Announcement: Pastor’s Corner

August 12, 2010 by  
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Sermon: It’s Time For Change, Week 3: The Healing Power of God

November 4, 2018 by  
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November 4, 2018
Preacher: Pastor Matthew Poock
Scripture: 2 Kings 5:1-15a
Six-Week Series: It’s Time For Change: Less of This, More of That
Week 3: The Prophet Elisha and Naaman’s Healing

Living Generously

October 31, 2018 by  
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Download: Living Generously

I’m a frugal person. To say it positively, I am fiscally conservative. You might even call me cheap. I would rather eat at home than spend money at a restaurant. (Plus, my wife is a good cook.) I would rather buy something used than new. I’d rather buy nothing at all! Shopping is not fun for me. I toil over my purchases. Do I really need this? Is it really worth the cost? What’s the best deal?

If it weren’t for the grace of God, I would be downright miserly. But for years God has been working on my heart to be more generous. Instead of turning away a child with a catalog at the door, lately I’m more apt than ever to support the fundraiser with a purchase (though not the most expensive one). Instead of letting the offering plate pass by, as I did for years before I was a pastor, we use Simply Giving and put it in our household budget. Instead of recycling the appeal letter from my college, we now plan ahead for gifts to the organizations that matter to us.

I don’t want to live my life with a closed hand. I don’t want “cheap” to be one of the words used in my eulogy. I want to model generous living for my children, so they can know the joy of giving. Social science research has found that money makes us most happy when we give it away. Have you seen those “Live Generously” shirts, with a cross and a heart? I have two (they were free), and I like the reminder. I feel a kinship with the people wearing them. Life is best when we live generously.

My wife inspires me with her generosity. Case in point. A roofing crew was working on the house next door. She saw them break for lunch but not for supper. It was getting dark. She imagined they had to commute home. So she prepared a basket of fruit, granola bars, cheese sticks and more and took it over to the crew. I wouldn’t have thought to do that. Did they need it? We don’t know. But she joyfully lived with generosity.

A few weeks ago a church member came up to me with a check for $1000. She and her husband already give regularly to the church, but she had gotten a bonus at work. She wanted to give the church a portion. She said, “I can’t imagine my life without St. John’s.” We didn’t ask for her gift, but she knew we’d use it for God’s work. She delighted in giving to God who has given so much to her. Her generous gift is inspiring.

During our VBS week, our children generously supported a project called “The Shoe That Grows.” It’s an organization that developed, makes, and distributes adjustable shoes for children in need. One pair of shoes is $15. Our kids gave over $1200 to purchase 84 pairs of shoes! When we were celebrating the news during the Saturday worship service, a church member came up and gave enough to make it an even 100 pairs of shoes! Another generous gift that inspires me.

Living generously is not just about money. Time is even more valuable than money. There’s no way to get more time – we all have just 24 hours a day. A family contacted me during a particularly busy week for me and offered to watch our kids so I could go see my wife’s theater production. On another occasion, someone brought me lunch when I didn’t get a break on a full day. This is generous living, and such gifts not only bless other people, but also they inspire us all.

Because our congregation is growing, and our finances are healthy, my colleagues have asked me what “stewardship program” we use. “How do you encourage increased offerings?” I tell them that we don’t do much around “programs,” and we don’t use pledge cards. What do we do? We inspire each other. We have a culture of generosity. We do great ministry together. We seek to be the best church we can be. We do God’s work. We celebrate what God is doing among us. So far, the Holy Spirit has worked on our hearts (mine included) and inspired us to grow in generosity. By God’s grace, we’ve grown our ministry and our impact. That is something for which I give thanks.

In Christ,

Pastor Matthew Poock

“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
-Acts 20:35

Sermon: It’s Time For Change, Week 1: King David and Bathsheba

October 21, 2018 by  
Filed under Pastor's Corner, Sermons

October 21, 2018
Preacher: Pastor Matthew Poock
Scripture: 2 Samuel 11:1-5, 26-27; 12:1-9

Six-Week Series: It’s Time For Change: Less of This, More of That

Week 1: Hear about King David, his adultery with Bathsheba, and his journey to confession and repentance. What does our world need less of? More of?

Sermon: Falling Into Color, Week 6: Green – 10/14/18

October 15, 2018 by  
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Preacher: Vicar Maria Bonine

Scripture: Joshua 24:1-15

Joshua reminded the people of all that God had done for them. He set before them the choice of whether or not to serve the Lord. Then Joshua declared, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Sermon: Falling Into Color, Week 5: Pink – 10/7/18

October 7, 2018 by  
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Scripture: Exodus 19:3-7, 20:1-17

Preacher: Pastor Matthew Poock

At Mount Sinai, God spoke to Moses and gave us the Ten Commandments.

 

Sermon: Falling Into Color, Week 3: Red – 9/23/18

September 23, 2018 by  
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Scripture: Genesis 39

Preacher: Matthew Poock

Listen to the story of Joseph, his misfortunes, and God’s steadfast love.

Raising Children in Church

September 22, 2018 by  
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Download: Raising Children in Church

It happened again recently. A woman told me that she never participated in church as a child because her parents had given her the choice. Since her parents didn’t go to worship, it’s not surprising that she also “chose” not to go. As a result, she knew nothing about the great promises of God to comfort and strengthen us in this life. Instead, at the time of her grandmother’s death, she was grasping at straws for what to make of it. She said she thought her grandmother visited her in a butterfly.

Now, if a cardinal, etc, reminds you of your loved one, I’m not bothered by that at all. But I do not believe that the deceased visit us as butterflies or any other animal. That’s not the kind of comfort I am seeking when I am grieving the death of the ones I love. I can’t settle for that, because I’ve been told the promises of Jesus, which assure me of the paradise of heaven beyond what we can imagine, even if a butterfly is quite beautiful. It’s not her fault she didn’t know about that. No one told her.

I am tired of people telling me that they want their kids to choose their own religion and beliefs. What happens is that the parents end up sharing nothing about faith at all with their children. That’s not a choice; that is abandoning their responsibility as a Christian, if they are Christian, and it’s being negligent as a parent on their child’s spiritual well-being.

Think about it this way. What if a parent said they were going to let their child choose whether or not to brush their teeth, because they didn’t want to pressure them with a certain brand of toothpaste? “I want them to choose whether they’ll use Crest or Colgate.” No! Parents start their children with something, and their child will find their way from there. Maybe they’ll end up using Oral B or Sensodyne. But if children aren’t ever brought to the sink and encouraged to brush, they likely never will.

The same goes for many lessons that parents teach their kids. I want my children to learn good manners, to share and take turns, to eat well, to have a good work ethic, and to use money wisely. While they are young I have a God-given opportunity and responsibility to train them. As they grow older, I slowly introduce more choice to them. Then, yes, they will learn further on their own. If they rebel against teeth-brushing, perhaps the cavities of life will bring them back to good dental hygiene. The same may be true for our faith; should they wander from God, they will have a foundation to which they can return. But only if we get them started.

Our children deserve to know the love of God and the promises of Jesus. Why wouldn’t we want our kids to know the love and strength that God provides? I’m not just talking about rigidly forcing our children to “go to church.” This is about helping our children discover their identity as a beloved child of God. It’s about helping them know their value and purpose in God’s world. It’s about helping them know how to love and value those around them as God does. It’s about helping them find their place in a caring community centered on Christ’s love. I want that for my children! For that matter, I want all this for you and me and everyone I care about. It is the church and our Christian faith that provides this.

To you with young children: yes, it is hard to come to worship with young ones. But our church will embrace you even when they’re loud and busy. (My kids are, too!) At worship and events, children are catching on to faith. It makes a difference. And if we, as their parents and grandparents and church family, don’t tell them about Jesus, who will? They won’t learn it in school or on TV.

When a child is baptized, the parents promise to support that child in the Christian faith and life, but so does the whole congregation! It takes a church to raise children in faith. So, dear church, reach out to the children around you. Shake their hand in worship. Ask their name; tell them yours. Look for them each week. Let’s support and encourage one another, so that together we might choose and grow into a life of worship and faith.

In Christ,

Pastor Matthew Poock

“Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
-Joshua 24:15

Sermon: Falling Into Color, Week 2: Yellow – 9/16/18

September 16, 2018 by  
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Scripture: Genesis 12:1-9

Preacher: Maria Bonine

God spoke to Abram (later named Abraham), and Abram trusted God. God blessed Abram to be a blessing to others.

Sermon: Falling Into Color, Week 1: The Rainbow – 9/9/18

September 9, 2018 by  
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Scripture: Genesis 6:5-22, 8:6-12, 9:8-17

Preacher: Matthew Poock

Noah’s story shows us how saddened God can be at our evil and thoughtless actions. That same creator has the power to destroy us all with one swipe, yet miraculously chooses not to.

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