Unconditional Faith

What is your faith “type?”

Happy Faith – My faith is directly correlated with how happy I am. When God is blessing me, life is good! Favorite hymn: Happiness is the Lord

Sad Faith – When I get depressed I can turn to God and He’ll take care of me. Favorite hymn: It Is Well

Childish Faith – I’ve decided that instead of being childLIKE in my devotion, I’ll be childish in my discipleship. Favorite hymn: No hymns, prefers to sing “I’m Trading My Sorrows” until vocal cords fry

Deep Faith – My faith is enhanced when the pastor preaches (expository, of course) directly from the Hebrew. I prefer books many lesser Christians haven’t read, like Obadiah or Malachi. Anything less than a dissertation on the text is a waste of my time. Favorite hymn: Doesn’t matter as long as it’s in 7/4, and in the key of L.

Rocket Ship Faith – My faith is all about me getting away from you suckers and into heaven when I die! Favorite hymn: I’ll Fly Away

Unconditional Faith – My faith is a relationship, and will be influenced by everything in my life, but ultimately it is about worshiping the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in the community of believers known as the church. Whether I’m happy or sad, I know I’m loved. I grow in my faith, not for the sake of gaining some good Jeopardy trivia, but because I really want Jesus to change me from the inside out. I’m forgiven for eternity, but I’m free to worship in song and action today. Favorite hymn: Make Me a Blessing

Romans 5:1-5 says:

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

-Pastor Kris

Unconditional Faith

Christmas Advent

We are now in the season of Christmas Advent.  The word Advent is from the Latin meaning arrival.  The Advent season is a 4-week period prior to Christmas Day.  It is a time for followers of Jesus Christ to ponder the great sacrifice that our Lord and Savior made for us by coming to earth as an infant.  He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death, and rose from the dead for us.  He saved us from our sins and eternal judgment because of his great love, and adopts each person individually into his family through faith and receiving of him.

Traditionally during Advent, a wreath and candles are used to symbolize the passage of the four weeks of Advent.  During Advent one candle on the wreath is lit each Sunday until all of the candles, including the fifth candle, are lit on Christmas Day.  Each candle customarily represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The first candle is the Candle of Prophecy or Hope. As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ our hope is rooted in God who is faithful and will keep His promises made to us.  Our hope comes from God! “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:12-13

This Sunday is the second Candle of Bethlehem or Preparation.  God kept his promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem.  But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”   Matthew 2:6.  During this coming week let us prepare our hearts to receive what the Lord Jesus has in store for us, just as Bethlehem was prepared to receive the birth of our Savior the Lord Jesus.  Please read and pray Ephesians 1:17-18:

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”

Merry Christmas.

– Pastor Daniel Messner

 

 

Christmas Advent

Psalms

Psalm 100 is a song of praise for the Lord’s faithfulness to His people:

Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!  Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His present with singing.  Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

FOR THE LORD IS GOOD;

HIS MERCY IS EVERLASTING,

AND HIS TRUTH ENDURES TO ALL GENERATIONS.

I love the Psalms and I’d like to share some statistics.  There are 150 of them providing poetry for the expression of praise, worship and confession to God.  David wrote most of them, some were written by other authors and some are anonymous.   The Psalms appear at pretty much the center of the Bible with the psalmists confessing their sins, expressing their doubts and fears, asking God for help in times of trouble and praising and worshipping Him.  Sounds like things each one of us should be doing, doesn’t it?

There are 31 Proverbs which makes it nice to be able to read one a day and I always tell the women Proverbs 31 (which is about the perfect woman) we only need to read on the months that there are 31 days.  But while there are 150 Psalms, most are short which means we can read 4, 5 or even 6 sometimes and be able to read through the Psalms each month.  

I encourage you to do this.   I conclude with Psalm 150:6 “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.  Praise the LORD.” 

Enter joyfully into His presence today.

– Pastor Sandy

Psalms

Are we producing or consuming?

Before we could throw it away, our oldest son Hayden found the Toys R Us catalog in the mail. In the space of three seconds he picked it up, opened to a page and began announcing, “I want this, I want that, this would be great and you should get me this.” He wasn’t speaking to anyone in particular and he said all of that within about four steps as he walked across the kitchen. I marveled at the urgency (he couldn’t live without these things!), the bargaining (“I promise to keep them cleaned up! I’ll even share with my brothers!”). I even marveled at his—what do I call it—faith? He believed without a doubt that his mother and father would fulfill these declarations. Ah …nothing like Christmas to bring out the greed!

Then I started to think: I bet his declarations aren’t much different from my declarations to my Father God. I’m pretty clear on what I want from him. We might scoff at the consumerism of modern Christmas; but does our faith reflect something similar?

When John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, he said something to the religious leaders that sticks out to me: “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). It seems that he made this statement to stop the Pharisees and Sadducees in their tracks, and it makes me wonder: What does my faith look like? Here are three related actions I want my faith reflect:

  1. The action of producing fruit is the opposite of consuming; it is a reminder that God includes us and intends for us to be active in our faith. This leads to a question: So what am I producing?
  2. The process of consuming always leads to waste. It’s true in digestion, it’s true of pollution. But the process of producing leads to a product of some sort. What does God tell us to produce? Produce fruit—something sweet and desirable. If I’m looking at a cart of fresh fruits and vegetables, I’m going to reach for the apple, the orange or some grapes before I go for the spinach or onions. Isn’t it interesting that the Bible later says when we live by the Spirit we reflect the fruit of the Spirit—“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). So this leads to another question: How do I produce fruit?
  3. With Repentance. Repentance is turning from sin; it is also turning to God. John says, “In keeping with repentance,” which seems to indicate this is a repeated process. It happens many, many times. When we fall short, repent. When we hit the wall of our own character, repent.

This Christmas we will be assaulted with a million things to buy, to eat, to consume. In the midst of it, I hope the words “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” ring loudly in your mind.

-Pastor Shane

Are we producing or consuming?

Tuesday Series continued: 10 Things Americans Worship (and Shouldn’t)

Inline image 67) The Authority

police

“Authority” … a touchy subject in an America dealing with more and more protests and riots every year, as incidents of police brutality (however isolated they may be) continue to be brought to light by the raw investigative power of the internet.  Here is one example:

Many people are blindly rushing to defend “authority” figures when these incidents happen. It doesn’t matter if someone is a police officer, a military officer (like me), etc. Murder is sin. Killing an unarmed person who isn’t attacking you is murder, and human justification of murderers (calling good evil and evil good) is opposition to God.  There is no such thing as a “divine right of kings.”

Blind deference to “authority” in America is presently a problem; a problem that could potentially be instrumental in ushering in the terrible reality of a malignant police state — if we aren’t vigilant. In the American system of government, the people are the authority. Officials serving the people must be held to the highest standards of accountability for criminal actions; not worshiped as infallible messengers of the divine.

 

Tuesday Series continued: 10 Things Americans Worship (and Shouldn’t)

He’s Got This!

Happy Monday!  It didn’t start out so happy this morning.  I woke up with a turkey hangover from stuffing myself all weekend (I’m not sorry)! I keep sneezing because the dust hasn’t quite settled from our Christmas tree and other assorted fake greenery that now decorates our living room. (I love the twinkly lights!) And I sighed when I remembered I still needed to write something for the Church Blog today.  So I opened my Bible and here’s what I “found”:  Jesus reminded me that my day is not too long, my to do list is not that difficult.  He’s here, He’s got this, He’s equipping me.  My prayer is that this passage encourages and strengthens you today.
– Miss Sara (P.S. I apologize for the sigh, Jesus.)
Ephesians 3:7-13 The Message
7-8 This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.
8-10 And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!
11-13 All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!
He’s Got This!

The Holy Spirit’s Role in Regeneration

1 Cor 12:2-3: “You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”

Many errantly believe that God’s interaction with us begins at conversion. This is simply untrue. Our salvation is when we acknowledge the role God has already had in our lives. While this presence in an individual’s life is not saving grace, it is grace filled nonetheless. Here, Paul accentuates that it is only by the Holy Spirit that we confess Christ as Lord. Even before we were capable of uttering the words or believing the idea, God loved us and was working within us.

-Pastor Kris Browning

The Holy Spirit’s Role in Regeneration