Pastor's Blog

April 2017

Hope Is Alive

I got to say, life can be pretty disappointing sometimes. You set your heart on this or that goal, only to have it dashed right in front of you. You put confidence in a particular person, you give them your trust, only to have them betray your confidence or hurt you in some other way. And that’s not even talking about the other disappointments that can come from life: The friend at work who turns out not to be a friend, your son or daughter who doesn’t seem to be so interested in you anymore. Then your health takes a dive, your finances fall apart, your marriage is threatened. Where does it all end? Why do we get up in the morning? Some even wonder if they should go on living anymore?

Where do we go for hope when all seems to be at a loss? Well, you can’t count on other people so much, you can’t count on your job, sometimes you can’t even count on yourself. But what about the empty tomb of Jesus Christ? What about the Easter victory?

There in that tomb is a living hope. This hope is not based on the last words of some dead man; it is not based on the empty promises of a great prophet who is long gone; it is not based on the hopeful platitudes of some great teacher. Those are just words. Our hope is alive. It is alive because our Savior is alive.

The hopes and dreams of this world, of this life, are just a house of cards. If we build our self-worth or our worth to God on what we can produce with our hands or accomplish in our lives, then it's a false hope because those will eventually fail--one way or another. 

And nowhere is that more clear to us than when we suffer. Suffering strips away all the things of this world that we had been using to prop ourselves up. "I'm worthwhile to God because I'm successful at work"  "I'm a good person becasue my family is good." It doesn't work because none of those things will last. And think of the pressure we put on ourselves when we have to prove to God that we are worthwhile - every moment of our life because the most important and most critical. Who could live under that kind of pressure? Who could live perfectly for even an hour of their life?

But what God holds out is far better. It is the hope of the inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This is the forgiveness of sins. This is God's commitment of love to you. This is God sending Jesus to die as your substitute and rise again from the dead to show you your sins are forgiven. This is God preparing a place for you in heaven. This is God who has willed to you eternal life where there is no more sin.

And this is what we build our lives on: the hope of heaven, the peace of knowing we have nothing to prove to God, the joy of being able to live our lives and let go of our past sins and past failures knowing God holds nothing against us. Today we live! Today we live with hope that is alive.

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Easter - Without a Doubt

I hope everyone had a very nice Easter celebration. I thought we had a lovely service at our church last week, and I hope you were able to worship with the saints of God someplace too. So that’s it, right? Now the festival of Easter is over and it’s back to reality. The celebration was fun, but there are still bills to pay; there are still problems in our life. If you got together with family over Easter did any of those old family issues come back again? Christ is risen…but the joy seems to fade so fast. Christ is risen…but I don’t really feel it like I did last week. Christ is risen…so why do I feel like he hasn’t? Isn’t that the way holidays go sometimes? You go from being really excited and then the reality of this sorrowful world hits you all the harder. It’s like we almost escaped for a moment—we almost saw heaven—and then, boom, back to reality. And we doubt if Easter still means something right now.

            Well, it is Easter—without a doubt. Because what Easter means doesn’t depend on us. Easter is built on the Word and work of God. Easter comes to us from a special message of God that erases our doubts and gives true and complete peace. It’s Easter—without a doubt. The message of Easter gives us what’s missing and the message makes us eyewitnesses of Easter, too.

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Silent Wednesday

This is a post from Pastor David Kolander of Christ the Lord in Brookfield, WI. He sent this out earlier today. It is very fitting for today.

There really is nothing quiet about “Silent Wednesday,” is there?

My heartache for causing the Lord’s passion certainly allows no silence.   There is nothing silent about my arrogance or my laziness, my complaining about others or my questioning of God, my sin and my guilt.   God is not silent about letting me know what should be the eternal lot for us sons of Adam.

There also is nothing silent about the difficulties I endure. Inside my heart and from my lips there are cries of “Lord, help me” as I face the fact that the experience of suffering is one that should come as no surprise. God makes it clear that it can be no different for those who are the sons of Adam.

What is different is our Lord’s reaction.   “But the gift is not like the trespass.  For if the many died  by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many” (Romans 5:15). God is not quiet about his overflowing grace. It is his guarantee that what should by my lot was what my Savior endured.  It is his comfort that no suffering I endure can ever separate me from his love.

Silent Wednesday may be a time of quiet in the Gospels about the words and works of Jesus, but it is one more day to reflect on what those words and works mean for me.

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Zombies are Real!

Over the past few years there have been a lot of zombie movies. Zombies, of course, are those mythological creatures of the undead; people who died, but whose bodies are brought back to life. Maybe you even saw the old movie Night of the Living Dead. With the popularity of zombies, some people have taken things a step further. They’ve asked the question: what would I do if zombies ever invaded where I live? It’s called a “zombie plan.” They can be quite elaborate like barricading yourself in the nearest shopping mall and surviving on the food at the food court until the zombies pass by. Others just involve stockpiling weapons and fighting it out. You can even go online and take a quiz to see if you would survive a zombie invasion. It’s just people having some silly fun.

As a pastor, it is interesting to me that we seem to have this fascination with the walking dead, because, in a way of thinking, zombies are real. There aren’t zombies like you see in the movies, but there are countless people who are walking around today who are alive and yet dead. We live among them. We were one of them. We were dead in our sins. But Christ changed all of that. He changed us from being spirutally dead to being alive. With his powerful word he called out to us and brought us out of our grave of sin. And with that he gives life forever.

So no need to survive a Zombie Apocalypse - you already have. Now go and find your "undead" friends, and help them survive too.

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Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. ~ 1 PETER 3:8