Don’t Blink!

Wow…  what a road!   This length of tarmac winds through the mountains of northern Italy.   It’s called the Stelvio Pass, and it’s one of the ten most dangerous roads in the world.   I can see why!   You’ll be in serious danger if you get distracted.   You can’t take your eyes off the road for a second.   You may not even want to blink!

As scary as that road may be, the road for the church can be just as dangerous.   Without a clear vision of where they’re headed, churches falter.   It happened in the New Testament days, and it happens today as well.   Somewhere around 5000 churches closed their doors just last year.

The lesson is clear:  Churches have to know and pursue God’s Vision for them if they are to thrive and avoid calamity.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish;” – Proverbs 29:18

Last week we learned all about God’s vision for you, personally.  But how about the church?  What’s God’s vision for his gathered people?   Do we know it?  Are we following it?   Will we as a church reach the end of the road intact?

Come this Sunday as we get a line on God’s Bodacious Plan for His gathered people, the Church.   The answers are crucial as we step boldly into 2018!

See you this Sunday!  ~  Pastor Mac

Read Ahead: Jeremiah 29:1-7

Even our cats know it’s cold!

Our cats (especially the black and white one) love to beg at the front door.   They desperately want to explore the world outside.   We don’t let them – they are indoor cats – but that doesn’t stop them from trying to sneak out whenever they see an opportunity.

Except for this week.

We haven’t heard so much as a single ‘meow’ at the door these past few days.   Our Maine Coon stays close the pellet stove all day, and Stella won’t set foot anywhere near the front hallway.  Alas, even our four-footed friends know how bitter it is outside!

It’ll take more than a cold snap to keep us from worshipping and enjoying each others company this Sunday.   We’re having an Indoor BBQ / Pot Luck Dinner right after church, with plenty of great food to go around.   Don’t worry about the temps… I’ll be at the church early to throw an extra log on the fire and make sure the sanctuary is all warmed up.
🙂

See you this Sunday for some great year-end worship.

~  Pastor Mac

Peace

Say the word “Peace” and you’ve spoken volumes.   Peace means many things to us.   It signifies a lack of stress, an end to conflict, and a serene state of mind.  Lives change for the better when people discover the peace they’ve been searching for.
Christmas is the season when we anticipate the coming of the Prince of Peace. Peace is one of the four names of God’s promised Messiah, that bundle of joy in the manger that is both crumb-cruncher and Infinite Being all wrapped up in one.

Finding peace through Jesus’ presence is vital to Christians. Like our secular  neighbors we often try to manufacture peace, instead of receiving it as a gift.   This messes with God’s plan for us, and generally leaves us without the Peace we were searching for in our lives.

Join us this Sunday as we celebrate the Prince of Peace and discover what makes Jesus’ peace so different from all the rest.
This Sunday’s Message:  “Finding Real Peace In Your Life”
Bonus Question for Today:  On a scale of 1-10 (with ten being the best) how would you rate your level of peace right now?

See you Sunday! ~ Pastor Mac

Go deeper in Christ.  Read Ahead:  Isaiah 9:1-7

It’s the most wonderful time…

Here we go, plunging into all the busyness of the Season!   So much is happening in the life of our congregation this week.   We’ll be celebrating our first annual Christmas Sweater Contest this Sunday.   We’ll vote on who has the ugliest (or the nicest, your choice) sweater.   A Dunks gift card will go to the winner!

On Wednesday night the fabulous Maine Pops Concert Band will be here for a night of Christmas music.   Come on out and please bring a friend or neighbor with you.    The concert is free.  We’ll pass the hat to benefit the Root Cellar in Portland.

Wait… where’s Jesus in all this?   Don’t worry, a great message is in store for Sunday morning.   How does Jesus fulfill the prophecy “He will be called… Mighty God”?   Jesus seems pretty fragile lying there in the manger.   Is he the Messiah that Israel was expecting?  Is He the ‘Mighty God’ you need in your life?  Let’s talk!

Sunday’s Message:  “Jesus as Messiah – Mighty or Mellow?”

See you soon ~ Pastor Mac

Go deeper in Christ.  Read Ahead:  Isaiah 9:1-7

What do you want for Christmas?

The old Christmas song goes like this:  “He’s making a list, checking it twice”   That song debuted on a radio show in November of 1934.   It quickly went viral; tens of thousands of 78 rpm records were pressed and sold within days.   500,000 copies of sheet music were printed in less than a month.   83 years later it’s still on the charts.

What might you ask Santa for this year, should you meet him along the journey?   Black Friday sales data suggests we would choose a flat screen television, a new iPhone, or some other gee-whiz thing to entertain us.

The original Christmas promises were a far cry from those gadgets.   The prophet Isaiah promised that God would bring his people a Messiah who would be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

How is it that our Christmas Wishes and God’s Christmas Promises don’t match?   What does it mean to have a “Wonderful Counselor”, anyhow?

Join us this Sunday as we dive into the season of Christmas and discover why we need a Wonderful Counselor in our life, now more than ever.

Sunday’s Message:  “Someone to talk to”

See you soon!  ~ Pastor Mac

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

This Sunday is going to be an extra special day at church.   Sunday is the day we get together to decorate from stem to stern!   I can’t wait!

We’re planning a pot luck lunch right after worship.   Y’all are invited, even if you don’t have time to bring something.  I’ll bet we’ll have plenty of Thanksgiving leftovers coming in on Sunday!    Then we’ll bring down our decorations from the attic… add a few new ones… put on the Christmas music and have a wonderful time.  Everything should be wrapped by around 1pm.    I hope you will plan to join us!

We’ll also be digging into the Beatitude:  Blessed are the Peacemakers.    (We were going to cover this last Sunday, but we talked about “Giving Thanks” instead).   Do people think of us as  “The Peacemakers” in our families, at our workplaces, in the public square?  They should!   Let’s discover how to become the image of Christ (the Prince of Shalom) in our world.

See you soon!  ~ Pastor Mac

(Read Mt 5:1-11 here if you want to get ahead.   The Holman Christian Standard Version does an excellent job at accurately translating the text)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Children of God.

I love Thanksgiving and Christmas.   Well, most years, anyways!  The glow of tiny bulbs in front yards… the Christmas songs on the radio…  even the reruns of Charlie Brown and George Bailey on TV (the scripts of which are permanently etched into my memory), all of these are welcome markers of the season.

But large family gatherings sometimes mean old conflicts can bubble to the surface.   Take 20 of your favorite (or not so favorite) relatives, jam them all into your living room, add a little wine, and that ‘holly, jolly Christmas’ can go up in the flames of conflict.

“Blessed are the peacemakers” Jesus said.   “Children of God”, he called them.   Do people think of us as  “The Peacemakers” in our families, at our workplaces, in the public square?  They should!   The Sunday we’ll discover how to  become the image of Christ (the Prince of Shalom) in our world.

I’m also excited to celebrate ‘Giving Thanks’ weekend this Sunday.   What are you thankful for this year? Where has God blessed you?  You’ll have a chance to share that (if you wish) with your church family!

See you soon!  ~ Pastor Mac

PS:  Don’t forget the big Christmas Fair at church tomorrow.  There’s all kinds of goodies in the Fellowship Hall.   My personal goal is to bake 60 loaves of bread.  Anyone wanting coffee and conversation at 6am… come see me!

(Read Mt 5:1-11 here if you want to get ahead.   The Holman Christian Standard Version does an excellent job at accurately translating the text)

Communion Sunday

This Sunday is Communion Sunday, our monthly celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.    We Baptists only celebrate two Sacraments… can you name the other one?

The original Lord’s Supper signified that Jesus’ death would be more than what it seemed, that this ‘one man dying‘ would open the floodgates of God’s mercy for Jesus’ followers.  Mercy in the form of forgiveness for sins.   A multitude of people (including you and I) suddenly had access to the Kingdom of God, thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice.

Before we eat the Bread and drink the Cup this Sunday we’ll dig into Jesus’ words:  “The merciful are blessed”.    How can we practice mercy in our daily life?    Practicing mercy is important…  Jesus said that the amount of Mercy we’ll receive is proportional to the amount we have given to others.

How’s your Mercy Quotient?  Let’s talk!

See you soon!  – Pastor Mac

PS:  Would you like to stretch your “mercy muscles” a bit this week?   Come to the Pizza and Packing Party on Saturday at 6pm.   We’ll have a lot of fun eating pizza & packing shoeboxes to send to kids who need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ!

(Read Mt 5:1-11 here if you want to get ahead.   The Holman Christian Standard Version does an excellent job at accurately translating the text)

Jesus said we should hunger and thirst for Righteousness. What is righteousness, anyways? And do I really have to hunger for it?

The Beatitudes…  what a powerful pronouncement of God’s love for you!   They’re what scholars call a “Golden Chain”:

If you’re poor in spirit –  then you’re naturally going to mourn that condition.

If you mourn your (sinful) condition – then you’re going to feel meek (or gentle) before God.

With all that going on in your heart, you’re going to want things to get better.   You’re going to hunger and thirst for righteousness.

See how it goes?  It’s a chain.  One blessing links to another.

Poor, mourn gentle… those are words we use all the time.
But Righteousness is a word we don’t use in everyday conversation.    What can Righteousness do for me?  Will I be any better off with it than without it?    Should I make it a priority in my faith, or can I just put it on my ‘someday’ list, along with shampooing the rug and tuning up the snowblower (which I’ll probably have to do any day now, once this warm spell passes!).

Jesus seemed to say that having a hunger and a thirst for Righteousness was vital… it was a condition to receiving a full plate of God’s rich blessings.   I’m all for that!   Let’s gather together and dig into the Word to find out what it’s all about.  This Sunday at 10am.

See you soon!  – Pastor Mac

(Read Mt 5:1-11 here if you want to get ahead.   The Holman Christian Standard Version does an excellent job at accurately translating the text

The meek win the day? Tell that to the NFL!

Here we go again.  Another one of Jesus’ blessings that doesn’t make much sense.   Anyone who has followed big business, big sports, big ANYTHING knows that meek is out and power is the way to go.   You have to wield powerto get ahead.   You have to have power in order to win.   That’s true in auto racing, it’s true in the boardroom, it’s true just about everywhere you look.

So how can we read the words “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land” with a straight face?   Surely this is an idea that’s past its prime.

Or not.

Let’s uncover how being ‘meek’ can actually make you a stronger person, as well as a better Christian.  Jesus’ brother James even said that practicing gentleness can save your soul (or something like that!).   There just might be some blessing to this meekness thing, after all…

This Saturday Diane and I are hopping on the scooter and headed for NH for a few hours to see the beautiful foliage.   Probably lots of you are doing the same this weekend.  I encourage you to take an hour out on Sunday morning to come worship the One who made both you and the leaves.   He’s well worth our time and our praise.

See you soon – Pastor Mac

(Read Mt 5:1-11 here if you want to get ahead.   The Holman Christian Standard Version does an excellent job at accurately translating the text)