CHURCH MISSION STATEMENT
We are called to bring people into a personal relationship with God through his son, Jesus Christ.
We accomplish this by bringing others into the community of the church through genuine friendship and fellowship. In this loving fellowship we grow in faith through the Word, community, prayer and worship.
Farewell to Pat and Brian Callaghan
A potluck was held in honor of Pat and Brian's many years of service to Topinabee Community Church. May God's grace follow them in years to come.
THUNDER BAY ELK VIEWING SLEIGH
A soup cook-off was held at Paul and Nancy's home.
There was lots of good food and all had a great time.
Paul and Steve at solving the worlds problems
Bob is trying to explain why he has Buckeye slipees on while standing under the Michigan Flag!
Debbie and Caren playing pool????
CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW TO HEAR THE SERMONS AND MUSIC
The Topinabee Church Choir
Finding Old Coins
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father…So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10.29, 31 NRSV
May 10th, 2015
I looked at my change as I left the store one cold spring day and was surprised. I received back two silver quarters, a silver dime and three old pennies. The face value was 63 cents. But to a coin collector, they were worth close to thirty dollars.
Coins are just bits of earth refined, shaped and stamped with a date and the emblem of the country of origin. Yet there is a whole industry with stores, books, websites, etc. on the buying and selling of coins. But at least collecting coins make some sense to me, whereas Beanie Babies (remember them?) simply made no sense whatsoever. Coins, at least the silver and gold ones, have intrinsic value. But how do they compare to a child’s delight over a Christmas present or the light that comes into an elderly person’s eyes as he or she shares a wonderful memory with us?
Prayer: Lord, the fact is we need money to make our way in this world, but never let us lose sight of what has true worth.
A Missionary at Ken’s Market
“Declare his glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples.” Psalm 96.3 NRSV
May 9, 2017
For those of you not living in the greater Topinabee area of Michigan, Ken’s Market is the go-to grocery store in our area. I often joke that whether you’re going to Heaven or Hell, first you go through Ken’s.
It’s there, picking through the produce or groaning at the cost of my favorite coffee, that I have some of my most productive moments with people in sharing my faith with people.
I don’t hand out religious tracks. I don’t stand on a chair and shout the gospel message. I’m there shop. But over the years in this grocery store, scores of people have asked their questions about life, faith and their current struggles.
Although I keep office hours, rarely do non-members come by for a God chat. But on this neutral ground, people feel safe enough to open up.
Since I’ve been an area pastor for many years and have a column in the local papers, folks know who I am even when they are strangers to me. So they feel comfortable enough to seek answers to their questions.
Some missionaries go door to door to share their faith while others travel to far away lands. I’ve found my place walking the aisles of Ken’s, trying to find where the organic chicken broth is.
Prayer: Lord, there’s an old proverb that says “Bloom where you are planting.” Who knew it would be in aisle four?
“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray.” Matt 14.23 NRSV
May 2, 2017
Martin Luther said it was his habit to spend an hour in the morning praying and communing with God. When asked what he did if it was a very busy day, crowded with demands on his time, he replied, “Then I spend two hours with God in the morning.”
The first time I heard this, I recognized the wisdom, but kept ignoring it.
That morning got off to a rocky and late start. My home was next door to that particular church so I would always go to the sanctuary to pray and begin my day. I almost didn’t. I was running late, there were things to do, people to see and then I stopped and laughed out loud. The very excuses for not praying and spending time in the Bible that I was telling the church study groups to reject, I was using on myself.
I just put all of it on hold. I closed the office door and locked the world out. I spent that precious time in prayer and the scripture reading I knew I needed.
Slowly, the urgency of running late passed away. And as unlikely as it might have seemed, there were enough hours in the day to do all I needed and to spare.
Do not let the good crowd out the best; do not let the urgent master the important.
Prayer: Father, slow me down enough to hear You
We Are Not the Same
Parable of the Talents Part 3
‘“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.” Matthew 25.15-15 NRSV
April 26, 2017
The master gave to each of his servants according to his financial ability. Clearly, he did not think them the same. His “Ace,” his top moneymaker, received five talents. The next fellow was not quite as good, but talented enough to receive three talents. The third was not as astute as either of the others, but he was still talented enough to be entrusted one talent.
Why didn’t the master give it all to the best one? Could it be he understood that the others would never improve without his trusting them with something important? And the one who received three talents rose to the challenge.
My friend when I was growing up became a structural steel draftsman. Buildings went up with his handiwork and he even helped renovate the state capital building in Illinois. He can’t play the piano, dunk a basketball or speak another language. But the people who live safely in the buildings he worked on do so in part because of him.
We are not the same and we are not meant be.
We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” as the Creator meant us to be.
So, I’m giving big shout-out to plumbers, electricians, computer wizards and all of you who do what I cannot. The check is in the mail!
Prayer: Lord, You made us in the way that pleased You. What we do with it is up to us.
We Have What It Takes
Parable of the Talents Part 2
‘“Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’” Matthew 25.22-21 NRSV
April 25, 2017
How many times have I heard or said myself something like the following: “If we had more money, we could start our business or we could add the space our church needs or we could start that needed ministry in our community?”
The parable teaches that God has already given us all we need to begin.
In the parable, the servants who gained their master’s praise took what they had and went to work and doubled it. The parable doesn’t say they went out and borrowed more money so they might have a cushion to work with. Nor does it record that they went away mumbling that their master was out of touch and that what he had given them was insufficient. They simply used what they had and reaped their master pleasure and a greater assignment.
How often have we heard the following verses, nodded our heads and then promptly denied their meaning with our inactions?
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4.13
“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” Matthew 7.11
I am not advocating going blindly into debt and hoping God will bail us out. I’m saying that what we need to start is already with us. We just need to do what we can today and tomorrow and trust God with the harvest.
Prayer: Lord, time to start. Glad to know You are there.
Use It Or Lose It
Parable of the Talents Part 1
“Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave!’” Matthew 25.25-26a NRSV
April 24, 2017
The master does not call this servant stupid or cowardly. He calls him lazy.
The other servants took the five and three talents respectively and went to work. Perhaps they invested the money in the financial markets of the day or perhaps they purchased grain from farmers and then transported it to where the demand was the greatest. We do not know exactly what they did. We know one thing and one thing only, and that was they went to work.
What did the man with the single talent do? Nothing. Nothing at all. His master knew that this servant had some skills, not as many as the other two, but enough for the master to entrust a sizable amount of currency to him. And this servant buried it in the ground.
Success comes not only from having resources or skills. Success requires that we work with what we have.
Each of us has what we need for our journey. The question always is the same. How will we use it?
Prayer: Lord, turn my heart to the work You have for me today
No Is the Answer
April 17, 2017
Cleansing the Temple Sunday
“Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves.” Matthew 21,12 NRSV
April 12, 2017
“To sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” Mark 10.40 NRSV
April 18, 2017
The mother of James and John wanted the best for her boys, just as any caring mother would.
But Jesus said no.
There was no equivocation in the answer. Jesus didn’t say, “Let me check their resumes and get back with you.” Or “Let’s see how they do on the big test on Good Friday.”
Jesus said no.
The reason was that the request was wrong. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was wrong.
Been there, done that. And each time I’m
sure I’m right. This is what I need. Now. Not something else. Not later. I want this and I want it now.
You see my problem, don’t you? My problem is a matter of trust. I’m not trusting the God Who designed my DNA sequencing in my mother’s womb. The One Who sent Jesus to pay my sin-price. The One Who can see beyond the moment and know what the consequence of this action will be.
Not too bright some days.
The Root of My Problem“Whoever says, ‘I am in the light’ while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness…” 1 John 2.9 NRSV
April 17, 2017
First let me note there is a difference between annoyance and hate. There is a gulf fixed between anger at the moment and that long, slow burn called hatred.
But there is no wiggle room, no “what ifs?” concerning hate. I cannot hate my sister or brother and still walk in the light. None my excellent excuses will work. Bummer. I have some good ones I have not even used yet!
Hatred does not arise full-grown from nowhere. There are many roots in the tree called hate, but the biggest root is my own self-righteousness. As if I have a right to hate a sister or brother. I do not. They may disagree with my politics, my interpretation of the Second Coming or the style of music I prefer for worship, but loving them is the only option Jesus gives me.
The old maxim is correct, I am to hate the sin and not the sinner. But sometimes, I admit, it is much easier to dismiss the sinner along with the sin and leave love to God. I’m still working on some things. How about you?Prayer: Lord, do not let me fool myself on this one.
Cleansing the Temple Sunday
April 12, 2017
Last Sunday was Palm Sunday as celebrated in the Christian calendar. Considering what Jesus did in the temple, one might think we should call it “Cleansing the Temple Sunday.” But we don’t.
I wonder if it’s because the church still struggles with what Jesus did and how He did it? Perhaps we are more comfortable with the baby Jesus, meek and mild.
The life of Christ boldly illustrates Jesus was far more than that. Perhaps His zeal and, yes, His anger at what was happening in the temple is difficult to reconcile with our personal picture of Jesus? It is most telling that this incident is recorded in all four gospels.
There are those who tell us that we are never to get angry. That getting angry is a sin. They are wrong.
Anger can be and has been a powerful tool in making things right. But like all things powerful, anger can easily be corrupted.
There are times we should be angry. If we see a child being abused we should be angry. If we see someone being bullied or hungry, anger can be the proper response if it leads us to a positive action.
The challenge for us with such a powerful and double-edged tool as anger is that we will go too far. That is why Paul writes, “Be angry, but do not let the sun go down on your anger.”
Our anger at injustice and all the things wrong in our community and world should morph into a deliberate action that moves us, in some way, to rectifying those wrongs.
Perhaps it begins when an extra dollar to a local shelter, an hour a week tutoring, or any one of a hundred small action that impact a life for the better.
Besides, it beats yelling at the TV or telling our friends how bad some things are and thinking that we have done something.
Prayer: Lord, open my eyes and ears to what You’ve been asking me to do.