Scout Sunday: Do Your Best!

Most of you are probably familiar with the Boy Scout motto—always be prepared. You might not be as familiar with the Cub Scout motto though, which is—do your best! That’s not just good advice for Scouts; that’s biblical advice for life!

The Bible says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV). And then in the New Testament: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord not for men” (Colossians 3:23 NIV). I really like the Message translation of this verse, which says, “Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God” (Colossians 3:23 MSG).


Getting Into God’s Word (3)

If you haven’t been here all this month, I started off this year talking about the Bible. Like it says in your bulletin, the Bible is the most-read, most-loved and most controversial book of all time. In America, Bibles are everywhere. You can find them in grocery stores, prisons, and motel rooms. They’re available in all sizes, shapes, translations, and versions—leather-bound, hard-cover or paperback. Every year the Bible outsells every other book. Last year 500 million Bibles were published in the world in 18,000 different languages. In America we are inundated with the word of God. It’s everywhere. Yet millions of people still miss the blessing of the Bible.


Getting Into God’s Word (2)

The Bible is the most-read, most-loved and most controversial book of all time. Almost everybody has one and everybody has questions about it. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about this ancient book, I’m glad you’re here and I hope I can help answer some of those questions this month. I also want to help you discover how the Bible can make a difference in your life!

Last Sunday, I talked about our need for the Bible, the nourishment that we can derive from the Bible, and the nature of the Bible. The Bible is unlike any other book ever published or printed because the Bible contains the very words and thoughts of God. The Bible is God’s book and God’s voice in the world. The Bible “never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21 NIV).

The question today is—how do we know that?


Getting Into God’s Word (1)

I hope that your New Year is off to a good start for you. And there’s nothing better you could be doing on the first Sunday morning of 2013 than worshipping with God’s people. And I don’t think there is any better place to do that, than right here at the Grove. I hope that’s the experience you have as we worship together each week. Because we’re glad you’re here.

For 65 hours one October several years ago, students at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, read the Bible aloud at a crossing in the heart of the university campus. Standing under a tent and reading into a microphone in 30-minute shifts, they read from Genesis to Revelation.

Erica Wothen, a senior student and member of His House Christian Fellowship, led more than 200 students in the event. Erica said, “We came together to read the Word. We didn’t worry about what we would say or do. We just read and watched God move.” (Christian Standard, January 2011).


New Years 2013

Kenny Rodgers once recorded a song titled, “I am the greatest.” The song tells the story of a happy little boy who went out into the field wearing a baseball cap. In one hand he carried a baseball and, in the other, his trusty bat. His face bore a look of tremendous confidence. Cocking his bat, he tossed the ball into the air, saying, “I’m the greatest player in the world!” Then he swung and missed. “Strike one,” he said. He picked up the ball, examined it, and then threw it into the air again. As he swung, he repeated, “I’m the greatest player in the world.” Once again he missed. “Strike two,” he said. This time, he stopped to examine his bat as if looking for a hole in it. Then he picked up the ball, adjusted his cap, and tossed the ball into the air for the third time. He repeated again, “I’m the greatest player in the world,” and swung with all his might—and missed for the third straight time. “That’s strike three.” It’s supper time and his momma calls him in. The little boy starts home with his bat and ball. Now, most boys might be discouraged, but this boy said, “I am the greatest, that is fact, but even I didn’t know I pitch like that!”


Cast of Characters (Part 4)

If you’re just joining us, we’ve spent the month of December getting to know the colorful cast of characters associated with the birth of Christ. The story of Christmas is wrapped around people—real life people. Common people whose lives are marked by unexpected surprises, unusual signs, and unbelievable stories. And in the midst of them all… hovering over them all… is the writer and director of it all. God.

We’ve seen how God chose Mary, a humble Hebrew girl, to be the mother of his own Son. How he spoke to Joseph, a confused carpenter, encouraging him to take Mary as his wife. How he sent the angels to announce the birth of the Savior to unassuming shepherds keeping watch over their sheep in the fields nearby. There’s just one more group of cast members in the Nativity story that we’ve yet to see—the Magi, the Wise Men from the east. The Magi come cloaked in magic and mystery.


Cast of Characters (Part 3)

This December—between the presents, lights, reindeer and Ralphie—we’ve been getting to know the cast of characters God chose to play the most memorable roles in the greatest story ever told. A small-town carpenter, a teenage girl, and more to come. They were common people in the hands of an uncommon God. They became characters in a story written and directed by God. And I think that we find our stories in theirs.

Mary reminds us that even in difficult circumstances, if we will surrender our hearts and lives to God—allowing him to write our story—then Jesus will step into our world and change our lives forever. Josephs illustrates how, even when we are hurt and confused, God’s voice longs to be heard; that God will speak to us and our situation, if we will listen and obey. But the story isn’t over.


Cast of Characters (Part 2)

This time of year is always special. Families all have their different traditions: decorating the Christmas tree, hanging stockings, traveling to visit family and friends. You may enjoy driving around the neighborhood, looking at the twinkling lights decorating people’s homes.  As you drive around the town, you inevitably come across various nativity scenes, displaying the birth of Jesus. Many churches throughout the community will often tell the story of Jesus’ birth through dramas and children’s plays, reenacting those fateful events.

The cast of characters associated with the story of Jesus’ birth is colorful and memorable. We recognize them by their unique speaking parts. With dramatic words, the Angels take center stage to announce the birth of the Savior. They appear to Joseph to announce that the name of the child would be Jesus. The angel Gabriel makes the unforgettable announcement to Mary. An angelic choir interrupts the shepherds, singing, praises to God and goodwill toward men. Mary offers a beautiful hymn. The wise men ask to see the newborn King. The shepherds become early evangelists—spreading the news of Jesus birth.


Cast of Characters (part 1)

Each December as Christmas gets closer and closer the story of Jesus’ birth is told many times and many ways. Maybe you enjoy reading the story from the Bible with your family on Christmas Eve, or attending a Christmas Cantata, or a living Nativity scene. One of my favorite retellings of Jesus birth is the movie, The Nativity Story. I think it captures the feel of the ancient world and brings the cast of characters to life.

The story of Christmas is wrapped around people—real life people. Servants, shepherds and sages. Common people whose stories are marked by scandal, stumble, and spectacle. And in the midst of them all… hovering over them all… is the hero of it all. God. Shaper. Sovereign. Savoir of sinking hearts. God. Passing out high callings, second chances, and moral compasses to all comers and takers. These were common people in the hands of an uncommon God. If we look closely enough at this cast of characters, we find our story in theirs. We find our hope where they found their hope—in the hands of an infant God laying in a manger.


Stress Relief

Now that Thanksgiving has passed and Black Friday has turned into Broke Saturday, I think that we can safely say that the Christmas season is in full swing. While Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be the most stressful time of the year for many people. Shopping pressure, holiday stress and financial strain can leave you feeling more burned-out than lit-up.

Women seem to get more stressed this time of year than men do. In fact, I heard a story about these two men whose families lived next door.  The husbands opted to go sailing while their wives went Christmas shopping. An unexpected storm surprised the sailors. Before long, the weather started getting rough, and their tiny ship was tossed around like the Minnow on Gilligan’s Island. While heading toward the harbor, the boat hit a sandbar and grounded. Both men jumped overboard into the icy water and began to push and shove in an attempt to get the sailboat into deeper water. Knee-deep in mud and repeatedly bounced against the hull by unfriendly waves, one of them turned to the other and said with a smile, “Sure beats Christmas shopping, doesn’t it?”