Finding Meaning When All Seems Meaningless


Increasingly today, it seems like people struggle to find meaning. It is something we all long for, but few find. We live in a time of unprecedented peace, economic prosperity, technological advancement, and global connectedness. Yet we feel turmoil. We feel poor and alone.

Perhaps this is because we look for meaning in the wrong places… and this is not new. The quest for meaning has always been a part of what it means to be human. So too is the tendency to look for it in the wrong place. More and more we fill our lives with distractions, afraid to face life's biggest and hardest questions.

On January 13th, we will be starting a new sermon series on the book of Ecclesiastes, which is a breath of fresh air with its honest questions and sober answers. It is not afraid to ask the big questions… confess the big failures… and announce the way of meaning, peace, and hope.

I look forward to working through this book with you.

The Yellow Brick Road and the Seven Churches

The Yellow Brick Road and the Seven Churches

Judy Garland’s performance in Frank Baum’s the Wizard of Oz will forever be a classic. It is one of those movies that has successfully crossed barriers and renewed its place in the hearts of each new generation for many decades. 

In the movie, Dorothy and Toto are accompanied on the road to Oz by three companions—the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. Each feels frustrated by the lack of something. For the Scarecrow, he longs to have a brain so that he can think deep thoughts. The Tin Man wishes he had a heart so that he can love. And the Lion wishes that he could be brave. What is interesting is how each of these corresponds to what we have been learning in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. 

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Loving Actual People

Sin will always entice you to feel free to address evil elsewhere but not in your own heart. We find a strange comfort in speaking piously and critiquing others, because it gives us a sense that we care about what is good and right and true. But God calls us to look deeper and see if our hearts really beat with his... if we are willing to ask whether or not we meet the standard that we so freely impose on others. 

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New Sermon Series on the Church and Evangelism

Last Sunday we started a new series on the Church and Evangelism. While topical series are not the norm at Reformation, we do periodically pause and look at subjects that we believe are timely and important to the congregation. In the past we have done this with church officers, worship and the Lord’s Supper.

Over the past several months the elders have been reading through the book Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus by Mack Stiles. The book addresses evangelism—the calling of non-Christians to saving faith and the process of discipleship, which is becoming more like Jesus (Luke 6:40).  Stiles does a great job addressing problems with many modern approaches to evangelism—but more importantly he offers a biblically faithful approach. Such an approach is desperately needed in the church today.

It is needed because God has a heart for the lost and we ought to as well. Jesus came into this world to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). The last words our Savior spoke included the command to take the gospel of salvation into all the world (Matthew 28:18-20). It pleases him for all men to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). When we are apathetic toward evangelism we betray hearts that are out of sync with our Savior’s. The elders believe that this is an area where our church can (and should) grow.

But biblical instruction on evangelism is needed for another reason as well. Many well-intentioned believers have employed methods of evangelism that are not in accord with God’s word. We don’t just want to evangelize—we want to evangelize well. So the new series will not only seek to explain what evangelism is and why we should be passionate about it, but how God calls us to engage in that work.

The series will break into two parts. First, we will look at what the church is. It is the church that evangelizes and so we must understand what the church that evangelizes is. The first sermon was on the invisible church. From here we will look at the visible church as well as various metaphors God gives us to describe the church such as the bride of Christ, the pillar of truth, the household of God, the body of Christ and so on. We will look at each of these and see how they reveal an aspect of who we are as the church. 

From there we will turn and look at the work of evangelism. We will address the content of the gospel message. Sadly many Christians struggle to clearly and succinctly summarize what the gospel is. The Bible says the gospel is the power of God unto salvation—we ought to know what it is. Much of what we will look at in this part of the series is how the church bears witness to the work of Jesus both by being the church and actively seeking to work together to share the grace of Jesus with unbelievers. Evangelism is not a solo sport, but a group effort. As Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6) A healthy view of evangelism must understand how we, as Christians, support each other in sharing the love of Christ with others. Our hope is that the series we are beginning will help us see, appreciate and embody all of these things. 

We would also encourage each of you to read Stiles’ book. If you would like to buy a copy it is available at Amazon in hardback or on Kindle. However, as we mentioned on Sunday, we have copies available for free on the back table. Please feel free to take a copy for your family and read through it—you will be glad you did. The July 2016 New Horizons had a wonderful review of the book by John Shaw if you would like to read it (pages 14-15). That same issue also had a helpful article on evangelism on pages 3-8. 

Pastor Brett

Brett McNeill

Brett McNeill has been our pastor since we began in 2004. He and Jen have been married since 1998 and have four wonderful daughters. Brett is a graduate of Westminster Seminary in California (Masters in Divinity, 2003). His desire is to clearly proclaim Jesus Christ from all of Scripture in a way that is clear, convicting and encouraging.


We talked in the sermon on Sunday about what repentance is. By way of practical suggestions, I'd like to offer the follow thoughts for when you need to go to someone and repent. When you repent, ask yourself these questions:

1. What did you do wrong?

You should always be specific. Do not say, "I'm sorry about earlier." Be very clear on what you did that was wrong.

2. Why was it wrong?

The answer here is not because it hurt the other person's feelings. Was it wrong because you disobeyed God? Was it wrong because you served yourself and not the other? Was it wrong because you did not think before you spoke?  Was said in anger? To hurt? 

3. What does the other person deserve?

Yes, people are sinners, but they are made in God's image and deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. You need to acknowledge that the one against whom you sinned deserves better. Husbands deserve to be honored, not because they are perfect, but because Christ says so. Wives deserved to be cherished, because Christ has cherished us. Children deserve kindness, patience and gentleness. Parents deserve honor. Remind the person that you did not sin because he deserved it, but because you failed.

4. What do you want to do? 

If you say "I will never do it again," you are not repenting, you are bargaining. You are asking for forgiveness in exchange for your future good works (oh, and you are also lying). Be honest. You want to work on it. You will work on it. But you will probably fail again and that ought to lead you to humility and brokenness. 

5. What do you want from the other?

When you have confessed what you did, why it was wrong and what you want to do, you need to ask for forgiveness. This is what you want (or should want). The sad reality is that we have made people afraid to offer forgiveness. Grace is the only thing that can cover sin. If you are truly repentant, there is nothing you can do to fix what you have done. Asking for forgiveness admits that you have no rights, only brokenness. It also frees the offended person to offer forgiveness without fear that they will be attacked as being "holier than thou."

And that leads to the question of, how do you respond when someone repents. The Lord commands us to forgive those who repent because he has forgiven us. Matthew 18:21-35 is a wonderful passage about this reality. But how you respond to someone who repents is as important as how they repent. Do not respond with "it's okay" because it's not okay to sin. Don't say "don't worry about it" because that just says he should feel free to do it again. The other person has repented, not asked you tell him it is okay. He is asking for forgiveness. That is what you need to respond with. Respond with "I forgive you." That is how God responds to us when we repent and how he calls us to respond to others.

Brett McNeill

Brett McNeill has been our pastor since we began in 2004. He and Jen have been married since 1998 and have four wonderful daughters. Brett is a graduate of Westminster Seminary in California (Masters in Divinity, 2003). His desire is to clearly proclaim Jesus Christ from all of Scripture in a way that is clear, convicting and encouraging.