Saturday, May 23, 2015

Following Jesus

Following Jesus
In a past sermon, Pastor Greg wondered how a grandpa might answer his grand-daughter's question of, "How do you follow Jesus?" So many ways have been touted. Is it an easy road? One filled with wealth and blessings? Perhaps a road lined with rules and constant shouts of "No!" Is it to huddle away, separate from the world, pointing critical fingers in fear and condemnation? A highway safe and not marked by struggle or stress?

No, none of these. It is the road that is difficult but filled with compassion and love. A path know for humility and selfless service. Sometimes it displays a roaring boldness that steps up to defend the poor and marginalized. Flames of the Holy Spirit ignite and burn to light the way, to inspire us and push us to greatness in our service.  

What does following Jesus Christ mean to you?

The Listener

The Listener
Christianity in America has been stretched, twisted, and diluted. Have you heard it? Be patriotic, if you aren't what kind of Christian are you? Yearn, and earn your way to a nice house, a fine family, pull yourself up in the world. Look for God to make you rich, and blessed. Sit in the pew each Sunday, be Republican, conservative, patriotic, AND back the correct politician.  If  someone interprets the Bible different than the majority, don't forget to make sure they know they are wrong and are going to hell. Let them know in a sly way how glad you are about that. Being happy is the goal in life and most of all safe. After all why would non-Christians want to become one if we all looked poor as a church mouse, and were struggling. 

The word of God has a different story. A story of grace, sacrifice, and generosity. Whatever you are hearing, allow the Bible to be the filter through which you listen. Pray for wisdom, make a conscious effort to allow love and mercy to be your guide. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hand in Hand

Hand in Hand
Have you wondered how there are so many different opinions in the Christian community? I mean look at all the different denominations. Even within each church it can be hard to get a consensus on things. Many of us have a determined desire to make everyone keep their toes up to our line of thought. Yet God has made it known he wants His people to live in unity. 

As a member of the Covenant denomination, I am very pleased that we make room for differences even within our own members. How can this be? As long as the resurrection Gospel is the center of the belief, the side issues can be different. Like branches off of the same tree. We are connected to the main branch that believes in Jesus and His sacrifice. 

Here is a phrase I learned from one of my son's sermons. Let us be the ones of whom the world says, they walk hand in hand, even though they don't see eye to eye.  

Consider This

Not a Ghost
Jesus felt pain. He skinned his knees as a child. He was annoyed by his little brother. He was flesh and blood. The historians Josephus and Tacitus, from that day and time, wrote about the man Jesus. If you believe what other historians have written, why not this? 


Proof

As a believer in the Bible I listen to what the word says about Jesus life, death, and resurrection. Were there witnesses to his death? Yes, many. Did he appear to anyone after He rose? Yes, individuals and crowds of people. Personal, one on one conversations, and joyous celebrations with close friends. He didn't just appear in a vapor. He ate with them, If He was lying about who He was, what an incredibly elaborate plan to prove it. To  arrange for Himself to be crucified and die, and have his disciples steal his body?You'd have to be pretty committed to that lie. 

He was the first fruit of a resurrection that we can all experience someday. 

He died, was buried, and rose again. This is the gospel. The good news. That God killed evil, and made a way for each of us to decide are with God? Or not? 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Choose Life

Choose Life
Among the cheery greetings of the season, and fights over what they should sound like, are souls that hurt and are discouraged. Feelings of loss and loneliness can discolor the red and green lights that shine in the malls and glitter in front of houses. This season Pastor Greg preached on why suicide should not be the answer. Also, if it was for a loved one of yours, how there is still hope in the loss. 

In the picture above Greg says "God is with us." Even when all is hopeless, to choose life. The picture below shows that God sent us His son and reveals to us a reason for hope, He pours His love down from above. We may feel lost in the grief, or fear, and it is hard to see it right at that time, but be assured it is there. God sends us His Son, and sends His love. Don't give up. Don't end it. Seek God, because "God is with us." He is with YOU.

If someone you know has already chosen this path Greg gives us hope. When anyone faces  judgement we can know that God is a just God. He will take everything into consideration. He will look at what the law is. Did we break the law? Did we know it was a law? Did we understand it was wrong? Then if we have given our control and submission to Jesus in life, at the time of that surrender He took all sins, past and future. At judgement He will stand with us and say, "This one is mine. Forgiven and made righteous through my sacrifice. Allow him to enter into our Love."  


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Measuring a Church

How Do You Measure The Success of a Church?
Instead if giving you the sermon sketch, a summary of Todd Spieker's sermon, and adding my own interpretation of the topic, you can watch the sermon for yourselves. Several of you have asked for this recording of my son's sermon at the 20th anniversary of Living Hope Covenant Church, so I have placed it on Youtube. The first video is of the whole sermon (http://youtu.be/8engOoStrbM), but it was taken from the back of the church and harder to see Todd's expressions and movements. So, I have added closer, shorter clip that came from my cell phone (http://youtu.be/JXEu_1R9dsA). 


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Press On

Philippians
Chained and imprisoned Paul spoke of freedom and pressing on. At this years women's retreat Pastor Win Houwen spoke on this topic. Starting in the first chapter of Philippians Win paints a picture of Paul chained to his guard, surrounded by the stones walls of his cell. Here Paul pours out his love and loneliness for his friends in Philippi in his letter to them. He sends them instructions and tools to press on in their striving to please God. He tells them to hope in God, have confidence in His will and to press on. For from God will come peace, love and grace. They in turn had their world turned upside down. In their weakness they could stand firm, sorrow turned to joy, fear to courage, discouragement to to hope and loneliness to loved.



In the second chapter we learn that the next step is to press in together. Paul places the words to a spiritual hymn in his letter. We know that he would often sing in his prison cell. Look closely to the prison guard and you will see him rolling his eyes. It must have driven him crazy. Paul continues to teach, and encourage in his letter. Do everything without grumbling or complaining so they may shine like stars!





Before we can press on we need to press out. Press out all the laws, rules, and rituals that many of us try to replace the grace of  God with. Rules about circumcision, tatoos, rock music, how we dress. Rituals of how long we pray, mouthing the Lords pray with no meaning, how much we give or don't give. Whatever it is that we decide God is requiring of us to be one of His. Or how about saying bad words? Paul apparently did not have any qualms about this. He tells of all the good reasons he should be allowed entry by how "good" he is. A Roman citizen, a Jew, studied in the scriptures, and honored. But he counts it all scoobalon. The Bible now says "rubbish" but the original word is scoobalon. This word is the same as our sh** word. You know crap! Love God and your neighbor, this is what God requires of us. But even in this we are covered with the unending river of His grace. Win used the illustration of a car going down the road leaving all that behind us. She used a Barbie car as an object lesson. I have drawn Paul riding in the Barbie car, now labeled for Christ. Out the back of his car he leaves behind scoobalon!



Press on. Fight the good fight and run the race. Finally, Paul lets his friends know after they've been encouraged. instructed, and given a fresh word that they must, and can, press forward. He wanted them to think peaceful, pure and true thoughts. The organ of thoughts to the Jews was not the brain but the heart. He asks them to stand firm in joy and in Christ Jesus. He sends greetings to two faithful but arguing women. He speaks of not dwelling in worry, not making it they're way of being but to be anxious for nothing. Worry, is okay, just don't make it who you are. 

Win described the word "gentleness" as being like a war horse. Powerful, muscular and strong but gentle enough to ride on and do our bidding. Notice the guard now has changed his expression to one of interest and hope. Many of the guards were influenced by Paul to come to know Jesus. 

So, that is what we learned at camp. :-) Don't you wish you could have come?