It is the job of marketers to convince you that you have some flaw, shortcoming, or need that only their product can fix. Your 'ugly' bathroom needs a facelift.... your dreary life would benefit from a vacation to an exotic and exciting destination.... your limp hair needs the benefits of a new shampoo. And even if we've learned the way of commercial marketers and can resist their perception of who we are and what we need, the world still gives us many expectations to live up to. Images of the perfect home and family; successful career and accomplished children; and healthy, happy, beautiful selves flood our culture and social media feeds. It's tempting to chase after these things. They promise happiness, health, and prosperity. But they seldom deliver. As hard as we try, we won't find contentment and fulfillment in imitating others. We're made in the likeness of God and seeking to imitate God’s 'selfie' is the only image worth pursuing. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTc32MlIH5c

Something Beautiful

Today's Worship Experience: Something Beautiful The arts and crafts industry is booming, and DIY-ers are putting a strain on home improvement supplies. With more people at home, and many with extra time on their hands through the pandemic, these industries seem to be at a high point. Stores like Michael's, JoAnn's, and Lowes provide everything from the raw materials to pre-designed projects to completed, inspirational pieces. Facebook pages like "Repurpose + Upcycle = Inspiration" have thousands of followers. A quick search on Pinterest gives ideas for crafting jewelry, home decor, gifts, fashion, and more. We are born with the desire to enhance our lives and environments with beautiful things. Some of us are wired to especially enjoy the creative process. Creativity and beauty are characteristics of the one Creator, the God who created all that is, the God that continues to re-create. Feeling a little blah and bland after a year of pandemic? Join God in the creative process and let God make something new and beautiful in you. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnQmv3mpvSM&t=1s

Better Together

Better Together: Today's Worship Experience The word “church” holds different meanings for different people. Some would finish the sentence, "Church is...," with descriptions of a building or an organization. Some would talk about the services and programs that a congregation provides. Some would talk about worship, or about the feelings, they associate with the 'church.' And some would nostalgically recall the faith experiences of their childhood. When the Bible talks about the 'church,' it usually uses the phrase the "body of Christ" suggesting that the church is not just a place, an activity, or a feeling, but is in fact something that is vibrant, alive, growing, moving, and impacting its members and the world at large. In a physical body, each part is important. And so it is in the church, the body of Christ. Without you, the church is less than God designed it to be. With you, the body has all it needs to be Christ present in the world. We truly are... better together. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5N9QDO0CGs

Perfect!

The pressure is real. Marketers present images of perfect bodies, perfect homes, and perfect families. Our social media feeds give us a constant stream of our friends' cute kids, picture perfect vacations, and heart-warming moments with loved ones. And just a few quick errands on Saturday afternoon can lead you to compare your car with others in the grocery parking lot; your children's behavior with those of the apparently perfect family in the next aisle; and your day-off, comfy clothes with those of every other person your age. The world seems perfect, and we generally seem so not perfect. But it's OK. God didn't create us to be perfect. He didn't make us to be perfect partners or spouses, parents or friends, moms or dads. We were created in love, for love, and to love by a perfect and loving God. And even on our most imperfect days, that's enough. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZDVFSiYZgU

Fork in the Road

On every great adventure there comes at least one moment of decision… Do we go left or right? Is the trail ahead safe or do we go back? Maybe the treasure will never be found... do we keep looking or give up and save our resources for another day? Discerning next steps can be as treacherous as the adventure itself. Scripture admonishes us to both carefully consider and count the cost before striking out on some new venture (Luke 14:28-30), and to not look back once we have set out (Luke 9:62). When we don’t have certainty about where we are going, we can at least find clarity about where we are. And where we are is with God. When we don’t know what’s next, God does. And we can be abundantly certain that God goes before us, God goes with us, and God will bring us safely into God’s future. Worship link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBEvUBUeMMY

Winning or Learning

On any given adventure, we might have some fun; it’s certainly going to be exciting; and it will likely be scary at moments. But always, we will have the opportunity to explore new things, try something unfamiliar, and discover various ways of doing things. Whether we are exploring a part of town new to us or blazing a new trail through an unexplored part of a jungle, opportunities abound for experimenting and learning when we are on an adventure. True adventurers love this part of the adventure - striking out into the unknown to see what new things await. Some are less enthusiastic about new things and new ways of doing things. But the good news is that when you adventure, explore, and experiment with God as your guide, there’s really no risk - only learning, growing, and blessing! Worship link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggkzgUW_MEo

Overcoming

You are not truly on an adventure if you don’t encounter unexpected obstacles and challenges that you didn’t anticipate. Some of us try to compensate for the uncertainty by packing carefully - and generously. Some of us try to train our way to being ready. God has a much easier - lighter - plan. Just stay close to God. God has everything we need to overcome whatever gets in our way as we journey and adventure with God! Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4GXcBfNjW4

Popular advice to someone hesitating about making a big life change is, “If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll never… have children, change careers, move across the country, tackle that larger-than-life dream.” Opportunity doesn’t always allow us time to prepare, but even with time, some of us are slow to move. The future is always unknown, uncertain, and a little scary. But staying right where we are today isn’t an option either. Time moves on and life moves forward, whether we like it or not. And life with God is especially mobile and unpredictable. But that’s how God has it planned. More than feeling prepared and confident about the places God is leading us, God wants us to trust and follow. Rather than taking the time to get set in the blocks and anticipate the starter's call, God invites us to just ‘Go!” and then worry about getting ready and set. And with God, that’s all we need to do. Go! Worship link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXhR3PHI2Ic

Easter Sunday:

Easter Sunday It’s been a long year... In addition to a global pandemic that has spanned the entirety of the last 12 months +, we’ve struggled through a long season of social unrest and we’ve endured an especially contentious election cycle. Add to that the personal challenges, which for some of us, have been many - job loss, financial hardship, illness, death, moves, loneliness and isolation, profound uncertainty, and more. We find ourselves at yet another Easter, wanting to celebrate and believe what we say today, but is new life really possible? Does Easter really matter? Can it really make a difference... and make a difference for me? Everything changed on that first Easter morning. Everything changed for the women who discovered the empty tomb, for Jesus’ followers, for the world - - and for you. Can you see it? Will you see it? The women returned to the tomb to continue grieving and to anoint the dead body of Jesus. They found the stone rolled away from the entrance of the tomb and they searched inside for the body. But instead of the dead remains of the previous days, they received encouragement to look elsewhere. They would not find what they needed - and what this day promised - among the dead, in the past. Neither will we find what we need by sifting through yesterday’s remains. It’s a new day, and it’s time for us to seek a new life among the living. Today we choose to look towards a new tomorrow - today we choose the Living Jesus. Happy Easter! Worship link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU8j2WyIN2A&t=1s

On Our Knees

TODAY'S WORSHIP EXPERIENCE: Love Like Jesus: On Our Knees Have you noticed, except for the most bitter cold days here in the Midwest, most of us don't wear coats anymore? On any given day in February, we move from our climate-controlled homes to our heated garages to get in our warm cars. We drive to work or school or the store, park close, and dash inside to take care of business in a comfortable setting. On the way home, we pick up dinner or the cleaning at the drive-thru and arrive back in our warm garages without having suffered more than a very few moments of the uncomfortable cold. We highly value our comfort and go to great lengths to maintain it. Jesus, on the other hand, doesn't seem the least bit concerned with his comfort - or ours. Jesus is much more concerned that everyone always knows that they are loved, welcomed, and wanted in the family of God. As we love like Jesus we will find ourselves in uncomfortable situations with uncomfortable people. But be encouraged, Jesus shows us just how to loving there, too! Click the link: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/FMfcgxwLtGlccpjCRzJlSZfXcscjwxvb?projector=1

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