Announcement: Pastor’s Corner

August 12, 2010 by  
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Sermon: The Power of the Spirit

May 13, 2019 by  
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May 12, 2019
Preacher: Pastor Matthew Poock
Scripture: Acts 13:1-3, 14:8-18

Seven-Week Easter Series: To Infinity and Beyond!
Week 4: The Power of the Spirit

Unanswered Prayer

April 24, 2019 by  
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Download: Unanswered Prayer

“Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” So sang Garth Brooks in his No. 1 Billboard hit country song in 1991. I have enjoyed that song over the years, even learned to sing and play it on the piano. I agree with Garth…but not entirely. It is true that God does not always give us what we ask for, and that can be a very good thing. If everyone got their prayers answered literally, we’d have a lot of sporting games with no losers, a lot of millionaire lottery winners, and a lot of people with the “perfect” body shape and size. But is prayer really about answers?

It’s interesting to realize that Jesus never referred to unanswered prayers. He taught that God always answers prayers. “Ask and it will be given to you,” Jesus said (Matthew 7). In comparing God to an earthly parent, Jesus said, “how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask!” Over and over again, we are invited to make our requests known to God and encouraged that God hears us and responds.

The analogy with a parent is helpful. A good parent will answer a child’s request, but not always with “yes”. Some Christians have suggested that God has a variety of answers for our prayers and requests. God might say “no, not yet” or “no, I love you too much.” And God might say, “yes, I thought you’d never ask” or “yes, and here’s some more.”

God always hears our prayers, and in one way or another, God always answers. It might not be the answer we think we want, but we trust God that it is the answer that is best for us and for all involved. If a child asks a parent to go outside on sunny 30° spring day without a coat, the parent will likely so “no, trust me, that’s not a good idea.” Even more, we can trust God’s answers to prayer.

Garth Brooks’ song is about how God said “no” to a prayer of making his high school sweetheart his wife. Instead, Garth offered a prayer of thanks for the wife and the life he has. I know a lot of people who have prayed for a spouse, myself included. My prayer was not so much for a specific person as it was to be married by a specific time. I didn’t want to be a single, dating pastor. Try to imagine that! I prayed that I would find my spouse before I was ordained. I met some people I thought might be that person but were not. Then, exactly 10 months before I became a pastor, I went on a first date with my wife. We were engaged two months before I was ordained, and married two months into my first call. I remember every day how wonderful my wife is and how glad I am that she is mine and I am hers. But I had forgotten what an answer to prayer my wife is. You might review your life and see answers to prayer you’ve overlooked.

That being said, prayer is certainly more than asking for things! The whole concern about “unanswered prayer” makes the assumption that prayer is only about requests. This is a very limited understanding of prayer. Prayer is so much more! It’s adoring God, coming clean to God, thanking God. Prayer is asking questions and listening to God. Imagine only spending time with your grandparents when you wanted something. What kind of relationship with that be? No, we spend time with people we love because it feels good and grows our love for each other. Prayer is drawing close to God. Prayer is pouring your heart out to God. Prayer is putting your life in God’s hands.

I remember a very powerful time of prayer, when someone prayed for me, much like we have begun praying for each other 1:1 during Holy Communion. I was at college, away from home, and had just received news that my grandpa had died. My campus pastor Mike heard my name called over the loudspeaker at a football game (pre-cell phones) and went to my dorm room out of concern. He walked with me to the prayer chapel on campus and prayed for me. He thanked God for my grandpa and our family; he prayed for comfort and strength. He helped me climb onto God’s lap when I need it most. I didn’t need an answer; I needed God. Sometimes the very act of praying is the answer we need the most.
In Christ,
Pastor Matthew Poock

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
(Ephesians 6:18)

Sermon: Did Jesus Really Rise From The Dead?

April 21, 2019 by  
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Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019
Preacher: Pastor Matthew Poock
Scripture: Matthew 28:1-10

“After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’

Sermon: It’s For You.

April 19, 2019 by  
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April 18, 2019
Preacher: Pastor Matthew Poock
Scripture: John 13:1-17, 31b-35 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Maundy Thursday, the First of the Great Three Days

Sermon: I Just Wanna Be A Sheep

April 8, 2019 by  
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April 7, 2019
Preacher: Pastor Matthew Poock
Scripture: Matthew 25:31-46

Five-Week Series: ONCE UPON A TIME – The Parables of Jesus
Week 5: The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats

Sermon: Your Outrageous Invitation

March 24, 2019 by  
Filed under Pastor's Corner, Sermons

March 24, 2019
Preacher: Pastor Matthew Poock
Scripture: Matthew 22:1-14

Five-Week Series: ONCE UPON A TIME – The Parables of Jesus
Week 3: The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Sermon: The Value of a Life

March 18, 2019 by  
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March 17, 2019
Preacher: Pastor Matthew Poock
Scripture: Matthew 20:1-16

Five-Week Series: ONCE UPON A TIME – The Parables of Jesus
Week 2: The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard

Sermon: The Seriousness of Sin

March 7, 2019 by  
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Ash Wednesday
March 6, 2019
Preacher: Pastor Matthew Poock
Scripture: Matthew 18:1-9

As We Forgive

February 22, 2019 by  
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Download: As We Forgive

Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we tell God that we “forgive those who sin against us.” Do we mean that? This is much easier said than done! Sometimes it can be very challenging to let go of a grudge. We tend to hold on to bitterness, and our hearts can get wrapped up in an offense.

Jesus speaks emphatically about our need to forgive others. “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). These are strong words! Jesus is intertwining our willingness to forgive others with God’s willingness to forgive us. Only in forgiving others do we experience God’s forgiveness.

Words of confession and forgiveness are some of the most powerful yet difficult words we ever speak. At the beginning of a worship service, we often start with a time of confession. “Almighty God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed.” In these or similar words, we apologize for the error of our ways. God knows we have not lived as we should, and our confession is a way of clearing the air and starting fresh in our relationship with God. We do this in human relationships, too. If we exchanged harsh words with a friend the last time we talked, we might start our next interaction with a modest confession. “So…about that last time we talked…sorry about that.”

It is humbling to speak those words of apology. Many people are not brave enough to do it. Our pride often gets in the way. We tend to think that the other person should be the one to apologize. But when we set our own ego aside, we can usually see our own fault in the fractured relationship. Apologies take many forms, depending on the situation and the person. “I’m sorry” is a good way of expressing regret. Saying “I was wrong” is taking responsibility for what we did. Other people want us to make restitution and hear us ask, “What can I do to make it right?” Repentance is saying “I’ll try not to do that again.” And sometimes it’s best to be direct and simply ask, “Will you please forgive me?”

We need these words of confession in healthy relationships! We need these words in our relationship with God and with one another. Is there someone in your life to whom you need to apologize? The day I wrote this I gave an apology to someone I hurt the day before. I had been overly critical, which left an icy tension. Once I apologized, the ice thawed, and we both felt much better. I hate to imagine how many more days our own little “polar vortex” would have continued if we hadn’t taken Jesus at his word. The best time to say we’re sorry…is as soon as possible.

Same goes for the words, “I forgive you.” Every single day we have opportunities to forgive others. Much of the time they don’t even know there is an offense. Most of these offenses are small and don’t even warrant an apology. We can forgive even if they haven’t apologized. We might not even need to tell them. To forgive is a choice. The road of forgiveness can be a journey, but the path leads us to freedom.

My family tells a story of my grandfather Jake. At a family reunion, his sister came up to Jake and said, “I just want to let you know, I forgive you.” And Jake said, “For what?” “For that comment you made last year about me gaining weight!” Grandpa Jake was a kind man and had only agreed with something she said about herself. He had no idea he caused offense. But she had festered on this for a year! Refusing to forgive left her in pain. This is why Jesus spoke so strongly about our need to forgive. When we refuse to forgive, the offense continues to hurt us.

We need to forgive others as much as, if not more than, they need to be forgiven. Theologian Lewis Smedes said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Jesus desperately wants us to be set free from all that weighs us down. When we forgive someone, the claws of the offense come off of us, and we can heal. To forgive is not to say that what happened was okay…it is to say it will no longer actively hurt me and hold me back from my future. Jesus urges us to let go of the grudges we hold. Release the bitterness. Be set free.

In Christ,

Pastor Matthew Poock

“Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”
Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.”
(Matthew 18:21-22, MSG)

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