Wednesday nights are packed with great things this year, so come and join us as we grow together!

5:30 – 6:30pm DinnerTime
   Eating is considered by most to be one of the best ways to grow together (in more ways than one!)  The conversations that happen over a shared meal are priceless when it comes to Unity and Community, so join us when you can for dinner and conversation.
6:15 – 7:45pm Kids Klub and MS Youth group
   With games, music, lessons, prayer, and quarterly multi-generational events, this midweek time together is not to be missed.
6:45 – 7:45pm Adult Bible Study
   Our only mixed bible study, everyone from 14 to 104 is invited and encouraged to join us.  We’ll be looking together at the book of Romans as a practical guide to faithful living.
6:45 – 8pm  Choir
   If bible study isn’t your thing on a Wed. night, then join the choir!  We’re always looking for new faces with new voices.  All are welcome!

Wednesday nights are packed with great things this year, so come and join us as we grow together!

5:30 – 6:30pm DinnerTime
   Eating is considered by most to be one of the best ways to grow together (in more ways than one!)  The conversations that happen over a shared meal are priceless when it comes to Unity and Community, so join us when you can for dinner and conversation.
6:15 – 7:45pm Kids Klub and MS Youth group
   With games, music, lessons, prayer, and quarterly multi-generational events, this midweek time together is not to be missed.
6:45 – 7:45pm Adult Bible Study
   Our only mixed bible study, everyone from 14 to 104 is invited and encouraged to join us.  We’ll be looking together at the book of Romans as a practical guide to faithful living.
6:45 – 8pm  Choir
   If bible study isn’t your thing on a Wed. night, then join the choir!  We’re always looking for new faces with new voices.  All are welcome!

The greatest witness we can show to the world is unity.  The way we hang together no matter what, forgiving each other when we hurt someone, correcting and (perhaps more importantly) taking correction from each other, and our reputation as a community that loves each other – these are the great witness that reveals God’s holiness.

Sadly, that is not our reputation.

“I would rather have 100 disagreements with someone at work than one with someone at church.  Church people are mean and fight dirty!”  This is a true quote I overheard a few years ago, and it broke my heart.  We in the church are known not for being different than the culture around us but for being mostly the same in our behaviors and habits.  We are seen as hypocrites who judge everyone else for their sinful behaviors while partaking in them ourselves.  Our denominations, our church infighting, and our bickering, gossip and grumbling have deadened our ability to speak to anyone about the love of God.

So what can we do?  We can remember the words of the Psalmist:  “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!… For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”  We can remember Paul’s critique of the Corinthians, who allowed the wealthy to use Communion as a way of expressing their superiority over the poor.  And we can try really living our faith 24/7 instead of only when we are at church.  Forgive each other every time.  Put people above anything short of salvation issue heresy.  And put unity above everything else.

We all too often hide our emotions from God, from ourselves, and especially from those at church.  We all wear ridiculous masks that nobody believes are real, yet out of politeness we never question them.  The smiles, the pricey cars, the well-mannered kids… all of these are masks used to hide the truth that we doubt, and hurt, and are angry and afraid.  If we were to really be ourselves, to show and express our emotions to one another, we fear we would be labeled and judged, when in reality we may be welcomed as authentic.

This is why Ps. 130 is my favorite Psalm.  It begins with true emotion (“Out of the depths do I cry out to you, O Lord.”) and then goes on to express the gospel anyway.  It acknowledges life’s pain and allows us to be there and stay there if we wish.  How many of us have not gone to church, to prayer, or to each other from within the very depths of life, only to hide it and wear the mask of Perfection?

The gospel spoken in this beautiful poem is simple but profound:
“If you, Lord, kept track of our sins, who could stand before you?  Nobody.  But with You there is mercy and forgiveness and because of these, You don’t keep track of our sins or hold them against us!  Because of this, we can serve you with free and forgiven hearts!”

And then comes the call to others:
“People of God, you’re putting your hope in the wrong things.  Put your hope in God, for only there will you find love and redemption that is eternal instead of fleeting like the world’s love.  You see, God will redeem His people from their sins.”

This is the gospel truth, spoken from a place of true emotion and promising truth in a world that knows only lies.

We all too often hide our emotions from God, from ourselves, and especially from those at church.  We all wear ridiculous masks that nobody believes are real, yet out of politeness we never question them.  The smiles, the pricey cars, the well-mannered kids… all of these are masks used to hide the truth that we doubt, and hurt, and are angry and afraid.  If we were to really be ourselves, to show and express our emotions to one another, we fear we would be labeled and judged, when in reality we may be welcomed as authentic.

This is why Ps. 130 is my favorite Psalm.  It begins with true emotion (“Out of the depths do I cry out to you, O Lord.”) and then goes on to express the gospel anyway.  It acknowledges life’s pain and allows us to be there and stay there if we wish.  How many of us have not gone to church, to prayer, or to each other from within the very depths of life, only to hide it and wear the mask of Perfection?

The gospel spoken in this beautiful poem is simple but profound:
“If you, Lord, kept track of our sins, who could stand before you?  Nobody.  But with You there is mercy and forgiveness and because of these, You don’t keep track of our sins or hold them against us!  Because of this, we can serve you with free and forgiven hearts!”

And then comes the call to others:
“People of God, you’re putting your hope in the wrong things.  Put your hope in God, for only there will you find love and redemption that is eternal instead of fleeting like the world’s love.  You see, God will redeem His people from their sins.”

This is the gospel truth, spoken from a place of true emotion and promising truth in a world that knows only lies.

As followers of Jesus, we are free from the Old Testament laws, or so Paul says.  But this leads us to a conundrum: what guides our behavior and beliefs if we no longer have the OT Law?

Paul says our freedom as Christ followers is not for our sake but for that of others.  Our freedom does not mean we are free to run out and indulge our every carnal lust as the Corinthians did.  Instead, we are free from the punishment of the OT Law as we go about our work of winning everyone to Christ.  If winning a non-Christian to Christ means having a beer with them, we do so because we are free to drink.  However, this does not mean we are free to go get drunk on Friday night at the local bar.  If winning a non-Christian to Christ means we see a godless movie or play with them then we do so because we are free.  But this does not mean that our free time should be spent reveling in godless entertainment.

The difference, Paul says here, is in the purpose and motive of the behavior more than the behavior itself.  We are not free to indulge ourselves because that is not Christ-like.  But our work of evangelism may take us to some seedy places and build relationships with some seedy people.  And we are to build them because God loves them, too.  Do we think Jesus met with prostitutes and sinners at the local synagogue potluck?  No, he had to go into their homes, forbidden by OT Law yet allowed by Christ when the purpose was evangelism.

So first of all, evangelism needs to be our top priority not just when we are sitting in church but even more so when we are at the local PTA meeting, at a block party, or hanging with our unchurched friends. Second, we have to be wise about the balance between being a godly example and losing the voice with which to speak God’s truth into someone’s life.  And finally, we HAVE to quit judging others for their choices in these matters and worry about our own.

Call them from where they are into a life with Christ.  Build them up in their faith.  Send them out into their world in their way to call the next generation.  This is evangelism and this is our calling.

As followers of Jesus, we are free from the Old Testament laws, or so Paul says.  But this leads us to a conundrum: what guides our behavior and beliefs if we no longer have the OT Law?

Paul says our freedom as Christ followers is not for our sake but for that of others.  Our freedom does not mean we are free to run out and indulge our every carnal lust as the Corinthians did.  Instead, we are free from the punishment of the OT Law as we go about our work of winning everyone to Christ.  If winning a non-Christian to Christ means having a beer with them, we do so because we are free to drink.  However, this does not mean we are free to go get drunk on Friday night at the local bar.  If winning a non-Christian to Christ means we see a godless movie or play with them then we do so because we are free.  But this does not mean that our free time should be spent reveling in godless entertainment.

The difference, Paul says here, is in the purpose and motive of the behavior more than the behavior itself.  We are not free to indulge ourselves because that is not Christ-like.  But our work of evangelism may take us to some seedy places and build relationships with some seedy people.  And we are to build them because God loves them, too.  Do we think Jesus met with prostitutes and sinners at the local synagogue potluck?  No, he had to go into their homes, forbidden by OT Law yet allowed by Christ when the purpose was evangelism.

So first of all, evangelism needs to be our top priority not just when we are sitting in church but even more so when we are at the local PTA meeting, at a block party, or hanging with our unchurched friends. Second, we have to be wise about the balance between being a godly example and losing the voice with which to speak God’s truth into someone’s life.  And finally, we HAVE to quit judging others for their choices in these matters and worry about our own.

Call them from where they are into a life with Christ.  Build them up in their faith.  Send them out into their world in their way to call the next generation.  This is evangelism and this is our calling.

Our September newsletter is now available.  To download it, click here.

I have used and taught 1 Cor. 10:13 as almost a mantra for those facing temptations.  From gluttony to pornography to gossip, this verse has helped many people “stand up under” their particular temptation.  But this is one more example of the way we use the scriptures for our own personal battles instead of truly reading it for what it says.  We take verses out of context and while they are still effective, this is not why they were written.

This verse about temptation is not a general rule for standing against any temptation but is rather targeted toward specific ones.  Four, in fact.  You see Paul has just offered us a way to stand against the temptation to turn away from God, but not in this verse.  Rather, he tells us to learn from our past.

Though the Israelites saw God’s salvation from slavery in Egypt, and passed through the miraculously parted Red Sea, still they turned away.  And they did so in 4 specific ways that we must avoid:  idolatry, sexual immorality, testing God, and grumbling.  By citing these four examples, he puts them on par with one another and tells us to learn from the negative example of our spiritual ancestors.  As they followed these wicked practices and paid for them with their lives, so we must avoid them.  Don’t learn a verse that might keep you focused enough to get out of your temptation; study the history of our people so you avoid getting yourself into that temptation to begin with.

But beyond that, this is a lesson for us in parsing our sinfulness and ranking our sins.  We hear sermons, bible studies, and confessions all the time about idolatry (“I put _______ before God in my life…”) and about sexual sins (“I was a slave to porn, or had an affair, or…”) but when was the last time you heard someone confess to the outrageous sin of grumbling?  How many of us even consider this a sin anymore?  Aren’t church people even known for being grumblers?  Let’s not rank our sins and only condemn some when Paul places them all side by side, equal in their offense to God and in their punishment.

I have used and taught 1 Cor. 10:13 as almost a mantra for those facing temptations.  From gluttony to pornography to gossip, this verse has helped many people “stand up under” their particular temptation.  But this is one more example of the way we use the scriptures for our own personal battles instead of truly reading it for what it says.  We take verses out of context and while they are still effective, this is not why they were written.

This verse about temptation is not a general rule for standing against any temptation but is rather targeted toward specific ones.  Four, in fact.  You see Paul has just offered us a way to stand against the temptation to turn away from God, but not in this verse.  Rather, he tells us to learn from our past.

Though the Israelites saw God’s salvation from slavery in Egypt, and passed through the miraculously parted Red Sea, still they turned away.  And they did so in 4 specific ways that we must avoid:  idolatry, sexual immorality, testing God, and grumbling.  By citing these four examples, he puts them on par with one another and tells us to learn from the negative example of our spiritual ancestors.  As they followed these wicked practices and paid for them with their lives, so we must avoid them.  Don’t learn a verse that might keep you focused enough to get out of your temptation; study the history of our people so you avoid getting yourself into that temptation to begin with.

But beyond that, this is a lesson for us in parsing our sinfulness and ranking our sins.  We hear sermons, bible studies, and confessions all the time about idolatry (“I put _______ before God in my life…”) and about sexual sins (“I was a slave to porn, or had an affair, or…”) but when was the last time you heard someone confess to the outrageous sin of grumbling?  How many of us even consider this a sin anymore?  Aren’t church people even known for being grumblers?  Let’s not rank our sins and only condemn some when Paul places them all side by side, equal in their offense to God and in their punishment.