Pastor's Blog

June 2018

Sailing through the Storm

We read in Acts chapter 27, “When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the ‘northeaster,’ swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along.”

If this were a story from a week ago, I wouldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t believe it because the sailors would have seen this storm coming. The captain would have loaded up his weather app on his smartphone and he would have checked the radar and he would have seen this nasty bank of wind and rain coming toward them and he would have said, “We’re staying put until this passes.” That’s how much things have changed in 2000 years. We can see the weather four states away and we can make our plans with better knowledge. How many of us, before we head out on a long trip, don’t check the weather first to see if we’re going to run into any difficulties? It’s nice, don’t you think? It gives you security, a sense of what’s coming, a sense that you’re at least somewhat in control of what’s going on in your life.

Until, of course, you’re not! Disaster strikes and your plans come crashing down all around you. Your reality of the future that you had pictured so vividly and so assuredly in your mind is utterly ruined. Some unexpected event, some tragic phone call, some diabolical email, some post on Facebook, some memo at work, some disaster that blew in out of nowhere and the gentle wind that you were riding on turns into a hurricane of grief, sadness, guilt, frustration and anger.

If only there was some kind of life-event radar. Some app we could call up on our smartphones that warned us of impending disaster. As we sip our morning coffee and catch up on the news we could look at it and say to our spouse, “Oh! Look at that, there’s a 20% chance of betrayal today.”  Wouldn’t that be great!?

Actually, no, it wouldn’t because God knows that such a thing would rob you and me of a great opportunity. It would steal away the chance to learn how to sail through disaster, to learn that our Heavenly Father has his hand outstretched in love saying, "My child, I have you. I love you. Stop putting so much faith in what is out there and trust in me." God will save you, because Jesus already has--for eternity.

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The Cathedral of Christ

There are some magnificent churches in this world. Rising above the city of Prague is the glorious St. Vitus Cathedral. With its black gothic spires stretching into the sky and massive stone supports along its sides you can feel its strength and admire its beauty. In London, St. Paul’s Cathedral survived the bombing by the Nazis in World War II. As you walk through the church its beauty and detailed architecture take your breath away. Detailed paintings give you a sense of wonder, and when the organ begins to play, you might think you were getting a taste of heavenly glory. Such beautiful churches in this world…

But we don't have to actually go to Europe to find these beautiful churches. They are all around us. And they are just as magnificent. From the outside, you might not think it a very glorious church. It might not be listed on any historical records. It maybe doesn’t boast cathedral-like architecture. But I’m not really talking about outside appearances, or architectural design. I’m talking about what makes a church truly glorious. This is the kind of glory that puts the cathedrals of Europe to shame. And when I think about this kind of church, I think of churches planted by Christ.

It can be easy to wonder just how successful or impressive the church is in the world. You might worry that your small church that barely has 50 in worship is considered successful. So here's the trick to finding out. All you have to do is answer one simple question: is Christ there?

You see, Christ plants a glorious church. It may not look impressive, but it is glorious because it grows by Christ’s power and by his power it is growing into something great.

Jesus once said in Mark 4, "[The church] is like a mustard seed, which when sown on the ground is one of the smallest of all the seeds planted in the ground. Yet when it is planted, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches so that the birds of the sky can nest under its shade.”

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The End of Jealousy


That horrible destroyer of relationships and, yes, even faith. Jealousy is often at the heart of so much sin. 

As believers, jealousy can undo us. Even in congregations of Jesus Christ, jealously can prevail. Do you ever look to the ministries carried out at another Christian church and wonder: “If only, if only”? Do we wonder why we can’t be successful like those “other” Christians? When we begin to compare ourselves like that, the good purpose of maybe finding out something useful, quickly leads to jealousy. We begin to hate and despise what Christ has done among us. We begin to wonder why Christ is withholding his blessings. And we accuse Christ of mistreating us. 

Stop all of this! Because if we go down that road then we are headed straight for rejecting Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. This is the poison of Satan that is being planted among us already. It begins as fear, impatience and disharmony. And if we drink this poison, we drink eternal death. Let’s repent. Forget all that, and be refreshed by Christ, your savior.

Now is not the time for feeble hearts and feeble minds. Now is the time to look up and see Christ’s bright light breaking through the clouds of dark despair. Now is the time to remember that Christ has made us one family. We don’t belong to Satan anymore. Christ broke in to his house, tied him up with the beams of the cross and crushed him under the weight of the stone that covered the tomb. Christ’s death took away Satan’s control. Christ’s resurrection took away guilt which kept us in darkness. And Christ freed us from slavery to sin, slavery to jealousy, slavery to fear. Christ stole us away from all that and Satan can’t control you anymore because he is tied up and helpless.

So let’s put away all the fear. Let’s not look with envy on the work of Christ elsewhere. Fix your eyes on how Christ has brought you into his family. Remember how he stole you from Satan. This is the work that Christ is doing and will continue to do among us. And when we are committed to seeing this and nothing else, then we will stand firm against any difficulty. And we will not just stand firm, but we will triumph!

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No More Fear

If there was something you feared, what would that be?

It's easy to get used to fear. You're boss at work is overly demanding and you get so used to that fear you start to think that's normal. Or you're so used to the paranoia of what others think of you that you micromanage every relationship and manipulate everyone.

These things sound horrible and depressing but people live this way. You might live this way. And the fear becomes normal.

God says to us, "You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear but you received the spirit of sonship." (Romans 8:15)

So what God says is an identity shift needs to take place inside of us. Fear results because we are worried about ourselves. It's a protective measure because we're uncertain about ourselves. Good wants us to see ourselves as he does: sons. Don't think sons like male children, but sons like ancient Romans who inherit the family estate. These are children who have all the advantages over the slaves. They have nothing to fear in society because their family heritage ensures their for success.

Do you get the picture? Because of Christ, you are an heir of God. He has made you that through the work of Christ's death on the cross. Your value comes from that. Not what others think, say or do; only what your Savior has thought, said and done FOR you.  In other words: perfection.

So no more fear. You belong to God and your brother is Jesus Christ.

 Can I get an Amen?

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My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. ~ PSALM 62:1