First Church is gearing up to enter a new phase, a new chapter in its life.This will mean reinventing ourselves for a new generation and a new opportunity, It will be exciting - but also a little scary and potentially awkward. And each of us will have a role to play.
The persistent threat for communities of faith, just like individual people of faith, is that we will settle for half-way. We quit before we’re done. We busy ourselves with matters of maintenance and don’t have time, energy, or money left over to engage in a partnership with God for the healing of our relationships, our community, and our world.
Church congregations are made up of people with varying expectations of what a Church should be. Most of the expectations, however, have very little connection with Jesus. He was crystal clear that simply calling him Lord does not mean that we honor or follow him as Lord. The test is whether or not we are actually doing the will of God, actually living, serving, behaving like we belong to God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
This is the second in a series on planned congregational transitions.When we consider God’s calling to change we begin with awareness that there is a difference between what is timeless and what is timely. Tradition is good! That is passing along, generation by generation, what has ignited and nourished the faith of those who have gone before us. Traditionalism is not good – for it degenerates into what the bible calls the “form of godliness without any power”.
Tradition is the living faith of the dead.
Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.
One of the life-changing gifts of conversion, of following Jesus Christ, is the dawning awareness of WHY we are here and WHAT we are to be about -- through every season of our lives. And so we need as Christians—the ones interested in ‘first tier’ Christian ministry—to be spending time in
God has made a purchase, and just to prove that He is going to follow through on His purchase, He has made a down payment. He has given a deposit in the form of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s first installment to guarantee to His children, in this case us, that He will finish His work and eventually bring us to glory - which means to the redemption of the body of Christ.
We have been redeemed through faith in Jesus Christ
Our preferred affluence makes us prone to a driving force of suburban lifestyle -- discontent and the need to have the newest, best, trendiest. We can learn contentment at times like this when we trust God’s ways. In our striving we sometimes rush past the promise of God. We are invited to cast our cares upon Christ for he cares for us.
When the people of Nineveh turned from their evil ways, God forgave them. But Jonah was selfish and would not forgive Nineveh. God wants us to show forgiveness to our enemies. If we truly practice forgiveness it becomes a lifestyle - a rhythm of being forgiven and forgiving others.
God wants us to understand that He has a plan for each of us. Whatever your
circumstance, He promises to give you hope and a prospering future. Even if it seems
like you’re alone, you are not. Even when it seems like God has removed His blessings
from you, he has not.
God’s plan is to bring us to Himself. When we respond to His loving call and His plan for
us, our lives will look different and our planning will not be in our power, but in His
Following God’s ways restores balance and confidence to our living. our overleveraged lifestyles leave no room for reflection and connection. We’re scrambling, but we don’t know why or where. Getting off the over-leveraged life may start with something as simple as a daily reminder of God’s intentions for us.
The suburbs are a context, an environment, a setting designed for the fulfillment of our hopes and dreams It is such a popular lifestyle choice, that today more than half of the population in the United States lives in suburbs. So why, if we are living in the highly-preferred setting of North Americans, do we often have long faces, furrowed brows, and wringing hands? Some suburban values and lifestyle choices can undermine our devotion to Christ and compete for our allegiance to God’s Kingdom.
There is a beautiful satisfaction that comes from knowing that we are doing exactly what God made us to do and are being obedient to His calling in our lives. It is as we discover our strengths, and grow comfortable in the grace we have been given, that we begin to see the promises of God for our wide-open, spacious future beginning to take shape.
Jonah was prideful and didn't want to submit to God's will. But God wasn't impressed with Jonah's pride and so Jonah was swallowed by a large fish. We are all sometimes too proud of our own accomplishments and so God humbles us; a lot of times we are humbled not because of our own self-awareness and striving toward humility, but because life has a way of beating us down. Sometimes we humble ourselves. Sometimes life has a way of humbling us when we weren’t ready, but we’re humbled nonetheless. But God passionately pursues those who have been called to be instruments of his salvation.
We get our sense of justice from God; we should always be in pursuit of justice. But the Scriptures command us very clearly that we should not judge. Judging is God's business. He is able to judge tempered with love and mercy. His judgement cannot be tainted by misplaced vengeance or lack of truth.
Why do children grow up to be so hate-filled and so prone to violence against others and, more importantly still, what we can do about it. We do have the power and possibility of changing the next generation. God has a radical way of converting the way we think about ourselves and about others so that animosity is overcome and replaced with mercy, compassion, and concern. Just get close to Jesus and His way and you will discover that you are loved and have the power to love others, too. And that is what we need to teach our children: forgiveness and love, not hate and violence.
Associate Pastor Charles Yoon preaches his final sermon at First Church today. He recounts his many fond memories of wonderful experiences over the past five years in Crystal Lake. His ministry focused primarily on pastoral care and ministry. Pastor Yoon feels that his ministries at First Church were God-driven. These ministries included planning the church's 175th year celebration, a mission trip with other church men to Mississippi, and his founding of the Stephen Ministry program at First Church.
The Great Rummage Sale underway all around us, among us, and, perhaps, within us is about how our culture and our churches are sorting through things, discarding some, holding on to others...a time of great transition and change for the position and image of Christians/churches/faith in our culture. In addition, we have the great(er) challenge of change in our own congregation and community.
Memorial Day reminds us of the nature of the world in which we live. While we live in a world filled with evil, injustice, and oppression, we live by a dream of God's peace among the nations, between people, and within our own lives. God's Promise of Peace is Jesus, the Prince of Peace --and we, his followers, are people of peace.
The Money that we faithful followers of Jesus, give to our church is SPECIAL MONEY; it can run like the wind, fly to the ends of the earth, reach across boundaries, do things many people just dream about: feed the hungry, provide for those in need, share the good news of Christ...help to heal the world in Jesus' name. And we should WANT to be a part of that giving. We should become joyful in our giving as we partner with God.
What does God expect of us when it comes to handling our money? Jesus speaks directly to the possibility of our partnership in utilizing our money for eternal benefit AND deepening our connection with the Lord here and now,. In Matthew 6:19-21 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, ....Store your treasures in heaven....Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
We will all experience difficulties, challenges, stresses, and failures in our lives and in the lives of those we love. And it would be easy to try to fix all the problems for ourselves and others and forget that God is there to help us in times of trouble. He promises to be with us in the midst of those things. Parents should especially remember God’s promises when they try to fix everything for their children. Better than always fixing is to remind them that “we’ll get through this together.” They can “count” on us.
We are beginning a 21-day journey of Stewardship. nMoney can be a great good, but it is a counterfeit god; our role as managers on God's behalf clarifies our relationship with money and stuff. Over the next several weeks we have an opportunity for some honest conversations with God.
News of the redemption through Jesus Christ is transferred from person to person and generation to generation through sharing the Message with others. Sharing our experience of Christ is a normal, predictable outcome of our relationship with Jesus. As followers of Christ we should be the hands and feet of Jesus -- attached to the body of Christ and FOR the world he has come to heal.
As Cleopas and his fellow disciple neared the end of their walk with Jesus on the road to Emmaus, they felt strangely drawn to him. The disciples made a real connection to Jesus - found in him a kindred spirit. They admitted that their hearts were burning and they wanted more, but they had the same issue that you and I have whenever we talk about being connected to Christ in such a way that results in a transformed life. That issue is that Christ simply isn’t here; or more accurately, we aren’t able to discern his presence.
Life sometimes overwhelms us. And when we're "running on empty" we tend to seek distractions to take our minds off our pain. Instead of filling our emptiness with these distractions, what if we were to fill the emptiness with the personal and powerful presence of the living God? What if empty could lead to an encounter with Jesus' Spirit here and now? We need to be available to each other to help in times of distress, but instead of giving advice, we just need to Listen.
God's purpose in reaching us is a life-transformation -- a lifelong process by which Christ is formed in us -- for the glory of God, the abundance of our own lives, and the sake of others. The whole life of following Christ is a life in community with other believers. Christian community is a discipline, a place of ordering our lives so God has access to change our hearts
During April we will explore the challenge of following Jesus through Christian community. It will involve some choices for us:
• The choice to walk together.
First Church - Crystal Lake, IL
Lead Pastor Scott Field
9:30 AM Service
March 27, 2016
We may not know HOW to engage others around us when we are in the presence of our enemies. And if not enemies, then just those who don't share our faith. And if not among those who don't share our faith, then perhaps just those who -- either awkwardly or confidently -- carry the new cultural mandate that faith is fine as long as you keep it to yourself.
Jesus demonstrated, taught, and commanded his followers, there is nothing more central than to forgive those who have sinned against us. Jesus shows the way and is the source of empowering love to forgive. Forgive those whom you hold responsible for wounds, hurts, rejections, and abuse you have experienced.
One of the amazing realities of God's redemption offered to us through Jesus Christ is that Jesus takes our place. He shouldered the penalty for our rebellion against God; he experienced and carried the judgement of God. In addition, as we are considering what Jesus did through the Cross, we also recognize that he carried not only our sins but our suffering as well.
In Christ, we are offered healing and hope.
Over the past couple of weeks together in worship we have looked at the impact of rejection or exclusion, whether intended or not. Seeds of "not being enough" or "not being adequate" somehow take root in our lives along the way so that many of us spend a fair amount of our time, attention, and energy attempting to prove we are adequate.
We also took a look into the soul-wrenching situation, particularly perplexing for church folks like many of us, when we continue with our religious routines but also have an underlying disappointment with God.
When it comes to God, Jesus, faith, Scripture, salvation, and other foundations of the Christian Way, there are some things that are difficult to understand. That is not to say that God is not to be loved and trusted with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. But sometimes our minds cannot grasp the mystery, enormity, complexity, creativity, and magnificence of God or God's ways.
How do we deal with the soul-wounding damage inflicted by our experiences of rejection? During this Lenten season we open our hearts and minds to the mysterious, powerful, takes-our-place love of God as demonstrated in Jesus Christ.
As the old gospel hymn puts it, "Jesus knows all about our trouble". Jesus not only bears our sins but he also bears our sufferings. When we are rejected, he bears that, too.
Our future, our eternity, the outcome of God's judgment in our lives at the end of history and the possibility of friendship with God here and now are entirely in our hands.
The worries of life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things choke the Word making it unfruitful. Just as weeds and thorns choke out the growth of the good seed planted by the farmer, so the impact of the gospel in our lives can be choked out, too.
This week’s sermon is part three in the sermon series, Untangled, about the Parable of the Sower; in this series we explore three ways (doubt, disillusionment, distraction) that our faith gets tangled up and is unproductive.
Satan elicits doubt within us that can undermine our confidence in God's loving faithfulness, Christ's role as the matchless Savior of the world, the sufficiency of Scripture, the necessity of Christian community, and the expectation of lifelong transformation. Then doubt settles in!
Over the next three weeks we will dive deeply into the Parable of the Sower in an attempt to take the next step in knowing God. This parable of the four responses to the mystery of God’s Kingdom is revealed in this story of Jesus. It is very special because Jesus took the time to explain his meanings in this parable.
Last Sunday we engaged in a brief overview of the Magi -- who they were, where they came from, how they got to Jerusalem, and where they found Jesus. Because the stars and constellations are also referred to as signs of God's power and greatness -- somehow these Magi came without being religiously-informed, but with devoted hearts.
The question asked by the Magi so long ago is asked over and over and over again day after day, today, now, by those who are near to us: "Where is Jesus?"
Epiphany is the climax of the Advent/Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are usually counted from the evening of December 25th until the morning of January 6th, which is the Twelfth Day. Today, as we celebrate Epiphany, we remember the visit of the Magi to the child Jesus. We will learn about a new tradition to usher in the New Year....with the marking of the doorway, or lintel, into our homes. This will be Jesus' blessing to our homes.