Sunday, April 15, 2018

Reflections From Sunday Evening

I listened to the sermons today.  Insightful!
The theme was baptism.  We read about baptism.  We heard about baptism.  We remembered our baptism.
Pastor Nancy shared from Mark 1:10.  "...he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove."  Her point was "the dove doesn't miss." 
I thought that was a great point.  When God sends his Spirit to us, He does not miss.  The dove doesn't miss.  God's Spirit does not miss. 
A second thought from her sermon was the distinction between "I have been baptized" and "I AM baptized."  Wow.  What a difference?  One speaks of a past experience the other a present reality.  We want to be present people.  I am baptized.  I am marked for discipleship. I have been claimed by God to be His own.  (And by the way, God doesn't miss!)
Pastor Jake also hit home.  In speaking about baptism "with water and the Spirit", he reminded us that "we provide the water and God provides the Spirit".  We may offer a sacrament but God provides the changed life!
I thought these were all great insights that offer me something to celebrate in my faith today. 
Thanks.  It's been a good day.   I hope you've had a good day too.
steve

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Reflections From Sunday Evening

A day of highlights.
It was a joy to worship with our PWC community this morning.  Nancy and Jake did the preaching.  We are in great hands.
We recognized Sunbeams Pre-School this morning.  Blessing on Sue Arensberg and all the teachers and people who make our pre-school such a great success.  Today a group of them sang in church.  Many thanks to all the parents and family who shared in worship today.
I also had a birthday surprise.  Nothing like a pie pot-luck!  I believe I heard there were 37 kinds of pies there.  People seemed to enjoy it.  I even got to bring home more gooseberry pie!  It was a surprise and lots of fun.
Life is good. 
On another note...
I saw two movies this week.  First was "I Can Only Imagine."  Inspirational and worth your time.
Secondly, Cindy and I saw "Paul, Apostle of Christ".  Another movie that shares the story of faith very well.  Check it out.
It's been a great day.  I hope you've had a great day too.
steve

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Reflections From Sunday Evening

So, the weather forecasters told us we would have a snow storm today, so to be sure we did not cause any harm, Easter services were cancelled.  Or not!  How's that for April Fool?
No, we had an amazing celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.  He is risen!  He is risen indeed!
I have to give credit to my friend Brent Mustoe.  He spends time each Sunday praying for a number of preachers.  I made the list!  He was up ridiculously early today (as was I).  When I saw his prayer message I responded with a quick note.  He came back asking why I was up so early?
My reply was that I was trying to get the story line straight for the sermon.  His reply: Here it is.  He was dead and now he's alive!
That is basic.  That is true.  This core message of the Christian faith does not need to be improved on.  Why look for new angles and obscure points in the resurrection story? 
It is amazing as it is.  Jesus was dead.  Now he is alive.  And because He lives, you too may live.
It's been a great day.  I hope you've had a great day too.
steve

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Reflections From Sunday Evening

The 10:45 Traditional Service was the only one this weekend that recognized the author of the 1957 novel, "On the Road", as Jack Kerouac.  So it appears this is the service with the greatest literary knowledge.  The other services related more to "On the Road Again", by Willie Nelson.  Therefore, by and large, we are more musical than literary.  (Pretty unscientific survey)
The Kerouac novel was about his experience travelling across America.  His experience put a different slant on the American experience. 
Our experience makes a huge difference in how we understand and relate to life. 
Our experience makes a huge difference in how we understand and relate to God.
There was a idea that did not make the sermon this week.  Here goes.
Is your faith formed by your experience of God?
Or, is your faith formed by the God you experience?
These sound similar.  But think of it like this.  When faith is formed by our experience, experience actually determines our understanding of the nature and character of God.  Another way to put it is that our experience may create God according to how we experience life.
On the other hand when we experience God in the course of life we discover God is the one who meets us and forms us.  Personally this seems like a more biblical view.  We meet God in the day-to-day of life.  Our gracious God invites us into relationship and sustains us and changes us.
Something to ponder.
On another note...
This afternoon Cindy and I had the joy of sharing in the retirement celebration of Dr. Marty Kanne.  It was a joyful afternoon.  His accomplishments are legion.  Of course, I am most interested in his leadership of mission in Central America.  Well done.  Have a great retirement.
It's been a good day.  I hope you've had a good day too.
steve

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Reflections From Sunday Evening

College basketball tournament time is in full force.  Rather than plop down in front of a tv and watch the NCAA Tournament this week I have hung out at Municipal Auditorium and watched the small schools (NAIA) play game after game after game. 
Several things stand out about this tournament.  What I really notice is the lack of stoppages of play.  There are no TV timeouts.  They do not review plays all the time.  There was only one time in four days a review took too long and got people antsy.  Games on TV last over 2 hours.  The NAIA schedule calls for games to be played in one hour and forty-five minutes.  Fast paced. 
Let me go back to the review thing.  This is just my opinion but replay reviews kill NFL games.  They do the same for NCAA Basketball.  I know people want go get things right but really....Should a game really hinge on whether or not the ball went off some guys fingernail even though some other guy forced it out....Oh well, enough of my rant on these things that really don't make much difference.
Let me go back - again- to the review thing.  It struck me.  I am certainly glad God does not do instant replays of my life looking for something to overturn.  God's review is not "instant replay" but through the lens of Jesus.  So even when I am out of bounds Jesus puts me exactly where I should be.  God is not in the business of overturning His favor.  God is in the business of granting us His favor.
Please do not get the idea that God is always looking for some way to call foul on you.  God is always looking for ways to give you life. 
So enjoy the games and if you get tired of watching another long review think of these small school young men playing for fun...game after game after game.
It's been a good day.  I hope you've had a good day too.
steve

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Reflections From Sunday Evening

I was listening to a message by Len Sweet and he told the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. being invited back to Morehouse College, his alma mater, to teach a class.  It was 1961.  8 people enrolled in the class.  Years later they would meet and remember their time with Dr. King. 
In the course each student was required to write two papers.  Dr. King graded the papers and wrote comments on each.  Those papers would be practically priceless today.  Just a receipt signed by Martin Luther King, Jr. might sell for thousands of dollars or at the very least you would have it framed under glass.  But none of the students kept the papers.  None of them kept their class notes.  Their only record was they were registered for the class in 1961.  But they do have great memories.
Charles Wesley wrote the hymn, A Charge to Keep I Have.  It was published in 1762.  Verse two goes this way:  "To serve the present age, My calling to fulfill: Oh, may it all my pow'rs engage To do my Master's will!"
To serve the present age...
It is good to remember past experiences.  We grow from them.  It is good to have a vision for the future.  We grow into them.  But we serve the present age. 
This month we have been talking about "reaching out to others as God has (first) reached out to us, inviting people (real people; with names, faces, and personalities) to join us in following Jesus.
This is our call in the present age.  This is our mission in the present age.  This is our opportunity in the present age.
Fulfill your call.
It's been a good day.  I hope you've had a good day too.
steve

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Reflections From Sunday Evening

Some days make you sit back and go "wow".  This weekend provoked that response in me.  We confirmed 37 this weekend.  People stood before God and the congregation and declared their faith in Jesus Christ.  We baptized 11 youth and 1 child this weekend.  People were added to the kingdom through the ministry of the church.  It was a reflection of what we are about.
There have been times when parents and family members have established the path that would lead their children to faith.  Friends, Sunday School teachers, Vacation Bible School leaders, camp counselors, trusted friends, teachers, coaches, Scout leaders, and a host of others have contributed to people saying yes to following Jesus.
Our emphasis has been on claiming the privilege of reaching out to others, as God has (first) reached out to us, and inviting people (real people, with names, faces, and personalities) to join us in following Jesus. 
We were given a taste of what that looks like this weekend.
Something tells me there is more to come. 
It's been a great day.  I hope you've had a great day to.
p.s. For those who came to the sanctuary service at 10:45 and either got re-located to the balcony or to the Worship Center, thank you.  You gave up your seat so family members could share in the confirmation of special people.
steve