Pastor's Blog

January 2019

Have a Hug

There’s something about a mother’s hug. I don’t know what it is, but mom’s hugs can cure all sorts of problems. Fights with siblings, stubbed toes, sore tummies, bad dreams—mom’s hugs fix them all. And it’s not just limited to mom’s hugs, of course. Dad’s hugs, or grandma’s hugs or a friend’s hugs help. What is it about them? Is it the physical contact? Is it the emotional connection and the love that a hug seems to imply? Is it just that someone cares and wants to show that love and concern? Yes, I think we’d agree.

You see, we need to feel safe. We need to have security in our life. Our bodies need to be safe. Hugs help us feel safe. And our souls need to be safe. When our souls are safe, when the essence of our humanity feels at peace that radiates out into our whole life. And there is a lot that tries to take away that safety from our souls: from an unbelieving world, to a heart corrupted with sin, to our own guilty consciences.

So Christ gathers us up. He brings us to himself. He gives us safety. John the Baptist says about Jesus, "[He will] gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Luke 3:17

Chaff is the unusable portion of grain. It gets thrown away. Here is comfort for the believer! Evil, wickedness and all the forces of Satan will be thrown away forever. Jesus Christ destroyed all of that on the cross when he died and proclaimed that victory when he rose from the dead. 

And you and I who have placed our hope in Jesus, we will be gathered up forever. Safe!



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Does the Christmas Star Still Shine?

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine, they lay down for the night and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend, "Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see." Watson replied, "I see millions and millions of stars."

"What does that tell you?"

Watson pondered for a minute. "Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Why, what does it tell you?"

Holmes was silent for a moment, and then spoke. "Watson, that’s not it at all. Some jerk has stolen our tent!"

Maybe you’ve found yourself lost in the sky. I can confess that from early on I have been fascinated with the night sky. I remember often looking out and seeing all the stars, trying to remember the names of all the different constellations. Watson was right: from the sky we can see that God truly is a powerful being. And that same amazement has gripped man from the beginning. So much so that God had to warn the Israelites not to worship the Sun, Moon and stars.

Shortly after Christ’s birth, the night sky drew the special attention of a group of Magi from the east. They noticed a star, and from what they knew about the Jewish religion they knew this star meant a king was born. And this special star led them to Christ. Ever since Matthew wrote about the visit of the Magi, the Christian Church has celebrated the season of Epiphany. The season of Christ’s light shining out. 

The Magi show us something incredible about God’s plan though. Even though they were foreigners, God took extraordinary measures so they would find Christ. God’s message is pretty clear: Jesus is for Jews and Gentiles alike, he came for the entire world. That’s the world you and I are very much a part of. We are worldly-minded, sinful people, yet we are the people Jesus came to rescue. We are the people God leads to Jesus with that star shining in the sky. As we follow that star, we find a baby human being; we see God’s love there because God became flesh. The star leads us into the life of Christ: his gentle words, his perfect life, a perfect life lived in our place. The star leads us onward to the top of a hill outside Jerusalem, to a cross where Christ poured out his blood for the payment of our sins. It leads us to a tomb where he was laid and where he would rise again on Easter morning. The star of Epiphany points the way to our rescuer, the one who lived and died to rescue us from the punishment of our sins and who rose again to prove it was true, who shines brighter than that Epiphany star and leads us on to eternal life in heaven. Follow the star to Christ: it leads the world to find him.



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What Kind of Jesus?

Imagine you woke up one day and the world had changed. Everything looked the same, but as you were brushing your teeth, something just felt odd. You go grocery shopping that day and as you go down the aisles you notice what’s happened: there is no more variety. You get to the apples and instead of there being Fuji, Washington Delicious, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Pink Lady, all the kinds of apples you’re used to seeing, you only see one kind: Apple. You head to cereal and notice instead of Lucky Charms, Cheerios and Corn Flakes there’s only one kind of cereal called “Healthy Morning Breakfast”, a whole aisle of it. And on and on down your list it’s the same thing. Instead of there being variety, there is only a single brand, or a single kind. It’s a strange thought because we are very used to there being many kinds. We have a consumerist mindset which says if enough people want this kind of thing they’ll get it.

So what kind of Savior would you like today? You can have a loving one, a stern one. You can have one who is your friend, one who is your confidant. You can a have a powerful savior, or a hands-off savior. You can even have a savior who will hide himself away and only come out when you want him. There are a lot of options out there for what kind of savior you can have. There are even churches that will give people the kind of savior they want on that particular day. But will they have “the Savior,” the one the Bible tells us about?

The kind of Savior the Bible describes is the kind of savior who bleeds and dies. It describes the kind of savior who died when he was only about 30 years old. We have the kind of savior who called himself God but needed to sleep; who allowed himself to be tortured. And this is the Savior the world needs. Not the kind of savior the world wanted. No, humanity’s savior is the one who bleeds and dies so he could dismantle death. Humanity’s savior is the one who bleeds and dies so he could pay for sin. In fact, humanity’s savior is a human being, just like them.

Hebrews 2:14-15, "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil--and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."



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For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works... ~ EPHESIANS 2:8-9