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The worship style St. John is known for with biblically-sound real life messages, band and vocal music that enhance worship and the message while maintaining a focus on the sacred and encouraging you on your LIFEjourney with Christ.

9:00am* and 10:45am*|Sanctuary

 

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Showing items filed under “January 2014”

Faking It to Make It

Jimmy Fallon is about to take over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno (1992-2014), who took it over from Johnny Carson (1962-1992), who took it over from Jack Paar (1957-1962), who took it over from the original host Steve Allen (1954-1957). It is the end of an era and the dawn of a new day.

Before passing the torch, Leno complimented the heir-apparent as one of the great rising stars of comedy. What especially impressed Jay was Jimmy’s ability to pull off celebrity impressions. He remarked, “When I saw him do an impression of Bob Dylan I thought, ‘Wow, he’s doing a remarkable job with his lip-sync.’ Then I realized he was actually singing a perfect imitation of Dylan! The kid’s got incredible talent!” Check it out.

The ability to imitate someone has always been a staple in American comedy. To copy a phrase, or a gesture, or the body language of someone famous, enables a comedian to twist and turn their words for the amusement of others. “Imitation,” as they say, “is the highest form of flattery.” There would be no point in imitating someone unknown or of little importance. To be imitated is to be significant.

Imitation is not unknown in the world of faith. There are Christians and Christian teachers whose outward appearance looks exactly like the “real thing,” but it’s only a good imitation of true faith. Sometimes the ruse is intentional, other-times (perhaps often?) it is an attempt to be authentic without understanding the difference between authentic-faith and imitation-faith.

Let me explain. I’m a dad. All during my boys’ growing up years I had expectations for their behavior. “Keep your room clean. Study hard. Be honest. Treat your elders and those in authority with respect. Be on time. Obey the law …to name a few.” Every parent knows behavior can be faked. Your kids can actually wash their face and brush their teeth, or they can merely wet the brush and leave a lathered bar of soap sitting next to the sink. Their word and their integrity is at stake.

When you know what is expected, you can fool someone into believing you are authentic when in reality, you are only “pretending” to be something you are not. It’s hard for others to tell the difference. The outward appearance looks exactly the same but nothing could be farther from the truth.

Motivation is the key to authenticity. Faithful behavior comes from a motivation of love demonstrated in obedience. Fake behavior comes from fear of punishment or a desire to solicit favor, also demonstrated in obedience. They look the same but the difference is profound.

When God sent the prophet Samuel down to Bethlehem to choose a new king for Israel, Samuel was looking for what he believed to be important qualities in a leader: “Someone tall, strong, with a firm hand-shake, who looks you in the eye, and is respected by others.” When he saw Eliab, Jesse’s oldest son, he said to himself, “Surely this man is the one the Lord wants me to anoint.” But the Lord whispered in Samuel’s ear, “Do not look merely at his appearance and stature; he is not my chosen. Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”

The need to be cautious in matters of faith is an oft-repeated warning in the Bible. John told his followers, “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.” (1 John 4) Of course John meant Christians should trust only those teachers who acknowledge the whole truth about Jesus as true God and true man who was born, lived, suffered, died and rose again to redeem all who believe. (2 John)

Paul issued the same warning when he said, “I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” (1 Corinthians 11)

Imitation is funny when a comedian pretends to be someone he is not. It is dangerous when Christians fake the faith out of ignorance or in an effort to deceive the unsuspecting. It’s impossible to tell the difference from outward appearance alone. Quoting the prophet Isaiah, Jesus reminds us, “False teachers honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” (Matthew 15)

Motivation is the key to authenticity. Faithful behavior comes from a motivation of love demonstrated in obedience. Fake behavior comes from fear of punishment or a desire to solicit favor, also demonstrated in obedience. They look the same but the difference is profound.


The Scripture

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11

  • What does the phrase mean, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time?”
  • When was the last time you were fooled?
  • How can you keep from being fooled over God’s Word?

Survey

On what basis do you decide what church to join?

A. I like the feel of worship.
B. The word of God is taught faithfully.
C. My friends attend there.

Click here to take the survey and take a moment to leave a thought or opinion.


Online

If you were unable to attend services last weekend and would like to listen to the message, visit our homepage at www.stjstl.net and click on Media at the top right of the web page. Growing Deeper, a Bible study, written to accompany the message series is also available to download.


Live Stream

St. John Church live streams Sunday services at 9:00am and 10:45am. Join us!


A Prayer

From the book of Proverbs

“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die. Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” Proverbs 30:7-9


Brief Notes

Weird Animal Vacation Bible School is coming!

Stephen Hower, Pastor

Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14
(and to lower my golf score)

   

To subscribe to E-dify, a periodic e-mail to encourage and inform, please click here and type, “Subscribe” in the Subject line. To unsubscribe to E-dify, please click here  and type, “Unsubscribe” in the Subject line.  Or better yet, forward E-dify to a friend who needs God’s encouragement.

Posted by Stephen Hower with

Get Smart!

No, I’m not talking about the hit 60’s TV show by that name. You remember –it featured Don Adams as Maxwell Smart (Agent 86, and his side-kick, Agent 99). They protected America from a terrorist group known simply as KAOS, “an international organization of evil.” The popular sit-com was a thinly veiled parody of the blockbuster James Bond movies of the era. Agent Smart routinely relied, as did Agent Bond, on top-secret gadgets like his famous shoe-phone and cone of silence.

My reference to Get Smart is given as sage advice as the key to attaining important goals or changing a limiting behavior. By “getting smart,” you stand the chance of winning the war against KAOS of the more conventional kind – the chaos of life.

The best goals in life are SMART goals. No matter what you are trying to change or achieve in life; you have a better chance of succeeding if you take a small amount of time to plan your course of action. It is trite but true, “Those who fail to plan, should plan to fail.” SMART goals are: Specific – Measureable – Attainable – Revisable – Trials. They are SMART.

With this in mind, our congregation is routinely asked to set a SMART goal in deciding the amount of their offering. We even suggest a specific number based on their past gifts as a starting point. Yes, yes, the Bible has very specific objective standards for making God-pleasing offerings.

  • Motivated by grace, not made grudgingly. 2 Corinthians 9:7,15
  • A 10th of our income is God’s standard, and the examples of the faithful in Scripture. Malachi 3:10, Matthew 23:23, and Hebrews 7:2 and Hebrews 13:8
  • Our first and our best, not our leftovers. Proverbs 3:9; 1 Corinthians 16:2
  • Sacrificial. A gift of value to us. 2 Samuel 24:24
  • Expected of everyone, the poor and the rich proportionate to their ability. Deuteronomy 16:16,17;

Just knowing what God wants is not enough. “The devil knows and trembles.” (James 2:19) Everyone needs a plan to achieve God’s expectations in life. Changing human nature is no easy task. A SMART goal provides a better chance of succeeding, and if you fail, a SMART goal allows you to regroup and reengage your goal or reset a different goal. It is a trial, an attempt, a goal …intended to meet God’s expectation. It is a very real means of accomplish something important. It also provides the giver a sense of personal satisfaction and a practical expression of deepening faith.

The amount of your goal is not as important as the discipline of establishing a spiritual challenge and achieving it. Baby steps. Set an attainable goal, and as God enables you to accomplish it, adjust it to a bolder expression of your growing faith.

This effort assumes a godly attitude of abundance not scarcity. Oh how I wish I could pry open the hearts of people and help them see possibilities not obstacles, opportunities not barriers, resources not limits, potential not inadequacy, possibilities not setbacks!

There is something limiting in humanistic view of life. Apart from God converting our heart, people more easily embrace scarcity than abundance. Sinful human nature says, “When we give away something we end up with less! When we save and hoard we gain more!” That is a tried-and-true principle in some aspects of life, but IT IS NOT UNIVERSALLY TRUE. Consider the “Fruit of The Spirit” as God describes in Galatians, chapter five.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

I prefer to paraphrase that last sentence to say, “You can’t have too much of these Christian attitudes.” When you give love away, you receive love. By giving love away you don’t diminish your supply of it – you increase it! The same is true for respect, kindness and other important spiritual values. Solomon said, “Cast your bread upon the water and watch how it comes back to you.” (Ecclesiastes 11:1)

The same principle applies in Christian giving. The wisest man to ever walk the face of the earth wanted us to all understand this truth of God. He wrote,


“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. People curse the one who hoards grain, but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell. Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to one who searches for it. Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.” (Proverbs 11:24-28)


So which is it for you? Scarcity or abundance? What have you got to lose? Set a SMART goal and get after it. A life without a challenge and risk is not worth living. God wants more for you than that!


The Scripture

“Since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you —see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” 2 Corinthians 8:7

  • Does this Edify, annoy you, challenge you, or affirm your view of life?
  • Describe the last time you made a gift that gave you a great deal of satisfaction.
  • At the end of this teaching Paul concludes by saying, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” What do you think he meant? Why is that important to remember?

Survey

Do you set SMART goals for yourself?

A. Never–what's their purpose?
B. Sometimes–when it suits the situation.
C. Always–in all things.

Click here to take the survey and take a moment to leave a thought or opinion.


Online

If you were unable to attend services last weekend and would like to listen to the message, visit our homepage at www.stjstl.net and click on Media at the top right of the web page. Growing Deeper, a Bible study, written to accompany the message series is also available to download.


Live Stream

St. John Church live streams Sunday services at 9:00am and 10:45am. Join us!


A Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.
- St. Ignatius Prayer


Brief Notes

  • Blood Drive is on Monday, January 27 from 3:00pm-7:00pm. Reserve your time!
    Great things are coming up for our kids and youth!
Great things are coming up for our kids and youth!
  • Vacation Bible School from June 16-20, 9am-12noon for Preschool-current 4th grade students
  • Bowl Mania for High School Students: Sunday, February 2, 3pm-end of the Big Game! FREE!
  • 30 Hour Famine for all middle and high school students: February 21-22.
  • Friday Frenzie is this Friday, January 23, from 7pm-8:30pm, for all 4th-5th graders—no matter where they go to school. $5 per person.

Stephen Hower, Pastor

Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14
(and to lower my golf score)

   

To subscribe to E-dify, a periodic e-mail to encourage and inform, please click here and type, “Subscribe” in the Subject line. To unsubscribe to E-dify, please click here  and type, “Unsubscribe” in the Subject line.  Or better yet, forward E-dify to a friend who needs God’s encouragement.

Posted by Stephen Hower with

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