8/17/14- Sermon: “Rearview, Sideview, Windshield”

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REARVIEW, SIDEVIEW, WINDSHIELD 8/17/14 Prov. 3:5,6; 1 Cor. 3:5-9 {Tenth anniversary of Dr. Sloan at LMPC)

I watched a young boy just beginning to play baseball at Crooked Creek Park. Maybe it was his dad or his coach- but someone was there with him-I will say it was his dad. They drove up- the dad was driving. I saw the dad pull out the t-ball stand- assemble it. Put a ball on it. Then I saw him go back to the car- and get some gloves, some bases, and about ten balls. The man went through all this effort to put the ball up for the t. I saw a woman walk up sit down to watch. The dad, after seeing the woman-I guess the boy?s mom, took off the boys hat, put some sunscreen on his arms and face. All this effort. Then the little boy walked up to the tee and swung- and totally missed everything. Then the dad said to try again. The boy tried again but again he went too high and missed everything. The dad came and stood behind the boy, showed him how to swing level, then the boy tried again and missed. The dad came again and showed the boy by hitting the ball himself.?? Then the dad put a ball on the tee again.. The boy then stood up and hit the ball. Then he turned to the woman and said, ?Mom, did you see how I hit that ball all by myself?? He kept saying, ?I hit it by myself! I hit it by myself!??? ???I smiled. I thought that boy thinks he hit that ball all by himself- but he didn?t. The dad bought all the equipment, drove him, set it up showed him, coached him. ???? In our culture we claim credit for doing things all by ourselves. We forget the One who made it all to begin with, who placed us where we are, who gave us our bodies, who provides for our needs daily, who protects us, and coaches us along. ???? The same with our relationship with Christ. We think we got up all on our own- or maybe with the help of an alarm clock or a spouses or parent?s elbow. Someone, however, worked on this church so it could be here- not just the building, but the church. Someone came before us, and someone came before them. The church is not our own creation. It is a creation of the Lord. ???? As I think back on ten years of ministry here, I am really encouraged by you and what you have done in these ten years. But I know that this is not just you, and it is not just you and me, Maybe someone else planted the seed- and some of you played a role in that; Maybe we watered that seed and nourished it a bit- but it is God who gives the growth. ???? I have said this many times, that apart from Him we can do nothing- at least nothing that will last until eternity. But the other side of the coin is that with Him- nothing is impossible. I. REARVIEW- I am very conscience of God?s guiding me, calling me, leading me, and protecting me along the way. I know that without Him I could do nothing- and therefore He gets all the glory. But let?s stop and reflect and celebrate what God has done. ???? ???? I am by nature very, very shy. It is not my nature to meet strangers, to invite a stranger to come worship or to come to Christ. It is definitely not in myself to stand before hundreds of people and try to say something. When I told Kay, before we were married that I was going to be a minister, she said, ?How are you going to get up and talk to a church full of people when you struggle to even talk to me and I?m your girlfriend.? I am not confident in my abilities that God gave me. My confidence is in the Lord. He has changed my very nature. He can change yours too. ???? I also can admit now that I was very nervous about coming here. I was nervous of coming to a church roughly twice the size of the church in Georgetown. You know my first church was roughly the size of the Bible Survey Sunday School class- we had 51 members when I went there. I was nervous because these are simply divisive times in our culture and in the church. But you have shown me what it means to love. You have invited the stranger to come to church. That is why we have had about 310 new members in ten years. You have shown me how to be patient with each other and to care through the differences in life. I am grateful to God and grateful to you. ?? In a year and three months we will be celebrating our 40th anniversary. Forty years is considered a generation in the Bible. We have been through many ups and downs- storms and calm seas. Some of you can reflect back on your lives and say the same thing. God has seen us through- and perhaps you can recognize that God has seen you through and is seeing you through a lot in this life. II. SIDEVIEW- where are we now? Right now is a perilous and fragile time in the church but also an exciting time on the church full of opportunities. We live in a time of great skepticism, immorality, and despair. Being a place that lifts up faith, holiness, and hope is very hard. Our call right now from Proverbs is not to worry about the future- but to trust in God this day. Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Growing a church in our culture today is like trying to grow a plant in a storm. But let?s not forget that the storms bring the rain. The early church was founded in a tough environment. There was opposition to the church, both legalists and epicureans in the church. But the church prospered because God gave the growth. ???? Right now our church is in an amazing period. Our attendance is up 21% over last year. We have this amazing project for children and for missions that the Lord led us to do. Our buildings are on schedule and under budget. Let us be reminded that it is God who gives the growth as a church. But ask yourself am I growing as a Christian inside? How can I do that better. It is a great time to get plugged into a SS class or Bible study. Job said, ?The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.? In the good times and the bad times- we do not need to freak out. God is good all the time- all the time God is good. When we lose loved ones- the church is so very important- we see that for Chase, for Linda Stanick, for Sue Madden. The Bible says to weep for those who weep. But we are also called to rejoice with those who rejoice. So when babies are born, or when weddings occur. In the important times of life- but also in the day to day times- the Lord is there for us. III. WINDSHIELD- I have entitled this sermon- rearview, sideview, windshield to remind us not only of where we?ve been, but where we are and where we are going. The church can never sit still or just keep the status quo. The church has the very hard task of adapting to the environment around us but at the same time being faithful to our Lord and the Gospel. We must remember who we are and whose we are as we go through the transitions of life. The opportunities before us for mission are so many. I think we must fill this new children?s building with children and reach out to new families or our investment is in vain. I think our call is to look around to help the growing number of homeless in our community, and to pray and work for peace in our community. We need to keep our vision to reach out- to children, youth, college students, and all people. The best way to reach out is to start a new church. You know in 1974 and 1975 when our church was starting the presbytery and denomination were in tremendous upheaval about joining together north and south and women?s ordination.?? If the presbytery had said, ?We are too scared to do anything- our church would not have been born.? Our call is never to shrink back in fear, but to go forward in mission. It is time- after almost forty years to return the favor that Eastminster, Shandon, Eau Claire and other churches gave to us in getting us going. You don?t buy stock when it is high- you but it when it is low. I believe the best time to start a church is when the world is in great need. Today is that day. It is time to plant another seed, to let others water it and let God give the growth- all the while modeling to the world how to love, how to forgive, how to have hope A seed lays its life down in order to bring growth. I would love for us to see our church as a missional church- all that we do as a reaching out to others. We are called to be missionaries- to reach out to others. ???? Joan Gray wrote a book about church officer training. She talked about the church like a boat- which is an ancient symbol of the church. There were two kinds of boats in the day of the Bible- rowboats and sailboats. The church was never depicted as a rowboat- like it is all up to us to get out there and row and pull and push. Instead, the church is always depicted as a sailboat- that the Holy Spirit- whom Jesus compared to the wind- fills our sails- gives us energy and helps us go forward. The Holy Spirit has blown us through some rough seas, some calm seas, and now is moving us through a treacherous storm enabling our church to model to others how to reach out in Christ?s name. There is a prayer I try to pray every day that I want to share with you- from William Temple: ?Renew in me day by day the power of your Holy Spirit that with knowledge and zeal, with courage and love, with gratitude and hope, I may strive more powerfully in your service. May He keep my vision clear, my aspiration high, my purpose firm, my sympathy wide, that I may live as a faithful soldier and servant of my Lord Jesus Christ.? That is my prayer for LMPC for the past, the present and the future- that we would be renewed, strengthened in our faith, and witnessing to His love. It is not all up to us- and it never was. But we must answer our call to be missionaries to the world around us.

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