Sunday Worship times: 8:45 a.m., 10:00 Sunday School, 11:00 Contemporary Worship
Bible Study Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
Bible Study Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.
Xtreme Faith youth group meets Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
Per Capita assessment for each member this year is $26.27. This supports the work of our denomination, PCUSA, at the presbytery, synod and General Assembly levels. Every organization you are a part of has a membership fee, but this fee provides for staff and mission infrastructure so that gifts given through PCUSA go 100% to support the work instead of 25-75% of funds given to major charities going toward overhead. WF pays for each member, and we need your check to cover that expense.
Camp Brochures are under the mailboxes, and the poster is hanging in the entryway. There are new camps being developed for all ages that you can also check out at the new Camp website at www.pioneerrimrock.camp Sign up now for the early bird discount!
Food Pantry Gifts for Feeding South Dakota are collected on the Second Sunday of each month in the shopping cart in the vestibule or the cash jar on the table in the sanctuary.
Xtreme Faith youth group is going on an ice skating outing on Sunday, February 8. We will meet at 1:00 pm at Frank Olson Park at 4001 E. 16th St. Skate rental is $1.
2nd Sunday Fellowship Event at 3:00 pm on February 8 will be the movie Heaven Is for Real which tells the amazing true story of Collton Burpo’s near death experience and visit to heaven. You can watch a great interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m–M5itPoqA This is a great opportunity to invite others to come and watch with you. A trailer for the movie is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6sCnXb3Njg
Another amazing story is that of Akiane (ah-key-ah-na) Kramarik. I learned about her in an interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6HLg2XUFOg
Some of her amazing paintings are shown in a video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pT8BAhxfw1w All I can say is Wow! … and the explanations of her pictures… inspiring! She is my new favorite artist having supplanted Thomas Kincaid.
The Sermon Sunday is “Shaped by God” from Psalm 111:1-11- The Lord’s works are great and worthy of our praise; and Mark 1:21-28- Jesus astonishes many with his teaching and heals a man with an unclean spirit.
“Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.” Psalm 111:1.
Women of Faith is having a simulcast event titled Unwrap the Bible. Free tickets are available to attend the event at Faith United Church in Brandon Feb 20 7:30-9:00 pm and 8 am to 12:30 pm on Feb 21. Call 605-582-6788. You can click the “Play the Video” tab at http://www.womenoffaith.com/events/unwrap-bible-2015/#event_table for a hint of what the event will be like. Thousands of women will gather once again in one place for one purpose . . . to unwrap the life-changing promises of the Bible. Through in-depth Bible teaching and transformational worship, you’ll be equipped and challenged to apply the truth of Scripture to your daily life. Uncover some of the most incredible treasures found in the Scripture at Unwrap the Bible.
Around Church this Week:
Several of the girls in our Xtreme Faith youth group are on the gymnastic team at WHS and competed very well there on Friday, with a few placing on both the varsity and JV levels. We had another new girl invited and brought to the group Wednesday evening.
I prepared the bulletins this week. Please give me feedback on some of the changes that were made.
I dug into the meaning of names of the children of Jacob (Israel) as I was preparing Bible studies for the Wednesday group. Here are some thoughts from my study, although for each of the concepts there are many more verses that could be referenced and explored. I pray that you can experience some of the blessing I did: The story of our salvation through Jesus in names of the 7 children of Leah:
God sent His Son (Reuben = see, a son!) because of our affliction (Gen 29:32) from sin (Rom 3:23). God stands at our heart’s door in our lost and separated condition. “If anyone hears (Simeon = heard) my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me (Levi = joined or attached).” Rev 3:20. We praise God for our salvation (Judah = God be praised). “For the wages (Issachar = wages) of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life (Zebulun = dwelling or home) in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rachel = feminine form of Dan = judge, can symbolize our position as the bride of Christ and no longer judged for our sins, but made citizens of heaven by marriage to the Lamb of God).” (see Romans 6:23).
We could add the two sons of Rachel to the mix: The contrasting prophecies concerning the Messiah in scripture as conquering hero and suffering savior are reflected in the names of Rachel’s two sons. Joseph (Joseph = “may he add” or “taken away”) was sold into slavery by his brothers and was raised to the position of the 2nd most powerful person in the world as Governor of all Egypt under Pharaoh and provided a way of salvation for the people of Israel (see Isa 9:6; Ezek 37:24-25; Jer 23:5, Micah 5:2, etc.). Benjamin (Rachel called him Ben-oni = “son of my sorrow,” or “son of my strength [II Cor 12:9 reminds us that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness];” but Jacob named him Benjamin = son of the right hand) was like the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (see Isa 53 esp v. 4 & 12) who was raised up to the right hand of God (see Isa 41:10; Ps 89:13; Acts 7:55-56; Heb 8:1, etc.).
Chuckle: “The One whose throne is in heaven sits laughing. . . .” (Psalms 2:4)
Murphy’s Other Laws:
- Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
2. A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.
3. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
4. The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there’s a 90%
probability you’ll get it wrong.
5. If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.
6. God gave you toes as a device for finding furniture in the dark.
Birthdays this Week:
Anniversaries this Week:
|4||Donald & Artilda Haffner|
Here are a few more principles of prayer that might be a blessing:
- The principle of EXEMPLIFICATION. Luke 11:1 says, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place and when He finished one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.’”Notice it does not say “teach us how to pray,” which is often misquoted. It says “teach us to pray.” I would suggest that this is a dangerous prayer to pray. We should not pray this request unless we really mean it, because God will often use trials and hardships and difficulties to teach us to pray.
- The principle of PRESERVATION. In Luke 22:31-32 Jesus says, “Simon, Simon. Satan has asked to sift you as wheat but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”This is a prayer of protection. We don’t just believe in prayer, we believe in God. Jesus not only saves you but He prays for you. Robert Murray McCheyne once said, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies.” God is praying for us right now. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us.
- The principle of PREPARATION. In Luke 22:42 Jesus prays “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will but Yours be done.”Notice the change in this prayer. First, He said, take it away from Me. Then He said, “Lord, leave it.” He prayed earnestly. Why? Because He knew He would be facing in the next few hours the greatest trial of His life and He didn’t want to approach it prayerlessly
Please keep in prayer: Leona Kinsey– heart attack and a growth discovered on her pancreas; Eldora Hayes– stroke; Joyce Gries as she makes the decision for another shoulder surgery; Nicole Stoll asthma, etc.; Gerry Van Holland; Dale Klutman; For Arlene Lewis, Pete and Dolores Van Regenmorter– pray for balance, core strength and protection from falls.
I was asked to write an article for the Argus Leader again this week. Here is what I shared:
Super Bowl Sunday – it dominates news stories. Hype and advertising is overwhelming. The cost of a 30 second ad is $4.5 million, and it’s worth it because this is the most watched TV show every year with 111.5 million tuning in.
As Christians we don’t have the excitement of an interception taking the ball from the other team and running the other way for a touchdown, but we do have the excitement of angels rejoicing for every life that is turned around from sin to reach the “end zone” of heaven for God’s team.
So, why do we in the church feel like we are overshadowed by this event? After all, according to Gallup pollsters, the once-a-week church attendance of Americans in 2013 was 123.3 million. That makes “the big game” the #2 event this Sunday behind worship!
Admittedly, there are big differences. I can imagine there will be more people talking about the big plays on Monday than talking about Sunday’s sermons. I expect many more conversations about commercials promoting “things that we just can’t live without” as opposed to sharing our faith, answers to prayer, sharing how God strengthened us in difficult situations, or even how much we enjoyed worship this week- things we can’t find eternal life without.
Last year Coke was criticized for their ad featuring “America the Beautiful” sung in English, but also in many other languages. Many reacted with feelings like “everyone ought to learn to speak American.” The original sentiments of that ad are the ministry reality of Wild Flower Presbyterian church where I serve a block east of Washington HS on the east side of Sioux Falls, but the many new immigrants and other residents in our area will not stop to see what worship is about until we who already attend start talking about the church with the same kind of intensity through the week as we talk about “Deflate Gate” or the Super Bowl.
Monday is Groundhog Day, or, in church liturgy, Candlemas, or the Presentation of Jesus. It’s 40 days from Christmas and a midpoint between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Candlemas was the time of
blessing candles for the coming year. A way you might celebrate the season would be to light a candle for a
minute each day from now till Easter and pray for light and peace in the world and in our lives. Here’s a poem for the day by Timothy Haut titled CANDLEMAS:
This frozen, white world
Pauses, silent and waiting,
As if something as simple
As a shadow in the morning,
Or the song of a wren,
Could promise us a Springtime.
But then, as icicles hang over us,
Silver as a blade,
We take matters into our own hands:
We set a bunch of tulips on the table,
Shuffle through seed packets
And dream of tomatoes,
Or find a spot of afternoon sun
By a western window
Where, for a moment,
Our bones can be warm again.
And, as of old
upon Midwinter’s Day,
We bless a candle, set it shining,
Offer it to the coldest darkness
As a holy, hopeful light,
Pray that peace will come
And joy will have its day again
And love will burn in us enough
To make our kindling hearts
Bright as an eternal flame.
The following thoughts may be a helpful comfort for someone who is struggling or hurting:
Living in a Broken World by Philip Yancey
Everyone, in varying ways and degrees, suffers pain. In two decades of writing, I have interviewed many people in pain. All of them, without exception, experienced deep and nagging doubts about God because of their suffering.
Pain calls our most basic beliefs about God into question. Listening to those who have suffered, I hear basic questions expressed in varying words: • Is God really so powerful? • Is God fair? • Why doesn’t God seem to care about pain?
Whenever pain touches our lives, we may ask one or more of these questions. Finding meaningful answers can deepen trust in a God who is beyond our understanding.
Is God powerful? Of course, physical pain is only the top layer of what we call suffering. Death, disease, earthquakes, tornadoes — all of these summon up harder questions about God’s involvement on earth. Is God powerful enough to rearrange the universe in a way that would relieve our suffering?
Job is an Old Testament book about a man who suffered severe and undeserved anguish. In His conversation with Job (ch 38-41), God had a perfect opportunity to discuss divine lack of power, if that indeed was the problem. Instead, God asserted His wisdom and power.
Other parts of the Bible convince me that perhaps we ought to view the problem of pain as a matter of timing, not of power. We get many clues that God, like us, is unsatisfied with the state of this world, a creation marred by an evil antagonist. God feels grief and anger over the violence, the warfare, the hatred, the suffering; and God plans to do something about it someday.
Throughout the writings of the prophets, Jesus’ teachings and the entire NT runs a theme of hope, of a great day when a new heaven and new earth will replace the old. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us,” (Romans 8:18).
Like Job, we are called to trust God even when all the evidence seems stacked against trust. God plans a much better world someday, one without pain or evil or tears or death, and asks for our faith in the promise of that new creation.
Is God fair? “Why me?” we ask almost instinctively when we face great tragedy. If, in fact, God is all-competent and all-powerful, doesn’t that imply God controls every detail of life?
Few of us can avoid such thoughts when suffering strikes. Immediately we begin to search our conscience for some sin that God must be punishing: What is God trying to tell me through my pain? And if we find nothing definite, we begin to question God’s fairness.
Once again, the only reliable place to test out our doubts about God is the Bible. What do we find there — does God ever use pain as punishment? Yes, as a matter of fact. The Bible records many examples, especially in the Old Testament. But in every case, punishment follows repeated warnings against the behavior that merits the punishment.
Does that pattern resemble what happens to most of us today? If not, I have to question whether the pains most of us feel are punishments from God. Frankly, I believe that unless God specially reveals otherwise, we would do best to look to other biblical examples of suffering people. Once again, Job is the best example.
Job’s friends insisted the problem was with Job, not God. But God insisted that Job had done nothing at all to deserve his pain, and it was not a punishment for his behavior.
At two different places Jesus made the same point. Once, His disciples pointed to a blind man and asked who had sinned to bring on such suffering — the blind man or his parents. Jesus replied that neither one had sinned (Jn 9:1-3). Another time, Jesus commented on two current events from His day: the collapse of a tower that killed 18 people and a government massacre of some worshipers in the temple. Jesus said those people were no guiltier than anyone else (Lk 13:1-5). They, too, had done nothing to deserve their suffering.
We live in an imperfect world that includes forces opposed to God’s original design, and not everything works out the way we wish. If anything, the book of Job implies that the answers are beyond human understanding.
“Is God fair?” we ask in the midst of our pain. God’s only answer is: “I am in control, no matter how it looks.” And then God has just one question for us: “Do you trust Me?”
Does God care? The last great doubt prompted by pain is subtly different. Other questions are more abstract and philosophical; this one is personal: “Why doesn’t God show more concern for me in a time of need?”
There are two expressions of God’s concern that apply to all of us, everywhere. One is Jesus’ response to pain. The other involves everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian.
In Jesus we have the historical fact of how God responded to pain on earth. Jesus spent much of His life among suffering people, and His response to them also shows us how God feels about pain. He responded to hurting people with sadness and grief. When Jesus’ friend died, He wept. And then He reached out with supernatural power and healed the suffering.
Even so, Jesus did not stay on earth. So what about us? How can we sense God’s love? We have the Holy Spirit, of course — God’s presence in us. And we have the promise of the future, when God will set the world right and meet us face to face. But what about right now?
That is where the church comes in, the community that includes every person who truly follows God. The Bible uses the phrase “the body of Christ,” which expresses our new identity on earth. We are called to represent what Christ is like, especially to those in pain.
There is only one good way to understand how the body of Christ can minister to a suffering person, and that is to see it in action.
Martha was a very attractive 26-year-old woman when I first met her. Her life was permanently changed when she learned she had contracted ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
I began visiting Martha at her rehabilitation hospital. We talked about death and, briefly, about Christian faith. Martha thought about God, of course, but she could hardly think of God with love.
It soon became clear that ALS would complete its horrible cycle quickly in Martha. She badly wanted at least two weeks out of the hospital, in her own apartment in Chicago, to invite friends over one by one, say goodbye, and come to terms with her death. But two weeks in her apartment posed the problem of getting round-the-clock help.
Only one group in the Chicago area offered the free and loving care Martha needed: a Christian community volunteered all that was necessary to fulfill her last wishes.
Finally Martha, seeing the love of God enfleshed in the people around her, came to that God in Christ and presented herself in trust to the One who had died for her. The unanswered questions of her pain were met by love in action, and her doubts about God gradually fell away.
But to the question of, “Why?” We have no more definitive answer than Job got. We have only the stubborn hope — so different from naive optimism — that the story of Jesus, which includes both death and resurrection, gives a bright clue to what God will do for the entire planet. Optimism promises that things will gradually improve; Christian hope promises that creation will be transformed. Until then, God evidently prefers not to intervene in every instance of evil or natural disaster, no matter how grievous. Rather, God has commissioned us as agents of intervention in the midst of a hostile and broken world.
~Philip Yancey is a best-selling author. Portions of this article were adapted from his book The Question That Never Goes Away. This article appeared in the Feb/March 2015 issue of Thriving Family magazine.
Pastor Dave Ullom <*}}}<.