Ladies Getaway

Posted by on December 29, 2012 under Uncategorized

The Ladies Getaway is February 22-24

Click here to register. The deadline is February 17.


December 26

Posted by on December 26, 2012 under Front Page Posts, Sermons

The humblest day of the year has to be Dec. 26.  At least Dec. 24 gets to be Christmas Eve.  All the other dates between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the “Holiday Season.”  There’s great anticipation and much preparation in those days. The spirit of Christmas is there; but Dec. 26 is different.

Some calendars will say it is Boxing Day.  Boxing Day is an excuse for Brits and Canadians to take time off.  In the United States, Dec. 26 is not an exciting day.  In fact, it can be a depressing day.  It is the beginning of the “Let-Down Season.”  The decorations go away and along with them go all the holiday cheer and good tidings.  Early on the morning after Christmas, sales become testimonies to greed and selfishness.  The advertisers have picked up on this post-holiday let down and have even tapped into the after-holiday cynicism.  (“Haven’t you had a little too much Christmas?”)  Get ready, because the fitness ads are right around the corner.

In the lectionary tradition, the year is not ending with Dec.26; rather it is just beginning.  All the preparation and anticipation is coming to fruition.  Let’s learn from this.  We have spent the last month or so talking about Christ: about his first coming into the world and his second coming into the world which is yet to come.  The question before us on Dec. 26(or on any other day) is “What does Immanuel (God with us) mean today?”

John the Baptist had a Dec. 26 moment.  He was wondering if all the anticipation and preparation had come to an end.  John had dedicated himself to a hard life: An outdoor life of living in the desert eating grasshoppers and honey.  He was decked out in his camel hair shirt and his old leather belt.  He was a voice crying in the wilderness.  John was a prophet – like Elijah (he dressed like Elijah) and his message was point blank – “The Lord is coming, so get ready now!  Turn from wickedness sinners and repent!  Be baptized, washed clean!”  John’s message was tough, but he had a vision that after him would come the Day of the Lord.  The one who would come after him would be the Son of Man, which meant the judge of all the earth.  The one who would come after him would be the Messiah, which meant God’s chosen king. This was breaking news and John was the herald of this arrival.

On John’s Dec. 26, all those rough years spent out in the desert and his bold proclamation (He pointed fingers at kings and called them sinners) is coming to an end.  John is in prison and he thinks he will probably be executed.  Was it worth it?  Was all the preparation and preaching in vain or in faith?  Was Jesus the one?  John had to know.  Maybe he doubted.  Maybe he wanted to see the fireworks start.  That’s a Dec. 26 moment.  He’s looking back.  You might even call it a Dec. 31 moment, because he is looking back and asking, “What was it all about? What gives it meaning?  What puts the seal on my life and validates it?”

Two of John’s disciples approach Jesus and ask him “Are you the coming one, or do we wait for another one?”  That is John’s Dec. 26 question.  He wants to know if he can look back at his ministry and connect it with Jesus, or should he should pick up and start getting ready for the next Christmas. After all, Dec. 26th is also the day when we pack it up and start looking forward for the next Dec. 25th.  But John wants to know if that is what he has to do or if he can go to the executioner knowing that he had seen the one he was preaching about.

Jesus’ answer is to let John and his disciples judge for themselves.  What have they seen and heard? The blind receive their sight, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised and the poor have the good news brought to them.  Jesus asked them to weigh the miracles and all those signs of grace.  Is that Messiah work?  Jesus’ reply asks another question, “Well what did you expect?”  What sort of Messiah were you looking for?”

Some will focus on the birth of the Messiah on Dec. 25.  That picture of the Messiah is of a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.  But the Dec. 26 Messiah must be one that can respond to prisoners and doubters and faithful.  It must be a Messiah who can give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, cleansing to the sick and life to the dying!

What kind of Messiah were you looking for?  The good news of Jesus is that the kingdom of God is about judgment, but it is also about graciousness.  The reign of God is here and is being established; all we wait for now is the victory party.

We prepare for the second coming (as John did for the first coming) but we do not have to wait for the Second Coming for these things to happen. We do not have to pack up our expectations and wait for another Christmas.  We don’t have to wait for another Savior to come.  The good news for Dec. 26is that we can start living in the kingdom of Christ now, being joyful, being healed, being forgiven, being patient, being free, and traveling safe along the Holy Way.  We are not ending a season, but we are invited to begin enjoying the journey and the time and nurture it takes, enjoying the rule of God and the fellowship of the people around us.

Hope Chest Toy Giveaway

Posted by on December 7, 2012 under Uncategorized

December 15, 10 AM in the West-Ark gym.

All toys are free.

Patrick Mead Seminar – Resources

Posted by on December 6, 2012 under Curriculum, Front Page Announcements, Resources, Sermons


The seminar is over, but the learning continues.  During the seminar we laughed and learned.  We thank Patrick for sharing his time with us.

This seminar was a significant event in the story of West-Ark.  The shared experience of these teachings will initiate conversations and spiritual growth throughout the New Year and beyond.  Therefore, we want to make the recordings of the seminar available to those who could not attend.  They are also available as a resource for review as we continue to unpack what the Bible lessons mean for us.

Click on the links below to access and audio recording of the session.

Saturday, Dec. 8, Session 1

Saturday, Dec. 8, Session 2

Sunday, Dec. 9, Session 3 (AM Class)

Sunday, Dec. 9,  Session 4 (Sermon)

Sunday, Dec. 9, Session 5 (Q&A Session)

In addition to the recordings, many have asked for links to Patrick’s other teaching resources.

The Facebook group for attenders of the Seminar is at

About Patrick Mead

Patrick serves as the senior minister for the Eastside Church of Christ in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Raised by missionaries and a former missionary himself, Patrick has a burden to reach the left out, forgotten, and broken who live invisible lives all around us. He has worked with minority people groups all over the world and has a special passion to those under fire or persecution.

Patrick earned his doctorates in England while researching the connection between psychology and immunology. In addition to two Ph.Ds, he holds a Masters in Counseling Psychology and several postdoctoral qualifications. He teaches special courses several times a year at The Ohio State University and other Midwestern Universities. He is also a frequent speaker to law enforcement and military groups. He is known for using his Celtic humor to make even the most complex subjects fun and understandable.

Patrick’s charitable work includes fighting human trafficking, providing support for halfway houses, and setting up counseling protocols for veterans with PTSD and law enforcement officers who have been involved in shootings. He also works with foster care agencies to provide clothing, toys, books and other comfort items to those who have been displaced.

Patrick has been married to the former Kami Taylor for 32 years. They have two children. Kara Graves (29) is married to a minister in the Nashville area and Duncan (23) is a former US Marine who works and worships in the Detroit area.

The Wisdom of Happiness – Part 3

Posted by on December 2, 2012 under Front Page Posts, Sermons

Click Here For Audio

Happiness Is . . .

Is it a warm gun?  Is it a warm puppy? Is it a pursuit that is the American Dream?

The “Happiness Is” meme began with Charles Schultz in Peanuts.

The word “happy” is used frequently in the Psalms.  It is also translated as “blessed” or “fortunate.”  The formula is similar to our current meme:  “Happy are those who ____________.”

There are odd examples of the “Happy are . . .” formula in Psalms, but there are three frequent statements.  Happiness is a result of 1) Following God’s Way, 2) Knowing How to Worship, 3) Trusting in God.

The benefit of these three is not reserved for the future, rather there is a present benefit as well.  So, happiness includes refreshment, contentment, security, thriving and flourishing.  Things go well for the happy.

Following God’s Way – Psalm 1, 94, 112, 119, 128

  • Psalm 1 – There are two ways: God’s way and the way of wickedness.  God’s way leads to the sort of happiness that is a state of blessing from God.  The way of wickedness is cynicism and scorn.  The wicked are suspicious and angry.  The wicked are arrogant and set in their ways.  They are stubborn.
    • The happy ones are like fruitful trees and they flourish.
    • They prosper; not for their own sake but for the sake of God’s purposes.  They bear fruit in season, which benefits all of us.
    • How did they get that way?  They meditated on God’s ways “day and night.”  They delight in God’s law!  It is internal and external.


  • Psalm 94:12 – God’s way endures.  The anxious way of the wicked who seek power and abuse others will not endure.  So we are happy when God teaches us a better way.  Trying to succeed at life according to the rules of a broken world leads into a pit of despair and depression.
  • Psalm 112:1– The happy delight in God’s way.  It is a pleasure to follow in God’s way.  It isn’t grudging.
    • If you are resentful about following God’s way, then there’s a problem.  Either, 1) you need to turn something over to God [we will get to this in a moment] or 2) what you are resisting and begrudging isn’t really God’s way.  It is probably traditionalist baggage, meaningless custom, or the attitudes of others that you are owning as God’s Way.  You will not be very happy if you are trying to meet the expectations of others above God’s expectations.
  • Psalm 119:1 – Happiness is learning God’s way.  Not just avoiding sin, but doing right and doing it wholeheartedly.  We are usually happy to help when we know that we are contributing to the goodness of all in God’s name.
  • Psalm 128:1-6 –  This is an expression of flourishing and the younger generations are blessed and happy to have the older ones model this way.  Leaving a legacy of happiness through walking in God’s way.

Other Psalms are specific about what the righteousness of God’s Way looks like:

  1. Psalm 106:3 – Happy are those who observe justice
  2. Psalm 41:1 – Happy are those who consider the poor and weak
  3. Psalm 32 – Confessing sin and letting go of deceit. Holding it in is not healthy.  The benefits are gladness expressed in worship and confidence.

Knowing How To Worship – Psalm 84, 89, 146

  • Psalm 89:15Happy are the people who know the festal shout.  Worship involves doing what God has commanded, but it also involves a heart-felt response to God’s majesty.  There is a place in worship for emotion.  A history of reducing worship down to a few basic elements has drained it of passion and power.  In this Psalm, there is no reduction.  The worshipers are happy and they know how to cheer for God’s team.  They walk in the light of his countenance.  That means that God is happy with them.  Day and night there is a worshiping joy.  The festal shout is a response to God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.  Joyous praise is a response to God’s awesome might.
  • Do we know the festal shout?  Would we shout it even if we knew it? I know of people who have been “shushed” because they shouted “Amen!” in worship.  They were told that they were distracting the teacher.  Hello?  I was the teacher.  I was looking for an “Amen!”  Not only are the “shushers” quenching the spirit and dampening the festal shout, they are speaking for me without my permission.
  • Too often we get so consumed about the production of worship, that we forget the festivity!  Why are we so concerned about clapping or not clapping? Both are appropriate.  Anxious concern about controlling how everyone else responds in worship has nothing to do with the heart of worship.  Happiness in worship has less to do with the style of worship, but everything to do with the attitude.  The proper attitude for worship begins with God and there are many appropriate styles in response (see John 4).
  • Psalm 84 – See how there is an attitude and emotion – a desire – to be in the house of the Lord and to find favor with the Lord and draw strength from the worship of the Lord.  Singing to the Lord is both the result of happiness and the source of happiness.  Happy worshipers turn a valley of sorrow and weeping into a place of springs and sources of life.
  • Is worship the Valley of Baca (sorrow)?  Then we need more happy worshipers – not more sermons or different songs. A happy worshiper is one who desires to be in the house of the Lord – just a doorkeeper even!  Why?  Because there is great strength that comes from trusting in God and feeling secure in his house.

Refuge – Trust in God – Psalm 2, 34, 40

  • Psalm 2 – Trust in God rather than human politics.  We just survived a long, bitter campaign season and no one seems any happier on either side.  Why?  Because our security will not be found in earthly politics.  Our trust is in the LORD of all creation.  Our security and refuge is with the one who rules from heaven.
  • Psalm 34  – When you place your trust in the Lord, you find out that he is good.  We are unhappy when we see evil gaining against what is right, but trust in the Lord puts that in perspective.  There can be happiness because trust in the Lord leads to flourishing.  A commitment to the evil and broken systems of this world will end up in destruction and despair.
  • Psalm 40 – Trust in the Lord is dependence on him.  He is the source of deliverance from those things that drag us into the pit.  There are stories among us that must be told.  We should find ways for those who have been delivered from God to tell their story.  Tell others of the happiness that results when God has delivered us from hopelessness, addictions, fear, worry, and loneliness.

Happy are those who can tell the good news of what God has done!