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Fifth Pillar of Wisdom: Awareness

Listen to the sermon here.

Someone once described visionary leadership as the uncanny ability to see ‘what’s behind the corner.’   The story of Elisha at Dothan (2 Kings 6:6-23) provides us with a wonderful image of spiritual awareness, the mark of true wisdom from above.  The eyes of Elisha’s servant were “open” so that he could see what was really going on.  Yes, the army of Syria was starting a siege against Dothan, but the armies of the Living God were all around “Elisha.”  The second image is one of the storm on the sea of Galilee and Peter sinking in the water (Matthew 14:22-33).  When Jesus says, “it is I, do not be afraid”  Jesus says He is the Great I AM, Yahweh Himself, see Exodus 3:12-14) who exercises His Sovereign control over the elements (see, Genesis 1; Psalm 29). There is nothing to fear if God is with us! (1 John 4:4).

Both the siege and storm accounts have amazingly short prayers: “Open now his eyes that he may see” and  “Lord, save me.”  As we ask the Lord, He will give us His awareness  and begin to see our own ‘siege’ and/or ‘storm’ (see Psalm 27:3; Psalm 18:16) from His perspective. Wisdom from above allows us to get His take and optic on our situations and move from a state of panic and desperation to seeing things His way.

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TCC Tributes to Billy Graham

pressconference-1024x683The past 48 hours have witnessed an amazing outpouring of love and respect for Billy Graham who passed away on Wednesday, only a few months shy of 100. Billy Graham was an essential part of the neo-evangelical movement of the second half of the 20th century. This worldwide spiritual revival and renewal originated in many ways right here in the Boston area with Park Street Church Pastor Harold John Ockenga. Don Ewing, long time pastor at TCC also belonged to this wave of God’s ‘mighty acts’ right here in Metrowest. Our own long-time member Tom Phillips came to Christ through Billy Graham in New York, along with many others who were impacted by his outreach efforts both in New York and here in Boston.

Dr. Garth Rosell, historian of the movement at Gordon-Conwell Seminary writes:

“It is difficult to imagine a world without Billy Graham. For the better part of a century, his has been the voice that everyone recognized; his has been the character that everyone admired; and his has been the message that gave hope to thousands around the globe. He walked among kings and presidents but he never lost the common touch. He preached to millions but he never lost his own sense of humility. He enjoyed access to the rich and powerful, but lived modestly in his rustic Black Mountain home.”

The greatest way we can honor the memory of this remarkable man of God is to follow in his footsteps.  Let us commit ourselves to preach an unadorned Gospel faithfully to those around us with the same passion and love for Jesus!

Pastor Tom

Were you impacted by Billy Graham’s ministry? Leave a note here of tribute or memory to how Billy Graham impacted your life. View his memorial website at memorial.billygraham.org.

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Fourth Pillar of Wisdom: Long view

Listen to the sermon here

For this series on the 7 Pillars of Wisdom during Lent, we are asking the basic question, What does  it mean to be wise? What does it mean to have ‘wisdom from above’? (James 3:17).  In the Gospel, by placing our trust in Jesus, He becomes our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification and redemption (1 Cor 1:30).  The second pillar (instruction) invites us to embrace the tough times in our lives (those imposed on us and those that are self-imposed).  Accepting the very thing (s) that takes our peace away in the first place is the very thing that will bring peace back to us.   The third pillar (en-L-ightnment) sets a strong contrast between earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom that is manifested through the sacrificial death of Christ.  True wisdom from above is cross-shaped, pastor Kyle told us, and it prepares us f0r the trials of life.  Without spiritually-discerned wisdom, “we will quickly sabotage our witness to the Gospel.”

This week is the fourth Pil-L-ar of wisdom (L-ongview).  The longview of life recognizes that prudence is a great virtue of wise people (Proverbs 1:4).  Prudence in the biblical sense is to acquire some ‘street smarts’ in dealing with what life brings to us: the prudent person “sees dangers and prepares for it” (Prov. 22:3; 27:12). Another way to describe prudence is the cunning and clever dealings of the serpent in the Garden of Eden (the word “crafty” in Gen 3:1  is related to prudence in Proverbs).  In dealing with life in this hostile environment we call home, Jesus tells us bluntly we need to ‘wise up’ like “serpents” (Matt. 10:16). We all have examples in our minds of folks that are  clever and street smart.  Oskar Schindler certainly displayed incredible smarts by duping Nazis and saving 1200 jews from assured death during World War II.  Jesus, however, raises the bar, because he also says, “be innocent as doves,” an image of the Holy Spirit in Matthew 3 and also in Genesis 1:2, where the Holy Spirit hovers over the earth like a bird.

The blamelessness of the dove (see Phil 2:15) and the craftiness of the snake make for a strange mix, but the point for us is powerful!  In our ‘witness before kings’ (Matt 10:17-18  Esther 4:14), we need the Spirit-filled wisdom that comes from our “Father. ” This stand may not be before literal kings, but it can be just as scary: before high school friends in a cafeteria conversation, or at the water cooler at work.  Regardless of the context,  our listener will sense it if we give them packaged sayings.  Our witness cannot be a ‘one-size fits all’ answer.  It will need to be words of wisdom the Lord puts on our hearts.  At this precise moment,  Jesus tells us, “don’t be anxious” since Spirit-filled wisdom will be on your lips.  It will be all worth it, because, just as Oskar Schindler learned from a proverb in the Talmud (a Jewish collection of oral traditions): “to save a life is to save the world entire.”

 

 

 

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Pastor Kyle’s Note – Two Kinds of Wisdom

Listen to last week’s sermon here.

Do you like fortune cookies?

Honestly, who doesn’t enjoy some free wisdom inside a cookie?!

Like the Corinthian church years ago, we are prone to settle for “fortune cookie wisdom”—pithy sayings, shiny new perspectives and prudent-sounding adages. The culture is hungry for wisdom and many feel confident to offer it in self-help literature, greeting cards, daily planners, memes, and even, fortune cookies.

But what is genuine wisdom?

In 1 Corinthians 1-2, Paul emphasizes that wisdom is cross-centered and Spirit-inspired.
The cross refutes all worldly wisdom. Paul preached the cross to the Corinthians knowing it lacked the curb appeal of the ideas and philosophies they valued. He preached the raw and rugged cross nonetheless because it is the irreplaceable groundwork to make us wise unto salvation. But in doing so simply and in weakness, he ensured that the primary persuasive force in his preaching would be the power of the Spirit.

He wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:13, “And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.”

The journey to authentic maturity must pass through the cross and be guided by the Spirit. True wisdom is Spirit-inspired. If we are progressing in our pursuit of wisdom then we WILL become familiar with the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We will become attuned to how God nudges us towards faith-filled action.

Wisdom that is cross-centered and Spirit-inspired is so much deeper and transformational than “fortune cookie wisdom.” It gives us the freedom to absorb unjustified criticism at work. And then, not just avoid lashing out, but offer edifying words that cut through thick rivalry. It helps us recognize that high school students need high SAT scores and great college essays as much as they need Spirit-inspired guidance to keep building a Christ-like character for a lifetime. True wisdom guides us to understand that when our spouses don’t live up to our expectations, we still must offer grace and honest feedback rather than playing manipulative games with selfish motivations. Finally, this deep wisdom helps us discern how to fruitfully navigate complicated relationships with family.

As we evaluate our methods of decision-making, perhaps we should ask ourselves two poignant questions:
1. Does my decision reflect the reality that Jesus died on the cross for my sins?
2. Am I convinced that my decision-making has been guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit?

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Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Part 1:  Purity | Sermon
Part 2: Instruction | Sermon

What does it mean to be wise?

This season of Lent we are launching a new series on Wisdom: Some people give up things during the lenten season – this year let’s give up on our own foolishness and ask the Lord to give us His wisdom from above! In a world that seems to be in great need of wisdom, the first question we ask is, what does it mean to be wise? Proverbs, with its little companion James in the New Testament, offers powerful images for us, just like the rock formation dubbed “the seven pillars of Wisdom” in the Wadi Rum in Jordan, (the area where Lawrence of Arabia made his fame).

The clarion call of this new series at TCC is this: for those who have wisdom to get more of it and to those who don’t have it to get it (Proverbs 1:1-7).

Want to be wise? Start with purity.

James 3:17 summarizes wisdom from above, “as first of all pure.” Purity is not exactly a popular term in our day, although we do think of the idea when we go through special diets or go a stringent regimen toward more healthy lifestyles. Proverbs affirms that to fear God is “the beginning of wisdom” which is directly connected to the idea of purity (Psalm 19:9). Of course the problem with making purity the beginning of wisdom confronts us with our own lack of purity. Even a cursory look into the mirror of our own soul makes us realize we are sorely in need of a stringent spiritual detox program! In the Gospel, Jesus has become our wisdom and our sanctification (= purity 1 Cor. 1:30). By placing our trust in Him, he makes us clean.  As David – not exactly the example of purity at the time  (see 2 Samuel 11-12) said, “Create in me a clean heart O God!” (Ps 51:10)

Want to grow in wisdom? Be open to instruction through trials.

The Second Pillar of Wisdom, “instruction” asks another pointed question: “how do you handle change in your life?” Instruction in a wisdom sense has everything to do with ‘discipline,’ when life throws you a curve ball: tough interruptions, catastrophic and traumatic upheavals and at times, and of course dealing with the fruit of our own foolishness. God knows that another loss in times of grief is the loss of inner peace and that sense that God cares and loves us in the midst of the pain (Heb 12:5-6). How often we say,  ‘If God really loved me, He would never have let this happen to me!’  Yet wisdom from above eventually embraces this sort of painful instruction because through time and process, we gradually come to see these horrible moments in our lives from God’s perspective (a sort of 6th stage of grief).

Wisdom can be applied even in horrible situations.

Reflecting upon his own 13 years of turmoil, Joseph (Genesis 37-50) chose not to be defined by the abuse and injustice heaped on him by his own family and his boss (including sexual harassment, see Gen. 39). In time, endowed with God’s wisdom, he was able to recognize how God used these horrible events: “you meant it for evil but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20).  A few years ago I wrote an essay on the life of Joseph and noted that every abuse and injustice in his life became an indispensable part of the fabric of his life. Joseph ends up saving not only his own family from death through starvation, but the whole of Egypt!

This is our Second Pillar of Wisdom: By accepting the very thing that took our peace away in the first place is precisely what will allow our peace to return in the end (Heb 12:11; James 3:17).

 

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Annual Meeting Discussion Questions

Those unable to attend the meeting on January 28th, or wanting to offer additional thoughts and feedback, please use this form!

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Register Now For Children’s Programming During the Annual Meeting

There is care for children (infant through grade five) for parents attending the annual meeting.  For safety sake, children (infant – grade 5) need to be supervised during the Annual Meeting.  Children may stay with their parents in the meeting OR go to kid-care in age appropriate rooms.

Please register your infant – grade 5 child/ren by Jan 26th to ensure that we have adequate staff coverage. Click here to register now!

  • Children will be dismissed from 9:30 LTA as usual.  Please pick up ALL children at end of the service.
  •  Brunch for families in Phillips Hall (Encourage your kids to have refreshments, as no additional snack will served in children’s rooms during the meeting.)
  • At 10:50A – Parents staying for the Annual Meeting should escort their children to their appropriate rooms. 
    •  Infants – preschool children to Room 105
    •  Elementary children to Room 204
  • Parents should pick up their children immediately following the Annual Meeting in their respective rooms.
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Winter Welcome Brunch – February 4, 2018 [postponed until spring 2018]

Note: the winter welcome brunch has been postponed until the spring. If you are interested in attending the next welcome brunch email adam@tccwayland.org and we’ll notify you of the next date. Thanks!

 

If you are new to the community, or have been around a while and have never attended a welcome brunch, we invite you to join us on Sunday February 4th from 12-1:30pm in Phillips Hall. We’ll share a meal together and get to know one another. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the church, our congregational structure, and our guiding principles. Our staff will be present as well as a few members of our board and deacons. It is also a great place to ask any questions you might have about the church, or learn how you can get connected into the community.

Children and families are most welcome! No childcare provided but please email office@tccwayland.org if childcare is an issue and we would be happy to work something out.

RSVP Here by Tuesday January 30 to reserve your spot:

(and for you sports fans…don’t worry! We’ll be done well before the super bowl kickoff that evening!)

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Participating in Handel’s Messiah

A great backstory to Handel’s Messiah is that the first performance in Dublin was organized as a fundraiser to release debtors from prison. The concert raised 400 Pounds and 142 prisoners were set free as a result. In this way the performance acted out one of the great truths of Advent: Jesus came into this world to set the captives free (Isa. 61:1).   As we celebrate the Season, we too continue this tradition of ‘audience participation.’  The Lord also calls us to set the captives free, to give to those in need and to proclaim that our “God reigns” (Isa. 52:7).

This past Wednesday, we concluded our third and final Evensong Advent service. What a thrill to see so many of all ages come to worship together! Jeremiah 31:10-14 pictures the Advent as a cause for joy and celebration for young and old alike.  Our hope is in the One who will turn our mourning into joy, our sorrow into gladness.  Joy to the World, the Lord has come!

Join us for Christmas Eve Services next Sunday!

9:30am – Morning Service of Carols

5pm – Family Nativity Drama

7pm – Candlelight Communion Service

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