A Christmas Message
Bart Tarman 12/24/16
Bart Tarman 12/24/16
Description: "A babe wrapped in swadlling clothes and laid in a manger." The story, told and retold for two millenia, still resonates with each telling. How is it that God chose to come to this world in the form of a human child and yet, remain fully divine? And, in a short span of 30 yearrs, would leave such an indelible mark on the entire world. In spite of all the world's expectations about the coming Messiah, he arrived with little notice and fanfare, This baby Jesus--born of a young mother in a stable and laid to rest in a feeding trough--would eventually change the world in ways no one could imagine.
Description: God's chosen people waited...and waited...and waited for the arrival of the Messiah. Often feeling as though they were living in a darkness that would never be lifted, we too can often find ourselves living in darkness. God's love and forgiveness came to us in the fully human and fully divine form of the baby born that dark day in December. His light is the Light that cuts through the darkness, a light that cannot be extinguished by the darkness. We too, find ourselves waiting for the light that will lift our darkness. Peter gives examples of how the darkness--in its myriad forms--can settle upon us. And how God's love cuts through that darkness and lights us as a single candle in a dark room can fill the room with light.
Description: The people of Israel had waited hundreds of years for a Savior, someone who would release them from the oppression of the Roman Emprie; someone who would set them free and restore the kingdom of Israeal to its rightful place in the world. What they got was truly a Savior, but not one who came on tongues of fire and riding a steed, sword in hand to vanquish the Roman legions. No, instead God sent His Son, a baby, born in a stable, laid in a manger (feeding trough) and who would, over time, grow to become the long yearned-for Messiah they had so eagerly awaited, yet so few actually recognizing him as being Savior of all who would seek Him out. God intervened in a time and place that often makes people wonder, why then? why there? Why not now? The mystery of God's plan is still hazy to many of us. Yet it seems perfectly natural that the day, the place and the timing of the birth of Christ was all set in motion according to what God desired for us all.
Description: We so often think--and believe--that God is almighty and powerful and is capable of things beyond our imagination. And we would be right. However, God is also vulnerable. He came to us in the most unexpected way: A child, born of a human mother, nurtered by her and raised by her and his earthly father, Joseph. He grew up poor. Was once a refugee fleeing persecution. He had no wealth, no fine clothes and owned practically nothing. What could be more vulnerable and helpless than a newborn baby? Yet, this is the way God chose to break into this world and give us His Son, Jesus. In order to understand us, and for us to understand God, we need to realize that God lived, worked, slept, got angry, got hungry, felt the full range of emotions and suffered at the hands of those who could not, or would not, understand who He was and what He meant to the world. In His human-ness, God became vulnerable to all the things we experience in our lives. He knows our fears, our worries, our wants, our desires, our doubts, our joy, our tears...everything we could ever experience, including suffering, pain, illness and yes, even death.
Description: Bart brings forward the fullness of God's love by reaching back to the admonition of Moses to the people of Israel as they were about to enter the promised land: "Choose life"! In "choosing life" we must choose to live in the present and be grateful for this day. On this day when we celebrate Christ's reign, we may slip back into our "worries" about today or tomorrow when we say, Yes, Christ reigns, but I still have to my mortgage...or Christ reigns, but I still mad at my spouse, or I'm angry with my daughter, or...or...or. To remove ourselves from the intense distractions and feelings that plague each day takes some doing. To center ourselves in Christ is not always an easy task. To be grateful each day, to live in the attitude of gratitude, requires us to be aware of how and why God works in our lives. Each and every day is a gift. That's why they call it the present.
David Mosgofian Koeker
Description: David zeroes in on how we must have ears to listen and eyes to see in order to gain the fullness of what Jesus Christ and God are telling us and leading us to. David was formally installed as our Associate Pastor on this day and we congratulate him, his wife Joy and their son, Kamika.
Description: When God give us His only Son, it was the grestest generosity of love imaginable. When we show generosity, whether in our outpouring of love to one another, or in our financial suppport of God's work, we are the mirror image of Christ.
Guest Speaker: Mary Poplin
Description: Our small groups have been reading "Finding Calcutta" by Mary Poplin. It is an incredible story of one woman's spiritual journey to find Mother Teresa and her amazing transformation as she discovers God in the midst of overwhelming poverty. Mary is introduced by Betty Bagdasarian.
Bart Tarman 10/16/2016
Description: Bart begins a three part series entitled "Faith, Hope and Love". We often profess our faith in God, but rarely think that God has faith in us. Why wouldn't He? Isn't God just as excited about loving us as we are in loving God? Bart explores the many ways in which God's faith in us is shown in outward ways; we just may not be aware.
David Mosgofian Koeker 10/9/16
Description: David uses the example of his son learning to walk in recent weeks and, through the use of scripture where Peter is called out of the boat to walk on the water, we often struggle with getting out of the boat and walking in a strong faith with Jesus. Just like Peter, we are often distracted by the winds and the rains and the storms that surround us, rather than keeping our eye on Jesus. David asks us to look inward and explore where we are in our walk with Christ. And how willing are we to get out of the boat.
Bart Tarman 9/25/16
Description: This is the second in a series of messages under the heading of "Being Present, Open & Awake."
Bart Tarman 9/18/16
Description: Bart begins a new series of messages which encompass the words of Jesus, who often encouraged his followers to be present, open and awake to all the things of God's kingdom. Being present in the now; not distracted by all the many things that keep us from being highly focused in the moment, whether we are talking with, or more importantly listening to, someone. Instead of running down our list of things "to-do", we need to be fully attentive to what's happening around us right now. Toward the end of this message, Bart poses a couple of challenges to be carried out during the week. And every week.
Bart Tarman 9/11/16
Description: Bart concludes his 5-part series.
Bart Tarman 9/4/16
Description: Bart continues his series with the emphasis on God's lavish love and forgiveness, even when we feel we are not deserving or that we feel forgiving someone else is not possible. Bart uses a short scene from the film "Les Miserables" in which Jean Val Jean encounters a bishop who turns out to be full of forgiveness and lavishes a most unexpected gift on the former convict who has stolen silverware from the church.
Bart Tarman 8/28/16
Description: Here is the third in a series of five sermons in which Bart talks about healthy and unhealthy religion.
Bart Tarman 8/21/16
Description: Bart continues his 5 part series.
Bart Tarman 8/14/16
Description: Bart begins a 5 part series on Healthy and Unhealthy Religion. How do we know, or at least understand what it means to be in a "healthy" religion verses "unhealthy" religion? Bart uses several examples to draw a distinction between the two and to show how we must continue to grow and mature in our faith in order to recognize the difference.
Greg Spencer--Westmont College
Description: Our guest speaker, Greg Spencer, explains how our memory can sometimes play tricks on us in what we choose to remember or how we actually remember, or don't remember, a particular incident or time in our lives. We may remember a shared experience quite differently than another person who was there at the time. God encourages and reminds us to remember what He has done for us in the past and what He is doing for us in the present.
David Mosgofian Koeker
Description: What are we capable of doing and being when God is our guide? When we feel as though we have hit a wall or at a point in our lives when confronted with what we believe to be impossible to overcome, God is ready to make it all possible. Listen as David tells the story about a time when a pile of stones marked the time when God made possible the impossible.
Description: Attending high school or college reunions can often be filled with great joy, or at times, great trepidation. It seems you never know what you'll discover as you are reunited with old classmates. Life has unfolded in surprising ways for some or challenging moments for others. There will come a time when we will be reunited with Jesus, but until then, we are left to live out our lives in the kingdom, but at the same time in a world that, by all appearances, has turned on its head.
Dr. Thomas Jayawardene, Westmont College
Description: Dr. Thomas Jayawardene reads from Matthew 13:1-19 and expounds upon the questions posed in this verse about who we are as the receivers of God's Word. How does the word of God fall upon us? Are we fertile soil? Are we distracted and inattentive and unaware that God's word has reached into our hearrts and minds? How do we respond? Do we let God's word grow within us or do we let "the birds come along and snatch the seed away?"
David Mosgofian Koeker
Description: Being thankful to the Father and to Christ should be an everyday occurence for all of us. David explains how easy it can be to give thanks...for so many things...and people in our lives. Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and John 11:32-44.
Description: The tragedy in Orlando, Florida has shocked our nation and left us emotionally drained. We demand answers to the why of it all, but are often left with little in the way of any reasonable explanation. And we are wondering if it's possible to even overcome the hatred with love and to consider forgiving the shooter. In God's love for us, in God's love for His Son, Jesus Christ, and in Christ's love for us, the circle is complete. The Holy Spirit calls to us to live a life in which love turns away hate. If we cannot love one another as Jesus has commanded our lives are spent in a darkness that clouds our minds. It is love, it is truth that overcomes the darkness and shall never be diminshed. In this sense, we are lifted out of the darkness and into the light of Christ's everlasting mercy and grace.
Description: What does it take to be a follower of Jesus? How easy, or as some would say, how hard can it be? Using the example of how a pilot car helps to smooth and control the flow of traffic through a construction zone, Peter looks at how Jesus is our spiritual pilot car, leading us through life, requiring from us many things that we may find difficult to do, often causing us to seek alternate routes that may lead us into trouble.
Description: Bart concludes his series of messages from II Corinthians by focusing on how Jesus really seemed to be talking to all the wrong people, in all the wrong places and saying all the wrong things. Yet, this is precisely where Jesus intended to be: among the outcasts, the "traitor", the marginalized, the man and woman on the fringe and those who were thought to be outside the religious norm of the time. In essence, the gospel of Jesus is meant not for a strict adherence to a particular organized religion, but a message that reaches "all the wrong people, in all the wrong places", which, if we are honest with ousevlves, includes us. It is a message of love and inclusion for everyone, to be practiced by everyone, in every place and circumstance.
Description: Bart continues his series based on Paul's second letter to the church in Corinth. This time Bart looks at how we are meant to be swallowed up by life (in Christ) and not to be overtaken by the worries and distress of this modern world.
Description: Bart begins a series based on Paul's second letter to the church in Corinth. Paul sought to let all in the church know that while they were "stumbling" at times, they were still headed in the right direction. It would take honest work and inward retrospection, but he knew the faithful were certainly capable of overcoming whatever obstacles (real and imagined) were causing such turmoil in the church.
Bart Tarman, Art Kopicky, Marvin Charles
Description: Bart is joined in this sermon with two longtime friends: Art Kopicky and Marvin Charles. Art serves with the Teleios ministry in Seattle, whose goal is to help men in the process of reaching maturity in Christ through building bonds of friendship with other men. Regular individual and group meetings bring a greater balance to a man's life and positively impact his relationship with Jesus Christ, his family, career, workplace and community. Marvin is the director of DADS (Divine Alternatives for Dad's Services) ministry which has helped thousands of men in the Seattle area to reconnect and be a positive influence in the lives of their children. His extraorindary effectiveness comes from his ability to hear the pain behind the angry words and threats of those he counsels. Moreover, it's his personal odyssey that gives him the voice of authenticity. Subsequently, Marevin has emgerged as aleader in his community, creating stronger father and healthier familes. The underlying story of these two is how one white (Art) and one black (Marvin) came to meet, bond and trust one another in the love of Jesus Christ. Once you hear their story, you'll wonder why we aren't doing more to spread the love of Christ to everyone, everywhere.
Description: Jesus Christ reflected the true glory of God. The glory that we have great difficulty in describing as mere words cannot hold or properly impart the impact of the glory of God. To stand in the glory of God is to stand in a radiance so bright, so overwhelming, so joyful, so accepting and so forgiving that it would literally cause one to drop to his knees. Yet there were many who saw the glory of God when they came face to face with Jesus Christ. And unlike Moses--who had seen God and had to put a veil over his face so the Isrealities could look at him--Jesus never had to hide face. His amazing grace and healing power radiated all around him. The apostles, the disciples and the thousands who flocked to him, were looking into the face of God. For many, it took time to realize who they had seen. For others the realization was nearly instantaneous. How do we see the glory of God? In the story of Jesus Christ. By turning to the four Gospels we get to know Jesus. We can come to understand what it meant to stand in the glory and presence of God. Our eyes will be opened to see the full and true glory before us.
Description: We we seek God, when we go to Him in all our brokeness, when we have run out of excuses and we turn to God for an answer, we are usually expecting the reply will be NO! In fact, quite the oppsite happens...God is always saying YES! In our reluctance to ask for forginveness, God has already forgiven. He's the one that constantly encourages us to move past our sins, our regrets, our shortcomings, our outright failings and jump back on the bus of life! God is the one who is updating our narrative every monent of every day. Yet we are the skeptical ones who are stuck. We keep replaying the past indiscretions and mistakes, instead of realizing that God, through the love of His Son, Jesus Christ, wiped the slate clean that day on Golgotha. God reconciled the world to Him. We are the ones, struggling to live out each day, who often fail to see what's right in front of us all the time: God's love for us, His forgiveness to each and everyone one of us and a constantly amazing gift of love that never stops giving! No matter how much we screw things up, Jesus lifts us up, dusts us off and sends us on our way.
Description: How does God go about transforming our lives? Much like when we decide to demo a room or a part of our house and start over, God is doing the same with us. But much like we discover when we want to do a makover, it often takes more time and more patience that we ever imagined. God is working within us in much the same way. His work is ongoing and may, at times, feel and seem as though it is a long, slow process. And the fine tuning goes on forever. God is never really done with us even in our final moments on this earth.
David Mosgofian Koeker
Description: Jesus challenges to, in today's idiom, think outside the box. It is so easy to try and contain our faith in a certain way that causes to continue to follow a set a rules, a paradigm, that, for better or worse, we wish not to change. But instead of a square box, what if we were to look at our life in Christ as more like a circle, where, if we were to post ourselves on the outer ring, we would constantly be looking to Christ at the center. And as our lifes move around this outer ring, so does our maturity grow in Christ. And, though we stumble and fall from time to time, we always keep our eye on the center. Our paradigm also begins to shift as we are made aware that our life in Christ is also constantly changing, expanding, enlarging. We must change in order to grow and it is often the thing we are most resistant to. We must get out of our "box" and into the circle where we are in motion, but always pointed toward the center. (We apologize for the audio quality of this recording as we were having technical issues with the microphone).
Description: It's been three Sundays since that glorious day when our Lord rose from the dead on Easter. For the Apostles and disciples its been an amazing few weeks as they've gone from abject misery to elation as Jesus has appeared to them in various places at various times. At that first appearance on that Sunday, while the followers were in a locked room, the apostle Thomas was not present. When he is told of the miracle, he famously utters the words that the won't believe until he sees with his own eyes. His doubts are later washed away when Jesus again appears and instructs Thomas to feel the wounds in His hands and side. Perhaps Thomas had a bad rap all these years by being labled "doubting" Thomas? Maybe he should be called "absent" Thomas instead. Peter explores this idea and also touches on the bit players in the Passion narrative. These are mentions of certain people who after that are never noted in the Gospels again. What happened to them? And we certainly have our What Now? moments, when we're left with little to go on and our faith and beliefs are sorely tested in a long and excruitiating time of waiting.
Description: Jesus said he had come to set men--and women--free! But free from what? If we think we are actually "free", Jesus is quick to point out we may indeed be in a cage or prison of our own doing, locking ourselves away from God. Or that we have somehow put someone else in a "cage" and continue to keep them there, while we hold the "key" that can set them free. Jesus was a key dropper. He was constantly reminding those who would listen that in order to love and be loved in God's kingdom, that we must be willing to look at our own fears and worries and how easily we can lock ourselves away from having any meaningful relationship with famiily and friends or even the stranger we bump into on the street. Living a life in Christ is what sets us free. Free to love and be loved. Free to live without fear. Free to dive into the pool of God's healing love and come up refreshed, emboldened and encourage by the Holy Spirit. Instead of being caged, or putting someone else in a cage, we have the keys to the kingdom. And God wants us to turn the locks on our heart and set ourselves free to be in Christ's love.
Description: After the events of Good Friday the apostles and disciples of Jesus were in hiding..."behind locked doors" as scripture tells us. They were afraid for their lives as they had witnessed the one they believed to be the Messiah being tortured by the Romans, then hung on a cross until he died. He had been hurriedly buried in a small cave and a stone rolled across its opening. Saturday passed in dark shadows as they waited and waited and waited. On Sunday morning a few of the women who had gone to cleanse the body came running back from the tomb to declare that the stone had been rolled away and the body of Jesus was nowhere to be found! The tomb was empty! What nonsense the men said! How can this be? Yes, how can this be? How can this happen? How can a man overcome death? Well, this was no ordinary man and this was no ordinary death. In the span of 48 hours, Jesus had gone from breathing his last, to rising from the dead and appearing to his followers. Bart highlights the story of the two men on the road to Emmaeus who have an extraordinary encounter with the risen Christ. How do we encounter the risen Christ? Are our eyes blinded and our eyes deaf to Him? Or are we willing to let the Holy Spirit take control of our lives and give us "eyes to see and ears to hear" his Holy word.
Description: As the old saying goes: Life is full of ups and downs...and everything else is just the roller coaster ride we're on! It does seem as though we live with triumphs and defeats, some big, some small, but all affect us in one way or another. We experience the joy of a newborn and the sadness when we lose a loved one or good friend. Yet through it all, God remains constant. Standing with us in our moments of great joy and being present as we grieve. We often question if anyone else knows what we're going through. The answer is yes, someone does: Jesus Christ. In a matter of one week in His life, He went from being heralded as the Messiah to being falsely accused of treason to the state, unfairly tried and then executed by the Romans. In His moment of triumph when He entered Jerusalem to the deepest, darkest moment as He was dying on the cross, God was everpresent.
Description: We live on an amazing planet, rotates every 24 hours and then slowly spins around our sun over a period of 365 days. When was the last time you slowed down to smell the roses, or gaze upon a sunset or walk a forest trail or the beach or just sit in your backyard contemplating all was around you? Bart encourages us to not miss God's exquisite beauty of His creation and, most importantly, to never forget that we are also God's unqiue creation, for which we did absolutely nothing to make happen! Scripture is Psalm 19, read by Peter Bie.
Description: Angry at God? Disappointed that your prayers have not been answered? Questioning God about why a loved one has cancer, or why a daughter was lost to drug addiction? Angry with yourself over something you did or did not do, perhaps a long time ago? Unable to forgive yourself for it? Listen as Bart outlines the steps we can all take in order to forgive ourselves AND forgive God. How is that possible you say? Keep in mind that God already knows your heart and mind. In the greater mystery of it all, perhaps the question should be how is that God continues to forgive me when I carry a long held grudge against Him?
Description: Our lives seem to be cluttered with so much stuff that there are now bestselling books to show us how declutter our lives; to rid ourselves of the stuff that seems to be in every corner of our homes. But there is other stuff, the intangible, invisible stuff that also creeps into and clutters our hearts and minds. It's the stuff of shame, guilt, remorse, hurt, pain, anger, family dynaimcs and relationships, old grudges, addictions and more. And this is just the short list! Our hearts and minds are full of this stuff that, much like the stuff in our garages, attics and storage units, remains unattended..but still there nonetheless. And just as we do when we move and take all our tangible stuff with us (instead of weeding out what we don't need or use( we haul along all the inner things that are cluttering up our lives and keeping us distant from God's love. Jesus urges us to look head on at these things and do what most of us consider impossible to do: forgive..and be forgiven. Giving forgiveness and receiving forgiveness. (My thanks to Phillip Yancy for excerpts from "What's So Amazing About Grace" and Lewis Smedes for the quote that begins "When you forgive someone, you slice away the wrong....." I am grateful for their insights and wisdom--PBB).
Description: Bart tackles the contuing theme of forgiveness with something that most of us deal with all the time: how to actually receive the forgiveness of God and how gracious, or put off, we are by someone's forgiveness of us. Perhaps it's our inate sense that we are worthy of God's forgiveness nor are we grateful enough for that forgiveness. Guest speaker, Dr. Ed Wimberly, steps in to pose the question: What would happen, that instead of asking for God's forgiveness, that you simply thank God everyday for His forgiveness . Listen as Bart and Ed take us a revealing journey about receiving...and giving...forgiveness.
Description: Bart begins this message by reading from Pauls' letter to the Colossians, Chapter 3 verse 12 and following. How deep do we have to go in order to understand what it truly means to receive forgiveness as well as forgiving others? What is that compels us to withhold forgiveness, yet expect to be forgiven by others? Bart explores several reasons that keep us from grasping the meaning of forgiveness which in turn can keep us from receiving Christ's forgiveness. What do we need to recognize in our own hearts before we can touch the hearts of others? The answers may surprise you.
Description:Scripture: Matthew 17:1-8 Bart illutrates what it means to pursue the spiritual life in our walk with Jesus. We have to let go of many things; sometimes the very things we cling to: our possessions, our family, our finances, our children, even our addictions. Jesus is always waiting for us, but if we try bringing all our material and emotional baggage with us, we won't get there. We have to relieve ourselves of these burdens before we can move on.
Description: As human beings, one of the hardest things for us to deal with is forgiveness, something which never bothered Jesus. We struggle with this from the time we are children right on through our adult lives. How do we forgive when something has been done to us that leaves pain, suffering and a lingering sense of injustice? How do we forgive ourselves when we have done something that will have lasting effects on someone else?And what do we do when we feel so strongly that the other person should be the first to forgive? Or that we are so justified in our feelings of being right that we have no need to forgive. Bart explores these issues and several more surrounding forgiveness and how God and Christ come at us with a pre-emptive forgiveness for all the sins we have committed--large and small. They beat us to the punch, leaving us in a place that requies soul searching and perhaps leaving with the uncomfortable realization that in order to move forward, we need to forgive.
David Mosgofian Koeker
Description: When Jesus prayed in the Garden at Gethsamane it is said that droplets of blood fell from his face. Facing immenent death on the cross, Christ was praying to the Father to help in anyway to alter what was about to happen. Yet, in the end, he was obient to God's will; "Not my will, Lord, but yours." How then do we square God's will with our own will and desires? How do we turn our lives over to his will and remain obediant when we may be facing difficult or life threatening circumstances? Listen as David tells us that in our worst moments of fear and suffering, God's will can also bring us a triumph of joy and relief and an overwhelming, unexpected sense of peace.
Description: Jesus believed that the kingdom of God came from within and expressed itself in the outward expression of our love. All the goodness that God pours into us, in turn, is poured out to everyone as though we are the fountain that is always full and constantly flowing. But sometimes there are things that keep us from taking in God's love: fear, worry, concern, doubt. These are the things, among others, that can deter us from the full expression of God's love. Bart weaves a story of a sweater that he wore "inside out" and how it serves as an example of what we need to do in order to live the life that Jesus wants us to live.
Description: Bart continues his series by asking us to examine who we are and what we are as we attempt to follow the path of Jesus. Sometimes self examination can be very painful, often revealing and can carry with it a desire to not too far beneath the surface of our lives; to truly go really deep into our heart and our mind. Jesus asks each of us to examine who we are in relation to where God wants us to be as we live out our lives in the kingdom. Listen as Bart takes us on a journey of self discovery.