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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 “August 2014”

Reality Check

Robin Williams died yesterday. All the news reports say it was suicide. But they are wrong.

Cancer kills people. Heart attacks kill people. People die tragically in car accidents. Soldiers die in war. Depression kills people. No one dies for no reason.

Martin Luther, the voice of the Protestant Reformation put it this way:

"I don’t share the opinion that suicides are certainly to be damned. My reason is that they do not wish to kill themselves but are overcome by the power of the devil. They are like a man who is murdered in the woods by a robber… They are examples by which our Lord God wishes to show that the devil is powerful and also that we should be diligent in prayer. But for these examples, we would not fear God. Hence He must teach us in this way. However, this ought not be taught to the common people, lest Satan be given an opportunity to cause slaughter."

In commenting on that quote, a friend wrote, “Jesus calls the devil ‘a murderer from the beginning.’ And, like every serial murderer, the devil is an opportunist, targeting the most vulnerable, when they are weakest. This is especially evident in suicide.” Another wrote, “And lest we forget, constant drug use, alcohol abuse and failed marriages can be a perfect storm leading to a final black hole of despair.”

I don’t pretend to know the details of William’s struggle. No one but God can know his state of mind or faith. We are not his judge. But the fact that this comes as a surprise to those who knew him, who were his friends and family, is perhaps the greater tragedy.

The human desire to be perceived in a favorable light is life -threatening. It keeps hurting people from sharing their greatest burdens. The devil must love that about humans. The fact that we hide our insecurities, our hurts, our inadequacies behind a veneer of socially acceptable behaviors gives the devil power over us. A burden shared is a burden lightened. A burden hidden becomes an unbearable weight.

The irony of William’s death is that he portrayed vulnerable and transparent people in his most memorable movies. In Patch Adams he played an eccentric, self-absorbed nut-case who became a doctor and discovered his purpose by connecting with troubled people on a real level. In Good Morning Vietnam, he assumed the role of a military disc jockey who was willing to upset the brass to help the front-line soldier. And in Good Will Hunting, he risked his professional standing to help a brilliant but troubled student.

To the credit of his writers, but also his acting skills, some of the lines from those movies are worthy of recalling:

  • “You treat a disease, you win or you lose. You treat a person, I’ll guarantee you’ll win every time.” (Patch Adams)
  • “Hi, Patch Adams.” – (Reply) “Mitch Roman, Georgetown University. I was awarded the William F. Thompson Scientific Achievement Award.” - (Patch Adams responds.) “Mmmm Emerson Elementary. I once drew a picture of a rabbit that got me two gold stars.”
  • “I don’t like you.” (Mitch Roman) – “Why don’t you like me? You’re a prick and I like you.” (Patch Adams)
  • GOOD MORNING VIETNAM!!! Hey, is it a little too early for being that loud? Hey, too late! It’s 0600. What’s the O stand for? "Oh my God, it’s early!"
  • Here’s a little riddle for you. What’s the difference between the army and the Cub Scouts? Cub Scouts don’t have heavy artillery!
  • You know, you’re very beautiful. You’re also very quiet. And I’m not used to girls being that quiet unless they’re medicated. Normally I go out with girls who talk so much you could hook them up to a wind turbine and they could power a small New Hampshire town.
  • Sometimes you got to specifically go out of your way to get into trouble. It’s called fun.

And last but not least, here’s my favorite speech Williams made in “Good Will Hunting,” when he bluntly spoke truth to Matt Damon, the brilliant student who was hiding behind a shield of macho superiority, refusing to be real.

“If I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo; you know a lot about him. His life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you’d probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You’re a tough kid. And I’d ask you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right? “Once more unto the breach dear friends.” But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping by sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms “visiting hours” don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ‘cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much. When I look at you…I don’t see an intelligent, confident man…I see a cocky, scared shitless kid. But you’re a genius Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my f’n life apart. You’re an orphan right?…You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, just because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally; I don’t give a shit about all that, because you know what, I can’t learn anything from you, I can’t read in some f’n book. Unless…unless, you want to talk about you, who you are. Then I’m fascinated. Then I’m all in. But you don’t want to do that do you sport? You’re terrified of what you might say. Your move, chief.”

Sorry for the length of this week’s Edify. Some thoughts can’t be limited to 500 words. I attempted to modify some of the more offensive language in the quotes for fear of offense, but not so much that I would be guilty of hiding behind what most consider “socially acceptable dialogue.” That’s the point after all. Hiding. That’s what kills people.


The Scripture: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32)

  • What does the phrase, “No matter where you go, there you are” mean?
  • Why is it silly, bordering on insanity, to keep secrets from God?
  • What about Jesus gives you confidence to tell God all your troubles and expect help?

Survey: When it comes to honesty about my struggles in life:

A. I keep everyone on a need-to-know basis.
B. I tend to be pretty open and forthright.
C. I tend to stay politically correct.

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 or watch the message, it is available on our website. 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:

(Psalm 32)
“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.


Brief Notes:

  • Unemployment Seminar on August 20-21. Register now if you need help landing a job.
  • Volunteer with kids from birth through high school. Email Dawn and she’ll get back with you.
  • Exciting News! Make sure to be here for FX LIVE! on Sunday, September 7 at 4pm. The first of four great family-oriented events. Be sure to invite your friends, neighbors and relatives. It’s FREE!!!

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 1 Comments

One-On-One

I’m a fan of one-on-one. So is God.

I’m not talking about one-on-one sports. It is meaningful one-on-one conversations I’m after. I attend lots and lots of group meetings of every size – maybe too many. I also faithfully attend an IronMen Small Group Bible study and preach or attend a worship service weekly with hundreds of other Christians. They each have their place, but they are no substitute for one-on-one conversations.

Yesterday was my day off. Until school starts, we have been helping provide childcare for our granddaughter, Cami. So yesterday she was forced to spend time with us running errands and meeting subcontractors for our home construction project. It was also raining, so it was asking a lot of a five-year-old who has to get up early due to her parent’s work schedules. She slowly but surely reached her limit. After lunch we headed back to our place for some recovery time.

Cami loves her grandma. One of the things she loves most is Carol’s large collection of children’s books. As a former teacher, she has boxes and boxes of some of the best children’s books ever written. As I finished my shower, I could hear them in the bedroom reading, asking questions and giggling together. It didn’t take long for Cami to calm down and fall into a deep sleep. There is nothing like one-on-one time. No cartoon, no play date, no movie or team sport can take the place of the time a child spends one-on-one with someone they love and a good book.

This morning I arrived at work early. Even before our staff gathered for devotions, I was in a one-on-one meeting with one of our staff leaders. Before he left, our school principal arrived for her one-on-one meeting an hour later. I am often in team meetings with both of those leaders but team meetings don’t take the place of one-on-one opportunities to discuss their responsibilities and the demands of their positions as Christian leaders.

After staff meetings, I had thirty minutes to work on this E-dify before a concerned father kept his appointment to talk one-on-one about a concern he has for his son who is heading off for his first year of college. I’m obviously not the only friend that dad has, but it was an important personal matter. He wanted to discuss it face-to-face and one-on-one with someone who would honor the confidential nature of the discussion and help him form a Godly response.

I’m certainly not the only staff member who honors the value of having one-on-ones. All our leaders meet regularly with their direct reports. However, there is a limit to the number of one-on-one opportunities we can work into our day. Neither can our pastors begin to meet one-on-one with all the congregational members who are facing life-challenges. Some situations are best referred to others with greater expertise or more time. But meeting with people one-on-one should always be an important part of everyone’s life.

God highly values one-on-one time with you. If you are not in the habit of spending one-on-one time alone with God you are missing the boat. Jesus was God’s son. No one on earth was ever more spiritually mature than Jesus. But guess what? Jesus often spent one-on-one time with His Heavenly Father.

In the very first chapter of Mark—not just later when things got tough, but from the beginning—Jesus practiced ALONE-TIME with our Heavenly Father.

  • Mark tells us, “And early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus rose and went out to a lonely place and was praying there.”
  • After his baptism by John, we are told, “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.”
  • When Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been martyred by Herod we are told, “He withdrew from there in a boat and went to an isolated place to be alone for prayer.” When the crowds interrupted his plans, Jesus ministered to them, then sent them away and, “climbed up a mountain by himself to pray.”

Room does not permit me to recount all the times Jesus sought one-on-one time with His Heavenly Father in addition to His daily routine. If Jesus, God’s Son, found value in personal encounters with God, how much more should you and I value that practice?

It is amazing how much clarity comes to a person after time in quiet prayer. One-on-one time with God is not the same as public worship. It is not the same as small group Bible study. It is not the same as family devotions. Those are all important and godly forms of behavior, but they do not replace the power of personal time with God.

God is usually not asking you to do something during one-on-one time, or be something, or even say something. God wants you to listen. You can’t hear His voice if you are always talking, reading, or singing. Not all the time, but some of the time, you need to allow God’s Spirit an opportunity to allow all your study, all the sermons, and all the Christian songs to unleash their power through personal prayer and reflection.

Sometimes you need to, “Be still and allow God to be God.” Psalm 46:10.


The Scripture: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6

  • What activity does God say is not helpful?
  • Finish the sentence, “When facing a decision God recommends….”
  • What gives you the right to expect God to hear and honor your prayers?

Survey: When it comes to prayer:

A. Most of my prayers are memorized and repeated at usual times.
B. I’m not confident to pray and rarely do it.
C. I feel God has no special formula, just a desire to spend one-on-one time with me.

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 or watch the message, it is available on our website. 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:

Hear my prayer O Lord, and let the thoughts of my heart find acceptance in Your presence. When I don’t know what to pray, and when I feel inadequate and lack the words, gracious Lord; send me Your Holy Spirit. Allow Him to calm my spirit and free my mind to share my concern and “hear” Your counsel. Lord, like most Christians I suppose, I have confused time in public worship with time in personal devotion. Bless me with a greater appreciation for the value of both. I pray this sincerely in Jesus’ name; Amen.


Brief Notes:

  • Unemployment Seminar on August 20-21. Register now if you need help landing a job.
  • Volunteer with kids from birth through high school. Email Dawn and she’ll get back with you.
  • Exciting News! Make sure to be here for FX LIVE! on Sunday, September 7 at 4pm. The first of four great family-oriented events. Be sure to invite your friends, neighbors and relatives. It’s FREE!!!
  • Save the Date for this year’s School Golf Scramble at Aberdeen Golf Course on Saturday, September 20. A great day for the guys and gals is guaranteed in this non-competitive event for a good cause!

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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