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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.

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Showing items filed under “March 2015”

What Matters Most

If you dedicated yourself to what matters most, how would your life be different?

This question came to me for a number of reasons:

  • I began my week reflecting about the definition of true riches with a highly successful businessman who laments an imbalance that has placed the family he loves in jeopardy.
  • Second, I conducted a memorial service for an 88 year-old Christian lady whose children could not think of anything distinctive about her life other than, “she was a great mom and wife.”
  • This week marks the anniversary of Elvis Presley’s purchase of Graceland in 1957.

You might be wondering what the purchase of Graceland has to do with the first two observations. It’s a matter of perspective and priorities.

Elvis purchased Graceland for $102,500 in March of 1957. Graceland, of course was where Elvis, his parents and his grandmother, Minnie Mae, lived; but unofficially, it was also the home/hotel/clubhouse for the “Memphis Mafia” – where the ever-changing cast of friends, musicians and business partners gathered. Today, Graceland is preserved as Elvis left it when he died in the upstairs master bathroom in 1977. His daughter Lisa Marie inherited Graceland and has done an impressive job of preserving it in his memory. Graceland has in fact, become the second most-visited house in America after The White House.

Carol and I have often passed through Memphis on our way to the Gulf beaches by way of Interstate #55, via Jackson, Mississippi, then east to the Florida coastline. Memphis is where we cross the Mississippi River from Arkansas into Tennessee. A few years ago we decided there were things in Memphis worth experiencing. So, instead of just passing through per usual, we spent a few days enjoying the music and vibe of Beale Street, rode the trolley, watched the duck procession at the Peabody and enjoyed some of America’s quintessential eateries including: The Rendezvous, Gus’s Funky Fried Chicken (seasoned with cayenne pepper), and Gibson’s Donuts. (I recommend the maple bacon variety.) And we toured Graceland.

Elvis denied himself no luxury. He had the money and fame to acquire the best of everything: the best cars, watches, jewelry, appliances, furniture, TVs, draperies and finishes. As I walked through Graceland, I couldn’t help but think what a total “gut job”, it would be if someone bought the mansion today. No person of means would live in “those conditions” today. The floor plan is choppy and confined. Walls would have to be removed. The kitchen was a nightmare of outdated (small) appliances, soffits and dark oak cabinets all crowded into a narrow space with Formica counter-tops. The shag carpet, the paneling, the swag lights and the overall dark décor of the house would send potential buyers running.

The best of the best in 1957 is no longer desired. It struck me how hard we work to accumulate things that don’t last. It gave clarity to Paul’s advice to young Timothy:

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

Who doesn’t want “life that is truly life?” Maybe everyone? (At least by the measure of our life priorities.) In the end Elvis died surrounded by inanimate objects and superficial relationships that lacked the joy and contentment that make life worth living. His was not “life that is life indeed.” Unable to experience the highs of life, Elvis sought the high of drugs …life that was not life. It was tragic.

So why do we spend so much time and money chasing fame, fortune and fun? Don’t misunderstand; there is nothing wrong or inherently sinful about success or even money. Some of the great people in Scripture were powerful and rich. But the wealth, power and influence of the godly is understood and used differently than the ungodly. The godly understand these things are mere tools to be used to serve God’s purpose which in the end leads to “life that is life indeed.”

Elvis sang some beautiful renditions of gospel music to be sure; but apart from God’s intended purpose, the things God intends as a blessing only end up making us blue. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PotB76gi2_4

Well, since my baby left me
Well, I found a new place to dwell
Well, it's down at the end of Lonely Street
At Heartbreak Hotel
Where I'll be--where I get so lonely, baby
Well, I'm so lonely
I get so lonely, I could die


The Scripture

“Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:6-10

  • What’s the key to “great gain?” What does that mean?
  • Explain the difference between proper and improper ambition?
  • How would describe the “ambition” of Jesus based on John 12:22,28?

Survey

How might most of your friends describe you?

A. Overly attracted to the finer things in life.
B. Totally unaffected by material possessions?
C. A person who puts the Lord’s priorities first most of the time.

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 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

“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

Midweek Lent Services: March 25 at 7pm
special series called The Ask where we’ll explore several different crucial conversations that people had with God, learning how we can better go to God in whatever circumstances we face.

Torn: Holy Week Experience
We invite you to join us as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the power of Holy Week by following Jesus during His final hours in the Garden through His crucifixion in a creative, powerful and immersive worship experience. All three services on April 2 and 3 are identical. Use this invite card to invite people via social media and email.
Thursday, April 2 at 7pm and Friday, April 3 at 12noon and 7pmThe three presentations are identical and include communion.

Easter
We have a HUGE celebration planned for Easter. Information on service times is here.

Eggstravaganza
And, don't forget, we'll have free food, bouncy houses (who doesn't love a bouncy house) and 10,000 Easter eggs up for grabs at our Eggstravaganza right after the 5pm Saturday, April 4, service ends.


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.

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“Risk Adverse”

My fellow pastor, Dion Garrett, delivered a thoughtful message this past week about how our culture’s emphasis on protection often inhibits our formation. His teaching was based on the story of Jesus calming the storm which had His disciples fearing for their lives. (e.g. Matthew 8:23-27)

After Jesus was shaken awake by His disciples shouting, “Save us! We are about to drown!” He replied, “Why are you so timid? Why do you have such little faith?” Pastor Garrett quoted statistical studies that show how being overly protective is actually detrimental to our children’s confidence and problem-solving ability. Twenty-four hour news channels and the internet bombard us with stories of one isolated tragedy after another, causing us to “circle the wagons” and shield our children (and ourselves) from the dangers and the adventures of life that create character, courage and faith.

Yet in the recent past, many children:

  • Played on playgrounds that by today’s standards would be considered unsafe. (A park near my home had a WWII surplus tank, an artillery piece, and a jet fighter we climbed on, metal swings, teeter-totters, and merry-go-rounds that today would be a cause for alarm… and a law-suit.)
  • I rode my bike all over town with nothing more than a ball cap on my head. (My younger brother rode on the handle bars.)
  • I often drank water from a dirty garden hose.
  • We skated on ponds after checking the thickness of the ice by dropping rocks we could barely lift next to our own feet.
  • We rode in cars without seat belts and child safety seats and sometimes even in the back of our grandpa’s pick-up truck.
  • We all tried out for little-league, but not everyone made the team.
  • We built tree houses using my dad’s saw, hammer and hatchet.
  • We rode wooden sleds down “suicide hill” …standing up! (Rarely with success.)
  • We “hunted birds, squirrels and rabbits” with pellet guns and a .22 caliber rifle while still in grade school.
  • We swam in the farmer’s pond down the road and dove out of trees into a quarry over 100 deep, shouting, “Just make sure you clear the rocks!”
  • We walked ten miles along the railroad track from our house to my grandparents’ farm.
  • We camped out in the woods with nothing more than a quilt for a sleeping bag.

While attending a conference last week, I read a biography of Jack London, best known for books based on his adventures in Alaska. Jack was an interesting guy. Abandoned by his father in the 1870’s, Jack grew up on the streets of Oakland, California getting by as best he could.

As a young boy, he hopped trains on a dare, once riding all the way to Washington, D.C. and back again through Canada. During that trip, he was arrested in New York for vagrancy and sentenced to 30 days of hard labor; a means by which the police secured workers for the loading docks. He was hired on the crew of a sailboat, doing the distasteful business of collecting seal pelts, all the way to Japan and back through icy waters. All of that and more before the age of 20!

After achieving success through writing (despite having only a 9th grade education), Jack build a 45ft. sailboat which he sailed to Hawaii and Australia without any navigational experience. He simply bought books on the subject and said, “I will learn navigating by navigating.” And he did. When he wanted to explore the NW territories, he bought a wagon and team of four horses, and as he tells it, “With a little difficulty and much humor, I leaned to manage a team of horses as well.”

Where are you on the faith continuum? On a scale of 1 to 10, would you register a three or a seven? What would you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail? What’s the worst that could happen? Jesus chided the disciples for lack of faith then calmed the wind and the waves. Pastor Garrett did a good job of answering the question, “What’s the worst that could happen?” They might have drowned, but unlikely. Even then, he said, “God through Jesus has made death His servant.” Believers in Jesus will simply pass from life to life eternal. Would that be so bad?

There is work to be done. Adventures to be experienced. Faith to be exercised. “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) But you are not alone. Jesus who calmed the waves and hushed the wind is by your side. After the storm, the disciples thought to themselves, “Who is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” How would you answer their question?

The disciples, mere fishermen and timid at first, went on to explore the world, bringing the gospel everywhere they went. What’s holding you back? I’ve always liked the way Helen Keller “saw” the world;

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.”


The Scripture

“The Lord provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:9ff

  • What factors help you decide to tackle a new project?
  • Are you more or less courageous than most?
  • How does the “God factor,” enter into your thinking?

Survey

When was the last time you attempted something that would require God’s help to accomplish rather than your own ability and resources?

A. I’m not a risk-taker by nature.
B. I love to tackle God-size challenges.
C. I realize this is something I need to change in my life.

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 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

“Lord I believe. Help me with my doubts.” That prayer first offered by the father of a child who needed your intervention sums up my spirit, Lord. I do believe--in theory. Theologically speaking, I know You can do all things. I know that nothing is impossible for You. I just have trouble believing that You can use me to accomplish a miracle in this world. Increase my faith Lord. Give me greater confidence to trust and act on Your strength. Enable me to be a voice and an example of faith to those around me. This is my time, Lord, help me to live without regret. Amen.


Brief Notes

Midweek Lent Services: March 4 at 7pm
special series called The Ask where we’ll explore several different crucial conversations that people had with God, learning how we can better go to God in whatever circumstances we face.

Torn: Holy Week Experience
We invite you to join us as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the power of Holy Week by following Jesus during His final hours in the Garden through His crucifixion in a creative, powerful and immersive worship experience. All three services on April 2 and 3 are identical. Use this invite card to invite people via social media and email.

Thursday, April 2 at 7pm and Friday, April 3 at 12noon and 7pm | The three presentations are identical and include communion.

Easter
We have a HUGE celebration planned for Easter. Information on service times is here.

Eggstravaganza
And, don't forget, we'll have free food, bouncy houses (who doesn't love a bouncy house) and 10,000 Easter eggs up for grabs at our Eggstravaganza right after the 5pm Saturday, April 4, service ends.

Lend a Helping Hand
If you’d like to help out at The Holy Week Experience, Easter services or the Eggstravaganza, send us an email. We’d love to have you help!


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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