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November 2018

The month of November brings us back to the familiar theme of thanksgiving.  And what better way to conclude our Fall Series — on a note of victory!

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

- 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)

Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth covers several areas of concern and sets about answering questions these new believers have.  In chapter 15, Paul deals with the question of resurrection. The pagan, philosophical worldview of the ancient peoples held no place for the resurrection of the body.  Death was final. It was futile to imagine otherwise. Death was feared, for it meant the ultimate defeat of life … for unbelievers. In vibrant terms and rousing rhetoric, Paul pens a powerful and positive alternative to the prevailing pagan view.   He drives a stake in the heart of this hopeless philosophy. And he proclaims victory over death, hell, and the grave through Jesus Christ!

Our modern culture places a premium on life, on living.  It seems like everything is geared to maximize our time, our life experience here on planet Earth.  But behind smiling faces, the partying, and “you only go around once,” lurks the killjoy – Death; the spoiler – Death.  If it weren’t for Death, life would be good! So, many see Death as the end, life going down in its inevitable defeat. Can I tell you something?  The next time the specter of Death darkens the door of your mind, read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. You will be encouraged. Your spirit will be lifted.  And your soul will soar like never before! Why? Because of Jesus. His triumph over death, hell, and the grave translates into victory for those who place their faith in Him!

~ Pastor John


October 2018

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

- Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)

Wow! … have you ever considered “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers” as gifts to the Church (and from Christ, no less)?  I wonder how different things might be if we embraced this perspective? Would our churches be more alive and vibrant? Could our ministries prove more dynamic and effective if we held this outlook?  Do you believe such a view would refresh believers and anoint congregations with new power and purpose? Don’t you think surrounding neighborhoods and communities would resonate with the impact of this new attitude?  I say “YES” to all! But …

The challenge at this point is to have all this “giftedness” translate into practical service.  Such a body of knowledge and experience must be passed on to others, building up God’s church, the body of Christ.  And just maybe we’ve found the spiritual “disconnect.”  When “giftedness” is “self-serving,” we’ve wandered into a minefield -- one of pride and spiritual prejudice.  We shrivel up and waste away when knowledge and experience is strictly for our own personal benefit. We suffer the very moment we begin to tear down God’s church (don’t forget Elvis, you haven’t left the building!), bringing harm to the body of Christ.  Think …

God gave … His one and only Son for our salvation.  God gave … His blessed Holy Spirit to sanctify us wholly.  And God gave … gifted leaders to His Church – with everyone working together to build up the body of Christ!

 ~ Pastor John


September 2018

We had a great VBS this summer!  As we think about a fall preaching series, I would like to base it on our VBS theme.  So, gear up and get ready! It’s Game On!

Jesus has the power of God. And his power has given us everything we need to live a life devoted to God. We have these things because we know him. Jesus chose us by his glory and goodness...  - 2 Peter 1:3 (ERV)

Gear Up:  If you’re going to participate in a sport, you are probably going to need certain equipment or “gear.”  A golfer would need clubs and golf balls – at a minimum. If you play softball, you need a softball, bat, and glove – the basics.  And our passage from Second Peter affirms that we are equipped: … his power has given us everything we need to live a life devoted to God.  Christian, God equips us to compete in the arena of life, and He empowers us to be victorious!

Get Ready:  An athlete will engage in both physical and mental preparation in order to be ready for competition.  Failure to prepare will translate into failure on the field of play – and certain defeat. 1 Peter 1:13a comes into play here:  So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control.  Yes, God has provided power, but it’s up to us to prepare fully and exercise discipline – in spiritual life.  And one of the admonitions Jesus pressed on His disciples was that of “being ready” (Mt. 24:44, Lk. 12:40, et al).  We are challenged to be ready at all times!

Game On:  We weren’t called to be spectators.  I’ll leave you with this scripture: … since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses … let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).   Ok Church, no excuses -- it’s time to take the field.

 ~ Pastor John


August 2018

My wife and I participate in a study/prayer group.  Our last session prompted some discussion on the way home.  She made a comment, and her remark led me to say:  We must let go of the past, live in the present, and pray for the future.  Want to “unpack” this?

We must let go of the past …:  Why?  Because it’s past!  It’s done, finished.  There are no do-overs.  No amount of hand-wringing or soul-wrangling can change it.  The harmful, hurtful baggage of the past has the potential to weigh you down!  It can (and will) distract you from fulfilling God’s plan for your life.  Besides, a Christian has this promise:  forgiven things of the past are remembered no more (Jer. 31:34 and Heb. 8:12, 10:17)!  Embracing this spiritual reality allows us to move on in life – and to the next step.

… live in the present:  It’s been said “we live our lives crucified between two thieves – yesterday and tomorrow.”  What a powerful image!  Both the past and future has the potential to rob us of the present moment.  So, how do we go about living in the present?  Think of Jesus.  His singular focus on the kingdom of God (cf. Matthew 6:33) serves as an example.  Adopting His lifestyle keeps us in the eternal present, available and ready for whatever (or whoever) God’s will brings our way.  Boldly embrace the present!

… and pray for the future.  We may not know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future – the Lord!  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus challenged the people, saying, “Do not worry about tomorrow …” (the future).  In his writings, Paul said, “Don’t worry about anything (including the future) … pray about everything!”  Beloved,  we’re not praying to change the future – we’re praying to align ourselves with the ever-unfolding will of God.  So, we pray … we live … and we let go … all for the glory of God!

~ Pastor John


July 2018

A year ago, my article concerned something the Spirit of God spoke into my spirit.  It went like this:

Son, if you want things to change, you’ve got to change.

And after a year, God is still reminding me of this truth, this necessity.  I’m still praying and seeking and asking God what exactly He means regarding this change.  It’s so much more than external circumstances.  It’s more than policy, programs, or procedures.  It goes beyond orders of service and ministry schedules.  And while all of these things may be subject to change, they are by no means the focus of change!  The hard truth about this kind of change comes from the fact that it concerns us – each of us -- personally … intimately … spiritually.

Son, if you want things to change, you’ve got to change.

I realize these words aren’t “word for word” scripture.  You can’t point to book, chapter, and verse.  But I believe these words capture the spirit of scripture.  For example, I think of John 3:3, where Jesus says to Nicodemus, You must be born again.  Nicodemus wrestled with the literal sense of Jesus’ words, wondering out loud how such a thing was possible!  It was an image, Jesus’ way of saying, “you’ve got to change, you, yourself, personally, because the kingdom is here!”  Another passage in the New Testament relevant to this issue is Acts 26:20.  In this verse, Paul says:  I began telling people that they should change their hearts and lives and turn to God and do things to show they really had changed.  Did you notice where the change starts, the progression?  Heartlivesactions.  A change takes place inside us, in our heart/soul, then it works its way to the outside, in our living.  I remember the words of the psalmist: Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).  It seems like that verse could be the start – and heart -- of a sincere prayer, bringing vital and lasting change to one’s life and living.  So, to all His Sons and Daughters I say …

… if you want things to change, you’ve got to change.

And may it all be to His glory, Amen!

~ Pastor John