Holidays

Father's Day

There are no perfect fathers.  There is no special "fatherhood mojo" for leading families or raising kids.  Some of the godliest dads in the Bible raised some of the rottenest kids.  There are no perfect fathers.  Do you know what that means?  There is no one out there that we have to measure up to because they are doing it exactly right.  I’m not sure how you feel about that, but that is good news to me.  It takes off a lot of the performance pressure I feel as a father and husband.  In fact, the best example we have in Scripture of fatherhood is Jesus’ relationship with his heavenly Father.  Every other example falls far short.  So I would like to explore that relationship a little with the goal of getting to know our heavenly Father better and looking at some ways we earthly fathers can imitate him.

Father's Day

Pentecost Sunday

Pentecost Sunday - we Baptists do not typically celebrate Pentecost as a holiday, but I think we should.  If you were to ask most of us about Pentecost, we would probably be hard pressed to tell you what it is about or when it was.  As believers, if we are going to become serious students of God’s Word, we need to know, understand, and remember days like today. 

The celebration of Pentecost began over 1,500 years before Jesus.  Let’s go back to 1500 BC.  The Jews have been enslaved in Egypt for over 400 years.  God’s deliverer, Moses, warns Pharaoh to “let my people go!”  But he refuses.  Plague after plague are sent, but Pharaoh's heart remains hard until the final plague, the Angel of Death moving through the land (Ex 12).  The Angel was to kill the first-born child of every home.  But, homes that put lamb’s blood on the doorposts and the lintel were “passed over.”

That night became the most important feast of Judaism, the Passover.  Pharaoh let the people go the next day, and the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea (Ex 14) and headed to Mount Sinai (Ex 19) where God met with Moses.  The Jews believe that 50 days after they left Egypt, Moses walked down from the mountain with the Torah, the Word of God written by the finger of God, in his hands (Ex 31:18). To this day, many Jews celebrate Pentecost by staying awake all night to pray and study the first five books of the Bible.

Pentecost Sunday

Mother's Day

On Lake Macatawa, directly north of our church, is the Heinz pickle factory.  This is a company started by businessman Henry J. Heinz, born in 1844.  He was very prosperous both in business and in life.  If you go to a Pittsburgh Steelers football game today, you will watch it in Heinz Field.  When Henry died a very wealthy man in 1919, his will was read to his family.  It began with this:

“Looking forward to the time when my earthly career will end, I desire to set forth at the very beginning of this will, as the most important item in it, a confession of my faith in Jesus Christ as my Saviour.  I also desire to bear witness to the fact that throughout my life, in which there were unusual joys and sorrows, I have been wonderfully sustained by my faith in God through Jesus Christ.  This legacy was left me by my consecrated mother, a woman of strong faith, and to it I attribute any success I have attained.”[1]

This Mother’s Day, we are going focus on the role of mothers in the faith of their children and grandchildren, while realizing that all believing women, not just mothers, are important parts of the body of Christ.  We celebrate mothers today because many times they are unsung heroes.  Often it is their sacrifices that drive the success of those around them.  I know that is true of me.  I love my mother and she has had a profound impact on who I am.

[1] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 842). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

Mother's Day

The Nativity

The big question that is always on my mind during the Christmas season is, “How do you tell the Christmas story in a way that is clear, captivating, and enlightening, while keeping it fresh for those who have heard it many times?”

It is the greatest story that has ever been told!
 
Then, I came across I Tim 4:13 again, where Paul exhorts his young apprentice, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.”
 
“Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture.”  I thought to myself, “Could it be that simple? Could we just read the Christmas story this morning?”  So I went to work compiling the story, using five passages from four different books of the Bible.  I have chosen the New Living Translation because of its readability and because it will sound fresh to some of you who know the story well.
 
What you will hear is 100% Scripture with no commentary.  These are God’s words, not mine. All I have done is pulled together everything about Jesus’ birth, and ordered it in a logical way.

 

Christmas 2013