Here is Water. Should You Be Baptized?

Here is Water. Should You Be Baptized?

Matthew 3:13-17 In the 1994 movie, “The Lion King,” Semba, the lion cub, was forced away from his home and he eventually forgot his calling.  Thanks to Rafiki, the baboon, Semba reclaimed his calling and found his purpose. Rafik took him down to a pool of water and told him to look into it and there he would see his father. Semba was skeptical because his father was dead.  At first, he just saw his reflection in the water, but then he began to hear his father’s voice speaking to him from the heavens, reminding him of who he was and the unique calling he had in life. From that day on, Semba was inspired, and he decided to become all that he was meant to be, the King of the Jungle. One of the most important moments or days or times in anyone’s life happens when we realize who we are. Last Sunday in the Reach service we sang, “I Am a Child of God.”  The day we affirm that each of us belongs to God and that God has a purpose in mind for each of us, that is a special day. When you realize that out of the billions of people that are in this world, God knows you by name and has mad you for a purpose, that is the day you should never forget. I was ten years old when God began stirring those thoughts inside of me.   I asked the Lord into my life and asked him to forgive me of my sins.  I was baptized in a small pool with moss growing on...
Living with a Contagious Spirit

Living with a Contagious Spirit

Living With a Contagious Spirit July 14, 2019 Romans 12:2; Acts 4:8-13 “Misery loves company,” as the saying goes, but I think happiness loves company even more.  Happy people want to be around happy people. All of us have those times when we feel like someone ought to throw a penalty flag on the world for piling on.  We feel roughed up. We all handle those times differently.  I tend to retreat and want time alone, but if I am around people, the kind of person I need to be around is someone with joy.  I need to be around someone with laughter.  I need to be around someone that has a contagious spirit. Years ago, “The British Medical Journal” published an article that stated that knowing someone happy makes you 15.3% more likely to be happy yourself. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:zLQTi7XmAVYJ:articles.latimes.com/2008/dec/05/science/sci-happy5+Contagious&hl=en&gl=us&strip=1 The co-author of the study, Harvard sociologist Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis, wrote, “Your emotional state depends not just on actions and choices you make, but also on actions and choices of other people.” (Ibid) I don’t know why it took a Harvard study to figure that out.  “Everybody knows, “If Mama, aint’ happy, nobody’s happy, right?” But that Harvard study did find that happy people live longer, even those that have a chronic illness. (Ibid) The study showed that happy people were effective in spreading their good cheer and that the happiest people were at the center of large social networks.   The study concluded that in many regards, happiness is like a contagious disease. (Ibid) Well, there you are.  Happiness is contagious.  With that little bit of knowledge, those who...
The Blessing of Boundaries

The Blessing of Boundaries

June 30, 2019 Dr. Michael Helms Genesis 2:15-17 When I was a boy, I played a lot of yard football and baseball. It didn’t take but a few minutes to mark off boundaries for a football field or establish bases for our baseball game. But sometimes during the game, there was always some dispute about whether the ball or the person went in bounds or out-of-bounds. Somehow, the boundaries seemed to get moved depending on who scored. Everywhere we look, there are boundaries. There are areas where we are allowed to go and not go. Now we can look at boundaries one of two ways.  They are either designed to limit our freedom or to keep us safe. Which is it? Take the boundary markers on the roads, for example.  Are they designed to limit our freedom or to keep us safe? What if we had no road signs, no rules, and just roads?  What would the result be?  We would have chaos, accidents,  traffic jams, and road rage like we have never seen. Without Boundaries There Would Be Chaos The Genesis story of the Garden of Eden helps us understand the importance of boundaries.    This story teaches that if God had not established boundaries, there would be chaos. Out of chaos, God brought order as he created the earth.  Through the created order, boundaries were established. God separated the light from the darkness (1:5). God separated water from water (1:7) and called the dry ground “land” and the gathered water he called “seas” (1:10). God placed living creatures on the land according to their kinds. He placed livestock and wild animals...
Faith for the Skeptic

Faith for the Skeptic

June 23, 2019 John 20:24-31 Thomas was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. He’s often called “Doubting Thomas.” A better description of Thomas might be that he was a skeptic. I understand what it’s like to be a skeptic. I am a skeptic at heart. My first inclination is to question, and that’s not always a bad thing. That’s better than being gullible. Because I have this in common with Thomas, he’s an important person to me. You would think it would have been easy for Thomas to have faith. He’d been with Jesus for three years. He’d seen Jesus turn water into wine, feed thousands of people with a few fish and a few loaves of bread. He’d seen Jesus make the lame to walk and the blind to see. He’d seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead. After Jesus was crucified, Thomas was like the other disciples. He was devastated and afraid. While all the disciples huddled together in a locked room after the crucifixion, Thomas left them. Perhaps he found some solace in solitude or with family. So, after Jesus was raised from the dead and met up with the disciples, Thomas wasn’t with them. Soon, he returned. No doubt, he heard the news, and he came back to see if it was true. When the disciples saw him again, they told him. “We’ve have seen the Lord.” Thomas responded with the words of a skeptic. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger into his side, I will not believe it” (John 20:25 NIV). I understand Thomas. “Give me some proof....
Compassion: It’s a Messy Word

Compassion: It’s a Messy Word

Matthew 9:35-36 June 16, 2019 Jesus once told the story of a man that was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. He was beaten and robbed and left for dead. Two religious people came by. They may have felt bad for him, but neither did anything for him. But later, a Samaritan, a man of another race, came by and attended to the man’s wounds, put him on his donkey, and carried him to a nearby Inn. The Samaritan gave money to the innkeeper and asked him to care for the man. He told the innkeeper he would pay more when he came back through if necessary. Jesus told this story to a man that had asked him, “Who is my neighbor?” When Jesus asked him which of the three men was the neighbor to the wounded man, he responded with a simple but appropriate answer. It was the one that had shown compassion. One of the things we learn about compassion from this story is that showing compassion can be messy. Think about it. The Samaritan attend to his wounds. He used his wine and what he had to bandage up the man’s injuries. That was messy. Any time we attend to someone’s wounds, whether they are physical, emotional, or psychological, it’s messy. He had to change his schedule. Have you ever had to change your flight, leave your vacation early, cancel an important date? It’s messy, right? Would you do that to help a stranger? The Samaritan altered his schedule. Then he had to sacrifice his money. That’s messy. A lot of us don’t want to give away...
The Confession of a Sin Addict

The Confession of a Sin Addict

June 9, 2019 The Confession of a Sin Addict Romans 7:21-8:1 If we patterned our church services after a twelve step program like Alcoholics Anonymous, someone might stand up and introduce themselves each Sunday morning like this: Hello. My name is Michael, and I am addicted to sin. People in a twelve-step program know that they are powerless over their addiction, and without the help of God, they will not overcome it. As I have studied the life of the Apostle Paul, I believe he would have been at home in a local chapter of any twelve-step group meeting. Paul was a recovering religious addict. Before his conversion to being a disciple of Jesus, he was addicted to following the religious rules of the Jewish Law. Every waking moment of his life was spent making sure he didn’t break a single one of God’s commandments. You might ask, “Isn’t that a good thing? Here’s the problem. The Law wasn’t just the Ten Commandments and the other rules and regulations we find in the first few books of the Bible. The religious leaders created hundreds of new rules for people which they placed around the Law called a hedge. The theory was if these rules were unbroken, then a person would not break God’s Law. Take, for example, the commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy,” Exodus 20:8 (NIV) Well, the religious leaders made up all kinds of rules to surround that law. They made up rules about how far people could walk on the Sabbath and how much you could carry on the Sabbath. If you walked...