Christmastime 2016 at SCC

Another Christmas Season is upon us and SCC is continuing it’s holiday traditions:

  • Sundays at Christmastime: Sundays at 10 AM at the OC Lion’s Club building is our weekly worship service. At Christmastime, the subject of our sermons center upon the message of Christmas and our worship music is many of the traditional Christmas Carols and hymns. Classes for children up to age 12 are offered, but children are also welcomed to stay with their parents.
  • GBHP#5: Saturday, 12/10 from 5:30pm to 8:00pm is our 5th Annual Gingerbread House Party, which also takes place at the Lion’s Club building in West OC off of Airport Rd. Each year we plan a night for families to come and build gingerbread houses together. We provide all the needed materials, something simple for dinner, and we’ll even clean up afterward! We hope you participate with us in this great holiday tradition.
  • Christmas Brunch: After the service on Sunday, 12/18, we will share a meal together. “On What Grounds?” from Berlin will cater the main items, but if you would like to bring something simple as a side dish, there will be a sign-up sheet available the Sunday beforehand. You may also email pastor Kyle.
  • Christmas Eve: Saturday, 12/24, our Christmas Eve Family Candlelight Service will be from 430-530pm. We will sing, hear the Scriptures, and reflect on Christ’s coming. Children will stay in the service as we gather as families in the family of God’s church.
  • No Service on Christmas Day: We do not hold Sunday services on the last Sunday of the year, which is Christmas Day this year. You’re encouraged to worship as a family, or visit another church.

Merry Christmas!

Gingerbread House Party Videos from 2012-2014

GBHP#1

GBHP#2

GBHP#3

GBHP#4

Review and Reflect on Mark 10:32-52

At the end of Mark 10, Jesus continues to teach and heal and expand his ministry. The last few posts have looked at how he has dealt with his disciples’ desire to be given positions of prominence and influence in the new Kingdom that Jesus was going to bring. Jesus has placed a child in front of them on two different occasions to contrast their desire for power and authority. The first time he says whoever welcomes those like children welcomes me, and the second time he says we are to receive the Kingdom of God like little children. But the disciples still believed that Jesus was going to launch a rebellion and overthrow the government in order to establish his own Kingdom militarily and politically. They understood Jesus to be the Messiah, but their understanding of Messiah needed fixed. Jesus doesn’t leave them in their ignorance, but he continues to be patient with them and teach them. In last verses of Mark 10 we see yet again, Jesus telling his disciples the kind of Messiah he is.

Jesus tells them what he is going to do for them, but they fail to understand it completely. In Mark 10:32-34, for the third time, Jesus foretells what he will do. This time he says it will happen in Jerusalem and verse 32 says that’s exactly where they are heading. This isn’t some distant someday, Jesus tells them again about his death because it is going to happen very soon. He describes his death more graphically this time as well. He says he will be mocked, and spit upon. He will be beaten and killed. But, it also says he will rise. This goes against everything the average person believed about the Messiah, yet Jesus continues to teach that as the Messiah, he has to die and he has to rise.

The disciples still don’t understand. It’s almost as if they completely ignored what Jesus was saying about what he was going to do. As soon as Jesus tells them this, two of them, James and John, ask Jesus for a favor. Their request is borne out of a misunderstanding of Jesus’ purpose. He wasn’t going to establish an earthly rule, but since they thought he would, The Disciples’ ask Jesus to make them great. Jesus says, I’m going to die and rise, and the disciples respond by asking for positions of prominence and greatness. In Mark 10:35-45they ask Jesus for a favor and he replies, “What do you want me to do for you?” In Verse 37 they say “When you are in your glory” in other words, “when you become our King, let us sit on your right and left”; “Let us hold the highest positions of power and prestige”. He tells them in verse 38 that they don’t even know what they are asking. Even though he has just explained it to them again, they don’t even realize that he is going to die, so what they are asking is to be killed with him. If they realized that, they certainly wouldn’t have asked it.

In verses 39-40, he asks them if they can drink the same cup and have the same baptism as him. This again is a reference to his death. They say they can, and Jesus says they will. Jesus predicts their deaths. Acts 12:2 says that King Herod put James to death by the sword – this means he was beheaded. Peter was arrested right after this but an angel set him free so he escaped death. John and James were part of the inner circle with Peter. John is not heard of in the book of Acts after chapter 8 so it is assumed he was martyred as well since he was one of the prominent 3 disciples. Jesus told them they would drink the same cup that he drank, and in the book of Acts we see they were killed because they proclaimed Jesus as the Risen Messiah.

But this is far away from Mark 10. Jesus is still teaching them what it means for him to be the Messiah. In verses 41-44, the other disciples are furious that James and John are trying to gain such status so Jesus intervenes and brings perspective. He says that the rulers of this world use their authority for their own purposes, but in the Kingdom of God this will not be the case. The greatest will be the servant and the first will be the slave. Once again, Jesus subverts our understanding of authority, power, and influence. Previously, we talked about the Rich Young Ruler who Jesus told to sell everything because he loved his wealth more than God. The Rich Ruler used his wealth for himself, Jesus says in the Kingdom of God, wealth is for serving others.

Here he says power and influence are demonstrated in humility, sacrifice, and service. Like wealth, power and influence are also to be used for others. Sometimes this is twisted into the idea of a Servant Leader. Some will say that in order to have true influence you have to serve. Jesus isn’t saying this. You don’t serve and act humbly to gain power and influence. Jesus says true power and influence are displayed in humility and service. Where is real power found? In pouring yourself out. A man named Oswald Chambers once said, “The great hindrance in spiritual life is that we will look for big things to do.” Jesus says, receive the Kingdom of God like a child. He put on a towel and washed feet. He doesn’t call us to do great things for God, he calls us to understand the mercy he extends to us as the Messiah. Any greatness achieved individually or as a church will only come from that.

Do you understand what he has done for us and how it affects every aspect of life? If you cry out for his mercy, he will respond. When we understand that mercy it will be translated into a life of humility and service that is powerful enough to change lives, and families, and communities, and even countries. But all of that is secondary. The place we begin, is rightly understanding our Messiah in the way he reveals himself in the Bible, not in any popular misconceptions or personal preferences.

In verse 45, Jesus says one of the greatest statements in the Gospel: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He expressed his power, authority and influence in sacrifice and service. Jesus leveraged his position to gain eternal life for us. Although he is the Messiah, the King of heaven and earth, when he walked on earth he didn’t demand service or submission even though they were rightly due to him. Instead, he served and submitted even to the point of dying as a ransom for us. We typically think of “ransom” in terms of kidnapping, but its more appropriately understood in the Bible in reference to prisoners or slaves. Jesus paid the price of our slavery so we could be set free. Jesus paid the price of our penalty so we could be released. In his death, he rescues us from the penalty of our sin and the slavery to our sinfulness. So when James and John ask Jesus for a favor in verse 36 and Jesus says, “What do you want me to do?” they reply by saying “Make us great!” And Jesus says, you don’t know what you are asking. Ratherthan doing what you ask me to do, I’ll do what you need me to do. Jesus died for James and John and for us, to pay our ransom. James and John eventually come to understand properly Jesus as Messiah and he makes them great through martyrdom as James is beheaded and John is never heard from again after a trip to visit another disciple who was preaching the Gospel. In asking Jesus to make them great, they showed they didn’t understand what Jesus was going to do.

Our church is small, we don’t have much influence in our town, and we are praying for God to grow the church and make us great. But when we pray for this, let us fully understand what we are asking. We’ll be made great by sacrifice, service, selflessness, and humility, not through power and influence. This has very little to do with the size or span of our ministry and everything to do with knowing Jesus.

As Jesus and his disciples continue on toward Jerusalem where all of this is going to happen, they go through Jericho. Here, Jesus has someone else ask him for a favor in Mark 10:46-52This man asks Jesus for a favor to, but this favor is quite different from the one for which the disciples asked. Rather than asking to be made great, this man is asking to be shown mercy.

When he calls out to Jesus, he says calls him “Son of David”. Whether or not the man fully understood what he was saying, the title certainly has Messianic qualities to it. He recognized Jesus’ authority by equating him with David. Instead of asking to be made great, he confesses Jesus’ greatness and asks for mercy. Hearing his cry for mercy, Jesus stops in verse 49. Remember that Jesus is the True King who shows compassion for his people, so even though many people told this guy to be quiet, Jesus hears him. In verse 52, he replies with the same question as in verse 36, “What do you want me to do for you?” James and John wanted power and authority, Bartimaeus wants Mercy.

What do you want me to do? Display your Mercy and make me whole!

The Rich Ruler from verses 17-31 wanted to keep doing his things his own way and also get eternal life. He had everything this world offers and he refused to give it up. Bartimaeus had nothing and he is given everything. Verse 52 says he recovered his sight and followed Jesus. He was a blind beggar, but now he is a friend of the King. The disciples asked to be made great, and Jesus tells them their greatness won’t come in this life. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus asks for mercy and sight, and Jesus gives it to him out of his great compassion. To both his disciples and this beggar, Jesus replies, “What do you want me to do for you?”

What do you want Jesus to do for you? Do you want Jesus to give you the American dream and make you healthy, wealthy, and wise? Do you want everything this world offers and eternal life and a place of authority in the Kingdom? The Rich Ruler, the Disciples, and the blind beggar all wanted different things and Jesus offered them all only one thing: Himself. Are you content with him and the mercy he gives? Do you want Jesus, or only the blessings and prosperity you believe he can give you? Jesus’ compassion is directed toward me and you. His greatest display of his mercy is forgiving people like us and restoring people like us. He is glorified in taking people who have been broken by sin and restoring them. What will Jesus do for you? He will forgive you based on the work he accomplished on the cross. He will make you the person you were created to be and that process will begin now and be completed at the resurrection.

Look at what he has done for you already! Mercy, forgiveness, provision, love, purpose. Who we are and what we have are for his glory and his Kingdom not our own. Be careful of the temptation of thinking of Jesus as existing for our prosperity and pleasure. We exist for his glory and his pleasure. When we live for that end, our lives find their full and true purpose and we experience the peace and joy that comes with it.

Acknowledgements and Sources

Review and Reflect on Mark 10:13-16

It seems a little odd that the story about children in Mark 10:13-16 is sandwiched between teaching about divorce and wealth. Jesus welcomed the children and the occasion provided for an illustration. He did the same thing at the end of chapter 9 when the disciples were arguing who would be the greatest in Jesus’ kingdom. Here he uses the children not only to teach about dependence and humility as in chapter 9, but to teach about the Kingdom of God.

Children have no status, no influence, and no wealth. Children are dependent upon others for their well-being, their security, and their care. Jesus says this is how we are to receive the Kingdom. This is how we are to approach the Kingdom. Those that belong to the Kingdom of God recognize that they can’t earn entrance. We have to recognize, we are completely dependent upon our King for our well-being, our security, and provision. Jesus’ parable here opposes the saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” Children can’t help themselves. His parable opposes the modern attitude that says, “I will pull myself up by my own bootstraps.” Children can’t even tie their shoes. To possess the Kingdom, we have to recognize that our position is not one of pride, self-sufficiency, and authority. In other places something similar is seen as the root of all temptation – the world, the flesh and the devil. In this little parable about children Jesus instructs us to accept and believe the way they do. We are to trust the way they do. We are to hope the way they do. Children approach life with innocence, raw faith, expectation, and dependence. Jesus says we are to approach the Kingdom that way.

So why is this story in this spot in Mark’s Gospel?

This story is here as a point of contrast for what the Kingdom of God is like. Jesus has just finished talking about hard hearts resulting in sinful outcomes such as divorce. And now in the next passage he is going to talk to a young man about finances and eternal life. Citizens of God’s Kingdom have hearts that are clean, humble and self-giving, not hard and self-absorbed. Citizens of God’s Kingdom completely trust in their King for life, security, and for any provision. They don’t concern themselves with trying to leverage for position, or to find or maintain wealth and success. So this story is a good contrast to what we read about divorce in verse 1-12 and what is coming in verses 17-31.

 

Acknowledgements and Sources.

Review and Reflect on Mark 9:30-50 (Gospel-Centered Greatness, Part 2)

In Jesus’ teaching about a Gospel-Centered Greatness, we saw that his teaching gives us perspective for defining greatness. Any greatness me might pursue or achieve must be understood in reference to the cross of our King who died for us. He also teaches the proper way to achieve greatness. He lays before his followers a new path to greatness in Mark 9:33-37. Jesus’ disciples haven’t figured out what Jesus means when he says he is going to die and rise again. This confuses them, because their understanding of Messiah makes them expect Jesus to overthrow the oppressive Roman government and establish his own. This would get them in on the ground level of this new regime and they would be able to have very important governing positions. They would be great! They would have power, wealth, and influence. But, in complete contradiction to their understanding, Jesus tells his followers the proper way to aspire to being great is not by asserting oneself, but by serving others. In the Kingdom of God, the path to greatness is through humility and servanthood. The disciples didn’t understand the path to greatness was a cross and they were afraid to ask him about it, so Jesus describes for them the proper way to aspire to being great. He makes the Gospel applicable for their daily life. He says, you want to get practical? Humble yourselves and serve.

Greatness in our world is related to status. The way to become great in our world is to be better at what you do than other people. The way we can become great is by influence, or by leadership. You can become great through notoriety or fame. And the path to greatness is whatever will obtain you that status whether it’s right or not. But Jesus says, the way to become great in his eyes is to serve others in our world who don’t have that kind of status.

Everybody works for somebody, and most people have jobs that simply aren’t that glorious. Jesus says those who serve may not have high status in our world, but in the Kingdom of God the greatest ones are the servants. Then he gives his disciples an example in verses 36-37. He places a child in front of them. This seems like an odd thing to do when you are talking about being great. Think of someone you know who is great, who has achieved a high social status and has influence. Do you have that person in mind? Now I would almost guarantee that person is not a child. But in teaching his followers about greatness, Jesus sets a child before them. A child represents the lowest order in the social scale. A child is under authority and under the care of others. In terms of status, a child has none. A child may have a guardian or even belong to the state, but he or she has no rights or status themselves. Jesus sets a child before his followers to teach them about greatness.

Does anyone have authority or power which is not delegated by our sovereign God and Father? Does anyone ultimately have control over his or her own life or security? We love to think in terms of individuality and personal achievement, but God is sovereign over our lives. He numbers our days and determines whether or not the rain will fall. Jesus shows that the difference in our status and the status of a child is only in our minds, not in reality. In reality, we are all dependent, we are all under authority. We are all dependent upon God for sustaining our lives, similar to how a child is dependent upon his or her parents for providing and protecting them. And Jesus says, receiving a child is the same as receiving him. To receive a child is to reverse the conventional value-scale by making the unimportant important. Jesus says if you receive children who are my representatives, you have received me.

In this context, to “receive” is to treat someone as significant rather than ignoring or suppressing them. Jesus uses a child as an example, but it is certainly broader than this. In our culture children are often viewed as either an inconvenience, a new chance at accomplishing the greatness we could never achieve, or a fashion accessory that makes us look good. Christians are supposed to value children as the blessing of God, and accept the responsibility for their training in godliness. People in our workplaces and neighborhoods who are ignored or marginalized are people who Christians are supposed to receive. The insignificant and weak are representative of Jesus to us. Those we naturally push away represent Jesus to us. When we humble ourselves, recognizing our status before God, and welcome these types of people, we have learned how the Gospel works in our daily lives. Our world says we network with the influential to become great. Jesus says we serve the insignificant to become great. Our world says we obtain wealth or influence to become great. Jesus says we become servants for the weak to become great.

In our hearts, we know this is true. The Holy Spirit confirms this within us. But practicing this in daily living is so difficult. Kids are cute and amusing until they get tired, or hungry, or stinky. Loving some people is difficult and requires a lot from us with little return. It’s a good idea, but unless we do it, it remains an idea. Jesus says, when you receive them, you receive me. This is the path to greatness in his eyes.

Acknowledgments and Sources.

Review and Reflect on Mark 9:30-50 (Gospel-Centered Greatness, Part 1)

In Mark 9:30-50, Jesus redefines what it means to be great. Jesus gives us an understanding of Gospel-Centered Greatness. If a person is achieves greatness it means that they have in some way proven themselves superior to others. A great person has achieved a level of wealth, fame, or influence. Greatness isn’t a description we give ourselves, but one others give us. Kenny Rogers had a song in 1999 called “The Greatest“. There is a business book that has been a phenomenal success in the church leadership subculture called “Good to Great“. But, for those of us who are simply trying to love Jesus and other people, we need to understand greatness in Jesus’ terms. Many poeople are more worried about just making it through this life, rather than being great. But that’s the funny thing about the life God gives us in Jesus. We either think to highly of ourselves with pride and arrogance, or we thing to low of our selves forgetting we are created in God’s image and that we are being renewed and restored in that image if we are in Christ. For those of us who are trying to just get through life, Jesus gives us something more than survival; there is a way you can be great in the Kingdom of God. For those who are too arrogant about the status we may have been able to achieve, Jesus redefines greatness so we ought to be careful in our assessment of ourselves. Greatness isn’t something we give ourselves, it’s something others recognize. We can avoid greatness or we can strive for it improperly, but Jesus took an occasion with his disciples to explain how it works in our lives in Mark 9:30-50.

First of all, in verses 30-32 Jesus’ teaching give us perspective for defining greatness. At the end of chapter 8, Jesus told his disciples and a crowd of people if anyone was going to follow him they had to deny themselves and take up their cross. These three verses are a reminder of the nature of what it means to follow Jesus. Here Jesus speaks again about the way in which he is going to rescue Israel, he is going to do it through being rejected and dying, and then rising from the dead. But verse 32 says they still didn’t understand what he was talking about and in spite of their lack of understanding, they didn’t ask him to explain it because they were afraid. Jesus teaches us in chapter 8, here, and in many other places, that greatness is not framed by wealth or success or things this world offers that will not last. We must understand what it means to be great in reference to the Kingdom of God and the work of Jesus. Just because we think ourselves great, doesn’t mean it’s so in the Kingdom of God. Just because we think we could never be great, doesn’t mean it’s so in the Kingdom of God. The Cross enlightens our understanding of what is great. A definition or an understanding of greatness that has not been framed by the Cross of our Lord is a false greatness that is merely temporary. Jesus shows that there are much more important things than our status in this life, and he shows us this by going to the cross himself. He is the King of heaven and earth, yet he humbles himself on a cross. No one is of higher status, yet he humbles himself to the lowest status. And if the King humbles himself, then our understanding of being great ourselves needs to be adjusted.

If you want to be great in the eyes of your King, then be great in reference to the cross. This means our goals and pursuits in this life must be integrated with a thorough understanding of who Jesus is and what he has done for us. Our careers, our families, our church, and our own personal aspirations should be guided by Jesus and should have the ultimate goal of honoring Jesus. However high our status might be in this life, it should bring us to humility when we consider the status of our King who humbled himself. And however low our status might be in this life, we find hope in our King who endured a cross to prove his devotion to us. The cross of our Lord frames our pursuit of greatness.

Acknowledgments and Sources.