Whether someone reads the teachings of Jesus in the gospels for the very first time, or a person has spent years becoming familiar with what Jesus said and did, it is immediately apparent that Jesus repeatedly extended grace to those who were far from God and he was hardest on the religious leaders of his day. For this reason, the Pharisees have a terrible reputation as opponents of Jesus who were worse than all types of sinners.
In Matthew 23:1-2 we read: “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”
It’s interesting to me that Jesus instructed his followers to obey the teachings of the Pharisees. Apparently Jesus didn’t have an issue with their beliefs. He had a major problem with their actions. Their words and theirs deeds didn’t line up. On the other hand, Jesus found that the beliefs and actions of sinners were consistent. Although they were living apart from God, they didn’t pretend to be perfect or have it all together. They realized their need for grace, and that’s why he offered it.
What God desires from us is that we are honest with Him, and with ourselves, about how our beliefs and behavior line up and where we fall short. Unlike the Pharisees, God doesn’t want us to pretend that life is perfect or that we have it all together. The goal of Christianity is not our performance and how we measure up. The goal is to live in authentic relationship with Jesus through all the ups and downs, the peaks and valleys of life. Did you catch that? The goal is a dynamic and growing relationship with a person, namely Jesus.
In the Greek language, the word hypocrite was used to describe someone who put on a mask or another persona, like an actor on stage. Jesus used this word to describe the Pharisees since they pretended they didn’t need God’s grace. Unfortunately, church can be a place where people pretend they are someone they are not. Let’s stop pretending. Let’s be honest with ourselves and with God. I will start. I fail often. I need grace often. I need Jesus. How about you?
This past weekend more than 5,000 people came together across 9 services at our 3 campuses to celebrate Easter! If you weren't able to make it, here's the video our creative team put together that kicked off all of our services.
Pastor Lance and Peter are here with a video update from Student Ministries as we head into this holiday season!
Miss Student Takeover weekend? Click here for a video of the service. Here's links to the songs they played for worship:
Freedom is Here (Hillsong)
Shores (Bryan and Katie Torwalt Music)
Beautiful Things (Gungor)
God Who Saves (Hillsong)
God has done so many great things in the 25-year history of Timberlake and He’s not done yet! We can’t wait to see what God has in store for us as a church in the future. This weekend we celebrated our 25th anniversary and we just wanted to say thank you to the people who have made Timberlake the church it is today — Pastors throughout the years, volunteers and those who have made Timberlake their church home!
Timberlake Church started with seven families whose dream was to build a church that would be relevant to the current culture and encourage people who weren't yet Christ followers to investigate Christianity in a safe atmosphere, where anyone could bring his or her doubts or questions. The church would also be a place where followers of Christ could grow spiritually, be challenged to become more and more like Jesus and be encouraged to live out faith in day-to-day life. To this day, we hold this mission near and dear to our hearts.
You can watch the video of this week's service below, which included special in-service elements such as a 6-minute video recap of Timberlake through the years. As we take this point to pause at the 25-year mark, it's important to see where we're going in the future too. Every story you see is because someone invested in Timberlake Church and the work God is doing through us.
Our theme verse for our yearly special offering is Acts 1:8, which says: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (NIV).
Jesus’ disciples were empowered to do ministry that began in their hometown of Jerusalem, then extended to nearby regions, and finally to the entire world. Similarly, the three initiatives of the Next Generation Special Offering are Here, Near, and Far. Click here for more information or click here to login in to your secure account to give to Timberlake Church.
This Week's Music:
Nothing Is Impossible — Planetshakers
Filled With Your Glory — Starfield
Because He Lives — David Crowder Band
We Believe — Newsboys
Holding Nothing Back — Tim Hughes
In walking with Jesus, often we walk through difficult experiences, or what some describe as a storm. Sometimes these storms occur in our relational life, spiritual life, or to our physical bodies. Sometimes these storms are the result of our own decisions and other times they occur simply as part of living in what Scripture describes as a "fallen world."
If you're reading this, my guess is you've experienced something resembling a storm in your life. In those seasons of life, my hope is that you've seen God step in and bring peace, comfort, and clarity. But maybe, as you're reading this, you haven't experienced God intervening in a real way in your life and maybe, to make matters worse, you had really hoped He would have. Maybe you're reading this and you're new this whole faith and Jesus thing. You heard that God would never leave you or give up on you but as soon as you hit a rough patch, it sort of feels like that's exactly what's happened.
If that's something you've recently experienced, consider the story in the Bible where Jesus walks on water, and rescues his friend Peter from drowning as he attempts to do the same. As I read this story the other week, I noticed some things I hadn't noticed before.
But let's first get some background on Peter: He had recently left his profession (something that was likely his only skill set) to follow Jesus. The ramifications of his decision were undoubtedly significant, potentially including the alienation of his closest family and friends, but these were yet to be seen. He probably had a lot of questions, and wondered if he had made the right decision. He had emerged as a natural leader in the group of Jesus' followers. And he was willing, eager, and prone to snap decisions, sometimes leading him off-track.
So, here we find Peter - Jesus' ardent follower - eager, yet undoubtedly unsure. Jesus performs a miracle and then sends his disciples on a boat so that he could get some time by himself for spiritual refreshment.
You may be familiar with the story: A storm comes. The disciples are afraid. They see Jesus walking toward them on the water. And, if that wasn't extraordinary enough, something weird happens. Here's what the scripture says in Matthew 14:
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (MATT 14:29-30)
I've read, heard, and thought about this interesting series of events many of times. In fact, growing up in and around church, I've heard a number of sermons and devotions on this passage - probably more than I can count. I've heard that Peter wasn't actually walking on water but that he was walking on faith and that it's important for us to step out of our comfort zones into the unknown to follow Jesus. And so on. Good, encouraging, and challenging thoughts I've heard over the years that have helped move the ball forward in my faith.
But, as I read this again, I thought of something I hadn't before. It actually involves a different story but a similar situation. Here's what Mark accounts in Mark 4:
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. (MARK 4:35-39)
I'm sure you noticed, like I did, a lot of similarities in both passages. However, something jumped out at me in Mark's account - something I hadn't noticed before. Jesus offered a solution. He gets in the boat, calms the storm, says a few words, and just like that the wind and the waves die down and his friends in the boat feel safe and secure. They're blown away. They're absolutely astounded. And, as the Gospel notes, they ask one another, "Who is this guy?"
There was something else I noticed as I read this passage: Jesus has the power to conquer storms! I know, it's nothing especially profound. Unless, however, you apply this idea to Peter's life.
Let me explain.
Going back to Peter's story, we find him watching as Jesus approaches from a distance and shouts out, "If its really you, tell me to walk out to you!" Behind Peter's statement, I believe, is the implicit doubt we all go through. Peter is saying, "God, are you really everything you say you are? Can I really trust you? Was this decision to follow you just a huge mistake?"
Its a series of questions that, inevitably, all followers of Jesus ask. More often we ask these questions at a point in our life and faith when things get a little rocky - at a point when things didn't quite turn out the way we thought. Perhaps this is Peter's experience and so he calls out to Jesus to prove himself. And Peter gets afraid, as do we, and has a moment of doubt and fear and takes his eyes off Jesus and begins to sink. And Jesus reaches down and pulls Peter up out of the water.
But here's where it gets interesting: Jesus could have calmed the storm.
In Mark's account, its clear that the wind and waves and the forces of nature obey Jesus. He could have spoken one word to calm the storm and maybe Peter would have been fine. But Jesus doesn't do this. Instead, he chooses to reach down right into Peter's situation - in the middle of his mess - and pull him out.
When I read this, it lined up with how God often works in my life. In seasons that could be described as a "storm," I've often asked, even begged God, to step in and calm the storm. But often he doesn't. And that's something that we may never understand. But what Jesus does in these seasons is engage us right where we're at and when we ask for help He always seems to pull us out.
Recently, a team from Timberlake Church travelled throughout Kenya to work alongside Christian Ministries in Africa, an organization dedicated to spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ and helping orphans and abandoned children. These children are provided with the safety, nurturing, nutrition, and medical attention they need to have a better future.
The team visited 6 locations throughout Kenya, witnessing handicapped children overcome their disabilities to sing and dance with joy. We sang with the children at the schools and saw the progress God is doing in this incredibly poor area. We also walked from house to house near the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic and witnessed a community devastated by the disease. We prayed with people, both young and old, who have lost the majority of their family and friends. But through fellowship and prayer, God has showed us that He isn't done yet. Great things are in store for the people of Kenya.
Timberlake Church supports the work God is doing in Kenya, not only by sending mission teams, but by providing financial assistance. Thank you for your generosity as we continue to move the mission of Timberlake Church outside our walls.
Click here to watch the Kenya Mission Trip recap video.
This weekend, Pastor Ben will be wrapping up our series, First Dates to Soulmates. We thought we'd leave you with some practical ways you can improve your marriage.
- Deal with all your junk right away.
- Understand your roles and live in them.
- Be intimate, a lot.
- Date night.
- Your relationship is more important than any other relationship (except God).
- Pray together.
- Play together.
- Find a mentor.
- Put the other person first.
- Decide that you will stay married even if it kills you (and it probably will).
- No secrets.
- Work out of your gifting.
- Men, lead.
- Stay pure.
- Set Boundaries.
These tips came from Pastor Joshua Reich's blog post, 15 Ways to Improve Your Marriage
Great things are happening in Timberlake's Middle School Ministry. Recently we took a number of students to Great Wolf Lodge for our RUSH Winter Camp 2014. We had a great time and I wanted to share just a small glimpse into the incredible life change that happened that weekend.
I think it’s important to hear about how God interacts with middle school students because we can easily label our young students as spiritually immature or incapable of encountering God. Maybe it's all the sugar! However, I can confidently say this weekend revolutionized not only the Middle School Ministry but the future of Timberlake Student Ministries as a whole.
120 caffeinated and crazy students rolled out to camp, excited for water slides, arcade games, food, and social interaction with their friends, but returned Sunday with so much more than they expected.
We challenged our students to identify if they were living in God’s light or in the world’s darkness. We thought we were in over our heads with this challenge because many of the students didn’t even know how to pray. But God answered our prayers and pursued these young people, relentlessly, all weekend.
I wasn't sure what to expect during the final service because we tried something we hadn’t done before. Instead of watching our students make an emotional decision to follow Jesus, we simply asked them to sit back and think if living a life devoted to God was for them. We placed glow sticks on the stage for each student to come up and grab when they felt like they were ready to make a decision. The idea was that they had to be broken in order to shine for Jesus. So, if they desired to surrender their lives to Jesus, they would break their glow stick, making their declaration. I stood in the back of the room and watched as almost all of our students decided to be broken to shine for Jesus. We also encouraged the rest to take their glow sticks home, take some time, and make the decision if Jesus was for them.
We watched as our students as they worshipped Jesus in reckless abandonment. I was a great sight to see. We finished off the night with student testimonies from the stage and a whole lot of prayer.
37 students gave their lives to Christ that night and many more made the decision to take their next right step and get baptized.
I can’t take any credit for success of this camp. It comes down to our amazing adult leaders who were there to pastor these students and God being as faithful as he is.
Middle School Pastor
Few times are as trying as bedtime for most parents! The brush-floss-potty-wash-jammies-storytime routine ends up being a frustration for many of the parents I see at Love and Logic® parenting series. Either the parents end up shouting kids into bedrooms, or using up their last ounce of patience on all the repeat trips to tuck kids in.
If you’re fortunate enough to have mastered this near-Herculean nightly event, good for you! If you want some tips on this and more, we’ll be offering Parenting the Love and Logic WayTM on Thursday nights in Redmond, and Love and Logic Early Childhood Parenting Made Fun!TM on Wednesday nights in Issaquah. Click here to sign up.
No matter how much I use these parenting techniques, or any other, I will still never be a perfect parent. Thank goodness God fills in where I leave off. When my kids were toddlers, I happened upon a book of “bedtime blessings.” Knowing that I would be laying a hand on each child’s head and saying a prayer aloud helped me focus on what was most important at bedtime: to finish each day well, to renew my relationship with each child, and to send them to sleep with the knowledge of God’s great love for them.
What I didn’t anticipate was my kids’ addiction to the blessings I gave! They are teens now, nearly independent, and taller and up later than I. Yet, they still ask for a blessing before I head to bed. As we talk about college visits next month with my oldest, I count myself blessed that he seeks me out to pray over him. The days left are rapidly ticking by.
What to say? I’ll save you the cost of the book: look up Numbers 6:24-26 or Psalm 139:1-16. Print it out, tuck your kids in with scripture and a smooch, and point them to the Perfect Father who will love them better and longer than we parents ever will.
Family Life Pastor
Sometimes I sit back in my chair and look at the pictures of my kids that stand in the corner of my desk. I have some really great kids, if I don’t so say myself. They are beautiful and smart and I consider it an honor to play just a small part in the life that Jesus has laid out for them.
I keep those pictures on my desk not only as a symbol of my pride but as a reminder to pray for them. Because life gets busy and if you’re like me, you need a good reminder every once in a while.
“To be a Christian without prayer,” Martin Luther once wrote, “is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”
We serve a big God. And prayer is a great way of feeling connected to Him. In fact, when we don’t pray, we feel disconnected. As if, like Martin Luther wrote, our oxygen is cut off.
Let’s change that.
Here are seven ways we can pray for our children. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the scripture and prayer for your kids in these areas:
1. Pray they would be saved
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. – 2 Peter 3:9
2. Pray they will run from the sin that holds them down
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. - Hebrews 12:1-2
3. Pray their satisfaction would be found only in God
You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. – Psalm 16:11
4. Pray they would be kept in peace
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! - Isaiah 26:3
5. Pray they find courage
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. - Joshua 1:9
6. Pray they love the church
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. – John 13:34-35
7. Pray they have a heart of love
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Mother Teresa wrote that “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
As we run full steam ahead this Christmas season, let’s make sure that our first priority is fitting in prayer to a God that, not only loves us and cares for us, but wants nothing more than to talk with us through prayer.