Gathering of the People

“…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said.“ – Acts 14:22 Experience within church congregations is as unique and varied as God’s creation. Whether our involvement has been during childhood, as an adult, or perhaps seeking a church to call home, our reflections will vary. The word church comes from a Greek word translated ecclesia; it means a gathering. And specifically the gathering of the people. If those assembled are in Christ, the main experience or focal point should be receiving encouragement —  which means giving hope, courage, and confidence. We also encounter prayer, song, and most of all, agape or unconditional love.  As you connect with a church family, you can say to yourself, “I’m not alone in this world. I have my church.” Whenever the body of believers gather, be

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Work is a Privilege

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” – John 6:27 Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Within every language there is a philosophy.” This is something that I think really makes sense with regard to the Hebrew language, which expresses over and over again that God loves our work. As we apply ourselves with all our heart and do our daily tasks as though they have eternal value, something changes in the Lord’s great plan! In Jewish culture, going to work was just as worshipful as raising your hands in a church service or reading the Bible. How different this is from our segregated American view that says our job is what we do Monday through Friday. Worship is what we do on

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The Blessing in Unity

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” – Psalm 133:1,3 I don’t think anyone would disagree when I say that we are in a politically and socially divided season, especially in the United States. This state of affairs is unfortunate all-around, but as a pastor, my greatest concern is the manner in which it impacts the church. Right now, millions of Christians feel fervently about the rightness of their side, and this is affecting how they treat each other. Yet the truth remains that unity is a foundational value for the people of God. In fact, the Bible says that there’s a blessing in oneness, and as the Bride of Christ, we should always strive to obtain it. Unfortunately, many are

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An Imperishable Hope

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’” – 1 Peter 1:23-25 Though it took him a while to understand and believe it, Peter ultimately realized that Jesus came to save everyone, including pagan Gentiles. So greatly did his thinking shift that he became pastor to the church in Rome. In fact, when he wrote the book of 1 Peter, he was sitting in a Roman prison cell — in chains for his faith and concerned about the ongoing persecution of his flock at the hands of the evil emperor Nero. Fabled in history and known as one of the most volatile and violent rulers

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Just Do It!

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” – 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 To build upon the goal of making 2021 a year of grace, today, I want to offer another thought to ponder. What if healing actually comes through stepping out in faith and serving the Lord? Years ago, I knew a guy who was an awesome bass player, and for some reason, he really wanted to play in our church worship band. However, he was outspokenly not a Christian. While this might have been cause for rejection in a different congregation, I took his enthusiasm to mean that the Lord was

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The Sting of Severity

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” – Philippians 2:14-16 When Epaphroditus visited the imprisoned Apostle Paul, he had an opportunity to share with his friend, who was also the congregation’s founder, that false teaching had seeped into the doctrine of the church at Philippi. Though they had been schooled in freedom and grace, they were allowing legalism in things like dietary restrictions and mandatory circumcision to penetrate their ranks. Such unfortunate news compelled Paul to address these practices in a letter, and thus we have the book of Philippians. In this famous epistle, the apostle gives guidance to the church about legalism, which is something he could speak on with great

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A Generous Spirit

“But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.” – Philippians 2:25-27 At this special time of year, we hear a lot about generosity. However, more than just buying someone the perfect gift or making a charitable donation, true benevolence is a deeply-rooted state of heart — one that is always willing to go the extra mile. As a study in this manner of kindness, let’s look at a man named Epaphroditus, who was a companion of the Apostle Paul in the New

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Interview Guest: Sean Kappauf

  We are thrilled to have Sean Kappauf as our guest on the show this weekend! Sean is a teaching pastor at Capo Beach Church in Dana Point, California. His servant’s heart has found him serving locally and globally for a majority of his life. In 2013, he found a new mission after a humanitarian trip to a small village in El Salvador: to provide fresh water filters to the men, women, and children suffering from a lack of clean drinking water. He has a passion for helping suffering children who cannot help themselves, which inspired him to do more. Since then, Sean founded One ATTA Time, a nonprofit organization that provides filters capable of purifying 500 gallons of water a day to communities in El Salvador, Vietnam, Uganda, and the areas of Texas and Puerto Rico affected by hurricanes. Through One ATTA Time, they aim to: Advocate, Teach, Transform,

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Holy Week at Shepherd’s Grove

At Shepherd’s Grove, we were blessed with an outstanding Holy Week this Easter thanks to the tireless work of our staff and congregation. Beginning on Palm Sunday and ending with Easter Sunday, the time was filled with anticipation and excitement, to reflect upon the most important week of the year. The celebration began when our own Voices of Hope Children’s Choir graced the stage on Palm Sunday, waving palm branches over the procession, followed by a dynamic flow of vocal arrangements. Added to our already robust musical offerings was the powerful sound of bagpipes. What an amazing gift! Good Friday at Shepherd’s Grove was interwoven with moving words of Scripture during our Modern service, followed by the gift of Handel’s Messiah, performed by the Hour of Power Choir and conducted by our very own Don Neuen. Both services were well attended by our congregants and supporters of Don’s recent retirement.

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