Called for Relationship, Not Religion

May we never grow weary sharing that God is a Father we can always run to. “Religious people drive me nuts, always putting others down and spouting off about their beliefs.” I was talking to a landscaper who was helping me with a lawn project when he shared an argument he had overheard between two churchgoers about a doctrine their particular denominations had different views on. I responded by saying, “That’s OK, Jesus didn’t think too highly of the religious people in his time.” About this time the landscaper remembered that he had previously asked what I did for a living, and I answered that I wrote for a Christian denomination and I was a supervisor/resource consultant for about 50 pastors. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he... Read the article

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Sermon for August 29, 2021

Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9 • Song of Solomon 2:8-13 • James 1:17-27 • Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 This week’s theme is receiving God’s Word. The call to worship Psalm and the passage from Song of Solomon paint in lavish terms a relationship of lovers attuned to one another’s voice, and point to how we build relationship by hearing and responding to God’s voice. The reading from James displays the generosity of the Father whose words of salvation can be received as a blessing flowing from a trust relationship with him. The Gospel reading presents Jesus as the Word to listen to over and against the traditional interpretations aimed at avoiding the purposes of the law. Do Not Be Deceived James 1:16-27 (ESV) Begin by reading James... Read the article

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Sermon for August 22, 2021

Psalm 84:1-12 • 1 Kings 8:22-30, 41-43 • Ephesians 6:10-20 • John 6:56-69 The theme for this week is God’s romance with us. The call to worship Psalm talks about being in God’s loving presence (“courts”) better than being anywhere on earth. 1 Kings tells the early story of this romance, the ancient memories of the Ark of Covenant and God’s covenant people. John 6 is the strange and beautiful story of Jesus being with us and uniting himself with us at the Lord’s supper. Our sermon is from Ephesians 6, the story of us taking on our Lover’s armor, which he took on first for us. The Second-Hand Armor of God Ephesians 6:10-20 One of the runaway hits of 2021 is the Disney series The Mandalorian. This science-fiction saga... Read the article

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Sermon for August 15, 2021

Psalm 111:1-10 · 1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14 · John 6:51-58 · Ephesians 5:15-20 The theme for this week is wise choices and the well-lived life. The call to worship Psalm expands on how developing “the fear of the Lord” includes a healthy dose of gratitude as part of a well-lived life. Solomon’s prayer for wisdom, rather than long life or riches, is detailed in 1 Kings 2. In John, Jesus, the Bread of Life, explains how the sacrament of Communion nourishes us with its symbolism about the bread and the way that Christ dwells in us, becomes part of us, and guides our lives, enabling us to astutely move through the world. Our sermon text comes from Ephesians 5, where Paul exhorts us to spend our time carefully considering the... Read the article

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Sermon for August 8, 2021

Psalm 130:1-8 • 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33 • Ephesians 4:25-5:2 • John 6:25, 41-51 The theme for this week is the God who restores. The call to worship Psalm is a cry out to God, waiting for his restoration. 2 Samuel 18 tells us about how David is brought back to kindness and mercy, even while mourning for his rebellious son. John 6 is about Jesus, who steps into the metaphor of the bread of life who sustains and restored Israel, and now restores us. Our sermon is on Ephesians 4. Paul gives us part of what it means to live as people being restored into the image of Christ. Listening to That Other Voice Ephesians 4:25-5:2 ESV We’ve all been through transitions. Some of them were scary, some exciting, some disappointing, but all... Read the article

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Sermon for August 1, 2021

Psalm 51:1-12 • 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a • Ephesians 4:1-16 • John 6:24-35 Receiving mercy from the Bread of Life is this week’s theme. Our call to worship Psalm focuses on David’s repentance after the 2 Samuel story of taking another man’s wife, then murdering her husband. While David received consequences for his sinful actions, God showed him mercy and David sought restoration from the Lord. In Ephesians 4, Paul explains how believers should respond to the mercy and grace we have received in Christ by living in unity. Paul also details the systems Jesus has put in place to spiritually develop his followers and keep them united. John 6 points out that Jesus fed the 5,000 even though many followed him for superficial reasons.... Read the article

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GCI Celebration Watch Party

The Denominational Celebration is the perfect time for your local congregation to be encouraged, inspired, and challenged. Hosting a watch party is a great way to gather together and participate in the Celebration locally, reflecting and discerning the vision to which God has called your unique congregation. #gcichurchhacks Check out this month’s church hack in the link below for ideas and information on hosting your own watch party. https://resources.gci.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/2021-CH6-Watch-Party.pdf Read the article

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The Playful God

 Games, humor, dance, singing, and unadulterated silliness are basic human needs. Peekaboo! Ready or not, here I come! Row, row, row, your boat… How did reading these words make you feel? Perhaps they made you feel nostalgic or excited. Maybe you felt a longing for a simpler time. Whatever it was, hopefully it reminded you of childhood. For me, it reminds me that human beings are wired to play. Play is so important to child development that the United Nations designated it as a human right for every child. Games, humor, dance, singing, and unadulterated silliness are basic human needs. Therefore, it is interesting that Jesus, the ultimate human being, is rarely portrayed as fun or playful when presented to children. It is... Read the article

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