Honor Everyone?

Pastor Tom’s Note

Honor Everyone?

1 Peter 2:11-17; Ephesians 2:8-10

Listen to the sermon here

Peter’s words, “Honor everyone, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the emperor [literally ‘king’]” (1 Peter 2:17), seem impossible to follow. What do you mean, honor everyone?!? Even the emperor?!?. How could Peter say that? After all he himself would die at the hand of Emperor Nero’s persecutions of Christians in A.D. 64.

In our culture where the virtue of honor ( ‘great worth,’ ‘respect’) seems in short supply, what does that mean to “honor everyone”? Peter puts it this way: we are able to honor everyone when we have come to first honor Christ as holy in our hearts (1 Peter 3:15). We won’t ever be able to truly honor others until we have learned to honor Christ who alone has all “dominion” over all human authorities, including the emperor’s. We entrust all justice and judgment to a “faithful creator” (1 Peter 4:19).  In other words, we know that any dishonorable behavior will be held to account by God who judges impartially. We’re leaving that part to God, which then frees us to give honor to whom honor is due.   Jesus paves the way for us: when “he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).   This sort of attitude takes tremendous self-restraint. “Be sober-minded,” “abstain from the passions [cravings] of the flesh” (1 Peter 4:7; 2:11) Peter tells us even if (and perhaps especially when) we are treated unfairly by our spouses, bosses, the king. David provides a powerful example of how to honor the king in 1 Samuel 24.

Why honor everyone? Also because people are watching. “Keep your conduct honorable so that when [people] speak of you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” A self-restrained (“holy”) and honorable conduct becomes the window others can peer into and see what it means to follow Christ.  But lest we start bragging how awesome our good deeds are, we also remember that everyone (including yours truly) comes into this lifestyle of good works as sinners (aka hypocrites)  who are beggars for His grace, forgiveness and mercy.  As Paul puts it, a person is saved by grace through faith in Jesus and it is a pure gift from God. So our good behavior is something that God Himself engineers in us: “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, created in advance, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2: 8-10).

When Eric Liddell at the 1924 Paris Olympics learned he had to run a heat for the 100-meter dash on a Sunday, his conscience as a Christian would not allow him to do so. He felt it would be dishonoring to God. So in spite of tremendous pressure from the British Olympic committee, including the Prince of Wales, he couldn’t bring himself to run on the “Christian Sabbath.” Whether we agree or not with his interpretation of Sabbath observance,* he put God first. However, God honored Eric in the end and he did get his gold medal –on a Thursday– for the 400-meter.   So yes our attempts at honoring God aren’t perfect, but in the end, Eric, because he honored Christ in his heart and put him first, not only won a magnificent race, but received honor from everyone on the British delegation and beyond.  Jackson Scholz, his American rival, was right when he wrote Eric a note citing the “Old Book:” “he that honors me I will honor” (from 1 Samuel 2:30).

*See Romans 14

For further reflection:

What particular person, authority etc. do you find hard to honor at this moment?

What are some of the practical ways you can honor someone this week?

Have you come to a place of honoring Christ first in your heart? The good news (and we need good news in our broken world!) is that Jesus heals our hearts and gives us the free gift of forgiveness, including our hypocrisy and lack of self-restraint.

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We mourn with those who mourn

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10)

It is with aching hearts that we post yet another note of mourning and solidarity with those who lost their lives in last Sunday’s terrible shooting. We grieve with those families who lost loved ones and pray for our brothers and sisters of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, TX, especially their pastor Frank Pomeroy.

In such devastating times as this, it is hard to know what to say, as if anything said could change the atrocity or remove the pain. We mourn with those who mourn. We weep with those who weep. But the truth of the Gospel – the message of the cross – is that evil, sin, and death are never the last word. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus.

We are thankful for the words of the Psalms, which provide real comfort, not empty consolation. Though at times like this it is hard to see, we believe that God is in control. It’s why we pray, “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever!”

If you’re not sure what or how to pray today, we invite you to pray these words from Psalm 11:

In the Lord I take refuge;
how can you say to my soul,
    “Flee like a bird to your mountain,
for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
    they have fitted their arrow to the string
    to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
if the foundations are destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”

The Lord is in his holy temple;
    the Lord‘s throne is in heaven;
    his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
The Lord tests the righteous,
    but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
Let him rain coals on the wicked;
    fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
    the upright shall behold his face

Psalm 11 (ESV)

Other Christian leaders have wise words to say for the church today. For more reading see:

http://rzim.org/global-blog/profound-sadness-and-prayers-for-sutherland-springs/

 

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Pastor Kyle’s Note: Costume Change

Pastor Kyle’s Note:

Costume Change

November 1, 2017

Listen to the sermon here

Hopefully you didn’t walk into work this morning dressed in a Halloween costume. The time for wearing that costume has passed. That was yesterday’s wardrobe. And what’s more, if you’re reading this article then it’s probable that your career as a costume-wearing trick-or-treater has been over for years anyways!

In Colossians 3:5-9, Paul describes “yesterday’s wardrobe”: sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, anger, wrath and slander. “In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away,” he writes in Colossians 3:7-8a. These are the sins we are supposed to put to death; these are clothes we are supposed to put away in the deep recesses of our dresser drawers.

By grace through faith we have a new identity as “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved” (Colossians 3:12). As God’s chosen ones, we are called to dress accordingly. Jesus’ death and resurrection has freed us from the bondage of sin and enabled us to put on his character. The beautiful qualities of compassion, kindness, humility, patience and love are the outfit of a Christian disciple.

As God works in us to put on the character of Christ, there is a particular attitude that helps fuel and sustains our participation in that process. In verses 15, 16 and 17, Paul charges the Colossian church to be thankful.

This month the Life Application truth of Children’s Ministry, “Live the Adventure”, is Gratitude, or “letting others know you see how they’ve helped you.” A necessary step in the gratitude process is identifying what we appreciate about what others have done for us. It takes some reflection on the sacrifice of others. When we’re consumed with thankfulness towards God, then everything we do is letting him know that we see how he’s saved us. Gratitude for the Gospel protects us from turning our lives into a fashion show. If we simply try to put on moralistic garments to be a better person or gain the approval of others, then we reject the Gospel.

So tomorrow morning, as you spend time staring at your wardrobe, seize the opportunity to reflect on the Gospel and allow thankfulness for God’s mercy to overflow within you. Then you’ll be ready to put on the character of Christ.

“If you have Pre-K – 5th Graders, check out the Parent Cue App for insights into the LTA curriculum! Find even more resources by clicking here: http://www.tccwayland.org/ministry-children-parents.php

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Happy Reformation Day!

Today marks the 500th (!) anniversary of the “official” start of the Reformation.
In the spread of the Gospel around the world, Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk from Saxony, finds his place among the greats. We know him for the radical idea of the priesthood of all believers (we all share the joy and responsibility of service to the Lord). Another radical recovery was the conviction relating to God could not come from passed down human traditions, power structures of the Church (rote rituals), or our own efforts to measure up to unrealistic standards.  Instead, we enter into a relationship with the Living God by “grace alone” through “faith alone” in Jesus Christ!

Ephesians 2:8-10 says it all:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

In a world in turmoil, the ancient truth that in Jesus alone we will truly find rest and peace  remains as powerful now as it was 500 years ago (another age of great anxiety and unrest).  So on this day, we celebrate the past but also the future, trusting that the Lord will continue His work of reforming us and restoring our weary souls unto Himself.

 

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Mercy for you and me

October 24th, 2017

Pastor Tom’s Note:
Mercy for You and Me

Listen to the sermon here

In 1 Peter 2:9-10, Peter lines up great markers of identity: “chosen lineage( -ESV “race)”, “royal priesthood,” “holy nation,” “people of his own possession.” Each of these monikers carries tremendous weight and history for God’s people (Exodus 19:5) but Peter leaves the best marker for last: recipients of God’s mercy (1 Peter 2:10). In one sentence, Peter puts everyone on notice that belonging to God doesn’t mean coming from a particular ‘stock’ or background, but that a person –anyone– has actually embraced for themselves His mercy, His undeserved kindness.

There are many, many examples of ‘mercy identity’ in Scripture, but a great witness of mercy comes from Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52), the blind beggar from Jericho. He has no qualm screaming at the top of his lungs to get Jesus’ attention: “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!” He is undeterred by those who try to shut him down. Bartimaeus’ persistence pays off because he does get Jesus’ attention who asks him point blank: “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus, without missing a beat, responds,”Let me recover my sight.” Jesus is not one to turn down any request for His mercy and the rest of the story is for the ages. ‘Mercy came running” as the song goes.

Jesus continues to ask the same question to us, “What do you want me to do for you?” Are we wanting to receive His mercy? Are we willing to extend the same to the underserving (who sometimes are those right next to us: spouse, friend, sibling, parent, children, co-worker)?, do we extend it to ourselves? In our ‘perfect’ ways, this last one may very well be the hardest. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

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Rob and Kate Mellon: Our lives are meant to be spent in community

On the impact of community for personal growth
5 quick questions and answers

I asked Rob and Kate Mellon, one of our host teams for the LIFE Groups test drive, a few questions about small groups and why they are so critical for community life. Here’s a quick Q&A with them!

Adam: How did you first get involved in a LIFE group (small group)?
Rob and Kate: We first got involved in a small group when we were new to church. We wanted to meet with other people our age, develop friendships and grow together.

Adam: How did you see God work in your small groups?
Rob and Kate: We saw God work in our life group by developing authentic relationships with each other. We enjoyed fellowship inside and outside of group. We true life changes happen to many of the people in our group.

Adam: What is one thing you wish people knew about small groups?
Rob and Kate: We wish people know that life groups are worth your time! They are the ones we call or text for questions ranging from silly parenting questions to our urgent prayer requests. They have become our kids core group too.

Adam: What would you say to someone too busy to join a small group?
Rob and Kate: We are all busy but it’s worth your time. True growth happens with authentic relationships that take time and effort; however, it’s where memories are made and lives are transformed. Our lives are meant to be spent in community and what better community is there than a group of believers to grow with and be real with?!

Adam: How have you grown as a disciple of Jesus through small groups?
Rob and Kate: We’ve grown as a disciple of Jesus by spending time learning and digging deeper together. We’ve been vulnerable, wrestled with those tough questions together and grown because of it.

Rob and Kate met in North Carolina, were married, and spent 8 years there involved in two churches. We moved to Sudbury with our three small children and recently joined TCC.

Our LIFE Groups Test Drive kicks off on November 5th. Click here for more info.

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Jen Calverley: True Fellowship of Believers

True Fellowship of Believers

On the importance of cultivating community in LIFE groups.

By Jen Calverley


Before my husband, Dale, passed away two years ago, our family was not part of a small group. We were simply too busy and I traveled and we ran the kids to all sorts of activities. We participated and volunteered throughout TCC, but we never devoted time to practicing Christian community with others. Without my husband, community seemed so far away and I knew it was exactly what we needed to help us lean more fully into God.

The community I discovered was far more than I could have imagined. Many of these families I already knew, but as we shared our lives, studied the word, and prayed, we became more than friends, we became family. This family is multi-generational with a variety of marital statuses and stages of life. Our children play together and have an opportunity to have fellowship with other Christian kids (and they are all excited to come!). The adults are married, single, divorced and widowed. It is a hugely diverse group who bring different perspectives to our study of scripture and to our lives.

To be honest, I would be nowhere without this little community. I have learned to lean on them for prayer and ask for help when I need it. And with these brothers and sisters I have talked about my process of grief and the difficulty of raising grieving children without another parent. In many ways, in fact, they have come together to fill that hole and helpme raise my children. I do not feel alone. I feel more loved and supported than ever before.

In Acts 2: 42-47, Luke describes a true fellowship of believers:

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added day by day those who were being saved.”

Though this seems to be an ideal, I have experienced these things in our small group. If you have never tried a small group before or haven’t in a long time, I urge you to try it. This is where we can learn how to be in relationship with each other. This is where our children learn, by example, how to live a Christian life. This is where our love for God grows. This is where true Christian community lives.

Jen Calverley is mother to Jack, Abby, and Morgan. She lives in Wayland and works at the front desk here at the church on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. She is a part-time student at Gordon-Conwell Theological seminary, and is also known to give a mean haircut.

Our LIFE Groups Test Drive kicks off on November 5th. Click here for more info.

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Installation Service Recap

Dear Church,

What a celebration on Sunday! We were joined by many of Pastor Tom’s long-time ministry mentors, friends, and colleagues to celebrate, welcome him and his family, and formally charge him and the congregation to keep our eyes on Jesus together.

Richard Lints, pastor at City Life Presbyterian Church, Chestnut Hill, and Vice-President of Academic Affairs at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary led a particularly convicting charge to the congregation. Listen to it here.

Here’s a transcript of his words:

My name is Richard Lints, a colleague of Tom and Donna’s at Gordon Conwell Seminary. My task as an outsider is to charge you as a congregation for the events are now just gonna start, and sometimes its easier for an outsider to say hard things, so listen carefully, because part of the challenge here to charge you is for you to keep your eyes on God, not on Tom. And tom’s job, is to keep your eyes on God. I take the text this afternoon, just a couple of words out of 1 Peter 5:

Humble yourselves, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may lift you up casting all your anxieties on Him, because he cares for you. Be sober minded, be watchful.

The simple message through all of that is to trust God. Don’t trust yourselves. Actually don’t trust Tom, except insofar as he points you to Jesus. And don’t trust the world that you live in, except as an arena to share God’s good news. Trust God. Humble yourselves, the apostle Peter says. It’s easy to think, especially if you’ve been in church a long time, to know what Church is supposed to be. But somehow, someway, you need to hear God’s word afresh, as Tom comes into the pulpit Sunday after Sunday, to be surprised by God’s grace in your life and in your soul. You need to know now it’s really important to listen, and to listen to that faithful word that Tom will preach. Encourage him, yes, as Ron reminded us. Pray for Tom and for Donna, and Marcus. There probably isn’t anything more import that you will do, than to pray for this family. For when you pray for them, you’re praying that your own heart would be soften to hear God’s word afresh. Trust God, not yourselves. Cast all your anxieties on God, in other words trust Him and not your own sense of the world you live in. There’s gonna be troubles, I guarantee there’s going to be troubles in this church. If there are no troubles in this church go find one where there is trouble. For that’s where you are more needed. But trust that God is present in the midst of the struggles. It’s far more important not to look for a perfect church, or to expect a perfect pastor, but rather understand God’s grace is sufficient in everything. To cast your anxieties on him. Trust God, in other words. Because God cares for you. And Tom’s ministry in your midst is one powerful symbol of God’s compassion on you, and for you. And finally be of a sober spirit, the Apostle says, “Be Watchful”. Trust God, in other words, knowing Tom is not the Messiah. But you will hope he is some days. Jesus is the Messiah. And Tom’s task is to point you to Jesus. And faithfulness is what you pray for Tom, that he would point you constantly to the Messiah. Don’t ask Tom to be more than he is called to be. He is called to preach, to teach, to disciple, to share God’s word: Point you to Jesus. That’s what he’s supposed to do. And so a final word of admonition: Guard the congregation here from gossip. The expectation that this church is not what it’s supposed to be. Every church is supposed to be fragile and frail. Recognize that, knowing that God is sufficient, and his grace will carry you through.

In case you missed it, here’s a complete recording of the service.

Thanks also to Sang Kim and Ken Keyes for taking these great pictures! Head over to our facebook page to see a full album

 

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The Power of The Written Word

Listen to the sermon here

At the end of his life, Martin Luther, who sparked the Reformation exactly 500 years ago this October, summed up his legacy this way: “I did nothing: The Word did it all.” For Luther, the Word of God in Scripture (the Word is Jesus Himself; John 1:1) was the proverbial spark that blew up the powder keg and changed the course of history.* Lenin, the spark of the other October Revolution exactly 100 years ago this year also had a very high view of the written word. Only this time, it’s the writings of Marx and Engels. He claims he literally fell in love them.

As we reflect on our own attitude toward the Bible, have we come to this life-changing moment when we literally ‘fall in love’ with the Word and accept it as it truly is, the Word of God (1 Thess 2:13)? Once Luther “got it” he simply couldn’t put the book down. He wrote 55 volumes worth of materials, but still said in the end, “I did nothing: I left it to the Word.”

May it be so in our own lives.

*For a very recent take on Luther’s life, see Eric Metaxas’ book.

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Membership Classes – Fall 2017

At TCC, we place a high value on membership because we believe that it is an important part of spiritual growth.  Members agree to participate in and support the Church’s Mission and their commitments made in the Covenant and the Apostles’ Creed. While it is certainly possible to grow spiritually without being a member, there is a great benefit that comes from being a committed member of a local church.

There are three significant reasons for being a member at TCC:

Membership formally associates believers with the body of Christ. (Romans 12:4-5)

When we talk about church membership, we are not referring to membership like being a member of an exclusive group or club.  The word “member” in the New Testament is closely related to the medical word “member.”  The Apostle Paul describes the Church as the body of Christ, and in that body, every believer is a part.  Just as body parts are firmly connected, membership intentionally connects believers to the body of Christ.

Members vote, give, lead & serve according to their gifts in the work of the ministry of the church.

(1 Corinthians 12:4-27)
Where other clubs and organizations exist for members to be consumers, the Church was designed in such a way that members are contributors to providing God’s love and care to others.  At TCC, all of our committees and ministry leadership roles require membership because their role is specifically helping to shape the direction and the future of the church.

Membership ensures appropriate pastoral care for members.
(Acts 20:28-29)

Though church leaders and believers are called to care for everyone, membership at TCC identifies you as part of the community.  Members come under the responsibility of those who are called to pray, encourage, teach and counsel you in your spiritual growth.

Becoming A Member
Here is a summary of the steps for becoming a member:

 Complete two membership classes at TCC (approximately 60 mins each).
 Complete the Membership Application (approximately 30-45mins)
 Meet with a Deacon and Pastor (this is an informal conversation) to talk through your understanding of membership at TCC.
 Be received as a new member during one of our worship services.

If you have any questions, or would like additional information, please contact Kyle Smethurst (Student Ministries Pastor) at kylesmethurst@gmail.com

Membership Classes
Fall 2017
October 29th & November 5th
11AM

Click here to sign up today!

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