Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

Being World Christians In A Dangerous World

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Message by Pastor Tom

Jesus says you have got to live in the real world without loving the world.

Text: 1 John 2:12-17

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Understanding Life from A to Z

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Message by Pastor Tom

What is the first chapter of our history as the human race? What is the last chapter? What is our beginning and origin? Jesus says that these critical questions are wrapped up in who he is.

Text: Revelation 1:1-8

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True Worship

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

“For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.” — Hebrews 13:14-16

Worship is an experience where we come before God to meet God and to offer to God that which shows our dependence and gratitude, our joy and struggle at being the people of God in the world. Worship is not always comforting, although it can be. Worship is not always uplifting, but it can be. But whatever worship is for most of us, we also need to realize that gathering in the presence of God to worship can be dangerous.
Writer Eugene Peterson captures this when he writes: “Sometimes I think that all religious sites should be posted with signs reading, “Beware the God.” The places and occasions that people gather to attend to God are dangerous. They’re glorious places and occasions, true, but they’re also dangerous. Danger signs should be conspicuously placed, as they are at nuclear power stations. Religion is the death of some people.”

Why is worship dangerous? It is dangerous because it can upset our little worlds. It can throw our lives into a tailspin. It can upset our neat, tidy, predictable world by opening it up to God. And once God is present, things can’t be the same.

But the reality is that many churches and believers avoid true worship. They avoid it by not preparing well for it. Coming to church tired on Sunday morning because we failed to get enough sleep the night before will affect our worship. They avoid it by focusing only on one aspect of the service – the songs or the prayers or the sermon. They don’t allow God to speak to them through all parts of the service. But most of the time we fail to worship and encounter God because we come to church with a guarded heart and mind. We don’t want to let God get too close. We don’t want to open ourselves up to be changed at the core of our being. And so we aren’t. We may feel good for a while. We may have our quick fix that will sustain us maybe until Tuesday. But we haven’t really met God.

What about you? Are you here expecting to meet God? Are you here with an open heart and mind to what God wants to say and do in your life? Or are you just here?

The Real Thing

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

In an article entitled: “Jesus Flavored, or Jesus Filled?” Erin Bunting writes about an event that many of us can relate to. He tells about going into a grocery store intending to buy some Blueberry Pomegranate Juice. He found the juice section and saw that the label on the bottle said: “Blueberry Pomegranate, 100 percent juice, all natural.” There was also a picture of a ripe pomegranate [spilling] its exotic, glistening seeds onto mounds of fat, perfect blueberries.

And then I read the ingredients list: “Filtered water, pear juice concentrate, apple juice concentrate, grape juice concentrate.” Where was the blueberry? Where was the pomegranate? Finally I found them, fifth and seventh on a list of nine ingredients, after mysteriously unspecified “natural flavors.”

By law, food ingredients are listed in descending order of weight. That means a product contains the greatest proportion of the first ingredient on the list and successively less of those farther down. So according to this list, the jug in my hand held mostly water and other juices, with just enough blueberry and pomegranate for flavor and color.

In the bottom corner of the front label, in small, easy-to-miss type, were the tell-tale words: “Flavored juice blend with other natural ingredients.” The enticing pictures and clever labeling were decoys to sell a diluted, blueberry-pomegranate flavored product, convincingly disguised to look like something it wasn’t. I put the juice back on the shelf.

And then he makes this comment: I left the store empty-handed and wondering: What if I had an ingredients list printed on me? Would Jesus be the main ingredient? If not, how far down the list would he be? Would my “label” accurately represent my contents? Or would I falsely project a misleading outward appearance that cleverly masked diluted ingredients? My packaging may be convincing. I may look and sound like the real thing. But what if someone came to me looking for Jesus beneath my “Christian” label and found something else? Something Jesus-flavored, but not Jesus-filled? …

What about us? Today’s Call to Worship reminds us: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7). What is the Apostle Paul saying? That if we want to make sure that we are Jesus-filled and not Jesus-flavored, it will mean giving attention to our spiritual life, our relationship with Jesus. It will mean living each and every day in him, being rooted and built-up in him. And if we do, then we will be strengthened for the journey and our lives will be overflowing with thankfulness and joy. Then, people will know that we are the real thing –Jesus-filled, not just Jesus-flavored.

How Easy It Is To Forget

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

“Give praise to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing of him, sing his praises; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:1-4

John Keonig, a New Testament scholar who has written a book on prayer in the New Testament, has suggested, that “if we can talk of something like a heartbeat within the New Testament, a pulsating center that pumps life to the whole body, it is [found in]…the words praise and thanksgiving.”

That is why the people of God gather together week by week — to recall God’s grace and blessings, to remember God’s goodness which has called them out of darkness into the light, to encourage one another and challenge one another, to renew their joy and praise.

Not every church is like that. Leslie Weatherhead tells a sad story of a small church in his native England that forgot the reason for her existence. It was a beautiful church and stood in a little hollow among the sand hills by the sea. It was a beautiful spot. And on Sundays people would come and worship there with the sound of the breakers coming through the windows and mingling with the voices of the men and women who offered God their simple worship. But slowly something began to happen. Their worship became routine and the people became content. The air of excitement and praise, the sense of vision was gone. Church attendance fell.

One Sunday the door to the church was not opened. With each successive week sand blowing against the window panes fell to the ground and slowly mounted against the walls. At length the sand crept up to the window sills, piled up and covered the windows, mounted higher and higher and reached the roof. Only the stony finger of the spire, still pointing to the sky, reminded men and women of aspirations which once were theirs, of vows now broken, of prayers now silent, and hopes now dead.

The Apostle Paul realized how easy it is for a church to forget how to praise; that for many churches worship and church life can become dull, boring, tiring. There is no life or enthusiasm, no praise and thanksgiving. And so Paul wants to remind his readers as he pours out his heart on the nature of the church that perhaps one of the reasons why we are so often tired, jaded, or unmoved in our Christian lives and worship is because we forget how to praise. And we forget how to praise because our focus is too much on ourselves — our church, our lives, our efforts, our past, our future — rather than on the God who loves us, chooses us, and wants to bestow on us his richest blessings. My friends, let’s not forget to give God praise and thanksgiving.