Monday, March 28, 2011

Awww, Grow Up! - Craving the Good Stuff

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, March 27, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Chip Moody

Scripture References:
1 Peter 2:1-3

“How much farther?”

“He’s touching me.  Mom, make him stop.”

“Dad, Joey just threw up.”

“You’re a poo-poo head.”

“Stop calling me a poo-poo head!”

If you have ever taken a long road trip with children, then you have observed the phenomena firsthand.  Once the adventure of beginning the trip wears off, the whining and fighting begins.

Now answer me this:  Is this life not like a road trip, and we are all in the car together. In fact, the Bible calls our time on this planet our sojourn. Sometimes things are ok, after we’ve had a good meal and a nap.  But other times we carp and snipe at each other.  And when we are under stress it gets worse.  We become people no one wants to be around.

When the apostle Peter wrote to his Christian audience, he had a specific purpose: to bring hope and calm and healing to a hurting people. People who had, under the stress of persecution, turned their emotions on each other. Carping, sniping, gossip, slander. As often happens when a group is under stress, they forget who the enemy is and treat each other badly.

So what is Peter’s prescription?  1 Peter 2: 1-3 reads, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.  Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

He lists five destructive behaviors we commit while on the road trip called life.
Malice:  Being mean to people for whatever reason
Deceit:  Lying, misleading others, being untruthful            
Hypocrisy:  Espousing one set of values, but living another
Envy:  Jealousy over what others have in their life
Slander:  Saying reputation-destroying things about people that aren’t true

Peter says we must rid ourselves of these things.  The road trip of life is hard enough without behaviors like this ruining the journey for others. 

And once he tells us what to rid from ourselves, he asks us to crave something different. Craving—let’s look at his illustration.

When a new baby is hungry, and is first put to the breast or bottle, it doesn’t know what to do at first.  Mom has to help those first few drips into that infant’s mouth.  Once that happens, and the child learns how to gain nourishment, then there is no going back.  That child will become ravenous at the mere sight of their source of food.  All else is forgotten in the child’s yearning for milk.  The craving for nourishment is natural for growth, and that is true in our walk with God as well.  Look again at verses 2-3.

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Now it would be very simple for Peter to tell us to simply “sit quietly and BE NICE!” during our sojourn. But he does not follow this tactic. He does something far more effective.

His following verses are an admonition: Craving spiritual milk comes from remembering WHO YOU ARE! Take a look at the verses that follow:

As you come to him, the living Stone . . .  you. . . are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.. .  you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 
 1 Peter 2:4-5: 9.  

So what does this mean for us?

We are to get rid of the cranky, whiny, meanness of spirit that stress can lead us to. We are to replace it with a CRAVING. A craving to consume the milk of Jesus’ own holiness as our spiritual milk, our nourishment, our fuel for life and growth.

The Bible says that under stress we turn to the wrong things.  We act badly and sin against our brothers and sisters.  (Ignore their needs, gossip about them, make snide comments, fail to support them in their walk with God. We get hung up on their faults and foibles and fail to see our own.)

Instead God asks us to CRAVE the pure milk of Christ, especially now that we have had a taste of it.   Why? Because that’s who we are.

The most important aspect of this whole subject of growth is one I have not mentioned yet. So far, WE have been the subject of the conversation. But I don’t want to be guilty of a self-help gospel. The growth that comes as a result of taking in the nourishment of God’s word and God’s presence in our life through the Holy Spirit –the growth is from God. Not from us.

      “He who began a good work in you will continue it until the day of Christ Jesus.”    Phil. 1.6   

Do we not have an amazing God?  Is he not awesome who longs for us to receive the maturity he is ready to hand us. We need simply be willing to deny our selfish instincts and embrace who we are as apprentices of Jesus his Son.


Jesus did not give his life on the cross, and rise from the dead, so that we could stay stunted and helpless.  He did so that we might live a new life.  Abundant life. And if we are mired in the junk of Malice, Deceit, Hypocrisy, Envy, Slander, then Peter has a harsh sounding exhortation to us:  GET RID OF THAT GARBAGE. 

Instead take into your lives the PURE milk of God’s truth and grow up!  The riches of God are astounding and are waiting to be claimed by his child.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Awww Grow Up! - Saying Yes to No

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, March 20, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Don Allen

Scripture Reference:  Ephesians 4:17-24

So can you pass the marshmallow test?  You may remember this experiment from yesterday’s message. What would you do if someone placed you in a quiet room for 15 minutes with a marshmallow on the plate (or for those who share my temptations, a Bavarian Chocolate Kreme from Dunkin Donuts)? If you could do it for 15 minutes, you would be rewarded with a second helping. Could you do it?

Yesterday’s message from Ephesians 4:17-24 focused on a major tension in our journey from childhood faith to adult faith. That’s right; I’m talking about self-control. You can also call it delayed gratification. Saying ‘no’ to something we want. Or even giving to others, even if you have to do without something.

Without self-control, we find it hard to manage our time. Keep our jobs. Keep a promise. Stay married. Or single.

Or growing in Christ. So it is no surprise that one of the fruit (results) of the Holy Spirit’s work in you is self-control (see Galatians 5:22-25).

Which is why I hope you will join me in a quest to grow in Christ by saying Yes to No.
I want to get better at saying no. I think you do, too. So let’s encourage one another.

Think for a moment about an obstacle you face in your walk toward maturity in Christ. It’s obvious to you: you know you should say No.

This guilty pleasure may be that trashy TV show. Or whatever keeps you from walking or jogging. Or losing your temper. Or eating that donut. Or  [enter your self-control battle here].

Now find someone, a buddy, and challenge him or her to join you in the “Say Yes To No” effort. Invite your friend to try saying no to just one thing this week. Promise to pray for each other twice a day. Decide to touch bases by phone every other day, just for a couple of minutes: “Did you say No today? Good! Keep it up!”

If you fall down, get up and try again. Keep going until you can so No for seven days straight.
By the way, some church traditions have entered Lent season. That’s a season in which a person gives up something for Christ. So it’s a good time to Say Yes to No.
Let us know how it goes. I’m pulling for you!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Awww Grow Up! Don't Believe Everything You Hear

Click Here to Watch the Awww Grow Up Video from Sunday, March 13, 2011

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, March 13, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Click Here to See the Slide Show of Urban Myth Pictures from the Sermon

Scripture References:  Ephesians 4:11-16 and 1Corinthians 13:11

Don't Believe Everything You Hear!

It’s easy for kids to believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.  Adults tell them the story as truth and so they believe it.  There has to come a time when they start growing up and not longer believe in these types of stories.  There is a time when they need to apply thought and question the things that people tell them. 
It would be nice if that were always true, but we all know it’s not.  Marketers make lots of money by convincing adults to believe things as easily as they did when they were kids.  Of course you’ll lose weight just by taking this magic pill.  Of course we’ll give you a good deal on a car if you’ll just come to our dealership.  Of course you can afford that house with no money down.
Believing these types of lies can hurt you, but there are even worse ones.  There are plenty of cults and false teachers out there who prey on those who aren’t mature in their faith.  People like Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code fame present fiction as fact.  Televangelists sell phony miracles for money.  Athiests such as Richard Dawkins repackage tired old ideas as seductive new ones to sell you on their faithless faith.  Let’s not even get started on the twisted truths and outright lies that come out of politicians on a daily basis.
As Christians, we are called to grow up.  Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:11-16 that we aren’t supposed to be like infants who believe anything that we are told by crafty and deceitful people.  We are supposed to be grown up.  We are supposed to be able to make the right choices.
How do we learn how to make good choices?
How do we grow up in our faith?
How do we become mature believers?
Well, first of all, you just gotta do it!  You can't just hope it will happen.  You can't sit around waiting for some one else to do it for you.  One of the first things an infant learns to do is feed themselves.  As a Christian, you can't expect the pastor to be the one feeding you.  His job is to equip you to feed yourself and others.  There is no magical message from the mountaintop, it's just a set of simple steps that you just keep doing:
Step 1:  Read, read, read, read, read.  Know your Bible.  God provided His Word to us for a reason.  Make this a part of your daily routine.  If you don’t have a copy of the liturgy book that we use at MVCC, you can purchase one in the lobby on Sunday or get one at the local bookstore.  Then, read it each day so you begin to know your Bible.
Step 2:  Ask Questions.  We are called to love our God with all of our Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength.  That third word there is ‘mind’.  Use your brain.  Ask questions.  Struggle with your faith.  Question what you are taught and study yourself.  Never stop learning.
Step 3: Apprentice Yourself.  Walk alongside more experience believers.  Learn what they do.  Visit people in the hospital, serve at a homeless shelter, volunteer to help others.  Begin applying your faith by putting it in action.
Step 4:  You gotta ask someone:  Find a friend, a mentor, an accountability partner or small group.  Begin purposely opening up and inviting them to open up to you.  Encourage each other to grow.  Ask for help in areas where you struggle.  Pray for one another and be willing to speak the truth in love to help each other in your growth.
Step 5:  Rinse, lather, and repeat.  That’s right, keep doing these things.  Growing up is a process, not an event.  Whether you were just baptized or you’ve been a believer for fifty years; keep reading, keep studying, keep questioning, and keep serving.  You still have places to grow. 
Our memory verse this month comes from 1 Corinthians:
When I was a child,
I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child,
I reasoned like a child,
When I became an adult,
I put away childish ways.
It’s time to put away childish ways. 
It’s time to grow up.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Awww Grow Up! - What Does it Mean to Grow Up as a Christian?

The Lazy Apprentice
by Mihaly Munkacsy

Click Here to Watch the 'Awww, Grow Up' Video for Sunday, March 6, 2011

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, March 6, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Chip Moody

Scripture Reference:
Matthew 28:18-20

A Disciple is an Apprentice to the Master:
Would You Be Fired for Loafing?

At the end of the day, on the last day that Jesus met with his disciples following his resurrection, he gave them one last order.  It was their mission statement for the rest of their lives.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."   
Matthew 28:18-20  

Let me point out the “how to” specifics of this Great Commission to “Go, make disciples of all the nations (peoples).”
Step one: Baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
Step two: Teaching them to observe (keep or obey)  all that Jesus commanded his first disciples

Let me put it another way. We make disciples by inaugurating new believers in Jesus into the church through baptism.  Then, we begin teaching them to observe what Jesus taught.

Simple, yes?

Since the day that Jesus spoke these words, those in this world who call Jesus their Lord understand that this mission has not changed.  We are still to go into the world and make disciples for Jesus.

What does this churchy word “disciple” mean anyway?  It means learner, student, or follower. In my opinion, the best word that defines “disciple” is the word apprentice. An apprentice is someone who learns from the Master craftsman. The new young apprentice, who sweeps the carpenter shop floor of sawdust, is beginning his apprenticeship on the bottom, learning the basics of keeping a clean shop. Other apprentices have learned more and are beginning to work on joinery and assembly. Those apprentices who are even further along under the instruction of the Master are doing fine woodcarving and inlaying. Everyone starts at the bottom and learns, working their way to more advanced skills.

Our discipleship is an apprenticeship with Jesus Christ. Becoming a disciple by baptism, we now begin the work of becoming like the Master Jesus in everyway he teaches us.  Unfortunately, the typical Christ-follower throughout history has not been one who has been an apprentice, or gone on to train apprentices of his or her own. We seem to have left that up to professionals that Jesus never intended to be professionals: pastors, missionaries, church elders and church deacons.

So instead of asking you to become instant makers of disciples, I am going to approach this whole subject from the other end of the equation. Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? That is have you become an apprentice to the Master Jesus?

You may be tempted to say, “Sure, I am a Christian, therefore I am a disciple.”  Hmmm . . . you sure? A disciple, by definition, is one who is becoming more like the Master. While you may have become a Christian by conversion, have you become an apprentice of the savior Jesus? Are you and avid learner? Do you watch what he does in scripture and do it in your own life? Are you in the learning mode all the time when it comes to the formation of your character and your actions? Do you learn today from others farther along in the disciple path than you?

I think we have in the church of Jesus, and in this church, people who are only “half-disciples.”  They have embraced the first half of discipleship, but not the second half. They have embraced justification (God’s work to make us right with Him, culminating in our response of baptism) without embracing sanctification (God’s work in us to make us like Jesus).

Let me say that if I am not growing in my knowledge of what Jesus wants, followed by imitation of what he does, then I am half-disciple. I am an apprentice who shows up for work, but once I’m there, I pay no attention to the master in order to learn my craft. But my Bible says that growth is expected of a disciple. It is inherent in the word apprentice.

HEAR YE:  A disciple does not stand still in his or her faith walk; a disciple learns and grows always. 

Now, knowing that we are to be growing, I have to face the reality of my resistance. Yes, I resist growing. I resist it because it requires two of my most prized possessions that I don’t want to share:




I resist giving my effort and time. I have other things I like to do, other priorities.  Out of my mouth I say Jesus is Lord; but out of my schedule I say, “My busy-ness is Lord.”

It is obvious that being an apprentice is a lordship choice.

Now, I have heard the Great Commission used nefariously. I have heard it used to badger people into giving to the building fund, for raising money for missionaries, for getting volunteers for a church program. None of these are bad things; in fact they are all necessary in their place. However, the Great Commission says the apprenticeship task is to learn “what Jesus has commanded us.”

                        --About living one’s neighbor, and even one’s enemy
                        --Being a peacemaker
                        --Loving others with acts of service
                        --How to pray
                        --How to persevere in tough times
                        --How to manage your possessions and your power
                        --How to worship in Spirit and in truth

So, as you view your spiritual condition, are you moving forward or standing still (which seems like regressing to me)?  It’s not a hard question. Either we are doing our apprenticeship work with the Master or we are loafing on the job.

If my apprenticeship to Jesus were like my workaday job, would I be likely to be fired? I’m not saying Jesus would fire his people from being disciples. However, he can’t use us if we are malingerers standing in the corner, always waiting for break time. 

Yet he can use me even if my start is simply sweeping up the shop.

Now where is that broom?