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Showing posts from January, 2020

The King's Speech

Ruins of the Synagogue in Capernaum The pastor of one of the largest churches in America once said to me: “For a church to be successful and grow it needs the right leader in the right place at the right time with the right method.” And that is exactly what we see taking place in Jesus’ kingdom movement as recorded in Matthew 4:12-17. Listen for God’s word to you… Now when Jesus   heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.   He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali,   so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:   “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,      on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—   the people who sat in darkness      have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death      light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” The first

The Power of Relationships

The Institute for American Church Growth conducted a survey a number of years ago. They asked 10,000 people what led them into the church. 79% said a friend or relative invited them to a worship service. If I were to ask the same question right now, many of us might respond in a similar fashion. And if I were to ask how you came into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, many of you would probably identify some person who was very influential in that process. There is great power in personal relationships. And all of us might benefit if we made a commitment to improving our relationships as part of our vision for 2020. In a way, our mission as a church is all about relationships. In fact, there is not one part of our mission statement that does not have to do with personal relationships. Four years ago, we set forth our mission in this way… Stowe Community Church Develops loving followers of Christ who Celebrate through worship Grow through teaching Co

Three Surprises at Jesus' Baptism

Perhaps you have already figured this out about me… I love doing baptisms! First, because baptisms often involve children… and I love children. Second, because baptism is all about beginning our spiritual journey… and I love beginnings. Third, because baptisms always involve surprises. You never know what is going to happen at a baptism. If it’s an infant baptism, the child might cry through the whole thing, or they might be perfectly behaved as the Dabrowski twins were last month. If it is an older child being baptized, you really don’t know what they are going to do. One Sunday, many years ago, I baptized a whole family of children. When I got to the youngest one, a nine year old boy named Ryan, he saw how much water I had used with his siblings, so as I poured the water over his head he quickly moved his tie aside because he didn’t want to get it wet. The congregation busted out laughing. So, there are always surprises at a baptism, and Jesus’ baptism was no exception, as M

The Power of the Word

A Polish woman once shared this story with Winston Churchill’s grandson: I was a girl of just twelve, living in the Ghetto at the time of the Uprising as the Nazi storm-troopers were attacking us to take us to concentration camps.  Whenever your grandfather broadcast over the BBC we would all crowd around the radio.  I could not understand English but I knew that if my family and I were to have any hope of coming through this war, it depended entirely on this strong, unseen voice that I could not understand. [1] That story says something to me about the power of the word, even a word we may not understand at first. That is what our Gospel reading for today is all about from John 1:1-18. Listen for God’s word to you… In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   He was in the beginning with God.   All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being   in him