Message from Pastor Lotz
The great mark of a Christian is that he or she is becoming more and more like Jesus Christ. Jesus himself reminded us that we “must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”. For many of us this sounds unattainable! What does it mean to become like Christ? How do we live lives that reasonably reflect God’s restored image and likeness through our frail and fragile lives?
November 29 is the beginning of Advent. It is a time of expectation and preparation, as we meditate on the words of John the Baptist who came to prepare the way for the Lord, to prepare hearts and lives through repentance to accept the Good News Jesus was about to bring. It is in fact John himself who helps us see what it means to be perfect as Christ is perfect. Jesus described him as the greatest man born of a woman, that is, born naturally of a man and a woman. But what marked out John’s greatness in the eyes of Jesus? It was the fact that he fulfilled his inner calling- to be a witness, and to prepare the way of the Lord. He understood the mystery of his identity; he knew who he was, and what he had come for. He was a bright light, shining in a dark generation, and bearing witness that Jesus was the Christ, God’s appointed messiah to save the world. And he fulfilled his calling in the very opposite direction many people today are trying to fulfill theirs: he understood that Christ must increase, and that he must decrease. And this is really the great mystery of Christian greatness. To make room in our lives for Christ to rule and reign, and to shine brightly in each of us is what we were each made for, and while our lives are filled with ambition, strife, desire and self-will, we
As Advent begins, and as we each prepare our hearts for this Christmas season, we are confronted with a great choice; one that our world mercilessly puts before us: we can either prepare ourselves to mediate this Christmas on the mystery of the incarnation, that great doctrine that God is with us through Jesus, that he knows us, that he share our human drama as one of us, truly God but truly man as well. Or we can fill our empty lives with things, with stuff, with wishes and desires for a multitude of vain things. We can imitate John, who himself imitated God, for it was Christ who ‘emptied himself of all claims to his Divine privilege, and made himself a slave to all. Or we can haplessly obey our television sets and give full reign to our wants and wishes as pliant consumers. We can empty ourselves of ourselves, so that we can be filled with Christ, or we can stuff ourselves with our empty desires, and leave no room for the presence of God in our lives, in our families, and in our homes this Christmas.
And though it is a choice for each one of us, let me ask the men in particular to model what it means to be sacrificial, to be generous in Spiritual things, and to be holy, to be perfect, as John, and as Christ.
Message from Pastor Mccarron
Real Peace only comes through the Prince of Peace!
I remember when I was a teenager my mom would watch the Miss America Pageant on TV every year and since we only had one TV, we all would watch it with her. The one thing that always stood out to me was that several of the young ladies would say they wanted World Peace. What a wonderful thought! Just think about it, there would be no wars going on and all the nations would come together as one people. There would be no disagreements between friends and family…. I can’t remember a single day when all of my family was at peace with one another.
• What is the definition for peace according to the world?
The world’s definition of peace is a time of tranquility; stress-free state of security and calmness that comes when there is no fighting or war, everyone co-existing in perfect harmony and freedom. A time when you feel at peace with yourself and you are content with the person that you are, flaws and everything. The world’s definition for peace does not include Christ but will be accomplished by men. Perfect harmony without Jesus?
Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be
upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Luke 2:13-14 “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good
will toward men.”
• The peace that Jesus gives to those who believe in Him is a peace that cannot be understood by the world.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds
through Christ Jesus.”
• Jesus gives His peace to those who follow Him!
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not
let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
• Disciples of Jesus are to be peacemakers! Showing the lost where they can find real peace!
Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
The world will never know what real peace is without knowing Christ. The world does not know where to find His peace. We are the peacemakers, the believers in Christ, who are sent out into the world to show the lost the way to peace! We have the peace that the world desires!
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.”
Micah 5:5 “And He shall be their peace.”
• Real Peace can only be achieved through Jesus Christ. There is no other way!
During this season when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ let us also celebrate the reason He came to earth; He came to die for us and to make it possible that we will live forever with Him in a place of perfect peace.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except
Jared Carline, Youth Pastor’s Message
“Where then is my hope? Who will see my hope?” (Job 17:15) This has been a difficult year for many of us. Some among us have lost careers, experienced illness, and even said goodbye one last time to someone they loved. I would like to express my sincere condolences to everyone who encountered pain this passing year.
When we as believers undergo or witness suffering in this present life it is acceptable to mourn. Any belief contrary to that statement is unbiblical and certainly does not represent the life of Christ. Jesus himself expressed many moments of sadness and mourning. As we can perceive when observing the shortest verse in our English translations, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). A simple verse, but packed with deep complexity. Why was Jesus weeping? I encourage you to take a moment and read John 11:1-44.
This is a bible story many of us know quite well. Lazarus, the brother of Mary who anointed Jesus with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, was ill. Mary and her sister Martha sent word of their brother’s illness to Jesus saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” Again, many of us have experienced this situation in our lives and maybe even this year. Here, we are reminded that Jesus can sympathize with our grief as he too went through similar trials. Jesus responded to Mary and Martha by saying, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” The response that Jesus gives is an expression of great hope! Jesus knows that he is the Messiah, the Christ, the One who is the resurrection and the life. The hope that Jesus is expressing is full confidence that God the Father is Sovereign.
So, why did Jesus weep? This seems strange because as the story continues Jesus knows that Lazarus has died and yet tells his disciples plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.” Here Jesus is expressing gladness, not mourning. Once more we recognize Jesus demonstrating hope, knowing that the death of Lazarus would lead to revealing God’s glory and deepening the faith of the disciples. When Martha confronts Jesus for not raising her brother from the dead he responds by saying, “Your brother will rise again” and “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She responds with, “Yes, Lord: I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:25-27). Do we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, as Martha profoundly declares? This is a question we must all ask ourselves as we endure suffering in our lives. In this belief, Christians can experience immense hope during this life, because someday all who believe in Jesus will once again live after death.
So with this hope that Christ demonstrated, again we must ponder the reasoning of why Jesus wept? By doing so, it is my goal that we understand the feelings of sorrow or distress are compatible with hope. Mary rose quickly and ran to Jesus in verse 31. She found him and fell to his feet as she had done before when she anointed him with oil. In this position of reverence, she wept again and said “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” The bible tells us that, “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.” He asked Mary where she laid the body of Lazarus, and she said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Then we see the famous verse, “Jesus wept.” (vs.35).
Jesus wept because of the deep compassion he felt for those who were suffering. Although Jesus demonstrated great hope that God’s glory would be revealed through the resurrection of Lazarus, he does not dismiss the suffering it would require. Lazarus had to experience great pain, a physical death, and his loved ones had to endure this trial with him and witness his passing. In this story, we get a glimpse of how the Father feels over the affliction and grief his children experience. Sin grieves God because of its destructive work in our lives and those around us. Jesus was weeping because he saw once again what the result of sin is, for Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death.” But Jesus came into this world for a purpose, to destroy the works of the devil and to destroy the enemy: Death (1 Corinthians 15:26).
As the story ends, Jesus cries out with a loud voice towards the tomb, “Lazarus, come out.” (John 11:43). The man who had been dead for four days came out with his hands and feet still bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to those who witnessed it, “Unbind him, and let him go.” God raising Lazarus from the dead foreshadows the resurrection of Jesus and the great resurrection all believers will experience on the last day. The suffering we experience in this life can be great, but the hope we have for the future is greater! “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
Andrew Wood, Director of Worship and IT
Joy to the world! Or so the carol goes. But what is joy and why should the world have joy in a time of plague, economic struggle, and political instability? Surely if there is any time to not have joy, and to give in to despair, it would be now. But I would argue because of the name Emmanuel, we should rejoice now as much as ever!
Imagine a beautiful wood fire in the fireplace, the wood crackling and the flames dancing. Well think of those dancing flames as excitement and happiness. They soar with more fuel, they die out with less fuel, and the wind shifts them back and forth, ever shifting to the changing state of the room. This is not too dissimilar to our shifting emotions during the day, a cup of coffee brings us to life, a bad work email brings us down, the laugh of our child brings a smile, and a headache takes it all away. Our happiness and excitement of life waxing and waning with the march of the day.
However, underneath this ever-shifting sea of flame, there are the embers, the slow-burning coals of burning wood. This is job, a deeper, unshifting attitude of positivity and future hope. Unlike emotions such as happiness, which come and go even multiple times a day, joy is a state of mind, and a state of spiritual being, a state of trust, a state of peace. Unlike happiness, joy doesn’t shift with the shifts of daily life, but burns steadily and with strength. Not easily put out, an ember can weather the shifting patterns of daily life.
But what does this have to do with Christmas? Everything! Because if there is any season of the year to remind us to have joy, it is the coming of Emmanuel.
Emmanuel means, God with us. Most of us haven’t taken the time to consider just that point, the idea of God with us. Often it is because we have such a low view of God that we don’t consider what a miracle it is to say “Emmanuel”. God, the self-existent, all-powerful, all knowing, all present, being of immensity beyond time and space, became man. This holy other being took on flesh and became a man. Hallelujah! What a miracle! But why?
Because God had pity on our miserable state. (1 Peter 1:3)
Because God wanted us to know him. (Jeremiah 24:7)
Because God wanted to make us His Children. (John 1:12)
Because God so loved the World. (John 3:16)
Because God became a babe, and took on flesh, so that he could redeem us from our sin, experience our burdens, and be our Loving Savior.
That is why we have joy, that deep ember of blessed peace, trust, and happiness. Because God has delighted in us to be His children. We have joy, and eagerly await his return because God has deemed to redeem us, and to crown us with his delight and good pleasure. We have joy this Christmas in spite of the economy being shaky, in spite of global pandemic which threatens our families, and in spite of political instability that causes such anxiety. For God is with us! Fight for joy, for God has taken delight in you and truly, God is with you.
Have Joy, for Emmanuel has come!
A Message from Jamie Weist, Deacon Chairman
The fourth and final theme of Advent is Love. God’s love undergirds the entire Bible, because God is Love. His Love started in the beginning, as revealed in Genesis 1, when He created us in His own image for the purpose of loving Him and each other. Even after the first sin, he showed us how to Love through his great mercy by setting His plan into motion to redeem us from our failures. In Love he chose Abraham and created an everlasting promise to create a great nation in which the entire world would be blessed by his offspring. Generation after generation God remained faithful to His people, even when they did not, for He is ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, and slow to anger, abounding in steadfast Love.
In His unique, and most powerful way, God demonstrated this Love, by making himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, that while we were sinners He sent His Son, His only Son, as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. They will know we are believers in Him, by our Love. Love is patient and kind. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus is Love.
Jason Fowler, Treasurers Report
Our budgeted monthly Titles and Offerings are $53,332.00. Tithes and Offerings for the past month were $38,032.00.
Bruce Phillips, Building and Ground’s message
I would like to give the church an update on some of the matters that have been done at Courtland Baptist Church in the last couple of months. There are things that have already been accomplished, are in process of completion, or that are being contemplated for the future at CBC. I would like to thank our members who volunteer their time and energy at the church. I pray that we will soon be able to gather as Disciples of Christ to work in the community and at the church. Thanks again to all who volunteered to be about God’s business.
Window is in process of being fixed; pending
Spraying weeds and bamboo along the fence attempting to push them back; continuing
Mulching the flower beds (in progress); unfinished
Cutting bamboo and trees along the river side of the church.
Fixed broken pipes in the boathouse
In the Future:
Repaint the lines in the parking lots
History Room door needs to be replaced from a Dutch door to regular door
Repair church sign-install signage that directs people to the Sanctuary, Chapel, and Church Office.
Explore the use of a digital sign that can give real time announcements.
Church security system is under consideration
We are looking at the River House to see if it still can be utilized.