Messages from our Ministers

Breaking Through the Wilderness: Overcoming Fear & Anxiety

May 16, 2021
7th Sunday of Easter

Pastor Charles

Scripture Readings: Psalm 23, Isaiah 41:10, Philippians 4:6-7, Joshua 1:9,

This morning I want to talk about how one can overcome fear and anxiety. Truth be told, there are many things to be fearful of from the fear of getting COVID, failing economy, and being afraid of the dark. Some people live their life in fear. In response to worldwide suffering, many people’s instinct is to become fearful. Even those who know Christ often fall into anxious thoughts and fear-based living. We are all capable of forgetting the promises and commands of God when we are tested by hardship. So, this message is good for those who are struggling with issues of fear and anxiety.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed (2013) says fear relates to a known or understood threat, whereas anxiety follows from an unknown, expected, or poorly defined threat.” Some common fears include fear of the dark, fear of rejection, fear of failure, and fear of danger.

 At his first inaugural address after the 1932 elections, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” I think there is truth in that. But the God of the universe says that we have nothing to fear. What does God’s Word say about fear? How do you know if you are living in fear?

Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 God is our strength, our help, and our hope in trouble.  This does not mean our lives will be trouble-free- far from it. But the message of God’s word is that fear…of our enemies, of the future, of failure, whatever your fear is- need not dominate your life and paralyze you from living victoriously.


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We Shall Always be the Church

May 9, 2021
6th Sunday of Easter

Pastor Joel

Scripture Reading:  Acts 2 42-47

I have a question for you. How do you remember your first car? There’s something about your first car, isn’t there?
The first car you had was your first shot at freedom, where you could drive yourself anywhere.

 

I came from a family where you had to buy your car. I was living on my own and got sick of walking to college and work, so you take what you can get. What I got was a 1975 Chevy Impala. They don’t make a car like these anymore. You could tap dance on the hood and not one dent. It was the most beautiful shade of Banana yellow you ever saw; it could be seen anywhere in a parking lot. The floorboard was rusted through, so I could see the road beneath me as I was driving. I paid a total of five hundred dollars for it. It was a total wreck, but it was mine. Most first cars because you don’t know how to drive well, so often are clunkers, and we learn how to drive better as we go.

 

This idea of what drives you is essential. What are the things in life that drive you? Doesn’t something drive us all? Money, power, love, friendship, hope, or despair?

As we are breaking through the wilderness of this COVID season that we have been through, I question what drove the early Church to do what they did to change the world as we know it? And can it be recaptured?

 

The end of Acts chapter 2 talks about what the Church looks like when it’s freshly filled with the Holy Spirit. Right as the Spirit of God empowers the Church, we get this explanation of how they were. To me, this is an excellent example of what the Church is meant to be. Church is not the building.

 

First, I want to show you the end of verse 47 where it says, “And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47) That’s important because God is interested in saving people.


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Breaking Through the Wilderness: Trials and Tribulations

May 2, 2021
5th Sunday of Easter

Pastor Charles

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 43:19, James 1:2-4,12, Romans 8:18-30, John 16:33

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  Isaiah 43:19

The Cambridge Dictionary says the wilderness is an area of land that has not been used to grow crops or had towns and roads built on it, especially because it is difficult to live in as result of its extremely cold or hot weather or bad earth:

 

The word wilderness comes from a Hebrew word Midhbar (מִדְבָּר), which often refers to a wild field where domestic animals may be grazed, and wild animals live, in contrast to cultivated land, hence, sometimes “the pastures of the wilderness” (Joel 1:19–20).

 

It is, in other words, a locale for intense experiences, of stark need for food and water (Exo 16:1-36), of isolation such as the story of Elijah and the still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13), of danger and divine deliverance in the story of Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-16), of renewal, of encounters with God in the story of Moses and the burning bush (Exo 3:1-21). The Jews wandered in the wilderness for forty years from Egypt to Canaan. Regardless of the difficulty associated with life in the wilderness of their own time, the Jews persevered until they reached the promised land.

 

In the New Testament, the Greek word for wilderness is eremos (ἔρημος) which means, an isolated place. The wilderness figures at critical junctures in the life of Jesus. Jesus is baptized by John and then is driven by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days. The devil is there, but so is the Spirit. “A great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). This records a search for solitude, for self-discovery, for divine presence, but this process, crucially, seems to require the ambiance of the natural environment.


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By What Power?

April 25, 2021
by Pastor Joel Plisek
4th Sunday of Easter
 
Scripture Reading: Acts 4:5-12
 

God works in mysterious ways.  I truly believe that.  I have witnessed it many times in my life.  Just this Tuesday morning I was on call for the over night hospital chaplain, which is something new I’m doing for the church and community. At 5am I received a call from ICU to visit someone was dying.  They don’t give you a name or anything when they call. When I arrived, I walked into the room nervous, but then I saw a familiar face.  The patient was Tom Walker and his wife Lorene was sitting beside the bed in shock.  She recognized me and that brought her a lot of comfort because I was not just some chaplain but I am her pastor.  That was the first time I have been called in.  What are the chances that it happened to be family associated with our church? 

God works in mysterious ways.  We don’t always understand His ways, but the last thing we ever want to do is stand in the way of His plans. In our lesson for today we have a continuation from last week’s text.  Peter and John had just healed a man who had been born lame. 

You try to do something nice for a guy. Try to proclaim the gospel and pronounce healing and forgiveness over him and what do they do? They bring you to court. 

Being only weeks removed from the death of their beloved Jesus, the experience must have been somewhat overwhelming for Peter and John.  After all, this was the very place where the rulers, elders, and chief priests brought Jesus to stand trial.  In fact, some of the very same people who tried Jesus then were now presiding over their examination.  They must have wondered if their fate would be the same for them as it was for Christ.


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Rise and Walk again

April 18, 2021
by Pastor Charles Nyamakope

3rd Sunday of Easter

 
Scripture Reading: Acts 3: 1-19
 

Today’s message is from the Book of Acts. This book is the second volume of Luke’s two-volume work, popularly known as Luke-Acts. After writing the Gospel of Luke, the writer later wrote Acts of the Apostles. The writer was a travel companion of Paul who recorded all his activities during his missionary journeys.    Like Luke, Acts is addressed to the unknown reader Theophilus, (1:1–2). The author most likely wrote between the years 80 and 90 AD.

Today’s message is a clarion call for us to look up to Jesus, whose hand is outstretched for us to rise and walk again from issues that make us dysfunctional. In today’s passage, we learn of a man who had grown accustomed to a particular way of life.  He was lame from birth. As we think about our infants who are beginning to walk and what joy it is as parents to see their children take their first steps, this man never did that.  His parents had to do things for him because he never learned to walk because his legs were deformed.

  1. Asking for Money

1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms.

When he sees Peter and John that day, I am sure he thought he knew what would take place.  He would be carried to the gate of the Temple, and as worshipers would come and go, he would ask them if they could spare a quarter or two for a lame man.  He had gotten good at asking/begging for money.  It is all he had ever done; it is all he could do.

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Without a Doubt

April 11, 2021
by Pastor Joel Plisek
 
Scripture Reading: John 20:19-31

 

What do you find unbelievable?  If you are like me, you find yourself saying from time to time, “I don’t believe it!” Something really amazing happens, but we act like we disbelieve.

Just think of the technological changes that have happened over the past years.  In 1943 Thomas Watson CEO of IBM made the bold prediction “There’s a world market for maybe five computers” (Worst Predictions of All Time, Telegraph, 29 June, 2016).

Every once in a while, though, we hear a story, and it is too out of this world, and we don’t believe it at all.  It reminds me of a pastor’s small son that was told by his mother that he should wash his hands because there were germs living in all that dirt.

He refused and complained, by saying: “Germs and Jesus! Germs and Jesus! That’s all I ever hear around this house, and I’ve never seen either one!”

Last week we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus.  Without a doubt the most significant event in all of human history.  It is the lynch pin upon which Christianity hinges.  In other words, if Jesus was not raised from the dead, Christianity has absolutely no power.  The Bible even admits this. The Bible is brutally honest in admitting this.  In I Corinthians 15:17 the Apostle Paul writes this, “If Christ has not been raised then your faith is futile and you are still in your sin.” 

Another word for futile is pointless.  What’s the point?  If Christ hasn’t been raised from the dead then we should be just patted on the head and sent on our merry ways.  You know those gullible Christians.  Here’s the real problem, you are still in your sins.


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What Are You Looking For? Jesus Is Risen!

April 4th, 2021
Easter Sunday
by Pastor Charles Nyamakope
 
Scripture Reading: John 20:1-18

 

Friends, I invite you to revisit the story in today’s scripture reading and see if you can find yourself in the scene that unfolds on that first Easter morning.  Particularly in the conversation between Jesus and Mary in the garden just outside the tomb – the rolled-away stone sitting off to one side, the linen cloths lying there, Mary so blinded by her grief that she’s completely nonplussed by the appearance of angels – something that usually sends folks in both testaments shaking’ in their shoes.

Put yourself in Mary’s shoes and listen again to Jesus’ words. First, “why are you weeping?”  Before Mary even knows who it is that speaks to her, Jesus meets her in her darkest hour.  “Why are you weeping?” says the One who heals to the one in pain.  Says the One who comforts to the one who grieves. Says Immanuel, God with us, to the one who is lonely and afraid.  “Why are you weeping?”  It’s a question for each of us.   For some the pain may be raw and open. Loss of a loved one.  Loss of a job, or a home.  Physical illness.  Other wounds are more hidden.  Anxiety.  Depression.  Addiction.  Strained relationships. We all have burdens to bear, for ourselves, for others.  “Why are you weeping?”  Do you see yourself in Mary?

And then, “who are you looking for?”  Does Mary even know?  It sounds more like she is looking for a ‘what’— a corpse, so she can get on with the business of preparing a body for burial.  She is not even really looking for a ‘who’ – her own dear friend Jesus, alive and well.  Or is she?  The touching irony of this


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There Is Enough Space for Everyone on This Table

April 1st, 2021
Maundy Thursday
by Pastor Charles Nyamakope
 
Scripture Reading: Luke 22:7-23

 

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke’s account of the last supper that Jesus ate with his disciples. It is a reenactment ceremony specifically designed to evoke spiritual connection to God’s liberation from bondage and Yahweh’s deliverance of the Jewish people from Egypt.

The night of the last supper, all was not well among Jesus’ disciples. Everyone was on edge. They all saw the handwriting on the wall—soldiers and swords, crosses, and nails. One of them had already sold Jesus to the authorities. Peter was boasting he would be brave and follow Jesus, even if it meant certain death.

The Bible says Jesus was aware of their fear and confusion. He loved them. He knew their hearts were in the right place, but he also knew he would end up alone. They were so frail. On the night Jesus was betrayed, they shared a meal. They gathered at a table. That is what they had always done. A large part of their three years together was spent at tables.

In Jesus’ ministry, the table was where things got real. When eating together they began to understand that God’s love for them was full of mercy, no matter who they were or what they had done. There they were, saint and sinner, rich and poor, all welcome to eat. The table was where truth got told. Jesus would tell them stories about invited guests who were too important and preoccupied to come


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Untie the Colt, Spread Your Cloaks, and Shout Hosanna!

March 28, 2021
by Pastor Charles Nyamakope
 

Scripture Reading: Mark 11:1-11

Today, Christians around the world are celebrating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It is called “Palm Sunday,” because the crowd welcomed Him by spreading palm branches in His path. Our scripture today is all about a parade.  A big, huge parade, complete with a guest of honor, a dozen grand marshals, and an adoring crowd waving greenery and shouting acclamation and praise.  They line the streets with their cloaks and cause such an applause that the powers-that-be take notice. 

All four gospels cover this story but in their own unique way, as the gospels do.  The way that Mark tells things is notable, and perhaps even providential. Important things happen as Jesus journeys into the City of Jerusalem to his persecution.

  1. On The Road To Calvary, Jesus Picks Up A Colt

1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?  They answered as


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