Dear Presby Family, The season of Advent is here, and with it come many familiar rhythms, routines, and rituals that remind us of our Savior's birth. In the weeks ahead, we will light Advent candles, recount familiar truths, and sing hymns and carols that proclaim the excellencies of Jesus Christ, our Immanuel. Each Sunday, we will pay particular attention to a different Christmas hymn, considering its message and examining the truths that it teaches about Jesus. This Sunday, we will focus on "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," a hymn that was penned nearly three centuries ago that is still well-known and…
“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8 How many of you have ever experienced something like this? “Try it; you’ll like it.” Then, even if you respond that you’d rather not try it because you don’t really like it, the person comes back with, “Well, you’ve never had mine.” “Tasting and seeing that the Lord is good” is something we often hear during this time of year. But what if you feel like what you are “tasting and seeing” isn’t particularly good? What if you are experiencing an empty…
The Secret to Joy “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” - Philippians 4:11 What does it mean for us to be content? Can we ever truly be content? When we look around, it can be hard to imagine having total contentment. Sometimes it feels like the human heart is always looking for something more - more of this or that, the latest upgrade, or something that needs improvement. And how can we be content with so many things happening around us in the world? Wars. Economic threats. Racism. Oppression. Broken governments. All these things sow discontent everywhere. Yet…
“Can I just have a little peace?!” How many of us have ever uttered words along those lines? It could be the plea of a family member trying to escape the chaos of home life, a teacher bombarded with active children all day, or a medical patient caught in a whirlwind of tests, scans, appointments, insurance questions, and uncertain results. Stress takes its toll and steals our joy. When the Bible speaks of “the peace of God” that can guard our hearts and minds, this is much more than the absence of noise or busyness. True peace comes from the…
What is the place you call home? I find that, even when we are away on a wonderful vacation, it’s always good to get back home again. You are able to unwind and settle back into everyday routines with the things that are familiar: sights, sounds, and smells; neighbors, family, community; work, shopping, banking…Even bills and laundry. C.S. Lewis observed in Mere Christianity that, “If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next…It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the…
This Sunday, we will continue our sermon series on Joy by turning our attention to Philippians 3, which I consider one of the most emotional and intense sections of Paul's writings. Here Paul uses uncharacteristically fiery (and even vulgar!) language to warn Christians against the dangerous spiritual forces which threaten to steal their joy in the Lord. Here Paul also gives us an intimate glimpse into his own personal life and the central passion that fuels every aspect of his life and work. In our time together, we will consider Paul's radically countercultural vision of true joy that surpasses all…
How much joy would you have if you won the lottery? Can you imagine the change in your life if your bank account suddenly grew by millions? You would probably look forward to long vacations, nice cars, and a life of relative ease. But if you study the lives of lottery winners, you discover the sad reality that many flounder within ten years of winning a large sum of money. They receive the gift but don’t know how to use it. Their prize ends up being useless. When you and I receive the gift of salvation, it is like a…
There’s an old joke that perhaps you have heard: “Church would be great if you could just do without the people.” How many of us sometimes feel that way? Church can be an incredible place filled with uplifting people and numerous blessings, yet it can also be a place of hurtful words and painful rejection. But that’s not all! The Christian life can often be filled with heartache, suffering, health issues, financial woes, emotional trauma, and tears. Christians sometimes lose their grip and fall into worrying and complaining (even I can do this too). So how in the world can…
“Just follow your heart.” “Pray about it and do what feels right.” “Let your conscience be your guide.” How many of you have ever had this kind of advice given to you? This is based on an underlying assumption that inclinations and impressions we get in our hearts are a trustworthy source of direction in our lives. In Christian circles, this advice to follow your heart is often prefaced with a call to “pray about it,” but in the end, you do or believe what feels right. We can even wrap this in a language like, “I feel called,” or…