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

October 7, 2018 by  
Filed under Pastor's Corner, Sermons

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  
Filed under Pastor's Corner, Sermons

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.

Sermon: Revelation and the End of All Things – 9/2/2018

September 2, 2018 by  
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Scripture: Revelation 21:1-6 and 22:1-5

Preacher: Matthew Poock

What do we know about heaven? What will it be like? The final chapters of Revelation (and of the Bible) give us some ideas.

Sermon: The Four Horsemen and Our Total Security- 8/26/18

August 26, 2018 by  
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Scripture: Revelation 6:1-8, 7:9-17
Preacher: Matthew Poock
The Lamb of God opens the scroll with the “four horsemen of the apocalypse.”

Sermon: Who Is Worthy – 8/19/18

August 19, 2018 by  
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Scripture: Revelation 5:1-14

Preacher: Matthew Poock

The Book of Revelation is full of worship and praise to God and to the Lamb, who is worthy above all to be praised.

Sermon: What Heaven Is Like – 8/5/2018

August 6, 2018 by  
Filed under Pastor's Corner, Sermons

Preacher: Matthew Poock

Scripture: Revelation 4:1-11

The book of Revelation is full of worship and praise and offers visions of the heavenly realm. In chapter 4 we are taken to the heavenly throne room to worship God at the center of all creation.

Scripture Comes Alive

July 31, 2018 by  
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Download: Scripture Comes Alive

Imaginative places. Magical creatures. Mystical powers. Alternative worlds. Are you interested? The stories of our lives are full of such things! Adults and children alike love stories of fantasy, fairy tale, and science fiction. The best of them stir our emotions and leave us begging for more.

Think of Harry Potter and his world of wizardry. Think of Stars Wars and space flight among galaxies. Think of The Lord of the Rings and creatures like Hobbits and elves. Think of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and the adventures through the wardrobe into a mythical realm. Books and movies such as these capture our attention and our hearts. They tell stories that speak to our souls about timeless truths of good and evil.

The Bible is actually not so different than these great epics. The words of Holy Scripture are full of truth and the struggle between good and evil. The story of the Bible speaks right to our souls and reveals the primary script of our lives: conflict, struggle, and salvation. Fantasy stories seek salvation from things like Lord Voldemort, Darth Vader, and the witch. We seek salvation from sin, death, and the devil, which comes through Jesus Christ. The Bible tells an incredible story of the struggle for life.

Yet the Bible is not fantasy literature. Its stories did not take place in an alternative world or a future galaxy far, far away.  The Bible is from a real time and a specific place! The place of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is not worlds away, only an 11-hour plane ride. The Sea of Galilee is really there, and it can be quite windy some days.  The Mount of Olives is not a figment of an author’s imagination; it is home to thousands of olive trees, and at least one that is 2000 years old.  The temple of Jerusalem was not made up – part of it still stands; I touched it just weeks ago.

Our recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land brought the words of the Bible to life for us. In the span of 12 days, we visited many of the places where our ancestors in faith lived and followed God. We traced the footsteps of Jesus, from his birth in Bethlehem, to his childhood in Nazareth; from his ministry in Galilee to his suffering and death in Jerusalem. Our group of nine pilgrims from St. John’s would often look at each other and say: “Jesus was here!” It was inspiring and awesome to be in the places where Jesus lived his life, ministered, prayed, suffered, and died. Having been there I can better picture the stories of Holy Scripture. Reading the Bible might engage us in what seems like another world, but it is our world of which it speaks.

Sometimes when we read the Bible it might seem fantastical, or at least difficult to understand. No doubt that reading the Bible is a profound cross-cultural experience through time and geography. But its words and stories come alive when we open our hearts and minds to it. The Bible speaks of real places and events back then while speaking also to the situations and events of our lives today. The Bible is a living word, and it comes alive for us, for all of us, whether or not we take a plane to Israel.

When I was confirmed in the 8th grade, my pastor challenged us to read through the Bible, one chapter a day, which I did during high school. I figured that if I was a Christian, I should know what the Bible said. I wanted to hear God’s word for me.  There wasn’t a lightning rod moment in those years of reading, but it shaped my life, for the good. How has God’s word shaped your life? Are you hearing God’s word for you?

One of the best ways to read Holy Scripture is to study it with others. The Bible especially comes alive as we read it together. Come on Thursdays at 1:00pm for Bible Study with me in the chapel; it’s an open invitation to all, no experience necessary. We’ll help each other picture the stories. Or join our new small group series “The Story” and read the Bible over 31 weeks with videos and support. Above all, let the word of God come alive for you, to stir your soul and shape your life for good.

In Christ,

Pastor Matthew Poock

“These are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”

-The Gospel According to St. John, chapter 20, verse 31

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