Pastor’s Blog

 
 

In Loving Memory

This morning I received word that Linda Hall’s father has gone on to be with the Lord. Her message to us was an uplifting one, honoring his life and realizing the blessing of his opportunity to go home to where the glories of heaven are ever present. Our prayers and condolences go out to Linda and several of our members and their families as they have said goodbye to a parent, grandparent or other loved one who has passed away in the last couple of weeks. Along with Linda, we want to pray for Mike Gregerson, Bob Harlan, Rob Jones and their families (and others) who have lost a parent, grandparent, or other relative recently. I, myself, said goodbye to a well-loved aunt of mine who went home to be with Jesus two weeks ago. While I know my Aunt Norma is now at home with Jesus, there is still that sense of loss we feel knowing that we are separated from those we love while living on this planet.

 

In light of the recent passing of these loved ones and as we remember loved ones we remember this Memorial Day, I want to send an encouraging word to all who have lost family and friends in Christ. I Thessalonians 4 says this, 13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

 

While we sorrow and grieve when we experience the passing of those we love, we need not do so as people who have no hope. We have the hope of eternal life and know that we will be together once again with those who have died in Christ. Our prayers go out to all those who continue to grieve and sorrow over the recent loss of that special person in your life. We know that death has no hold on us, for Jesus died on the cross and rose again that all those in Christ shall never die! Hallelujah! As Paul reminds us, “…comfort one another with these words.”

 

Be blessed even more!

 

Pastor Chris


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New Life Anyone

New Life Anyone?

  1. Hayden 4-25=17

 

God has called us to new life. Jesus Christ rose from the day around this time of the year and each year we gear up to celebrate His resurrection. The kids get an Easter basket full of chocolate and baby peeps (and some adults too!), many have a barbecue cookout with family, and we lounge for most of the day watching a game or good movie (or at least sleeping on the couch while one is playing).   A nice day of rest. I certainly enjoyed it. But let me encourage all of us to be sure and take the time to go deeper as we remember the resurrection of our Lord. It was not so that another holiday could be added to our calendar in the spring. It was done so that we might experience resurrection for ourselves.

 

Jesus rose from the dead so that we might, along with our own bodily resurrection when God calls us home, experience the resurrection of our own soul and spirit today. We can know what it means when Paul says this in First Thessalonians 5:23-24, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” When we were born again, God provided us a new spirit made alive to Him through the power of His Spirit so that we might live redeemed, resurrected lives in Christ. Our Lord’s death and resurrection paved the way so that we may have a new life, free from the bondage of sin, free from our past failures and mistakes and free to live from Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior, our Friend.

 

As Paul tells us in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Paul applied the death and resurrection of Jesus to his own life and God calls us to do the same. We need to be able to say of ourselves, “We our crucified with Christ, but live as one raised from the dead and now live for the one who raised us up to new life.” Can you say that today? Look to Jesus for help in living out this new life in Christ that we have been given.

 

Be blessed even more!!

 

Pastor Chris


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Faithful To The Word

Faithful To The Word

  1. Hayden 4-10-17

 

The last decade has revealed an ever-growing apostasy that has attached itself to many in the Church. This apostasy has its support in the idea that “diversity” is the greatest benefit to society and so we need to embrace the belief systems of other religions so as to promote diversity. First of all, diversity that does not have “unity” as its foundation brings division and chaos. We see this in the news on a daily basis. But this idea that all religions are the same, only the names are different, is absolutely false at its very core. Focusing on the words of Jesus, it is clear that the Lord did not in anyway buy into this false concept.   While there may be many Christian denominations and non-denominational fellowships that are pathways to a relationship with Christ, there is only one pathway to God and that is through Christ alone. It is this apostate doctrine that all religions lead to God that has led many liberal leaders in organizations like The National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches to label missionary efforts and proselytizing (witnessing for Jesus) for the Lord as being arrogant and intolerant of other people and their culture.

 

John 14:5-7 says this, “Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Jesus is not one way to God, He is the only way to God! That does not mean we should be unkind with others of different religions or cannot be a friend to people of other faiths. On the contrary, we are told to love even our enemies, so loving those who believe differently than we do is a hallmark of our faith. But we should never join with them in accepting their faith apart from Christ as an acceptable pathway to God. We need to be faithful to God’s Word, realize that apart from faith in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins, and continue to love others enough to tell them the truth of their need for The Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

 

Be blessed even more!

 

Pastor Chris

 


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Joy, Joy, Joy

 

Joy, Joy, Joy

  1. Hayden 3-25-17

 

Don’t let the devil steal your joy. Let me say that again. Don’t let the devil steal your joy. It never seems to fail that when we experience a victory in our lives, i.e. a wonderful time of worship, a soul being saved and baptized, or a step forward in our spiritual growth, an unexpected blessing, the devil can often be found trying to rob us of our new found joy.   This can happen through negative circumstances or negative people or our own personal negativity arising in the shadow of victory like a wall sent to block all the good things God has been doing. We end up focusing on the negativity and soon the victory we experienced is forgotten and our joy in the Lord has evaporated. Proverbs 4:23 reads thusly, “Guard your heart with all diligence, for out it flow the issues of life.” If we allow the devil to steal our joy, our whole life is affected and we end up becoming the vehicle of negativity that goes about stealing joy from others, affecting the whole Church.

So how do we combat those attacks on our joy? First, look upon negative incursions as an opportunity to be joyful anyway. Scripture says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). Though the attack may have it’s origin in the devil, God will use it for our good if we let Him.

And second, take the advice of Philippians 4:6-9, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” Let God’s peace be a guard over your heart. Remember, an attack from the enemy of our souls often means we have been and are doing something right! Don’t let the devil steal your joy!

 

Be blessed even more!

 

Pastor Chris


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When GOD Doesn’t Make Sense

An Encouraging Word

  1. Hayden 3-9-17

 

Our world can often be a very critical and cynical place to live in. It is so easy to see how many Christians see this generation in light of the scripture that says, “10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:10-12). With record violence taking place in many of our major cities, ever increasing anxiety over the direction of world and online communications with one another becoming less and less civil due to our expansive differences in belief systems, it would appear that our love for one another, as the prophecy reveals, is certainly growing colder than ever before. While we may be witnessing this icy transformation take place in our nation and around the world, it does not have to be a characteristic of the Body of Christ.

John 13:34-35 says this, “34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” When the Lord tells us that we are to love one another, what He really means is…that’s right…we are to love one another. That means we should say encouraging words that lift each other up rather than finding ways to tear each other down. We are to seek the best for our brothers and sisters in Christ, not just for ourselves.

We read in Ephesians 4:29–32, “29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” When we communicate with each other, is our speech laced with kindness? Do we make every effort to speak edifying words to one another so that we are consistently imparting grace to those that hear us? When we allow the Spirit to be our guide, our conversation will be an encouragement to our fellow believers and the world will see the love of Christ flow through us and thereby know that we belong to Jesus.

 

Be blessed even more!

 

Pastor Chris


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This Too Shall Pass

Life can be like a roller coaster at times when in the middle of our peaceful world, sudden disappointments appear wrecking havoc and throwing us into turmoil. In one stretch of time we seem to be traveling along on a steady course that appears uneventful and peaceful and then…BAM…tragedy strikes and our world is turned upside down.   These are the moments that try our faith and can often lead us to question God and His purposes for us. The Bible gives us several reasons for why these things take place, but the most common reason that I see is revealed in this scripture. Matthew 5:44-45 says this. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Yes, we can blame the devil for many things that we see going wrong in the world. And yes, we at times need to lay the blame on our troubles at the feet of our own bad decisions. But more often then not, the sun shines as well as rains for all of us because we exist together on this giant ball called earth, living in a fallen world of sin that affects us in very real, tangible ways. And bad things happen to very good people just as they happen to those who have rejected God and blaspheme Him. There are instances in the scripture where we see God intervene and punish the unrighteous for their evil deeds as well as rewarding the righteous for their unbending faith in Him. We also see the devil at work trying to wreck havoc where he can. We have seen these examples in our study of Daniel on Wednesday evenings.   But if we continue digging in the Word, we will also see times when the unrighteous are seemingly ignored by God while His servants suffer.

Jesus encouraged His disciples during these times when He said that in Him we may have peace. In the world we experience tribulation; but be of good cheer, He has overcome the world (John 16). Just know this, and I hope this encourages you, God is watching and keeps an accounting of all He sees. For those following Him, He will never leave nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). His blood cleanses you of all sin and we can rest in knowing that when difficulties arise…THIS TOO SHALL PASS. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

 

Be blessed even more!

 

Pastor Chris


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Doom, Despair, and Agony On Me!

We live in an imperfect world to say the least. Sometimes we start to feel like WE are CHARLIE BROWN! The gas prices drop but taxes are too high and our take home pay is often too low, so what’s the point? The moment we really begin to enjoy the beautiful fall weather, an ice storm hits and the air drops to freezing! Then it goes back up to warm weather again, but we’ve come down with the flu, respectively, and are not able to enjoy it…wonderful. We just get the hot water heater fixed but then the furnace goes out right about the time the weather drops below 20o F so you are cold…again, get the flu…again and can’t enjoy the holidays…again! And by the way, the car broke down so who cares about the low gas prices! Sometimes, the problems are even more severe! Sound familiar…

We end up living in an ever perpetual loop of the “doom and despair” syndrome. You know the old Hee-Haw bit: “Doom, despair, and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Doom, despair and agony on me.” Now Jesus said that we would have tribulation in this world (John 16:33), but that we should be of good cheer, never despairing from the misfortune that befalls all of us at one time or another.

It is in these times when despair would bring us down into a pit of constant complaining, that we need to have our “God inspired gratitude” kick in to remind us of the greatest blessing ever given to mankind. It was revealed to us in Luke chapter 2 and in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” when Linus gives a wonderful soliloquy to fellow cast members. It goes something like this: “8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good tidings of joy that will be to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’ 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased’” (Luke 2:8-14).

This is a wonderful time of the year when it may be helpful to remind ourselves that God sent His son, Jesus, that we might be truly blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

Be blessed even more!!

Pastor Chris


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Purpose of Guilt & Shame

There are times when guilt and shame are properly placed and have a Godly purpose. We should never feel guilt or shame when we honor God, or embrace the same for something that is not our fault. Feelings of guilt & shame that are appropriate can only be so as they relate to God and our dishonoring Him.

In 1 Corinthians 6, we see the account of Christians initiating legal action against their brothers in Christ. The Apostle Paul rebukes this action declaring, “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame.” In this instance, brothers in Christ were dishonoring God by taking other believer to a worldly court. They were trying to appear righteous in deed, but were actually showing their spiritual weakness and dishonoring God. Paul said this to their SHAME!

In Ezekiel 43, the Israelites contaminated the temple by ignoring God’s specific instructions. The writer pens this in verse 10, “Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities;” When believers purposefully ignore God’s Word, His directions and sin, we are to recognize our guilt and experience shame. Guilt and shame are proper when our thoughts and actions dishonor our Lord. If the world had a greater sense of well-placed guilt and shame, we would have a lot less young celebrities “twerking” on Grammy Award shows!

Yet, even when we sin and dishonor God, Jesus does not want us to hang on to or bathe ourselves in guilt and shame, wallowing in self-pity. Properly placed guilt and shame becomes improper and misplaced when it continues on beyond the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Guilt and shame is used by the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin so that we can repent and be restored to God. Anything that lingers beyond that turns into ungodly condemnation and is of Satan to destroy us. The Apostle John tells us in his first epistle, chapter 1:8-9, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The devil uses guilt & shame to destroy us. God uses guilt and shame to bring us back to Himself and forgives us of all unrighteousness.

Be blessed even more!!

Pastor Chris


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Oh, The Shame

I don’t know about you, but there have been moments in my life when I have been inundated with feelings of guilt and shame. I think we all have had those moments. Sometimes the guilt & shame we felt was absolutely justified and sometimes the guilt & shame was absolutely unfair and should never have been embraced. Often we have a hard time telling the difference.

I recall feeling guilty and embracing shame one fine Saturday afternoon as we played our Junior League baseball rival. A hard hit drive from our opponent came screaming down the third base line (I happened to be playing that position at the time). The ball hit the dirt about 10 feet in front of me, then proceeded, as if perfectly targeted, to strike my sternum in such a way that every microbe of air exited my lungs leaving me collapsed on the ground. Oh, I had the ball, but the immediate pain and shock delayed my reaction to throw it to first and our opponent ended up with the, what was to be, the winning run on first. During the moment, my short stop cried out, “Throw the ball.” All I could do was mouth the words, “I CAN’T BREATHE!!! I felt guilty and I was ashamed for letting my team down.

Wikipedia describes guilt as a judgment or experience that occurs when “a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation.” Shame is the pain that results. As believers, we need to know that the Bible tells us that guilt and shame should only be embraced or rejected according to whether we have dishonored or not dishonored God. Paul tells Timothy that he should not be ashamed of the Gospel or of those who preach the Gospel (2 Timothy 1:8). Many in the world may try to shame us when we share our faith in Christ, but we should never embrace these feelings when doing something that honors God.

We should also reject guilt & corresponding feelings of shame when we have done nothing to dishonor God, but may have been inappropriate or inadequate according to others expectations (such as when I was unable to throw a ball to first base while doubled over in excruciating and debilitating pain). Neither should we embrace these emotions when someone else dishonors God, but we place their guilt upon ourselves because of unfair association. Isaiah 50:7 says this, “But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” In the next Disciple, we will talk about when guilt and shame should be experienced and how to bring it under the authority of Christ.

Be blessed even more!!

Pastor Chris


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Um, Now What Do We Do?

Well, that is the $64,000 question now isn’t it. The further our nation retreats from the Biblical moorings given to us by God, the more pressure is placed on the Church to respond. The fact of the matter is, this really isn’t new to the Church worldwide or historically. Historically and in other parts of the globe, true Christians (not institutional religious Christianity) have often been the target of persecution and isolation from a larger world that has rejected Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It is just new to us here in America where for decades prayer and the Scriptures were incorporated into so many of our institutions including school settings (but now removed). America is changing at light speed and a heavy anti-Bible believing atmosphere is emerging to challenge traditional understandings of Scripture. It is being replaced with a culture more inclined to tout the virtues of diversity (regardless of unity) and doing what makes one happy at all cost. The world (and many in the Christian world) is certainly engaging in “Happiness Quest” over “Holiness Quest.”
So what do we do now? Just as we look to the Word to know what we shouldn’t do, we need to go there to learn what we should do as well. First of all, we need to realize that persecution is a part of all who will live Godly in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:10-12). Our faith will be challenged by the unbelieving on a consistent basis until the Lord returns so we need not be amazed when we see it happen.
Secondly, continue to follow Jesus and His Word. In verse 10, Paul reminds Timothy how he carefully followed his doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love and perseverance, etc. We need to do the same. They definitely lived in an anti-christian world. Thirdly, in verses 14 and 15, instruction is given to continue in what we have learned, namely the Holy Scriptures which is able to make us wise for salvation through our faith in Christ. We must not be deceived or diverted to the left or the right, but continue to study God’s Word and order our lives in accordance with Biblical tenets. In verse 16, Paul confirms the Scriptures value declaring that it is inspired by God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness.
Finally, let us follow the example Christ laid out for us. He was kind and gentle, loving and forgiving, full of truth and grace to all who would listen to Him, yet wasted no time on those looking to pick a fight. He gave the truth to the proud and grace to the humble. He was stalwart when proclaiming what people did not wish to hear, yet He did not come to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. We need to keep speaking God’s grace and truth (with grace and truth) to all who will listen so that the “whosoever will” may come to their spiritual senses and be saved through faith in Christ.
Be blessed even more,
Pastor Chris


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