Up a Tree 
Sunday, October 31, 2010, 06:00 AM - Church, Sermon, Podcast
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Luke 19:1-10

How to get blessings on YOUR house even if you are up a tree and out on a limb.

by drainhook on Flicker (c) Some Rights Reserved

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Laura Edith Mills Funeral Message 
Saturday, October 30, 2010, 08:00 AM - Church, Sermon, Funeral, Podcast
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John 14:1-6

Make a place for others. Sermon at Edith Mills' funeral service

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Come Forth! 
Sunday, October 10, 2010, 06:00 AM - Sermon
Posted by Administrator
Dr. Chuck Sandstrom gave the message at Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church on Tithing Potential Sunday (10/10/10) He shares his text below

Today, I am here to bring a message about resurrection and miracles. As you know, I have recently come from a tomb of my own-- 8 weeks in a coma. I may not be running marathons yet, but I think I've gotten stink off.

Lazarus was a man like us. He was dead and already decomposing, and our Lord raised him from the dead.

Prior to my injury, I confess I had gone luke-warm in the area of Christ-following. I was a “good” person doing “good deeds,” but I lacked the spirit of God as I am living it today.

Imagine what Lazarus felt. Yes, he was dead. But some theologians say he was actually in Hades or Hell. Let's say that all the way from Hell, Lazarus heard the voice of God booming….. “Lazarus, come forth.” It brought him back in one moment, in a flash.

That same voice calls to us now. Every. Single. Moment. The voice says, " I am the resurrection. If you believe in Me you will have eternal life."

I do not know what God is calling our church to do. I do not know from what grave he might be calling us from. I can only invite you as my friends to a new conversation, a conversation that may lead us to a miracle.

If what I say has any merit, or any truth, I ask that God will bless my words and help us to find our way to a new vision and a new life for this church. I am only one man, however, and if this message is out of place or out of time, then I will simply step quietly to one side. However, I carried a passion for growth for thirty years as a pastor and as a consultant to pastors and together with committed congregations have seen buildings built, congregations quadrupled and missions launched in every part of the world. The key is to look for where God is at work and JOIN HIM. I believe God has placed me here this day to say these words to this church.

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” What might Goodyear Heights Church attempt to do if we knew we could not fail?

We're going to try to do miraculous things that we have never done before.

What foundations need to be put in place in order for God to operate?

A new life for me and Auburn has meant the practice of radical forgiveness. We had to forgive my assailant whose violent rage damaged my brain functioning and physical abilities. We have to forgive ourselves every day for our imperfect responses to fatigue and frustrations. We forgive one another and everyone around us as often as it takes to stay focused on God.

Someone said that acceptance is surrendering all hope that the past can be altered.

If Auburn and I regretted the past or counted our losses or bemoaned how things were supposed to be, we would die in a tomb of misery rather than come forth in joy. Good, bad or indifferent, this church will never return to what it was or might have been. But it can thrive in what God would have it be today. Now.

We as individual church members need to take a radical, unsparing inventory of ourselves: of every resentment we might have fostered, every circle of gossip we might have engaged in, every negative or destructive word we might have thought or said about one another. We must quietly own our resentments, confess them to God and possibly to one another and arrive at a place of total, unconditional forgiveness of ourselves, our pastor, and one another. Why do we need to forgive one another? -- many many times a day if we must? Because unless we can come to depend upon and trust one another to do this daily spiritual work, we cannot expect the love of God to enter into us as a body and create new life.

We let go of the past. Its joys, its triumphs as well as its sins and missteps and look for what GOD is doing NOW, where God is calling us NOW. Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church has a rich past and heritage. It carries stories of your parents, your grandparents, your own childhoods. It has sheltered and nurtured lifelong friendships and connections and contributed to the good in countless lives. You've married, buried, been baptized, faced calamity. You've laughed and mourned, argued and studied, made coffee, pots of soup, dozens of cookies, sung hymns, recited prayers, set up tables, cried tears, hugged friends, visited the home-bound, comforted the berieved, brought the gospel to the prisoner.

The Goodyear Heights Presbyterian church as Auburn and I have experienced it has no history at all. It is quite simply a fellowship that has brought us back to a vital walk in Christ today. Was it the dinners? The lunches? Vacation Bible School where I made my debut as Dr. Chuck, The Memory Verse Man? Was it the funny and challenging sermons from Pastor Christy and the thought-provoking film clips? Was it the team of friends who helped me this summer when Auburn was out of town. Was it the deep peace we felt singing in the Christmas cantata? Was it the session meeting,? the deacon meeting? …. the doughnuts?

It was you. It was we. It is all of us. THIS is the living body of Christ and it has brought Auburn and me back to life IN Christ. THIS is the church we can believe in, sacrifice for, pray for, and refuse to speak badly of.
Right now, our church cannot sustain itself as it is presently going and we must seek God's vision for our church, the direction He would have us go to do His will. This will require us to open our minds and our hearts to God and to each other in new ways. We will need to ask new questions, consider new possibilities and, above all, begin having new conversations. This week, we heard of a pastor who is having church services in a bar while alcohol is being served! This church is thriving! I'm not suggesting we go this direction, only that we should be open to God's leading and to directions we might not have considered before.

Mary stayed in the house while Martha went out to meet Jesus. We are called to stay in the church, praying, fasting and developing great love within ourselves. We are also called to go out. Mary stayed home. Martha went out the door. We must do both things: stay AND go.

Through prayer, we seek to discover where Christ is at work. We send messengers to him, we join him on the road. We speak with him, beg him for help, cry with him, walk with him, watch him perform the miracle.
All of us know what it is like to be in some kind of a tomb, whether it be the depths of grief, pain, hopelessness, or illness, or the wilderness of sin or bondage to habit -- to see our flesh and see how weak it is. Who among us has NOT experienced loss of a loved one, loss of health, loss of a way of life… who among us has not experienced -- first or second hand a seemingly senseless tragedy.

Imagine yourself in your own darkest places and imagine the voice of God commanding you "Come forth." Individually and as a church, we must open our ears to the voice of the Savior who can raise us from the dead. When we hear his voice, we emerge and break free of everything that is holding us fast.
It can be painful, but not as painful as resisting. New life requires an unsparing survey of those things in our lives OTHER THAN GOD that we have become attached to, that we depend upon for comfort and security. We have to become willing to have God pry our fingers off of them. It hurts to do it but there is freedom and peace on the other side of it.

I hope that you long to be joyful, free, at peace at this very moment. God didn't just raise Himself from the dead; He raises us from the dead.
If you know that God raised you from the dead and called you forth from the tomb, you don't want to do anything afterward but to become like Him. As you experience LIFE, you know that you CAN become like him.

You have been promised that you can become like Him. This is the meaning of the resurrection.

If Jesus Christ can take a man, stinking, from the grave, after four days, and raise him from the dead, He can raise you and he can raise us.

But don't believe in the resurrection later; believe in the resurrection now. I don't care what it is that assails us. God can heal us. If not our body, our attitude. Not later, but now. We can live in the light of the resurrection. We can make the kingdom of heaven the priority of our earthly life, the place where we invest the treasure of our hearts, our time, our resources, our hope, our faith, our trust, our talents. And when together we hear God's voice commanding, "Come forth" we can re-emerge, filled with joy. Filled with the light of life. Bursting with love to an aching, impoverished, conflict-blighted world that hungers for any scrap of Good News and will welcome the story of our miracle. AMEN

Copyright (c) 2010 Charles Sandstrom. All rights reserved.

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Revealing God 
Wednesday, September 22, 2010, 07:00 AM - Extra Christy, Radio
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I Didn't See You There!

Picasa is a photo album application by Google. It has a special feature, name tags, that uses face matching technology to organize photos by the people in them!

It starts by finding a face in a picture and asking who it is. So far, it is just the same as tediously labeling pictures one at a time. But then, as soon as you identify one photo, it finds other photos that look like the person you tagged. When you then tag the ones it guessed correctly, and it reveals even more!

I was swept away as pictures of my family and friends were harvested from acres of photos. The more I picked, the more the computer found! Different years, weights!?, glasses, hairstyles,(even the bald months!) were named and claimed as my loved ones.

by Pietro Bellini on Flickr

Now I can find my loved ones in the sea of photos spanning years. It all started by picking a loved one out of one photo scene.

I believe this works in discerning the face of God in real life. Once you start identifying God in your life, God sightings increase. You learn the various ways that God is active, bringing his face out of the background into awareness.

Hope you have a picture perfect day, and find the face of God ever increasingly in it.

Stop. Look. God!

Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you. - Psalm 139:7-12

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Why Kiwanis? 
Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 06:00 PM - Kiwanis
Posted by Administrator

Last night I was installed as President of Akron Kiwanis by our International President Sylvester Neal Among other things I got a ring and a chance for remarks to the club. I share them here:

We believe that children and their communities benefit from the efforts of a proficient group of caring and concerned individuals.

"You're with Akron Kiwanis?! Come on in." That is what Auburn Sandstrom said when I obeyed member Olivia Wakeling's direction to go to the hospital and help her after her husband's Chuck Sandstrom's horrific tramatic brain injury that put him into a coma. Auburn didn't know me. But she knew that when help is needed Kiwanians show up .

"You don't have to sign in." the therapist at Children's Hospital told me as she waved me past the line of parents and children, "the Kiwanians are down front." They were there singing Christmas carols while hurting and recovering children came in to be visited by the Kiwanis Santa who brought presidents from the club to each of them. When children are hurting, Kiwanians step up.

On the very worst night of their young lives, after brutal personal assualt, when their very clothes are taken from them for evidence, young girls are upheld by a grant from the Akron Kiwanis Foundation. Simple, decent, new clothes are given to them to get them home with dignity. When you are knocked down,Kiwanians lift you up.

Show up. Step up. Lift up.

Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time. As your president I am dedicated to giving every member experiences like I and others who have gone before me have had of changing the world for the benefit of children and our community.

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