Psalm 23 & Tragedy: Afterthoughts & Other Things 5/16/13

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Hello Church!

This past Sunday I mentioned six questions to consider as we apply Psalm 23 and the statement, “The Lord is my Shepherd” to our lives. If I didn’t give you enough time to copy them down during the sermon here they are again:

  • Do I really belong to Him?
  • Do I really recognize His right to me?
  • Do I respond to His authority and acknowledge His ownership?
  • Do I find freedom and complete fulfillment in this arrangement?
  • Do I sense deep contentment because I am under His direction?
  • Do I know rest and peace in belonging to Him?

After the service one of you came to me and told me how Psalm 23 had become meaningful during an extended hospital stay. I LOVE hearing stories of how God’s Word comes true in our lives. Keep sharing those stories!!

Debbie Sweigard shared with us during our worship time the deep meaning the song “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)” has had on her life. You can view the video she shared with her sister-in-law by clicking on this link.

This week we learned the tragic death of Megan Garvin. Many of us know her folks, Cam & Mary Garvin. Cam was a pastor at Bible Fellowship Church, Yardley for years. More recently he has been serving with Corporate Chaplains of America. Mary is a teacher’s aide at Goodnoe Elementary School in Council Rock School District. Megan was a graduate of Council Rock, then later graduated from Cairn University in 2011. She has been teaching 3rd grade in the Domincan Republic at Santiago Christian Academy since 2011. On Tuesday she died from injuries she suffered from a car accident. Services are pending for sometime next week. NBC10 did a great segment on Megan and her faith Thursday night. If you would like to watch it click here.

As a church we understand what it means to lose a young person. So please remember to pray for Cam & Mary and their three sons. Also keep Bible Fellowship in prayer — their leaders and the people who know and love the Garvin family.

This Sunday we’ll be studying Psalm 90 together. So dwell deeply in that psalm until we come together as a church family this Sunday.

Pastor Tim

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Happy Entitlement Day!

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If I feel entitled, I complain about the deficiencies of different family members.  If am thankful, I am grateful that I have a family that loves and cares for me.

Am I entitled or thankful? I have to admit that I usually consider myself thankful but if you were to scratch below the surface you would probably find more entitlement that gratitude. I hate that. But the plank is often pretty hard to see.

This morning someone pointed out the plank to me.

Thom Ranier is the president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources. His blog is full of insightful posts that have been helpful to me. This morning’s post was especially helpful. He shines a spotlight on the subtly distinction between entitlement and thankfulness.

 

Give his short post a read and see where you find yourself, thankful or entitled?

If I feel entitled, I complain about my job.

If I am thankful, I am grateful to have a job.

 

If feel entitled, I complain about the meal I’m eating.
If I am thankful, I am grateful to have food on the table.

 

If I feel entitled, I complain that the government does not do enough for me.
If I am thankful, I ask what I can first do for others.

 

If I feel entitled, I complain about my spouse.
If am thankful, I express gratitude that someone has put up with me all these years.

 

If I feel entitled, I complain about living paycheck to paycheck.
If I am thankful, I am grateful simply to have a paycheck.

 

If I feel entitled, I complain about what’s wrong with my church.
If I am thankful, I am ever grateful for the freedom to worship.

 

If I feel entitled, I complain about the deficiencies of different family members.
If am thankful, I am grateful that I have a family that loves and cares for me.

 

If I feel entitled, I complain about the lousy weather we’re having.
If I am thankful, I am grateful to be a free person regardless of the weather.

 

If I feel entitled, I complain to God about why He is treating me so unfairly.
If I am thankful, I know that I deserve nothing good, that all gifts are an act of grace.

 

Dear Lord, forgive me for my sense of entitlement. Remind me to rejoice in all things, and in all things to be thankful. Remind me to count my blessings. And remind me when my heart begins to stray from thanksgiving to entitlement.

 

You can find his original post here.

Keller’s Signs of Political Idolatry

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You can find idols in the most peculiar places — even in your politics!

I found this quote by Tim Keller, pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC. I think he articulates the thoughts I’ve been having about the way Christians approach their politics — the wrongfully place hope that a president, specifically the president of your choice, will calm your worries and make things all well. Enjoy reading this and make sure to leave a comment!

“One of the signs that an object is functioning as an idol is that fear becomes one of the chief characteristics of life. When we center our lives on the idol, we become dependent on it. If our counterfeit god is threatened in any way, our response is complete panic. We do not say, ‘What a shame, how difficult,’ but rather ‘This is the end! There’s no hope!’

This may be a reason why so many people now respond to U.S. political trends in such an extreme way. When either party wins an election, a certain percentage of the losing side talks openly about leaving the country. They become agitated and fearful for the future. They have put the kind of hope in their political leaders and policies that once was reserved for God and the work of the gospel. When their political leaders are out of power, they experience a death. They believe that if their policies and people are not in power, everything will fall apart. They refuse to admit how much agreement they actually have with the other party, and instead focus on the points of disagreement. The points of contention overshadow everything else, and a poisonous environment is created.

Another sign of idolatry in our politics is that opponents are not considered to be simply mistaken but to be evil. After the last presidential election, my eighty-four-year-old mother observed, ‘It used to be that whoever was elected as your president, even if he wasn’t the one you voted for, he was still your president. That doesn’t seem to be the case any longer.’ After each election, there is now a significant number of people who see the incoming president lacking moral legitimacy. The increasing political polarization and bitterness we see in U.S. politics today is a sign that we have made political activism into a form of religion. How does idolatry produce fear and demonization?

Dutch-Canadian philosopher Al Wolters taught that in the biblical view of things, the main problem in life is sin, and the only solution is God and his grace. The alternative to this view is to identify something besides sin as the main problem with the world and something besides God as the main remedy. That demonizes something that is not completely bad, and makes an idol out of something that cannot be the ultimate good.

…In political idolatry, we make a god out of having power.”

Interested in reading more by Keller? Check out Keller Quotes — The Words of Dr. Timothy Keller

Jesus & Peter in John 18

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I’ve had a few requests for the points from Sunday’s message re: the comparison between Jesus and Peter. Check them out below. If you have other insights or thoughts I would love to hear them from you!! Leave a comment!

Also, if you want to check out the video that I used you can find it here.

Jesus and Peter each make a confession or maybe you would say they reply to questions about who they are – three times for each of them.

“I am He” – Jesus makes this statement in verses 6 & 8 and makes a very similar statement to Pilate in verse 37.

“I am not” – Three times Peter denies the Lord – verses 17, 25, 27.

As you read the passage you see that we have two story lines running side by side to each other.

Verses 4-9 – Jesus

Verses 10-11 – Peter

Verses 12-14 – Jesus

Verses 15-18 – Peter

Verses 19-24 – Jesus

Verses 25-27 – Peter

Verses 28-40 – Jesus

Looking further in the chapter we can find the following observations about each man

Regarding Jesus:

Verses 4-ff – Calmness, composed, confident, steady, determined?

Verse 8 – A concern for others

Verse 11 Submission not to man but to God

Verse 12 – Bound and taken; also in verse 24

Verse 19-ff –Interrogated, answered with truth

Verses 20-24 – bold confession, even retort, although respectful, still under control emotionally

Verse 30 – Accused wrongly

Verse 33 – Who are you?

Verses 36-37 – Knows his mission, why he is here, has purpose

Verse 38 – Announced innocent by Pilate

Verse 40 – The innocent is condemned

Regarding Peter:

Verses 10-11 – Not under control, violent

Verse 15 – Followed, left of his own free will, free and unbound

Verse 17 – Rightly accused

Verse 18 – Free, warm and interrogated

Verse 25 – Who are you?

Verses 26-27 – Interrogated and answered falsely; cowardly

Verse 27 – Announced guilty by the rooster

The guilty goes free

From these observations we made these comparisons: (Jeus VS. Peter)

Arrest:  Calm, confident VS. violent, uncontrolled

Post-arrest:  Bound/taken VS. free, unbound

Interrogated:  Replied truthful VS. replied falsely

Accused:  Wrongly VS. rightly

Who are you:  Are the King? VS are you one of them

Verdict:  Innocent by Pilate VS. guilty by the rooster

The final and most important observation is this: that the innocent is condemned while the guilty goes free!

“You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”   1 John 3:5

“ For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”    2 Corinthians 5:21

Who Am I?

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I recently read David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 17 when he learned that God was not going to let him build the Temple but He was going to establish David’s family and allow one of his sons to build the Temple. It inspired me. I have deep feelings about being a pastor — all mixed up feelings. Inadequacy, fear, pride, ambition (good & bad), awe, humility, just to name a few!

So after reading David’s prayer I was inspired to write a prayer of thanksgiving about being a pastor at our church.

Who am I, O Lord God, that you have brought me this far? I come from no renown or pedigree. What do I bring to serve you that is worthy of this honor? Who am I that I would serve you in this way?

You know me. You know my weaknesses and my vain ambitions. You know how easily I could fall. How quickly I can tarnish your Name. You know how weary I become, how impatient I am, how harsh I can be. Who am I?

It is not who I am, but who You are. No other god or religion picks up men and women and dusts off their broken lives and makes them a stage a for glory.

You make a name for yourself from the people of your church. You perform the miracle of redemption in the heart of your enemies and adopt them as your children. Who is like you?

Now, O LORD, I am your servant, the shepherd of your fold in this place. Do as you wish with me, with this church. May your name be established and honored all the days of my life. When people look at me may they be attracted to You. May my life reflect you and honor you till you call me home.

Footsteps to Follow In: Amy Carmichael’s Trust in God

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Both of our boys participate in our church’s missionary reading program called M&M Kids. Most recently we’ve been reading to Owen the biography of Amy Carmichael. Early in her life, at the age of 20, she learned the lesson of trusting God . . .

“She would no longer confine herself to doing what she thought she could do; instead she’d trust God and see what He would do through her.”

Amy Carmichael served in India until she died in 1951 at the age of 83. Her ministry eventually housed and cared for nearly 1000 at-risk children, many of whom where young girls rescued from temple prostitution. She has influence untold thousands I’m sure, included among those are Jim and Elizabeth Elliot.

That statement captures my imagination and I wonder what God might do in my life if I learned to trust Him and not confine myself to my weak abilities!

Wisdom from our Past

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May this be found true of our nation once again!

 “The people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities. If the next centennial does not find us a great nation, it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.”

~~ the 20th President of the United States, James Garfield, who was also a preacher!

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