As a follow-up to the worship message each Sunday, Pastor Tom (or whoever preached that Sunday) jots down some additional thoughts for us to ponder. We hope these thoughts enrich your time as you meditate on Sunday's message and on God's Word.
*Sermon Afterthoughts from December 2010 through June 2012 can be found on our Facebook page in the Notes section.
A follow-up to Sunday's sermon (3/11/12) entitled, "All Things New" by Pastor Josiah Bancroft (Luke 8:40-56).
Walking away from the Sermon on Sunday I felt that I had left so much untouched from a great passage. I knew that the passage was bigger than any single brief study can cover, but I hoped that a couple of things would stand out.
I had gotten such a vision of Jesus' heart in his mission to reclaim people from sin to bring them to himself and the Father that I hoped a bit of that leaked through. Jesus' heart in stopping for the woman and the example that gave to the disciples he would send out. His speaking 'peace' / 'shalom' to her shame and restoring her life in that community. His teaching Jairus that she was as valuable as a daughter as Jairus' own daughter was to him.
I also hope that the promise of the gospel came through as well for those thinking through the passage. That the same Jesus that offered hope to the suffering and shamed woman, to desperate and reputable Jairus, and to his dying daughter also offers the same hope to me. Though healing may or may not come immediately these days, I can still hear him call me son (or daughter) in the gospel. I can know by faith that God is my father because of Christ. I can find some relief from the guilt and shame, or the pursuit of self and reputation, that I often fall into.
The same Jesus alive today still speaks through these words by his Spirit to us and to our hearts the same gospel of hope in this life and perfection in the next. What an encouragement.
A follow-up to Sunday's sermon (2/19/12) entitled, "Finding Rest in Jesus" by Reverend Ed Yurus (Matthew 11:25-30).
One morning in the summer of 1864 the Abraham Lincoln’s long time friend, Joshua Speed encountered the president reading the bible. Speed commented, “I am glad to see you are profitably engaged. Have you recovered from your skepticism?” Without waiting for an answer Speed continued, “I am sorry to say, I have not recovered from my skepticism.” Putting his large, firm hand on his friend’s shoulder the president responded with wisdom and kindness, “Speed take all you can from this book upon reason and the balance on faith. And you will live and die a happier man.”
At that moment it was not about what the Holy Bible had done for Lincoln but it was about what the Holy Bible could do for his dear friend. Speed’s comment, “I am sorry to say, I have not recovered from my skepticism,” speaks volumes about the void in the life of the skeptic.
We are never a better friend than when we are gently and graciously inviting someone to our church, a bible study or a community group.
Many of us have family members and friends who are going through a spiritually rebellious time. Their rebellion may manifest itself by staying away from church and avoiding Christian fellowship or they may even be openly hostile to the truths of Scripture as Lincoln was during his Springfield days. But let us all find hope and comfort in the sustaining power of saving grace and the words of our Savior, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life.”
A follow-up to Sunday's sermon (2/12/12) entitled, "Masters of the Game" by Pastor Tom Holliday (Genesis 3:1-15).
What makes transparency so difficult? Why is it so hard to open up to other people? Like our first parents, Adam and Eve, we are masters of the game, "hide and seek." Many of us believe that there is much to hide and question who would want to really know us if they really knew us.
As Brennan Manning put it, "The false self suppresses or camouflages feelings, making emotional honesty impossible. Living out of the false self creates a compulsive desire to present a perfect image to the public so that everybody will admire us and nobody will know us."
Fearful people, like us, devote much energy and time to such a sad end. So that everybody will admire us and nobody will know us. We find it so hard to discard the fig leaves, and hard to believe that the covering that Jesus provides is enough. So the fig leaves stay on, and we keep people at a distance, and all the while something deep within us longs to connect at a deeper level.
As he did in the garden, the Lord God comes asking questions of us, such as, "where are you?"
"Here I am, Lord. Hiding. Trying to believe that the gospel is true. Give me faith to believe your verdict, not mine. The two could not be more opposite. My own verdict drives me deeper into my shame and confusion. Forgiven? How could it be, for so much wrong done? Righteous? Not the word I would choose to describe how you see me."
"My son, my daughter, remember that I am the one who came after you not to shame you, but to heal you. I came to seek and to save the one who was lost — you. My verdict about you is the only one that matters. You are forgiven, righteous, and wanted — by me. So, if you believe this, you can begin to open up your heart to me in ways you never thought possible. Yes, and to others, who are struggling in many ways just like you. You will experience healing in new ways if you process this in community. Believe me, it's true."
A follow-up to Sunday's sermon (1/29/12) entitled "Making Every Effort to Keep the Unity of the Spirit" by Pastor Tom Holliday (Ephesians 4:1-6).
Unity is an essential part of community. Unity, not uniformity. God is not looking for Stepford wives in his family. He enjoys diversity; he's the creator of diversity. How else can we explain the countless varieties of fish and fowl? Nature demonstrates his love for diversity in numerous ways. In his church as well. This coming Sunday we will take a closer look at the diversity of the body of Christ found in Ephesians chapter 4.
Sometimes unity is stressed by diversity. When people think differently from us, come at things from different perspectives, or different backgrounds, we can easily find ourselves feeling distant from others. Feeling like we don't belong, or don't want to belong to the group. Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace is not easily done. Unfortunately, there are too many examples of churches that prove so. We can be fragile people whose feelings can be easily hurt at times. No doubt that is why the apostle Paul emphasized the need for humility, gentleness, patience and bearing with one another in love.
Make every effort, Paul urges. If you're like me, you probably wish that the apostle chose a different word. Like maybe, "some effort." Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the body of Christ requires grace. We simply can't do it without Jesus. There will be too many obstacles in the way. Again, examples abound. Perhaps we have become desensitized to this clear biblical command by the many instances where we see people break fellowship with other believers over things that break not only the fellowship, but the Father's heart.
Yes, we need Jesus in order to live out this gospel truth. We need a vision of heaven, of the oneness that we have in Christ. This is why the apostle punctuated this truth in just a few verses in Ephesians chapter 4. Seven times he highlights the word "one." One body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and father of all. We could all benefit from a clearer understanding and view of how much unity means to the Lord.
Make every effort.