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8:30AM, 9:45AM in the hall, or 11AM

Location:
7150 Pines Blvd
Pembroke Pines, FL 33024
The SE corner of Pines Blvd and 72nd Ave
Across the street from Broward college South Campus lake
(954) 989-1903
tlcppines@gmail.com


Join Us For Worship!

Join Us For Worship!
Sundays at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

Saturday, November 28, 2009


SERMON DRAFT FOR ADVENT ONE 2009
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

My father hadn’t been in the hospital a day in his life until he turned sixty. Then he needed back surgery. No problem – they were going to fuse a couple of vertebrae and after recovery and therapy he would be able to swing a golf club again without pain. But in the work ups, the cardiologist found something that concerned him. His heart wasn’t as healthy as it could have been. So instead of back surgery, he had a heart catheterization and angioplasty.

In my time as a pastor I have made a number of trips to the cath lab for parishioners – it is an amazing thing to behold – like an assembly line. One after the other after other heading into the procedure room where a doctor will peer into their heart to see how it is - to check its health and respond accordingly. They can do amazing things for our hearts these days and more innovative and exciting things are coming in the future.

But what about our spiritual hearts? What about the health of our spiritual hearts? As we prepare for the coming of Christmas, what are we doing to strengthen them in holiness?

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

The word “holiness” conjures up many different images, like the hermits and mystic monks who fasted and dwelt in caves out in the desert in order to commune with God in perfect peace and serenity. But unlike them, you and I are called to dwell in the world. To live in the dynamic tension of what it means to be in the world and not of it. We dwell in the world on the one hand as strangers for whom heaven is our true home and on the other hand as shining lights, pointing others to the true light, so that they may give glory, honor and praise to God. We must seek holiness not by withdrawing from the world, but by embracing what it means to be the very light of God drawing others to God.

In the aftermath of Black Friday and before the coming of cyber Monday, this could be an excellent opportunity to rant and rave about how we have all been complacent in pushing Christ out of Christmas. You know:
"Look, it's nearly Christmas. I can't be bothered. I'm much too busy. Cards to write. Tree to get up. Lights to hang. Gifts to buy. Who knows what Aunt Lucy wants. She's impossible. How am I going to pay for this? Parties to attend. More gifts to buy. Let's put on some music so we can feel the Christmas spirit. Let's go to the mall and lose ourselves in the crowds and take in the fake snow and the smiling Santa’s and the tinsel and feel good by saving money by spending money and spending money to make us happy."

But let’s encourage one another to leave the complaining aside and instead admit to ourselves that own hearts yearn for a deeper holiness now more than ever. It is not so much about wiping the slate of a modern commercialized Christmas clean or fighting the fight against "Happy Holidays" or recapturing some pretend Norman Rockwell view of Christmas that never really was. If we want to put Christ back in Christmas, let’s begin with our own hearts that thirst for an intimacy with God through Christ that somehow has eluded us or just slipped away. The holiday season is full of easy comfort food for the soul that seeks to fill our need for a greater holiness that draws us closer and deeper into the love of God in Christ Jesus, but in the end it just does not fill us. We can shop till we drop for those we love and watch every movie and every cartoon and listen to every song and somehow we are still hungry in the end, aren’t we?

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

The young mother arrived with an infant in her arms.
She had lived with her parents until she informed them that she wanted to make a go of it with her boyfriend, the father of her child. To marry him and make a life together. They showed her the door. It was either him or them. She left with the clothes on her back.

The church-based shelter program isn’t about judging people – it is about surrounding them with the love of Christ by providing them a roof over their heads, food, and safety.

When the mother arrived she had no clue what would happen next – her world had just been turned upside down and she didn’t have two nickels to rub together. Next thing you know people are out buying baby formula and clothes, setting out a good meal, and chatting away her nervousness. Her baby had a dozen grandparents before the week was out. For the next week she was home with us. We let her and her child into our hearts and they filled us with something deep and powerful and spiritual.

Friends, let us exercise our hearts in holiness with each word. With each action. Let our words and deeds become the light that guided the shepherds. Let them be the wind of the Spirit blowing through us into the world. Let them be the Word of God made manifest, a word that goes out and never comes back empty.

The Lord stands ready to fill and strengthen our hearts always with such holiness if we have eyes to see Christ present in those who stand before us in the world. If we are willing to take the risk to see plainly and compassionately, to love authentically and boldly, to embrace the brokenness of others, so that Christ may make them whole again. Amen.

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