and Mother's Day Breakfast. Men: there will be preparations Saturday evening at 7:00 if you would like to help honor the mom's in your life.
May 12-13: Church Rummage Sale at Grand Lake/Twig Town Hall
Vacation Bible School is on the horizon, June 12-15. Volunteers welcome. We'll be happy to fin a place to plug you in.

* * * *
Today's service is designed to be a time of sharing what God is doing in our lives lately. The operative word being "lately."

One Day At A Time
I'm only human, I'm just a woman
Help me to believe in what I could be and all that I am
Show me the stairway that I have to climb
Lord for my sake teach me to take one day at a time
One day at a time, sweet Jesus, that's all I'm asking from you
Give me the strength to do everyday what I have to do
Yesterday's gone, sweet Jesus, and tomorrow may never be mine
So for my sake teach me to take one day at a time

* * * *
Terry shared a few words from John 9 which is the story about the man born blind, a powerful story made moreso by the honest testimony of the young man.

We then sang Holy, Holy, Holy together and prepared our hearts to share and hear from one another.

Gail Carlson began with her story of how she came here and how she was not the kind of person who sings in front of people, but she sensed God nudging her, and has pushed her out of her comfort zone. God said it's not for her glory, but for His glory.

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Jeff Larson shared his gratefulness for God's peace at this time in his life, despite many things going on.

Roseanne shared how when her husband Bud passed and she met Pearl the Lord showed her that going to church every Sunday isn't what it's about. Rather, it's more than that, and God showed her what it means to live it more.

Terry told us about A Severe Mercy and the story it contains in which a young man's heart is broken and correspondence with C.S. Lewis leads him to a deeper understanding of the love of Christ.

Janet shared how she was raised in a home with a God-fearing mother, but did not know what it means to have a relationship with the Lord. She shared the challenges she faced when her husband was killed in a motorcycle accident when she was in her early 40s. None of us is perfect, but God is ever at work removing things from our hearts that shouldn't be there. She closed by encouraging us to read John 15.

Terry said it's not always easy to have honest conversations about our faith so we have to practice this.

We closed by singing Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. Sometimes the simplest things are the most profound things.

* * * *
After the service we stayed for our Annual Meeting to address church business, which included election of new council members. Today we elected the following:
Christian Education: Dawn Walsh
Fellowship: Paula Saxin
Missions: Kelly Smith
Treasurer: Melissa Ringger

Church Updates were provided by Harry Eliason (Missions), Paula Saxin (Fellowship), Susan Jessico (Christian Ed.), Pam Johnson on behalf of Cheryl Borndal (Worship), Jeff Larsen (Facilities), and Chuck, who gave an update on additional facilities initiatives and financial matters on behalf of LeeAnn Vanderscheuren.

Thank you to everyone who has served in whatever capacity you have been able to share your time and gifts.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

"Oh Yeah, Don't Forget

Pastor Terry White welcomed us and found reasons to rejoice, despite the sudden snow in the aftermath of yesterday's fabulous sunshine Saturday.

Announcements
--Next Sunday is 5th Sunday, and Pastor While would like to give us opportunity to share what God is doing in your lives.
--This Wednesday is the last Wednesday evening Supper, Kids Club and Youth gathering till Fall.
--Bake Sale and Rummage Sale, Saturday May 13. Can use volunteers to help coordinate donations, pricing, etc.

After a lively time of worship, an offering was taken as the worship team performed a song about the alabaster jar that was given to Jesus as an offering of devotion.

Cheryl Borndal led us in a time of praise and intercession for the needs in our church family.

"Oh Yeah, Don't Forget

II Timothy 4:9-22


We've been talking about leadership and parenting.

How many of you have a "lost drawer"? That is, a drawer full of stuff and junk, and whatever you put in there will never be found again. What's the solution? This is the way the end of II Timothy feels, a hodgepodge of elements all thrown together.

In the midst of all this there are some interesting insights. Paul cites some of the failings of some people close to him, but God knows what it is like to be abandoned. Jesus has lived amongst us. He, too, was betrayed and abandoned by friends.

The world is not perfect. In the midst of living on earth there are heartaches and letdowns, so we need to learn how to live in forgiveness.

Paul also sends Timothy some warnings about some people. Forgiveness does not mean that we automatically trust.

Terry then singled out a verse that he considered of special importance, verse 17. Paul, after stating that he had been deserted by friends he trusted, states, "But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth."

God is present in our times of need. He does not abandon us when we're down. He is present and by our side. Trust that God will do what He has promised.

Here is what the Lord wishes to do for us. Verse 18: "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Paul's confidence was not in his own strength. His confidence was in God. Likewise for us, our ability to be leaders is not about feeling competent, feeling ready. If we wait till we are ready, we will never be leaders.

Pastor Terry closed with some comments about the Kingdom of God. To better understand the Kingdom of God we should read, study, the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7.

Refuse to waste your life. Seek God's agenda for you. There will be difficulties, but God stands beside us, and that is more than enough. "Let's build God's kingdom together."

* * * *

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Take A Deep Breath

The sun has come forward to greet us as the congregation filters into the sanctuary. Chuck welcomed us today and invited Paula to come forward to remind us of events surrounding Easter breakfast. There will be an Easter Egg Hunt as well.

Tuesday there will be a number of our members going to Chris Jensen to sing to residents there, 2 p.m.
June 12-15 will be VBS this year, 9:30 to noon. Volunteers welcome.

Chuck read from the Psalms to lead us into worship. "Create in me a new heart," David wrote. "Restore to me the joy of my salvation."

Chuck and Darlene then sang "Create in me a clean heart... Cast me not away from Thy Presence, O Lord... and renew a right spirit in me." Our congregational song selection came from the blue humnals this morning. Paula then called the ushers forward to take the offering before our time of sharing pur prayer needs and praises.

Take A Deep Breath

Pastor Terry White took the podium and greeted us warmly.

Our message today will be based on II Timothy 3.

Terry began by noting our embedded beliefs, which are beliefs that are so embedded we are not even aware of them. There are many things in life where we have been taught things a certain way and they seem to be "the right way" as if other ways of doing things are "wrong." He shared, to illustrate, the process of having people help him do drywall work at his home yesterday.

Embedded beliefs are sometimes useful, but sometimes toxic. Changing wrong beliefs or lifestyle patterns is not easy.

Verses 10-17 became his springboard:
10 You, however, know all about my teaching,y my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconiuma and Lystra, the persecutions I endured.c Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse,g deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Sometimes the greatest lessons we learn are not learned in the classroom. They come to us during the course of life. This is especially true when it comes to matters of faith.

"Everyone who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."

One of the enbedded mistaken ideas in the world today is that popularity is the measure of success. Bigger is not necessarily better. Small churches are not failed churches. Mega-church does not mean better or good.

Similarly, when things are hard does that mean something is wrong? Sometimes the correct path is the harder path. In fact, Jesus spoke clearly about the narrow way that few find. Here Paul states straight up that being a follower of Christ will result in persecution.

Paul encourages Timothy to remember the lessons he has received from the Scriptures which he has studied from his youth. All Scripture is God-breathed, and necessary to help us better correct our incorrect embedded beliefs.

What are the embedded beliefs that you hold that God would have you let go of? As you read the Scriptures this week look for those messages that may dislodge or correct our incorrect and imperfect understanding of God's message for us.

In closing Terry asked us to pray for God to illumine us in a new area of our understanding this week.

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

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Take A Deep Breath

On a morning damp and grey we have gathered again to worship Christ at New Life Covenant, a body of believers where hope springs forth. Pastor Terry White welcomed us, then gave a heads up regarding upcoming events,

Announcements
Wednesday April 12 after supper, youth and adults will stuff Easter eggs.
Palm Sunday is April 9 this year with children waving palm branches.
There will be a special Good Friday service on April 14.
Easter morning will include a breakfast and egg hunt in addition to our celebration.
A church rummage sale will take place May 12-13.
VBS will be June.12-15..

Today's service would revolve around Summer Camp so during our worship we were encouraged to go through summer camp actions during the singing.

The ushers were invited to take an offering as the worship team sang My Lighthouse. "You are the peace in my troubled sea."

Before entering into a time of prayer Cheryl Borndal had everyone who has been to camp stand and then we had a commercial for Covenant Park. Costs have gone up this year but our church has always generously helped those for whom camp is a hardship cost-wise. We were encouraged to give again.

A number of prayer needs were shared and we spent a time in prayer.

Take A Deep Breath

Terry began with a camp report. After a video overview about the camp, Cayla, who has been hired to be Camp Director, shared what is happening there now. Covenant Park has been undergoing a re-evaluation as it lays foundations for the future.

"We're super excited for campers to experience relationships that can be life changing."

Each summer the camp also hires 15 college-aged students to fill in at various roles to keep camp going.

The reason costs have gone up is because the price used to be inadequate to cover its costs.  Also we want to be good stewards of that which we have been given.

The aim of camp is to help people meet Jesus.

One way to partner with camp is to sponsor a child or several to attend camp this summer. Another was is to pray with us and for us. You can also volunteer in other ways.

And thank you for your support. Campers are growing spiritually in a lot of different ways. You play a part in that. Thank you.

* * *
There are also other special events including a women's retreat with more than 100 women last year.

Many churches share this camp and it's an opportunity to meet others in the bigger body of believers.

* * *

Today we received a number of new members into the church family. They were:
Gus & Courtney Brewer
Paula Tuominen
Dan & Melissa Ringger
John & Mary Gerszewski
Emily White
Jan Frederick
Pastor Terry & Leah White

After reading the reception litany Pastor Terry shared several Scripture passages including the following:

John 13: "I give you a new command, that you love one another..."

Romans 15:5, 6
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The together we recited the Apostles Creed.
Amen.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Honesty is the Best Policy

Pastor Terry welcomed us and pointed out the addition of a few new sound panels to help dampen the echoes, but he quickly added that this is just a start.

Announcements
~The Worship Committee is seeking people to help usher, greet and help in other ways during the service.
We are also looking for people to help in small skits and readings during the service. Volunteers should contact Cheryl Borndal.
~Ladies Bible Study, Tuesday from 10 a.m. till Noon here at the church.
There will more painting in the church this Saturday, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.. We're talking about art, not walls. There's room for one more. Contact Paula S.
Camp brochures are printed and available. The rates have changed so note that. The church does have a camp scholarship fund to assist.

The theme of today's worship revolved around the power that is in the blood of Jesus. Afterward while the offering was being taken one of the young people in the congregation played Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.

Honesty is the Best Policy

We've been working our way through the Second Letter of Paul to Timothy, and  today's message zeroed in on II Timothy 3:1-9.

The message is about renovation and Pastor Terry began by citing issues one deals with when a house renovation project. Similarly people with gardens have the challenge of deciding how much weeding is enough. Many decisions are not black and white.

Terry told a story about a set of classic Baptist revival meetings in which the opening night included being given a handout that listed two pages of sins and congregation was instructed to circle all the ones they had ever done. It was a pretty overwhelming list, and honestly assessing actually could become quite depressing.

Washington Crosses the Delaware.
He then projected on the monitor the famous painting by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze of Washington crossing the Delaware. Seeing that the title of the sermon had something to do with honesty, it would not have been a surprise to begin the message with the tale of young George Washington chopping down the cherry tree. Terry may have considered two GW anecdotes, but instead chopped that one out and offered up this one.

In point of fact, though famous it is not really a truthful painting. The painting, which was painted in 1851, was not accurate in several respects. First, the flag in the boat did not exist for another year. Second, in real life the general would not have been standing in a canoe full of people going through a turbulent river. They would have been on barges or pontoon style boats. The painter was German and the river was the Rhine, not the Delaware.

The artist was not painting this for patriotic American reasons. Rather, he was into painting about revolutions and his aim was to foster revolution. There was a problem with this idea. The American Revolution was about something wholesome and noble. It was not revolution for revolution sake. The artist lost faith in a German revolution because the German people were not good.

What follows are several points Pastor Terry made during the rest of the message.

Good means that we're aligned with God. As a nation we can't be great again if we are not Good.

What does it look like to be aligned with God? It's about reconciliation, one with God.

Being a Christian is about more than being against sin. What are we for?

We were then sent to II Corinthians 5. By being joined to God, we can all be joined together.

We need to be forgiven, and then we need to extend that forgiveness to others.

The darker our sin, the greater we will value the grace that God gives us.

What does it look like to be one with God, to be reconciled to God?

Hell is not a tragedy because it exists. Hell is a tragedy because nobody has to go there.

We only get truly fixed when we are mended by God through faith.

Terry then had us turn to II Corinthians 5:14-21, which begins, "Christ's love compels us..." We have been given a message of reconciliation, and a ministry of reconciliation.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Yes, what a gift. It's a gift that is simultaneously a process, an ongoing renovation that is an invitation to life.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Valuing the Most Valuable


Chuck Vanderscheuren welcomed us this morning and encouraged us to note the announcements. There is a lot happening here.

Announcements
The Worship Committee is seeking people to help usher, greet and help in other ways during the service.
We are also looking for people to help in small skits and readings during the service. Volunteers should contact Cheryl Borndal.
This Friday is a game night here at the church. Bring a friend. Bring a snack to share. Bring a fave game or puzzle. And most of all, bring yourself! Hope to see you here, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Ladies Bible Study, Tuesday from 10 a.m. till Noon here at the church.
Faith In Fabrics this Saturday, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.. They will be busy making potholders, aprons and other necessities for camp this Saturday. Bring a sack lunch and something to share. Contact Darlene.
Camp brochures are printed and available. The rates have changed so note that. The church does have a camp scholarship fund to assist.

Chuck read to us from Psalm 42 before we entered into worship. We then sang a trio of songs and hymns from the blue hymnal. During the offering that followed a young violinist serenaded us with a rendition of I'll Fly Away.

Cheryl invited us to share our prayers requests and praises as we entered into a time of prayer.

Valuing the Most Valuable

Pastor Terry White began with a greeting and then made a additional few remarks about camp.

He told an interesting learning experience he had on Ash Wednesday. When you mix ashes and water and let it sit it makes lye, which will burn you. Experienced pastors know that you have to add oil to the mixture in order to restrain this chemical reaction.

The message today is from II Timothy 2:14-19. Before reading the passage Terry began by affirming that when all is said and done, God loves you very much.

The passage today has a matter of importance related to sorting. Many of us are good at sorting and enjoyed sorting baseball cards in various ways when we were young. In this passage Paul talks about sorting what is important from what is irrelevant, sorting truth from that which is incorrect.

He read from a book by Rich Mullins. The passage outlined a variety of ways we handle the Word. It begins, "The Bible is a very great book, the written witness of God and His Word... " You can read the whole of it here.

What are the things that really matter? What are the things that are most important?

A lot of times we quarrel about some things that are seemingly so important to us but to people outside the church seem really insignificant. In countries where there is persecution taking place people are not too concerned about whether the earth is old or young.

Paul encourages Timothy to handle the Word like proven workmen who do things right. Have you ever seen work that was done by contractors or carpenters who do work that they ought to be ashamed of? What often happens is more than mere incompetence. People are in a hurry, or maybe just don't care.

What's important is not your titles and degrees but the way you live your life.

Paul then points out that bad teaching will spread like gangrene. How we handle the Word is important. When all is said and done, these two things are important. (1) The Lord knows who are His, and (2) the invitation is for us to walk uprightly, to do what God asks of us.

The Bible is important and what is essential is that we boil things down to what really matter.

Terry pointed out that what's important is not what we think we know about the Bible, but what we are as people, and who we are becoming under its influence.

After the message we recited the Apostles' Creed and shared Communion.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Pain: Weakness Leaving the Body

Pastor Terry White welcomed us warmly and began with announcements that included a reminder that Ash Wednesday is this week. There will be a soup and bread supper at 6:00 and special service at 6:30 p.m. here in the sanctuary.

After reading from Psalm 57 we entered into a time of worship that ended with "My Jesus I Love Thee." Darlene then invited the ushers forward to take the offering and introduced her granddaughter who played a beautiful tune on the clarinet. We shared a time of prayer before Terry White preached the message.

Pain: Weakness Leaving the Body

Today's sermon was a continuation of our study of II Timothy. Today's passage was II Timothy 2:3-13. Pastor White began by showing us a photo of a breakwall that the Army Corps of Engineers built at Canal Park to help keep erosion from occurring.

The breakwall image was then contrasted with a photo of the abandoned building that sits askew in the water 100 yards from the beach, destroyed because its arrogant builders didn't think they needed the breakwall.

There's a sense in which God is our breakwall, helping shield us from the damage the storms of life can bring.

Today's passage begins, "Join with me in suffering." Not usually selected as a life verse. Here's the passage in its entirety.

"Join with me in suffering." This is an aspect of leadership. Then Paul uses three word pictures to illustrate some ideas for Timothy.

In verse four, Paul uses the illustration of a soldier to make a point: that soldiers must keep focused on their objectives, and we need to live the same way, undistracted. Keep your focus on what matters.

In verse five Paul uses the image of an athlete who can only receive a victor's crown by competing by the rules. Terry asked us what the rules of volley ball are and cited a number of them. Rules are part of basketball, tennis, baseball and all other sports. The focus of the game is on competing, not complaining about the rules. Rules are something everyone must abide by.

The rules are part of what make the game. Eliminate the rules and what do you have? Chaos.

Then Paul notes the farmer as a metaphor. The hardworking farmer is entitled to get the first of the crops. Paul encourages Timothy to reflect on these things.

Leadership is not always fair. All leaders are subject to criticism. Paul was in chains because of the Gospel. Sometimes we pay a price to do what is right.

Life isn't always easy. For each of us there are moments of crisis, moments when we need someone else to be the breakwall. Being part of the body of Christ gives opportunity to step back into the safe places where we're receiving the necessary nurturing, shelter from the storms.

The goal is for us to grow up and become that shield for others.

Everything involved balance, however. There are times when becoming a shield goes too far and we become enablers who keep others from being able to mature into fullness. This is where we need to exercise discernment.

Pastor White closed by reading once again from Psalm 57.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Strong In Grace: A Message About Leadership

Today's baptism 
A balmy spring-like weekend has warmed a lot of us. Chuck Vanderscheuren, who just returned from a vacation in the Southwest, welcomed us today and told us about all the states he drove through and some of what he and Darlene saw.

Announcements
This Wednesday, Feb. 22, a membership class is meeting, for anyone interested in membership, or who would like to learn more about the Evangelical Covenant Church.
Friday March 24 there is a Youth gathering at the church from 7-11:30. Anyone interested in learning more about our programs for youth, contact Curt Fernandez. (218) 348-6109
We can use help by having people sign up to do the treats once in a while. Sign up sheet in the back.
Thursday at 2 p.m. some folk from our congregation will be singing at Viewcrest Nursing Home.
Small groups will be beginning soon. The first and third Sundays in March, April and May (with the exception of Easter.)
There will be a Game Night on March 10 from 6-9:00 p.m. Bring a game, a snack to share and a friend.

After sharing announcements Chuck told us it was Pastor Terry's birthday today, leading us all in singing the traditional happy birthday song. He then had the worship team join him to sing a verse of Worthy of Worship which we then joined in singing along with several additional hymns.

During the offering Natalie performed a gymnastic dance that was quite special. This was followed by a time of prayer.

The theme this month has been family, so it seemed the right time for a baptism. Scott and Cheyenne brought their son Brecken to be dedicated to the Lord.


Strong In Grace

Pastor Terry began by filling us in on last week's message.

Sometimes book titles say a lot, even when you don't read the book. Terry shared this example: Adventures in Missing the Point. Today's message used this book as its springboard: Canoeing in the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory. The imagery is of canoeing in places where there's not a lot of water. This was a problem for the early explorers who were trying to cross the Rockies. There were more challenges than they anticipated.

Everyone's got a plan until they get punched in the mouth. It's a boxing metaphor, but applies to many times in our lives when the unexpected happens. We all have plans about raising kids, or many other things, but when reality hits us we can so easily feel sabotaged.

It's not about how things go wrong, but rather it's about how you react to what you run into that matters. When things don't happen the way you expect, will you become a tyrant and demand that things go your way, or will you become a leader?

II Timothy 2 is our passage today, which opens with the words, "You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

What does strength look like?

Galatians 6:9 says, "Let's not become weary of doing good...." Strength means continuing in the good fight, persevering when it would be easier to give up.

This kind of strength has to do with my capacity to make something happen. "God's strength is made perfect in weakness." Strength is a quality of character that roots decisions in that which is for a great good.

Too often, when everything falls apart leaders look for a scapegoat. This is not what Paul was looking for in Timothy.

When the explorers were going through the mountains, how far did they carry their boats? How do you know how far to go? Is the better plan to abandon the boats and build more later, or hope for water to show up over the next pass? Or do we make camp and send out scouts?

There is no way to predict the way life will hand things to us. Leaders do not always have a clear vision of which path to take.

"Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus," Paul wrote.

Terry is reading A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in an Age of the Quick Fix. "I don't mean an autocrat who tells others what to do... I mean someone who is clear of his or her own life goals and assumes responsibility and maintains a non-anxious presence in the midst of crisis, a radical peace in the midst of emotionally charged issues."

The author talks about how healthy cells frequently get invaded by unhealthy cells, and leadership must become the immune system for the family. That is, leadership helps establish boundaries. The role of the immune system is to kill off what is unhealthy so that the healthy can thrive.

Terry then read verse 2: "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others."

What does it look like to be so tight in Christ that we can step into uncharted territories as a leader? Notice how in the Old Testament all the battles Israel fought were executed in different ways. God doesn't want us to live by a formula. He wants us to recognize His voice and do what He asks us to do.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Anchored

On a sunny Sunday morning Pastor Terry White welcomed us. After sharing announcements he told us a story and then read from Lamentations 3... "The Lord is good toward the one whose hope is in Him."

Announcements
Membership classes are taking place on Wednesday evenings
Small groups will be happening from March to May, every other Sunday evening. Contact Terry or Walt and Gwen Cresman for details regarding small groups.

After a time of worship the children came forward for a children's talk using Valentine's Day as a springboard into a message based on Psalm 119:11, "I have hidden Your word in my heart." First she asked the children about how one would hide their physical bibles. Then she asked how to hide God's word in out hearts.

An offering was taken while Pastor Terry and Haden sang "Mighty To Save." A time of prayer for the various needs in our church family followed.

Anchored

We began a deep dive into II Timothy this week. Today's message would be on II Timothy 1:1-14.

Pastor Terry's opening thought was that even passages that are overly familiar to us can sometime spark a fresh insight because we ourselves are in a different place the next time we read it. This is why the Bible never gets old. Paul's letter to Timothy here is about leadership.

Leadership isn't just for people who have it all together. Just as becoming a parent is a challenge that arrives whether we think we are ready or not, leadership is something we grow into.

Leadership is something all Christians are called to. Jesus stated that we are to enter by the narrow gate. The invitation has always been to not be like the masses. Leadership is all about walking down the path that few choose.

Leadership is not about our competence. Moses didn't lead a million people into the desert because he was trained in solving the feeding and fluids issue. We are thrust into situations that seem overwhelming, but this is normal.

Whether in the home, our workplace, our experiences coaching or teaching, we are leaders. People watch us and we influence them.

The letters to Timothy were written for a purpose. Timothy was a leader in Ephesus. Paul wrote him to address some issues that were taking place in the church there.

Timothy and Paul had a significant long-term relationship. They travelled and did ministry together. Paul also knew Timothy's roots. Timothy's mother was Jewish and his father Greek. He was recognized as someone worth listening to.

* * * *
Paul wrote this letter while he was on death row. in Rome His death was imminent. The letter opens by noting that he is in his position by the will of God.

In verse two he affirms that Timothy is like a son to him.

"I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers." ~verse 3

Our conscience pains us when we sin because one task of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of sin. Paul affirms that God has cleansed him and that his heart is in alignment with God's will.

This should be our prayer: "I want to live my life with a clear conscience." Listen to the voice of God and do what God asks.The more we listen to God and do what He asks, the stronger we become. The closer our hearts are to God's voice, the harder it becomes to hear Him. He speaks but it just gets lost in the noise of our lives.'

In verse 5 Paul recognizes Timothy's mother's and grandmother's faith which now resides in Timothy. This is followed by a reminder to keep the embers of faith stirred. God does His part, but you have a responsibility, too.

Skipping ahead to verse 13 & 14:
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

The key thought today is to figure out what it means to have a clear conscience before God, and to listen to the voice of God. Ask God to help you become what God wants you to become. Pray it. Believe it. Affirm it in the way you live this week. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

We Can't Help Ourselves

Pastor Terry White welcomed us with a cheerful "Good morning," and proceeded to share a few announcements.

Announcements
New Membership Classes begin February 1.
Next Sunday, February 5, will be Installation Sunday for Pastor Terry White
Also next Sunday, a Souper-Bowl Sunday Potluck... Soups, breads, bars only.

Terry read Psalm 118 to open the worship. We sang several worship songs after kicking off with "I Saw the Light." During the offering the worship team sang Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), a song about living in trust.

We then shared a time of prayer before the sermon.

We Can't Help Ourselves

Terry noted that in addition to the Membership Class for those desiring to be new members, other non-members  are welcome to join us to learn more about the Covenant Church denomination and its special role in the world.

* * * *
Next week Jeff Burton, director in the Northwest Conference of the Covenant Church, is coming for the installation of Pastor White. For the six weeks following, Terry will be preaching about family leadership, with lessons based on I & II Timothy.

* * * *
Last week we talked about how people like to identify with something bigger than themselves, and there is nothing bigger or more significant than being part of the Kingdom of God.

Today Terry wanted to visit the topic of worship again, but the wrong side of worship, beginning with Exodus 20, which is the Ten Commandments. "You shall have no other gods before Me...."

The exodus was an incredible period in Israel's history that included many miracles from the parting of the Red Sea to the provision of food every day. Despite all that, when Moses went up to the mountaintop and he delayed coming down, the people were already forgetting God, pressuring Aaron to make them a golden calf. You can find the story in Exodus 32.

Why do people have a need for something physical to see when they worship?

Terry shared how primitive peoples make little symbols for their gods. For some, these symbols are essential in some way, and when they become Christians they throw out those symbols and replace them with "Christian" symbols.

What is the function of these images? Why a golden calf?

Perhaps the golden calf helped the people feel O.K. in some way. It gave them a reference point for the confidence.

Terry then asked, "What do you require for your lives to feel safe or confident or O.K.?

He then quoted from Tim Keller's message,  The Opportunity of Disenchantment. Writes Keller:

Each culture is dominated by its own set of idols. Each has its "priesthoods," its totems and rituals. Each one has its shrines—whether office towers, spas and gyms, studios, or stadiums—where sacrifices must be made in order to procure the blessings of the good life and ward off disaster. What are the gods of beauty, power, money, and achievement but these same things that have assumed mythic proportions in our individual lives and in our society? We may not physically kneel before the statue of Aphrodite, but many young women today are driven into depression and eating disorders by an obsessive concern over their body image. We may not actually burn incense to Artemis, but when money and career are raised to cosmic proportions, we perform a kind of child sacrifice, neglecting family and community to achieve a higher place in business and gain more wealth and prestige.*

Anything that becomes more important to us than God has become an idol. These are the things that give the appearance of making our lives worth living, but which really are not.  

As Keller asserts, Most people know you can make a god out of money. Most know you can make god out of sex. However, any thing in life can serve as an idol, a God-alternative, a counterfeit god.

It's when we lose our false gods that we discover what things in our lives have become idols. It can be family or children or social standing, saving face or a career. It could be our success, or hobbies. "An idol is whatever you look at and say with your heart, 'My life has meaning.'"

Idolatry is misplaced worship. What things in life are the heart of your identity?

I'm a valuable person because ____
I'm an important person because _____

The truth is, your are valuable and important because God loves you... enough to send His Son to die on a cross for you. God loves you enough to do something about the situations you find yourself in.

Terry then read for us Isaiah 44:6-20.

Your idol can't hear you. Your idol can't see you. And at some point in time it will let you down. The worst part is it distracts us from the one thing we should be worshiping.

Terry was once a coach. His motivations were right at one point, helping his kids become the best they could be. When he was winning, all was good. But winning became his idol. And when he was losing... he began to blame his team, ceased to nurture them.

Every person in this world was made for worship. God placed this desire in our hearts. It's innate, and a basic need of humanity.

*http://www.christianity.com/theology/the-opportunity-of-disenchantment-11626686.html