Pastor’s Blog

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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Are We All God’s Children?

This question is an intriguing one, but the Bible gives a clear answer that many of us may not want to hear. We want to believe that all of the world’s residents are God’s children and all belong to Him. It makes us feel better because if this were true, there is no responsibility on our part (or anyone else’s) to make our own salvation sure or take the message of salvation through Christ to others.

Romans 9:8 states, “…they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of promise are counted for the seed.” What this passage is describing is that being born an Israelite was not an automatic entrance as a child of God. This was a hard saying to the Jews of the Apostle Paul’s day. In our day, we might say that just because a person goes to Church is not an automatic golden Wonka ticket into heaven. In this scripture, the children of promise are those who have put their faith in (believe in, trust in, rely on) Jesus Christ and therefore “received the Spirit of Adoption” (Romans 8:14-16).

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe babies and little children are covered and remain covered under God’s grace until the time they can understand the sacrifice made for them at the cross. However, we are not simply a Christian by our physical birth nor do we have “an in with God” because grandma was a Christian. Scripture does tell us that we are all God’s creation (Colossians 1:16), but we are made sons and daughters of God as we personally put our trust in Christ, declaring Jesus as our Lord and at that time “being sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13).

Jesus Christ went to the cross to die in our place. He did so for this purpose, so that “whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). During this time leading to the Passover and Easter season, let us remember what Christ did for us. Why is this lesson important? So that we are reminded that others need to hear the good news of Christ’s sacrifice so that they may believe and be adopted into God’s family as we have been.

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris Hayden


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Great Exchanges

Have you ever been a party to a secret Santa gift exchange? That is where you bring a gift and secretly give it to another while at the same time receiving a gift from someone unknown to you. It is a fun time as long as you have a right heart in the matter. That is, you are a part of this festivity for the purpose of giving, not getting. If you are hoping for a great gift, you may be disappointed, but that isn’t the point of the exercise now is it? I remember one time giving a nice $20 gift card to Starbucks. What did I get? I received a 1-week trial certificate to a local health club (it was a standard advertised notice of a free trial for anyone who walked into the club and what was this person trying to say to me anyway?).

God has a gift exchange for us as well. In the book of Isaiah 61:3, the scripture says this, “…provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” The Lord wants to bestow all of His wonders upon us and all we have to do is give what we have to Him; like the example above, it is not a balanced exchange.

He gives us beauty in exchange for our ashes, joy in place of our mourning and a garment of praise in exchange for the spirit of heaviness on our souls. He wants to exchange our sin for His righteousness, our weakness for His strength, our hurt and brokenness for His healing, our rejection for the Creator’s love and acceptance, our guilt and shame for His glory, our punishment of death for His resurrection and life. Jesus gave His life in exchange for ours. If we are willing, all we need do is surrender our lowly life of sin and Jesus gives in exchange the right to become a son of the living God and joint heir with Him.

Be blessed,

Pastor Chris Hayden


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God Requires Change Sometimes

What a change we are experiencing in weather from last week!  We’ve gone from icy cold conditions to feeling like spring in just a matter of days and then back to the tundra.  Sometimes change can happen fast.  For example, it only took 18 days of demonstrations to bring down the government in the nation of Egypt.  So, why does it take us so long to change? Change can be hard for some, but necessary at times.

In my observation, people are much slower to change and accept change than trees, grass, flowers and even governments.  What would it be like if you could change your health in 18 days?  How about your marriage?  Or, improving your finances?   God required change of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, James, John, Peter and Paul. God’s presence always brings change. Isaiah 43:19 says it like this, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Is God speaking to you about changes you need to make?

If an entire national government can be changed in less than a month, why does it take us so long to change?  Like give up smoking, drinking too much, pornography, other addictions or change in the Church?  How come the weather can change, but we are willing to live with the same bad attitude we had a week ago or fail to develop new ways of reaching out to our community? If we are spending any time in prayer at all, there are probably occasions when the Holy Spirit speaks to you regarding something that He requires revision in your life.

It seems like we could learn something from the environment around us.  What needs to change in your life?  What habits do you still need to kick?  What good habits do you need to practice?  What can we do to become a more effective and vibrant community of believers? You may not be able to get to the final outcome in a week or 18 days, but I bet you can make some strides if you try.  Consider a few you could do today, and if you do, think about where you might be this time next year. And remember what God told Joshua when they were about to change their place of residence (Joshua 1:6), “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.”

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris


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Midst of the Storm

We are coming into storm season here in the Midwest, which can mean more warning, alerts and watches for bad weather.  I know a lot of people are terrified of storms, while others actually chase them.  I guess I’m somewhere in between.

Where is God when a storm is happening in your life?  When it seems so dark that you can’t tell what the future might hold?  Where is He?  1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us that He still holds us in His hands, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

He’s right where He was before the storm happened – sitting on His throne high above the storm.  Just like the sun will shine again after the natural storm passes, likewise, God will be seen when the spiritual storm passes.  This is something that we need to remind ourselves when, the doctor comes back with “bad news,” your parent continues to slip in their health, your children seem to be heading the wrong direction, or your spouse has been unfaithful.  Each of these (and more) can be spiritual battlefields where we lose or win.

The way to victory is to keep your mind stayed on the assurance that God is STILL God in the midst of the storms of life.  He has not given away His dominion, power, or sovereign rule over the universe.  It might be dark for a season, but the SON will shine again and God can restore what the storm can take away.  Instead of focusing on your storm, try focusing on God in the storm. Let us remember Psalm 30:5b, “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy [cometh] in the morning.”

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris


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