Thursday, March 15, 2018

Does the end justify the means?

I was listening to a news show recently and one of the commentators  was justifying what one of our elected officials had done by saying, “Well, you know, the ends justifies the means.”  That is the mantra of our secular world, “The end justifies the means!”  But does it?

The ends DID NOT justify the means for Jesus.  One of the lectionary readings for Lent is the account of Jesus’ temptation by Satan in the wilderness in Matthew 4.  Satan provides 3 temptations: turn stones into bread; ask God to miraculously save you; and worship Satan and have all the nations of the world bow down to you.  In each case, the temptation was to LET THE END JUSTIFY THE MEANS.

If Jesus made stones into bread, he could feed himself because he was very hungry.  But using his miraculous power for selfish purposes was not the God’s way to sustain himself.  Instead Jesus prayed for God to sustain him and God did—for 40 days.  THE END DIDN’T JUSTIFY THE MEANS.

If Jesus threw himself off the temple wall and prayed for God to miraculously rescue him, the people would have been amazed and many would have been swept into the Kingdom immediately.  But Jesus knew that only through hard work—preaching God’s word and Jesus’ proclamation that he was the Messiah—would people truly enter the Kingdom.  THE END DIDN’T JUSTIFY THE MEANS.

If Jesus bowed down to Satan, he would give the Lord all the countries of the world to rule.  But the timing was wrong.  God promised that at the end of human history when Jesus returned a 2nd time, God would give Jesus all the countries of the world to rule.  But not now.  THE END DIDN’T JUSTIFY THE MEANS.

When we make something happen by any means, we’re bypassing the plan of God.  He wants us to discern how he wants to bring things to pass.  And he wants us to join him in doing it his way.  God has good reasons for doing it his way and when we do it by any means, we bypass God’s wise ways and timing. 

No, the end doesn’t justify the means.  It takes patience and trust to do it in God’s way and time.  But that is the best way. 

Join us for Lenten worship and Holy Week services.  You will draw closer to Jesus as he walks to the cross.


Pastor Ken Shick

Thursday, February 15, 2018

I Choose

Dear Friends,

Lent is a time to choose.  Just as Jesus chose the cross, so we are called to choose the Christ-like life.  The Christ-like life is described in Galatians 5: 22-23:  “For the fruit of the Spirit (of Christ) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  Max Lucado has put these fruits of the Christ-like life in terms we can all understand.  I have included them below.  Put these in your pocketbook, wallet or Bible and look at them every day.  They will transform your life.

I choose love. No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.

I choose joy. I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical… the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.

I choose peace. I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.

I choose patience. I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite Him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

I choose kindness. I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I choose goodness. I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.

I choose faithfulness. Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.

I choose gentleness. Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.

I choose self-control. I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.

Amen to that!!  Grace and peace be to you, Pastor Ken

(“I Choose” is from Let the Journey Begin by Max Lucado)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mapping the DNA of our Church

Hello Church family,

There are many companies that can run a DNA profile on you and tell you what genetic characteristics you have.  They do that by mapping your genes.  Then they compare your characteristics with others around the world to tell you where you came from.  Fun!

Well, we can map the DNA of the church, too.  We do it by telling stories about how God has touched us and blessed us through his church at Village.  We did that on Sunday night, January 21, at our “Love Your Church” potluck dinner and discussion.  We reminisced about the good things our church is known for.  We told stories about the times we were most proud of our church.  What emerged was a profile of our church’s DNA.  (We will publish a summary of our discussion soon.)

We praise and thank the Lord for the good things God has done in our church through the years.  Paul says, “To God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” –Ephesians 3:21  Paul is saying that the credit for the good things done in the church belongs to the Lord.  By his Spirit, he has empowered us to make VPC a great place to worship and work for Christ.

So, let us rejoice that God has blessed Village Presbyterian and that we could be a part of his body of believers here.  But now we must all keep working  and praying to ensure that the church’s future is even brighter than our past.

Please plan to attend the “Envisioning our Future” chili dinner and table discussion on Sunday, February 18, 5 pm.  Make your favorite chili and then share your thoughts on what God wants Village Presbyterian to become in the future. Look for a letter in the mail with your personal invitation.  Please read it carefully.  WE NEED YOU to participate!

Yours in Christ,

Ken Shick, Interim Pastor

Monday, January 15, 2018

You Make a Difference When you Serve!

I was in the office on Martin Luther King Jr. holiday when a group of elementary and middle high school students came in to help in the food pantry.  They were so excited to be helping stock the pantry and make it ready for Wednesday’s distribution to the hungry.  They had such a joy in helping.  They all said, “This was fun.  We will be doing this again!”

I hope we all have that sense of excitement as we volunteer at Village Presbyterian.  For we are not just helping, but we are serving the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.  This is HIS church and so we are serving him as we serve his church.  That alone should make you shiver with excitement.  YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHEN YOU SERVE! 

You make it possible for the church to share the Gospel of Christ with our own members and the neighborhood.  You make it possible for people to worship and experience God’s Word and the sacraments in a life changing way as you serve communion, usher or greet, sing or play music, be a worship leader, etc. 

You make decisions that move the church forward as you work on committee/teams, as elders and deacons, etc. 

You give food aid to the hungry as you volunteer in the pantry, as you work in the clothes closet, etc.  People are given hope because they are given the basics to keep body and soul together.

When you serve, you do this and MORE!  And I know you feel joy because you are pleasing Christ.   Thanks for filling out a “Plus 2” form!

If you haven’t filled one out, please do so.  We need your service to improve the church.  ATTACHED IS AN ELECTRONIC COPY OF THE FORM. PLEASE PRINT IT, FILL IT OUT AND MAIL OR BRING IT TO CHURCH! 

“You are they body of Christ and individually members of it.”  It takes all of us to build the church up!  Please help us. 

In the Love of Christ,

Ken Shick, Interim Pastor

Friday, December 15, 2017

Jesus Shows Us God

I remember watching a magician perform on TV.  I think it was David Copperfield.  He made the Statue of Liberty disappear.  I was amazed.  I don’t know what kind of trick he used, but it was impressive.  First, it was there, and then it wasn’t.  Just before he snapped his fingers, he said, “Now you see it, and now you don’t.”  Poof.  Gone. And then he said, “Now you don’t see it, and now you do.”  Poof. There it was again.

At Christmas, God the Father said, “Now you don’t see me, and now you do.  Poof!”  And then the God-child was born in a stable in Bethlehem.  It was not a trick, but more like a miracle of God’s great power.  He took his own divine nature and squeezed it down into the babe of Bethlehem.

The Bible says, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.  He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation.” –Colossians 1: 15   Think about that!  The mighty God who has universe-creating power and stands above the universe came to us in Jesus.  The theological word is “Incarnation”, meaning literally “enfleshment.” 

Clearly this is a mind-boggling move on the Father’s part.  The disciples had trouble believing it.  In the upper room on the night before Jesus’ betrayal, our Lord said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”  That means that when we know Jesus, we know God.   

Isn’t this what we all long for—to know God?  And when Jesus came, he showed us who the Father was.  God did everything he possibly could to help us know him so that we might love him and receive his forgiveness.  His biggest and boldest move was to give us a visible image of himself. 

Colossians 1:15 uses the word “image”—Jesus is the “image” of the invisible God.  In the Greek language, “image” is “eikon.”  Icons are pictures which make ideas clear.  Pictures make difficult ideas easy to understand.  Jesus is the accurate picture of who God is. 

Pause a moment and feel the wonder of that.  Jesus is God in the flesh.  “No one has ever seen God.  But Jesus the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”  --John 1: 18

Prayer:  Thank you Jesus, for making God known to us.  Help us to believe that when we know, believe and love you, we know, believe, and love God.  Amen.

--Pastor Ken

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Christmas Means Welcoming Others In

“Then Mary gave birth to her firstborn Son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger—because there was no room for them in the inn.”  --Luke 2:7

I think the innkeeper and his wife have gotten a bad rap.  Traditionally they have been portrayed as inhospitable.  Why, we wonder, didn’t they give Mary and Joseph their room?  Or boot someone out who was less worthy and give them that room? After all, Mary was about to deliver.  How hard-hearted can you be—making them go to the stable.

Actually, the innkeepers were very welcoming to this couple in need.  They might have turned them away totally.  But instead they gave them what they could—a humble but cozy stable, private, safe. 

These humble but devout Jewish innkeepers were practicing the true faith—welcoming strangers.  God commanded this basic courtesy of hospitality:  “The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”  --Leviticus 19: 34

God’s heart is open to all who will come.  From the beginning he wanted not just the Jewish nation but also the nations of the world to come to him.   And [God wanted] that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.” Again, it says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.” --Romans 15: 9 - 10

God’s heart is open wide.  He welcomes in all who are willing to  come to him regardless of their tribe or clan.  This was Jesus’ point when he told the Good Samaritan parable where the despised Samaritan cared for the Jewish wounded man.  Being a “neighbor” means welcoming an outsider. 

Christmas is a time for welcoming.  People who don’t worship at any other time of the year will worship during Advent and Christmas—perhaps at Village.  Be on the lookout.  Welcome guests by being as friendly as you can. Leave your friend group and seek out newcomers. 

And in your personal celebrations of Christmas, welcome someone who is alone, grieving, hurting or discouraged.  Or at a party, look for the person standing awkwardly by himself.   

In Matthew 25 Jesus says, “For I was a stranger and you welcomed me …”  Jesus will come to us in the form of a stranger this Christmas.  Will we recognize him?  Will we welcome him?

Prayer:  Lord, show us that your love is so wide and wonderful that everyone is welcome.  Forgive us for restricting your love just to our church family.  May we open our arms to the strangers whom you send to us.  And may we lavish on them your love.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

--Pastor Ken

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Brothers and sisters in Christ,

Can you believe it?  Thanksgiving is next Thursday.   Actually, I like the holiday of Thanksgiving a little bit better than Christmas.  I hope you do not brand me a heretic for saying that.  Of course, the coming of Jesus Christ as the Babe of Bethlehem, and our Savior is unparalleled in its importance to our salvation.  Without his coming, there would be no forgiveness, and no hope of eternal life with God. 

I like Thanksgiving because it seems more simple to me than Christmas--uncluttered, pure, and enjoyable.  The meaning doesn’t get lost as does the meaning of Christmas.  It is pure and simple the reminder that God has blessed us not because we deserve it, but because he is good and he loves us.

I encourage you to think of 30 blessings before you sit down to your feast.  Don’t cheat by putting every individual child, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, cousin, etc. as a separate item.  Lump them together under family.  Same with friends.  The first 10 items on your list will be the obvious things.  But the 2nd 10 items will take more thought.  And the 3rd 10 will take deep thought—not because their unimportant, but because we tend to overlook the subtle and spiritual blessings. 

So, let me offer a few suggestions of things to thank God for which you might have missed:
  •         Good health
  •         Long years
  •         One more day of life
  •         Having work you enjoy
  •         Having the strength to work
  •         Having your wits about you
  •         God’s gift of Jesus Christ
  •         Past answered prayers, including small and large miracles
  •         America, land of freedom and opportunity
  •         Living in a safe neighborhood
  •         Having been given a good education
  •         Returning from war
  • Being able to worship freely without persecution
  •         The amazing colors, textures, and sounds of God’s creation
  •         Your five senses—sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste

This Thanksgiving, be specific about why you’re thankful—try the “30 blessings” exercise.  I guarantee it would enrich your holiday.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.  “Be thankful and bless His name.”  --Psalm 100 


Ken Shick, Interim Pastor