Pastor's Blog

March 2015

Light it Up

A lot of people today want Christians to keep their faith to themselves. But do you think people would say that if they could see how good the Father was? Honestly, I can’t answer that. But here’s what I can say: it’s a lot harder to say no to someone who is so good to you all the time.

People need to know about God’s love. Jesus says to light up this world so that people would praise the Father in heaven. Has this ever happened to you? It could. When you come alongside someone who is grieving the death of a loved one and you show them true compassion that comes from the Father’s love. They may just listen to you and their heart may open just a bit, and God’s love might just get an opportunity to go into the inner chambers of their heart and find a home just like in your heart. When you stand up for someone because God’s love has taught you to love all people regardless of who they are, you might just earn their respect and you might just begin a friendship and you might just get a chance to explain the love God has put in you. When you receive an unexpected blessing and give your thanks to God, you might just show this world how good God is; or, if God takes something away from you and you struggle and yet in that struggle draw closer to God, you tell people, “When you love someone this much, it’s worth suffering for.”

Take the love that God has put into your heart, the love that comes from Christ who died on the cross, and light up this world.

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Done Working

Parents, what do you think of this?

You spend your whole day working to provide a house and home for your precious and beloved child. And here comes precious now, to dinner: iPod in the ears, hoodie pulled up. Precious drops their bag on the floor, slumps into the dinner chair—they haven’t even looked at you—pops their earbuds out and looks up at you, “Where’s dinner?” Parents, you may disagree with me, but if there were a time you could instantly fire electricity from your fingertips into your precious child it might be then!

But think about this:

God comes to you, in his love, and he says, “Look at all I have done for you. Look at this world I have made for you. Look at this eternal life I have given you. Now treat me with the honor and respect I am due. Obey my commandments.”

And what do we say back, “Where’s my dinner?” Some obedience. Some obedience that reluctantly slumps into church or serves God because they have to.

Some obedience indeed, because that kind of lazy or arrogant obedience isolates us from God. There is no peace when you’ve isolated yourself from the love of God. This is the first taste of God’s eternal punishment, and it only gets worse. If you want to give God your own work, then you better keep all his commands perfectly or you will go to hell.

Or, we can turn away from our own work and see Christ’s. Christ’s work is the end of our work because he perfectly submitted to God in our place. You see it when Christ was kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemene praying to God the Father, “not my will but yours.” You saw it as Christ submitted to hell. And what you saw wasn’t just Christ—it was you. It was you perfectly submitting to God’s will. It was you perfectly obeying God. Because everything that Christ did he did in your place. Christ’s work is perfect work—the perfect obedience that God demanded.

That’s really something, you know? God doesn’t see your disobedience because Christ did away with it by his obedience. There is only the perfect work of Christ.

So let’s you and me look at a new obedience. Knowing that God has covered you in Christ’s obedience, obey God. There is no threat from God because Christ earned his favor. This isn’t work because we don’t need to earn anything from God. Instead, we can just serve God in freedom. We're done working.

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Snakes are Good

A long time ago God used a bunch of poinsonous snakes to grab the attention of his people--the Israelites (you can find that history in Numbers 21). And it worked!

And to this day God still sends snakes into our life. Not quite literally. But he sends us difficulties because he's trying to get our attention. For example: In the 1990s there was this great explosion of technology, people were getting richer and richer. People cared less and less about religion. And God said, “Fine, you want nothing to do with me? I’ll take away your money.” And the technology bubble burst and people lost everything. But that still didn’t work, people still kept focusing on themselves. So he sent two planes into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon and another crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. But still, people wouldn’t listen. So he sent this terrible Hurricane we named Katrina which devastated so many homes and lives. What is the message here with all these unexpected disasters? Jesus tells us, “But if you will not repent, you too will all perish.” He's trying to get our attention.

So what snakes has God sent into your life? Has he taken something away from you? Has he given you some difficulty? What’s his message to you, “Look at me and live.” Stop looking at yourselves. Stop trying to fight these battles of sin and temptation yourself. He wants us to look at him and remember that he is the only one who has a plan. It was the LORD’s plan to rescue us from the punishment of hell. It was the LORD’s plan to defeat sin; to conquer the devil; to overcome death. It was the LORD who devised a plan to bring our souls and bodies to his side in eternal life. It was the LORD alone who said to us, “Only I can get you from here to the Promised Land of eternal life.” He holds out this promise to you because he wants to save you. And those snakes—those difficulties—make us remember that. They force us away from ourselves and back to the LORD. And, no, it’s not pleasant. It’s not easy. But it’s necessary so that we are humbled and like the Israelites say the LORD, “Help me. Save me.” And he does.

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Serious Relationships

If Christian’s were as serious about their relationship with God as God is about his relationship with them, what would the Christian church look like?

Christians who are serious about their relationship with God listen to God and do what he says. Christians who are serious about their relationship with God do not put their careers, their families, their entertainment or anything else above God. Christians who are serious about their relationship with God make time to open up their Bibles, read them and think about what those words mean to them.

We aren’t as serious about our relationship with God as we think we are. And if we run away from that truth with excuse after excuse all we’re saying to God is this: “I’m too selfish for you.”

God’s serious. I hope you are too. Because God seriously doesn’t want to see you go. He wants to see you as his child forever. When we look at the reality of sin in our life, we see how lost we really are. So what’s the way out of this?

Well, I’ll tell you what isn’t the way out.  The way out is not when we make more rules for ourselves and say, “Ok, I need to do this and this and then I’ll have done my part.” Because the second we go down that path we put all the focus on ourselves again. We’re destined to fail.

The way out is to listen first. Here's what God says to you: "I am your LORD who rescued you from slavery.” God is not turning his back on you today and he never has. God does not write you off as a mistake, a delinquent or a screw up. He knows how deeply you and I struggle with our selfishness. He knows how lost and trapped we feel by our sins. The guilt we all feel, he knows it. This is why he’s so serious with us. Look at how serious Jesus was when he cleared out the Temple. Jesus was cleaning out that junk so he could walk plainly through that Temple, ascend the hill of Golgotha and die on a cross. God loved his people too much to let his greatest act of love be drowned out by a bunch of money collectors and bleating sheep! And God loves you too much to let your heart be cluttered up by all the confusion of sin.

That same Savior, who cleared out the Temple, has saved you and me from our selfish natures. That same Savior lived a perfect life in your place to undo all the crimes we have committed against God. Jesus set things straight between you and God. “I am the LORD who brought you out of slavery.” So don’t be afraid. Yes, we have not taken God as seriously as we should and God has forgiven you for that.


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Testing for Love

In the moment of our testing, when God must take away what threatens our love for him, when God gives us an opportunity to consciously choose him over everything else, in that moment, will your faith prevail? A man who loves his career more than God is suddenly fired for no particular reason. God has taken it away. Will that man trust in God’s promise to take care of him? God is testing him. A teenager who loves to be popular more than she loves to worship God with her life, suddenly finds that her classmates have turned against her. Is her life over? Hardly. God is testing her. A mother in perfect health finds a lump on her breast. God is testing her. God tests his children. The adversities we face in life are God’s tests. They are not meant to make you fail. They are meant to give you an opportunity to love God above everything else. They are meant to wake our faith up from its slumber and hold on to God’s promises.

A young solider was riding in the troop carrier about to land on the beach of Normandy on D-Day. He could hear the mortars going off in the distance, and the popping of machine gun fire on the beach. As the carrier struck ground and the door swung open the sergeant yelled to the soldiers, “Remember your training and you will stay alive!” The adversities of our life are God calling out to you, “Remember my promises and you will survive. Remember my love and you will make it through.” Sometimes God has to strip everything away from us, sometimes the things that are most dear to us, to get us to see this one point: that he has loved us first, so that we could love him first.

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Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. ~ HEBREWS 12:2 (NIV)