Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sweeter After the Rest

From Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado

September 13
In six days the LORD made everything... On the seventh day he rested. Exodus 20:11

   Time has skyrocketed in value. The value of any commodity depends on its scarcity. And time that once was abundant now is going to the highest bidder...
   When I was ten years old, my mother enrolled me in piano lessons... Spending thirty minutes every afternoon tethered to a piano bench was a torture...
   Some of the music, though, I learned to enjoy. I hammered the staccatos. I belabored the crescendos... But there was one instruction in the music I could never obey to my teacher's satisfaction. The rest. The zigzagged command to do nothing. What sense does that make? Why sit at the piano and pause when you can pound? 
   "Because," my teacher patiently explained, "music is always sweeter after a rest."
   It didn't make sense to me at age ten. But now, a few decades later, the words ring with wisdom- divine wisdom.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Reblog: Holy Infographics

Last week one of the blogs that I read posted to this like at the Guardian. It shows information in pictures regarding the Bible. I used it in my sermon this last week, and wanted to make sure that you had access to the picture(s) I was trying to describe.

Sermon: Worship through Scripture

Sermon from Sunday, September 15, 2013
Scripture: Hebrews 4: 9-13, Luke 24: 44, Acts 2: 42-47

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Acoustic on 5th: September 29, 6:30 pm

In two and a half weeks we will be launching our newest plan for worship.

Our church is blessed without a gap. What is a gap? It many churches across the country there is a gap of people in the 18-40 age range. Many people in this age range don't come to church unless they have children. They find themselves busy with other things. Our church is blessed! We have a large number of people in this age range. Some are single, some are married without children, and some are married with young children. By some I am talking about a group of 30 people in the church. This is 10% of our church membership.

We also have a fabulous youth group. Wednesday night we had 24 youth at our church for CYU. Did you know that if all of these youth showed up on Sunday 24 youth is more than 25% of the people in our church on any given Sunday? The youth are fun. The youth are excited. The youth are hungry for God.

These two groups, and a few others from other age groups have requested more contemporary music. As the pastor of the church, I have heard this cry. I am have also heard the disdain from several of the older generation in the church who only want to hear hymns on Sunday morning.

This is a problem. It is a condition of the heart of this church. We often look at church as how I want it and how it suits my needs and desires. We forget how God wants it.

So I am creating a service. A community-wide, contemporary service. It will take place 4 times a year. It will be held on the evening of a  5th Sunday in a month. Which is why it is called Acoustic on 5th. It is a choice. It isn't a requirement. It is a choice to worship God in a way that is understood by many in high school, college, and adulthood. It is a choice to worship God with music that is new, with instruments, with singing, with art, with dancing, and with all of our being. It is different from the church year ago. It is different in language, style, and involvement. It is different. It is worship.

So we are beginning September 29th at 6:30. This service will feature a worship band, a sermon, and a hands on way of understanding that "God is Good." The Scripture for this service is Psalm 34: 8

See our Facebook link here
Taste and see that the Lord is good
blessed is the one who
takes refuge in him.
Psalm 34:8 

 If this is the way that you find yourself worshipping before God. Please join us! Join us as we taste and see. Join us as we sing, dance, and celebrate what the Lord has done, is doing, and will do in our lives. 

September 29th
6:30 pm
Salem UCC 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sermon: Worship Through Gathering

Sermon from Sunday, September 8, 2013
Scripture from Hebrews 10: 19-25

Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

I am currently working on the book The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith. It has been a book that I read chapter by chapter when I find the time. I am hoping to finish the three book "Good and Beautiful" series this year, but the way I am going it won't happen.

The chapter I read this morning sought to answer the question "Why did Jesus have to die?" In it, it tells the story of author and speaker Brennan Manning. Here is the few paragraphs I would like to share with you today:

     Author and speaker Brennan Manning has an amazing story about how he got the name "Brennan." While growing up, his best friend was Ray. The two did everything together: bought a car together as teenagers, double-dated together, went to school together and so forth. They even enlisted in the Army together, went to boot camp together and fought on the front lines together. One night while sitting in a foxhole, Brennan was reminiscing about the old days in Brooklyn while Ray listened and ate a chocolate bar. Suddenly a live grenade came into the foxhole. Ray looked at Brennan, smiled, dropped his chocolate bar and threw himself on the live grenade. It exploded, killing Ray, but Brennan's life was spared.
     When Brennan became a priest he was instructed to take on the name of a saint. he thought of his friend, Ray Brennan. So he took on the name Brennan. Years later he went to visit Ray's mother in Brooklyn. They sat up late one night having tea when Brennan asked her, "Do you think Ray loved me?" Mrs. Brennan got up off of the couch, shook her finger in front of Brennan's face and shouted, "Jesus Christ- What more could he have done for you?!" Brennan said that at that moment he experienced an epiphany. he imagine himself standing before the cross of Jesus wondering, Does God really love me? and Jesus' mother Mary pointing to her son, saying "Jesus Christ- what more could he have done for you?"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

God Makes Us Right Again

I spent an hour watching the news from various channels this morning. Their coverage on the conflict in Syria was wide and on different sides. It makes me anxious. I think of our soilders overseas, and I pray protection over them. I think of the Israelites in the Old Testament. I think of Moses as he held his hands up for victory, and was supported by others. I pray for the millions who have been displaced from their home, and for the thousands who have lost their lives.

I read this in my devotions on Sunday, but reread it this morning. I think it points to my feelings today.

Create in me a pure heart, God, and make my spirit right again. Psalm 51:10

   We are thirsty.
   Not thirsty for fame, possessions, passion, or romance. We've drunk from those pools. They are salt water in the desert. They don't quench- they kill.
   "Blesses are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness..."
   Righteousness. That's it. That's what we are thirsty for. We're thirsty for a clean conscience. We crave a clean slate. We yeartn for a fresh start. We pray for a hand that will enter the dark cavern of our world and do for us the one thing we can't do for ourselves- make us right again.

Sermon: Who's Invited

Sermon from September 1, 2013
Scripture: Luke 14: 1-24