Uh, I Think We Knew This Was Coming

I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to do it, and if you have any doubt at all, I really don’t want to do it. What? I do not want to get into another political or ideological debate. But people, events and other political and ideological parties keep dragging me into it. And as long as this political tennis ball keeps landing on the Church’s “Biblical and moral” side of the court, I am compelled to address it and send it back across the net. It is not my fault! So here goes.
In light of the past Supreme Court rulings, and the pursuing discussions which followed, I think most would agree that we are seeing some significant change in the wind regarding the theological and moral compass surrounding the issues concerning marriage, family, the Bible, the Church and our national identity. The very fabric of our society is undergoing (and has been undergoing) a seismic shift away from what was held to be true for both millennia in the body of Christ, as well as the majority of mankind’s existence. And, although encapsulated in “good intentions,” it is revealing the ever increasing separation of our national and global culture, and Biblical understanding held by most men and women of God throughout world history. Having said all of that, we kind of knew this would happen.
This past month we spoke about what it would be like living in what many believe to be the “End Times.” As we read Biblical texts, we are clothed with the knowledge that “The World’s” understanding of rightness and wrongness would take a significant left turn (or right turn depending on your political station) from God’s Word. In 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes to a young pastor named Timothy and sets out to prepare him, and us, for an upcoming apostasy. He starts out with these words from 2 Timothy 3, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves…” STOP. I don’t want to hear any more!! (Hands on ears).
Following those first few words of Paul comes a laundry list of characteristics describing the condition we find ourselves in today. One thing interesting in verses 7 and 8, we are told that humankind would not only be unable to come to the truth found in God’s Word, but would indeed be resistant to the same (2 Timothy 3:7-8). We are living in a generation where many seek to remove Biblical instruction from all spheres of public life and consistently exalts humankind as their own savior and moral arbiter. Surely, we knew this was coming?! More on this subject in 2 weeks.
Be blessed even more,
Pastor Chris

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Tear Down This Wall

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan made one of the more notable challenges in this nations history. As the President stood in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, these historic words rose in view of the world, “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” I still get goose bumps when I see this freedom charged discourse. I get the same feeling when I watch President Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” address. We are a nation that values freedom.

Our Lord values freedom. Jesus conveys what real freedom is in John 8:31-36, 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”33 They answered him,  “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slaveto sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Jesus tells us that freedom is not necessarily being able to do whatever we want, when we want it. If we use our freedom to remain in sin and selfish living, we are actually slaves to our own carnal behavior. But if we continue in God’s Word and put into practice His Word, we are made free by the truth found in Christ. The wall of sin and deceit is knocked down and we are free to follow Jesus, free to love God with all our hearts, love others as ourselves, and free to be a true Disciple of Christ.

This year, as we commemorate the freedom purchased for this nation throughout our history, let us also remember the freedom from sin and freedom to follow Christ that was purchased for us at the cross. The events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence, through the struggle for state and civil rights, and our desire to see other nations experience freedom, are all examples of why July 4th is so special to Americans as well as so many others around the globe who value freedom. I believe this value comes from God Almighty whose Son Jesus died and rose again to make all who dare to believe free! Not using our liberty as an occasion to indulge in sin, but an opportunity to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

Be Blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris Hayden

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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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