Pastor’s Blog

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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Oh No, The End?

In Matthew 24, the Word tells us that in the latter days there will be wars, rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes in various places. We certainly see that today.  The global conflicts, earthquakes in Haiti and Chile and now Turkey, as well as other natural disasters, are only examples of the signs that Jesus said would point to His return and the end of the age.  Nations are rising against nations and scientists inform us that there have been more earthquakes in recent history than all of the previous centuries combined. While some in the world may blame simple political differences or Israel’s unwillingness to give away their land (and the security the land gives them) that God gave them on these conflicts and every weather-related disaster on global warming, God informed us over 2000 years ago that this would happen signaling the season of His return.

These man-made and natural disasters are like birth pains that are announcing the arrival of a new age.  The day of grace is coming to an end and a final judgment is soon approaching.  What time is it?  Is it time to panic, be fearful, or have anxiety?  Not if you are a child of God.  The redeemed of the Lord are to be looking up expecting His soon return and reaching out to those around who are without hope.  Jesus even promised that the Holy Spirit would give us words to say in these last days to reach their hearts.

There is only one kingdom that cannot be shaken and all of those who are a part of that Kingdom have a huge opportunity for outreach.  It’s time for every Christian to be encouraged, full of the Holy Spirit and faith!

Be blessed,

Pastor Chris


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The Whole Armor

One of the most precious possessions I have, other than my wife and children, is a little Bible that was given to my father when he fought in the Philippine Islands during World War II. It is called, “The Heart Shield Bible”, a pocket size New Testament covered by a steel plate with the words, “For God and our Country” etched in its face. I have been told that the New Testament fits in the uniform pocket that conveniently covers the soldier’s heart to provide, in a small way, partial physical protection from a ballistic projectile (a shot that was not direct or point blank) and at the same time, spiritual protection for those who understand that they might be in the presence of God at any moment. I am moved with the knowledge that my father held on to this book for comfort as he defended this nation during this conflict with tyranny.

In Ephesians the 6th chapter, we are told to put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand against the enemy of our souls and his devices. Verse 12 tells us why; because we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. We have an enemy who will do whatever it takes to subvert us from the path our Lord has placed us on. We are not ignorant of the devils devices. He wants to steal, kill and destroy us (John 10:10). We need to make sure we our adorning ourselves with the armor that has been provided to us. Our Lord won the war on the cross, yet we are still subject to spiritual battles. Let us be comforted in the fact that we need not fear for Jesus is our Captain; more on this later.

Be blessed,

Pastor Chris


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