Life Together

We are looking forward to returning to more of our  activities and fellowship very soon. Planning for our “new normal service” began last year – a new vision for how to better be the family of God in our worship and fellowship. We have prepared a video to help us all see what our new Sunday timeframe and worship elements will be, Lord willing, starting after Easter. This will be a gradual building of our new format, as more join us in person and we (prayerfully) reach more in our community to come worship and serve with us. We welcome your encouraging comments and suggestions as we move forward.

– Pastor John & Pastor Greg

The Simple Life – Pastor Greg

     Green acres is the place to be
     Farm livin’ is the life for me
     Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
     Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside

Anybody remember that opening song? It was from a TV sitcom that ran from 1965 to 1971. It starred Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, a New York City couple who have moved to a country farm to live a simpler life. Though it was meant as a comedy of city folk attempting to run a farm, it also tapped into the desire to experience a less complicated life. We can read daily of those who are tired of the rat race and decide to quit their careers to head off to the country for a slower pace. Many of us, I’m sure, have often longed for something less hectic, less noisy, something quiet. 

The apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 states the following: “and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” The word ambition means, “to seek after earnestly, to aspire to”. Paul is saying that leading a quiet life should be our aspiration and be sought after. Not only should we desire quiet and peace, we are told to make it a goal! 

In Paul’s day in the Roman culture, there was a practice of a client/patron relationship. That is, a rich patron would support financially a “free client”, a person who was a free Roman citizen, who in turn would be required to speak well of the patron and do favors that were requested of him (think of the godfather). This was such a widespread practice that clients were often considered parasites that lived off the good will of others (which they did.) As they often had much free time and were expected to give good press concerning their patron, clients would often spend their time in political discussions in various forums of the city. Clients lived in dependence on the system and were busybodies. Paul taught that it was not to be this way for believers. Paul makes it clear that he had already spoken regarding this, and that the motivation is for believers to provide for their own needs. The NLT states verse 12 this way: “Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.” While Paul is not teaching that Christians should not be involved in politics, he is saying that our lives should be marked by focusing on our walk with God and to take care of our own business. That way we will not be in need because of our idleness.

Many times, our own decisions are the source of our stress and anxiety.  Paul makes it clear that our lives are to be lived quietly or “in stillness”. This makes me think of still waters and green pastures. To put my hands down and know that God is God alone. It is often the case that the less I mind my own business, the more anxious, tense and disquieted I get. Oftentimes we can get sucked into a world that seems to go faster and faster. We are so concerned about many things, and the tension rises as the demands grow.  We all need a reset from time to time, to hit pause and reevaluate. To stop fussing about the things I cannot not change and focus on my own business. To live in the green pastures (acres?) by the quiet waters. Maybe that time is now?

Salt of the Earth, Light of the World – Pastor Greg

Please pass the salt. How many times have you heard that said or made that request yourself? Salt is an essential part of our life. We use it to season our food, soften our water, treat slippery sidewalks, and help heal sore throats. Our bodies need salt to survive. In ancient times, salt was used as a currency and wars have been fought over its control. Salt is made up of a one-to-one ratio of Sodium and Chloride. Both are essential to the proper function of our bodies. It is basic as it is essential, and the simplicity of salt seems to belie its value. It’s significant that the Lord used salt as a description of who we are to be in this world we live in.

In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus is teaching what we know as the “sermon on the mount”. Jesus states nine times blessings – nine outcomes of ultimate wellbeing and joy that belong to the believer as they walk with God. Jesus concludes the section stating that there will be times of trouble for the believer. That we will be persecuted and reviled for Christ. This is an expectation that the Lord Himself said would be true of us. Yet in the midst of these hard times we will be blessed. It is in this context that Jesus makes the following statement, “you are the salt of the earth,” “you are the light of the world…” (Matthew 5:13a & 15a.) Why make that statement here?  In the midst of persecution or trial Jesus said we ‘are’ something, salt and light.  He goes on to say something else, “but if the salt has become tasteless how can it be made salty again?” So, what is our responsibility? From what Jesus has shared its not to be concerned with the distribution of the salt – that is His concern. It is not to make sure our voice is heard or our opinions are clearly stated or to ‘push back’. We are simply to be salty. It is our responsibility to make sure that the salt does not lose its flavor, that it does not lose its power. Our testimony as a community of believers depends on our distinctiveness from the rest of the world around us. If we blend in or lose our savor, then we become useless in impacting others. As Jesus said, “it is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” We have seen many in the past who have lost their testimony regarding Christ. They have become those who have been “trampled” on by the world and they are derided for their failure. 

The distinctiveness that Jesus has just shared in the beatitudes is to be our normal. Are we gentle, humble, hungry for righteousness, peacemakers? That is a salty Christian. That is someone whose life shines before men. Paul tells us in Romans 12 not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are to live out what we are in Christ. We are to be salty. This is so basic, so essential. It is what the world needs and what we are to be. Not flashy, not a world changer in and of ourselves, but rather reflecting the One who has changed the world.

Jesus goes on to say that “we are the light of the world, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket but on the lampstand and it gives light to all who are in the house.” Again, our responsibility is not to worry about whether the light will be extinguished but rather to not hide it. The light should be seen, and attention drawn to it. I must admit I often do not like to be conspicuous but that it exactly what I should be as a believer. My light is to be seen and noticed. I am not to be ashamed or timid of the light I hold. Do not hide it, whether the motive is due to fear or not to create waves. Let it shine and allow the Lord to determine how it is to be received. I must keep in mind that the light is Christ Himself, He is the source. The light should not be my opinion or my view of the world, but is to reflect His character as we see in the beatitudes Jesus stated in Matthew 5. 

So as we start a new year, let’s make it our goal to make an impact on the world around us. It does not need to be the whole world, but simply the world we live in, work in, and move in. Let us be salty and bright.