The year was 1980. The Olympics were weeks away, but everyone knew. The US hockey team wasn’t that good. Coach Herb Brooks had chosen to go an unorthodox route to build his team, and it wasn’t paying off. Instead of loading up on the best college players in the land, he chose, instead, to fill his roster with those who he thought would make the most cohesive team, even if that meant choosing lesser-skilled players. It sounded wise; but when that team played the Soviets in a pre-Olympic exhibition game, they were crushed 10-3. And that is when everyone knew: the Olympics had not even started yet, but the US team was done. But then something strange happened when the games began. Far from being eliminated in the first round, the US team showed amazing resilience and came out of the first round winning four games and tying one (and
As we move fully into the Advent season, this is a fitting conclusion to our series on the Minor Prophets as we explore their understanding of the coming Messiah, based on Micah 5:1-9.
Giving advice is all around us. Some good. Some bad. Some terrible. Consider: “The Lord loveth a cheerful giver. He also accepteth gifts from a grouch.” --Catherine Hall “You should give according to your income, lest God make your income according to your giving.” --unknown “Blessed are those who can give without remembering, and take without forgetting.” --Elizabeth Bibesco “Do yer givin’ while you’re livin’, so you’ll be knowing’ where its goin’.” --unknown “There is no grace in a gift that sticks to the fingers.” --Seneca “You’ll never be as lazy as the guy who named the fireplace.” –unknown Okay, the last quote wasn’t about giving, but I found it encouraging. And when you talk about giving, you want to be encouraging. Today, I want to encourage you by answering the question, “What does giving do for us?” As it turns out, it does all sorts of things. First, giving,
"A Prophet's Thanksgiving" based on Micah 7:14-20
Okay, it wasn’t scientific or carefully designed; but it was interesting and, at points, quite telling. I’m talking about the survey we took at River’s Edge as part of our 14th anniversary celebration. If you weren’t here to celebrate with us, shame on you. Survey says, “no birthday cake for you!” But if you were here, my guess is that you would be interested in hearing the opinions of others. But first let me quote an old Turkish proverb: “If you speak the truth, have a foot in the stirrup.” I’m not sure how that applies here, but I am sure it does. So with that in mind, here are seven observations about how we are doing as a church. Insight number 1: 22% of us indicated that they don’t enjoy reading blogs. That means that almost a quarter of those who took the survey won’t read this article about
This portion of our worship service called “Out on a Limn*” is designed to give a “visual or practical application” of our main theme for a particular worship service. This “Limn” was part of our series, Major Hits of the Minor Prophets, and you can listen to the accompanying sermon, "Just Believing," by clicking here. *limn–to depict or illustrate visually or in words
Sermon that passionately reminds us that God is a God of justice and desires that His followers fight for social justice, too. Based on Amos 5:10-15, 21-24. To hear the accompanying “Out on a Limn” and to learn more about this part of our worship, click here.
I’ve never met a Will Rogers quote I didn’t like, and that is especially true about his thoughts on politics. For instance, "Congress is so strange; a man gets up to speak and says nothing, nobody listens, and then everybody disagrees." "Congress meets tomorrow morning. Let us all pray: Oh Lord, give us strength to bear that which is about to be inflicted upon us. Be merciful with them, oh Lord, for they know not what they're doing. Amen." The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets. Most of my life, I have thought that politics was a disaster and it was best to not get too seriously involved. I was into casual politics. I would vote and pay some attention to what was going on, but I was committed to not getting too serious about anything and just playing the
As we celebrate the 14th anniversary of our church, it is a good time to reflect on God's blessings of where we've been, where we are and also to consider the challenge from God's Word (Galatians 6:9-10) for where we are going in the year ahead. To hear the accompanying "Out on a Limn" and to learn more about this part of our worship, click here:
This portion of our worship service called "Out on a Limn*" is designed to give a "visual or practical application" of our main theme for a particular worship service. In this "Limn," Dane first rehearsed a little of the history of how God blessed our church from our earliest days by directing our steps to the Community Center as a worship space. Then, two of our wonderful volunteers, Beth Shaw and Jesus Caban, gave testimonies of what volunteering means to them at River's Edge. This "Limn" was part of our annual "State of the Ministry" Sunday, and you can listen to the sermon for this service by clicking here. *limn--to depict or illustrate visually or in words
Netflix’ original 8-part series, Stranger Things, was written by the Duffer Brothers (Matt and Ross) and is streaming now on Netflix. It stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Fin Wolfhard and Millie Bobby Brown. There’s a saying that you may be the only Bible the people around you read. I want to take that one step further and say that there are things in popular culture that may be the only theology some people read and even further yet by saying Netflix’ Stranger Things is one of those things. Now, you may think linking popular culture and theology is a bit of stretch, but it is true. The great Donald G. Barnhouse (pastor of 10th Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1927-1960 - that’s right, a real pastor!) used to say all of life illustrates Bible doctrine. And Stranger Things illustrates! Now, I am not saying that Stranger Things is the equivalent
Every once in a while, I come across a blog, article or posting of some sort that I think is engaging. I may not always agree with everything in it, but I feel it is saying something we ought to consider and think about. And when I find one of these articles, I feel it is God’s will that I steal it and post it on OUR site. Now the technical name for this is “annexing,” as in the sentence, “Hitler annexed the Sudetenland.” But while Hitler did it for political gain, I am doing it in Christian love. So there. Today, we have two stolen blogs that I would like to present to you for your consideration. Both are presented in their entirety on their own website without any editing, obscuring or comments from me. I just provide the links and pretend that I am annexing them as my
Recent studies on giving have not been encouraging. In any given year, 22.1% of all Christians choose not to give (either to a church or a charity). In fact, only 9.4% of us give away a tenth or more of our income each year (whether that be to a church, a ministry or to a secular charity). That means the vast majority of us (a whopping 68%) in any given year give between .1 and 9.9% of our income. What would you guess the actual number is? Sadly, according to numerous surveys, most of us in this last category give somewhere around 2-3% (another study suggests that churched people give no more than 1.4% of their income to support all three of their top interests: their church, ministries they value and their favorite secular charities). Now, these results come from national surveys taken of people who have some affiliation to
How we understand the "Day of the Lord" will be either as a day of judgment OR as a day of deliverance and rejoicing depending on whether we are willing to repent and return to the Lord as described in Joel 2 (and then also quoted by Peter in Acts 2).
Now many of you are thinking, “What a waste of time these blogs have been. All this talk about giving when everything we needed to know was already in the printed BLURBS we read in our programs each week.” And you know what? You are right. But familiarity breeds contempt. Many of us haven’t read the offering blurb since 2005, and some people simply skip that section of the program thinking that it must be advertising. But our whole philosophy of giving is articulated in these eight rotated blurbs. If you’ve never read them, here they are in one fell swoop. If you read them long ago, but have forgotten what they said, here they are in DDTS (Dolby Digital Theater Sound). If you always read them (or read them once a year), you get to take today off! You may pass go and collect two hundred “way to go’s.”
Author Lance Morrow wisely noted that “a rattlesnake loose in the living room tends to end all discussion of animal rights." Loose ends, like loose snakes, can’t be a good thing and should be quickly dealt with (when you know you can’t end a sentence with a preposition, but have no other way to say it, well, that’s why God created the parenthetical remark). So today, we round up a few “loose ends” on tithing and giving as we start to bring this series on giving to an end. And to do that, let’s look at one of the premiere passages on tithing in the Old Testament, Malachi 3:7-12. The text reads: “Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are
Just to be safe (I mean, “clear”), I personally have nothing against the IRS (if any IRS agents are reading this, I’ve always said the IRS is like the FBI, except way cooler). But lots and lots of people feel the tax code is unwieldy, unjust and oppressive and that the IRS and the mob have lots of things in common; it’s just that one is legal thievery and the other not so much (not me, mind you, I would never say something like that. I love paying my taxes, and I loved The Sopranos!). Plus, people feel our taxes are just way too complicated and expensive. It’s not like it was back then. Back in the good old days, Israel had a tax system that was simple. It was called tithing, and it required that 10% off the top was given to care for the needs of the Levitical
While we often think of the minor prophets as only preaching judgment and doom, here we are reminded of the lengths to which God goes to show us his unrelenting love and grace as we turn to him in repentance. Based on Hosea 14:1-9.
To Forfeit and To Astound In our previous blog, we took note of some predictions that went terribly wrong. People studied a situation, made up their mind and could not see it in any other way. Unfortunately, they were really wrong. For instance, "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." -- Western Union internal memo, 1876. “With over fifteen types of foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself.” Business Week, 1968 "The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad." – -The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903 “Television? The word is half Latin and half Greek. No good can
New teaching series on the "Major Hits" (key messages) of the Minor Prophets. This first sermon is based on Amos 4:4-12.