Monthly Archives: September 2016

October Skirl

piperIn this month’s issue of The Skirl read about:

  • Robert’s Musings on the strange sacrament we call communion.
  • Plans for our upcoming Community BBQ and Oktoberfest picnic.
  • Prayer requests for those dear to us.
  • A word from the Endowment Committee.
  • Results from our cookbook dinner and visioning.
  • Thank you notes from the Session.
  • Our events calendar for October
  • And much more

Read the October 2016 issue of The Skirl today.

Treasured Words

I frequently meet people who have convinced themselves that they do not need church, that their faith is strong enough, that they can and will regularly pray, study the Bible, and act righteously without the need for a fellowship of like minded believers. For new believers, this seems reasonable as they often exude a passion that not only drives their spiritual growth but also the faith of those around them.

campfireBut who will help fan the flames of faith when they cool?

A camp fire can burn for days only when someone regularly adds fuel and occasionally stirs the embers to encourage a path for air to circulate through.

While few North American Christians are likely to physically suffer for their faith as did early disciples, our culture subtlety starves faith of fuel by encouraging us to spend our time elsewhere; sporting events, unscheduled time at home, television, rest … Our over-scheduled youth are a primary indicator of how culture siphons energy away from faith restoring activities.

I will have more to say about the apostle Paul’s letter to his young student Timothy (2 Timothy 1:1-14) on Sunday, October 2nd, 2016 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Visioning Luncheon

If someone were to ask: “What makes Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church special?” how would we respond?

After worship on Sunday, September 25th we shared our favorite appetizers and salads, our favorite entrees and vegetables, and our favorite desserts. During each course we held one part of a three stage conversation about our strengths, where those strengths might lead us, a slogan or motto that succinctly describes what makes us special. Between courses we viewed the work of other tables and then sat with different people for the next stage of the conversation.

In addition to the wonderful food, we especially enjoyed talking with a variety of people about our congregation.

Members and other regular participants may log in and comment on our results, including adding strengths that were neglected.

Stage 1. What we do well.

Each table was provided several 3” by 24” strips of paper to write examples of what we do well during our salad and appetizer course. When completed we taped them to the walls under categories summarized from the Six Great Ends of the Church.

We posted the following strengths.

Evangelism: Proclaim the gospel to save

  • We have a great outreach via BBQs.
  • Recognize need for social justice
  • Very warm inviting church
  • Great Outreach. Community Bar-B-Q mission.
  • Great Bible Study.
  • Mission – taking care of God’s people.
  • Evangelism – field work to other areas – Habitat for Humanity – Ruth Circle

Ministry: Fellowship of God’s children.

  • God’s love and kindness
  • Great fellowship opportunities!
  • Active ministry stewardship
  • We are welcoming to visitors
  • Helpers of each other. Esp men
  • Ministry to others through missions.
  • Sharing with community
  • Great members support system.

Maintain divine worship

  • Our choir helps us worship.
  • Talented, inspiring choir & music
  • Creatively follow the Presbyterian liturgy
  • Beautiful sanctuary
  • Screens help accessibility

Educate to preserve the truth

  • Very insightful Bible and book study series.
  • Providing christian services for children
  • Our weekday school educates our community children.

Justice: Promote social righteousness

  • Embrace diversity

Mission: Exhibit God’s kingdom to the world.

  • Mission: Exhibit God’s kingdom to the world
  • Great mission services.
  • Mission work – Weekday school

Stage 2. Where we are headed.

Looking at all of the strengths we listed, we sought to discern how this congregation might be in five years while eating our entrees. Each table wrote one of the following set of sentences on a sheet of newsprint.

  • In 5 years: younger families, larger congregation, remodeled kitchen
  • Have assistant pastor(s); Increased membership; Include more families with children and teenagers; Larger choir; Expanded mission programs; Expanded evangelism.
  • In five years, we will expand our church modestly, but solidly. We will build on current strengths in mission and fellowship and expand evangelism efforts.
  • We are hopeful of becoming a more vibrant church with our church growing in members and community involvement.
  • Engage our community. Be willing to profess our faith in service. Keeping up the good. Supplement our ministries to families and to the areas where we are thin.
  • In the next five years: we hope to increase the youth programs & stimulate younger families to participate in TTPC. Would love to see full choirs and music programs. Integrate pre-school families into church life at TTPC. Senior citizen activities.

  • In 5 years we: Will be a younger congregation with more children and parents. Will counsel those needing aid and wanting to learn food preparation.

Stage 3. Our slogans

After sitting down with our desserts in new groupings of people, each table sought to write 4 to 8 words that summarize who we strive to be. When these were posted on the wall, each participant was given 4 stickers to show their preference among the slogans we wrote. Participants could split their stickers among as many statements as they chose, including giving all to one statement.

Stars following each slogan indicate our preferences.

  • Popular, friendly, out reach to adults, teenagers, young children, study together, Bible-based, teach Christ’s love to all. ********* 9
  • Friendly, vibrant, church with community involvement. ******************* 19
  • Radiate Christ’s love ************************* 24
  • We are a loving, accepting, caring family. ********* 9
  • Sharing the love of God with everyone. ****************************** 30
  • Loving, caring, welcoming, serving, worshiping **** 4
  • Come join us for worship, fellowship, education **** 4


Toes with facesWhy five brothers?

Parables, especially in the first century were a well developed art form. Each word used in a parable, especially in its original language, is carefully chosen to pack meaning into the fewest number of words to facilitate memorization and repetition.

The parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31) is no exception to this rule. The first two parts of this parable were well developed and widely circulated in various forms even before Jesus’ time. In the first scene Lazarus, whose name derives from a common Hebrew name meaning God Helps, had lain under the rich man’s table with the dogs, hoping to grab a scrap of bread, bread perhaps discarded after wiping grease from a diner’s hands, to fill his belly. The rich man remains unnamed throughout the story to facilitate the hearers filling their names into the story. Lazarus dies and was carried to heaven by angels. Eventually the rich man also dies and was buried. The contrast between the Lazarus being carried upward but the earth consuming the rich man’s body was intentional, for in the next scene Lazarus appears lying with his head on Abraham while the rich man is tormented in Hades. That the rich man still has not learned his lesson becomes evident in his request for Abraham to send Lazarus to bring him a drop of water.

The version of the parable that Jesus told and as recorded by Luke uniquely adds a third scene with few lines of dialog between the rich man and Abraham about sending Lazarus to warn his five brothers. To which Abraham laments that they would not even listen to someone rising from the dead. Obviously an oblique reference to what Jesus would soon do and yet fail to convince everyone.

With so much packed into these few words that the rich man had five brothers seems to be an inconsequential detail. Why not say a brother or some brothers? Or is it?

I will have more to say about Luke 16:19-31 on Sunday, September 25th, 2016 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Robert Shaw, Pastor

Shrewd Stewardship

The Superbowl advertisements each year provide valuable lessons on capturing the attention of people in the world. Few advertisements tell about measurable qualities of the product being advertised. Some even neglect to show the actual product and merely mention the product’s name. Many advertisements instead include absurdities: talking reptiles, cars that drive so fast that doors actually fly off of other vehicles, or insurance sales agents who teleport onto the scene exactly when needed.

Where are the shrewd church advertisements?

How might we use media to promote the Kingdom of Heaven?

What might a shrewd church advertisement include?

“For the people of this world are more clever in dealing with their own kind
than are the people of the light.” — Luke 16:8

idea light bulbWould you show an engineer getting an insight during the prayers of the people? Perhaps a spotlight suddenly lighting up the engineer’s bowed head and a light bulb floating over it while angelic voices sang.

Would you show an shop owner passing the peace that passes understanding with a difficult customer then walking out of the building arm-in-arm?

Would you show a dreaded diagnosis being reversed while the congregation prayed for that person?

A impossible as these sound, I have seen or experienced all of these! Except for actually seeing the metaphorical light bulb floating over someone’s head.

What ad would you design to draw people toward the Kingdom of Heaven?

I will have more to say about the Shrewd Steward (Luke 16:1-13) on Sunday, September 18th, 2016 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Love Radically

I wonder if people who describe the United States as a Christian nation have read the Sermon on the Mount and thought about the implications for our legal system if we were to take this passage to heart.

justice_640Currently, if you are harmed and you can show that the person who harmed you either did it intentionally or at least reasonably knew you could be harmed, you could sue not only to recoup your actual damages, but also for punitive damages, three times your actual costs, so that they and others would not dare try to cause such harm in the future. Punitive damages exceed that which the Old Testament allowed:

Anyone who maims another shall suffer the same injury in return:
fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth;
the injury inflicted is the injury to be suffered. — Leviticus 24:19-20

Jesus trashed the idea of getting even. A legal system built on the ideal Jesus expressed in the Sermon on the Mount would put lawyers out of work!

“You have heard that it was said,
‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
But I say to you, ‘Do not resist an evildoer.
But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also …
— Mark 5:38-39

I believe Christ is trying to teach us to live, not relying on secular institutions for our security, but to rely fully on the Kingdom of God.

Jesus’ next tough statement could be very difficult to hear, especially on September 11th:

“You have heard that it was said,
‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you,
‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you …
— Mark 5:43-44

How will you love your political enemies after the polls close on November 8th?

I will have more to say about Matthew 5:38-48 on Sunday, September 11th, 2016 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Robert Shaw, Pastor