Monday, April 25, 2016

What Makes You Happy?

This week we begin a new exciting sermon series on what makes you happy. What makes you happy can either be a question or a statement.  Some of us already know and have a clear picture of exactly what makes us happy.  We are content, joyful, and at peace with our daily lives. However for most of us we are not too clear on exactly what makes us happy.  We might not be totally miserable but there just seems to be something missing from our lives.  Over the next six weeks we are going to try to inform you of exactly what will make you happy. Please do not take offense to this outlandish statement as what right does someone else has to advise you what will make up your happiness. But for some of us, many of us, we don’t really know what makes us happy. It’s sort of a hit or miss kind of thing. But here is the litmus test: if you keep trying different things to make yourself happy and you’re not happy. If you haven’t reached your goal of happiness then it is possible you are missing the mark. Everywhere we look, TV, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, companies are spending trillions of dollars to tell us or sell us something that they guarantee will make us happy. We have all fallen for it. If we are honest we have all said or thought  if only I had, I drove, I wore, I looked like, I achieved, then and only then will I be happy. Most of the time when we get there we find out what we thought was going to make us happy failed to fulfill us. Even when we have acquired the thing we put of hope of happiness in, we still might not be happy. We might feel accomplished and proud of our achievement but not happy.  Many of us have forgotten either temporary or chronically, what makes us happy. True happiness cannot be marketed or sold. So in the consumer driven world in which we live, you will not hear advertiser tell you this simple fact. You will not hear them talk about what truly, honestly, unequivocally will make us happy. We have all heard the truth that happiness cannot be bought. So if happiness can’t be bought how do we obtain it? Join us for this exciting six week adventure as we look at what makes us happy. Happiness just might be closer and easier to acquire than you think.
Peace, Love and Happiness:


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

“How Do We Forgive Someone Who Hurt Us?”

We believe in a Messiah that tells us to turn the other cheek but we live in a world that tells us to hit back harder on their cheek. Our society wants us to turn to revenge and retaliation. Make them pay for what they did to us. The problem is that even if we do seek revenge or strike back, the pain of what they did to us is still there. The emotional scars of what happened to us are still there. Even after vengeance, it’s not over, there is still lost we have to work through. So what if there was another way of dealing with those who have hurt us? It brings us to our big question for today: How can I forgive those who have hurt me? In many ways forgiveness is at the core of Christianity. If there was no forgiveness then none of us would be here nor would we be worthy enough to call ourselves followers of Jesus. It is one thing to receive forgiveness but it is another to give forgiveness. The disciples asked Jesus that question how many times should we forgive someone? This indicates that forgiveness has traditionally been at the center point of our religion.
Forgiveness is one of those topics that it is easy to talk about but hard to put into practice. We all can preach forgiveness and agree that forgiveness is essential to our relationship with God and others until we are hurt. When we or a love one is hurt we want revenge. We want the person or persons to pay. There is a huge difference between wanting or demanding justice and wanting revenge. Wanting justice is fine and normal but if we are honest we want more. We have an instinct for justice. That is who we are as humans and God promises justice. Without a system of consequences for wrongful acts then chaos and anarchy rules and peace and security evaporates. We live in a world where there are some messed up things and messed up people who mess with our minds, our security, and our safety which makes it very hard to forgive. Especially when there is physical and sexual abuse it multiplies and when children are abused it goes off the scale. Forgiveness does not mean the perpetrator should not have legal consequences, relationships boundaries and consequences, or letting people off the hook for their actions. Forgiveness is not letting any one get away with something. It is just the opposite. Forgiveness is the hardest thing to do as a Christian. Seriously, feeding people, serving people, clothing people, that is all easy compared to forgiving people. Anger and resentment feels right at the moment but eventually it eats away to you. We feel we reserve the right to be mad. True. But anger reveals a flaw in our understanding of what forgiveness is. It is not letting people off the hook but it is letting people know that their actions or inaction's resulted in pain and hurt. It is letting them know that what they did to you will no longer define who you are or hinder your love or trust for someone else. When it comes to forgiveness, we cannot do this by ourselves. We need help from God, from professionals and the power of the Holy Spirit. We need the encouragement of others. We need to fully understand that forgiveness cannot happen overnight. It is a long process with many stages. Join us for this last part of our sermon series as we lay out the steps and stages of forgiveness so we may all experience the peace in life we all deserve.
Peace, Love & Happiness:


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Can American Christianity Stand Up to Persecution?

One of the questions asked by Christians can American Christianity stand up to persecution? If you are a believer and follower of Jesus in American culture it may seem you are under attack. Social media paints Christianity as extremist, judgmental, racists that are only self-serving and closed minded. We are portrayed as agenda pushing radicals. Some in our society view the church as a money hungry financial machine that prey on the weak and vulnerable.  Others view Christianity as talk and no action. Movies have reduced the Christian to sad stereotype. There once was a time in America when attempting to follow Jesus was honorable, noble, respectable, and a good thing. Today Christianity in our nation has been reduced to a bad label. Who is responsible for our current condition? Both sides: while mocked, made fun of, our abilities questioned, and having to stand in the face of opposition, we haven’t really helped our cause out much. Any opposition or attack on our abilities or character can be seen as persecution. The true meaning of persecution is more than an unpopular view or negative post on social media.
Today in 2016 Christians globally are being truly persecuted in a variety of settings. The onslaught of ISIS it is happening daily. ISIS has been around for many years and no stranger to the American government. But in the last year they have gone to a higher level. ISIS has taken over Syria. They have destroyed all Christian artifacts from the city of Nineveh. They have destroyed every Christian tombs, church, ancient artifacts that have been preserved for thousands of years.  On Easter Sunday 69 people were killed and 341 Christian were injured in bombing at a neighborhood park in Islamabad, Pakistan as children and families gathers to celebrate the Easter holiday. Christians and Jews are being systematically raped, burned, drowned, and killed on the spot for their belief in Jesus Christ. This is not 1000’s but 2016. Is it coming to America? Why wouldn’t it? The fear of intolerance has opened the front door. This is not about spreading fear or hate. It is not about Islam as a whole. This is not some type of outlandish psycho prophecies saying there will be beheadings in American streets. Nor is this a political statement about the US leadership. However it is not out of the possibility that Christians will be ouster sized, ridicule, and loss of finances, censorship of our voice.  In Houston a judge ordered a pastor to turn over his sermons. So why should we be shocked to see a pastor arrested and imprisoned over a sermon they have preached in the near future.
Brings us back to our question which has not been answered? Can American Christianity stand up to persecution? Simply No! Not in its’ present state. Persecution can’t stop the gospel from spreading, but it can discourage God’s people if we are not prepared to face it. Join us Sunday as we attempt to address our current predicament in relevant ways. We will uncover things we as followers of Jesus can do to lovingly endure in the face of persecution, not fold under fear and intimidation, and stand graciously in the face of opposition, and not embarrass God in the process.  Real answers to tough questions is the only way we can grow, learn, and share the gospel of love, grace and hope.
Peace, Love and Happiness: