Weather update for 03.01.15

Church tomorrow: We will still have morning service for anyone who thinks they can make it at 1045. Do NOT get out and travel if you think it’s too unsafe for you. No evening activities (Awana, Bible Study)

For Sunday School, probably have some coffee, maybe doughnuts for anyone who shows up. Maybe a snow shovel for the men. 🙂

Spread the word!

Sunday 03.01.15

In Exodus 32-33 the people of Israel decided to bow down and worship a golden calf. Idolatry is ultimately at the root of all sins, and it’s something that we still have to guard against today as we seek to follow Jesus (1 John 5:21). This Sunday we’ll talk about how to deal with idol hearts.

@945 Small Groups / Sunday School (all ages)
@1045 Morning Service
@5pm Awana
@6pm Adult Video Study: “Portrait of a Struggle” by Paul David Tripp

**Keep an eye on the weather, we could have snow and ice this weekend, stay tuned for any cancellations or changes

Also coming soon (pastor Mike will be leading the Sunday evening session on March 15–all from the church are invited and encouraged to attend the evening sessions from 3.15-3.18 @7pm, more info at


When scripture makes us uneasy… (a meditation)

“Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. When you buy a Hebrew slave…” ~ Exodus 21:1-2

When we read though the Bible, inevitably there are certain scriptures that will make us feel uneasy and wonder, “Did God actually say that?” and make us wonder if the ‘God of the Old Testament’ is somehow different than the magnified love of God in Christ we see in the ‘God of the New Testament.’

In Exodus 21 and other places, there are a lot of laws that have to do with the handling of slaves. Exodus 21:21 even refers to a slave as property or money. How does this square with what we read in other places in scripture about how we are to treat other people?

I think part of the answer comes when we look at what Jesus says about the Old Testament Law. On the one hand, he affirmed it as God’s good word (Matthew 5:17-18). On the other hand, he looked at it through a lens reflecting human nature post-Genesis 3.

In Matthew 19, some Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce: “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” Jesus responded by going back to Genesis 1&2, stating how God had made mankind male and female, and a man was to leave his father and mother to become united as one flesh in a relationship to his wife. Therefore, Jesus concluded, “What God has joined together, let not man separate.”

The Pharisees asked, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and send her away?” It’s actually a fair question, because Moses wrote about divorce proceedings in Deuteronomy 24, which the Pharisees quoted (though how accurately they quoted it is up for debate). Jesus’ response is telling, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”

In other words, Genesis 1&2 reflect how the world was supposed to be. In Genesis 3, we broke it when we chose sin over God. Jesus is restoring it, but it will not be fully restored until he returns (Revelation 21&22). Even among the Israelites, the nation marked out to be God’s people in the Old Testament, not everyone truly trusted God. Indeed, even though all the male children were to be circumcised on their eighth day, according to the command of God, Moses still had to call them to “circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn” (Deuteronomy 10:16, also: 30:6).

The Law in the Old Testament was not given as a reflection of a return back to Genesis 1&2 or forward to Revelation 21&22. In other words, the purpose of the Law was not to create a society in which things were as God created them to be. Rather the Law put restraints on the hardness of heart which is, and kept sinful men who had no love for God from falling into the full trap of their sinfulness.

Stubborn hearts were bounded by a complex set of laws, mainly to protect others. Hearts made new in Christ which beat for God reflect a simpler law—a law of love and freedom (Galatians 5:13-26 and James 2:8-13).

A person under the law of love and freedom will seek to be a servant to others instead of forcing others to serve them. But without such love, people will seek to use others. Many of the Old Testament laws sought to keep in check the harmful reach of sinful and stubborn hearts.

So when a passage makes us uneasy, let’s remember to think of it in the full context of God’s word.

This post is part of our ongoing series as we go through the Bible together as a church in 2015-16.

Sunday 02.22.15

This Sunday, we’ll be looking at how God said his people would be his treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation if they would obey his commands. They couldn’t; but Jesus did. Through Jesus, we become God’s treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. Exodus 19-20, 1 Peter 2:9-12

@945 Small Groups / Sunday School (all ages)
@1045 Morning Worship
@5pm Awana
@6pm Adult Study, “Portrait of a Struggle” by Paul David Trip

See you there!

Pray for the persecuted and the persecutors

4And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. ~ Acts 9:4-5

With this week’s news of ISIS beheading 21 Coptic Christians**, we find another example of brutality and persecution carried out under the banner of zeal for faith. It’s heart-wrenching, though also nothing new. Religious persecution seems as old as history itself. Each news story, whether involving 1 person, 21, or 2001, reminds us of the tragic reality: there is something seriously wrong in the world. The depth and the darkness of sin should make us shudder and should make us hate even the minor-seeming evils within ourselves.

What should we do when he hear stories? It’s easy to change the channels and ignore the situation…until it happens on our own shores. It’s easy to listen to talking heads and grow angry with the pundits over various actions and inactions of politicians and military commanders who must make difficult decisions concerning the lives of both our citizens and those of other nations. It’s easy to fear and try to shelter ourselves away.

But none of these are Christian responses.

For the persecuted, we must pray. On the one hand, we see that living peaceful lives is very much in the will of God. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9); Paul told us to pray for governing authorities that we might live peaceful, quiet lives; and he told us to live in harmony with others and to be agents of peace (Romans 12:16-18); and Peter told us to “honor everyone” (1 Peter 2:17). Peace is to be desired, prayed for, and sought after; for ours is the God of Peace (Romans 15:33).

On the other hand, the Bible also warns that until Jesus returns, there will be the persecution of various peoples, including God’s faithful. Yet, even in the midst of persecution, Jesus said we are blessed when we are persecuted and reviled on his account, and that our reward in heaven is very great (Matthew 5:10-12). He said that though we might be poor and reviled on earth in persecution, we are rich before God; persecution is temporary, life is eternal (Revelation 2:9-11). Peter said not to be surprised by persecution, but to rejoice because of the glory which is coming (1 Peter 4:12-16).

So, we pray. We pray (1) that persecutions might cease and peace would reign, that God’s kingdom would shine more brightly in the world, and that Jesus would come quickly to rescue and restore; (2) that those facing persecution might faithfully endure with a hope focused on the glory of eternal life in Christ; and (3) that God’s true and fair justice would come upon those who oppose him by persecuting and slaying others (Revelation 6:10-11).

We pray for the persecuted.

Yet we also pray for the persecutors. Jesus gave this very command in Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” The command is both countercultural and counter the way we tend to operate as human beings. Yes, as above, we pray for God’s justice—but we also trust his justice. Hence, we pray for the persecutors and more than this, as we are praying for them, we do good for them and seek to serve them in love (Matthew 5:38-48; Romans 12:19-21). Instead of seeking our own personal vengeance against those who harm and hurt, we are to seek their good.

Ultimately their greatest good is salvation in Christ. In Acts 7-9 we are introduced to a young man who led a great persecution against the church: Saul of Tarsus. The Bible describes Saul as one who oversaw the murder of Christians and “ravaged the church” (Acts 7:58-8:3). He “breathed threats and murder against the disciples” (Acts 9:1). And he “persecuted the church of God with violence and tried to destroy it” (Galatians 1:13). Yet he was not beyond the reach of God’s grace.

Jesus confronted him, Saul experienced truth and a change of heart and life, and he then became known as Paul and wrote a large chunk of the New Testament and took the gospel of Jesus form place to place, himself suffering persecutions.

So we pray (1) that terrorists and persecutors would experience the gospel of Christ, turn from their wickedness, and become beacons of grace, love, and truth; (2) that God would raise up one like Saul among the men and women who bring persecution and that his voice in conversion would be a powerful witness; and (3) that repentant ex-persecutors would find peace with God and with their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ from the reconciling power of the gospel and God’s Spirit.

Pray for the persecuted. Pray for the persecutors.

**Link to the news website is for informational purposes only, and is neither a statement for or against any of the content or comments therein

Sunday 02.15.15

What does it mean to be a part of the community called church? We’ll look this Sunday at the life of the early followers of Jesus in Acts 2:37-47.

@945 Small Groups / Sunday School (all ages)
@1045 Morning Worship
@Noon Potluck dinner in gym

@5pm Awana
@6pm Adult Bible Study: Portrait of a Struggle part 4, by Paul David Tripp

Hope to see you there!