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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Thought for the Day: What Happens When the Church Loses Sight of the Bible?

In this week's Thought for the Day, we have an article from the Boundless.org blog. In it, a Lutheran, Matt Kaufman, ponders the recent announcement from the Lutheran church supporting gay clergy. He wonders how the church lost its way so dramatically and concludes that "where they really went wrong was when they lost sight of the Bible." Check it out at:

"Losing Their Grip"

Church news, 8/23 ...Coming to Jesus!

"No one can come to Jesus, unless..." was the title of Sunday's sermon. We spent some time filling in the blank after "unless" and soon realized that:

A. "No one can come to Me (Christ), unless the Father who sent Me draw him," John 6:44, or "unless it be granted him by the Father" John 6:65 and

B. "No one comes to the Father but by Me (Christ)," John 14:6.

"It seems like a closed loop or closed system," Fr. David said. "How can we possibly get in there?"

He explained that the Father desires all to 'be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth' (I Timothy 2:3,4). We know this deepest desire of God because He opened the Way of salvation by sending His Son Jesus Christ, to live with us, show us the Father and then die for us. All who receive Jesus and who believe in His Name, He gives the power to become children of God (John 1:12). "God staked the fulfillment of His Will on His Son; that the invitation provided in and through Jesus and His Death upon the Cross would be enough," Fr. David continued.

As we considered God's invitation to us (to come to Jesus and find salvation), we then turned to the consideration of the parable of the king's banquet found in the Gospel of Luke 14:16-24:
Then He (Jesus) said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited
many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited,
‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make
excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go
and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five
yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still
another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that
servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the
house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and
lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and
the blind.’ And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and
still there is room.’ Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the
highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’”
Look at the extent to which God, the Father (banquet host) and God, the Son, Jesus Christ (the servant) went to accomplish a fruitful response to the invitation. The servant reached out, motivated people and even lovingly compelled them to respond so that they would not miss the great feast of salvation. It subsequently took at least some cooperation (faith and trust, with no excuses) from those invited for them to become members of the host's household and taste the great supper!

"The first step in coming to Jesus Christ
", Fr. David continued, " is not as much about us or about our own efforts, but the awesome truth that the Father is drawing us, indeed inviting us, as He grants us every opportunity to come to Jesus". Fr. David continued with consideration of the second step of coming to Jesus, which is about our faith filled cooperation with the Father as we come to believe in Jesus as Son of God and Savior. "The second step is about our growing in faith in Jesus and thereby in communion with Him through the power of the Holy Spirit. And then in the third step in coming to Jesus, the Father grants us the status of being His children, beheld in union with His Son and prepared for being received in His Kingdom forever."

Summary: No one comes to Jesus unless God works on our behalf, which He is doing far more than many times we realize, and we cooperate with Him through faith, every step of the way, then we enter into everlasting communion with God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

NOTES: Our church picnic was held Sunday afternoon at the Sanders' home, where a blessed time was had by all. Thanks to the Sanders' for their hospitality and great grilling, and also to all who brought the ingredients for our delicious meal, and who shared their comradeship with us. In other news, Sue Eckert has been called to the ministry of Parish Treasurer.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Thought for the Day: Practical Self-Denial in a Materialistic World

How attached are you to your "stuff"? In a post on the Boundless.org blog, David Barshinger examines the relationship between people and their belongings. We live in a material world, but our calling as Christians is to defer the material life to the spiritual one. How do we then balance the two without falling into legalistic excesses? Take a look at this week's thought for the day and let us know what you think:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Church news, 8/18

It's one thing to know the Will of God, but another thing to understand it, Fr. David pointed out in this week's sermon. The sermon was based upon Ephesians 5:17 'Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.'

He said,
"The will of God is summed up in the two 'greats' -- the Great Commandment and the Great Commission" . The Great Commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind", and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself"(Matthew 22:37-40). The Great Commission: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..."(Matthew 28:19-20).

"We know the will of God (at least in general terms), but we also need to understand it. So the larger question is, can we know the mind of God, even though we are finite and imperfect and God is infinite and perfect?" Fr. David asked.

For the answer, he directed us to I Corinthians Chapter 2:9-12, where St. Paul writes:

as it is written: “ What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.

Paul makes a striking analogy: The human will is understood by the human spirit in the same way God's Will is understood by God's Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit understands the depths of God and transforms us into beings with renewed minds and hearts, willing to obey God's Will and also able to understand it (within the finite limits of our nature).

God wants us to know His Will through our getting to know Him better. God will certainly help us to understand His Will to the degree that we are willing to apply His Will. "If we are first willing to obey God, and then ask for His Will to be done in our lives, He will honor this," Fr. David explained. With our willingness to apply His Will affirmed, "Then we can do what King Solomon did, pray for wisdom. God will honor this. As we are learning to apply/do the Will of God (put His Holy purposes into practice in our lives), we'll come to understand His Will better in the process of living into His Will.

A further point was made: We need to be careful not to be self-serving as we seek God's Will. As we grow, we recognize that this is about God first and that understanding His Will is not a pursuit that is just for ourselves, but for the Church also. As we are willing to be vessels for God's Holy Will to be done in and through us, then the Holy Spirit will fill us more fully with renewal, power, and even understanding."

Indeed, we were reminded: as we 1) open to God spiritually, with 2) our minds being renewed through faith and with 3) our willingness to obey God's Will as we understand it and 4) as we pursue His Will not just for ourselves but for Him and His Church, then we will understand His Will, even coming to the place of having the 'mind of Christ' as stated in 1 Corinthians 2:16!

NOTES: The Women's Book Group has chosen their next readings: Why Faith Matters by David Wolpe, the chapter on Mary Magdalene in Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur, and viewing of the Ben Stein documentary Expelled, which is about the Intelligent Design vs. Darwinism debate. The next meeting will be in October, date and place to be announced.

There will be two after-service events next Sunday, 8/23. During the fellowship hour there will be a half-hour video presentation on alternative "Green Houses" eldercare in which seniors live in a caring group home environment rather than a larger institution. Then we will adjourn to the Sanders', 3092 Culver Road, for a dish-to-pass picnic. Parking is available in Culver-Ridge Plaza, then just cross Ridge and walk north a few doors on Culver.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thought For the Day: iMonk Post- "The Weight May Not Be A Sin"

For this week's thought for the day, check out iMonk's post on the little things in our lives that are not necessarily sin, but hinder us in our Christian walk nonetheless. He asks us "to lay aside whatever may hinder us that is not a matter of repenting of sin, but of giving up what is not necessary, what distracts us and what makes it difficult to carry out the calling and mission of the church."

Monday, August 03, 2009

Church News 8/4

"The Nathan Ministry" was Fr. David's stirring sermon topic on an otherwise dark and rainy Sunday morning, Aug. 2.

Beginning with II Samuel 11:26-12:13a, we considered together the ministry of the prophet Nathan. Nathan took on the unenviable task of reproving and correcting King David after he caused Bathsheba's husband Uriah to be killed on a battlefield so that David could marry her and obscure the timing of her pregnancy with his child (which occurred while her husband was still living).

"How do we reach people going the wrong way on a one-way street?" Fr. David asked, pointing out that many make the mistake of doing this in an accusatory or condemning fashion, something that almost never achieves the desired result. What is needed is Nathan-like Ministry among us.

He pointed out that Nathan first told a story -- in this case, the story of a poor man whose only possession was a pet ewe lamb that he treated like his own child. This lamb would have eventually been the mother of a flock that would have provided the poor man and his family with wool, milk, cheese, and the ability to barter for family needs. But a rich man with many flocks decided it was easier to appropriate the poor man's lamb and kill it for a meal than one of his own.

The story made King David very angry. He said the rich man deserved to die but should at least give the poor man four lambs as punishment for his lack of pity. Then Nathan told him that he, David, was the same as the rich man -- someone to whom God had given everything but who took from Uriah first his wife and then his life. David's heart, mind and soul were reached and David recognized the serious depth of his sin, his despising of God, and he repented.

"People get to a place where they make excuses for their wrong behavior," Fr. David explained. "We all do it, and when we do we aren't honoring God as we should. It takes a Nathan to point this out in a direct but loving way." Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, many of us are empowered with prophetic ministry, ministry such as Nathan exercised. As prophets do, Nathan didn't condemn King David himself, he pointed out what the Lord had to say about David's actions and David's consequential future.

"God's desire was to reach King David despite the terrible thing he had done. God judges but also forgives, " said Fr. David, "and as God's people, as God seeks to use us for the sake of others. As God moves us, we have a 'Nathan Ministry' to open to our neighbors the understanding of Christ's gift to us, that once our hearts are reached with God's Holy Truth and we truly repent, we are redeemed and cleansed in Him." Truly our souls long to be reached, opened, forgiven, and cleansed through this 'Nathan Ministry' and God seeks to reach hearts, minds and souls through this 'Nathan Ministry' working in our lives reaching others in God's Holy truth shared with God's holy love.

NOTES: The Vestry of the former All Saints has taken action to transfer the financial responsibilities of our church to the new Vestry and the new All Saints effective Aug. 2. We pray for God's blessings on our new church and the work of our new Vestry on behalf of our congregation.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Presiding Bishop's flawed thinking

Click the title above which will bring you to a video on You Tube and then pray for the Presiding Bishop and the people she is misleading.
Now click the R.C. Sproul video (below) and behold the Christian Truth

Christ The Only Way - R.C.Sproul

Please click this title to view this amazingly powerful video message