Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Mind Dump - December 16, 2012

Were you at PCC today?  Holy cow!
Photo by Christa Collins

What a moving service.

The house was filled.  Lots of holiday guests from out of town.

It’s so encouraging to hear all the positive feedback we get each week, both from guests and long term members.

God is really in this thing.

Service opened with an acknowledgement of the Connecticut shooting, a time of silence for the victims, and public prayers in behalf of the community.

I changed the content of today’s sermon to address the Connecticut shooting.

Many people were asking or wondering “Where was God?”  Of course this is a complicated question, but the Word of God is always able to speak to any situation.  Some needed a theological explanation, some needed comfort, and others wanted to hear a word about justice, so I gave three responses to “Where was God.”  I think most of us came away with hope,  that no matter what, God is still in charge and is always with us.

A lot of the message revolved around Herod’s soldiers and the killing of children in Bethlehem after the birth of Christ. 

Nearly every family in Bethlehem and the surrounding villages – in a ten mile radius – suffered untold grief because of the birth of Christ.

Herod’s soldiers are the glaring gap in the nativity scenes we showcase today.  People died.  Children.  Never forget that.

I don’t know why the shootings happened.  But I do know what Jesus promised, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

I have to believe that every one of those children went straight to heaven. It’s the only thing that makes sense of this senseless situation.

Relevance:  It’s not about music, ministry methods, or hip cultural preferences.  It’s shepherding people through the things that are heavy on their hearts.  God’s Word is always applicable.

After service this morning the children practiced the songs for their presentation next Sunday morning.  It’s going to be great.

Next Sunday morning:  (1) Children’s Christmas Chorus (2) Advent Readings lead by me, Gene Tharp, and Scott Denny (3) Communion.  It’s going to be a good service.  Come with an open heart.  Invite a friend.  Bring a guest.

This Wednesday night we’re having a bonfire with the teenagers.  Parents and families are invited.

Only nine days to Christmas, then it’s the New Year.

I can’t wait to offer our Annual State of the Church Address – something I do at the beginning of each year.  It will take place about the first or second week of January.  I will be sharing with the congregation of PCC the accomplishments of 2012, the financial state of our church, and outline what I hope to see accomplished in 2013.  As always, we will be providing financial statements in January too.

Really got some things to say in this message.

When I think of our beginnings, I realize we have come a long way.  We have been through a lot and have accomplished a lot together.  Most importantly, without God’s favor none of it could have possibly happened.

From day one we have always had a clear vision and leadership structure.  Once we settled on those two things, 98% of the decisions were made.  All we had to do from there was pull the trigger and “do ministry” and make disciples.  That’s the business of the church.

I can honestly say that we have stayed true to that mission (with a few seasons of mission drift).  No wonder we have lasted almost fifteen years.

I have been in full time ministry for 25 years, beginning in lay ministry 32 years ago.  I pastored two churches prior to PCC.  In 1998 God allowed me to start this one, and I hope this is the place where I will grow old.

I love what God is doing at PCC.  I love the simplicity of it; the mission; the focus; and the people who are part of it.

In all these years I have seen God do some amazing things.  Hundreds have committed to Christ, been baptized, and discipled.  God has cleaned up addicts, restored marriages, and brought scores of young families into our midst.  On a typical Sunday at PCC you will see people from every walk of life:  black & white; people from foreign countries; interracial marriages, professionals; blue collar workers; the young and old, the poor and those making six figures a year all worshipping together.  I imagine that is what heaven will look like when we get there.

God has brought together a group of imperfect people (this pastor included) and those in need of hope.  I’m glad we serve the God of second chances.

2012 has been a challenging year.  We’ve seen people we love decide that this isn’t the church for them… and I have had to personally tell a few that this wasn’t the church for them. 

Yet at the same time, God has sent us some remarkable new people.  Over the course of 2012 the right people with the right skills have arrived at exactly the right time.  These are people who have taken us to another level.  Just a causal observation in our Sunday services tells part of the story.

But that’s not all there is to the story.  Behind the scenes a lot of other good things are taking place; particularly leadership development.  It’s been on-going for a while and 2013 should see these people deployed.

Regarding our finances, 2012 was a bit challenging the first six/seven months.  However, in late summer we began experiencing a rebound, mostly a result of eliminating expenses.  We are going to finish the year strong.  Very glad about that.

There have been times when we have held this church together with chicken wire and duct tape.  But God always comes through.  All we have to do is stay faithful, maintain our integrity, and stay on mission – and the rest is up to God.  We’ve always done that and He always, always, always comes through.

We’ve even had people oppose us.  Yet, it has all been worth it.

In closing, let me say THANK YOU PCC’ers.  Thank you for all you do.  You make the ministry of our church happen.  It’s been an amazing year – it’s been an amazing fifteen year run for me – and I’m confident that 2013 will be even better.  Among other things, you will hear new teachers and new preachers.

May we never forget why we started PCC in the first place.

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