News & Announcements

News & Announcements

There Are No Words

There Are No Words

“There are no words.”  After the events of this past week and the passing of our beloved Butch, that phrase kept coming up in my head and out of my mouth.  As a minister, sometimes you feel like “Bible Answer Man.”  People ask you for help remembering a passage they are trying to think of, they ask you if you can send them verses on something they are struggling with, they call you if they’re trying to work through a Bible question or a detail about a Bible story.  But, there are times when even the preacher doesn’t have the answer.  This would be one of those.  I struggle with words to explain how a healthy middle-aged man with a wife, three young daughters and a beautiful grandchild can be making a trip home from work—one he has probably made thousands of times in his life— and be at the wrong place at the wrong time and not make it home.  Many of us this past week have asked (or shouted, or cried), “WHY?”  I think that’s a perfectly legitimate question, even when shouted.  The story of Job has always gotten me.  It is a story of tragic loss, illness, and Job’s quest to make sense of it all.  We often forget that Job never knew what we know—there was a cosmic argument going on behind the scenes between Satan and God that was the root cause of all of his trouble.  In the meantime, Job is left to wonder what is going on.  He is told by his friends that it is his fault—he had to have done something wrong.  But, Job is innocent and he knows this.  At times, Job gets pretty blunt with his friends and with God in arguing his innocence and lamenting his struggle.  At one point, in Job 13:15, Job both affirms his faith while at the same time arguing for justice: “Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.”  In other words, “I will have faith in God to the very end, but that doesn’t mean I won’t argue my innocence.”  I think it’s perfectly normal in these situations to do just that.  We can trust God, while at the same time ask “WHY?”  God is ok with that.  He is ok with Job doing that.  A faith that asks the hard questions will, I believe, be deeper and more real in the end.  How can it not?  We have to let ourselves deal honestly with life, particularly when it’s been unfair.

So, ask the hard questions.  Keep your faith in God.  You can do both.

~~Scott McFarland


Orphan Sunday

The church will be dedicating Sunday, November 12th to Orphan Sunday with the Orphans Lifeline International organization. There is a special contribution flyer and contribution box available in the back of the foyer, if you would like to give.

 


The Worst Sinner

In I Timothy 1:15, Paul calls himself the “foremost” of sinners.  That’s a pretty big label, and today we’ll look at how he got there.  As I was preparing for the lesson this week, I was reminded of what Paul says about all of us in his letter to the Romans in 5:6-11.  He uses 3 labels to describe the “before Christ” relationship between us and God: “weak,” “sinners” and “enemies.”  That last one is pretty jarring—enemies?  I never saw myself as an enemy of God.  I would imagine most of us probably haven’t either.  And yet, in sin, that is exactly how we stand before God.  Because of our sinful nature, we were hostile to him before submitting to Christ and having our sins washed away.  Jesus literally washes us and puts us in a right standing with God and we become children of God instead of His enemies.  Amazing, right?!  It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around it sometimes.

Paul goes on to describe the incredible love God has for us.  Even while we were weak, sinful enemies of God, He sent His son to die for us.  Imagine doing the hardest thing you can think of for the most difficult person you know and you might come close to what Jesus did on the cross.  In fact, Paul even says someone might die for a good person, but a sinner?  Never.  It’s not just Paul.  We all have been given this incredible gift.  This is how Paul—with his “worst sinner” title—is able to be forgiven.  The love of God is greater than my—or anyone’s—sin.  That’s good news!

Scott McFarland


Doubting Faith

Two weeks ago I concluded our “Real Faith” series with the story of Moses, dealing with anger.  I thought at that point that I would be moving on from the series, but after some thought and reflection on the next couple of months of sermons, I’ve decided to add two more lessons from the New Testament to our “Real Faith” series and extend it a bit.

This morning, our series continues with a look at the story of James, Jesus’ brother.  James will teach us about doubts and skepticism as a regular part of our faith.  Doubting and skepticism is a topic that, when I’ve preached or taught on it in the past, has drawn interesting and very opposite reactions.  Some folks can’t understand why anyone would ever doubt God.  For these people, things are very simple—God is God and that’s that.  They have never doubted His existence or His goodness, how He works or why He does what He does.  But there is another group of people, mostly silent for fear of being labeled or viewed as less than.  These people occasionally—or often—have doubts about God’s existence and/or His goodness.  This doubt might come from significant experience(s) in their life—trauma, sudden death of a loved one, difficult childhood, etc.—and they look at the evil in the world and struggle to see how God could exist or why He doesn’t stop the evil.

I’m not sure we like to talk about the reality of doubt in the Christian’s life, but it does and can exist.  As we’ll see this morning, doubts can actually bolster faith—if they are dealt with properly.  So, I would encourage you if you are one of those who struggle at times with doubts,  deal with them!  Admit them!  You aren’t less than because you have them.  You stand in a long line of believers over years who have wrestled with the reality of life and struggled to understand God in the midst of it all.

I believe that for those who deal with their doubts, there exists a more vibrant and real faith—one that, when tested, is more sure and more in touch with the world and all of its complexity.

Scott McFarland


Whoever Is Not Here with Us Today

I just finished Deuteronomy in my daily reading and was working through the latter part of the book when a phrase caught me.  In the midst of getting ready to initiate the covenant before entering the Promised Land, God tells the people in Deut. 29:14—“It is not with you alone that I am making this sworn covenant, but with whoever is standing here with us today before the Lord our God, and with whoever is not here with us today.”

God wanted to make sure the people understood this wasn’t just for them—it was for their children, grandchildren, and all who would later be born in the Promised Land.  The covenant God makes with his people in the book of Deuteronomy is more than just about land, however.  It is about their identity as the people of God and how to continue in that identity.  Many of the pieces of the covenant deal with behavior and practices that would set them apart from the people around them.

In many ways, we have inherited this same covenant.  Paul talks about Gentiles in Romans 11:11-24 as being a wild olive branch grafted into the olive tree of God’s kingdom.  You and I, thousands of years removed from the covenant in Deuteronomy, are those “not with us here today.”  We were on God’s mind so long ago—we’ve always been on His mind.  Your value, your identity, as a child of God is something of infinite worth.  God has always thought of you, even before you were here.

 

Scott McFarland


Angry Faith

An author for Reader's Digest writes how he studied the Amish people in preparation for an article on them. In his observation at the school yard, he noted that the children never screamed or yelled. This amazed him. He spoke to the schoolmaster. He remarked how he had not once heard an Amish child yell, and asked why the schoolmaster thought that was so. The schoolmaster replied, "Well, have you ever heard an Amish adult yell?"**

Although I’m sure there are Amish that yell, the point remains that what children see their parents do, they will do also.  Many of the problems we encounter in life are generationally inherited; they are simply passed down from our ancestors until someone in the family tree decides they’ve had enough and takes a different path.  We even see this in Scripture: Jacob repeats the same favoritism with his children that got him in trouble with his brother Esau.  Isaac tells the same lie his father Abraham did.  If not dealt with, the things we hate about ourselves and cause us the most pain will be passed on to another generation to deal with.

This morning we’ll close out our “Real Faith” series on Moses and his anger issues.  As we think about anger, would you want your children or grandchildren to handle themselves like you do?  If not, I hope our lesson this morning will be the catalyst needed to break the cycle of anger in your family.

Scott McFarland

**Reader’s Digest. Link for story: http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/a/anger.htm


Soup Bean and Cornbread Fellowship Dinner

There will be a soup bean and cornbread fellowship dinner, Saturday, October 28th at 5 p.m. in the Fellowship building. Please bring a dessert and a friend!


Faith and Addiction

This morning, we’ll continue our “Real Faith” series with the story of Noah.  The ending of Noah’s story in Genesis 9 opens up a conversation about substance addiction.  Substance addiction can take many forms—drugs, alcohol, pornography, food…basically any “substance” we cannot live without and which keeps us from living a healthy, functional life.  Addiction is slavery.  It traps you into needing a particular substance to feel normal or to function.

In the sermon, we’ll focus on the “how to’s” of getting out of addiction or preventing it in the first place.  Here, I’d like to say something to those caught on the fringes—the family and friends of the addict.  It’s natural behavior to want to help someone we love who has a problem.  I remember being in college and trying to help a friend who was going through drug addiction.  A bunch of us were talking one night about this friend and what we could do to help, and one of my buddies piped up and said the most true words: “Until he wants help, we can’t help him.”  I’ve heard it another way since then: “You can’t want it more than they do.”

There’s a story in John 5 where Jesus heals a lame man at the pool in Bethesda.  Before Jesus heals him, He asks the man, “Do you want to be healed?”  That’s an odd question, but the reality is some people don’t want to get better and until they do, your helping them is only going to do so much.  Usually, it ends up with you being burned out and angry.

Love the friend or family member who is addicted.  Offer them opportunities for your support and help to get better.  Talk to them and share your concern.  Make sure they know where you stand and that you are there for them when they want help.  But, don’t try to do the work for them.  It will be harder for you and won’t accomplish much in the end.

 

 

Scott McFarland


Real Faith

The other day, one of my sergeants sent me a link to a video from his church.  He is a youth minister outside of the National Guard and has been teaching a Bible class at his church on Hebrews.  The video he shared was the class on Hebrews 11, which we often refer to as the “Hall of Faith” chapter.  In the class, my sergeant did a great job telling the story of Abraham and relating it to everyday life.  He and I often share what we are doing at our churches; he has been a great encouragement to me as we share Christ with the men in our unit.

As I finished watching the video, a thought occurred to me.  How many times have we read the stories of faith in Hebrews 11, not realizing that these men and women had flaws too?  We read about their shining moments, not the ones where they acted like real people and made mistakes.  This thought prompted the next 3-week series entitled “Real Faith” where we will look at three characters from Hebrews 11 and examine both sides of their life: their shining moments and their not-so-shining moments.  As we do so, I hope you’ll see that these people were just like you and I, and that faith is sometimes messy.  People can be incredible examples to follow in one moment, and in the next moment demonstrate something to avoid.  This is real life.  Join us and invite a friend as we examine the lives of Abraham, Moses and Noah in “Real Faith”!

Scott McFarland


Sisters Building Sisters For Christ

In lieu of Secret Sisters, Generation Baby Boom and Gen X (been there, done that) would like to adopt Millennials and Gen Z (still in the the thick of it). PLEASE fill out a card with your information and allow us to bring some Sonshine into your lives. 

Cards are available in the foyer on the buffet. 

Thank You - Your older and loving sisters in Christ.


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