THE FRIENDLY WHITE CHURCH ON THE HILL




Welcome to Topinabee Community Church. Our mission is simple – to help people develop and maintain an intimate relationship with God. We are a non-denominational church made up of people from a wide variety of religious backgrounds.

We are not perfect, but we are all genuinely seeking a way to celebrate what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do in our lives. We believe that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

We hope you will have the opportunity to join us as we enjoy fellowship with God. You will be welcomed, accepted as you are, and encouraged to grow in Christianity.




WEEKLY BIBLE READINGS
  Starting in Feb. Pastor Mike will be offering to the church regular scripture readings Mon through Fri. With a brief commentary provided by him.  It will begin with First John 1.1-5 with notes of explanation following. 

TCC BI-ANNUAL MEETING
A CONGREGATIONAL MEETING WILL BE HELD ON JAN. 25TH FOLLOWING THE SERVICE. A light luncheon will follow the meeting.

                     I WILL FOLLOW HIM
                                      by Andre Rieu



CHURCH SERMONS

(WAIT FOR IT TO LOAD-CHECK THE SERMONS TAB FOR MORE SERMONS)




MUSIC
CHECK THE MUSIC TAB FOR CHOIR PERFORMANCES


NANCY, HEATHER, PAUL AND MIKE
MORNING IS BROKEN

NANCY, HEATHER AND BOOTS SING ON CHRISTMAS EVE
BREATH OF HEAVEN

BOOTS AND MIKE SING ON CHRISTMAS EVE
O HOLY NIGHT

SILENT NIGHT  
  
CHRISTMAS CANTATA


(PIANO AND BASSON DUET PERFORMED BY KATHY SANDERS PARENTS)



THIS WEEKS DEVOTIONS
A Message of Hope in a Bottle
 
Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!” Luke 10.23b NRSV

January 22, 2015
 
         John and Dottie Peckham were cruising to Hawaii in 1979. They put a note in a bottle and tossed it into the ocean. Three years later and over three thousand miles away, a Vietnamese refugee named Hoa retrieved the bottle. In it was a note, a dollar for postage, an address and the promise of a reward. Hoa said that note gave him hope.
         Hoa had escaped from a prison camp in Vietnam. From a UN refugee camp, he wrote to the Peckhams and for two years they corresponded. Later the Peckhams sponsored Hoa and his family when they immigrated to the United States.
         God will use the smallest and sometimes the oddest things we do to give us an opportunity for great acts compassion.       
 
Prayer: Lord, when my eyes are open, even bottles tossed into the ocean become acts of grace.
Every Challenge
 
“’And here I am today, eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was on the day that Moses sent me… So now give me this hill country … for you heard on that day how the (giants) were there, with great fortified cities; it may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out, as the Lord said.’” Joshua 14.10b-12 NRSV

January 21, 2015
 
         What made every challenge I’ve faced difficult and sometimes almost impossible were the people involved. Not the money, not the limitation of time, but almost always people. In the process, I’ve learn these four truths:
When we succeed, we will develop false friends and genuine enemies. Let’s succeed anyway.
         Being honest and open set us up for hurt. Let’s do it anyway.
         Small minds like to tear down big dreams. Let’s dream big anyway.
         What we build – a church, a business or a relationship can be destroyed. Let’s build anyway.
         And, in the end, what made every challenge worth overcoming were the good people in it with me.      
 
Prayer: Lord, thank You for those good friends and allies who rally to a cause.

 
Finding My Car
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
 and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes… 
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.” Matthew 13.15a, 16

January 20, 2015
Because of the age and mileage on my Honda, regular maintenance is not merely a good idea, but a necessity. Each time I have work done, I compare the cost of the repair to a monthly payment for a new car and, thus inspired, I continue to patch and repair. Last week I was in for recall work.
“Sorry about the wait, Mr. Sanders, it just took more time than usual. Your car is just outside the doors,” the service man said as he handed me the keys.
I saw the pearl gray Pilot at the corner of the lot and was pleased to note I had also received a complementary car wash.  I climbed in, dumping my stuff in the passenger seat. It was then I noticed that my Bible was missing from the car. Who steals a Bible?  And where was my bottled water and what was that parking sticker doing on the corner of the windshield?
You know what’s coming, don’t you? I quickly exited someone else’s pearl gray Pilot and found find mine three cars down.
Things are not always as they appear, whether the appearance is pleasing or troubling. It is up to us to see what is really there, to understand what was just said and always to seek the truth of things. 

Prayer: Lord, Your word is true. 

Dust on the Greenhouse
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1.5 NRSV
January 15, 2015
Why is it we cannot know more of God?  Why do we stagnate and fail to go deeper into the faith?



The scripture says that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. Then why do we have trouble seeing this light and obtaining all the advantages of living in the light?  
As an illustration, let us visualize a greenhouse.  There are panes of clear glass that the light cascades through and nourishes all that lives within. Over time, dust begins to accumulate. Rain comes, but fails to wash it off and instead it becomes a coating of mud. The light is just as it was before, but less and less can get through.  
Until we clean some of the muck out of our lives, less light can get through to nourish us.  
Prayer: Lord, over time, some moral and spiritual dust and mud have found their way into my life. Help me with cleaning day this week.

What Does God Look For?
Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” Philippians 2.4 NRSV
January 14, 2015



 None of us really believe we will please God with our degrees or any awards we receive. We know He is not impressed by the big accounts we were able to land or the fact that our house had more square footage than those living around us.



         So, what causes God to look upon the sum of our lives with favor? Could it be the scars we carry? Scars we acquired because we risked all in a great cause, a cause of love, a stand for righteousness or acts of self-sacrifice.  



We find this favor in sacrifice and sometimes pain, never from selfishness or self-indulgence. And when we sacrifice, remember what we gave up was never lost, but was loaned to someone else for a time until they passed it on.
Prayer: Lord, I pray not to change Your mind, but to change mine.






By Previous Negotiation



 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14.28 NRSV



January 9, 2015



With below-zero wind chills and more snow in the forecast, Kathy and I hit the ground running Thursday morning. First we raked snow off the roof. Then we dotted the potential trouble areas with de-icing tablets in anticipation of more accumulation.

Next we filled the gas can so there would be plenty of fuel for the generator in case the power went out. We followed that up with a trip to the store for essentials, and a few snacks! Then we hunkered down in anticipation of a potential winter blast.

All the while, we really didn’t complain much. You see, we negotiated cold temps, heavy snow and ferocious winds that sometimes knock out power in the winter when we decided to make our home in the north.

As I sat in the warmth of my home later, I began to consider this question: How often do we complain about the things we have already negotiated to accept? The work we do, the place we live or the people whose relationships we share?

Me? I’m already thinking snow day! 

 Prayer: Lord, May You always find me grateful

No, Really, Do We Have a Plan?
May he grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your plans." Psalm 20.4 NRSV

 January 7, 2015

 If I seem a little preoccupied with planning this week it’s because I am. Much of my life, I excelled at making plans up as I went along. One of my favorite writers, Ray Bradbury, put it this way: “First you jump off the cliff and you build your wings on the way down.”

         It is exhilarating and teaches you to think on your feet.

         Despite that, there are times in life this particular approach is idiotic, if not downright fatal.

         There was a public service campaign that simply asked what was our plan if there was an emergency or a catastrophe. It went in one ear and out the other for a number of times before I stopped and asked myself did I have such a plan.

         I realized in that moment my plan would be to run around screaming at the top of my lungs, “O God! O God! We’re all going to die!”

         OK, that really wasn’t a plan, but possibly the last words of someone without one.

 Prayer: Lord, help me dream the dreams You have for me and then put my back into them.


Seeking Wise Advice
Without counsel, plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15.22 NRSV

 January 6, 2015

 What are our plans for 2015? Do we want to be healthier? Financially solid? Happier? Have a closer day-to day walk with God? They all sound good to me.

         One of the great lessons I’ve learned to live by is to seek wise counsel. Whatever the project in mind, I seek the guidance of experienced folks. That goes for adding an addition to the church's physical plant, a new service, or financial advice for retirement.

         Let me be blunt, I will not seek financial advice from someone living in a van down by the river. I never have taken seriously the advice of pastors whose churches always decline and who jump from church to church as soon as things get tough. I want direction from those who went through struggles and succeeded. And all who succeed have struggled.

         So, whose counsel will we seek out this year to help us?

         Yes, with many advisors a plan will succeed, but only if the advisors are wise and supportive.

 Prayer: Lord, help me not seek out those who will never criticize my ideas or those who never seem to have a positive opinion. Instead, help me find those who will stand honestly with me.

What Are Our Plans?
 “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37.5 NRSV
 January 5, 2015
         When he moved to Crab Orchard, Illinois, he built a storm cellar at his new house. His neighbors had great fun in teasing him about wasting money.
         The teasing stopped on May 29, 1982. An F-4 tornado crashed through southern Illinois. It tossed cars into the air as it crossed Interstate 57 and laid waste much of the town of Marion as it continued its eastward journey toward tiny Crab Orchard.
         He and his family were resting comfortably in their shelter when the knock came at the door. “Pastor,” he told me the next day at church, “I made several new friends yesterday.” No one was teasing him now.
         He had a plan.
         What are our plans for the coming year? I’m not talking about resolutions, because they are only goals or, worse still, wishes. What are our plans to make 2015 a great year?
         Yes, there is an American proverb that states, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” But we need to ask ourselves whether the plans are ours, or God’s plans for us There will always be a big difference between the two outcomes.
 Prayer: Lord, despite all the success I’ve had without first consulting You, I’ve found Your plans for my life to be quite superior.