Posts by matt

New Normal – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

New Normal – Pastor Matt

Like all Americans, I am sad and angry about the violence in Las Vegas. I keep asking myself, “When is this going to stop?” It tares me up thinking of the blood shed and loss. I struggle thinking about those who died without knowing Jesus. And I want nothing more than to have everything reversed to find everything normal again. But what happens when the bullet casings cool and we find ourselves back to the way we once were?

I’m like most people; I take great joy in normal. I love the consistency of a quiet morning with my children warming pancake syrup in the microwave while annoying cartoons are blaring in the next room. But what if the shooting in Las Vegas isn’t an exception to our normal? What if the gun violence is not just a bitter anomaly to our every day life?   What if it is a symptom of our normal? What if our normal is damnable?

Throughout scripture, we see God trying to get the attention of his people. We see the pattern over and over again. God blesses his people; they fall away and worship other gods. God punishes his people; they fall away and worship other gods: rinse, wash, repeat. The normal for Israel, wasn’t faithfulness to God but idolatry. Their normal killed the prophets and stoned God’s messengers.

I don’t pretend to know God’s greater plan for Las Vegas and the people involved. I do know that God does not take pleasure in the destruction of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23). I also know that God saves and is near the brokenhearted (Psalms 34:18).

I also know that what has happened is a wake-up call for all of us. Jesus says that we must be born again. Why? Because what we call normal, God calls sin. Our old normal is a blind and stuttering man who is only concerned about himself. We need a new normal. We need God’s grace and Holy Spirit, to make us into a new, beautiful and righteous normal.

Our new normal is completely trusting in our Father in heaven. Our new normal is no longer fearful because of our Father. Our new normal is painfully aware of our potential to fall back into our old sinful ways. Our new normal grieves with those who are grieving. Our new normal is quick to repent, slow to anger and lovingly patient. Our new normal is ready for Jesus Christ to return and we orient our lives around that fact.

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Fruitful Waiting – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Fruitful Waiting – Pastor Matt

How many times have you been described as someone who is good at waiting? I can say with 100% certainty that I have never been called a good waiter. I have had my moments of being patient, but that’s not the same thing. Waiting means to remain inactive until something expected happens.

I remember those final weeks of my wife’s first pregnancy. We were both miserable in our waiting. It probably didn’t help that she flew past her due date without a hint of labor signs. We both knew our baby was coming, but the anticipation was painful and seemed to last forever. Looking back on that time I realized that we were actually quite active in our waiting. We were both very attentive to Leah’s body. If she had a cramp or a sharp pain, we immediately thought LABOR! And when our little one finally decided to come, we were more than ready.

Before Jesus was taken to heaven, he was teaching his disciples. He taught them that he would be gone soon and that they were going to continue what he started. I could imagine that the disciples would feel a little overwhelmed with the idea of doing what Jesus did. I’m sure they were anticipating all the work they were going to have to do. But then Jesus gave them their first task. They were to go to Jerusalem and wait for a gift from God. What? Wait? That doesn’t seem right.

The disciples did what Jesus told them to do, and they waited. They went to Jerusalem, and were in constant prayer. See, Jesus told them to wait, not to be inactive. So they prayed and listened to teaching all the while their sense were sharply tuned for the coming gift.

One of the benefits of waiting is that you are aware. In our busy lives we have very little waiting time. We can fill every waking hour with work, or entertainment. And yet Jesus has called his disciples and us to wait. So when he moves, we are more than ready.

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M.O. -Pastor Matt

Posted by on Sep 19, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

M.O. -Pastor Matt

There is a great Latin phrase that I like: modus operandi or M.O. for short. It means a method of doing something. For example, when certain people want to learn something their M.O. is to go find an expert and ask them questions. When other people want to learn something their M.O. is to go to the library and read everything they can get their hands on for that specific topic.

In the book of John, Jesus appears to his disciples after his resurrection. They are thrilled to see him. Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus is calling his disciples to live like he lived and to do what he did on earth. They are, for lack of a better term, called to be Jesus to the world. In effect, that is what we are called to do as well.

So the question is, how do we do what Jesus did? For starters, we observe Jesus’ method of living, his M.O. What are the foundational things Jesus did every day that accomplished his ministry? We see that Jesus lived his entire life in the presence of his Father. He was in constant prayer. Jesus often left his disciples to be with his Father. As a child he was drawn to the temple because that was his Father’s home.

Another foundational M.O. was the constant building up and training of others. Jesus was always with people. Why? Because Jesus’ purpose was to save people from their sin and teach them how to follow him. He couldn’t very well do that if he wasn’t around people.

Jesus M.O. is a constant pursuit of his Father with others. That would be a good M.O. for us as well. What other foundational things did Jesus do?

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Love God, Love Others

Posted by on Sep 12, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Love God, Love Others

There is one episode in the life of Jesus where I like the Pharisees and the Sadducees.   These two religious groups get together to test Jesus and to ultimately trap him. And yet in the midst of their scheming, a great question is asked. They ask Jesus, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” That’s a great question. And I imagine every ear was finely tuned to Jesus’ response. I don’t know if the air was electric but I would guess you could have heard a pin hit the ancient cobbled floor.

Without hesitation Jesus responds, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Mt 22:34-35).”

Jesus doesn’t give them one answer; he gives them two. I love this question and response because it whittles down everything God desires from us into two commands. It changes the question from “what does God want from us?” to “how do we love God and others?”

These two questions are pivotal for the follower of Jesus. These two questions are also pivotal for our church.   How do we love God? And how do we love others?   At Immanuel Church, we are exploring the implications of these commands. If a church does anything, it focuses on these two commandments. We desire to pursue God and open ourselves up to the work of the Holy Spirit. We believe that the work of loving God and loving our neighbors never ends, and that there is always room for improvement.   How do we move forward loving God and loving others?

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Immanuel Church News

Posted by on Jul 11, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Immanuel Church News

Immanuel Church is changing. Recently we have said goodbye to our kind and generous pastor of 25 years. Along with his wife Vicki, Mark Coughlin has faithfully served and led Immanuel Church through times of joy and times of difficulty. It is with mixed feelings that we bid Mark and Vicki farewell into their retirement. We are sincerely grateful for all they have done. For those of you who were able to attend Pastor Mark’s retirement party, it was clear to see how God used this couple to show his love to a community of believers.

Looking forward, Immanuel has invited Associate Pastor Matt Ragain to serve as the new lead pastor. Naturally, Immanuel Church will feel different with a new pastor. We are confident however, that God is working all things for our good. We believe that Immanuel Church has a bright future and are so excited for new things to come. If you feel led, please join us in prayer over our new direction. We want nothing more than to faithfully serve in the capacity God has called us.

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