Pastor's Blog

January 2018

Amazing Authority

In this world that so desperately needs to hear the message of forgiveness, now is not the time for Christians like you and me to deny our Savior. 

It’s time for us to be amazed again. 

Are you amazed that Christ’s message has the authority to save you? It starts by remember that we are sinful. We need to hear that message from Christ. If we don’t, then we will reject Christ. But in the anguish of our sins, we see our need to be saved. And Christ satisfies that need.

That’s what’s amazing about Christ’s message. We never deserved him or his message. But God always loved his creatures. He wanted to save them. So he did.

Christ came with God’s authority to cast out sin. We see a glimpse of that authority when Christ cast out a demon from a man in the synagouge. "Jesus rebuked the spirit, saying, 'Be quiet! come out of him!'" (Mark 1:25) Did that demon know what was happening? You bet he did! He said to Christ, “Have you come to destroy us?” Notice the demon says “us”—us demons, the powers of hell, the power of Satan. Yes, Christ had come to destroy you all! And with one word of authority, the demon submitted to Christ. Amazing!

Here we stand in our lives, confronted with the demons of sin--our sin--everyday. We are powerless to stop sinning. But Christ comes and with one word he casts sin out of your life. Sin must flee before Christ’s authority. It happened in baptism. There the authority of Christ was invoked as you were baptized into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And Satan fled. In worship the pastor announces your forgiveness. And Satan flees before Christ’s authority. Christ stands with hands and side pierced, his blood staining a cross, and making payment for sin so that no sin could own you, so that no sin could trouble you, so that no sin had power. His authority makes sin flee. Amazing!

Be amazed at Christ’s authority. Be amazed that sin has no place in your life. Christ puts you on notice today that your sins don’t master you. Be amazed that you’ve been saved by Christ’s authority. And then cling to that authority.



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Fishing with Jesus

Maybe it’s a little too early to start thinking about the opening day of summer fishing, but in the middle of winter it might do us some good.

It would do us some good to think about the perfect fishing scene. It’s early in the morning. As you walk out onto the dock, the first grey light of morning is just starting to settle in. Your flashlight guides you to your boat, tied up to the dock and gently bouncing on the glass surface of the water. As you get into your boat, it’s so quiet and still that instead of starting up your motor, you consider paddling with your oars for fear of waking up the lake before it’s time. But there is fishing to do! The engine roars to life and you motor out to a spot only you know about where the fishing is great. When you arrive, the lake is starting to wake up, a blue heron stands on one leg in the shallows of the water, a few splashes farther down the lake might be a beaver or a even a deer getting a drink. The morning mist is starting to rise as the sun breaks over the horizon. You cast your line into the lake.

There’s something very romantic about the perfect day fishing. But the beauty and romance can quickly fade when no matter how hard you try there are no fish to be caught.

Maybe life has come up short for you. Maybe your perfect day fishing has turned into a life where you are relentlessly pursuing fish that are not there, goals that you can never reach, accomplishments and wealth that will never be. Or maybe the perfect day fishing has you totally fooled. You’re so enamored with life, you’re so successful, you’re plans are so blessed that the only thing that does matter is the catch of fish you’ve gotten today and the one you’ll get tomorrow. Or maybe you just don’t know what you’re supposed to be fishing for. Maybe you feel insignificant and without purpose.

We’ve all got these things we want. A house with a yard. A nice family. A good job. We want our children to be well-educated and successful. So we go fishing for these things. But why aren't the spiritual things more important? Becuase if God isn't most important, we can go fishing for a long time and come up empty handed in the end.

Fishing with Jesus can fix all of that. "Jesus said to Simon and Andrew, 'Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.' Immediately they left their nets and followed him." (Mark 1:17-18). Fishing with Jesus nets us the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is nothing more than God’s unending favor toward you through Jesus Christ. It is the message that you have been pardoned for your sins; forgiven for seeking things of this world to satisfy the soul; forgiven for nudging God into second place. The kingdom of God is the message that you are declared not guilty no matter how horrific, terrible or shameful your deeds are. The kingdom of God is knowing that God smiles upon you every day. It is being free from guilt forever. Why? Because Jesus came and purchased that kingdom for you with his blood on the cross. He was pierced for our transgressions. The punishment that was upon him has brought us peace. He was wounded, we are healed.

So leave your nets behind, too, and cast your line with Jesus and see if you don't find a catch of fish greater than you could ever imagine.



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What Are You Doing With Your Life? There's a Call to Answer!

Looking back over our lives, I wonder how many of us could say we are doing exactly what we thought we would be doing at this point. Have we fulfilled the plans we had when we were six or seven years old? According to the US Department of Labor, the answer is maybe not: people born between 1957 and 1964 have held, on average, 10.8 different jobs. That’s a lot of different jobs, and sometimes these jobs have little in common with each other: like going from a police officer to being a pastor.

Sometimes we talk about this radical change from one job to another as answering a call. We look at the circumstances in our life and we determine that the Lord is calling us to do something different. Some men decide that the Lord is calling them to serve in the ministry. Other people decide the Lord has called them to serve their families by opening up their own business. In fact, wherever you are in your life (so long as it’s not sinful) is where the Lord has called you to be.

But there is a greater call that has gone out to all people from Christ. It is the call to believe. This call reaches out through the words of the gospel. It reaches out through people who share the gospel. It is Christ’s call that tugs on human hearts to believe in him. And Christ’s call is a powerful one, it makes us eager to come and see all that he does and teaches; it makes us excited for the greater things that he has promised.

In John chapter 1 Jesus calls Philip and Nathaneal to be his disciples. Nathaneal was first reluctant to follow Jesus. But Philip just said, "Come and see." And, wow, did Philip see some incredible things: Jesus did miracles, Jesus taught powerfully. But most importantly Jesus died for humanity and rose again. Jesus led Philip and Nathaneal to see all that he had come to do. 

Well, guess what? Jesus is calling, you too! Come and see!



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Do You Have a Moment?

Mark chapter 1 says, “At that time Jesus came from Nazareth…”

At that time… Moments are everything in our lives. It is a moment that can make the difference between a crushed front end on the car, or a safely avoided deer. It is the moment that can make the difference between a Superbowl victory or defeat. Moments can be exciting as we watch a child make their first tentative steps. Moments reveal our weakness as powerlessly we watch a tornado rip a house to shreds. Moments are the measure of life. Even the times in our lives that were great are punctuated with memories made up of moments: the first loving glance, your name being called at graduation, sitting down at the desk of your new job. Reality seems to be the most real at particular moments.

Our lives are made up of so many moments it’s hard to decide which ones are more important than others. It’s hard to pick out a favorite moment. There was one moment that many of us probably don’t remember, a moment that changed everything for you. It was the moment when water was poured over your head, and you were connected to the word of God: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. It was a moment where the Holy Spirit ignited the flame of faith within in you and chased away the darkness of sin. Moments are everything. At that time, Christ changed you. At that time, when you were baptized into God’s name, you were changed from sinner to saved.

It was the moment that changed your world. Cherish it!



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Star Witness

We called it "light peeping" growing up: driving around and looking at all the neat Christmas displays people put up in their yards.

When you drive around your neighborhood looking at all the Christmas decorations some people put up a manger scene. Mary and Joseph are there with Jesus, the shepherds are looking on and the animals are all around. And most of the time you will see someone else there—the three wise men or the Magi. But actually that’s not historically accurate. As Matthew tells us: After they went into the house and saw the child with Mary, his mother, they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and offered himg gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2: 11) The Magi visited Jesus in a house not the stable. So by the time the Magi arrive in Bethlehem, it’s anywhere from several months to a couple of years after Jesus was born.

The Magi were probably coming from either the area around present-day Baghdad or somewhere in present-day Turkey or Iran. These exotic men from the east come looking for the king of the Jews, saying that a star has announced his arrival. This was probably the talk of the town.

The star itself is shrouded in mystery: was it two planets combining into one in the night sky? A comet? We just don’t know. But somehow the Magi connect this star to the birth of the king of Jews. Studying the stars was their profession; Magi were sort of a combination of an astronomer and astrologer. They knew the night sky well and believed that the location of the stars affected human affairs. They coupled that belief with what they had learned about the Jewish religion. Now, you might be asking, how do they know anything about Jewish religion? Well remember your Bible history! The Jews were sent into captivity twice. The northern tribes were sent to Assyria (Iran and parts of Turkey) and the southern tribes were sent to Babylon (Iraq). While they were there, they still practiced their religion and no doubt left parts of the Old Testament behind. So these Magi probably studied these writings and found passages that referred to the king of the Jews as a star. Prophecies like this one from Numbers 24:17, “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.” Now, they may not have had a clear picture of exactly who this king would be, but they obviously believed the prophecy and were led by this star to find Jesus.

The point is this: Do you see how God spoke so the Magi could understand? They studied stars, so God sent a star. From this star, God led foreigners to find Christ. So, at the birth of Christ, God is working the events of this world so that the whole world would be led to find Christ.

And here you are, reading this blog. And there are hundreds and thousands of other people who read the Bible left in a hotel room, a Christian magazine left behind on a seat in an airplane. The witness of Christ is still in the world today. God is still guiding the events of this world. And you are his witnesses too!



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Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. ~ EPHESIANS 5:19 (NIV)