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.

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.


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