History matters to God and He has shown Himself to be One that takes the long view. Family lines are often given in the Scriptures and their ripple effect through generations can be spotted. What was true then is equally true today. Our time together will show how formative our histories and experiences can be. You will be shown how to construct a Genogram to see how your past has postured you to participate in your life, your marriages, your parenting and your relationships.
We all can be profoundly impacted by means we may not recognize and those things can change our life course and the legacy we leave. We will look at some of the ways that can happen. What is unrecognized often remains unchanged. Insight is often the launch point because once recognize what is learned and may be reflexive can be relearned and chosen. As believers we are grafted into the family of God and are to be changed, transformed to look like Christ. Some of our past lessons serve us well to be Christ followers and some do not. Together let us see how God’s Word and Power can re-parent us so that we can walk in a manner worthy of our calling and indeed be a new creation.
Join us for 4 Sundays in February, 11am-12pm. February 3, 10, 17, 24.
Please RSVP in advance, especially if you have childcare needs.
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:23)
“Our TCC family mourns the passing of our beloved member and brother in the Lord Tom Phillips. While we rejoice that he is now in the Lord’s presence (along with his beloved Gert), we will so miss his warmth, deep love of Christ and faithful presence at TCC since Palm Sunday 1956. Those of us who were privileged to spend time with him on a regular basis know how a visit with him also had the same outcome: we left encouraged in our faith and in the Lord (and beaten at Rummikub!). The wake this giant in the faith leaves for the cause of Christ worldwide is remarkable in every sense of the word. What a witness and an example to all of us. We are encouraging our members and friends to post memories on Tom here. Please do pray for the extended family, Patty and family, Bobbie and family, Tom and family and Debbie and family. They are now mourning the passing of their beloved dad, grandfather and great-grandfather soon after losing Gert. May Tom’s favorite scripture be theirs as well during this time of great grief and loss: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (KVJ).
“It’s ok to fail, but it’s not ok to quit because God doesn’t quit on us”‘
This tag line is an adaption of a recent speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger gone viral where he exhorts his audience to have a goal in their lives and accept failure as part of the process. He mentions that Michael Jordan (arguably the GOAT when it comes to basketball) missed 9000 shots in his life. While it’s ok to fail, it’s not ok to quit. When we fall we get up and keep going. The body builder-turned actor-turned policitian-turned motivational speaker also mentions Muhammad Ali who famously said, “I don’t start counting [reps] until it hurts.” While these are noble qualities and make for great new year resolutions, the larger reality for the Christian life is that God ultimately doesn’t quit on us. We may fail (see Nehemiah 9:1-37-; see the lists in Colossians 3:5-9) but God doesn’t quit on us: in our faithlessness he remains faithful as Paul tells Timothy (2 Timothy 2:13).
One aspect of not quitting in Colossians 3 is “bearing with one another” (Colossians 3:13). In the long history of God’s people in the Old Testament, it’s fair to say God exhibited tremendous patience and kindness toward His wayward people (our spiritual forefathers in the faith; see Galatians 3:7). God put up with a lot (read Nehemiah 9). For every act of kindness, salvation, deliverance, provision and protection (God’s attributes and character in our lives), the people’s response was one of discontented grumbling, rebellion and ingratitude (Nehemiah 9:16-17)
16 “But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17 They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.[c] But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.NEHEMIAH 9:16-17
God’s character is to be forgiving and kind toward His wayward children. It is therefore no surprise that God calls us to emulate and display His character to one another. Paul says we should get rid of the characteristics of those who have quit on God and take on the traits of His character (Colossians 3:12-13)
“12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
As God has forgiven our sins in Christ, we too extend forgiveness to others. This is how we display our determination not to quit. Failures are sure to come our way this year (as Solomon prays in 2 Chronicles 6:36, “there is no one who does not sin”). The key will be not to quit, to put on God’s character as be ready to forgive one another, just as God is willing and ready to forgive us.
Happy Tuesday everyone! This year in our “Signs of the Savior” sermon series we’ve been looking at the signs that point to the coming of Jesus in the scriptures. We’re also looking at signs of Jesus’ activity in our own lives. Last Sunday was another celebration of the signs that Jesus is at work in the life of our church as we heard a report from our Missions chair Carolyn Lippmann who told us about a few of the projects that TCC has supported this past year. Here are some pictures from our supported missionaries:
Carolyn wrapped up her missions moment saying they are planning a trip to Haiti next year, and if you are interested in joining the ongoing work in Haiti to reach out to her. There is a special need for those who have experience in solar panel installation or general engineering.
In Student ministries, Kate Unruh, a volunteer leader in the Student Ministries program, shared her powerful testimony. A beautiful sign of the savior is God’s work in Kate’s life, and in the lives of the other leaders and students.
Read Isaiah 35: 1-10.
After “Balaam the Son of Beor, whose eyes are open,” and Zechariah, whose tongue was loosened to sing the praises of God, we now come to the ‘sign of Isaiah’ the mighty prophet. How ironic, the one who so ably foretells of the coming savior (see Isaiah 53; Isaiah 9, Isaiah 11, etc.!) finds himself spiritually unable to move toward him. For Isaiah it came in a very sudden way when “he saw the Lord high and lifted up” and captured a glimpse of His holiness (another word for ‘otherness’; see Isaiah 6:1-7). His reaction? “woe is me, I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips” he cries out. When faced with the glory of the Lord, Isaiah knows that he falls short of the very glory that’s been revealed to him. As he aptly describes in Isaiah 53:6, “all we like sheep have gone astray, we each have gone to our own way….” Isaiah doesn’t have the mobility to move toward the Savior. Isaiah’s telling us, we are too weak to make it on our own.
Isaiah says, “Strengthen the weak hands and make firm the feeble knees” (Isaiah 35:3) because “your God… will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:4). What he means is not that we should pull ourselves by the bootstraps and tough it out. Instead, it’s in the waiting for His coming and it’s in the coming of the Lord that our buckling knees and our spiritual immobility is transformed into mobility towards Him. For Isaiah the transformation happened when a lump of hot coal removed his guilt and sin before God (Isaiah 6:10). Isaiah receives forgiveness of sin and God’s holiness as a gift (see 1 Corinthians 1:30 “sanctification=holiness”). The image of the coals from the altar introduces us to the image of the sacrifice of Jesus that is to come. It ‘s only through Jesus Himself that we are forgiven of our sin and can stand before the holiness of God. As Amy Grant’s song “welcome to our world” so beautifully says it:
“you’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting, welcome holy child…rob our sin and make us holy, perfect Son of God, welcome to our world.”Amy Grant, “Welcome to Our World”
Without holiness no one can see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14) and we are completely immobilized. Unless God gives us His holiness, we have no way of finding ourselves on the right path, let alone ride his highway of holiness.
The strength comes also in the waiting. Isaiah tells us how these buckling knees become ‘bone-strong’ again (the meaning of the original). At the end of chapter 40 (one of the most magisterial chapters in the entire Bible), Isaiah says, and I paraphrase some of it: ‘even the strongest among us will run out of strength, they will buckle and be immobilized; but those who wait for His coming will renew their strength… and soar like eagles, they will walk and not faint, run and not be weary” (Isaiah 40:29-31). It’s in the waiting that our strength is renewed. It’s in the waiting that we become mobilized to action, riding the highway of holiness (Isaiah 35:8)
You may find yourself depleted, by your own shortcomings, those of others or, most likely, a bit of both. Maybe you are slowly coming to the realization that you do not have the strength to find your way during this Holiday Season. Take heart and hear the Good News: Christmas is about those who have lost their way and find themselves exhausted and anxious of heart (Isaiah 35:4): God who is coming to us to save us, to give us mobility so that we can in turn walk and not be weary: “how beautiful are the feet of those who proclaim Good News (the Gospel)” (Isaiah 52:7)!
I really love this time of year – so many of the songs of the church are not only well-known by all, but are jam-packed with theology-on-fire lyrics that preach the incredible gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. It’s a time of the year when the culture around us opens their ears to the gospel through classic Christmas carols like “Joy to the World” or “O Little Town of Bethlehem” that seem innocuous at first, but if you are really listening, these make life changing and earth shattering claims.
Sometimes texts are pretty dense, such as Wesley’s well known “Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Wesley doesn’t just tell the Nativity story; he drenches it with theological truths and tells us why the angels sang:
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King:
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with th’angelic hosts proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
late in time behold him come,
offspring of the Virgin’s womb:
veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.
Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.
Phrases like “God and sinners reconciled” and “Born that we no more may die” are distillations of the gospel in seven words or less. Other phrases are a bit more archaic (“veiled in flesh the Godhead see / Hail the incarnate deity”) and seem a bit like Yoda-speak, but when you catch the meaning (see the entirety of God as a human / praise the God who makes Himself a human) it is quite astounding. Either way, these lines pack quite the punch and when paired with the well known tune MENDELSSOHN make the theology leap off the page and into our hearts.
Other Carols might sound quaint and sentimental but if we think about the text carefully we see deeper and heavier implications.
Yet in thy dark streets shinethPhillips Brooks (1868)
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
Did you catch that? Some carols are rightly tinged with the sobering truth that Christ’s second Advent – his second coming – will be when he comes again to, as the creed says, “judge the living and the dead.” This is the Christian’s highest hope, and for those who have not yet trusted in God, a fearful moment.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,Isaac Watts (1719)
nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
For Christ’s second coming is to finally, once and for all, remove all sins and sorrows and undo the curse from Genesis 3. Because a holy God cannot dwell fully with sin and evil. That means if we are walking in sin and not living a forgiven life of faith in Jesus Christ, something’s gotta give. Either we turn to Christ in faith, placing our whole selves, identity and all, in Him, or turn away from God. It is not he that rejects us, we would reject Him.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,Placide Cappeau (1847)
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope – the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees…
So as you’re walking around the malls this December or driving from one commitment to another and one of these songs comes on, listen to the words and avail yourself of a holy moment of worship amidst a busy season. When we sing these hymns on Sundays at TCC, sing all the words! God uses our singing to write truths about Christ on our hearts. They expand our prayer language and our ability to talk about the Gospel with others. As Pastor Tom preached last Sunday, Advent is about the mute opening their mouths and singing for joy that the promise of God-With-Us is being fulfilled. Join Zechariah (Luke 1:67-80) and all of us in the fun!
If you’re looking for some suggestions on what to listen to, here’s a by no means exhaustive list of Christmas Carols, but a lovely curated list for you to enjoy. Enjoy!