Saturday, December 14, 2013

UBUNTU! - Bulletin 12-08-13

“An anthropologist proposed a game to children in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits.

When he told them to run they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself, they said: “
UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad”?  UBUNTU in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are.”

Message:  we are one ... we are all connected.  A simple gesture carried out by one person creates a ripple effect through the fabric of mankind.  Something I do will somehow affect you someday so it is of utmost importance that we are mindful of what we say and how we behave.” (Steven Langley/FB)
The Apostle Paul takes this “Ubuntu” concept even deeper.  Not only is our humanity caught up and bound together, but so is our mental and spiritual connectedness in Christ!  We are ONE and are to be Jesus to each other and the world!
“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another (Romans 12:4-5)”
UBUNTU!  Becoming closer and more connected with one another is part of God’s grand plan in presenting Jesus’ Body to the world!  Running together, hand in hand, is only part of the sweet fruit Christians enjoy!  God is good all the time!  Mr. Steve 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I Almost Slipped - Bulletin 12-01-13


“But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped.  For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.  For there are no pains in their death, and their body is fat.  They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like mankind…. always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence....” (Psalm 73:2-5; 10-14)

David almost slipped!  How?  Envy.  Not counting his blessings!  David began to compare his life with those around him; others who seemed to have it much better than he did.  Why do they have it so good?  Why are they not troubled and broken like me?  And that’s not all....David entertained the unimaginable: his quest for purity of heart being pointless.  
Have you ever done this?  Have you ever compared your life, your bank account, your concerns, your problems with those who seem to have it much better than you – financially, emotionally, relationally…?   And then speculated your pursuit for purity as futile?   
Yes.  David came ever so close to slipping!  So, what truth kept David from going under?  Read Psalm 73:16-20!  David perceived the end of all who live lives separate and apart from a holy God!  Eternal destruction!

Dear Rochester family, let us learn from David’s experience.  We don’t have time to waste by envying and comparing our lives with others – good or bad.  Jesus’ life reveals all our sin.  

Thank You, Jesus, for the greatest of blessings --redeeming us, forgiving us, and giving us the ministry of reconciliation!  AND FOR CATCHING US WHEN WE ALMOST SLIP!    
                                                                                                God is good.  Mr. Steve 

Tasty! - Bulletin 11-24-13


     I miss Patti’s grandmother; what a spiritual giant!  “Granny” passed away ten years ago, at the age of 95, but I still think of her often.  Right up until she went on to be with the Lord, Granny was leading Bible studies in the nursing home with other residents.  She brought several men and women to the Lord in her 90’s! 

    Yesterday I happened across Granny’s infamous pie crust & homemade cracker recipe: (2 and 1/4 cups unbleached flour; salt to taste; 1/3 cup of cold water; 2/3 cup canola oil; mix, knead, roll and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes).  If you’re making a pie, just add filling and bake. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  Tasty!

      Granny’s recipe reminds me of God’s blueprint for a growing, loving church: Holy Spirit-led sheep; Bible-based teaching and preaching; compassionate care-giving; mission -minded focus; marriage and family support; THANKFUL HEARTS FOR ALL GOD’S BLESSINGS; James 1:27 authenticity – all mixed, kneaded, rolled and baked with 24/7 prayer!  Tasty! 

      I thank God for bringing the Sikes’ to ROCHESTER, MINNESOTA!  Like Granny, may we all continue to … “grow up in our salvation, if we have tasted that the Lord    is good (1Peter 2:2b-3).  TASTY!  

God is good all the time and all the time God is good!
Mr. Steve

Saturday, November 16, 2013

BEHOLD, THE MAN! - Bulletin 11-10-13

Our culture has a lot to say about who is a “real man” and who isn’t.  For instance, if a sport’s star goes to the sideline in a very important football game because of (let’s say a knee injury), but is still able to stand up along the sideline – his toughness, courage and even his manhood is questioned!
Being a “real man” spans the gamut of: wearing a certain brand of blue jeans while indulging in smokeless tobacco; having a pick-up truck with a gun rack; being able to bench-press 300 lbs; having tons of money and fame and an irresistible attractiveness to women … You’ve seen the ads!  
One of my favorite passages describing Jesus as THE MAN is John 19:1-5:  “Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him.  And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and to give Him slaps in the face.  Pilate came out again and said to them, ‘Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.’  Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘BEHOLD, THE MAN!’”
There is nobody like our Jesus! God is good all the time and all the time God is good!  Mr. Steve

WOMEN! - Bulletin 11-03-13

The Gospel of Luke has been called by some “The Gospel for Women” because it contains more stories about women than any other Gospel.  It is a book that opens up with the stories of three women: Elizabeth (old and barren); Mary (young, unmarried, and a virgin); and Anna (an 84 year old widow without any children).
Matthew tells the birth of Jesus through the eyes of a male, but Luke chooses to tell the birth story of our Lord via a teenage girl’s view, Mary.  Only in Luke do we encounter the stories of Elizabeth; Anna; the widow of Nain; the woman who showed great love; Martha serving and Mary listening; the woman bent double; the woman who searches for a lost coin; the persistent widow; and the women of Jerusalem lamenting Jesus on the way to the cross (Luke 23:27-31).  Jesus’ road to Jerusalem is filled with multiple encounters with women—FAITH-FILLED WOMEN!
Christ’s church is filled with godly women, serving women, gifted women, spiritually growing compassionate women!  God keeps bringing and transfoming into His fold more and more faithful, godly women!  Why?  HE IS DOING A GREAT WORK AND HAS BIGGER PLANS FOR OUR FUTURE!  Go God!  Thank You for our women!  
God is good all the time and all the time God is good.  
Mr. Steve

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

THE GOOD LIFE! - Bulletin 10-27-13

“Superficiality is the curse of our age.  The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem.  The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”  (Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline)

I believe most of us want to be “deep people.”  Don’t we?  “Deep calls to deep.”  (Psalm 42:7)

We want lives that are fuller, richer – more deeply spiritual!  We want our lives to make a difference!  We want to become what God, from the beginning, has always wanted us to be – completely His!  His heart!  His hands!  His workmanship to the full!

My flesh votes against all I’ve just said.  Superficiality, escape and instant gratification stand at the top of Steve Sikes’ flesh venue and menu.  

However, my spirit longs for God!  I crave His very being in my life and soul!  I need Him more than the air I breathe!  So why do I fight Him so and bend my ears toward the sirens of the flesh?
I need help.

Besides the Bible, one of the best books I've read (and I've read it several times over the years) is Richard Foster's "Celebration of Discipline."  In his book, Foster talks about "THE GOOD LIFE" which requires implementing spiritual disciplines in our lives. 

The Inward Disciplines: Meditation; Prayer; Fasting; Study.
The Outward Disciplines: Simplicity; Solitude; Submission; Service.
The Corporate Disciplines: Confession; Worship; Guidance; Celebration.

But more importantly, is the primary requirement for wanting to practice these spiritual disciplines, which (according to Foster) is A LONGING AFTER GOD!  “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…” (Psalm 42:1-2)
Do you long for a closer and deeper relationship with God?  Do you long for THE GOOD LIFE?Then prepare yourself for the journey!

God is good!  Mr. Steve 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

GOT LIFE?  GOT CHRIST? - Bulletin 10-20-13

Recently I googled “Bible Facts” and came up with all kinds of information on the Bible.  Here’s just a sample:

The Bible can be read aloud in 70 hours. There are 8,674 different Hebrew words in the Bible, 5,624 different Greek words, and 12,143 different English words in the King James Version.

Number of books in the Bible: 66; Chapters: 1,189; Verses: 31,101; Words: 783,137; Letters:3,566,480; Number of promises: 1,260; Commands: 6,468; Predictions: over 8,000; Fulfilled prophecy: 3,268 verses; Number of questions: 3,294; Longest name:
Mahershalalhashbaz  (Isa 8:1); Longest verse: Esther 8:9 (78 words); Shortest verse: John 11:35 (2 words); Middle books: Micah and Nahum; Middle verse: Psalm 118:8    “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.”; Middle chapter: Psalm 117; Shortest chapter: Psalm 117; Longest book: Psalms (150 chapters); Shortest book: 3 John;Longest chapter: Psalm 119 (176 verses); Number of different authors: 40; Number of languages the Bible has been   translated into: over 1,200; Now that’s a lot of facts and statistics – great for a game of Bible Trivia, but how would Jesus respond to all of this?  

    John 5:39-40 "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life

  • An hour is coming when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live!
  • The Scriptures bear witness of Jesus!  Moses wrote of the Christ! 
  • Life is not found in simply searching the Scriptures (or memorizing a lot of Bible trivia).  Life is found in Jesus!  Amen.

God is good all the time!     Mr. Steve

Reverse Thinking - Bulletin 10-06-13

David D. Dietrich


God does not exist.  It’s just foolish to think that there is an all knowing God with a Cosmic Plan.  That an all powerful God brings purpose to the pain and suffering in the world.
Is a comforting thought however it is only wishful thinking.  People can do as they please without eternal consequences.
The idea that I am deserving of hell because of sin Is a lie meant to make me a slave to those in power.
“The more you have, the happier you will be.”
Our existence has no grand meaning or purpose.  In a world with no God there is freedom to be who I want to be but with God life is an endless cycle of guilt and shame.
Without God everything is fine  It is ridiculous to think I am lost and in need of saving.

And that’s how I felt before Christ opened my eyes, changed my heart and reversed my thinking!

I am lost and in need of saving.  It is ridiculous to think everything is fine without God.  Life is an endless cycle of guilt and shame but with God there is freedom to be who I want to be.  In a world with no God, our existence has no grand meaning or purpose.
“The more you have, the happier you will be” is a lie meant to make me a slave to those in power.
Because of sin, I am deserving of hell.  The idea that people can do as they please without eternal consequences is only wishful thinking.
It is a comforting thought however that an all powerful God brings purpose to the pain and suffering in the world.  That there is an all knowing God with a Cosmic Plan.  It’s just foolish to think God does not exist. 

God is good all the time.  Mr. Steve 

Mere Discipleship - Bulletin 9-29-13

Mere Discipleship

The following is one man’s journey for meaning, ending in true discipleship, and another man’s discipleship ending in true meaning:

“I said to myself, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure.  So enjoy yourself.’  And behold, it too was futility.  I said of laughter, ‘It is madness,’ and of pleasure, ‘What does it accomplish?’  I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely… I provided for myself male and female singers and the pleasures of men — many concubines… All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure… and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11).”

In stark contrast to Solomon’s quest for life’s meaning and personal happiness is Charles de Foucauld’s “Prayer of Abandonment,” referenced in Lee C. Camp’s book, “Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World.”

Prayer of Abandonment

By Charles de Foucauld

“My Father,
I abandon myself to you.
Make of me what you will.
Whatever you make of me, I thank you.
I am ready for everything
I accept everything.
Provided that your will be done in me,
In all your creatures,
I desire nothing else, Lord.
I put my soul in your hands,
I give it to you, Lord,
With all the love in my heart,
Because I love you,
And because it is for me a need of love
To give myself,
To put myself in your hands unreservedly,
With infinite trust.
For you are my Father!”

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13).”  God is good.  Mr. Steve

Tuesday, September 24, 2013



Several years ago when we lived in South Jersey, I arrived at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (C.H.O.P.) to visit a patient.  I watched from a distance as the security officer stopped every vehicle, checking each driver.  I had my visiting minister’s badge on and was ready in advance for his triad of questions: “Who are you?”  “Why are you here?” and “What’s the name of the person you’re here to visit?”  

But, I was ill-prepared for his fourth question: “OK, Preacher, tell me what will be the only man-made thing in heaven?”  I sat behind the wheel of my truck quietly thinking.  With cars waiting behind me, I resignedly said, “Sorry, I have no clue.  What will be the only man-made thing in heaven?”  The officer quickly replied, “The wounds of Jesus!”  He smiled.  I gulped.  And on the way into the parking garage I whispered, “Thank You, Jesus!”

God is good all the time and all the time God is good!
Mr. Steve 


     When I was 10 or 11 there was a college student (I’ll call him, Sam) who would stop by and visit the children’s home on occasion.  He and I didn’t get along.  Maybe it was because I felt he picked on me; maybe it was because I called him names. 
     Anyway, one summer day, beside the children’s home pool, Sam decided to demonstrate to 20 or so of us boys how to save a person who was drowning.  He had taken a college water-safety class that spring and was anxious to showcase his abilities.  However, he needed a volunteer…. any volunteer…. so he pushed me into the deep water and jumped in nearly on top of me.  Before I had time to get to the surface to catch my breath, Sam’s left hand was around my chin pulling me underwater to the far end of the pool!
     I couldn’t breathe; I couldn’t get away; and I couldn’t wait to jump out of the pool and tell Sam what I thought of his “life-saving” skills.  I called him the same name I’d always called him and (after he caught me) he did what he usually did – he popped me on the back of my head with his class ring.
     I didn’t see Sam again until 28 years later at a graduation ceremony.  He was married, had a family and was a respected citizen – I guess.  All I could think of was a children’s home pool and a class ring’s impression on my skull.  So, I stood there, 50 feet away, pretending not to see him.  I ended up leaving without even shaking his hand.  Not one of my better moments!
 Luke 15:21-24 – “...his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him ...put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet ...”

Sunday, September 8, 2013

MERCY CAME RUNNING - Bulletin 9-8-13


I found myself on my knees on an office floor surrounded by three godly men, all “Aaron’s” and “Hur’s” to me (Exodus 17:10-13).  For years, these three men had been my main source, outside my own family, of encouragement and support.

Now at my darkest hour they had come together to lay their hands on me and pray over me.  Each one poured out his heart to God on my behalf.  I was humbled yet so thirsty for their advocacy.  When the third brother began praying he started with the following six words: “God have mercy!  Christ have mercy!”  Over and over he prayed the same six words…. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes!  “God have mercy!  Christ have mercy!”

Years later I look back on this particular moment as my ‘Red Sea’ experience.  I was trapped – hemmed in from in front and behind – with no foreseeable way out.  But at just the right time, MERCY CAME RUNNING!  The waters parted and my family and I walked through our “valley of the shadow” on dry land!  “God have mercy!  Christ have mercy!”

by Phillips Craig & Dean

Once there was a holy place evidence of God's embrace
And I can almost see Mercy's face pressed against the veil
Looking down with longing eyes Mercy must have realized
That once His blood was sacrificed freedom would prevail
And as the sky grew dark and the earth began to shake
With justice no longer in the way
Mercy came running like a prisoner set free
Past all my failures to the point of my need
When the sin that I carried was all I could see

And when I could not reach Mercy   
 Mercy came running to me

"And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him.”  Luke 1:50
God is good!  Mr. Steve

SURRENDER - Bulletin 9-1-13

I’m convinced that everyone has something they need to surrender: a stubborn will, an addiction, having their way, a pet peeve… a sinful life!  It is humbling to note that Jesus had to surrender more than any of us in order for us to receive Him!  The Bible reveals that Jesus surrendered: 
  • Heaven for earth
  • His will for the Father’s will
  • His throne for the cross
  • His life for our death

About thirty years ago, I listened to a message by Ted Kell from Matthew 2:7-12, concerning the gifts Jesus received from the magi.  (I’ve still got his notes in my Bible!)  Each of the magi’s gifts was specific to who Jesus was and His mission:  GOLD was an ancient gift for a KING; FRANKINCENSE – a gift for a PRIEST; and MYRRH was used to embalm dead bodies.  In other words, our Jesus was:
  • Born a King!
  • Born a Priest!  And…
Amazing!  Jesus surrendered before He was even born (Philippians 2:5-11) – before the WORD became flesh!  In fact, Jesus’ entire life on earth can be encapsulated by the word SURRENDER!  The Bible states: Jesus was led by the Spirit (Matthew 4:1); He did nothing on His own initiative (John 5:30); and He came to do the Father’s will, not His own (Luke 22:42).  

My greatest battle is Satan using my wants and my way to sabotage my desire of being God’s man and His alone. Sound familiar? SURRENDER is a constant companion of every believer who truly desires  God to have HIS WILL AND HIS WAY IN THEIR LIVES!  How about it?  ALL TO JESUS I .....   

GOD IS GOOD!   Mr. Steve

At Home - Bulletin 8-25-13

At Home

The boxes are off the truck(s) and in our house “neatly” stacked up!   Thank ‘YOU ALL’ for your help, love and encouragement: moving us in; feeding us; moving us in again!  You haven’t spoiled us, but you sure have wet our appetites for what “family” means around here.  Plus, our neighbors pitched in and helped like we were part of their family!
Steve, Patti and Jessica Sikes have been blessed!  In our entire move, we had just the right amount of help at just the right time, every time!   Reminds me of Romans 5: 6 “For while we were still helpless, AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME Christ died for the ungodly.”
In Indiana and New Jersey the children called me “Mr. Steve”.  Every Sunday morning before our worship assembly, the children would come up front to hear me tell a Bible story, teach them a song, and pray.  During this precious time one or more children would invariably say something like, “Mr. Steve, guess what happened to me yesterday.” or “Mr. Steve, can you come to my birthday party?” …and so on – “Mr. Steve” this, “Mr. Steve” that, “Mr. Steve”, “Mr. Steve”.
         I can’t tell you how thrilled I was the other day when a child came up and gave me a hug and called me Mr. Steve.  I immediately felt right at home! 
         And Jesus said, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”  Mark 10:14-15
God is good all the time and all the time God is good.  Mr. Steve