Easter Worship 10:30 a.m.

March 3, 2017 by  
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Join us for a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus!

CROSS DISPLAY POSTPONED ONE WEEK

January 12, 2017 by  
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Due to the rainy conditions, we will put up our Pro-Life Cross display on Saturday January 21 instead of January 14!

Joy

December 24, 2016 by  
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December 24 2016

“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Luke 2:10

You may have heard the name Henrik Ibsen. He was a prolific Norwegian playwright. One of his many plays is Emperor and Galilean. Written in 1873, the play depicts the life of Julian, who ruled the Roman Empire in 361-363 AD. Julian tried to replace the newly established state religion of Christianity with the old worship of the Greek and Roman gods. The Roman Empire had become Christian, but Julian was trying to reverse that. Ibsen’s 8-hour play (which is most likely why none of us have ever seen it) tracks emperor Julian’s degeneration from a young Christian to a pagan Caesar.  

I bring all of this up tonight because at one point in the play, Ibsen has Julian say, “Have you looked at these Christians closely?…They brood their lives away; unspurred by ambition; the sun shines for them but they do not see it; the earth offers them its fullness, but they desire it not; all their desire is to renounce and suffer, that they may come to die” (Quoted I, English in William Barclay, In the Hands of God. New York: Harper & Row, 1966, p. 66).

This description of dour and joyless Christians by Mr. Ibsen is similar to what we hear today. Critics of the Christian church frequently point to our lack of joy. Millennials charge Christians with being quick to judge, ever ready to tell people what they’re doing wrong. One woman described her pastor as being “so solemn he looks like he just stepped out a Nyquil commercial.” It is unfortunate that to some, even at Christmas, we Christians may look more like Ebenezer Scrooge than an angel with “good news of great joy.” One pastor’s eight year-old son once asked him on the way to church on Christmas Eve, “Dad, are you going to let us enjoy Christmas this year or are you going to try to explain it all again?” Wow!

Exactly why are we hear? Some of you are here because someone made you come. Some of you are here because it is what you do on Christmas Eve. Some are here because they want to opportunity to worship. What I want all of you to hear this evening is the message the angels shared that first Christmas: Good News of great joy for all people. We have JOY in Christ. The New Testament calls on us to “rejoice” over 70 times.

It is true that all of us have a right to be miserable. We have a problem with sin. We see it all around us. We see people making bad choices, bad decisions. We see people doing things that destroys families and relationships. We see children starving and Christians suffering persecution. Evil thrives in our world. Families disintegrate. The world is falling apart. Sin has become normal and accepted by our society. We see our own sins, ever before us, like a dirty mirror that has us looking worse every day! If Christians don’t lament all this darkness, who will? If we won’t carry the world’s heavy burden of sin, who will?     

Tonight is to remind you that someone else already carried that burden. When you feel burdened by sin, listen to the message of the Christmas angel. Trumping your desire to carry the burden of sin yourselves is the great news that Jesus has come to do it for you. He has taken sin seriously. He has carried the full consequences of your sin, dying in your place. When you look and act as if you bear the sins of the world, you cheapen His sacrifice and tarnish His victory. 

This was no ordinary birth announcement that first Christmas. This was a sin-crushing, death-defeating universal news alert: “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). It was news of great joy! The joy was so contagious that the shepherds, the first to hear the news, couldn’t stop talking about it.

I once heard about a couple who learned they had won millions in a lottery. Hoping to keep it a secret until they made the necessary plans, they told no one for a few days about their new fortune. Those close to them, though, couldn’t help but notice that their countenance had changed. Something had happened. They were beaming. They just couldn’t stop smiling. Finally, a neighbor asked, “What in the world is going on with two of you?” Then the news spilled out. Their lives would never be the same, they said. 

The joy God gives is part of your identity as a follower of Jesus. It is what you have in spite of everything that is wrong with the world. God had Jesus pay the price for you sins. That is why you have Joy: You have a relationship with God that goes way beyond striking it rich in a lottery. This is joy in the Lord. This joy responds to all God is and all God has accomplished. This joy is eternal. This joy flies in the face of Ibsen’s Julian who saw Christians as a brooding, sorry lot. This joy shines through the carols of this season, the notes we write on Christmas greetings, the works of charity we offer, and the tears which fall as this great good news of a Savior touches our hearts.

This joy impacts every aspect of your life. The first part of this month I was shedding tears of joy as I watched my granddaughter being baptized, seeing her sins washed away and become part of God’s family. That is the joy we have in Christ. But this joy is not just for the good times. I remember having joy through the tears when a dear friend of mine died this summer, knowing that because of her faith in Jesus, she would receive the benefit of all that Jesus accomplished through His life and death and resurrection. That is also the joy we have in Christ.

At a living nativity scene one Christmas, the costumed shepherds were trained to look like those who had been transformed by the angel’s good news. As people came by to view the scene, the shepherds were beaming from cheek to cheek. They worked the crowd, saying, repeatedly, “Come and see! Christ the Savior is born!” They were the liveliest, most welcoming, smilingest bunch of Christmas shepherds you could ever hope to see.

What if all of you here tonight took a lesson from that. If you know the joy of Jesus being your Savior, don’t forget to tell you face about it.

I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

Joy to the World. The Lord is come.

Table

September 11, 2016 by  
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tablesticker tnThe Table has announced that they are ceasing operations the end of this year. The church account has been deactivated.  We will look for another tool to use for connecting and communicating with our members.

 

 

 

 

Potluck Dinner

August 26, 2016 by  
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On Sunday, September 25, we will have a potluck dinner after the late service. We will hold the luncheon in the pavilion if the weather permits. This is a chance to share some less formal time with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Our worship schedule will not change on this date.

Please join us!

Freedom

July 5, 2015 by  
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A few years back, the ACLU’s posted on their website: “It is probably no accident that freedom of speech is the first freedom mentioned in the First Amendment”   (www.aclu.org/FreeSpeech/FreeSpeechMain.cfm)

Is freedom of speech the first thing mentioned in the First Amendment? Absolutely not. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The ACLU is so agenda driven that it often ignores the facts. Freedom of speech and the other freedoms listed in the Bill of Rights all flow from the understanding that an individual’s freedom is first and best expressed in freedom to worship God. Conventional wisdom thinks freedom leads to truth, but the Bible says, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

Of course, freedom of religion continues to come under attack. The Supreme Court is busy trying to remove any vestige of Christianity from the government, as evidenced by their recent rulings. I know this is disturbing and troubling to many of you, but let’s try to keep it all in perspective.

Christians should stop expecting the government to be the teacher of Christian values and morality. I think that is a big part of the problem. People thought that the government would always follow the teachings of the Bible and impose those beliefs on everyone. And because they believed that to be true, the followers of Jesus became lazy and complacent. But our nation’s laws are not based on the Bible. They are based on what the people say they want. When Christians were the majority of those in control, thinks went well for us. That is no longer the case. And what people want is constantly changing. We are seeing more and more that people are following their sinful nature and desires. They are looking for happiness and peace and contentment by pursuing lust and greed and sin, and they will come up empty. Going down that road will continue to bring disappointment.

We are witnessing people indulge in all kinds of depravity and having it be labeled as acceptable. We are right to pray, “The darkness deepens, Lord, with me abide.” We know that God will remain with His people. But when people are not following God’s Word, Satan is there to fill the void. He promises pleasure and satisfaction, but brings pain, conflict, hatred and cruelty.

The message is not all doom and gloom. While it may not be what we would like to see, the government declaring yet another sin legal does not spell defeat for the followers of Jesus Christ. He is still risen from the dead and He is still in control. He has purchased us back from sin and death to give us forgiveness and life, and He wants only the best for us.

The government is not responsible for getting God’s Word out. You and I were given that task. It is our job – as the followers of Jesus Christ, those who know the truth – it is our job to proclaim the whole counsel of God to the world around us, those in far away lands and those living on our street. And the Word of God we have to share is more than Commandments, more than the Law of God, more than pronouncements of condemnation. You and I are called to share the precious, priceless Good News of Jesus Christ as Savior, the only hope for anyone to be saved from sin. You and I have in our possession and must share in our words and actions the message that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, and He did that by living a perfect life and dying to pay for the sins of all men. You and I know that He rose again in triumph on the third day to open heaven for all who will believe in Him, and that is what we have been called to share with our neighbors. We are to announce the freedom that Christ brings. That is our job, not that of the government.

We rejoice that we live in a land that still has religious freedom, and we want to safeguard that freedom so that we can continue to worship God and share Him with others. But don’t confuse your freedom to worship and the government’s responsibility. The government grants you earthly freedom. Your job is to use that freedom to share Christ and the spiritual freedom He offers. Thankfully, we are still free to hold our beliefs and act upon them.

While I was working on this message, I had a phone call from a reporter at KXII. She asked if any same sex couples had requested to be married in our church. I said they had not. She then asked if I would officiate at such a wedding or if I would decline. I told her I would decline. As soon as I said that, she thanked me and hung up. I never thought I would be placed in the position of having to answer that question. But I have no problem taking my stand on the Word of God. I am led by what God tells me in His Word before I am obligated to the laws of this land or a ruling of the Supreme Court.

In Luke 4 we have the account of Jesus going to the synagogue of his hometown, Nazareth, and reading from Isaiah (61:1) The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners… After He read that passage from the scroll, Jesus said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21). The people wanted to stone Him because they didn’t understand or believe him. They were looking for a different kind of freedom, an earthly freedom. But Jesus brought something better. He was accomplishing freedom for those broken by guilt, freedom for those in bondage to sin, freedom from the darkness of their disobedience. He was the one who came to give spiritual and eternal freedom. That is Good News, the best news you will ever hear, but many fail to recognize it for what it is. That is why you and I have been told to tell them about our Jesus!

So many hear “freedom” and think “I can do anything I want.”  They treat freedom as though it is a declaration of independence from God, saying they don’t need all of His restrictive rules and regulations and commandments. And that is when the trouble begins. There is fallout from that “independence.” When people rebel against God and the laws that He gave us for our own good, they invite trouble into their lives.

All because we think we know better than God and try to do things our way rather than God’s way. Then we cry out to God, demanding that He do something about the problems we have brought on ourselves, and some will react by saying, “I could never believe in a God who allows so much suffering!” And yet the suffering is all because we have not listened to Him and lived according to what he has told us! So listen to what He says now:

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

1 Peter 2:16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

It is for freedom that Christ has set you free, but not man’s warped definition of freedom. It is not the freedom that this world gives, it is not the freedom to sin, but Jesus gives the freedom of knowing that all your sins were covered by His blood so that you can stand before Him as blameless and clean and forgiven. You have the freedom to live your life as His child and servant. It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Use that Freedom to follow Him and share Him with others.

So where do we go? We return to the Word of God. We begin to work to clean up the understanding of marriage in Church and society, holding up the standard God established. And we need to be that city on a hill, shining the light of God’s truth and mercy and forgiveness and life that is found only in Jesus Christ.

Snow Day at Grace March 4

March 4, 2015 by  
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Due to the predicted ice and snow storm, LENTEN SERVICES at Grace on March 4 are cancelled. Also, the Men’s Breakfast on March 5 is cancelled. Stay home and stay safe.

We Adore Him Who is the Light in the Darkness

December 13, 2014 by  
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December 14 2014

John 1:4-5  . 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

From time to time, we hear news from the world of science about a new black hole that has been discovered in space. We have all heard of “black holes.” Although they were spoken of in theory by Einstein, the existence of them was not verified until the 1970s. The way I understand it, a black hole is formed when a large star burns itself out and collapses in on itself. The mass is so great and the gravitational pull is so strong that is sucks in all nearby matter, including any light near it. It is fascinating to contemplate and difficult to comprehend.

That is a picture of what happened in this world. Revelation 9 says I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth, a reference to Satan, the one who tried to lay claim to the title “Light Bearer” or “Morning Star.” When he fell, he caved in on himself and our world was being sucked into that black hole of sin and darkness, from which we are powerless to escape. The Prince of Darkness was trying to drag us down with him.

Scientists say that nothing can escape a Black Hole. Including light. What they fail to take into account is the Light so powerful that it overcomes any and all darkness. That is the Light God sent into the world. The one who at the very beginning said “Let there be light” has now said, “Let there be The Light of the World.”  The true Morning Star, as He is called at the end of Revelation, has dawned:

REV 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

 

His love pulls us out of the black hole. He replaces darkness with light, death with life. This Light came into the world and the darkness has not, can not and will not overcome it. Satan has no power over us if we focus on the Light that has come into the world.

That is the one we adore, the one whose birth we prepare to celebrate. We praise God who sent the Light of heaven, Jesus Christ, to become the Light of the World. Reflecting back on the events in an out of the way Bethlehem stable, we remember the first sparkle of that Light in this world. And in our reflection on that event, we come to calm certainty that darkness can no longer frighten us or control us if we stay in the light. Granted, the Light didn’t seem that powerful when it first arrived, but His birth was just the first sparkle. Before long, it would be shining for all men to see.

What was it like? The virgin tenderly laying her precious cargo in a manger while Joseph looks on. Shepherds came having heard the angels praising God and announcing the arrival of the Messiah. Centuries before, Isaiah had foretold it: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.  (Isaiah 9:2) And Jesus repeatedly announced His arrival in those same terms: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) and again I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. (John 12:46) In that manger, with that first little glimmer, the battle between Light and Dark was joined.

Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. How she must have smiled and cried with joy upon finally seeing that promise she had been carrying around inside of her for nine months. Finally, that first sparkle of the Light of the World. In her pondering, did she know that she would later stand at the foot of a cross instead of a manger, crying again, only this time instead of tears of joy they would be tears of anguish and grief. Did she put a hand over her mouth and one on her stomach, remembering how she had carried Him inside of her, the first time she had seen that precious little face, wrapped him and placed Him in that manger? Soon He would be wrapped in burial clothes and placed in a tomb. It seemed she was watching as the Light of the world that she had first seen sparkle in Bethlehem was being snuffed out.

You need to consider that it was for that very reason that His birth took place, that God’s Son might offer His perfect life as payment for the sins of all people, including you. From Bethlehem to Calvary is not a far leap, but the beginning and fulfillment of God’s plan. Or almost the fulfillment, because it doesn’t stop there. You see, we have the certainty that God accepted the payment Jesus made as full and complete because of what happened the following Sunday morning. The Light dawned once again, but this time it was not a faint glimmer or a sparkle. On Easter the Light burst forth from the tomb with the unmatched brilliance of the glory of God. The promise was now fulfilled. Salvation had come. It was finished. Christ had defeated sin once and for all. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. O come let us adore Him who is the Light of the world! The true Morning Star shines, overcoming the Black hole of that Fallen Star, Lucifer. And through faith in Jesus Christ, the light of the world, we share in His victory. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

We know that to be true. We believe it. Yet we all have darkness we must face. I know what some of you are going through. I am aware of some of the darkness in your lives. [Black Hole Pic] But I don’t pretend to know the deep fears and pains that afflict those of you here today. While I cannot know all that grieves you, nor do I want to, but God does. You may be troubled by disease, or have suffered a loss, or had other unhappiness or devastation in your life. It may be depression, uncertainty, a general sense of unrest. It may feel like you are being sucked into a black hole from which there is no escape. But listen to this: No matter what it is, no matter how strong the darkness in your life is, He who is the Light of the World comes into your life with the brilliance of His love and the miracle of His forgiveness. He came to that stable. He came to you in the sparking waters of your Baptism. He comes again and again in the shimmering in the red of the wine, in the whiteness of the wafer, to dispel your darkness. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. No black hole can overcome the light of Jesus. Christ has come to shine into your life.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

“God is light and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

O Come Let Us Adore Him Who Is the Light In the Darkness!

Annual Voter’s Meeting

November 18, 2014 by  
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The annual voter’s meeting will be held Sunday, December 14th at Noon. Please try to make arrangements to be here for this meeting. We will discuss the 2015 Budget, Reports, and elect officers and council members for the coming year.

Movie Night at Grace

October 18, 2014 by  
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Luther Movie 2Join us November 1! We’ll share a potluck meal at 5:30 in the Fellowship Hall. After we eat, we’ll move into the sanctuary to watch the 2003 film “Luther.” This is open to anyone who would like to attend. Tell your friends.

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