Posts by matt

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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A Friend – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Feb 14, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

A Friend – Pastor Matt

Have you ever struggled making friends?  Have you ever felt like your personality should be different?  Have you ever though that if you were like someone else, life would be better?

From time to time, we struggle with the idea that if we were just a little different we would be happy.  I have often looked closely at impressive individuals and thought, “maybe I should become more like them.”

Jesus says in John 15:15, “I have called you friends.”  That is an amazing statement.  What is a friend?  A friend is someone who likes you the way you are.  A friend is someone you don’t have to impress.  A friend is someone who just wants to be around you…period.  So when Jesus calls us friend, he is not saying we should become like someone else.  He is saying he made us a certain way for a certain reason.  Another way to put it is you, your personality, your genetic makeup are not mistakes.  You were made the way you are to live an incredible life following Jesus.

This certainly doesn’t mean we are perfect.  But it does mean that the gifts and qualities God has given us need to be redeemed for his greater purposes.  God doesn’t want you to become someone else.  God is perfecting you into a holy you, not a holy someone else.

Jesus likes you, loves you, died for you and just wants to be around you.  That’s friendship.

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But I Say to You…

Posted by on Nov 10, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

But I Say to You…

One of the best things about living in America is our access to Christian resources and information.  If you want to read a book about the various Jewish festivals, all you have to do is hop on to Google books and you will have libraries of information at your figure tips.  If you had a question about a specific Greek word, just hop onto lumina.bible.org.  If you want to be encouraged, pick up one of the gazillion books pastors write every day.

Living in the English-speaking world provides us with historically unimaginable resources.  One can think back 500 years to the reformation when Martin Luther and his compatriots would painfully print off pamphlets describing their Biblical positions and challenged/encouraged many believers.  Most Christians, however, couldn’t read the pamphlets let alone the Bible.

Here’s the danger with having a cornucopia of Christian information—we can focus so much on resources that we forget to go directly to the Word of God.  I have realized, at times, I’ve read more about the Bible then the actual Bible.

Is it more important to be familiar with popular Christian authors, or the Bible?  Is it more important to read about the insights of others, or finding your insights from scripture?  Is it more important to have an intimate knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, or know what God has said?  There are many professors and teachers who know lots of information about the Bible, yet they don’t know the first thing about the living Word.

During the time of Jesus, it was popular for people to follow certain teachers.  These teachers were not much different than our teachers today.  They were insightful, smart and excellent communicators.  But in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says over and over, “But I say to you.”  In other words, Jesus is clarifying what the law actually means.  The teachers were the experts in God’s Word; yet, Jesus reveals their mistakes.  When our favorite author or speaker says something wonderful, let’s not forget Jesus’ words, “but I say to you.”

I’m certainly not advocating throwing all of C. S. Lewis’ books or Jesus Calling away.  Reading insightful Christian authors is one of my favorite pastimes.  But C. S. Lewis and Jesus Calling are not scripture.  They can reveal truth, but they cannot bring the true transformation of the Holy Word.

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One-Eyed Badger

Posted by on Nov 3, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

One-Eyed Badger

Have your reactions ever surprised you?  Have you ever said to yourself, “this is not like me”?  Have you ever driven happily down the highway, and a loathsome inconsiderate cuts you off?  Does your reaction portray your identity in Christ?  Or does your reaction portray that of an eye poked badger?

The irony, of course, is that our reactions—not matter how unpleasant—come from within us.  We still have actions that betray our sinful hearts, even if their infrequency gives us hope they don’t exist.  What gives?

Romans 12:2b says “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  How is one truly transformed when exterior circumstances poke that old sinful badger right in the eye?

The vast majority of our reactions are “spill-over” from how we live when things aren’t filled with stress.  This begs the question, how are we living the transformed life when things aren’t going wrong?

God doesn’t just want to transform the parts people see; he wants to transform the whole person.  This means that if God is calling us make changes in environment or routines or calendar or friendships or entertainment, we make those changes.  Even if they seem unimportant or inconsequential,  they are the little things that make the whole of you.  If you are unwilling to change the little things, there should be no surprise when you see a surly one-eyed badger in the mirror.

The reality is, our reactions show us who we are.  The good news is that our reactions are symptomatic of the needed transformation.  We can choose to ignore them, or we can go badger hunting.

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Trials of Many Kinds – Matt Ragain

Posted by on Apr 6, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 3.20.00 PM This past Sunday Pastor Mark talked about the upside-down kingdom.  This is the kingdom of Jesus’ rule.  It’s present, it’s powerful and will be complete when Jesus returns.  This kingdom is upside-down because it changes how we look at everything.  When I say everything, I mean EV….ER….Y….THING.

 

Included in the everything are trials.  Our world and our fallen hearts lead us into believing that trials, are things to be avoided.  Trials—or suffering—are not exactly what we go looking for in our daily lives.   But trials, although not avoidable, do produce something.

When I think of someone who trains for a marathon I think, “man…they’re crazy.”  For someone to willingly put their bodies through such torture, is symptomatic of psychosis.  Yet we all do it.  For all of us who desire something, we willingly welcome a level of suffering.  For example, if a married couple wants to have children they are willingly putting themselves in a position to suffer in finances, free time, and quite.  Yet those things suffered are always trivial in light of what is good.

It’s different, however, if the suffering isn’t self inflicted.  When trials come, and we have no control over them, the suffering intensifies.

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you faces trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

This is what Pastor Mark means by the upside-down kingdom.  Suffering was not lost upon the early church, and this is what the apostle James was addressing.  He was a pastor and he knew that suffering—of all kinds—have meaning.  They produce something.  They produce perseverance.  This kind of perseverance is different than the endurance of a marathon runner.   This perseverance is not about what you are able to endure, but about who will bring you through it.  The building of faith, by definition, is that we become more—not less—dependent upon God.  This is why James says, “consider it pure joy”.   Joy comes from depending on God.  And when we go through a trial we have no choice but to put our full dependence on him.

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