Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday was an inaugural parade.  Jesus was making the bold statement that he was the promised King, bringing a new kind of kingdom.  Some believed, some did not.  For those who believed, the resurrection of Jesus confirmed his identity and authenticated his kingdom.  The King who declared that his kingdom was not of this world, demonstrated a power that is not of this world, and established the Church to be a visible representation of his eternal kingdom in this temporal world.  Listen to the March 25 Sermon, “Join the Parade.”

But the King is not finished.  His first inaugural parade will someday be followed by a second inaugural parade.  The King is coming back!  The second-coming of Jesus Christ is a promise that has given hope and strength to Christians down through the ages.  The second coming is referenced at least 318 times in the New Testament and was a dominant part of the teaching of the early Church.  We do not know the day or the hour, but we know that our King will return.

For now, we live in between the two inaugural parades.  One has already happened on Palm Sunday, the other will happen someday.  Until that day, we live out our lives with hope, and we engage in two consistent behaviors that demonstrate the Kingdom of God in our midst:

  1. First, we work.  Work is how we demonstrate the power of the kingdom. We do the work that Christ began, caring for those who are struggling, and inviting people to be reconciled to God through the love and forgiveness that is available to us. 
  2. Second, we worship.  Through worship we celebrate the beauty of the kingdom.  We don’t worship God because He needs it, we worship God because He deserves it.  Authentic love and devotion must be expressed in order to be fulfilled.  Through worship we express our love, loyalty and devotion to our King.  

Someday, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and there will be no more suffering, death, injustice or sorrow.  Until that day, we wait.  But while we wait, we work and we worship, knowing that the Kingdom of God has already begun, and we get to be part of the action!

Pastor Mark Miller

2 Ways to Find Joy at Work 

how to find joy in your work, ways to be happy at work

Many people think of work as a burden, a curse, or a necessary obligation that allows us to earn money so we can then do what we really want to do.  We often think of work as the opposite of play.  Work is not fun, play is fun.  But it doesn’t have to be that way, and it shouldn’t be that way.

Work is not meant to be a curse, but an opportunity to serve others and express God’s love to the world as we engage our talents, skills and abilities in tasks that help solve problems and meet needs.  Listen to the March 18 sermon, “Working with Joy.”

If you want to experience more joy in your work, here are two suggestions:

  1. Look up. Find meaning and purpose in your work.  See work as God’s invitation to you to make a positive difference in the world.  Doing good work and being excellent at what you do is a way of expressing love for God and love for others.
  2. Look around. Look for the opportunities and possibilities all around you to bless other people. Sometimes we fail to notice how a problem or challenge at work is really an opportunity to glorify God.  Sometimes the issue at work that we curse is the very instrument that God is trying to use to deepen our faith and develop our ability to serve others.

When we look up and look around, we find joy in our work.  We solve problems and meet needs in a way that honors God, blesses others, and deepens our faith.

Pastor Mark Miller

The Power of Words

The Power of Words Scrabble letters, words are powerful

Words are powerful.  Words can build up or tear down.  There is an expression that goes like this: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  That isn’t true.  Words can hurt.  But words can also heal.  The Bible declares that “the tongue has the power of life or death” (Proverbs 18:21).  If we want to experience greater joy in our lives and become a source of joy in the lives of others, we should pay close attention to our words.  Listen to the March 11 sermon, “What Do You Say?”

Here are two helpful habits to cultivate:

  1. Replace words of criticism with words of encouragement.  Complaining and criticizing are easy to do, and those kinds of words tend to come naturally to us.  To experience more joy, we need to become encouragers.  Encouraging words are not intended to butter someone up or lie about their deficiencies in order to spare their feelings.  Encouraging words are designed to speak truth in love so that a person can recognize his or her potential and be motivated to work towards that potential.  Encouraging words see the up-side rather than the down-side of situations and circumstances.  Encouragers build up and bless, even when the conversation is difficult.
  2. Replace words of fear with words of faith.  Fear usually manifests itself as worry.  Worry is not the same as having a concern.  Having a concern is normal and useful because a concern is meant to motivate us toward positive action.  If I have a concern about my finances, I am motivated to read a book on money management, create a budget, discipline my spending habits and live within my means.  But worry is different.  Rather than motivating us toward action, worry paralyzes us with fear and dread.  The English word “worry” derives from the Germanic word “Worgen” which literally means “to strangle” or “to choke.”  This is what worry does.  It chokes the joy out of us.  We get so focused on fear that we don’t see God’s possibilities in the midst of difficulties.  Replacing fear with faith allows us to speak God’s truth into our challenges and struggles.  Sometimes we have to say it before we see it, but choosing to speak words of faith rather than fear, can help us discover God’s grace and strength, and we begin to grow in new and important ways.

This is why the Church is so important.  The Church is God’s anointed instrument for helping people speak words of encouragement and faith in the midst of a world that is gripped by criticism and fear.  We serve a loving and powerful Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who conquered sin and death and offers us a new life and a new identity.  With that comes a new vocabulary.  So let’s use words that cultivate greater joy in our lives, and bring joy into the lives of others.

Pastor Mark Miller

Potter’s House Report February 2018

The total value of services provided was $43,199.  We conducted 145 interviews for financial assistance, served 580 lunches, and provided food for 626 households at Fresh Food Wednesday. We also received great news that one of our partners will be increasing their annual gift by 50% this year.  They noted, “…(we) found that your work, your demonstrated needs, and our vision to serve others were deeply compatible…you are able to do what we are not, which is properly address the needs presented… and we believe that what you are doing for people in need is important, and we are pleased to partner with you…”

Some of the reasons for needed financial assistance were:

  • In beauty school, has 3 children and had to take in Sister’s 4 children due to her being incarcerated
  • Out of work and behind on rent.  Doesn’t want to break lease that ends in July.  Will find a cheaper place in July.
  • Single Mom lost job and can’t go back to work until after surgery.

Thank you to all those that make this possible!

 

2 Easy Ways to Find More Joy

We live busy, noisy lives.  Sometimes our thoughts, attitudes, and habits (joy stealers) can distract us from the joy that our Lord has for us, and we can miss out on the joy that is promised to us through our faith in Jesus Christ.   But there are a couple of strategies that can help us keep our focus and experience greater joy. Listen to the “Joy Stealers” sermon from March 4.

  1. Be discerning about the people we hang around.  It’s not that we need to be a “holy clique” and avoid people who are different from us, but we do need to be thoughtful and intentional about our relationships.  If we hang around negative people who complain, criticize, gossip and pursue selfish desires, we will tend to adopt those attitudes and behaviors for ourselves as well. As the Bible reminds us, “bad company corrupts good character”(1 Cor 15:33).  A good question to ask is this: “who am I hanging around and what are they doing to me?”   Building Christian community requires us to intentionally enter into relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, relationships where we focus our attention on encouraging, supporting, and challenging each other to pursue the kind of life that honors the Lord and allows more joy to flow into us and through us.
  2.  Be discerning about the kind of things we allow into our minds.  We not only have a relationship with people, we have a relationship with our television, the movie screen, our smart phones, books, magazines and the internet. These various forms of media are bombarding us every day with messages, philosophies, value statements, and truth claims that can influence us in subtle (and not so subtle ways).  A good question to ask is this:  what am I watching these days, and what is it doing to me?  What books am I reading?  What movies am I watching, what songs am I listening to, what websites am I visiting?  What video games am I playing? How are these and other forms of media impacting my life and my character? 

Ultimately, joy is not primarily an emotional response to pleasant circumstances, joy is a character quality we cultivate.  Few things impact our character as much as the people we hang out with and the media we consume.  Let us be discerning and careful, because we don’t want the joy stealers to distract us from the joy that comes from a good and honorable character!

Pastor Mark Miller