Archive | October, 2016

Unmasking Halloween

31 Oct

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Last week, I asked “What could be wrong with Halloween?”

Well…maybe this:

The Encyclopedia Britannica notes that Halloween has “its origins in Samhain, one of the most-sinister festivals on the Celtic calendar. The ancient Celts believed that on November 1 the souls of those who had died returned to visit their homes or to journey to the otherworld. People set fires to frighten away evil spirits, and they sometimes wore masks and other disguises to avoid being recognized by ghosts.”

Almost all of our Christian holidays are responses to pagan holidays.  For example, Jesus was almost certainly not born on December 25th.  Most scholars believe it is much more likely he was born in the spring.  But we celebrate his birth on December 25th because centuries ago the church wanted to have a Christian holiday in response to Winter Solstice which is on December 21st.  The same exact thing happened with Halloween.  All Saints Day was always in spring, and still is for the Eastern Church.

Again, the Britannica tells us that “In the 8th century…the Roman Catholic Church—perhaps in an effort to end the pagan holiday of Samhain—moved All Saints’ Day to November 1. The evening before became a holy, or hallowed, eve and thus Halloween. While the day was celebrated by some Christians, many of the Samhain traditions persisted, and Halloween eventually became more commonly known as a secular holiday.”

So it is that out of these ancient traditions grew Halloween.  Samhain’s focus on evil and witchcraft and demons and ghosts, and the current iteration in Halloween, has caused many people to wonder if it is something that Christians should steer clear of.

It is a concern Christians should take seriously.  What do we do about the spirit world?  Is it possible that participation in Halloween could mean that we Christians are in league with the devil?  Are we being tricked into something?

In 1st Corinthians 10:14-22 Paul talks about this in a letter he wrote to Christians living in the city of Corinth in the first century AD.

In their day and age, idol worship was a daily occurrence.  Pagan temples abounded in their cities.  Paul tells them to flee from idolatry.  The idols?  They’re nothing he says.  Just some carvings made from wood or stone.  The meat sacrificed to idols?  No big deal.  It’s just food.

But what he says in verse 20 is quite important.  Though idols and the meat sacrifices are nothing, who the people are actually worshiping is something.  He says the people are actually participating with demons.  Paul is very concerned, then, that the Christians should not have involvement in pagan worship because it was actually demonic.  Don’t make God jealous, he says.

Samhain, the root of Halloween, was once a pagan holiday.  So many Christians feel we should not participate in Halloween.

Before we address Halloween in particular, let’s talk about the spirit world a bit.  We do need to heed Paul’s teaching that we Christians are not to get involved in the spirit world.  The spirit world and demons are real and powerful.

How many of you have had experiences in which you felt you were directly interacting with the spirit world or that spirit world was interacting with you?  At Faith Church we have had missionaries tell us about interactions they’ve had with the spirit world oppressing their families and ministries.

During the summer I did my college missionary internship in Guyana, I had two such instances, and when we were missionaries in Jamaica there was a time when we, along with other missionaries, prayed through a family’s home as they were experiencing some demonic manifestation.

But those are all examples of foreign places.  We hear about the spirit world and demons in foreign lands, especially related to missionary work.  But what about here? I personally have had very little experience with the demonic in the USA.  But there have been a couple times.

When I was Faith Church’s youth pastor our youth group did work camp mission trips, and one year we went to Gloversville, New York.  The project I was on included minor repairs and painting at the home of a family in need.  As we got to know the family, the mother divulged to us that she was a witch.  She went on to describe what kinds of magic she did, as if it was all totally normal.  My work team I led, about 8 middle and high schoolers, found her stories to be disconcerting.

She then showed us a cabinet in her dining room.  It looked like a really big spice rack, and the containers had more than just spices.  She explained that they were ingredients for her magic potions.  The family also had a tree in their yard that she said they performed magic on, and somehow used it in her spells.  Some of the team members heard this and started looking at one another nervously.  They had been climbing in that tree.  Near the end of the week the lady told us that she was going to make us BBQ chicken as a thank you for the work we were doing.  When we got in the van after work that day, the team immediately started questioning me about the chicken. Should they eat it?

Then there was the woman living in one of the apartment complexes near our church property.  She had started attending Faith Church.  I was the youth pastor at the time, and she stopped by the office one day to tell the senior pastor that there were demonic manifestations in her home.  She wanted us to come over to her house and pray.  So we went over and prayed through her house.

What have you experienced?

And what do I mean by “demonic manifestation”?  I am not talking about just being scared.  Growing up I was often afraid of the dark.  My regular chore was to take out the trash, and I hated collecting the trash from the wastebaskets downstairs. If no one else was down there, as soon as I was done with the trash, I would turn off last light and bolt up the dark stairs, imagining evil things nipping at my heels.  I also can get freaked out at scary movies.  The Sixth Sense did me in for a few days.   I often have vivid scary dreams.   Are these examples of intersection with the spirit world?

I recently heard a psychology professor talk, and he was saying that there needs to be balance.  Some people want to say that anything that was once called a demonic manifestation is actually just the brain and our bodies misfiring.  Emotion that is too strong.  Out of control.  There is no spirit world, they say.  It is all in our minds.  This psychologist counters, “Wait a minute…not so fast.  It is a both-and.”  The spirit world is real, and likewise our minds and bodies can create situations that are not true.  The movie A Beautiful Mind is an example of how schizophrenia can impact a person.  In years gone by, a real condition like schizophrenia would have been considered demon possession.  Now we know that it is not so.

Look at the stories of Jesus, though, or look at the vast accounts of the spirit realm throughout the ages, and in our own day, and we need to conclude that the spirit realm is real.

My first encouragement to you today is that you do not underestimate the power of the dark side.  Ok, that was a little Star Wars reference for you.  But the point is true.  Satan is powerful.  Demons are no joke.  Remember our series through Luke and all the times that Jesus interacted with demons?  Those demons had lots of power to wreck, totally wreck, people’s lives.  So don’t toy with them.  Don’t experiment. Don’t think that you’ll be fine.  Don’t think you are strong enough to handle it.  Be teachable, be self-aware.  Know that you are not capable of defeating the spirit world should spirits interact with you.

Don’t invite the battle.

But aren’t Christians safe because of Jesus?  Safe from possession, yes, but not oppression.  As we often saw in the Gospel of Luke earlier this year and last year, Jesus regularly interacted with the spirit world.  Whether it was Satan himself or the many demons who confronted him, there was always one thing that was the same:

There was no contest. Those demons ran scared.  Even Satan couldn’t tempt him.

Jesus either outsmarted them or he overpowered them.  It wasn’t even a question.  Each time it was no contest.  He would win.

If the battle would be between us and the powers of darkness, it would also be no contest, but we would lose!  We need to humble ourselves and admit that.  The problem is that we often think we can do battle.

In Ephesians 6:10-20, we read about the Armor of God.  I’ve heard people talk like all we need to do is strap on that armor and go do battle with spirits.  But if you look closely at how Paul actually describes the armor of God, you see a very different picture.

When you put on the armor of God, you are actually depending on God and obeying him so that his power is at work in us and through us.  It is not our power.  It is all him.

Be truthful, faithful, righteous, study God’s word, and pray.  These might not sound like typical weapons in a battle, but in God’s Kingdom they are powerful, because they rely on his power.  By doing these things we stay humble, we stay dependent on God’s ability and power.

So whether it is real interaction with ghosts or Ouija boards or any form of sorcery or witchcraft, anything having to do with demons I encourage you to stay away from it.

But if the spiritual realm comes to you, and it might, I urge you not to assume that you can fight it and win.  Instead go to God in prayer.  Plead for him to save you, plead for him to have victory.

I have heard of formulaic prayers that are supposed to be able defeat demons.  Pray a “hedge of protection.”  “Pray the blood of Jesus”.  Claim victory in Jesus name.  As if these are magical incantations.  I’m not so sure about that.  I don’t see any Scripture that gives clear instructions about that.  They are based on Scripture, which is good, but in no way should we consider them to be formulaic prayers that will automatically defeat evil.

Instead, we are to put on the armor of God!

And what of Halloween?  Same goes there.  Put on the full armor of God and you’ll be fine.

Let me be a bit more specific.  Halloween in our day is not the same as the ancient Samhaim. Samhaim involved direct interaction with the spirit realm.

When you are participating in a costume party or trick-or-treating, are you involved in direct interaction with the spiritual realm?  I highly doubt it.  For most, Halloween is a bunch of kids in costumes, followed by their parents, as the kids run from door to door in friendly neighborhoods getting candy.  Whatever connection to the spirit world trick or treating once had, it is long, long gone.

The spirit world is active in many other ways.  And those other ways are where we need to be on alert.  Demonic possession and oppression.  Methods used for directly trying to interact with spirits.  Methods used for trying to access the power of spirits.  Steer clear of them.

Fortune tellers, mediums who claim to be able to contact the dead, Ouija boards.  Interaction with ghosts.  Sacrificing of animals.  Magical potions and incantations.  These are no joke.

I urge you to stay away from direct involvement in the spirit world.  And if that Spirit world should come to you, remember that Jesus is greater!  Remember that Jesus won the victory.  Pray for him to intervene!  If it keeps happening, talk with your pastor or a trusted, mature Christian friend for help.  And remember that our God is greater.

Halloween and Horror…should we be concerned?

29 Oct

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What kinds of commercials are you seeing on TV in the very few spots that are not already taken by election commercials?

This time of year there are always lots of commercials advertising the latest horror movies.  It’s Halloween season, and they’re trying to scare you.  But why at Halloween?  Have you ever thought about that?  What is the deal with scary things and horror movies at Halloween?

In Christian circles over the years this connection between scary things and Halloween has actually been the cause of controversy surrounding Halloween.

How many of you were not allowed to trick or treat?  How many of you were not allowed to wear costumes?  Or how many of you were not permitted to wear costumes of witches or wizards or demons? How many of you had Harvest parties instead of Halloween parties?

And why?  Why are some families or churches opposed to Halloween?

When we lived in the City of Lancaster, Trick or Treat night was an amazing night.   It was like a block party that never ended.  It just went on and on, street after street, block after block.  Tons of people out walking around, conversing on their porches, giving out candy.  It was awesome.  Neighbors talking, laughing, getting to know one another.

What could be wrong with that?

And yet some people are totally opposed to it.  I would guess that in most churches you’ll find people that agree with either perspective.  That’s pretty normal in church families, to have people who disagree with one another.

We invite you to join us at Faith Church on Sunday at 9:30am.  We are going to be looking at why there has been concern about Halloween.  Do you know?

You have to go way back in history.  And it starts with the word “Halloween” itself.  It is actually two words “Hallow” and “eve”.  At some point those two words were contracted together to make “Halloween.”  But that should make us ask, what is the connection between “Hallow” and “eve”?  What “eve” are we talking about, and what is a “Hallow”?

Hope to see you Sunday!

What Christians should do on election day (and a Christian approach to government)

25 Oct

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What should Christians do on voting day?

Vote.

That may seem simple.  But before we assume that is the only obvious answer, let’s ask another question: to vote or not to vote?  Is it ever wrong to not vote?  Many frustrated people have said that they are not going to vote.  Many do not.

This comic tells a great story.  Image result for majority doesn't vote

But in recent years, this comic is actually wrong.  Look at the comic and you get the impression that voter turnout is less than 50%.  The actual percentage in the last four elections is 58.6%.  And in none of the four has voter turnout been less than 50%.  But there is still a really good point to be made.  An average of more than 40% of eligible voters in our nation have not voted in recent elections!  Is it possible that the 40% could make an impact on the election?  You bet!

So we need to see voting as an amazing privilege of every citizen.  It is a way, an important way, that we can influence our nation.  And as Christians we should want to influence our nation based on the principles of the Kingdom of God.

If we are to vote based on the principles of the Kingdom of God, who are we to vote for?  Before we answer the question of “Who?”, though, we need to ask “How should I vote?”  When we ask the question “How should I vote?” we are really asking what principles should I use when I vote?

I’d like to share a number of principles that I’m going to ask you to consider and apply to all of the candidates.  Before a Christian goes to the voting booth, we should first considered these principles and spend time trying to apply them to the candidates.

Obviously, the United States and our voting system came into existence millennia after the Bible was completed.  That means these principles apply to many different cultures and situations.  They relate to a lot more than just the USA Presidential election in 2016.  I say that because I want it to be clear that my goal is teach biblical principles, not promote a certain candidate or party.   You will likely find that one principle leads you in the direction of voting for one candidate, and another principle leads you in the direction of another!

That’s why the first principle is so important.

Voting principle #1 – First and foremost, Pray for wisdom.

In James 1:5 we read “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”  I know so many of you are frustrated like me.   You just want God to intervene.  Do a miracle, and give us all new candidates.  Surely there has to be better options than this, right?  Well, that miraculous intervention might not happen, and so we need to pray for wisdom.  Or maybe you have had your candidate picked out long ago, and you haven’t prayed for wisdom.  Maybe you haven’t sought to apply the values of God’s Kingdom to the election.

A very legitimate concern some Christian thinkers have suggested is that Christians place their political values ahead of the values of God’s Kingdom.  In other words, those Christians are so committed to a certain political party that they don’t seek wisdom from God.

Have you been praying for God to give you wisdom as you vote?

Voting principle #2a – Vote for the candidate who will be the best leader.

When you consider this principle you are considering which candidate could govern American the best.  Who will be the best leader for the good of the nation and the world?   Jesus once told his disciples in Mark 10:42 “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”

There are different kinds of leaders, right?  Some with little experience, some with lots.  And they lead with different styles.  With different personalities.  Jesus is saying that leaders should be humble, teachable, servant leaders.  Obviously, he is speaking to his disciples about leadership in his Kingdom, not leadership in a nation.  But an important principle is embedded in his teaching.  Who will be a good leader?  Who will govern the best?

Voting Principle #2b – Pick the candidate who is, in their personal and professional life, the most in line with Christ-like character.

Where 2a focuses outwardly, or who can do the best job as president, 2b focuses inwardly, or who has the best character.  I brought this up in the sermon on ethnicity recently and it applies here too.  When God asked Samuel to pick the next king of Israel, he told Samuel that he should focus on the heart.  Who is the leader that best displays ethical character?

Voting Principle #3 – Vote for the candidate who policies are most in line with Kingdom values.

This one is similar to the “lesser of two evils” approach.  (Or as John Oliver said about this election, the lesser of four evils, because the third party candidates are pretty much as distasteful as the major party candidates.)  Which candidate’s policies are most attempting to promote the good things of God’s Kingdom?

This approach admits that there will never be a candidate from any party in any election that people agree with 100%.  But the lesser of evils approach says that we should vote for the one who will enact policies that are the most in line with the Kingdom of God.  In Matthew 6:33, Jesus tells us to seek first his Kingdom.  I admit that this one is very hard to determine.  But have you considered which candidate will most support policies that would advance the Kingdom of God?  You might find that each candidate is 50/50 on this one.

Voting Principle #4 – Vote systemic change against injustice.

One of the things this election is teaching us is that elements of our electoral system might need to change because the system is not just.  So a final principle to consider then, is to use your vote to try to encourage change in the future so that the system becomes more just.  God’s heart for justice is abundantly clear, in hundreds of places in the Bible.  Take Amos 5:24 for example, “Let justice roll like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.”  We Christians should strive to promote God’s heart for justice.  But how do we do this by voting?

One way is that you might pick a third party to support larger political change in the life of our nation, moving us away from two major parties, even if it takes decades.  If you believe that there should be more serious choices than just two, then perhaps you want to vote for a third party candidate.  But, some ask, won’t a vote for a third party vote take away a vote from one of the major parties?  Obviously, it will.   If you prefer the lesser of evils approach, you will likely disagree with principle #4.  But if you are frustrated enough with our current system, you might say that it is worth it for the major party you most closely align with to lose, in order for a third party which you align with even more, to have your vote.  Even if just a little, you are strengthening that third party by one vote.

These are some principles to consider when you vote.  I encourage you especially to focus on that first one, and pray for wisdom.  Then you might also make a list of the candidates, detailing their pros and cons based on these biblical principles.  Remember that there is no perfect candidate.  I see the posts on Facebook that say “Vote for Jesus”.  Well, in the event that he doesn’t come again before November 8th, we’ll have to vote for one of the imperfect candidates.  I hope these principles can help you a bit.

But voting is not the only way to that we Christians can make our voice be heard.  Our American system includes the amazing ability to get involved in government.  Those in government have the opportunity to use power for change.  That word “power” can sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be.

In 2010 a group of us spent a week in Chicago serving with and learning from our sister church in Chicago, Kimball Avenue Church.  It was an eye-opening, brain-twisting, impactful week.  I’ll never forget sitting in a bank boardroom one day.  We were there because that particular bank had a great community reputation for loaning money to low income families.  Many banks won’t touch that.  While we were at the bank, we heard a presentation from a lady talking about getting involved in government and the use of power.  I was sitting there feeling more and more uncomfortable as her talk went on.  Use of power?  I’m thinking, no way, power is dangerous, I want to steer clear of that.  I’ve seen how people in government abuse power.  No way, not for me.  So I raised my hand and said this to her.

She responded with “Well, why did you become a pastor?  As pastor don’t you have a certain amount of influence to work for good?”

I sat there quietly, thinking, that got turned around pretty quick.  She’s right.  I want to use my role as pastor, call it “my power” if you like (not much power…but you get the idea!), for good.  And I knew where she was going with this.  No doubt, power is, well, powerful.  That means it can be hard to control, and we have seen people use power very badly, allowing it to get out of hand and do lots of damage.  But that doesn’t mean power is inherently bad.  Power can and should be used for good.  That is what Romans 13 is talking about.

We Christians should consider getting involved in government.  Whether it is on the local school board, or the PTA at school, or running for office. We should take those opportunities seriously and consider signing up.  Some of us at Faith Church regularly joke about writing each others’ names on the ballot.  I regularly write in some of my Faith Church family for local offices!  They haven’t won though…  On a serious note, we can and should consider the various ways to get involved in government offices.  How often have we complained about the people holding office?  How often have we remarked that we need better people in office, people that will promote the values and principles of God’s Kingdom?  Faith Church, that may be you!

That’s one reason why I’m excited that our local CV Ministerium is working on an idea to create a justice watch group in CV.  You remember the babies in the water story?  If you see a baby floating downriver, you rescue it!  That is mercy.  Mercy is needed and good.  That’s why we’re involved so heavily with CVCCS, providing mercy to people in our area in need of food and clothing.  But there is another question that is so often missed, and that is “why in the world would there be a baby floating down a river?”  Especially when it’s not just one baby but many that keep coming down the river! The question then becomes not “How do we rescue all these babies?”, though rescuing them is needed. The question is, “What are we going to do to go upstream and stop whoever is throwing babies in the water?”  That’s justice.  Justice seeks to find the root of the problem and address it.  Why are people in our community struggling with lack of food and housing?  What is the root cause?  How can we wield governmental power to help deal with the root issue?  The Ministerium is working on creating a consortium with members from the police, local government, the school district, the churches, and more to address root causes.  We need people, Kingdom-minded disciples of Jesus on all those levels to wield power in a God-honoring, humble way to eradicate the root causes of injustice.

A few final thoughts when it comes to politics and government.  This election will be over soon.

Pray for leaders no matter who is in office.  In 1 Tim 2:1-3 Paul said to Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

Guess who the Roman Emperor was at this time? Nero, a maniac.  He was a Christian killer.  He tied Christians up to posts, stuck them in his gardens, and lit them on fire so he could see at nighttime.  Pray for him?  God wants him saved?

Honestly, how many of you struggle to pray for your leaders because they are so distasteful to you?  We need to pray for them.

  1. Pray that they will govern wisely.
  2. Pray that they will surround themselves with wise counsel, and that they listen to it.
  3. Pray that, if they are not already, they become people who seek God for wisdom.

Much of what has made this election so frustrating is the question: “What is the future of America?”   I remember some people thinking that the USA would implode if Obama became President.  It will be many years before we get a clearer picture of the success or failure of these past eight years, but it seems pretty clear we haven’t imploded.

When we ask the question “What is the future of America?” I suspect that underneath the question is fear.  Fear that we will lose our standard of living.  Fear that we might lose freedom.  Fear that life will be harder than it is now.  Fear that we might be persecuted.

So I want to remind you of something important: Remember that we citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven first.  God’s Kingdom did just fine for centuries before America started, and God’s Kingdom will do just fine after America goes away.  Seek first his Kingdom, Jesus says.

And pray for America, that we will be good.  America has surely not been perfect, but we have desired for centuries to be a good nation.  Pray that our leaders will lead us to be good!

Pray for revival.  Pray that God’s Spirit will be unleashed in our land.  Pray that people will humble themselves, repent and turn to God, and seek him.  Pray that we will be a church that makes disciples.

Why I’m talking about the election this Sunday

20 Oct

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This may be the most stupid preaching decision I’ve ever made.  This coming Sunday as we continue our series, Life in These United States, I’m talking about government.  And with only a few weeks left until our general election, I need to talk about politics.  My tag line for the sermon series has been “We’re talking about what everyone’s talking about.”  I have heard over the years, though, that we preachers need to keep politics out of the pulpit.  While I think that church should be the one place where people can talk about anything, there is certainly the feeling out there that we should not talk about politics.  But why?

For one thing, it is so controversial, and that is true within a church family.  Perhaps you go to a church that is politically uniform.  Faith Church is not.  If I talk about politics in a sermon, I face a high risk of offending someone.  So maybe I should just avoid it. I am not a fan of offending people.

Also, talking about politics might give some the impression that the church is in cahoots with the government.  And there is a feeling out there that the church should be neutral.  “Separation of Church and State,” is the cry.  No doubt, when the church has gotten involved in governmental affairs throughout history, it is pretty easy to see that it hasn’t gone so well.  Again, maybe I should avoid it.

But I can’t.

This might really be stupid, but I am going to talk about the election.  It seems to me that not only is most everyone already talking about it, but more importantly what they say is that they are very confused about it.  “Who should we vote for?” is the big question, and the answer is extremely unclear.  No matter what political party you align with, the chances are you aren’t happy about the candidate your party has nominated.  And that goes for the third parties too.  John Oliver recently remarked that this election is not a frustrating choice between the lesser of two evils, but a choice between the lesser of four evils!

Are you frustrated by this election?  What should a population do when they feel they have no good choices to vote for?  Do you feel like choices for president are being forced on you, and you don’t like the options?  Maybe you feel like this guy:

What are we to do?  Can the Bible be of any help?  The newest books in the Bible are nearly 2000 years old, and they were written in a time and place that did not include a national election for that country’s top leader, and those New Testament biblical writers were not living in a country that had a Christian majority.  No, civic life was quite different then.  Is it possible that we can learn principles from this old ancient book that might help us figure out what do to with this election?  I think so.

For starters, I would like to suggest that the question “Who should we vote for?” is the wrong beginning point.  Instead we should ask “How should we vote?”  Well, on a voting machine on November 8th at our polling place, of course!  Yes, obviously.  But I don’t mean “How?” in that logistical sense.  I mean “How?” in the sense of “What principles should we use when we vote?”  And when we start with that question, the Bible is an excellent guide.

Please join us at Faith Church on Sunday October 23, 9:30am as continuing looking at life in these United States, talking about what everyone is talking about: the election!

Do you parents feel like going on strike?

14 Oct

Cat Barnard sits in her driveway in Florida near the tent where and she and her husband slept after both went on strike because their children won't cook or clean up.

Sometimes we parents feel like we need a break.  We can feel exhausted, frustrated, and like we want to go on strike.  In 2004, the parents in the picture above did just that.  You can read all about it here.  Parenting can be hard.  Do you feel like parenting can drive you crazy?  That while you love your kids, there are times you don’t like them?

Parent-Child relationships are a wild mixture of happy and sad, joyful and troubling, close and distant.  Over the last few years at Faith Church we have toned down how much we emphasis we put on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day because for so many in our family of Faith Church, those holidays are painful.

Even though we have toned down Mother’s and Father’s day, they are holidays with a good intention.  In the Ten Commandments we read God tell the nation of Israel that they are to  honor their mother and father.  So for God the parent-child relationship is a very important one.

God wants us to be good parents and grandparents.  And he wants us to be good sons and daughters to our parents.  That’s what we’re talking about at Faith Church this coming Sunday as we continue our series, Life in These United States.  Maybe this sermon can be some help for those of you who feel like you’re ready to go on strike from parenting.

We’re going to approach this sermon a bit differently.  Sermons are almost always monologues.  The long-standing homiletical tradition where one person delivers a speech to an audience is not necessarily a bad thing. But how often have you heard a sermon and wished you could discuss it further?  Or maybe you’ve had questions about it, but didn’t feel you had a forum to ask those questions?  How many of you have a culture in your church’s worship service where you can raise your hand, ask a question and your preacher will stop and discuss it with you?  I know some of you do have that, but most don’t.  At Faith Church we have a sermon discussion group after our worship service, and that time of open-ended discussion is fantastic.  I often find it to be better than the sermon!

So for this sermon I thought I would enlist some help.  I have been a parent for 19years, and Michelle and I have four kids.  But some of you have kids and grandkids, and even great-grandkids, and you have been parenting or grandparenting for longer than I have been alive.  I haven’t experienced grandparenting, and Michelle and I aren’t the perfect parents, so we have much to learn.  I thought, then, that I would get help from our Faith Church Leadership Team.  Here’s how it will work.

This Sunday is our once/month Coffee Break Sunday, which means after we praise God in song, we dismiss to our Fellowship Hall.  We normally have a time of continuing our praise of God through open mic sharing about how God has been at work in lives, but on Coffee Break Sundays, we do that around the tables in the Fellowship Hall.  Then after 15 minutes, we return to sanctuary to sing and listen to God’s Word.  But on this Sunday, we’re going to stay around the tables in the Fellowship Hall.

I’ll still have a few words to say, looking at some biblical passages with parenting principles, but I have asked Leadership Team members to help lead mini-discussions on parenting, based on the passages that we’ll read.  Each discussion will take place around your table.

So do you desire to be a good parent or grandparent?  Join us at 9:30am at Faith Church as we learn from God’s Word, and from those who have for many years wrestled with applying biblical principles of parenting in the real world of their families.