Category Archives: Worship Services

Recent and upcoming worship services

Love Your Neighbor

Serendipitously our Mission and Evangelism Committee independently chose to present options for volunteering with local mission agencies on the exact same Sunday when our reading of Romans 12:1-8 would ask us how we might present our bodies as a living sacrifice, using our various gifts so that together we might be the body of Christ by loving our neighbors.

Please bring your friends and family with you on Sunday, August 27th.

  • Our day begins at 8:30 AM with a pancake breakfast.
  • At 10 AM speakers from six local ministries will inspire us to love our neighbors.
  • At 11 AM conversations will continue over ice cream sundaes.
  • Our annual talent show will conclude the morning’s festivities.

  Beth-El Ministries    Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County  Metropolitan Ministries - Hope is Here  


If these six speaker have not inspired you to use your gifts as you might the discern the will of God, then also consider service here at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church on our committees: Christian Education, Congregational Care, Facilities, Fellowship, Finance, Personnel, or Worship.

So be transformed by the renewing of your minds and discern how you might exhibit how the Spirit is good and acceptable and perfect.

Let these six local mission agencies inspire how you will present your bodies as living sacrifices on Sunday, August 27th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Unopened Gift

Wrapped present with bowI like many Americans was brought up with the ideal that you get what you deserve and you deserve what you get. So you had better work hard and do the right thing. Or else!

But what about the Jews? Scripture tells us that Jesus came first to them and they rejected him, even crucified him to attempt to thwart God’s plan of redemption. If God should reject anyone, one might think the Jews would be long gone.

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! … God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. … for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
— Romans 11:1a, 2a, 29

And this is beautiful news for us! For since God has not rejected those who had attempted to thwart his plan of redemption, but instead God has used this attempt, the crucifixion of Jesus, to perfectly complete that plan. Thus we too can find mercy from our disobedience.

Thus God’s gift of mercy is like a gift irrevocably sitting on everyone’s door step, available to be open. The question for us who have opened the gift, bringing it into our lives, is how we might help other people to recognize and open God’s gift of mercy.

I will have more to say about Romans 11 on Sunday, August 20th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Shameless

Ticket to Admit OneI am amazed by the dedication of actors, actresses, directors, stage crew, and musicians who participate in community theater productions. They must learn their parts, faithfully attend practices, and reliably show up for performances for the entire company depends on each volunteer. Yes, volunteer! Most community theater productions are fully staffed by people who love to be on stage so much that they would labor intensely just to put on a show before a live audience. Tickets cover costs related to renting the hall, using the script, and other fees.

Which leaves me wondering how much people must love Jesus when they talk about why they attend worship, why they  make significant contributions to the church, and why they volunteer so many hours?

Unfortunately people who bubble over with joy about what Jesus has done in their lives are few and far between. Instead when I challenge people to invite their friends and family to a special worship service I often receive excuses or silent avoidance.

Paul had the same problem nearly 2,000 years ago and he replied:

“Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
— Romans 10:6-9

Apparently even in Paul’s day people worried about what others might say about them. But Paul has an answer for that too: “The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ ”

The big controversy in our day seems to be over evangelizing by deeds or by words. Street preachers are perhaps the worst example of the confessing only with one’s mouth. I firmly believe that the best evangelists take time to sit with and listen to people before speaking. On the other hand St Francis of Assisi answered the question about the value of what we do by saying: “Pray at all times; use words if necessary.”

How might you share God’s message of salvation?

I will have more to say about Romans 10:5-13 on Sunday, August 13th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

God Chooses

Is there salvation for God’s chosen people? What about our friends and family who have drifted away from the faith?

Since Chapter 8 of Romans ends:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Broken PotteryThen how come God’s own people at least appear to be “separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus”? What allowed those who were once faithful members of the Church seem to have drifted away?

Later in chapter 9 and in the opening verses of chapter 10 Paul warns against attempting to establish one’s own righteousness, and not fully relying on God. The problem is not being sufficiently religious, but with attempting to be so religious as to establish one’s own righteousness through diligent observance of the law, proper prayers, and fastidious worship.

What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy.
— Romans 9:14-16

And this is the best news, that although we might wish God would consult with us on who should receive compassion, or at least give us an insight as to why some people at least appear to be separated from the love of God, ultimately we must recognize God’s sovereignty and appreciate that the Creator of all thing seen and unseen, who placed us on this amazing planet, to be trusted with how God chooses to show mercy.

I will have more to say about Romans 9:1-18 on Sunday, August 6th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Invincible!

SufferingOnly those struggling need reminders of God’s love.

No one has ever made an appointment to visit me because life has treated them awesomely, to talk over a promotion or boast of new grandchild. No they call for an appointment when they have no where else to turn. They call me to visit them when in the hospital, especially the emergency room, when the future looks messy and hopeless.

For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
— Romans 8:36 or Psalm 44:22

All I can do in such circumstances is to remind them of God’s presence in all things, to remind people of how the Holy Spirit has bound us together into a community of faith, supporting one another, of how the Father’s gift of healing has become manifest through science and medicine, of how Christ’s gift of grace allows us to see past our own short comings to the power of having His spirit living within those who trust in. And sometimes that is enough.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:38-39

I will have more to say about Romans 8:26-39 on Sunday, July 30th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Groaning with Creation

We like to believe that we we are basically good. We might have our moments when we don’t measure up and have our issues, but I have yet to meet anyone who thinks that he or she deserves the suffering experienced in life. Thus one of the great theological questions is:

If God is good, why is there suffering in the world?

In a few sentences Paul throws this question aside. First, you are not the only person suffering, and second, not even only humanity that suffers.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning
as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. — Romans 8:22

But most importantly, looking at suffering is looking in the wrong direction. We should instead look at the grandeur and glory about to be revealed by God who calls us heirs.

I will have more to say about Romans 8:12-25 on Sunday, July 23rd at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Wow!

FireworksEaster, and each Sunday as a little Easter, should be celebrated with fireworks, brass bands, ticker-tape parades, loud cheering, combined choirs, and a celebratory dinner.

Independence Day merely celebrates our collective rights for self-government, an occasion worthy of celebration in the grandest of style. Yet the resurrection of Jesus Christ proves our release from our well deserved punishment under the law.

The Apostle Paul began his letter to the Church in Rome with a long list of sins demonstrating:

There is no one who is righteous,
not even one;

— Romans 3:10b

Paul himself also struggled with sin:

So then with my mind I am a slave to the law of God,
but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

— Romans 7:25b

Then he makes a most amazing statement:

There is therefore now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus.

— Romans 8:1

Although the law was intended to guide us from sin, it is unable to do so. Yet God, in Christ Jesus does the impossible! This is worthy of celebration in the most grand style, not merely once a year but every Sunday. Ring all the bells! Pull out all of the stops!

I will have more to say about Romans 8:1-11 on Sunday, July 16th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

What Shall We Do?

I once loved “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum. The tune is catchy and the words are inspiring. At least until he gets to the line:

Never been a sinner. I never sinned.

I believe the Apostle Paul would have argued with him against that line as well.

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. — Romans 7:19 (NRSV)

Great comedy also makes use of this human propensity to think that we can do what is right, only to do what is wrong. When a character does something obviously wrong audiences will roar with laughter, relieved that someone else makes a foolish mistake as they may have once made.

The good news of Jesus Christ is that we need not remain stuck in our past failures, but may dare to go out into the world striving to do our best, confident that Christ has rescued us.

I will have more to say about Romans 7:14-25 on Sunday, July 9th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Freedom for …

20 mph on wet winding wayImagine if you could drive however fast you wanted without any consequence. No speed limits. No radar traps. And no speeding fines.

Of course a few people would use our freeways as their personal race tracks: treating other drivers, especially slower ones, as if they were competitors to be beaten, even run off the road. And others would drive so slowly as to become hazards, rolling barricades that without any warning suddenly choke traffic to squeeze around them if not to an inexplicable standstill.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans he supposes his opponents might ask: Since believers are free from the law, why not take full advantage of the freedom Christ won for us and enjoy life to the fullest as we understand it?

Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace?
— from Romans 6:15

In Paul’s time people believed everyone was a slave to some person or to some principal. If not  a literal slave, owned by someone, one might be a family member obedient to the head of the household who was in turn obedient to both to the principle of efficiently managing that household and to the local government. Thus to be freed from slavery to the law, might mean freedom from all owners.

In our time, instead of slavery, we might talk about being signed by a particular team, for example the Tampa Bay Rays of the New York Yankees. In Paul’s mind there are only two teams: Sin or God. One cannot be truly loyal to both.

If then we are freed from the law, can we consider ourselves free agents, able to discern for ourselves how we should act? Most certainly not, for to do so would make us equals to God, who alone sets the limits of good and evil.

Instead Paul challenges us to ask: What we have been freed for?

Consider the speeding example above again. Since we have been freed from the law we are thus freed for the kingdom of heaven. The speed we drive would consider the impact of our driving on every other driver on the road, on those living near the road, on the environmental impact of fuel consumed, and so forth. If traffic laws were perfectly efficient, speed limits would balance all of those factors with our personal needs to efficiently get from one place to the next to transact business. In such an ideal community, speed limits and traffic fines would control drivers by fear to drive at the same rate as those motivated by living for one another, that is living to advance the Kingdom of Heaven.

No longer present your members to sin as armaments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as armaments of righteousness.
— from Romans 6:13

I will have more to say about Romans 6:12-23 on Sunday, June 26th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Not Dead, Alive!

Everyone should at least watch a baptism by immersion. While I affirm infant baptism by sprinkling water on a child’s head, as it places the emphasis for salvation on the work of God, only baptism by immersion fully expresses the ideal of becoming dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

I did not experience my first baptism by immersion until I found myself standing waist deep in a mucky pond about to baptize a man who had insisted on immersion. Having been trained as a lifeguard, I had inklings of what could go wrong. At worst the candidate for baptism would panic, slip off the narrow ledge we stood on, and pull me under as well. Physical death was a real possibility, for both of us.

Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
— Romans 6:4

The challenges come after baptism, when followers of Jesus must turn from sin and walk in the newness of life.

This Sunday, June 25th, I will focus on Romans 6:1-11, providing a brief note for context, so that we might better understanding being dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Robert Shaw
Pastor, Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church