Sabbath Sunday

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Exodus 20:8-11 (NIV)

One of the biggest innovations in the book of Exodus, compared to how the rest of the world lived at the time, was the concept of the Sabbath, a day of rest and worship for everybody. It just had not occurred to any of the empires of the time, that people deserved rest from their labor. So God, with Israel, introduces the idea that people did not exist only to work, but to enjoy life and God, and enjoy rest. Later on, the writer of Hebrews would use the Sabbath imagery to present the idea of a higher type of rest, God’s rest (Hebrews 4:1-11). All this is to say, rest is at the core of the life of faith. We are not only encouraged, but commanded to rest. This is why this Sunday we are not having a worship gathering, but we are taking the day off to give a break to all of our incredible volunteers.

As a relatively small community, we have core group of volunteers that serve almost every week in different roles in order to make our services happen. As a pastor, I’m so thankful for that and never want to take it for granted. So this July 4th weekend seemed like a great opportunity to take a break. This does not mean we should not worship that day, we are just encouraging you to worship wherever you are. If the Scriptures are right, wherever you are, God’s spirit is there too! Keep an eye out early on Sunday morning for an e-mail with some suggestions and prompts for that day.

Grace + Peace

Joel

PS: Another way of honoring the work of our volunteers is to step up and help! If you would like to become a part of one of our service teams, sign up to serve by clicking here.

Psalm 23 Resources

This past Sunday we started a new series going through Psalm 23 verse by verse. Although Psalm 23 only has 6 verses, there is a wealth of wisdom to be mined from it. We want you give you the tools to explore the Psalm further so we are sharing some of the resources we are going to be using (besides the Bible of course) during this series in case you want to explore the Psalm further. These are books, videos and sermon series that are helping us shape the content of this series. Check them out and reach out to us if you have any questions.

1. Psalm 23 Sermon Series by Bloom Church.

I listened to this sermon series years ago and God used it to encourage me at a time I needed it the most. A lot of the main ideas for our series were inspired by the content here. Plus, Andrew Arndt, who was the pastor at Bloom at the time is one of my favorite preachers.

https://bloomchurch.bandcamp.com/album/psalm-23

2. Life Without Lack by Dallas Willard

This is a posthumous work by Dallas Willard, the famous Christian philosopher, based on a series of talks he gave years ago about Psalm 23. The book doesn’t break down the Psalm as much as it provides the theological context to understand how the claims of Psalm 23 can be true.

https://www.amazon.com/Life-Without-Lack-Living-Fullness/dp/1400208211/

3. The Message of the Psalms by Walter Brueggemann

This is a commentary of the book of Psalms by one of the leading OT scholars in the world.

https://www.amazon.com/Message-Psalms-Augsburg-Testament-Studies/dp/0806621206/

4. Walking with God in the Desert by Ray Vander Laan

Ray Vander Laan is a historian that did these fascinating tour/documentary/teachings about the Hebrew background of the Scriptures. His series walking with God in the desert in particular illuminates so much of what it looks like to be God’s sheep, pay attention specifically to his teaching on what the line about “green pastures” really means.

https://www.thattheworldmayknow.com/walking-with-god-in-the-desert

5. The Liturgy of Abundance and the Myth of Scarcity

While this article does not quote Psalm 23 directly, much of the second half of this past Sunday’s sermon was based on Walter Brueggemann’s perspective of abundance/scarcity in the Scriptures, it is definitely worth a read,

https://www.christiancentury.org/article/2012-01/liturgy-abundance-myth-scarcity

We hope these resources are helpful and that you gain a deeper understanding of the truths of Psalm 23 and its implications for our lives.

Receiving and Delivering and the Lord's Supper (A Good Friday Reflection)

Receiving and Delivering and the Lord's Supper (A Good Friday Reflection)

"Tonight churches all over the world gather to celebrate “Good Friday.” I’m not sure it was that good of a day originally, a just man was betrayed, tortured and executed while being innocent. And yet, without the death of that man, you and I have no hope, so I guess it was a good Friday after all, if not for Jesus, at least for you and I. And you might wonder: what’s the point of going to church on a Friday?"

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

This year our church will observe Ash Wednesday for the first time. In the Church calendar, Ash Wednesday kicks off Lent, the period of 40 days leading up to Easter when the Church prepares to remember Jesus’ death and resurrection by entering a time of fasting and repentance. Ash Wednesday gets its name from the practice of marking people’s foreheads with the sign of the cross with ashes.

Ruins

Ruins

Pastor Joel continues his thoughts while on his trip to Israel.

One of the things that have surprised me the most during this trip is how many of the historical sites we visit, from ancient buildings to the churches that were built later on to commemorate certain events, are second and third iterations. First time I noticed this was when we visited the site of the village of Capernaum.

Tourist Trap

Tourist Trap

Pastor Joel continues his thoughts while on his trip to Israel.

If you’ve been keeping up, I’m in the middle of a sort of pilgrimage across the Holy Land. I’m trying to blog some of the thoughts and insights that this trip is generating in my mind and heart. Today I want to talk about an experience I had at the Mount of Beatitudes a couple of days ago.

He Was Here

He Was Here

Pastor Joel continues his thoughts while on his trip to Israel.

So as I posted yesterday. I’m currently on a sort of pilgrimage through the Holy Land, and while I’m terrible at journaling, I’m trying to write some blog posts about my experience here. Not necessarily from the perspective of what cool sights we see each day, but more from the perspective of what insights and thoughts being here inspires.

The Rain Is Coming: On Thanksgiving and the Holy Land

The Rain Is Coming: On Thanksgiving and the Holy Land

Pastor Joel shares some of his thoughts while on a mission trip to Israel.

As some of you know, I’m currently on a tour of the Holy Land. And today, which was day 2 but really our first day of traveling in Israel, I sensed that I needed to blog through some of my experiences. If anything else for my own sake to try and remember what God is speaking to me. I don’t like journaling, but blogging feels like the closest thing to it I can do.

Thanksgiving Basket Food Drive

Thanksgiving Basket Food Drive

This year we once again had the privilege of organizing and providing 130 baskets of food for the families of Park Morton. We love our community and it has been an honor to be able to serve our neighbors and friends, the way God calls us to.