Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. And if you are like me, then this little song goes through your head every time you come across the story of King Jesus and the short-stature, wayward sinner in Luke 19. (Go ahead and watch the clip so you can get it out of your system)
The story of Jesus and Zacchaeus occupies a treasured place in my life. Much like the vertically challenged tax-collector I came to see Jesus and was surprised that he came for me first. Through repentance Zacchaeus came into salvation that day and I know my own salvation is a series of repentance in my life. All that being said, it is Luke 19:10 that is of particular importance in my thoughts just now:
"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." -Luke 19:10 ESV
Jesus Christ was born to save. The Son of God who became the Son of Man in the womb of the virgin came to find those who were lost in sin and to deliver them through His atoning work on the cross into salvation, that is, eternal life with God. There were those that day and this day who want to save Jesus from sinners putting up barriers to stop the grace of God. Some want to stop Jesus from associating with sinners altogether. Others want to pretend that sin is not a big deal. Jesus takes sin seriously and associates with sinners that they may be saved.
In the coming weeks think of how Jesus has come to you, a sinner, and saved you. Do not stop there, though. No, the call of the Gospel, the call of Christmas, is to share the Good News of salvation with other sinners and see how Jesus still seeks and saves the lost.
News for You
Christmas Eve service will be at 7 p.m. Bring a friend and help them connect with Jesus.
Christmas Day will see our regular service at 10 a.m.
New Small Groups will be forming in January. Look for details soon.
The Apostle Paul was imprisoned as he wrote to the Philippian church. He was, therefore, unable to go and be with the Philippians and help them to work through a distraction to their ministry (more on that in 4:2). Now he had invested in Timothy as a disciple, treating him like a son in raising him up in the way of Christ Jesus. As a son to Paul, Timothy displayed the same kind of selfless love and concern for others that the Apostle himself demonstrated on numerous occasions. As a result, when the Apostle could not go to Philippi, he could send his proxy, his spiritual-son and his protege, Timothy. As the Apostle puts it:
"For I have no one like [Timothy], who will be genuinely concerned
for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus
Christ. But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has
served with me in the gospel." -Philippians 2:20-22 ESV
The sad truth is that most people serve only their own interests. The self comes before all others and looking out for the self trumps all other calls. People even go so far as rejecting the idea that self-serving motivations are wrong. The remedy to this, please note, is not to seek the interests of the other (though that is tempting). The solution to self-serving is not other-serving, or at least not generally so. The solution is to be Christ-centered and to seek his interests above one's own.
We are blessed to be able to serve Christ by serving one another. When the temptation to turn inward comes (and it will come), remember that it is Christ Jesus himself who turned out to serve us.
So how can we serve Christ today? A few thoughts:
Is there a young person you can invest in as a disciple like Paul did with Timothy?
Are there people in your neighborhood, workplace or life in general who need help and have no one to help them? Wood that needs chopping? Walkways that need shoveling? An ear to listen? A moment of friendship in a self-centered world?
Who needs Jesus in your life? Pray and ask for God to bring someone to mind and then take the radical step of sharing the Gospel and why it matters.
News for You:
Christmas Eve service will be at 7 p.m. Bring a friend and help them connect with Jesus.
Christmas Day will see our regular service at 10 a.m.
Who in your life do you rely on? Surely, the Lord is the expected answer on a blog like this and to be sure it is true and correct to rely upon Jesus Christ. Yet, we also turn to others in trying times. The Apostle Paul relied upon Timothy in trying times in his life. Indeed as he longed to see the Philippians he wasted away imprisoned instead. His solution was to send Timothy on his behalf.
"I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you." -Philippians 2:19 ESV
The Apostle is careful to couch his intended plan in the Lord Jesus. We should be careful to do the same. Instead of making and declaring plans, we ought to state our hope if it should be the Lord's will, trusting that no matter should transpire, the Lord's will is done and the Lord is glorified. Even still, the Apostle's plan is a simple one. He cannot go to the Philippians, so he will send his most trusted lieutenant. In so doing, the Apostle is giving everyone involved a reason to rejoice. He will rejoice because his proxy, the young man he has discipled as if he was his own son, is representing him at Philippi. The Philippians can rejoice that they have received a visit from the Apostle's apprentice. The Apostle can rejoice that Timothy will return to him with news from the beloved Philippian congregation. And all can rejoice that the Lord's will has been done.
Two thoughts occur to me that I ask you, gentle reader, to carry with you this week:
The Apostle Paul so thoroughly poured out his life in discipling Timothy that he could trust him to be his faithful representative. Who are discipling like that? Who are you raising up in the way of Christ Jesus that they may be a faithful witness of the truth of the Gospel? If you cannot think of someone, perhaps now is the time to begin to form a discipling relationship with someone in your life.
How are you bringing the joy of the Lord to the lives of others? Do your fellow disciples rejoice when you come and do you rejoice in the fellowship of the saints? Pray and ask Christ Jesus to give you joy in his body, the Church.
We will continue exploring discipleship in coming weeks. For now, concentrate on the joy of Christ!
News for You:
Throughout the month of December we will be collecting canned goods (and
donations) to help the needy in our community. Bring something to share
a little bit of love this Advent season.
Christmas Eve service will be held at 7 p.m. Please bring friend, family, and anyone else to worship our God!
Christmas Day service will be held at 10 a.m. Come out to dressed-down service of worship on the Lord's Day to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
A great big thank you to everyone who helped at the Youth Camp Gala. Over $2000 was raised to help send our teens to camp this summer!
Jesus demonstrated what it means to be joyful in the midst of the hardest places and situations in the world. In Hebrews 12:2 we read, "...Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." What Hebrews is telling us (and the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:18) and what Jesus demonstrated is that the present suffering and struggles in this world are not to be compared to the glory and joy to come. It is this precise notion that led the Apostle to write the following to the Philippians:
"Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the
sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me." -Philippians 2:17-18 ESV
The Apostle views his life as only valuable if it is used in the service of the Christ. Jesus who himself poured out his life for the sake of others is the role model the Apostle looks to as well as the Lord who empowers him through faith to live and, if called upon, to die for the glory of God. The Apostle views this as a cause of joy and invites the Philippians to rejoice with him even though at present he was facing almost certain death for proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Far from weeping and wailing at his possible death at the hands of the Romans, he invites celebration.
Our place in this is to learn from the example of the Apostle and of Jesus himself. We spend much of our lives avoiding pain, suffering and struggles in a vain attempt to live the good life. Jesus himself is the demonstration of the good life lived in a world lost, hurt and broken by sin. To be God's man or God's woman in this world will invite the mistreatment of the world. For a while the Church was in a culturally advantage position and so the pain associated with the Christian life was minimized if not eliminated. Now, however, the Church has fallen out of favor in the Western world and the anger, misunderstanding, and mistreatment that characterized much of the early church's history seems to have returned. As neo-pagan values are on the rise (power, greed, lust) in all ideological viewpoints the values of love, mercy and grace are seen not only as unnecessary, but dangerous unless redefined through a non-biblical lens. Love, for instance, ceases to be the self-sacrificial variety described in our passage this week and becomes instead the self-gratifying variety that only returns love when it provides personal benefit. Mercy and grace are meted out in this neo-pagan sense only to those deemed worthy by one's own standards of morality and never for those regarded as enemies. In my own short lifetime the country I live in has become a harsher, darker and crueler place. Despite the overcoming of some true injustice in the mid-twentieth century, this land has slipped into self-centered madness lifting up identity politics and its reductionist scheme (in which we all are divided into a series of labels) on the one hand and the sovereign self (in which power and control by the self, even or perhaps especially at the expense of others) on the other hand. Hard places are easy to find in life these days as a result.
So what is the Christian to do? The Apostle's answer is surprising. Find joy in the hard places as we pour out our lives for the sake of others. We are to practice true Christian virtue enabled and empowered by the constant application of Christ's saving work by the Holy Spirit that makes us newly and truly human. We love, we forgive, we practice kindness, mercy, grace, peace, gentleness, faith, goodness, self-control and, in the midst of the hard places, even joy. For our Savior lives and will yet stand upon the earth. On that day everything will be put to rights and the tears will stop. In the meantime, we are on a mission to live under his gracious reign in the world today, sharing the Good News and the joy we have in him.
A big thank you to all those who helped put up the decorations in anticipation of Christmas. The Sanctuary and all the church are looking quite festive.
The Winter Wonderland Youth Gala will be held this Saturday, December 3 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and dessert auction will be held. All proceeds go to support our annual youth camp. Come out for a good meal, good fellowship and a good cause.
Throughout the month of December we will be collecting canned goods (and donations) to help the needy in our community. Bring something to share a little bit of love this Advent season.
Opportunity to Serve:
Sign ups are under way for our next two shelter weeks (December 4-10 and December 25-31). Please contact the church office if you can spend a night giving folks a warm, safe place to sleep. Both men and women are needed!
The Apostle Paul throughout his letter to the Philippians was calling the church to faith in Christ Jesus, the humble one who gave up any outward sign of honor to give his life that we may live. He did this without complaint or protest out of love for us that He may shine the light of God in our midst and give His Father the glory. Christ did all this without thought or consideration for himself--He thought of His Father and us above all. This humble Savior loves us and gathers us to Himself in unity that we may shine as lights in this dark world, bringing the hope and truth of Christ Jesus to the world. That's the Apostle said in our passage this week.
"Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain." -Philippians 2:14-16 ESV
The world can be a truly dark and ugly place. The last thing the humble, unified church needs to be is dark and ugly. We follow Jesus who gave Himself completely for us. Grumbling and disputes are unbecoming the followers of Jesus. We do not have to turn far to find grumbling and disputing in our current political climate. How different the Church should be in the world!
Sin has twisted the world out of shape and it takes Jesus to set the world right. To do this we need to shine in the light of Christ, hold to the word of life that He has given to us and eagerly wait for the great and terrible day that Jesus Christ comes in glory to judge the living and the dead. Even as we wait for that day, let us be sure to shine the light of Christ as we come to know it in the word of life everywhere and to everyone. Never in triumph, we should add, but in surrender to Jesus who loves us.
News and Thanks
The annual Youth Camp Gala and Dessert Auction is coming up December 3 at 7 p.m. Childcare will be provided for those who need it. Tickets are $15 and all proceeds will go to send youth in our community to a week of camp where they will hear the Gospel clearly proclaimed.
Operation Christmas Child boxes are due back this Sunday, November 20.
Big thanks to all those who have volunteered for our first week of the Rotating Shelter. We need one more woman volunteer this Saturday, November 19. Please contact Pastor Bill as soon as possible to volunteer for this outreach ministry!
Opportunities to Serve
Our first day for Salvation Army bell ringing will be Saturday, November 26. Please sign up after worship this Sunday for one hour to raise funds to help the needy in our community.
Following the amazing declaration that Jesus Christ will be the one that everyone proclaims as Lord to the glory of God the Father (2:10-11) we read this:
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." -Philippians 2:12-13 ESV
The Apostle has heard from Epaphroditus that the Philippian church has been practicing infighting. This is why he called them to humility, that in turn is in service to unity. When we are humble it leads us to put the needs of others before our own and that leads to a community united in mission. So where does it all start? The Apostle is clear it begins and ends with Christ.
Salvation as a topic is one that is often treated in a reductionist way. To be sure, salvation is full and complete through faith in Christ alone and it is to be had only by the grace of God out of his good pleasure to bestow it upon us. Yet, salvation is more than a mere point in life when we surrender to God. Salvation is also a lifelong path of discipleship. While I will not bore you with a complete order of salvation here, let us look at two points within the category of salvation. There is a moment when we come to know Christ as Lord and bow our lives before him. This is justification and all too often justification is seen as the only moment of salvation. Beyond justification, however, is the long road of sanctification in which the Spirit continues to work among us to lead us to both desire (will) and actually do things for the glory of God. Sanctification trains us as Jesus' followers and sets us apart day by day as the Spirit continues to apply the saving work of Christ to our lives. Salvation is only ever of God, yet we grasp and live in and out of that salvation in the power of the Spirit.
So what then of all of this fear and trembling? The Apostle is calling the Philippians to humility and unity. As he is in prison he cannot go to them, yet his authority still resides over them. He calls them to realize the power of salvation in Christ and how they must, TOGETHER, work out the implications of that salvation. This should be done in fear and trembling as they, an unholy people, now stand exposed to a holy God. It is not that somehow their work will gain their salvation, but rather they have salvation now they must figure out how to live together as the newly constituted people of God.
At the time that I write this to you the United States has just had a presidential election. In the wake of a national election (and we only elect one position nationally every four years) the sharp and stark divides in our country are exposed. Some will gloat in victory. Some will lament in defeat. Others will take matters too far on both sides and use the election as an excuse for all sorts of vileness and hatred. Sisters and brothers, it cannot be so among us who call Jesus Lord. We have one Lord and as such, we are one people. Like the Philippians we need to learn to live and love together in the midst of differences. This is precisely what the Apostle is getting at in our passage this week.
A big thanks to Elders Fred and Randy who will be heading up efforts to organize our bell ringing. We will have sign ups for ringing in front of Walmart beginning this Sunday.
Opportunity to Serve:
We are in need of a few more women to staff our Rotating Shelter Week. Specifically November 15 and 17. If you can donate one night to the shelter this week we will be sure to give people a warm place to sleep if they need it.
The major theme of Philippians, so far as I read it, is unity. We will see later that the Philippian church has some internal strife, but we have already seen that they have overcome this strife, at least for a time, to give the Apostle financial support while in prison (for which he is deeply thankful, another theme of the letter with joy). Over and again the Apostle surrenders the desire to be right, well-regarded and respectable. Why? In a word, Jesus.
The so-called 'Christ Hymn' of Philippians 2:6-11 is in the service of promoting the unity of the Church. The Church is called in 2:5 to have the same mind among us that is ours in Christ Jesus. We are used to reading the Christ Hymn as a statement of Christ's divinity, the true glory of the humble Lord upon the cross and a statement of final judgment. While all of this is technically correct, the point of the text is to put this doctrinal statements into service for uniting the Philippians in mission and ministry. As Joseph Hellerman points out in his excellent commentary on the Greek text
"...Paul has leveraged Christology--conceived in terms of status and prestige--in the service of ecclesiology."
Or, in other words, the Apostle puts doctrine about Jesus, focusing on his glorified and exalted status and how he surrendered it to serve the will of Father by saving us on the cross, into service to promote the peace, purity and, especially, the unity of the Church.
Christ humbled himself to the point of the cross and is elevated in resurrection and ascension to a greater glory. We are to see in Christ the way to the Father and thus follow him into humble service, even if it costs us everything. Following Jesus is not safe. When we surrender to Jesus we will follow him to the cross. The only way we can do that, realistically, is if we go together, being encouraged and strengthened by brothers and sisters along the way. We must surrender the self and be born again through faith in Christ Jesus, but let us remember that it is Christ that opens the way for us to be made new. So let us encourage one another as we seek to follow Jesus together.
News and Thanks
A big thanks to all who served at the Trunk-or-Treat event. We served well over 450 trunk-or-treaters and had a great time. Our community appreciated our effort and hopefully this will create some avenues for fruitful outreach in the future.
A bridal shower for Emily Martin will take place this Sunday, November 6, at 2 p.m. hosted by Stephanie Lamb and Bailee Meese. The wedding will take place Saturday, November 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Opportunity to Serve
We will host the ManFsher meal on November 20. This year we will be cooking a Thanksgiving meal and could use some help. Contact Kathy Mintzer if you would like to serve in this important ministry.
Our first week to host the Rotating Homeless Shelter will be November 13-19. There will be a sign-up sheet after church on Sunday. In addition, a brief training session will take place following worship at 11:45 a.m. this week. We especially need men to serve as hosts, but could also use men to serve as screeners.
In our passage this week, it is humility that comes to the forefront. In essence, the Apostle urges the church in Philippi (and the Spirit urges us) to find all of our encouragement, comfort from love, fellowship of the Spirit, affection and sympathy in Christ Jesus. The self-same Jesus who humbled himself to dwell among us and further humbled himself upon the cross when he died for us and for our salvation. We are to come together in, through and with Christ, united in our thinking and our way of life. When we see the humble Jesus at work in us and in our midst it encourages us to humility and unites us together in love.
Humility and unity in the Apostle Paul's letter to the Philippians are a bit of a chicken and egg debate. In a sense, the reader is left to consider if greater humility leads to greater unity or if greater unity leads to greater humility. Of course the answer to both of these considerations is yes. Humility and unity centered upon the humble Son of God, Christ Jesus, our Lord who unites the church as His one body are mutually re-enforcing. Yet, we need to note, at times humility takes the lead and at times unity takes the lead in our life together as a church and in the Scripture.
This is why salvation always points us outward. Too often we treat salvation as a personal benefit, when it is, in truth, a privilege to share the Gospel with others. Humility helps us to understand that we are one body, one church on one mission to proclaim one Gospel that shares our one Lord, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us and for our salvation, once for all.
This week as you go about your daily duties and tasks, look to those around you as Jesus looks to us and seek humbly to be of service and in so doing, bring others into unity with Christ through faith.
Opportunity to Serve
This coming Monday, 5-7 pm, we will host a Trunk-or-Treat event in the
parking lot of CPC Omak. What we need are people who want to decorate a
trunk, bring some candy (we are anticipated maybe as many as 200-300
trick-or-treaters) and hang out and meet the neighbors. We right now
have about 10 confirmed families and could use many more. Come out for a
fun night of community building. Sign up at the Welcome Center at CPC anytime.
A big shout out to Josiah and Pearl who filled in at the 11th hour for worship music this last week. It is great to see the talent of CPC used for the glory of God. If you would like to share your talent, the praise team is hosting a meeting this Sunday (10/30/16) after worship!
Editor's Note: Given my travel schedule last week I was unable to post a devotion. This week will pick up where we left off.
The Apostle Paul's major call to the Philippians is to be united in and with Christ. This unity is couched in the incarnation of the Son of God (more on that in a few weeks) and is expressed in facing suffering for the sake of Christ with humility and grace. When we are united to Christ, the pain and suffering we experience in this world for the sake of Christ becomes for us a sign of our salvation, even as it serves as a sign of destruction for those who inflict upon the beloved of God (i.e. the Church, see Philippians 1:28).
Suffering is difficult (I know, understatement of the age). In the midst of suffering, therefore, God gave us the gift of community. We stand together for the Gospel, encouraging and modeling a life lived well through faith in Christ Jesus. We share in the suffering of our sisters and brothers in Christ even as we stand firm in our faith. We cannot back down, we cannot retreat, and we cannot compromise when the Gospel is at stake. The truth of the salvation we have in Christ is the one and only truth that can set us free from sin and death. To deny, dilute or deflect this truth is to be complicit in the destruction of others.
Our place is to stand together as a church community, to understand that if we truly stand for Christ we will not only be ostracized, but actually endure true suffering. For a while in our country this was not the case. Christians held the majority and the dominant position in the culture. Now, we can see that a manner of life worthy of the gospel of Christ is not only out of favor culturally, it is quite frankly, condemned as bigoted, hateful and cruel. Yet we must stand firm and encourage one another to do the same. We can no longer avoid conflict because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at odds with the spirit of the age--the spirit of this age that promises freedom, but gives slavery, that promises fulfillment but leaves empty, that promises truth but tells lies. The spirit of this age wants us to put our own comfort and ease first, meeting our desires and wants first, turning in on oneself. Yet, it is precisely this that traps us in the downward spiral of sin and shame. The Gospel liberates us, reshapes us and truly frees us by turning us away out from the self to the other, putting the desire for God first and seeing that suffering is to be desired for the sake of Christ.
This means we will need one another to encourage and be friends along the road of faith. It also means we will need Christ to be a truest companion in faith as we live for him. For suffering is not a sign of being God-forsaken, but rather our salvation won for us by the suffering servant, Jesus Christ our Lord!
News and Events
Trunk-Or-Treat: October 31. 5-7 p.m. we will host a trunk-or-treat in the parking lot of CPC. Decorate your trunk, grab some candy and come spend time in a great outreach event.
Wedding Shower: Emily Martin is getting married in November and the church will be hosting a wedding shower for her November 6 at 2 p.m. Ladies, let's surround Emily and Miguel in Christ's love.
A long overdue shout out for Joe Miller this week. Joe works tirelessly keeping the church's IT up and running. Honestly, if you enjoy any aspect of CPC's electronic presence (from radio to webpage), Joe Miller is the man to thank.
As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians he was sitting in prison awaiting a trial that could very well result in his death. So, to the modern reader, it will seem very curious that he begins this discussion of his upcoming trial with joy. The Apostle is taking the time to ask the Philippians to pray for him and certainly we too should seek out the prayers of others when we will face trials of our faith, yet it is not the prayers but the result of those prayers that truly helps us through trials in our life. What the Apostle needs and what we all need is the Holy Spirit supplied to us through the gracious hand of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Apostle is not looking to avoid the time of trial, indeed far from it! He is asking, instead, that Christ is honored in him. Now, in Paul's day honor was everything to men and to be disgraced was more than an insult. Trials at the time were not just about establishing guilt, but also about retaining honor. The Apostle here is moving counter to the culture in that he cares not for his own honor (what others think of him), but only for Christ. This counter-cultural worldview gave the Apostle tremendous freedom in the ancient world. He was not constrained with care for the self at all, trusting himself completely into the hands of Christ no matter what would befall him. This is why the Apostle can look at so serious a matter as death and come away without fear. Indeed, the Apostle wrote:
Much like Job longed for his day in the divine court, the Apostle longed for his day in Caesar's court that he may testify to Christ. Actually, in 1:19, the Apostle quotes Job 13:16, and this may mean that the Apostle is alluding to the whole of Job's comments in Job 12-14
When we face trials in this life we are called to stand for Christ. Too often we try to escape the trial, but the Apostle here is giving us a different way. God, in the Holy Spirit, strengthens us to endure and to give glory to Christ. In this way, no matter the outcome, we know our victory in trial is secure.
The trials will come, will you be faithful to stand for Christ? Ask for prayer and receive the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ and you will.
The shout out this week goes to Don and Lyn Pearce for heading up the Pray Washington 24/7 effort here at CPC. For the first time we have all hours of the day covered. Thanks to everyone for joining together in prayer!
News and Events
On Saturday at 11 a.m. we will join the Lamb family in both grieving the death of Jane Lamb and in taking our comfort in the hope we have in Christ Jesus.
During worship Sunday Dave Bishop will be sharing with us his mission trip experience. This is something you do not want to miss!
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed
In the latter part of Genesis the story of Joseph is covered. Joseph was his father's favorite son and his brothers, in envy and rivalry, sold him into slavery. Well, that was plan B. Plan A was to kill him. Joseph was sold into slavery and through a series of events eventually is put into a position of great authority. This authority allows him to provide for his family during a great famine, yet there is always the fear from his brothers that Joseph will take revenge. When Jacob, their father, dies, the brothers fear that vengeance will soon fall on them. It is at this juncture that Joseph says:
Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones. [Genesis 50:19-21]
It is precisely this attitude that the Apostle Paul has adopted in his address to the Philippians. Paul has looked on his circumstance-being imprisoned for the Gospel-and instead of bemoaning his what had befallen him, instead he rejoices. Certainly both those who arrested him and were holding him for trial and those who used his imprisonment as a means to assert their own leadership in the church over and against him meant his harm. Yet, the Apostle can only see how even this suffering he was enduring was used to proclaim Christ.
When we come into faith in Christ Jesus and we behold the wonder that is our salvation by grace alone, the Gospel takes center stage in our life. The hope we have begins to lead us to proclaim Christ to others and to view the entirety of our lives in service to the Gospel. No matter what befalls us, no matter what occurs, no matter the circumstance or situation, God is working to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ through us. Who needs Jesus in your life? Proclaim the Gospel then and trust that everything in your life is leading you toward that end. And when we see the Gospel proclaimed, no matter the outcome, we rejoice that the truth has been shared.
News and Events
Cookies, cookies, cookies: Coffee Fellowship could use some cookies. Please put them in a ziplock bag labeled with the date and drop them into the freezer.
It is not too late to buy a highly-fragrant, long-lasting candle from one of our youth. This fundraiser supports our annual camp ministry.
Please check the Lost & Found box for items you may have left. The day is coming and will soon be here when items in the box will be donated to the Senior Center.
Men's Breakfast is coming up on October 8 at 6 am.
Opportunity to Serve
Trunk-or-Treat: On October 31 from 5-7 p.m. our parking lot will be hosting a Trunk-or-Treat event. At a trunk-or-treat people decorate cars and dress up in a theme to hand out treats to kids. It is a good opportunity to meet people and invite folks to worship.
We are in need of folks to provide the trunks. More information will be forth coming from the Service Team.
As I mentioned last week, our devotions over the next few months will be based on the same text as our Sunday School lessons from the previous Sunday. This week our devotional text is Philippians 1:3-11. Give it a read before reading the devotion today.
In the Western Church tradition (Roman Catholic, Anglican and Protestant) we are used to Church bells that are melodic and soothing. The bells ring out true and clear (or in the case of CPC, play a nice tune) to remind us that God is with us and all will be well. It is our prayer here at CPC Omak that our own church bells that ring out the hour and from time-to-time also ring out a hymn will both encourage and soothe the heart and mind of those who hear it with the comfort of Christ Jesus alone. (The video here is an example of Western church bell music).
Now there is another church bell tradition that is also worth our time to contemplate. In the Eastern Church tradition (churches that usually label themselves as 'Orthodox' in their denominational or congregational name) the bells do not melodically, but rather discordantly. [I ran across the video below and was impressed by the demonstration of how it is all done]. Indeed, one time I played a video of Eastern Church bell music in a Sunday School class and one the participants after class told me, "It sounds like the soundtrack to a horror movie."
The purpose of the Eastern Church bells, so far as I can figure it out, is to grab your attention and tell you that this world is not all there is. It shocks us with dissonant tones and yanks us out of the rhythm of life to remember that there is a God who has interrupted the course of human history, marked and marred by sin, to rescue and redeem us. Salvation is both comforting and soothing, but also shocking and intrusive. These two poles of our salvation in Christ Jesus are never more apparent than they will be on the day of Jesus Christ (mentioned in Philippians 1:6 and 1:10).
Paul's purpose in his prayer is to give thanks to God that the Philippians have remembered him in his suffering through imprisonment and have supported him financially in this trying time. The Apostle's confidence in Christ Jesus through his faith is so intense that he takes time in the midst of his suffering to remind the Philippians that God will complete the good work he began in the Philippians on the day of Christ Jesus. This work good work of God in the Philippians, and indeed all those who trust in Jesus, is salvation itself.
We tend to collapse salvation into conversion in the Protestant church, forgetting or, perhaps, ignoring, that Scripture actually speaks of salvation as work that God does in our lives as a process. For God, who is atemporal (i.e. outside of time, for he is the one who made time and to Him it is an object) salvation is an event. While I will not bore you with an entire ordo salutis (translated, order of salvation), suffice to say that our salvation begins with the electing work of God the Father in creation, is possible through the atoning work of Jesus Christ upon the cross, is actualized in the justifying (making right) work of God the Holy Spirit as Christ's atoning work on the cross is applied to us, continues in the sanctifying (making holy) work of God the Holy Spirit as Christ's atoning work is consistently applied to us (especially through the ordinary means of grace of the Word, prayer and sacraments) and will only be complete in glory as we are made new and whole on the day of Christ Jesus. For Biblical account of this, see Romans 8:28-30 or Titus 3:1-11.
The Apostle's claim is that God had begun the good work of salvation among the Philippians, and God would complete that good work on the day that Jesus Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead. This good work of salvation in his own life had led him to regard his present suffering as serving a purpose, namely, to give glory and praise to God. As the Philippians joined him in suffering through sacrificial giving they too were giving glory and praise to God. Paul's prayer, then, is that they grow in their love, displayed in their gift to him, but that love will lead into knowledge and discernment that they may do the right thing in the world, no matter the cost and be found pure and blameless on the day of Christ Jesus.
This prayer leads us to see our salvation as both comforting and disquieting. We are comforted that God will complete the good work of salvation are already begun in us. We are disquieted by the change this brings to how we see and act in the world and how the world will react to us and our faith.
I think we need both the soothing Western bells and the discordant Eastern bells to remind us, from time-to-time, that our faith is both as well.
This week I want to send just one shout out to our Fellowship Team that creates many opportunities for us to connect with another and encourage each other as we grow in our faith as disciples of Jesus Christ. The potluck this week was a fun theme and my daughter Sarah was especially impressed with singing 'Happy Trails.' Now if only I can get here to sing that instead of the soundtrack to Frozen.
News and Events
Session will meet this Sunday at 2 p.m. Please be in prayer for your Elders as they seek to lead us all to proclaim Christ through surrender, connection and service.
It is still not too late to join a Small Group. We are studying, "Experiencing God" this Fall. Information is available at the Welcome Center of the Church regarding Small Groups.
The Youth Group are selling fragrant, long-lasting candles to support our camp ministry. Be sure to get one of these great candles following worship Sunday and help send kids to camp this summer at the same time.
Starting this week our blog devotionals will be following the Sunday School schedule. This week our Sunday School class covered Philippians 1:1-2 and so this will form the basis of our devotion.
As Paul began his letter to the Philippians he wrote, "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1:2). [The video here is an artistic rendition of this idea by Fernando Ortega] This is the Apostle's standard greeting in his letters to the churches, but is particularly poignant in this letter. You see Paul was writing this letter from prison (most likely Rome toward the end of his life). He had received a gift of financial support from the Philippians that led him to reflect on thankfulness in this letter even as he gave thanks to God and the Philippian Church for providing for his need. Of all the places where we can think that grace and peace are needed, surely being imprisoned for one's faith must rank high on the list. Yet, Paul is not asking for peace and grace for himself, but rather he is offering grace and peace to the Philippians from the inexhaustible richness of the grace and peace of God that is ours through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
What's more, we know from Acts 16 that Paul had not experienced much peace during his time in Philippi, but there was plenty of grace. Indeed, Paul was imprisoned there and through his faithfulness to God's call and a miracle the warden of the prison and his family came to know salvation through the grace of Jesus Christ.
Now, far removed, imprisoned and impoverished for the Gospel, the Apostle takes time to offer that which he has in abundance, namely, grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This stands as a ready reminder to us today that we are called to be agents of God's grace and peace. We have received the favor of God through the saving work of Christ Jesus and this has made peace between God and us and leads us to make peace with others. Take time today to give thanks to God for the grace and peace you have received and then offer that grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ to someone else. Is there a relationship you can mend today through apology? Is there a note of encouragement you can send someone? Is there a friend who is struggling with whom you can share the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ? Can you spend time with your family in God's Word and demonstrate the peace of Jesus Christ through confession and prayer?
Grace and peace are a gift we have from God, but they are also a gift we have been given to share.
Thanks goes out to Kurt and Jennifer Fudge for our first Middle School Youth Group outing. The kids had a great time kayaking.
A great big shout out to our small group leaders (Lyslea, Chris and Becky, Dave and Stephanie, Kathy, and Ron and Randi) who begin leading us through 'Experiencing God' this week.
A welcome back to our Church Administrator, Dave Bishop, who has returned from his mission trip to Lebanon and is recovering from an illness he received while traveling.
To Adam's Road for an uplifting time last night. [If you missed it, check out Micah's testimony in the video above].
Opportunities to Serve
Helpers are still need for our Children's Sunday School program that happens during worship.
Pastor Bill could use some help contacting other congregation's regarding the Rotating Shelter ministry. We simply could use another congregation or two to help carry the load as we serve the homeless in our community this winter.
Keep an eye out for visitors at CPC and practice hospitality. A kind word and an invitation to lunch or supper can make our church a very friendly and welcoming place for all.
News and Events
Sunday School Remix starts today. It will run Wednesday afternoons 2-3:30ish for the school year. This year we will be studying the history and theology of the early church leading up to the completion of the Nicene Creed.
Potluck Sunday will be this week. Be sure to bring a dish to share at our Western Round-Up Potluck.
Bell Choir will start practicing soon. Check the bulletin for details this week.
Welcome back to Deep Discernment. Or perhaps I should welcome you for the first time. The purpose of this blog is three-fold:
To encourage you with the Word of God
To keep you informed about Community Presbyterian Church
To give glory to the Triune God
I have failed to keep up this blog in the past mostly because I did not set aside dedicated time to maintain it. This year I will be posting a new entry every week with some time dedicated to the project on Wednesday mornings. These posts will include a short devotion (based on our Sunday School lesson from the week prior), shout outs and thanks to people serving at CPC, a list of opportunities to serve and news and upcoming events. You can subscribe to the blog or sign up during worship to have this e-mailed to you on a weekly basis. Without further ado, here is the sample format.
As Jesus began his public ministry he said, "The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). As I begin this new venture it is with the old teaching of Jesus that still renews hearts and minds. The time is fulfilled for Christ Jesus has come and has won us salvation on his cross. The Kingdom of God is at hand because all heaven is breaking out wherever Christ is faithfully proclaimed and men, women and children are surrendering to him in faith, wherever believers are connecting and growing together as disciples and wherever Christ's Church is serving the community with love and truth. The call then is to repent, that is, to turn away from sin (rebellion against God) and turn toward God in his love, mercy and grace. The call is to trust the Good News of the Gospel that Jesus Christ came to save sinners like me.
I think Mark 1:15 is so important that Jesus' follower should just memorize it to have it always at hand when we need to remember who Jesus is and what he came to do.
Think for a moment what impact the ministry of Jesus had on his community. Then remember that through faith in Christ Jesus, we continue the ministry of Jesus to call others to repent and believe the Gospel. Everyone knows at least one person who needs Jesus today. Be bold and share him with those who need him.
A big shout out to Elder Dave Lamb and the Ministry Committee. The various ministry team leads got together and for the first time since I have been the pastor here we have a unified calendar for the 2016-2017 year. The calendar is currently being digitized, but a link should pop up here before the end the month.
A shout out also goes out to Small Group Leaders who have stepped up to the plate to lead others through our Experiencing God study.
Opportunities to Serve
Three big opportunities to serve are upcoming:
Children's Sunday School: Our children attend Sunday School during worship. We are in need of a handful of volunteers to lead our children in their lessons. The commitment is for one Sunday/month for the school year.
Serve Omak Middle School: Our youth team has been compiling a list of volunteer opportunities at Omak Middle School for this academic year. The hope is that we can build relationships with the students and staff of the school. You never know just how God will use a relationship for His glory.
Rotating Homeless Shelter: The days are already growing cooler and this means we need to be mindful of the homeless in our community. This year CPC will be participating with other area churches to host a rotating shelter. We are in need of men (and some women) to host the shelter here at CPC. The commitment will be for one night/month for the months of November, December, January and February. Please give a night to help the least of these.
News and Events
Regular schedule starts this Sunday (9/11/16). Adult Sunday School at 9 am [Philippians] and worship at 10 am with Sanctuary at 5 pm.
Small Groups start next week. We will be going through a study entitled Experiencing God. Please join a group for this amazing study! Details on small group time and locations will be available Sunday.
Men's Breakfast is this Saturday (9/10/16) 6-8 a.m.
Sunday School Remix begins 9/14/16. The class runs 2-4 p.m. and will be studying early church history and theology in a course entitled Nicene Christianity. Join us!
Middle School Youth Group Kayak Trip will be this Saturday (9/10/16). Middle Schoolers can meet Pastor Bill at CPC at 10 a.m. for a day of fun on Duck Lake.