Infused with Grace

This time of year as we talk about the birth of Christ I am always struck by the multitude of facets to the story.  The incarnation of Christ was and is so significant that the people, places and the events,  surrounding his birth are given a fair bit of attention.  We have multiple accounts bringing with them a different focus.  You have different characters who bring different perspectives.  It is rich with details and dripping with importance.  Still it is a story often told (at least once a year as it turns out) so it can become easy to allow it to loose focus and become as blurry as it is familiar. Every year while retelling the story I try to bring out something new that maybe you have never seen before.  One of the things that stood out to me this year was how the entire story is infused with Grace

Infused might be a curious word to describe it but I think it fits.  To infuse something is to allow something to completely soak into it. Like the hot water is infused with tea or the air is infused with the aroma of Cinnamon.  It is a bit more subtle than to overwhelm and yet it completely permeates.  I think that describes the aroma of grace on this story.  It is not blatant or overbearing.  Like the characters of Joseph and Mary, it is somewhat quiet and humble.  Yet, mixed through all of it we find grace.

In this weeks sermon I hope to draw out for you examples of that grace, and how it impacts us.  But in a bit of preparation read the story again and purposefully look for grace, see if you don’t find it infused into all of it.

See you at church,

Pastor Chris.



What Happens Next?

Did you ever read one of those books that was so good you just couldn’t wait to see what is next? Page after page as the story unfolds you want to know more and more. The characters develop and texture and depth is added. The plot thickens and the protagonist faces the conflict, you never want it to end. But the thing is, it always does. The same is true for us.

Our lives develop and add layer after layer of depth and texture. Relationships are built, grow, and sometimes even end. We can’t wait to see what comes next whether it is because we anticipate great things or we are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Ultimately we never want it to end, but it always does. Or does it?

There are all kinds of speculations about what happens when you die. People make up all kinds of metaphors and euphemisms to try and explain the unknown. Things like “Well he is in a better place.” “He is with mom now.” “He is in the happy hunting grounds, killin ducks.” (I confess I never really heard that last one but it does sound pretty comforting). But in all of those sayings is there any truth? When it comes to what comes next, I don’t want to hold onto platitudes and wishful thinking. I am not interested in your mind fantasy or even what someone thinks, I want the truth. Scripture does not leave us to the imaginations of humanity, but God clearly lays out what happens next.   Because we know, we have the opportunity to live into it even now, and that makes all the difference.

This week we explore the Biblical doctrine of resurrection. Come discover what happens next.

See you at church,

Pastor Chris



Face to Face

Everybody has a hula-hoop, well not an actual one, although you may own one. (I will spare you the image of me actually doing the hula-hoop or being a hula-hoop champion, oops too late- rub your eyes real hard it will go away) Instead I am talking about a hula-hoop of comfort. You know that personal space radar thing. Everyone’s hula-hoop is a different size. Depending on the person and the circumstance your hula-hoop may be large, may be a handshake away or then you have those folks who have no hula-hoop at all.   You know the close talkers and close walkers. My hula-hoop is the perfect size and people who get too close are weird and uncomfortable and those that are too far must be timid or aloof.   But of course we all feel that way.

 

Hula-hoops disappear with those we are most intimate with. When children run to their mommies they do not stop two feet away and extend a hand for a hand shake. In fact, it always makes me smile when a little one buries their face in your neck seeking comfort and security. And the most intimate of our expressions of closeness occur face to face. When you are communicating face to face there is no need for any intermediary such as a written note, a phone, a text, tweet, snapchat, or really old school email. Rather, with the most subtle movements of our face we can say volumes.

 

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians and in the midst of “The Love Chapter” speaks of such communication. A time when our relationship with God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is no longer mediated by prayers that need interpretation or the gifts that come from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Right now the Holy Spirit’s gifts are an incredible deposit, but when we are finally in the presence of God, we will know and be known. We will commune with Him face to face. (1 Cor. 13:8-12) I can’t wait.

 

See you at church,

Pastor Chris



It Can’t Be Fixed

I have a love hate relationship with cars.  I love them when they work and do what they are supposed to.  But I hate them when they break down.  It is the nature of cars that you might in one moment happily cruising down the road feeling no pain, and then suddenly that moment your car decides to have issues.  Well I know it doesn’t decide but sometimes it feels like it.  And now you have to try and fix your car.

The thing with car repairs is that at any given moment it can become a fatal brokenness. Fatal not in the life of the driver or passengers , but fatal to the car.  You can take it in to the mechanic and he can tell you; “Well your doosenhimer regulator has fibulated and it can’t be repaired.”   That is what you never want to hear.  It just can’t be repaired, there is only one solution.  It has to be rebuilt or junk the car.

I have heard about people rebuilding engines and transmissions  and any number of essential car parts.  And while my knowledge is minuscule concerning all things cars,  I have picked up a little bit about the rebuilding process.  They take an engine or transmission down to to its essential parts and then replace the broken bits, recondition the ones that are not broken but have wear, replace all the gaskets etc. and then put it back together so that it has been rebuilt.  Sometimes because of upgrades or newer replacement parts, the rebuilt component of a car can actually be better than when it was new.

Man had a sin problem.  It was a fatal problem and the issue couldn’t be fixed.  We can not rebuild ourselves, by deciding to be good, or avoiding making mistakes.  Our problem was bigger than good intentions could solve. In fact, no stick on Band-Aid or external solution would be adequate.  We could not just be repaired.  There was only one thing that could be done,  we had to be rebuilt and the one to rebuild us is the Holy Spirit.

Have you been rebuilt?

This week will be talking about the work of the Holy Spirit as he applies the salivation provided by Christ to our lives in regeneration. 

See you at church.

Pastor Chris



Fake News

In recent times we have become quite aware of fake news.  There have always been the times when the media stretched things.  Tales of the Wild West etc. were always a bit over the top.  It is always enjoyable to watch the times when the media gets busted being overly dramatic, like the weather reporter in a kayak making you think he is in deep water, and then someone walks by in rubber boots.  But the recently they have taken it to new levels especially during the last couple of elections.  So much so that it is difficult to trust any of them, and honestly, most of the time I don’t.  Having lost sight of objectivity they now present “facts” that aren’t from anonymous sources that no one can check.
 
It would seem that similar things are happening when it comes to spiritual information as well. People represent things about Jesus that are simply untrue. They say them so that people feel better, or at least don’t feel bad.  They create a Jesus in their mind the way they want him to be.  When asked they then tell the stories as facts. They have lost sight of the real Jesus of the Bible and proclaim fake news, and sadly some believe them.
 

It is in this kind of cultural environment that we as followers of Christ must proclaim the real news.  That is why it is so essential to know what scripture proclaims about Jesus and be sure we are proclaiming the truth.  What is your proclamation about Jesus?

Come and hear about what Scripture proclaims about Jesus.
 
See you at church.

Pastor Chris



Coexist?

It is always fascinating to see the bumper stickers on cars.   Usually it does not take long to figure out where their political and social feelings lie. One of my least favorites is the Coexist bumper sticker. It is most often on the cars of liberal progressives who are not actually adherents to any particular religion (I am not kidding someone actually did a study). I am not really offended by the sticker but it is such a testimony to the spiritual and religious ignorance in our country as well as seeming to promote a very wrong and dangerous idea; the idea that all religions are equally valid and lead to “God”.
 
It is a popular myth actually. It seems to stem from a postmodern view that there is no absolute or objective truth in the universe. Or a variation on this theme which is “If there is an absolute truth no one has a monopoly on it, and all paths have some of it, therefore all paths are somewhat right and lead to God. This idea while it feels good in that it does not violate the only sin in our culture “Don’t judge me”, it has some very significant and fatal flaws. And while it would be entertaining to talk about all of the fatal flaws for the sake of space, lets just deal with one. There is only one God, and you are not Him.
 
Oh a person may not think they promoting themselves as God but ultimately that is what they are doing. They are, in their belief, declaring that they are the source of knowledge about the universe and all things spiritual and since they feel that all paths should lead to God, it must be true, therefore they declare it is. Plus hell is mean and they don’t think God would be mean.
 
God is not particularly pleased with people who think they are God. In fact, He says in the very first three commandments that 1. He is the only God. 2. Don’t make gods and worship them (making yourself out to be God would qualify). 3. Don’t miss use His Name (telling lies about who God is would also qualify for this one). Maybe rather than making vacuous and self derived statements about God it would be better to see what he says of Himself and stick to that.
 
Do you know the real God? The God who has revealed Himself in the Bible as Father, Son , and Holy Spirit? Does it really matter if you understand who He has revealed Himself to be? In this weeks sermon we will be talking about the Trinity and how vital it is that we know who the real God is.
 

See you at church,

Pastor Chris



We Believe

What do you believe? In this current age beliefs seem somewhat flexible in nature. For instance, I sometime encounter folks whose beliefs are dependent on the circumstance or their current environment. One might say I believe this that or the other thing in one group of people, but in another group of people they are much less dogmatic or a bit more bendy. Sometimes beliefs are viewed almost as emotions. I feel this is right or I feel that everyone should…… How dependent should ones beliefs be on emotion?
 
Maybe the problem is that beliefs are sometimes confused with opinions. I think x, y, and z is true is an opinion, but I believe x, y, and z should be significantly different. At one time the beliefs of a church were summed up in creeds that were repeated every week as they came together for worship. This continues to be the practice of a number of churches to this day. Such creeds were a way of identifying the true believers or the true faith. Unfortunately saying a creed does not necessarily translate to actual belief. Actual belief as it turns out requires action.
 
James put it quite succinctly when he said “Show me your faith (belief) without deeds, and I will show you my faith (beliefs) by my deeds.” James 2:18b(italics mine) Might it be that the life you live does more to demonstrate your beliefs than what you say?
 
For the next few weeks we will be talking about what we as a church believe as we work through the seven essentials from our Statement of Faith. Do you believe them?
 
See you at church.

Pastor Chris



E-bulletin 9-29-17

Celebrating.

This weekend we are celebrating a special day. Susan’s folks are celebrating 60 years of marriage! What an incredible gift and example! Surrounded by the generations they will be blessed and prayed over! Marriage is hard work but ultimately it is a labor of love. Elder Dwayne Estep will be preaching this week and I know you will be encouraged as he brings the Word.

Enjoy your Sabbath.

Pastor Chris

***************Today’s announcements*************
 
Wednesday night Bible Study - Dinner at 6pm and programs start at 6:30pm - 8pm.
 
Baby Shower for Kendra 5:00 on Saturday, October 7.
We will need to start right at 5:00 due to ladies having to leave soon after that for work.

 

Baby Shower for Katie 5:00 on Saturday, November 4.
 

Amazon Smile– Amazon has a deal where our church can receive a portion (.005) of every purchase we make. It is a small amount but every little bit counts! So if you use Amazon please support our church. Here is a link to our smile account.

 

Timothy Project Update:  Lets not forget our Timothy project even though we are working on a building!  $11,189 has been committed and given to the Timothy project.  We are past the halfway point with only  $10,811 to go! Drake is done with his first quarter and starting his second!.  If you have made a commitment but have not yet paid, please bring your commitment to completion!  

There is still a ways to go, so if you have not yet given please prayerfully consider what you can give!
 

Men’s Breakfast -  Oct.29th Come and expect a great time of food, fellowship, and an encouraging word!  8:30am – 10am at the Red Barn.

 

Home cooked Meal – Oct. 29th 

 

Miss a sermon? Check out our Youtube Channel!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeqN0iDN8RGwPJFgoLx0b9Q

 



Grace Is Enough

I was in a store the other day. And while I was there a family was leaving. I noticed them because one of their kids was throwing a big fit. Now I know what it is like to be in a store and have your kid throw a fit, but this wasn’t a 3 year old or even a 6 that would be one thing but this little girl (a twin) was probably about 10. Parents were embarrassed but were not doing things that were helping. In fact, what they were doing seemed to be making things worse as they hastily made for the exit. The cashier said much with her face and then they began to say even more.   I got sucked into the conversation and suggested that they needed some significant skills and that such skills are often lacking in this world today. They agreed and we talked about parenting classes. (oh wow what a great segway I thought as I patted myself on the back and told them about our parenting classes coming up.)

 

The next day I had comment remorse. Kind of like buyers remorse but worse because you can’t ever take it back. For some reason I replayed the situation in my head and realized that it didn’t make sense that this little girl was throwing a fit like that. Now granted, I don’t know the family and maybe our assessment was completely accurate. But what if it wasn’t? What if she had some special needs and this fit was the result of that and the parents were actually functioning on a very high level to deescalate as well as they did? What if I had joined in judging them as clueless and the reality is quite different?   That is the problem with judging, we just don’t have enough information. Could it be that is why God is in charge of the judging and we have a much different role?  Could it be that even in situations like this we should be full of grace instead of quick to join in?

I look back now and wish I could do it again but as is the way of this life, we often only get one chance. I hope to do better next time. I guess I stand in the need of grace.

This week we will talk about grace and our role in delivering it.

See you at church

Pastor Chris



Disciplined

Have you had a good summer? Did you vacation? Did you do the things that you can only do in summer that seem to refresh us? There is something about the changes in the seasons that often give us a little pause; at least they give us the opportunity to pause. We are coming close to the time when we enter into a new ministry season. Family night will be starting back up on September 13th. Kids are back in school and the activities of summer are giving way to fall. This week at church I want to give you an opportunity to stop and look around, spend a little time analyzing where you are and where you are headed, specifically in the area of your spiritual disciplines.

We hate the word discipline, mostly because it is so often used in the negative sense. It gives the feeling of strict and restricted. When I experience discipline it is limiting and often painful. If I discipline myself I am often forcing myself to do things that I don’t want to (but those cookies taste so good!) but know I should. I have noticed that while I often hate discipline I really like the results of discipline. I hate exercise but love being in shape. I hate music practice but want to play well. Isn’t that true in our spiritual life as well. We want to feel close to God but we don’t want to have to work at it. Time to enter the real world, because we need discipline.

Tomorrow I will talk about three specific disciplines, our interaction with scripture, our prayer time and our worship. Spend tonight and tomorrow considering these three areas of your life.   How are they doing? Do they need to be refreshed and recharged? Do you need a new pattern or a new commitment? Is it time to tick up a notch and become more disciplined?

See you at church.

Pastor Chris