Weekly Sunshine E-mail

May 16, 2018

Click Here to Link: This Week: Youth Sunday 2018
 

May 9, 2018

Click Here to Link: This Week at JMPC 5.9.2018
 

April 27, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
In 2006, members of JMPC went on our first mission trip to Chiapas, Mexico. Chiapas is in the south of the country, most of it highlands and mountains. It was once the home of the Mayan civilization. We were pretty excited because we were going to build some church structures and run a week long VBS for the village kids. We were told to prepare a little biography of ourselves as a group and as individuals that we would say to the people of the village in Spanish. That made us think that learning a bit of Spanish might be of benefit to us as we lived and worked with the village people for the week we would be there. So some of the group spent time on their Spanish. Others brought Spanish Bibles, so we could tell Bible stories to the kids. But when we got there, we found out that few, if any, of the village people actually spoke Spanish. They spoke Tzeltal, an ancient Mayan dialect. So our Spanish phrases and Bibles were of little use to us. When I preached, I had to have two translators. One to translate my English into Spanish and then the Spanish into Tzeltal. It was … frustrating. But we were not the first to have these kinds of problems. There are stories about how one missionary had to learn a tribal language, create a written form of it, teach the written form of it to the tribe, and then translate the Bible into that language. That did not happen in a week-long mission trip. It took decades. Have you ever tried to communicate with someone whose language you did not know? It might be because the other person speaks an ancient language or because the other person is simply from a different generation or culture. If we want to communicate with such folks, what do we do? Come and hear about it this Sunday when Pastor Jeff preaches “Speaking in Tongues – Talking to Other Cultures” based on 1 Corinthians 9: 19-23. We will look forward to seeing you … and hopefully communicating with you.
 

April 20, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 

The movie The Princess Bride is perhaps the most watched move ever, or so I hear. I know I have seen it many, many times and still laugh out loud. There is one particular character who stands out. His name is Vizzini. He is the corrupt villain who at one point tries to kill “the man in black” who is the Dread Pirate Robert. The Dread Pirate Robert is climbing up a cliff on a rope. Vizzini cuts the rope to kill the Dread Pirate Robert, but he now clings to a rock. Vizzini shouts: “He didn’t fall?! Inconceivable!” Inconceivable is a word that Vizzini uses constantly and inappropriately. Inigo Montoya, Vizzini’s cohort remarks to Vizzini’s exclamation this way: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” I love that brief exchange. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” On a recent trip to South East Asia, I discovered that there are many Christians in the world who “Keep using the Word, but I don’t think it means what they think it means.” It occurred to me that maybe we in the United States have a similar problem. We cite the Bible for a variety of propositions, yet we don’t always put those citations into the context in which they appear. When we do that, it might not mean what we think it means. What is to be done? Come and hear about it when Pastor Jeff preaches “What does it mean?” based on Acts 8: 26-39. Come and hear about it at 8:30 an 11 at John McMillan Presbyterian Church. We will look forward to seeing you!

 
 

April 14, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 

The Holocaust is one of the terribly traumatic episodes of modern history, yet it has also yielded some astounding stories of bravery and faith. In France a Jewish family were hidden by some concerned French nationals in the basement of their house. The Jewish family waited and waited for their deliverance. At the end of the war these words were found scribbled on the wall of that basement:
“I believe in the sun even when it does not shine.
I believe in love even when it is not given.
I believe in God even when he is silent.”

This Sunday we will hear the story of Mary Magdalene telling the disciples the incredible news that Jesus has been resurrected! This is the greatest news that has ever been told, yet the disciples doubt her. They had heard Jesus words and read the prophecy in scripture, and they still doubted someone they knew very well, and someone who knew Jesus very well. If the disciples doubted hearing about Jesus resurrection from Mary, certainly people will doubt 2,000 years later. Join us Sunday to talk about doubt, struggle, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

 
 

March 29, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
.Have you ever had an experience you would describe as unbelievable? Not something surprising. Not something remarkable. Something that when you saw it, you just could not bring yourself to believe it? To believe it meant that your understanding of how things work was wrong. Magic shows are like that. Several years ago, AJ and I went to see David Copperfield at the Benedum. Big tricks with lots of props and fanfare. Then he came down into the audience with a little table and started doing card tricks coin tricks and tricks with people’s rings. Everything made you want to turn to the next person and say, “How’d he do that?” Then he pulled out this big screen on stage. He and his assistants moved slowly behind the screen so all you could see was their silhouettes. As soon as Copperfield got behind the screen, there was a big bang, a flash of light and a cloud of smoke on stage. Immediately, everything on the stage was gone. Just a moment later, I heard this gasp behind me. We all turned and looked. There was Copperfield and his assistants in the middle of the auditorium, in the middle of the crowd, all smiles and posing, like they had been instantly transported there. There was silence for a moment then the place erupted in cheers. I literally shouted out “Wow!” I turned to AJ and said, “That is the most amazing thing I have ever seen!”
That is what I am talking about. Something happens that is beyond belief. Something you know must be a trick because to believe it happened shakes your world. It means that everything you absolutely know to be true, is now suspect. I knew that people don’t just disappear here and pop up there. There must be some explanation. An explanation that confirms it was just a trick. That your understanding of the way the world works is true.
That is how many folks approach Jesus resurrection. They are torn. They want to believe it because it is such good news. But they have trouble believing it. Because if Jesus really was resurrected, our understanding of the way things work is now suspect. People don’t come back from the dead, right? So, if Jesus really was resurrected, that has to change the way they look at the world. If Jesus really was resurrected, maybe we really do have to change the way we live! But it’s still hard to believe.
Boy wouldn’t it be nice if we could come up with some scientific proof? We’d have an easier time then, right? But I am not so sure. Listen to this comment from this month’s National Geographic:
We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge … faces organized and often furious opposition. Empowered by their own sources of information and their own interpretations of research, doubters have declared war on the consensus of experts. There are so many of these controversies these days, you’d think a diabolical agency had put something in the water to make people argumentative. And there’s so much talk about the trend these days-in books, articles, and academic conferences-that science doubt itself has become a pop-culture meme.
“Science doubt”. Wow. Sounds like “fake news” proclamations that are made whenever we don’t want something to be true. You could basically substitute “faith” for “science” and the article could be about “faith doubt”. What people of faith have been hearing for over 2000 years. So, what are we to believe? Well, come hear about it Easter morning at 8:30am and 11am at John McMillan Presbyterian Church where Pastor Jeff will preach “Not an April Fool” from 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11. We will also have a sunrise service at 7:00am at the Columbarium (inside in the event of inclement weather) where Pastor Jeff will offer a reading from Walter Wangerin’s “The Book of God”. Join us to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord!
 
 

March 23, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
Every four years, we in the United States go to the mats proclaiming that the world is going to hell in a hand basket and that we need someone who can pull it out and make it … well … whatever we want it to be. We are not alone. This happens in every country where elections are held. But regardless of where the election takes place it seems like change never really happens. And even when it does, the change does not last. Here are two examples from my lifetime. Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Both led a revolution of sorts. Both rode into the White House on a platform of change and hope for the future. Both were elected by people who want things to be put right! Reagan’s approval rating topped out at 68% in 1981 but by 1982 had fallen to 43% when his party lost 25 seats in the House of Representatives. Obama’s approval rating topped out at 69% in 2009 but by 2010 had fallen to 44% when his party lost 67 seats in the House of Representatives. Neither of these two “revolutionaries” could keep up the momentum … or the popularity. Neither could do what was promised and what people expected of them. Disappointment and rejection were the result. And the loss of significant power.
Which brings us to Palm Sunday. Jesus rides into Jerusalem. He has amassed a large following who are proclaiming him the Messiah! He comes to change the world. To begin a revolution. He enters the city to loud cheers and adulation. He is the one who will put things right! But his approval rating immediately plummets. How could such a thing happen? Come and hear about it on Sunday, March 25 when John McMillan Presbyterian Church celebrates Palm Sunday at 8:30 and 11. Pastor Jeff will preach “The Man Who would not be King” based on Mark 11: 1-11. Come and join the Holy Week Journey.
 
 

March 16, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
The following are definitions of faith:
o Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe. – Augustine
o Faith is a voluntary anticipation.? Clement of Alexandria
o A man lives by believing something, not by debating and arguing about many things. – Thomas Carlyle
o God our Father has made all things depend on faith so that whoever has faith will have everything, and whoever does not have faith will have nothing.? Martin Luther
o Faith has to do with things that are not seen and hope with things that are not at hand.? Thomas Aquinas
o Faith is not merely your holding on to God? it is God holding on to you. He will not let you go! – E. Stanley Jones
o Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand. – Augustine
On Sunday we will talk about a centurion who asks Jesus for the healing of his servant. I have heard many people call the centurions faith a “blind faith”, however, I would argue the opposite. In fact, the centurion seems to have a personal and powerful faith in Jesus. One that is so intense that he tells Jesus there is no need to come and heal his servant, rather he could just say it and it would be done. This seems contrary to what you would expect of someone. If Jesus agreed to come to my house to heal someone I would be ecstatic. Also, every healing we have seen in scripture up to now involves the presence of the healer, why should the centurion have different expectations? Come Sunday to hear more about Jesus, the centurion, the servant, and what it means for our faith. Of course, tell me which definition you like best.
 
 

March 9, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
In the movie The Blues Brothers Elwood and “Joliet” Jake Blues are brothers who were raised in a Catholic orphanage run by Sister Mary Stigmata. The movie begins when Elwood picks up Jake from prison and heads over to the orphanage to see Sister Mary. Neither Elwood or Jake are particularly “religious” yet when they find out the orphanage will be foreclosed because of a tax lien, they promise Sister Mary they will try to get the money needed to pay off the tax lien.Then, while walking down a street in Chicago they wander into the Triple Rock Baptist Church and hear a sermon by the Reverend Cleophus James. Jake has an epiphany. He sees a light shine down from the window at the front of the church that illuminates him. He begins to shake and twitch and then starts doing handsprings up and down the center aisle of the church. He now believes he is on a “mission from God” to re-form their old band, the “Blues Brothers”, which disbanded while Jake was in prison, to raise the money and save the orphanage. I have always found the scene where Jake “sees the light” hilarious. Yet, I wonder how many people have had a religious experience comparable to that. When Billy Graham was traveling around the country “crusading” for Jesus, there would be an alter call at the end of every service. The number of people who would come forward over the years to become disciples of Jesus at Graham’s invitation is too high to count. Maybe there were no handsprings, but the immediacy of the conversion was little different.
And then there are those who don’t get that lightning strike. Who don’t feel the urge to head toward the alter at the end of the service. They might want to be disciples, but they struggle. Their journey is a long and winding and bumpy road from which they get lost from time to time. What of them? What does Jesus do with them? This Sunday, Pastor Jeff will preach “Peter” from John 21:15-19 and talk about what it is like to stumble into and through discipleship. Come and hear about it at 8:30 and 11 at John McMillan Presbyterian Church. We look forward to seeing you.
 
 

March 1, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
 
One of the most popular musicians in my high school years was Vincent Damon Furnier, AKA, Alice Cooper. He was one of the founding “faces” of the shock rock scene of the ’60s and ’70s with his bleeding mascara eyes, long black hair and dark clothing. He’s most known for the teen angst anthems “I’m 18” and “School’s Out”. His performances were extraordinarily counter cultural gory. They tried to ban his show in England. Furnier’s Alice Cooper stage persona was quite a bit different from his childhood. He was the son of a pastor who spent almost all of his social time at church. Then, in high school, he saw the Beatles and decided to become a musician. As he became successful, he decided that the rock music world needed a villain. So he became one – Alice Cooper. While he never rejected his Christian upbringing, he certainly did not expose it in his professional life. He called himself the prototypical prodigal. I suspect that many Christians of the 70s would have called him reprobate, or worse. Off stage, Cooper had two passions. Golf and beer. It was reported once that he played golf and drank at least a case of beer every day. He tried to quit in the late 70’s but relapsed. In the 1980s his alcoholism, and a new cocaine addiction, was so acute that he was near death. Cooper was taken to a hospital and told that he had to stop the alcohol and beer or be dead in two weeks. Cooper was determined to become sober. This is what he said about it:

“When I came out of the hospital, I kept waiting for the craving to come, and it never came. It was a miracle,” he said. “I tell people I’m not a cured alcoholic, I’m a healed alcoholic. I never went to AA or anything like that, and I give all credit to God for that. Even the doctor said, ‘This is a miracle that you’re not falling back on alcohol every time there’s a stressful situation.’ So, it’s gone. It’s just gone.”

 

Cooper then did everything he could to live a life of faith.

This story about Cooper reminds me a bit of this week’s scripture personality, Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a prodigal Jew who became a despised tax collector in Jericho and who was saved by Jesus from his unsavory lifestyle. It, too, appears miraculous. Come and hear about it Sunday at John McMillan Presbyterian Church at 8:30 and 11 when Pastor Jeff preaches “Zacchaeus” based on Luke 19:1-10. Communion will be served!

February 22, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
When I was a little kid, my mother surprised me by playing the one song she knew on the piano. What really shocked me was that she sang the words while she played. And the words!
Nobody likes me,
Everybody hates me,
Going to the garden to eat worms …
What? Why on earth would anyone write such a song for little kids? But here’s the thing. I have learned over the years that when someone feels alone and disliked, loneliness sets in and it can often lead to actions direr than eating worms.
 
An article in Psychology Today said this:
In children, [loneliness] leads to all kinds of problems. Failure to be socially connected to peers is the real reason behind most school dropouts. It sets in motion a course on which children spin their way to outcast status and develop delinquency and other forms of antisocial behavior.
In adults, loneliness is a major precipitant of depression and alcoholism. And it increasingly appears to be the cause of a range of medical problems, some of which take decades to show up.
Loneliness is such a problem in Britain that the government there has appointed someone to do something about it.
 
This from NBC News:
It sounds like a character from a dystopian novel, but Britain has created a “minister for loneliness” to tackle modern public health problems associated with social isolation.
The government said Wednesday it appointed Tracey Crouch after research showed as many as one in ten people felt lonely “always or often” and that hundreds of thousands of elderly people hadn’t spoken to a friend or relative in the past month.
Crouch, whose official title is Minister for Sport and Civil Society, will devise a national strategy to tackle isolation across all ages, and find ways of measuring alienation in official statistics.
There are lots of articles on how to fight loneliness. The problem is not new. And this week, Pastor Jeff will continue his Lenten sermon series on individual encounters with Jesus we find in scripture. He will be preaching on the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well from John 4. What does this story have to do with combating loneliness? Come and find out at 8:30 and 11 at John McMillan Presbyterian Church.

February 16, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
Back in the late 60s and early 70s there was something called “The Jesus Movement”. It started on the west coast of the United States and eventually spread internationally. The people who were part of the movement called themselves “Jesus People” and later “Jesus Freaks”. The general theology of the movement was one of evangelism and the understanding that there was only “one way” to live (words usually uttered with the index finger pointed upward). This movement also spawned what we call today “contemporary Christian music” (which we still call “contemporary” even though many of the songs are now decades old). I was a witness to the movement in Edinboro, PA where I spent my high school summers. When I showed up one summer, a bunch of my summer friends were hanging out at a “prayer meeting house”, wearing big wooden crosses and carrying Bibles. This was a shock to me because they had never admitted to being religious in years past. It was from them that I began hearing the words “born again” in a way I had never heard before. There was something that I had to do, apparently, to be born again and only if I was born again would I be saved and go to heaven. Since that time, I have learned that the theology of this evangelism is not far off the mark (though I do take issue with its exclusionary nature). But yet my “born once” Presbyterian mother was wary of those “born agains”, a term she did not intend to be all that affirming. Where do we get the term “born again”? It comes from a private conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus the Pharisee in John 3. Jesus tells Nicodemus that to see the Kingdom of God one must be “born again” (at least that is how it is stated in some, but not all, translations). Nicodemus is confused, and Jesus explains. This episode in the Gospel of John is one of those where Jesus has a private conversation with an individual, rather than preaching to a large crowd. What might that be like? This Sunday we start a four-part Lenten Sermon Series that will look at four such private encounters, so we can see how Jesus can touch individual lives … well … individually. This week Pastor Jeff will preach “Nicodemus” based on John 3: 1-17. Come and hear about it at John McMillan Presbyterian Church at 8:30 and 11.

February 9, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
There is a quote that I have always liked a lot. The quotes says “The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuse, that’s the day you start to the top.” This quote always helped drive me as a young man. It is great advice, taking personal responsibility for your everything in your life will help you grow as a person. I think most of us would agree that this is great advice for people, by the way this quote is from nonother than O.J. Simpson. I don’t know about you, but this diminishes the advice for me, I see him as a hypocrite and he is not someone I want to listen to when it comes to my life.
In Job 22 we see Job who has had a lot of pain and suffering in his life. He has suffered a lot of loss, yet he has stayed faithful to God. His “friend” Eliphaz doesn’t think Job is being faithful, rather he thinks God is punishing him for not being faithful. Eliphaz is actually wrong about Job and was completely wrong to accuse him without any proof of his claims. Despite Eliphaz’s false claims he actually gives Job some great advice of how to get back to God.
This Sunday we will look closer at the dialogue between Job and Eliphaz. We will discuss how we can take advice from different people. We will also look closer at the advice Eliphaz gives to Job about how to get back to God. I hope to see you Sunday.
 

February 2, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
I am reading a book called Brunch is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party. It is based on a podcast called the “Dinner Party Download”. The book’s premise is that the world is going to hell in a handbasket because we don’t do dinner parties anymore … we go to brunch. What’s wrong with brunch? Several things according to the authors. The principal problems with brunch on my list (other than it intrudes on the middle of your day and often eliminates any further activity for the remainder of it due to plummeting sugar levels in the blood stream) stem from the fact that the entire event takes place in public. Because of this, we become self-conscious about what we talk about and reserved about how we talk about it. Similarly, the public nature of the event eliminates any concept of community because there are so many strangers around us who, frankly, want nothing to do with us (and OK, maybe we want nothing to do with them, too). Meanwhile, the dinner party is a communal affair, the conversation is open and spontaneous and, yes, sometimes loud. The group functions as a community because there is a sense of belonging (you either invited or were invited) as well as grace (you are accepted with all your faults and faulty opinions regardless of how loud you proclaim them).
So, what does this have to do with our text for this week?
Well, Jesus is part of a dinner party. One of the folks invited probably does not get invited to many dinner parties because of what he does for a living, and his acceptance of the invitation seems to result in a bit of celebration (and no doubt interesting and spirited conversation). It also gets some tongues wagging about the propriety of it all and that is when Jesus tells folks that the old way is over, and the new way has begun. A lesson about fasting and feasting as combining old and new. What is the old way? What is the new way? What is Jesus trying to teach us? Come and hear about it Sunday, February 4 at 8:30 and 11 when Pastor Jeff Preaches “A New Day, A New Way” based on Mark 2: 13-22. Come and join the conversation.

January 26, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
With all due respect to those who sell cars for a living, there is a particular practice that drives me crazy. It looks like this. You go into the showroom with excited anticipation that you are going to buy a new car. Not long after you walk in, a sales representative walks up with a peppy, “Can I help you?” “Yes,” you say, “I’m looking to buy a new car.” You know what you want and know how much you want to spend. You pick one out and then the deal making starts. You sit with the representative and talk price (which is right on the window, but no one seems to pay any attention to that). But the representative has no authority to make the deal. He has to talk to his “manager” every time you ask a new question. Back and forth, back and forth. It seems endless and time wasting. It would be nice if you could just talk to the manager directly, but that is not allowed. You must work through the representative. It is painful. I mean it – painful. Then I read an article about how to get around this sales practice. Find out how much the dealer paid for the car you want, add 2% profit for the dealer and then deduct the Blue Book value of your trade in. Tell them that is what you will pay, take it or leave it. Sure, they will go to the manager, but the “shuttle diplomacy” negotiation is short circuited. I tried it a while back and it worked. I have done it that way ever since. So, what does this have to do with Jesus healing a paralytic? Quite a bit actually. Jesus does this in front of a bunch of religious scribes who think they are the mediators between God and the Jewish people. Jesus, heals the paralytic but also proves Jesus has the power to forgive sins. He does this to teach the scribes a lesson. They are no longer to be mediators between God and humanity. That job belongs to Jesus, who has God’s authority. And all this happens in front of a big crowd. It must have been quite a scene. Come and hear about it Sunday January 28 at 8:30 and 11 when Pastor Jeff preaches “Healed!” based on Mark 2: 1-12. We will look forward to seeing you

January 19, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
In the movie Papillon, the main character is trying to escape from a French prison. He is given sanctuary in a leper colony. The leader of the leper colony meets with Papillon to discuss Papillon’s predicament. The leper leader is smoking a cigar. He hands the cigar to Papillon and tells him to take a few puffs. Papillon is at first put off because to touch the cigar – with his lips no less – will likely transmit the dreaded disease to Papillon. Yet he takes the cigar and puffs away. The leper then asks Papillon, how he knew the strain of leprosy the leper had was not contagious. Papillon replies that he didn’t know. He was just that desperate for help. Papillon would rather have leprosy and be free. This is a bit of a reversal of the story we hear in Mark 1 where we find Jesus healing a leper. The leper appears desperate for help. He asks Jesus to make him “clean”. Jesus does, by touching he leper. Did Jesus know the “leprosy” was not contagious? Maybe, but the fact remains that when Jesus touched the man, Jesus was rendered unclean as well. Jesus was willing to risk leprosy so this man could be free of an inapplicable religious tradition. Because it was not the contagious nature of the disease that rendered the leper unclean, but a religious tradition from ancient times. A religious tradition Jesus thus rejected. What does this rather short story in Mark mean to us in 2018? Come and hear about it on Sunday, January 21 at 8:30 and 11 at John McMillan Presbyterian Church when Pastor Jeff preaches “Be Clean” based on Mark 1: 40-45. See you then!

January 11, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
According to Wikipedia Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, known online as PewDiePie, is a Swedish web-based comedian and video producer. He is known for his Let’s Play commentaries and vlogs, as well as his following on YouTube. Since August 15, 2013, PewDiePie has been the most subscribed user on YouTube. As of January 2018, his “channel” has over 59 million subscribers. PewDiePie’s channel held the distinction of being the most viewed of all time, and has received over 16 billion video views. He, as a result, is quite wealthy.
That is the world we live in. Social media allows folks to reach 59 million plus people with the stroke of a finger. If Jesus came today, think about how many disciples he might have had! It’s like Judas’ question in the song from Jesus Christ Superstar:
… [W]hy’d you choose such a backward time
And such a strange land?
If you’d come today
You could have reached the whole nation
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication.
If Jesus had been on YouTube …
But Jesus does not want followers. He wants disciples. And that takes more than the stroke of a finger for a moment of entertainment. That is not how Jesus gets disciples. Not through mass media or social media, but offering to seekers what they are looking for. By knowing us and providing us what we need. When we realize that, we follow. Come and hear more about it Sunday January 14 at John McMillan Presbyterian Church when Pastor Jeff preaches “Follow Me” based on John 1: 35-51. Come and see at 8:30 and 11.