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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 “July 2013”

What We Do Best As Individuals

Our nation has experienced its share of prejudice. I grew up in the tumultuous 60’s. The evening news was awash with stories of freedom riders, civil rights marches, boycotts, and racial conflict of every kind. In those days people like Dr. Martin Luther King Dr., Medgar Evers, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson joined ranks with John and Bobby Kennedy to change the cultural landscape of America. I’m a big fan of the sacrificial efforts made by so many to bring about racial equality, end discrimination, and provide equal opportunity for all people during that era.

The rhetoric of those religious and national leaders made a mark on the psyche of our nation. It could be argued their widely televised calls for justice and equality shaped the attitudes of my generation. Most American’s can recall the stirring words of Dr. King’s, “I Have A Dream,” speech. I also recall a speech made by Rev. Jackson that included a powerful poem written by the Rev. William Borders in the 1950’s. It became his mantra.

Words have power. The truth of those few words left an indelible mark on my thinking. The main point of the poem wasn’t especially racial… it spoke to all people. Everyone needs to be reminded they are important, and have an important role to play in the world. Personal value matters. Everyone is capable of making a difference in important ways; ways that honor the Lord and provide a deep sense of personal satisfaction. The poem is called, “I Am Somebody.”

I am Somebody! I am Somebody!
I may be poor, But I am Somebody.
I may be young, But I am Somebody.
I may be on welfare, But I am Somebody.
I may be small, But I am Somebody.
I may have made mistakes, But I am Somebody.
My clothes are different, My face is different,
My hair is different, But I am Somebody.
I am black, brown, or white. I speak a different language
But I must be respected, Protected, Never rejected.
I am God’s child!

Never forget that! You are somebody! Somebody that God considered worthy of His own Son’s suffering and sacrificial death. Remember and never forget the words of God who said, “Never call anything (of anyone) impure that God has made holy.” Peter immediately knew God’s meaning. In response he said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”

You may not be a racist but that does not mean you are without prejudice. One of the worst forms of prejudice is the prejudice of self-condemnation. It is an epidemic in the world and the source of much pain –personal and shared. Insecure people are hurting people, and hurting people hurt others. YOU ARE SOMEBODY! “Never call impure that which God has made holy!”

Have you ever stopped to think that God has caused you to be born in this time and this place for some reason greater than yourself? You are created to make a difference in things that matter, something of eternal consequence. The world is full of underachievers because they mistakenly believe they are nothing special. They look at their giftedness (or lack there-of), or at their present circumstance and determine they are perfectly placed to accomplish nothing of importance in the world. Self-condemnation is one of the devil’s most proven strategies to foster despair and inhibit the spread of godliness in the world today.

Even a casual examination of the most significant people in the pages of the Bible show how ridiculous it is to assume anyone is insignificant or “forever disqualified” to do something important in the world for God. Moses, King David and the apostle Paul were all guilty of murder. Even then God used them in major ways to advance His cause. Have you ever murdered anyone? Can you think of anyone less qualified to be a spokesman for God’s grace, mercy and love than a common murderer? Abraham was a shepherd, Gideon was a farmer, Peter was a fisherman and Matthew worked for the IRS but they all ended up being used by God to accomplish historic things.

I heard someone say once that the only person God can’t use is a person whose heart is already full of themselves. Pride then, not inadequacy, is all that makes one unqualified for Christian service. God specializes in using the downtrodden, the least-likely, the unqualified to accomplish great things. He loves to accomplish extraordinary outcomes through ordinary people. Abraham Lincoln understood this concept perfectly well. He said, “God must love the common man, He made so many of them.”

It makes perfect sense. One of the apostles helped me better understand this preference of God when he wrote,

“So where (in God’s plan) can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.” (1 Corinthians 1:20-21)

You are somebody. You are a Child of God.

 


The Scripture

“Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.” 2 Peter 1:5-10.

  • Why are relational skills an important addition to our knowledge of God?
  • Which of the delineated qualities do you most need to add to your faith?
  • Explain Peter’s closing statement.

Survey

What’s one of the most inspirational stories of the Bible for you where God uses what seems to be an insignificant person?

A. Mary
B. David
C. Esther
D. Peter
E. Other

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.


LIVEstreaming

St. John Church is now live streaming Sunday service at 9:15am and 11:00am. Join us!


A Prayer

Lord – Help me to never doubt Your promise that You have called me by name. Help me to be the person that You have made me to be –filled with Your spirit and love knowing that You would have gone to the cross had it only been just for me. Let me treat everyone else as being Your child with kind words, thoughts and actions. Amen.


Prayer Requests

In need of prayer? E-mail your prayer request to and our staff, our prayer partners, and the people of St. John will pray for you. Or consider joining our Prayer Ministry by either being on a team that meets once a month, or by receiving prayer requests through our email prayer chain.


Brief Notes

Click on the links below to learn more about what's going on at St. John!
  • Get involved with our Back 2 School Backpack Bash on August 10.
  • Our children and youth love to have adults in their lives who serve as mentors or just a friendly face on Sundays or at their events. If you want to help out, contact Lisa at for Children’s Ministry (birth-5th grade) and Dawn at for Youth Ministry (6th-12th grade). Read more about how our volunteers help under the Serving Kids section of our website.

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

What We Do Best Together

I was raised to be independently-minded. I’m pretty sure it was unintentional. I was the middle-child in a family of 7 children so independence was the natural consequence of circumstances beyond my control. My hard-working father worked from 3pm until 11pm most of my childhood, so Mom had her hands full on the home front. As best I can remember, she was occupied caring for a baby or fixing the next meal. If you weren’t sick, in trouble or bleeding, you were left to fend for yourself. I don’t recall feeling neglected. Normal is what you experience in life; so, I assumed my experience was usual.

As a case in point, I remember breaking my arm when I was ten or eleven years old. My older brother and I delivered newspapers to about 100 homes seven days a week. That day my bike tire slid out from under me while making a turn on some loose gravel. I finished my route with one arm and managed to ride home. Mom dropped me off at the Emergency Room while she ran to pick up a different child from an after-school activity. (I’m sure she told the nurse she’d be right back!) I didn’t think it was odd, but the doctor who set my arm was shocked to find no adult in the ER caring for me. It seems funny now, but his upset stands out more in my memory than the trauma of breaking my arm. We were used to being on our own.

There is strength in self-reliance but there is also inherent weakness. As Pastor Dion likes to remind our staff, “You go faster alone, but you go farther together.” God created us to engage life’s challenges in community, helping and receiving help from each other as we go. The Bible says, “It is not good for man to be alone.”

The Bible DOES NOT say “God so loved theology that He sent His only begotten Son into the world to teach people truth and obedience.” It DOES say, “God so loved PEOPLE that He sent His only begotten Son into the world so that whoever believes in Him would be saved.” Does that mean truth and obedience are unimportant? Absolutely not! But, truth and obedience are a means to an end, not the end; the end is people. The salvation and blessing of people are the focus of everything God does.

Over the years, I have come to realize that people are more important than tasks. Working with others to accomplish a godly purpose is nearly as important to God as the mission itself. The disciples grew in faith by serving, not by being served. God didn’t create people to get work done. He gives us work to get people done. Everything important in life revolves around people.

People serve best together when they are united in Christian love. That is why God places so much emphasis on maintaining a spirit of love and goodwill among God’s people. In the Old Testament the psalmist wrote:

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. [An illustration of how wonderful it was for God’s people to enjoy worship led by Aaron, Moses brother.] It (unity) is like the dew falling on Mount Hermon or upon Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.”

The New Testament urges Christians to give the same kind of care and attention to maintaining Christian unity. In his letter to the Christians at Colossae, Paul wrote:

“As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

I first came to appreciate the value of unity and teamwork in high school through sports. Golf is an individual sport, but football requires a team effort. It didn’t matter how good our quarterback was if the offensive line provided no protection. It didn’t matter how good our receivers were if our quarterback was incapable of throwing an accurate pass, or how good our offense was if our defense was unable to stop our opponent from scoring. We won or lost all our games as a team. Life is like that. We were designed by God to need each other. Our uniqueness is important in-as-much as we complement each other to achieve goals we are not capable of doing alone. So rejoice in your unique strengths and abilities, but continue to find ways to join your gifts with the unique strengths and abilities of others.

There are several ways to learn the value of unity and teamwork. First, you can beat your head against the wall trying to get through life alone. Secondly, you can learn about the miraculous power of shared effort from God or from others wiser than you. Or thirdly, you can live long enough to experience the difference. Too many are destined to learn the hard way. “Too soon old, too late smart.” Or, as Mark Twain put it, “Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.”


The Scripture

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

  • How often did you worship as a child? How often do you attend worship today? What’s the difference?
  • What case does the Bible make for “meeting together”?
  • Why is it more important (according to the passage) now than before?

Survey

What constitutes “faithful attendance” in worship?

A. Once a month
B. Once a week
C. It depends on personal need

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.


LIVEstreaming

St. John Church is now live streaming Sunday service at 9:15am and 11:00am. Join us!


A Prayer

Gracious Father, keep me mindful of Your favor in my life. Open my eyes so I might become more grateful towards You and less inclined to complain about my lot in life. Enable me to see the wisdom of Your design that by means of meeting the needs of others my own needs are often met. Gracious Lord, I pray for You to increase my sensitivity to the hurting that I might serve You by caring for them. And grant me greater humility. Enable me to check my pride and remain receptive to spiritual, emotional and tangible help from others. Help me realize that there are times when ministry is best accomplished by allowing others to minister to me. In Jesus’ name; Amen.


Prayer Requests

In need of prayer? E-mail your prayer request to and our staff, our prayer partners, and the people of St. John will pray for you. Or consider joining our Prayer Ministry by either being on a team that meets once a month, or by receiving prayer requests through our email prayer chain.


Brief Notes

Click on the links below to learn more about what's going on at St. John!
  • Thank you for the tremendous response to last weekend’s School Supply Shop. We have 315 of the backpacks fully sponsored. We only need 60 more sponsors to reach our goal of 375. You can make a $35 donation and get a child off to a great start in our north St. Louis community partnerships.
  • Did you love the School Supply Shop? Come see the other side as kids get excited as we start the school year off with a block party and provide them with the backpacks. Get involved with our Back 2 School Backpack Bash on August 10.
  • The entire Children’s Ministry program is back in full-swing on Sunday, August 4 for kiddos from birth through fifth grade at the 9:15am and 11:00am Sunday services. We can’t wait to see you! Find out about all the program options for your kiddos here!

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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