Pastor’s Blog

 
 

Crazy Days

I don’t have to tell you that we are experiencing some crazy times in more ways than one. With the spike in gas prices, the entrance of Donald Trump into the political foray, the exit of Donald Trump from the political foray, Washington D.C. scandals galore and the ever-present upheaval in the Middle East, it is often difficult to determine where we are headed. However, eccentricities are nothing new to the history of our species. Jesus’ day was full of oddities including the rise of decadent Roman emperors (some far worse than our political leaders), immoral behavior of societal elites and the plethora of deities that inundated the religious landscape. Social injustice was the norm for most and overwhelming poverty permeated every state in the empire.

Trouble is a given in our world and it is doubtful that it will be eliminated anytime soon. But the Lord forewarned us so that we would not be taken by surprise. In John 16:33 we read, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (NIV). Jesus tells us that we need to take heart and be encouraged for He is still on the throne and in Him we can experience peace in the midst of the storm. We should be ever vigilant knowing that we are seeing the signs and times reflecting the turmoil Jesus spoke of almost two thousand years ago.   However, we also need to be at peace knowing we have a Savior who has defeated hell and the grave and is continually at work in our lives as we allow him access.

In reference to their suffering, the Apostle Paul sets out to encourage fellow believers at Rome with these words, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:35, 37).   Paul continues to embolden the reader, “…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). Be heartened knowing that while we may be living in crazy days, Christ is with us every step of the way.

Be blessed and be grateful.

Pastor Chris Hayden

 


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Want Some Whine with that Cheese?

I saw an excerpt the other day from Stephen Covey about the 90/10 principle.  It goes something like this: 10% of life is made up of what happens to you, while 90% is decided by how you react to it.  What does this mean?  It means that we have control over 90% of what is currently going on in our lives by our attitudes and decisions from those attitudes.  Here’s an illustration:  You cannot control a red light (10%), but you can control how you react to it (90%).  Just carry that example throughout everything that happens during your day.

What would happen if we did this in regard to how we treat people?  Someone cuts in front of us in traffic (10%) and it ruins our day (90%).  Think what would happen if instead of getting upset, we said, “That person must be in a real hurry, so I am going to pray they don’t get in an accident.” Someone does something we do not like, but instead of getting angry or rude with that person, we are kind and treat them in a manner we would want to be treated thereby making a friend rather than an unwanted stranger.

Philippians 4:6-8 is a passage that encourages and exhorts believers to have a positive outlook on life. Do not be burdened with unnecessary cares, be thankful for the good things, and think on the good report, not the negative one; if there is any virtue or any praise, think on these things. If you need more reasons to not be negative, consider that studies have shown that positive people live longer (on average 10 more years).  Here’s another, positive work environments outperform negative work environments. Positive people attract others to themselves while negative individuals repel them.

Only 2 of the 2 to 4 million Israelites entered into the promise land; those two were Joshua and Caleb.   They saw the difficulties of the land as no big thing for God, while everyone else consistently indulged in a whole lot of WHINE with their cheese. How about you?  Remember, being positive is a choice.  (Tip: negative people don’t think it’s a choice, they think it’s because of their circumstances or someone doing something they don’t like).

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris


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Love Conquers Fear

The book of 1 John is a powerful book for those who realize the effects that sin has on the sinner and yet realize that God is ready to forgive and cleanse of all unrighteousness, those who turn their lives over to Christ.   I John 1:9 tells us that God is faithful and just to forgive us of all our wrongs if we but come to him humbly and confess said wrongs to Him. He is a Good Shepherd. That brings me to the subject of two, often conjunctive, forces or emotions; they are fear and love.   Many types of fear are antithetical to love, but sometimes they can be symbiotic as one can lead to the other and vice versa.

In the next couple of Sundays, I want to explore this idea of fear, and what appears to some contradictory statements in the Word of God. We want to examine the different understandings of what the Lord is saying when conveying the idea of fear; how fear can either work for or work in opposition to our faith in God and understanding of His love. In 2 Timothy, we are informed that we have not been given a spirit of fear. We are told to “fear not” throughout the Word of God, yet in Proverbs, the “fear of the Lord” is the beginning of wisdom!

How can God tell us to “be not afraid”, turn around and tell us to have the “fear of the Lord” and then make the remark that “perfect love casts out fear” (Isaiah 41:10, Proverbs 1:7, 1John 4:18)? These statements are not a contradiction but can be confusing when not examined in the context and meanings for which they were intended. Yes, fear, types of fear, can lead to terror and torment. Yes, fear, a type of fear, can lead to wisdom and God’s love. Come the next couple of Sundays and find out what we mean.

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris


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What a Big God (Father) We Have

This past month, our morning Sunday service we talked about how big God is. We did this by taking a look at the stars, the number of them, and how long it would take to traverse the expanse of our own playground galaxy known as the Milky Way. The Milky Way contains an estimated 200 billion stars and is 100,000 light years across or 600 quadrillion miles. This is so vast that if you could travel at the speed of light, which is 186,282 miles per second or 670,615,200 miles per hour, it would take you 100,000 years to arrive at the other end of the Milky Way! Wow, that is big!

Scientists estimate that there are some 125 to 200 billion galaxies in the known universe (some say there could be 100 times that number of galaxies, we just can’t see that far) with the next closest galaxy to the Milky Way, known as Andromeda, being 2 million light years away or 12,000 quadrillion miles (At the speed of light it would take 2 million years to reach). The Milky Way galaxy, Andromeda galaxy, and about 20 to 25 other galaxies further than Andromeda but nearest to the Milky Way than the other 100 to 200 billion galaxies, are known by astronomers as the “Local Group” of galaxies. The Local Group, are you kidding???

The incredible thing, our God made all of this. Isaiah 48:12-13 says this, “Listen to me Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am He; I am the first and I am the last. My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together.” Our God, and we call Him our Father, spread out the heavens with His right hand. I guess that is why scientists tell us the universe continues to expand…our Father (God) is still spreading out the heavens and commanding the galaxies as He wills!!! And Jesus was there the whole time! The book of John starts out like this, “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God and the Word was God, ALL THINGS were made by Him and without Him was nothing made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

I have just two questions. If our Lord is powerful enough to create this vast universe, that we cannot even comprehend its size, is there any problem to big for Him? Second question, if our Father loved us so much that He would send Jesus, and Jesus loved us so much that He would come to this planet and die for our sins when we did not even know Him, is there any good thing that He would withhold from us? (See Romans 8:32) Something to make you go, hum!

Be blessed and be grateful.

Pastor Chris Hayden

 


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Why Study End Times?

If you went to the movie theatre a couple of months ago to see the apocalyptic thriller “2012”, you were able to see a dynamic display of motion picture effects that probably dazzled your senses. The story was a bit weak, but technology in film production took us to new Steven Spielberg like heights. While this was only a movie, the Bible does talk about the future and some things that can clue us in to the eventual return of our Lord and the end of this age as we know it. While some may feel this is not a weighty matter, there are at least three reasons why I believe God made mention of this topic and why we should care.

One reason is found in Matthew 24, the 4th verse where Jesus replies to the disciples on the question of the end of the age. He says to them, “Take heed that no man deceives you.” Deception is a key component in why we should study this topic. Verse 5 says that many will come in the name of our Lord and will deceive many. Deception is rampant in our society in many forms, i.e. David Koresh-Waco cult assault, Heaven’s Gate suicides and, of course, the Jim Jones-Guyana incident (where do you think the term “drinking the Kool-aid” came from). While these events are high profile, there are subtle seductions as well. By searching the scriptures on this matter, we can begin to head off deception.

A second reason, so you will keep watching. Matt. 25:13 – “Watch therefore…” We need to be watching and reminders of the end assist believers in looking to eternal things rather than ignoring them. We can become very complacent with our own personal kingdoms, but often we need the Word to remind us he is coming back to reward the righteous and punish the wicked so you better get busy.

A third reason, to bring comfort to believers. First Thessalonians 4:13-18 describes the return of the Lord and why. Verse 18 tells us that this knowledge is to be used to “comfort one another.” It is comforting to know He will be back to set everything in order. Let’s be informed…let’s be ready…let’s be comforted. We’ll speak more on this Sunday, May 2nd as we address the topic of the end times and begin a last days Bible study starting Thursday, May 6 at 6:30pm.

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris


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Scripture Often Confronts

In recent years, there has been a movement in the Church that has become ever so popular. Now don’t get me wrong, I actually like movements. I would rather the Church be moving than to sit in a perpetual state of idling as we so often do. However, movements can become a problem when they begin moving the wrong way. Some movements are seeking to re-interpret Scripture that has an obvious and clear meaning in order to make it more palatable to the world. It is never fun telling the Church or the world what God says in His Word when it clashes with what they want to hear. People tend to want to cherry pick over the Scriptures, hold on to what sounds good and pitch what is uncomfortable.

Questions such as what God views as sexually immoral, will some people spend eternity in hell, is Jesus the only way to heaven, does God want holiness from His people, does God’s love negate God’s justice, and if not, what does that mean? Tough issues to be sure…I suppose there are many such questions that we would like to know the answers to, but where can we go to get these answers? Beware reader, it’s a trap! We know where the answers to these and many of our other queries are, but before I tell you where, let me tell you where the answers are not.

The answers are not usually housed in our feelings, although sometimes are feelings may be correct. Feelings change with the wind and with the political environment. The world (their means and ways) often causes us to feel the way we do and Scripture tells us that the world is an enemy of God (James 4:4). On the same note, the answer does not lie with your neighbor’s feelings or with your favorite Hollywood celebrity telling you what is right and wrong. The answers are not the literary property of Time or Newsweek magazine and even your pastor’s thoughts need to be measured against the only accurate yard stick (God’s Word).

Every book, every sermon and every feeling must be measured by the plumb line of God’s Word. It may not be enjoyable to tell the world (and some Christians who value being liked more than warning others of unpopular truth) what God makes clear regarding Heaven and hell, but remember what the Word says in Luke 6:26, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers (false religious leaders & un-Godly men) treated the false prophets.” Regardless of how we may feel, God’s Word is truth.

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris


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Jesus Took One Day At A Time

The statement, “One Day at a Time” is one of the better-known principles embraced by the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) rehabilitation programs. It illustrates the concept that trying to stay sober for the rest of your life may become so daunting to a person that they become overwhelmed with the prospect. This overwhelming feeling will in turn trigger alcohol use because the task becomes to great to be accomplished. With this in mind, participants in the program are encouraged to, not stay sober for life, just stay sober just this one-day; take it one day at a time.

Living out our Christian life can be looked at from this perspective as well. The task of walking with the Lord may be too daunting for some to live a life that is continually pleasing to Him for the next 30, 40 or 50 years; living the life of a holy obedient servant of Christ. But maybe we should not worry about the future, just learn to live in the moment. In Matthew chapter six, Jesus deals with those concerned for their physical needs. In verse 33 and 34 He says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (KJV). This can easily be applied to Spiritual things as well as physical.

God wants us to follow Him today and He will take care of all our needs TODAY! Just tell the Lord you love Him today, you will follow Him today and thank Him for His provision today. When tomorrow comes, you can tell Him the same thing…then. “God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes” (Matthew 6:34b – The Message).

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris


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He Makes All Things New

This has been a very productive past couple of weeks for me (March 2013). As most of you already know, I was able to add the title of “grandpa” to my resume. It was a very exciting and surreal experience as I held Reid Christopher in my arms for the first time being reminded of the great blessings that come from the Lord. But not every experience is as joyous as seeing your first grandchild come into the world.

I also had an opportunity to pray and fellowship with 20 to 25 hurting pastors, many who felt betrayed in more ways than one, searching for God’s leading as they strive to be obedient to the Word of God, experiencing rejection and isolation for their efforts. Many men and women, in the fight to live by God’s Word, are experiencing what it means to remain faithful to the Word illustrated in a phrase of the song, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” which says, “Though none go with me, still I will follow.”

Jesus said to His disciples and all those who deny themselves, picking up the cross of Christ, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Revelation 21:5 also declares, that the one seated on the throne of God, it is He (Jesus) who makes all things new. In the midst of betrayal and difficulty, tragedy and trials, the Lord will revitalize and renew, and remind us of His great love for us. If you are in a place of hurting, be of good cheer for God has overcome those things that would bring sorrow. He brings forth joy from sorrow, glory from shame, acceptance from rejection, and NEW LIFE from death, resurrection from the grave, JESUS MAKES ALL THINGS NEW; the core message of Easter Sunday (Resurrection Day).

Be blessed and be grateful.

Pastor Chris Hayden


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It Is A Promise

Have you ever been in a dark room, stumbling around to find the light switch?  It’s an uncomfortable feeling until the light goes on and then you can see clearly.  In Psalm 18:28 David says, “my God turns my darkness into light.”  Isn’t that an awesome promise? No matter what you may be going through and how much darkness pervades over your life, God can turn it into light.  However, I have noticed that most promises come with a premise first.  In other words, “if I do this, God will in turn do that.” In Joshua 1:8, we are told at the end of the scripture that we will be prosperous and successful. The premise found in the beginning of that verse, however, is for those people who study and meditate on God’s law so that they are able to do it.

Most people want the promise with out the premise.  They want God to do His thing that they want, but then they want to do, not what God wants but their own thing.  Psalm 18:23 declares, “I have…kept myself from sin”, and that the rewards have come from that kind of living.  The premise of God being our shield (vs.30) is “for all who take refuge in him.” The promises of God are yes and amen for all who desire to know and do His Word. You see, you can’t have the promise without the premise, because it’s the foundation upon which the promise will come to pass.

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris


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You Can Lead A Horse To Water…

You have heard the old adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Often, that is so true. You can invite people to church.   They can even accept your invitation and come, but whether they receive the message and believe on the Name of the Lord is another matter. The first couple of Sundays in March we looked at the sin problem and how it applies to us in this world. We discussed how God despises sin and its roots, but also how God addressed the sin problem, by the shedding of Christ’s blood and through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. We want to close now with why He did it, because of His great love.

Romans 5:8 says this, “But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And in Ephesians 2:5, God’s Word tells us, “even when we were dead in our transgressions, (God) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…” He loved us that much; so much that the opportunity for us to even be saved was an act of His abundant mercy. But it gets even better.

We did not even want or desire God at all. God had to draw us to Himself for us to even make a decision to accept His love. In John 6:44-45 (The Message) out of the mouth of Jesus Himself we read, “You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that’s the only way you’ll ever come. Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End. This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, ‘And then they will all be personally taught by God.’ Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally…” If it were not for the Father God speaking to us, we would never come to Christ. We have to be drawn by the Father and the Holy Spirit, and truly listen, before we can ever make the decision to follow Christ.

Francis Chan, in his bestselling book, “Crazy Love”, said this, “The irony is that while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time.” Most, if not all, come to Jesus only after we hear the Father express His love toward us, give us the truth and help us realize what it means, and we need something from Him. That is ok. The important thing is, that we do come because most never come.So come to the trough! Come on and drink up! The water is fine!

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris Hayden


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