A good deal of what messes with our emotional climate control is the frustration we experience when we confuse what we cannot control with what we can.
What can we control?
What can we not control?
What does this have to do with crazy-making relationships?
People are the way they are, not the way I want them to be.
Drama in relationships is inevitable. But being overwhelmed is optional. We all have an inner emotional climate that is, for us, normal. This is what many of us commonly call our "comfort zone." It's the condition in which we believe things are going well enough, we have adequate resources available, and we have a sense that we can handle things. When other people start messing up our lives, we try to change them, change the situation, or change ourselves to get back to our preferred inner climate control.
In the Bible a primary image of leadership is shepherding. Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd. The image of a shepherd is pretty common in the Bible. The analogies are simple: God's people are like a flock of sheep. They can be attacked, stolen away, wander off, and, left on their own, find themselves without protection, food, and water.
Though your faith may be small, you serve a great God.
Though you may be weak, you can do all things through Christ who gives you the strength.
God has not anointed us, commissioned us, and gifted us to be timid, fearful and weak but has given us power and love.
This is not easy. But what value will it be if we seek to gain all that the world has to offer, but lose our soul along the way? As Christians we need to Stand Up For Jesus!
You and I may never feel ready, or qualified, or empowered to be sent by Jesus. But we are! We have to be. When we joined the Jesus mission, we became a community on the move - a spirit-filled people sent to spread the Kingdom of God through repentance and healing. We have a message, we have the power to heal and stand up to evil, and we have a Leader and Savior who is worth following and who has told us, in no uncertain terms that as he was sent by the Father, so he is sending us.
It is never too late to believe in Jesus. It is never too late for us to put our trust in Jesus. It is never too late for us whenever we put our trust in Jesus. You see, when everyone else concludes that is it too late, there's Jesus. When you yourself might have only the last gasp of a prayer, that's enough if the prayer is addressed to Jesus.
The choice to follow Jesus, to align our live with the Word of God, the Ways of God and the Mission of God, will always have us living in ways that are contrary to popular belief. However, the story of the ever-expanding impact of the gospel throughout the world and the day of God's righteous judgment on the horizon, is a clear indication of where the future is headed, contrary to popular opinion, and where, if we want to be on the so-called side of history, our loyalties are best invested for maximum future return.
In the parable of Jesus, from Mark 4: 26-29, the Lord makes an analogy of something that grows without the slightest human effort (a seed). This seed represents the amazing word of the gospel of Jesus Christ.– and it grows not only in the summer, but all throughout the year. Not just near you, but throughout the world.
Has your faith ever moved you to get out of line?
Has the Holy Spirit ever propelled you beyond the role you are supposed to play in your life? Beyond being satisfied with a comfortable, predictable, balanced life? Beyond the carefully calculated, risk-averse, “everything in moderation” sort of living…where you avoid the highs and the lows and settle for the boring, muddled, middle? Beyond what other “people your age” are supposed to be doing?
What happens when the Holy Spirit gets out of hand in a person’s life?
Today's Memorial Day means a lot of things: the end of the school year, the beginning of summer, the opening of beaches and swimming pools, picnics, cook-outs, and graduation celebrations. And a day off from work. But it's origins are about remembering the cost of being "one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
Families are God's gift for how the next generation is shaped.
Families are also messy, filled with ambiguity, and have indeterminate outcomes.
In this complex and messy set of relationships, we find that the amazing milestones, the tragically broken places, the best intentions, and the unintended mistakes are all held within the redeeming grace of God.
Whatever your family situation today, God is not done yet.
Which means you are not done yet.
Thanks be to God!
When it comes to the Jesus Mission, the equation is not how little can I get by with or what's the minimum requirement. The commitment we make before God and one another is that our prayers, our presence, our finances, our time, and our abilities are available for the work of God through this specific congregation. There is no such thing as wishful thinking when it comes to following Jesus. Our faith is worthless unless it is shown by our behavior, our actions, and our priorities.
Generosity is a practice in which our faith in God's goodness, the opportunity for making something happen in God's name, and our financial resources all come together to express my faith and bless the community.
Today we bring our attention to a portion of Scripture that many find deeply unsettling. Jesus is addressing our penchant to accumulate more and more stuff along with our desire to accumulate more and more money.The Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7, often referred to as The Sermon on the Mount, tells us, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.
Jesus knows the fears and apprehensions of the human heart. He knows what you and I worry about. And one of the things that has been ingrained in most of us since our childhood is a fear that we will not have enough. Hence, our oversized worry about money. Money provides limited security, but unlimited opportunity for making things happen in God’s name. That’s why we’re beginning a four week focus called Taking the Next Step. Yes, it’s about money. But, more importantly, it’s about our spiritual development as individuals and households.
We often think of Thomas as the Doubter.
His encounter with Jesus in John 20 invites us to question our own doubts.
This message reviews the “facts” of the resurrection of Jesus and highlights the reasonableness of faith in Christ based on the evidence.
Christ's journey to the cross is filled with images of His sacrificial love for us: the Palms, the Cup and the Bread, the Nails, the Crown of Thorns, and more. These images form the centerpiece of "Come to the Cross and Remember", a moving musical tableau of choruses and hymns that enrich this Good Friday worship experience.
Today, we look back and remember that earth-shaking day of the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus was and is the signal of an insurrection against the ways of this world and the dawning of hope for the new heaven and new earth God has promised.
Jesus’ journey to the Cross left the cheering crowd behind because he did not come to be a celebrity. He took the way of the Cross because it was the only way to save you, and me, and whosoever will believe in him.
Amazing love, the love of a God who would die to rescue me!
Did Jesus have to die in order for his mission to be carried on after his death? Yes! As John said in his Gospel:
23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and
dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
God wants our surrender, not our success; don’t think that you have to reach perfection in your journey. You can’t fix anything. God can and God wants to help us. Just surrender.
So, today, accept the challenge, strive for intimacy and a personal relationship with God the Father, reconnect with Jesus Christ and listen the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Whether we know it or not, we are perishing; God's love offers us rescue and redemption through the death and resurrection of Christ. Jesus explains that we are made up of body and spirit; a physical birth is one kind of "life", but it culminates in death. There is another kind of birth, a spiritual birth, a work of the power of God within the soul of a person, that leads to life not only abundant in quality but eternal in duration.
On the second Sunday of Lent we learn that there are No Shortcuts for following Jesus. It’s not enough to:
As our nation faces another tragedy with the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, we realize that First Church and our community are not immune to the same horror as the families of those deceased children and adults are facing today.
And now we are in the season of Lent and we realize that life is very serious and evil is very real. And it isn’t just out there somewhere else, it’s with us also.
How did Jesus remain connected to God and receive God’s direction, empowering, and assurance of love? Prayer was the heartbeat of the relationship between Jesus and his Heavenly Father. For the past few weeks the sermon series, "The Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ", has taught us how to center our lives with Prayer. Most all of the ways we have learned to connect with God have something in common: they are a form or a pattern or gateway to prayer. But prayer takes practice, and this week's sermon will give us patterns for finding a more meaningful way to Pray.
Welcoming Jesus into our lives opens the door to the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary. And that is important for us today. We might be wondering, in the world of conflict, evil, injustice, and oppression in which we find ourselves, in a country so riven with political, social, and economic division, that we should just give up. It is too, too much.
Many of us as followers of Jesus affirm things like the virginal conception of Jesus, the accounts of him multiplying the loaves and fishes, walking on the water, and being raised from the dead, but for whatever reason, we balk at the possibility of an evil spirit, a devil, or the impact of demonic activity in our lives and our world. The presence of personal and systemic evil, the devil, often called Satan, a name meaning The Accuser or The Liar, or The Deceiver, is part of how the Bible describes our world which Jesus has come to save, deliver, rescue, and res
It isn’t unusual for significant events to make people open to the message of the gospel. Sometimes they are tragic events, times of loss or unwelcome change. Other times they are new opportunities and times of unexpected abundance or opportunity. And still other times, they are when something happens that seems to indicate it is time to come close to God instead of holding God at arm’s length.
In worship for these several weeks, we're camping out in the first chapter of the first-written gospel in the Bible: The Gospel According to Mark. Mark is going to introduce us to the good news in the context of or against the backdrop of the bad news. One of those ways of describing the "bad news" is that we are caught in a lifetime of futility and meaninglessness. We can cope with the "bad news"
No matter what we are up to or what situation we are facing, we should face the new upcoming year without fear knowing that God, our Redeemer, our Savior, our Friend, and our Companion, will protect us wherever we go. God will provide in those moments where we feel there is nowhere to go. God’s plan for us is amazing, God’s plans are great and God’s blessings for each of us will be abundant.
Isaiah 9:6-7 New King James Version
6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Christmas is awkward for a whole lot of people. All of this awkwardness leads to keeping "God at arm's length" or "God on the back-burner" or "I'm too busy for God right now" syndrome. Whether it is our alternate devotion, our sense that we have outgrown the faith of our childhood, our sadness and disappointment with life, or our questions about Jesus, God, life, death, heaven, hell, and all the rest, we come to the conclusion that if this is important, it will have to wait because we are currently occupied with other things.
There are cultural conventions and expectations that come to us from our families, our friends, our work associates, the whole machinery of marketing. Even our religious upbringing. We are part of a web of expectations that inform us, shape us, threaten to exclude and shame us if we step off of the path of conformity.
For most of us, “content and calm” don’t seem to go in the same sentence as “Christmas”. In fact, “content and calm” doesn’t seem to fit many of us anytime of the year, let alone during the holiday season. How can we experience God’s peace in the midst of our hectic lives?
You and I can go from "how will I ever get through this?" to "May it be to me as you have determined, God", with this simple and profound trust. Nothing is impossible with God.
From the example of Zechariah, Elizabeth, and the message of the angel Gabriel, we overhear the God-given hope that breaks through the common experiences of disappointment, depression, and despair.
We are messengers of hope to others struggling with disappointment, depression, and despair..
Christ’s resurrection guarantees our victory at the time of death; his promised return guides our decisions throughout our lives.Christ’s resurrection guarantees our victory at the time of death; his promised return guides our decisions throughout our lives. Thus, we can ive in the joy of his victory
The U.S. may be on the edge of a spiritual revival! The evidence is somewhat anecdotal. We know that (social) stress has spiked. As a response, many people are looking for larger meaning in their lives — or at least a psychological shelter from the storm. It is a regular occurrence in the history of the Christian movement: in challenging times believers take courage, dig deep in their faith, and extend themselves for the sake of the gospel.
Today we celebrate the Saints who have gone before us. We honor the ones who have marked the trail, established the path, launched us in one way or another. Some may ask what difference do "saints" make to you and me in today's world.
In today's Scripture from Matthew 22:32-40 we learn God's greatest commandment:
In the Scripture of Matthew 22: 15-22 we find the Herodians and Pharisees trying to discredit Jesus by asking him a series of questions. They assumed his answers would trap him. They chose taxes as the temptation for their trap. It appeared that no matter which side Jesus took, He would create problems for Himself and His ministry. If He opposed the tax, He would be in trouble with Rome. If He approved the tax, He would be in trouble with the Jews.