Pastor Jon invited a guest speaker, Fran McGreevy, to offer his perspective on the dignity of man. Fran elaborated on how there is a need in our society to see others in the image of Christ. This concept applies to both believers and non-believers. He offered insight that no other philosophy or religion gives people any dignity of man than Christianity does. Fran also explained John 10:10, which states: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest.” He mentioned that the only reason that the enemy would want to feed us lies is that what Christ provides to us is so powerful that the enemy cannot win our hearts without stealing from us. Fran also provided examples from his career as a middle school principal and mentioned that there are many parallels between education research and scriptural research. The key to a happy and successful student is their ability to tap into their minds and thinking, their heart and the longings of their heart, and their free will and choosing. He explained how there are three components from psychology that people want:
- To love and be loved
- To be competent (to use their gifts to present to the world)
- Autonomy (everyone is unique)
Fran concluded his message with the parable of the talents and encouraged the congregation to not bury the gifts that God has given us and that they are meant to be shared with the world. Often the sharing of those gifts will come with great opposition from the enemy, but Fran urged that we should not be discouraged when opposition comes and that we should keep pressing on.
Chris Parker shared a message with the congregation on how we should handle situations in life when we experience doubt. He explained Matthew 28:27 which states: “When they saw Him, they worshipped Him, but some doubted.” Chris explained how this debunks the idea that many believers have now that if they were living in Jesus’ time there would be no reason for any doubt in their hearts. Chris also offered encouragement by explaining the fact that God will not love us more or less based on our level of faith, He is far more interested in our hearts. He also asked the question, “Do our doubts disqualify us from salvation?” He offered five points that contradict this question that were intended to offer encouragement to anyone struggling with doubt.
1) Logical inconsistency- There can only be one outcome; two people praying in equal and opposite directions cannot achieve the same outcome.
2) This thinking assumes an un-Christ like portrait of God
3) Creates a learning phobia
4) Sets people up for a fall
5) Certainty seeking faith is idolatrous
Chris concluded his message with a call that we should not be solely absorbed with a chase for certainty, we should chase after Jesus. He explained that faith is a process, it can grow. We can be okay with questions and ambiguities, and we need to leverage everything on Jesus and Him crucified.
Pastor Jon shared the story of Palm Sunday with the congregation and explained the historical context of Jesus’ triumphal entry that was depicted in John 12. He mentioned that the typical entry for a king in Jesus’ time was in a chariot pulled by white horses. However, Jesus humbled himself by turning toward Jerusalem and riding in on a donkey. Pastor Jon also explained the fact that one misconception that we as Christians should seek to overcome is that Jesus’ gift of salvation on the cross is a gift that we need to earn. He explained that the purpose of a gift is to be received rather than earned. He concluded his message with a call to think about any people that you feel called to invite to Easter Sunday service and reach out to them this week.
Pastor Jon shared the story of Resurrection Sunday and explained how Jesus chose us, to live a life alongside Him. He explained the story of Cinderella’s shoe and mentioned how the prince in the story was less concerned with outside looks or appearances and was much more interested in the character of the one who left her glass slipper behind. This is similar to the resurrection story because Jesus’ resurrection fits perfectly into everything that we were designed for. Ephesians 2:6 states: “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” Pastor Jon also described the life of Peter by illustrating the fact that Peter was always quick to jump to the aid of the friends that were closest to him, almost to a fault in some cases. He even cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest. Pastor Jon mentioned that although we can sometimes be down on ourselves for decisions we’ve made in our lives (Peter was in a similar situation after Jesus was crucified), the story of Jesus’ resurrection saves us from our own inadequacies and doubts. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 states “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” Pastor Jon concluded his message with encouraging words that God has called us to an adventurous story and that we died with Jesus, we were raised with Him, we are now complete in Him, and he is always with us.