Monday, December 20, 2010

This Week's Schedule 12/19/2010

No activities this week--Have a Merry Christmas!

Sunday December 26th-
No Sunday School
Christmas Celebration 10 am
Brunch Following
Come celebrate with us the Incarnation of our Lord!

Coming Up
January 2nd 2011-
Return to Regular Schedule

Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Meeting for Worship 10:45am
Iglesia Evangelica de Amigos 3:00pm

This week's meditation: God’s Love Coming

Advent 4: Mary the mother of Jesus - The Candle of Joy

God coming to a simple girl and giving her a chance to participate in the divine advent.
Luke 1:26-28; 46-55
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."
Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin ?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age ; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. "For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, the servant servantsof the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His servant; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever."

God providing for her needs and covering any potential shame by speaking also to Joseph telling him to take Mary home as his wife.
Matthew 1:18-25
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife ; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. "She will bear a Son ; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US." And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son ; and he called His name Jesus.

God bringing shepherds to honor the new king of the universe and cause wonder to abide in the heart of that simple girl as she raised the Messiah, the Lamb of God, the Great and conquering King, her son, God’s son, Jesus.
Luke 2:8-19
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."
So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Our first response to God at work is fear. Always. God is so much bigger than we are, so much more powerful, like Aslan in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe we recognize in our core that God is not safe, but if we know him we know that he is good. But until we really know God all we see is his power and we can doubt his love and goodness. And we are not alone.

Looking through the ages at those who have encountered God we see time after time fainting, falling down, overwhelming fear. It is what Mary felt when the angel came to her to declare God’s plan for her life. Make no mistake, this was not God’s plan for her next year or for the raising of a child over 18 years, this was a plan that would affect the rest of her life. This one moment would dominate her thoughts and meditations as long as she lived.

God’s love was coming into her life, and it would change it forever. But God never comes to give us only a task, only a burden to carry or a load to bear. God comes into our lives bringing joy with the assignment, bringing strength for the journey, bringing himself to be our companion on the way.

When God's Love comes into our lives, we can say "yes" to what it brings, knowing that He has prepared the way before us and will provide the way ahead of us, and trusting that his intention is always for our good; to fill our lives with joy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

This Week's Schedule 12/12/2010

Tuesday December 14th- Elder's Meeting 6:30pm

Sunday December 19th-
Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Meeting for Worship 10:45am
Iglesia Evangelica de Amigos 3:00pm
Celebramos Navidad

Coming Up-

December 26th Christmas Celebration!
No Sunday School, 10am Worship & Brunch following

This week's meditation: God's Love Prepares the Way

Advent 3: John the Baptist - The Candle of Love

God relieving barrenness of Elizabeth and providing the prophet to cry “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”
Luke 1 (selected passages)
5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years. 8 Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." 18 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." 19 The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time." 21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. 23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 "The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people."

God encouraging Mary and testifying to his faithfulness through Elizabeth's pregnancy.
34 Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin ?" 35 The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age ; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 "For nothing will be impossible with God." 38 And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord ; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

God witnessing through John’s jumping in the womb, even before his birth, to Jesus as the Christ.
39 Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb ; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb ! 43 "And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 "For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. 45 "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord."

God speaking through John “prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” God preparing those straight paths by preaching through John repentance from sins.
Mark 1
1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way"-- 3 "a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' " 4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

In the unexpected, unforeseen circumstances of our lives, God is going ahead of us to prepare the way. As a girl, Mary never conceived that she would be the mother of the Messiah. The people of Israel never imagined that their Messiah would come in such a humble way. They needed someone to prepare the way for them. God in his love and faithfulness did just that in the person of John the Baptist. Giving fulfillment of years of prayers by his parents; offering hope and encouragement to Mary and testifying even from the womb to God's work; going ahead of Jesus in ministry to the people to prepare the way in their hearts for the Messiah, John acted out God's plan. Rest assured that God is still in the business of preparing the way for each of us. As we face unexpected challenges or receive unexpected blessing we know we can put our faith and trust in God to have gone before us making a way for us. And we may even be the agents through which God prepares the way for others.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weekly Schedule 12/5/10

Tuesday December 7th- Women's Group 6:30pm

Wednesday December 8th- Friends Women Fellowship Brunch 9:30am at Millie's

Sunday December 12th-
Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Meeting for Worship 10:45am
Iglesia Evangelica de Amigos 3:00pm

Coming Up-

December 26th Christmas Celebration!
No Sunday School, 10am Worship & Brunch following

This week's meditation: God’s Love Speaking

Advent 2: The old testament prophets - The Candle of Peace

God speaking to his people, giving warnings and promises that a Messiah was coming.
Hebrews 1: 1-3
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

God speaking through the scriptures to give his people encouragement and hope, and to prepare them to reach out to others.
Romans 15: 4-13
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name"; and again he says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people"; and again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him"; and again Isaiah says, "The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope." May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God crying out for repentance and reconciliation, and promising peace; first through Christ, then through us.
2 Corinthians 5:14-
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh ; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature ; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

God has spoken to his people through the prophets, through the scriptures, through the person of Jesus Christ and now every believer carries his message of reconciliation and peace. As believers filled with the Holy Spirit, we are to be God's mouthpieces, his ambassadors, calling out to those around us to be reconciled to God. Whether we carry a positive message about God's good news, or a false message of hypocrisy and personal judgment, as believers we tell the world about who God is everyday. The choice is ours to not only carry his message, but to share it in words and in our actions with those we meet everyday who are hungry and desperate for the message of the gospel of peace.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This Week's Schedule 11/28/10

Tuesday November 30th-- Women's Group 6:30pm

Sunday December 5th-
Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Meeting for Worship 10:45am
Iglesia Evangelica de Amigos 3:00pm

Northeast Area Friends Church
Christmas Dinner
5pm at Hesper Friends Church

Coming Up-

December 26th Christmas Celebration!
No Sunday School, 10am Worship & Brunch following

This week's meditation: God's Love Reaching

Advent Sunday 1: God's people -The Candle of hope

God choosing to reach out to Noah and save him and his family as a remnant, making a covenant with all flesh.
Genesis 9:11-17
"I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth." God said, "This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." And God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth."

God choosing to reach out to Abram and make a covenant with him, to bless him and all nations.
Genesis 12:1-4 "Now the LORD said to Abram, 'Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.' So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him."

God choosing to reach out to Moses and deliver his people from Pharaoh and Egyptian slavery.
Exodus 3:6-9 "He said also, 'I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. The LORD said, 'I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.'"

God reaching out to man in spite of the gulf created by man’s sin. Jesus came so that anyone who believes will become part of God’s people.
John 3:14-17 "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."

Seeing what God has done in the past, reaching out again and again to mankind, and seeing that he offered himself to us in the person of Christ, we have hope. We have hope for eternal life beginning now and stretching to eternity. We have hope for a restored relationship with God. We have hope for healing in our lives and relationships. Christ came to bring hope and healing in a covenant relationship not just for one family or one nation, but for all who believe.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekly Schedule 11/21/2010

Tuesday November 23rd-- No Women's Group

Sunday November 28th-
Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Meeting for Worship 10:45am
Soup and Sandwich lunch & Hanging of the Greens following worship

Coming Up-

December 26th Christmas Celebration!
No Sunday School, 10am Worship & Brunch following

Worship: Thanksgiving & Supplication

Today we will discuss Thanksgiving and Supplication, and wrapping up our look at worship. Thanksgiving is pretty simple and self-explanatory. It is simply giving God thanks for what he has done for us. Supplication is asking God’s favor and provision for ourselves and others.

This week we celebrate a festival of Thanksgiving. Ideally this feast is meant to give glory and honor and thanks to God for all he has done for us. For many, though, Thanksgiving is a hectic day filled with cooking, eating, football, eating, family tension, eating, and if we are lucky a prayer to bless all that food involved in the eating. I want us to practice being thankful so that by Thursday we will be in a habit and it will come naturally.

Supplication is something we do all the time. We all ask God for what we need and what we want and what we think others need and want as well. We do it when we can’t find our keys. We do it when we are looking for a parking place. We do it when we face tragedy and illness and loss. We are good at asking God for his blessing and provision. But we can walk away from prayers limited to Supplication feeling just as harried and frantic as before!

We talked about Peace when we covered the Fruit of the Spirit earlier this Fall. How many of you would like more Peace? Looking ahead to the holiday season, I for one will take all the peace God has to give! In our scripture, we are looking at what Paul says is the key to peace.

Philippians 4:4-8 NAS “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

If we want peace, Thanksgiving and Supplication must walk hand in hand. Separate they are good, together they are great. Thanksgiving puts us in a place to remember what God has done, which reminds us of who he is and his Truth. This is good, but until we take that step to not only thank him for the past but to trust him with our present and future circumstances we will still fall victim to worry.

Supplication represents our faith that God will care for our needs. This is good, but unless we take time to remember how he has provided in the past with thanksgiving, we can be unsure of God’s character and worry can again creep in. By yoking together Thanksgiving and Supplication, we can have complete peace; in fact Paul says we will have peace that goes beyond human comprehension.

This peace comes as a result of our appropriate response to God’s revelation of himself to us; it comes from worship. Thanksgiving is responding to God’s provision. Supplication is taking a step of faith in light of God’s character, Truth and previous action on our behalf.

When we know who God is, when we learn and believe his Truth, when we Thank him for what he has done and Trust him with our needs, we are worshipping. Responding to God’s revelation of himself to us with adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication brings glory and honor to God and fills our lives with peace

Worship: Confession

Today we are taking a look at Confession. Confession is rarely our favorite aspect of worship. When we think of confession, we think primarily about sin and often confuse confession with repentance. Our scriptures today highlight two separate aspects of confession, one that seems to confirm our preconceived ideas and one which is completely outside the box of our confession definition, even though it is a very familiar scripture. Let’s start with that one first.

Romans 10:8b-13 "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, in your mouth and in your heart "-that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved ; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek ; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."

Here we see that confession is a part of the process of salvation. But what is being confessed is Jesus is Lord. This is not dealing with sin. This is about proclaiming God’s truth in our lives. Confession from Old Testament and New is more about speaking out, proclaiming, declaring and standing on God’s truth than it is about sin.

In the NT the words for confession mean to speak out or the speak the same thing—to agree. When we confess the truth of Jesus' lordship we are saved. When we confess our sin we are in the truest sense of the word agreeing with God about our sin. He has set out what is sin—what is destructive and brings death in our lives. He knows all about our sin. When we confess our sin, we are not telling God anything that he did not already know. Rather we are agreeing with him openly and honestly declaring that we have allowed that destruction into our lives.

1 John 1:8-10 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

We see that God has already said we have sin. By denying that we have sin, we call him a liar. By confessing our sin, we are simply agreeing with God, speaking and declaring his truth over our lives. By being honest about our condition, by agreeing with God about our sin, we open the door for his redemptive work in us. If we deny our sin and disagree with God, we shut the door on forgiveness and healing and redemption, because we are saying we don’t need it. God is certainly not going to force us to receive what we believe we don’t need.

How do we live out our worship everyday including the concept of confession? Last week we talked about taking time to stop in awe and wonder when God reveals himself and sharing that experience with others. Similarly we can speak God’s truth, declaring it in our everyday lives. When we feel alone, we can confess to ourselves the truth that God is with us. When we face trouble we can confess to ourselves that God is caring for us. When we fall short, we can confess the truth that we have sinned and open the door for his healing.

By saying out loud what we believe we reaffirm that truth in our own lives and we testify to the truth in the lives of those around us. When we say to people, times are tough but my God will provide we testify to his faithfulness. When we say to people I feel so alone, but God is with me holding me up, we testify to his goodness. When we fall short and confess our sins before others, seeking their forgiveness as well, we testify to God’s available redemption and healing—both for us and for them. Go this week and live out your worship by Confessing his Truth in your life and the lives of those around you.

Worship: Adoration

Psalm 96.
1 Sing to the LORD a new song ; Sing to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Sing to the LORD, bless His name ; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. 3 Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. 4 For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised ; He is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. 7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name ; Bring an offering and come into His courts. 9 Worship the LORD in holy attire ; Tremble before Him, all the earth. 10 Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns ; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved ; He will judge the peoples with equity." 11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice ; Let the sea roar, and all it contains ; 12 Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy 13 Before the LORD, for He is coming, For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness And the peoples in His faithfulness.

Worship is our appropriate response to God's revelation of himself to us. Worship begins with God. For the purpose of our study of worship over the next three messages, we are dividing worship into four traditional aspects of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

Adoration is our response to seeing who God is. In Psalm 96 we see that often we learn about who God is by observing what he has done. Adoration is different from thanksgiving which is remembering what God has done and thanking him. Adoration is standing in awe of who God is.

The Psalmist tells us to ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. That word ascribe means to assign authorship, or to give credit for a work. When we ascribe to Lord the glory due his name, we are giving him credit for his mighty works. We are recognizing his authorship.

A good friend told me that she stood under a tree recently with its leaves a collage of beautiful colors. She stood under the tree and looked up seeing the leaves with pieces of brilliant blue sky peeking through. She stood there gazing at the beauty and giving God glory for his creativity. This was an act of worship; an act of adoration.

We are worshiping in adoration when we have those moments of recognizing who God is in his creation, in his acts on our behalf, in the things he has done in history, and we stand in awe of what an awesome, powerful, majestic God we serve. Our worship is not limited to a set time on a certain day of the week. We can do this while taking a walk, driving down the highway, talking with someone at work or sharing a meal with a friend.

Adore God. Stand in awe of who he is whenever you get the chance. Share what you have learned and seen with others. In this way we bring glory and honor to his name. In this way we give him credit for what he has done. In this way we worship.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Order of Service: Meeting in Worship for Business October 24th, 2010

Sunday we will try something new in order to honor something old. Traditionally Friends have not separated their worship from conducting business. In order to honor this practice, we will incorporate our business into our morning worship. The order for worship will be as follows.

Welcome, Prayer

Worship in the Word

*Worship in Songs of Praise

Spontaneous Adoration- “God you are…”

Message Pastor Charity

Open Worship

Prayer for concerns in the body

Prayer of Confession- “We fall short and need you…”



Pastor’s Report

Treasurer’s Report

Prayer of Thanks- “Lord, we thank you…”

Worship with our Tithes and Offerings

Team Reports

Old Business

New Business

Prayer of Supplication- “God help us…”

Spontaneous Responses “I have seen God today…”




Greetings & Noisy Offering for Shiloh House (as we depart)

Weekly Schedule 10/17/2010

Tuesday October 19th-- Coffee at Amanda's 9:30 am
Women's Group 6:30 pm

Sunday October 24th-
Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Meeting in Worship for Business 10:45am

Northeast Friends Area Rally at Emporia!
Executive Meeting 3:30 pm
Carry-in Dinner 5:00 pm
Evening Service 6:15 pm

Coming Up!!

Oct 31st Celebrate Our Kids! Worship at 10 am
Oct 31st Run for Missions 5k & 10k in Haviland, KS
Nov 1st Run for Missions 100 miles from Wichita to Haviland!

Living the Mission Part 4

Matthew 28:18-20. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Literally translated, the highlighted section says, “Teach them to guard and treasure all that I commanded you to do.”

Many times we think that this is an overwhelming task. We see all that Jesus taught and the length of the gospels thinking that we will never be able to teach others all that Jesus commanded. Surprisingly, though, Jesus only ever talked about three commands. When asked about the greatest commandment in the Law, Jesus responded in Mark's gospel as follows.


These two commands are said elsewhere to sum up the entirety of the Law and Prophets. Jesus places the love of God and the love of our fellow man above all else. There is only one time that Jesus himself gives a command to his followers. We find it in John's gospel recorded in two separate chapters.

John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 15: 12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 "You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing ; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 "This I command you, that you love one another.

All of these passages speak of Agape love: to be fond of, also a choice not necessarily a feeling-hospitality/welcome, to be contented with. In my view, Jesus commands us to find contentment and fulfillment in God, choosing to serve those around us with kindness/fondness, giving special attention to our fellow believers.

It may seem too simplistic, but remember that Jesus is talking to fishermen and tax collectors and regular guys. He intended them to be able to fulfill this mission, and he expects that we are able as well.

We can start with those basic commands to love, then move on to the specific teachings of Jesus which fall under those commands: love your enemy, don’t slander your brother, don’t lust after women, fulfill your marriage vows, just be honest without having to make pledges and oaths, forgive and stop trying to get revenge, don’t take advantage of needy people, do good but don’t flaunt it, find your delight in heavenly things not temporary things of the earth.

When we look closely at all of Christ's teachings, they exemplify the living out of those commands to love God, love others, and love our fellow believers.

We have to be careful not to pick and choose what we teach or what we guard and keep ourselves. We like to pick out things that make us look good and others look bad.

If we are forgiving and gracious with our enemies, but we struggle with temptations of the flesh, we are likely to focus on forgiveness and brush past the teaching that lust is on the same level as adultery. We can’t do that, though. Jesus said to teach everything he commanded. We don't get to pick and choose to which areas of our lives we apply his commands of love.

And the command is not simply to obey and teach others to obey, but to keep and treasure and guard closely what Jesus taught. We are to treasure Jesus’ commands. Because they bring life and fullness and peace and they strengthen relationships. Obedience is a drudge, treasure is exciting! His commands are precious; his teachings help us to see much of our lives from God’s perspective.

So, our task is to live out the Mission, “Go, and as you are on your way invite all kinds of people to follow and learn from Jesus, pickling them in the very essence of God, teaching them to treasure all my commands.” But we don't do it alone. All of this is followed by the promise “Surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.” Jesus is on our team. The Holy Spirit is at work in us transforming us as we follow Jesus, empowering us to serve others and we have the support of our fellow believers to encourage us to keep Living the Mission.

Monday, October 11, 2010

This Week's Schedule 10/10/10

Tuesday October 12th-- Elder's Meeting 6:30 pm

Sunday October 17th-
Regular Sunday Schedule--

Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Morning Worship 10:45am
Spanish-speaking service 3:00pm

Coming Up!!
Oct 24th Meeting in Worship for Business
Oct 24th Northeast Friends Area Rally at Emporia!
Oct 31st Celebrate Our Kids! Worship at 10 am
Oct 31st Run for Missions 5k & 10k!

Living the Mission Part 3

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always , even to the end of the age."

Baptism is perhaps the most misunderstood concept in Christianity. We cannot depend on tradition and ritual to form our perspective on this essential element of our faith. Two extremes exist: you must be water baptized to be saved on one hand, and the extreme Quaker view of banning the practice of water baptism. Both come from a good intention to do things right, but both perspectives miss the point. Immersion in water is an ancient practice that comes before Christianity. It is a Jewish ritual known as Mikvah, or washing. It was essentially an invitation for the divine to fully surround and invade a person's life. But even in that practice, the true test of the practice was not the performing of a ritual, but the heart of the individual.

I say that baptism is misunderstood, because we are so accustomed to the ritual of water baptism, that when we see the word baptize we see only a picture of the ritual we are familiar with. In order to truly understand baptism, we must set aside our thoughts on the ritual and look instead at the actual words of Jesus in this verse.

He says, "Go and make disciples, baptizing them..." The word that Jesus uses here is baptizo defined by The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon as follows.

Baptizo: to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk at sea) to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one's self, bathe to overwhelm

Not to be confused with bapto. The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making picklesand is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be 'dipped'(bapto) into boiling water and then 'baptised' (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change. When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g.Mark 16:16. 'He that believes and is baptised shall be saved'.Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!
Bible Study Magazine, James Montgomery Boice, May 1989.

Jesus says to "baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." The word name is the Greek word onoma and is defined by The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon as follows.

Onoma: name: universal of proper names the name is used for everything which the name covers, everything the thought or feeling of which is aroused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, remembering, the name, i.e. for one's rank, authority, interests, pleasure, command, excellences, deeds etc.

Further investigation of this concept revealed that "in Jewish thought, a name is not merely an arbitrary designation, a random combination of sounds. The name conveys the nature and essence of the thing named. It represents the history and reputation of the being named."

In Matthew 28, I believe Jesus is saying something new and different. He is not merely prescribing a ritual immersion in water, but rather an immersion of oneself in the very essence of God. It is the inward washing of the soul, and literally pickling of the person in the substance of God. It implies transformation in the very identity of the person involved. Like the cucumber that goes into the solution and comes out a pickle. This transformation is not done with water, but by immersing oneself in the person of God.

This soaking in God, according to the early Friends, is something that can happen with or without the ritual of water baptism. In their view, if the Holy Spirit is at work in a person's life bringing about transformation then water is not necessary. If however the Spirit is not at work in a person's life to bring about transformation then no amount of water is sufficient.

We participate in this process in ourselves by remaining in Christ, abiding in him. As we remain in him, his power is at work within us changing us from the inside out. We can invite others to soak up Christ by living changed lives in front of them and by sharing with them what we have experienced of who God is, what he is like, what we have seen him do in our own lives.

“Go and make disciples of all nations, pickling them in the very essence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19

Living the Mission Part 2

Mt 28:19 As you are going about your way, make disciples of all nations.

What does it mean to make disciples of all nations? The word nations really means people groups. It can refer to people in any group that we categorize them into. For the New Testament believers, there was a temptation to only share the gospel with those like themselves. This is dealt with by most writers in the New Testament, whether they are writing historical accounts in the Gospels or outlining theology and church practice in the epistles.

What are the dividing categories today? We suffer from the same tendencies as those in the New Testament Church. Many times we group people by nationality or race. We group people by gender. We group people by social class. We may even group people by those we like and those we don't. We tend to invite others to follow Jesus who are like us and avoid inviting those who are different.

Galatians 3:26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Who is it challenging to invite along to follow and learn from Jesus? Sometimes it is difficult to invite people to follow Jesus who disagree with us in matters of politics or those who have a different world view. Democrats may not invite Republicans, Conservatives may not invite Liberals, hybrid car drivers may not invite those with SUV's. We may not be able to invite those who have wronged us in the past. We may not be inviting those we consider a threat to ourselves and others, like ex-offenders and parolees.

Colossians 3:11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. 12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

We must be willing to invite others along the way, even if they are not the people we would normally hang out with. God created each individual and gives each of us great value as his children. We need to look at others and see children of God instead of the typical labels. If we disagree on some issue or another, that is fine. If we trust God to teach others what he has taught us, we can rest assured that he will correct any attitude or opinion that is wrong. And we need to allow him to correct our wrong attitudes and opinions as well while we continue to follow and learn from him.

Jesus gave us this command, "Go and as you are going on your way, make disciples of all kinds of people." Let's trust him enough to obey.

Living the Mission Part 1

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always , even to the end of the age."

Jesus said “Go and make disciples.”In modern church practice, this command has become “Go and make church members,” or “Go and plant churches,” or “Go be a missionary in a foreign country.” But if this is the case, we would all have to become experts in church marketing, church planting or move to a foreign country.

But Jesus meant this to be the ongoing mission of those who followed him. He gave his commission to fishermen, former tax collectors, regular guys. It seems to me that he was giving a reasonable and attainable goal to people who were fit for the task. If Jesus gave this responsibility to these regular guys, and his assignment was doable, do you think maybe we have misinterpreted his command?

Let's set aside what we think we know about making disciples and look fresh at what the Bible says about discipleship. Well, first let's ask some questions. What is it we are supposed to be doing? Making disciples. What is a disciple? A disciple is a learner and a follower.

When we think of disciples, we often think of the twelve, and we see in Mark 3 that Jesus called them out of the many other disciples—many others who were following him—and chose them to be with him. He called them out to follow him more closely, so he could give them a special task of preaching and driving out demons. But they were not the twelve disciples, they were the twelve apostles. An apostle is a person who is sent out, a disciple is one who follows and learns. Not all of us are called to be apostles, but all of us are called to be disciples and to make disciples.

The mission given by Jesus to his followers was: go and make disciples. But to make a disciple first a person has to be a disciple. You have to be a follower and learner.
Jesus said this about being his follower:
Hidden Treasure
Matthew 13:44 "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

A Costly Pearl
Matthew 13:45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it."

When we realize the value we have in Christ, we are willing to lay down everything we thought was treasure before so that we can embrace the real treasure in Christ. We can do that confidently because the Kingdom of Heaven is also seeking us. God is out there seeking to be in relationship with each of us, he sees in us a pearl of great price. He gave everything, even his own life to pave a way for us to walk with him.

Our primary job in fulfilling the Great Commission is being a disciple ourselves. Then we can invite others to follow Jesus and learn from him along with us. We can show them the treasure we have found in Christ and what great value they have in the eyes and heart of God the Father. Doesn't that seem a little more doable than becoming a church marketing expert? You don't have to sell church to your friends, or sell a particular brand of Christianity. Just follow Jesus and invite the people you meet along for the journey.

Wrapping up the Fruit of the Spirit

Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control

James 2:14-26.

In the New Testament, the same Greek word is used for faith and faithfulness. The two concepts are inseparable. New Testament writers assume that where there is faith there is faithfulness!

In the Old Testament faithfulness meant steadfastness, reliable, straightforward, what you see is what you get kind of living. God represents the ultimate example of this. There is no shadow, no hidden agenda with God. He is who he is, in fact this is what God said to Abraham from the burning bush, “I am who I am.” God walks the walk. He does what he says, he acts from the integrity of his character.

For us today, Old Testament calls to faithfulness are calls to act in the same way, to be who we say we are. Jesus echoes this call when he says “let your yes be yes and your no, no.” In James 2, James is encountering people who incredibly think that they can believe, have faith, without that faith affecting their lives and choices. We encounter the same thinking today.

Faithfulness is not really an option, though. True faith leads to our acting out of faith. The example James uses is key. Abraham acted on his faith and it was credited to him as righteousness. Works do not create faith. You can have empty works. But when we say we believe something and follow through, it shows our faith to be complete in that area.

1 Peter 3:15 "But in your hearts set apart Christ as LORD. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.2 Timothy 2:24 And the LORD's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth."

Gentleness/Meekness means trusting God to do his work. When we understand who God is, we know that he does not need us to defend him. We do not have to fight on his behalf. We know and understand that God will do his work, he will carry out his plans. This enables us to be at peace within ourselves and to act gently towards those around us, even those who oppose us.

Gentleness is easy when it comes to those on our side, but God is instructing us through his servants Peter and Paul in their letters to the young Church that we are to be gentle with those who oppose us and mock our faith. They are people loved by God, and we must make sure that we do not turn them away from him and his plan to bring them to repentance.

There is an old story, which may or may not be factual about George Fox and William Penn regarding carrying a sword. Whether true or not, it makes a good example of this kind of gentle spirit. Penn feels out of sync with his fellow Quakers and asks Fox if it is permissible to continue wearing a sword. Fox responds that Penn ought to wear it as long as he is able. The implication is that if God wants to convict Penn about his wearing a sword, God will do so. Fox does not see a need to take on God's role, but trusts in who he knows God is.

We can do the same in our dealings with others, whether Christian or not, by sharing our beliefs gently and trusting God to lead and guide them into all Truth.

Colossians 2:1-23.

Self-control is not something we like to talk about. We associate it with following rules and in many cases with extreme legalism. In truth, controlling oneself is exactly what it seems. It is to control ourselves in situations where we face temptations. It is controlling the passions of the flesh. It is not, however, following a set of religious rules and regulations. It is not a matter of ritual and self-denial. In fact, Paul tells us in Colossians 2:23 that those practices seem wise, but do nothing to help us control our passions.

The key to self-control is found earlier in the chapter. Paul encourages the believers to continue to walk in Christ; to continue to allow Christ to make them new and complete from the inside out. Self-control is something that comes from our will. We must want to do right. In order for that to happen, we must be renewed in our minds and our desires.

This renewal is accomplished by Christ in us as we allow him to dwell in us and as we dwell in him. Paul says our hearts are literally circumcised and the sinful nature in us is cut off. We can still choose to sin, but sin does not have the same control over our lives as it once did. We receive power to resist temptation and to walk away from those things which invite destruction into our lives. This does not happen because of religion, but by living daily in the presence of Christ.

The Fruit of the Spirit must grow in us. It takes time. We must remain connected to the vine to receive the life and power to continue to grow and produce fruit. If we remain connected to Christ, the true vine, this fruit will grow in us as naturally as grapes grow on a grape vine. Trust in him to produce fruit in you, stop striving and rest knowing that he will accomplish his good plans for your life.

Monday, August 23, 2010

This week's schedule 8/22

Tuesday August 24th-- Friends Women at Dorothy's 9:00 am

Pray for Jim's surgery!

Friday August 27th-- Meet with the gutter guys at the church 4:00 pm

Sunday August 29th-
Regular Sunday Schedule--

Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Morning Worship 10:45am
Spanish-speaking service 3:00pm

Pray for our kids at school!!


2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness [moral excellence]. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our LORD Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.

The temptation the world offers in regard to goodness is to see ourselves and all we do in comparison and competition with those around us. We fall victim to the pestilence of "Good Enough." We consider ourselves good people if we are as good as the next guy. As long as we meet or exceed the status quo we feel we are doing fine. The problem with this outlook from a biblical perspective is that the standard we measure against is not our neighbor but God himself.

Jesus told a questioner once that "No one is good except God alone"(Mk. 10:18). When we try in our own strength to be good, to behave according to what we know is right, we fall short at "Good Enough." We never attain the goodness of God, simply because we do not possess the power to do so on our own. That power comes from being connected to God through Christ.

Peter tells his ancient audience as well as the modern reader that the key to this connection to God's power and promises is through an intimate, rich knowledge of the person of Jesus Christ. We can know him, like we know our family and friends. We can know him even more intimately than that, because he is not hiding any part of himself from us! Our knowledge of him includes knowing what he did and taught while walking the earth, as well as personal conversation with him in prayer.

Peter says that through this knowledge, and because of his promises to us, God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. God's desire is to impart to us the divine nature. He wants us to reflect and show his image to the world, and he has given us everything we need to accomplish this! How is that possible?

God has done this amazing thing, providing us with all we need, by giving us himself. Ephesians 1:3 tells us God wrapped up every blessing in the heavenly realms and gave them to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Through our connection with him, there is nothing we cannot do as relates to living godly lives. The resurrection power of Christ is at work within us to transform our lives!

This can only take place as we are willing to surrender to him, to remain connected to him, and to stop settling for "Good Enough." We must pray asking God to take us deeper and show us more of himself. We must surrender to his transforming work and seek his passion to pursue the abundant godly life he has planned for us!


Titus 3:1 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. 3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

In the New Testament God’s kindness is spoken of as the basis and the example set for us in our treatment of others. Kindness in these instances refers to philanthropy-things done for the love of mankind, or useful and helpful acts done for the benefit of the one who receives. In English the word kindness comes from the same word as kindred.

Kindness in English refers to things we do for other people that we would do for family. It is recognizing in others that they are like us, they have the same needs as we do and helping them out of that recognition. Who do we most have a hard time seeing in this way? The New Testament writers understood that we are tempted to self-righteous attitudes when it comes to “sinners” and those in authority.

Who do we like to talk down about? The people we know who aren’t living right and politicians, right? See, we have not changed much in the last 2000 years! Paul warns us in Romans 2:1-4 not to sit in judgment over others because in doing so we scorn God’s kindness toward us that brought us to repentance. In Ephesians 2:4-10, we see that God’s kindness toward us is a demonstration of his Glory that we are to emulate in the good works he has prepared in advance for us to do. In Titus 3, our main passage, Paul again points us to God’s kindness as a basis for our good works on behalf of others.

Like God’s kindness towards us began before we were righteous, our kindness toward others cannot depend on their being deserving of our help. The only prerequisite with God’s kindness was our need. We must rely on his strength to act in the same way toward others.

Monday, August 9, 2010

This Week's Schedule 8/8/2010

Tuesday August 10th-- Elder's Meeting 6:30 pm

Saturday August 14th-- Ladies Tea 3:00 pm
Bring a Friend!

Sunday August 15th-
Regular Sunday Schedule--

Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Morning Worship 10:45am
Spanish-speaking service 3:00pm

Pray for our kids as they start school this Thursday!!


James 5:7-11.

No one wants to hear a message on patience. The very thought of learning patience puts dread in our hearts and runs shivers down our spines! Well, apparently it was something Bible writers did not want to talk about either! Other than telling us to have patience, there is little instruction on the topic. Mostly in the New Testament writers were encouraging their listeners to be patient in the suffering they were enduring as they waited for the imminent return of Jesus Christ. That is the discussion we come upon in James 5.

James paints us 3 pictures of patience in a farmer waiting for rain to make his crops grow, the prophets of God and Job. Definitely, this patience goes beyond waiting in traffic or anticipating the weekend. The patience illustrated for us by James is truly what the King James would call long-suffering.

The farmer had done what was in his power to do by planting, and now the future of his field was out of his hands. Typically as we are in situations that require our patience, we are waiting on something beyond our control. The prophets of God were telling his people again and again that Messiah would come, yet died before seeing it fulfilled. Job, we know lost everything and suffered as his health failed, his friends accused him, and his wife told him to give up.

That farmer could not bring rain, but only trust that it would come. Those prophets could not bring Messiah, but only believe that God would not disappoint. Job could not restore his fortunes or his health, but only continue to stand firm on the faith that God was just.

We suffer sometimes; more than just waiting for that next paycheck or hoping our kids will obey. In those times it is imperative that we stand firm like the farmer trusting God to do what only he can do; like the prophets believing that God will do what he promised; and like Job knowing that God is God and does not change with our fortunes.

2 Peter 3:9 & 15 "The LORD is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
"Bear in mind that our LORD's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him."

If it seems that answers to prayer are coming slowly, we need to trust that God has a purpose in his timing. His desire is salvation and restoration and redemption. Only he can know all of the pieces that must fit together to bring about his purpose in our lives and the lives of those around us. Trust is the key to patience, and that trust grows as we abide in Christ's love, find our joy in his presence, and allow his peace to pervade our lives.

Sermon Series Catch Up!

Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

The sermon on love is already posted, but for the past few weeks, we have had some obstacles that kept us from posting the messages on joy and peace. Here is a summary of what we have studied.

Joy is something only the Spirit can offer. The world tries, but falls short. The world can provide happy moments, but happiness is fleeting. Happiness depends entirely on what is happening around you. It is like cotton candy, sweet but not lasting. As soon as circumstances change, happiness disappears. Joy, however is deep rooted and nourishes the soul. Like a juicy ripe peach, joy is sweet and satisfying. It brings nutrients that add to our spiritual health like that peace delivers vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to boost our physical health.

Joy comes from abiding in Christ's love. John 15 records a conversation Jesus had with his disciples. In that conversation he tells them again and again that god's greatest desire for them is to bear fruit. God is at work in you and me pruning and watering and fertilizing our lives so that we bear fruit. Our job is simply to abide and remain in Christ and his love. As we accept his love for us and walk in love with those around us, we find a joy welling up inside that remains even in difficult times. Don't settle for happiness, but press in toward Christ and experience joy that lasts.

Like Joy develops as we press in close to Christ, abiding in his love, peace comes as we find our hearts' desires in him. Peace grows naturally out of our relationship with God through Christ. Our part in fostering that growth is pulling the weeds of control and apathy. The world seeks peace through control. If we can only make everyone and everything around us do what we want, we think we will have peace. Unfortunately, that can never happen. There will always be something beyond our power. Another worldly way of seeking peace is apathy. If you can't control it, just don't care about it. But keeping ourselves from feeling is not peace, just emptiness. God wants us to have PEACE, not just a cease-fire.

Finding peace in Christ means laying down our worries and accepting his peace!
When we know he is our rock and refuge, when we learn to give him our worries, we find peace growing in our hearts. Even in the middle of conflict we can have peace!

Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The LORD is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The peace that Jesus brings to our lives is permanent. When things are beyond our control, we can trust that nothing is beyond his control. We can know that even if everything around us is lost, he is our source of strength and provision. His peace continues with us through all circumstances!

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This Week's Schedule 7-18

Tuesday July 20th-- Coffee at Amanda's 9:30 am

Thursday - Saturday July 22-24--
Ministry Conference and Yearly Meeting Sessions in Wichita

Friday July 23rd-- Friends Women Lunch at the Ministry Conference

Sunday July 25th-
Regular Sunday Schedule--

Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Morning Worship 10:45am
Spanish-speaking service 3:00pm

This week's message: Fruit

God desires for us an abundant life; he wants the best possible health, growth and productivity for us. Just like a gardener wants the best health, growth and productivity for the plants in his garden. The fruit God desires to cultivate in us produces lives that are solid, unshakable in a crisis. They leave the individual satisfied with good things and at the best possible place in their relationships with others.

The world promises self-fulfillment through a series of counterfeit fruit. The goals and desires are self-focused and when followed lead to a mediocre existence at best and total destruction at worst for the individual and all who are connected to them. Worldly Fruit can be tricky, though. Sometimes it is in opposition to God's Fruit. Other times, however, Worldly Fruit is an incomplete version of God's Fruit.

The Fruit of the Spirit -vs- The Fruit of the World System:

Love -vs- Like
Joy -vs- Happiness
Peace -vs- Control or Apathy
Patience -vs- Passion
Kindness -vs- Ingratiation/Kissing Up
Goodness -vs- Status Quo
Faithfulness -vs- Tit for Tat/Contract Mentality
Gentleness -vs- Niceness
Self-Control -vs- Will Power

Love vs Like
God wants us to live lives full of love. He wants us to love him and love others. Not in a warm-fuzzy kind of way that comes from our emotions, but a solid love that puts the best interest of the other before our own. God wants an attitude of love to saturate every part of our lives.

The world, meanwhile, sells us on living lives of like. What does it mean to like something? I appreciate the direct Spanish interpretation of “I like.” “Me gusta” which literally means “it pleases me.” To like someone or something means that they do something nice for me. They please me. It is a self-focused approach to living.

"But, isn't it ok to like things?" Of course it is ok to like things. It is great to like people and like the things we have, but if we stop with "like" we live a shallow existence, not ever really satisfied with life in general. Only by going deeper into a true attitude of love can we begin to find true fulfillment.

In our everyday lives, like vs love is lived out in how we relate with everything around us from our possessions to our families and even the earth itself. When we love our families, we base our actions on what is best for them regardless of the effort and sacrifice on our part. We tend them like God tends us. When we live in an attitude of like with our families, when they stop pleasing us, we stop caring for them in the way God cares for us.

When we live in an attitude of love towards the things around us, we realize that to take on a possession is to take on a responsibility. We weigh the long term cost of the investment and decide if we are up for the challenge. When we live in an attitude of like towards the things around us, our possessions exist to please us, rather than to fulfill a specific purpose. When they no longer produce excitement in us, we buy a new one even if the one we have is still in good working order. Soon our houses are overflowing with junk, our credit cards are maxed out, and we wonder why everyone else seems to have such nice things.

When we live in an attitude of love towards our environment, we realize that it requires us to care for not just the earth around us, but the earth on the other side of the globe. None of us would ever vote in a toxic waste dump in our own backyard, but love is not voting one into someone else's. When we live in an attitude of like, we only care about what we can see or what affects us.

Living in like is a mediocre way of existing that produces want and lack and destruction as opposed to true fulfillment and health and growth. Living in an attitude of love causes us to view all of our relationships as gifts entrusted to us by God requiring us to act as good stewards of them all. Living in love produces good relationships, it helps us balance our finances and not get wrapped up in a race with the Joneses, it helps us to create healthy safe places for ourselves and others to grow and live abundant lives.

"So, how do I cultivate this love?" Good question. Love, being a fruit must grow. It is not instant and we have to deal patiently with ourselves in the growing process. Love comes from God alone, and the best way to cultivate that fruit is to press in closer to Him. We have to seek true food and water and Son-light to nurture this and other Spiritual Fruit. Spend time in God's letter to us, the Bible. Spend time just talking to God, wherever you are, silent or spoken; prayer is simply a conversation with God.

As we press in closer to God, we see how he loves us and become secure in His love. That security gives us courage to love others in the same way He loves us. Then that Spiritual Fruit of love can begin to grow and mature, and we see it's result in our lives.

Monday, July 12, 2010

This week's schedule 7-11

Friday July 16th-- Vacation Bible School!
Programs for Ages 3-14
Bilingual English and Spanish
Crafts, Bible Stories, Games and More
Breakfast and Lunch will be provided
Free for all Participants!

Sunday July 18th-
Regular Sunday Schedule--

Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Morning Worship 10:45am
Spanish-speaking service 3:00pm

This week's message- Bearing Each Other's Burdens

Galatians 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." NRSV

Our church body has experienced many struggles and each of us carries our own burdens. It would be the exception to find one among us who is not bearing a heavy load for ourselves or someone close to us. It is interesting to find this scripture, then about reaching out to carry the burdens of those around us, and amazing that Paul says that this act of all things fulfills the very law of Christ.

What could he mean? What is the Law of Christ? Did Christ not come to set us free? Yes, he did set us free from the law of sin and death, but gave us in it's place the law of love. In his teaching, Christ told his followers that all of the law and prophets, all the commands leading up to his coming were wrapped up in two great commands:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."

In Luke 10, Jesus has a discussion with an expert in the law who wanted to know what must be done to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked him to summarize the law and prophets and the teacher came up with the above statement, but wanted to know who his neighbor was. Jesus responded with the parable of the good Samaritan.

As we read through the story Jesus told, we see that the things he commends are Mercy and Compassion. It did not matter who the Samaritan was, he cared about the wounded man and made a personal sacrifice to make sure his needs were met. (The two days wages today would be in the neighborhood of $150-$500!) His care and compassion set the standard for us to follow if we are to love our neighbor in the way Christ commands.

Bear one another's burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

The burdens of your neighbor may be too heavy for you to carry on your own, while others may require you to make a personal sacrifice to fulfill. Either way the source of our compassion and action must be our relationship with God through Christ. There are needs that only he can meet and we must carry those burdens first and foremost to him in Prayer. Then we will receive guidance in what we must do to care for those in our community.

(Following the message we spent some time sharing and praying for those around us to put into practice the habit of carrying one another's burdens to the Lord in prayer.)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

This week's message-Bread

John 6:1-14.
Jesus feeds five thousand men, plus women and children of an undetermined number with the lunch of a young boy. Close to 10,000 people were following Jesus just to see what he would do next. They had heard about his miraculous signs with the sick and had followed him around the Sea of Galilee. Jesus stops to rest with his disciples and as they watch these 10,000 people coming towards them, filling the horizon, Jesus turns to Phillip and asks what he thinks they should do about these hungry people.

There was a need. The people had followed Jesus for days, who knows when they had last bought bread, or even if they had money to do so. They were hungry. Jesus knew it, the disciples knew it; these people needed to eat.

Phillip answers Jesus that it is impossible, eight months wages--200 denarii--would be needed to buy bread for each one to have just a bite. When we look at that number it seems disconnected from our daily lives. What would eight months wages look like for the average worker today? $8,000; $10,000; $12,000--or more would be today's equivalent. For each person to have a bite, they would need a small fortune.

Andrew offers a little help, but in his mind not enough. He shows Jesus a lunch packed by a young person--five loaves, two fish--maybe enough for Jesus and the disciples to have a bite, but not much more. No wonder he asks, "How far would that go among so many?" But the gift is offered, no matter how small.

Now Jesus takes that tiny offering, and he uses it to fulfill the great need by filling in with a miraculous provision. He breaks the bread and tells the disciples to distribute it and the fish to this great crowd. As he breaks off chunks of bread, they just keep coming. He says, "Give them as much as they want."

Jesus does not ask for a resume, or a portfolio. He does not even turn within to his own knowledge of the people's sin and righteousness. There is a need, and he is filling it. The only prerequisite is hunger. And the people do not turn the provision away. No one is sitting around saying, "Sorry, I only eat rye bread and this is barley." The gift is freely given and freely received.

The world is full of seemingly impossible problems. Just looking at the year 2010 so far we have had an earthquake in Haiti, an earthquake in China, an earthquake in South America, tsunamis from the earthquake in South America, flooding in Nashville, wars in the Middle East, countless children and women being forced into the sex trade, an oil well disaster that threatens the lives and safety of countless people, animals, an entire ecosystem. Closer to home are personal tragedies, people with lost income, lost loved ones, lost hope. So often we have a hard time seeing how we can be a part of the solution.

What we have is so small compared to the enormity of the problem. Just like that young person with their lunch, five loaves and two fish to feed thousands, we have a limited amount of resources. But if we will offer what we have, we can see God do something great. If we will be obedient to give what we can, we will see God do what we cannot.

What do you have to offer? A small gift of your time, energy, and resources can be the beginning of something great. You can't bring someone's loved one back to life, but can you make a cup of tea? You can't mop up the oil spill, but can you walk instead of drive? You can't repair all the damage from natural disasters, but can you give $5 to an organization who is at work in those areas? Whenever there is a great need, when we are faithful with a little, God can take that small gift and miraculously provide the solution.