Posts by Tami Kalhagen

AA for All of Us – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Mar 7, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an incredible organization.  They exist for the soul purpose of helping people overcome their addiction to alcohol.  According to AA there are three (of 12) things someone must do to start the process of recovery: (1) admit they’re powerlessness over alcohol and the unmanageability of their lives, (2) the admission of a power greater than themselves to restore them to sanity, and (3) make a decision to turn their will and their lives over to God as they know him.

There is a reason the first three steps sound like following Jesus; because, this is the process someone uses to come to faith.  Regardless if we struggle with some kind of addiction to alcohol, we are all addicts.  We are addicted to ourselves.  We have the power to rule our lives and we protect that power at all cost.  We all wear an invisible crown.

Jesus clearly says—in Matthew chapter 8—that following him is going to cost us something.  Jesus isn’t saying our lives will become miserable if we follow him, but our lives will never be the same.  There is a cost to following him.  The cost is this: we take the crown off our own head and we place it on the head of Jesus.  In other words, we are no longer the ruler in charge of our lives, but rather, Jesus is.

We see this most clearly in the life of the disciple Peter.  Peter struggled in many ways, and Jesus never gave up on him.  Peter even betrayed Jesus by denying him publicly.  Peter was like many of us, he was afraid of what would happen to him if he gave up his crown.  Later, in the book of John, Jesus tells Peter that he is going to die because of Jesus.  Much later in life Peter joyfully goes to his own death, because the crown was no longer on his head but on the head of Jesus.

Why was Peter so willing to die for Jesus?  Because he knew that in giving up his life he would actually gain everything.  Jesus says, those who find their lives will lose it, but those who lose their lives on account of me will find it.

Christians need to go through Alcoholics Anonymous because we are all addicted to ourselves. Only in giving up that addiction can God create something new and beautiful in us.

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2 Brothers – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Mar 6, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Jesus says that the one who hears his words and obeys is like a wise man that built his house on the rock. There are two things this person must do: hear and obey. Obedience cannot be accomplished without hearing. Hearing is not realized until what has been taught has been put into practice.

Jesus gives another parable to make this point. There were 2 sons and their father told them to go work in the vineyard. One son says no, but later changes his mind and goes to the vineyard to work. The other son says yes, but later changes his mind and does not go to the vineyard to work. Jesus asks which son did what the father asked? Well, obviously it’s the first son.

This is such an important parable to understand. We see how hearing and obeying are closely intertwined. The first son did not want to go. He even told his father no. You might call this son incredulous or foolish or ungrateful. Perhaps he was just grumpy. Whatever the reason this son spoke boldly and wickedly to his father. He refused a simple request to his father’s face. And yet something did not sit well with this son. After considering his father and perhaps the request, the first son concludes that his initial refusal was too strong. The first son, realizing his mistake, is moved by his conscience to obey the father by going to work the vineyard.

By contrast the second son does the opposite. He wanted to please the father. He likes the father and doesn’t want to disappoint, so he says he will obey and work the vineyard. But after some time this son begins to think about the inconvenience of working the vineyard. His father probably doesn’t even need help in the vineyard anyway. What is the big deal? So what if he doesn’t go. His father has other workers.

This parable shows clearly the difference between what we say and what we do. We might say that we love and follow God, but our lives reflect the reality—or unreality—of that belief. The son who truly believed was, ironically, the son who said he would not go.

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Worry – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Mar 6, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

If there is one common characteristic that we all share it’s our ability to worry. Granted, there are various stages of worry. Some individuals struggle with an acute burden of worry, and some only worry from time to time. But we all worry. That is what humans do. We worry about our jobs, children, 401ks, friendships, vacations, health, food, entertainment and clothing. We even worry about our worry. “Am I too worried? Am I not worried enough?”

One of the things I love about the Bible is that it is so practical. This is especially true when it comes to worry. Jesus doesn’t amp up our worry. He doesn’t say the thing many of us fear, “YOU’RE NOT WORRIED ENOUGH!” At the same time, he knows that worry happens. He doesn’t condemn us when we worry, but like a loving father he guides us to understand what worry is and what it is not.

So what is worry? Worry, according to Jesus in Matthew 6, is adding undo anxiety to your life in places in which you really have no control. Jesus says, why worry about tomorrow when today’s worries are plenty.   Why not focus on the things you can control, and put tomorrow’s worries where they need to be—tomorrow?

So what is worry not? Worry is not a problem solver; and yet, we live as though it is. It makes us stressed and anxious. Jesus says, “Who by worrying can add a single hour to their life?” Good question. The answer is no one.

So how do we fight worry? We pray. The worried heart says, “I’m in control and I need to fix this.” The prayerful heart says, “God’s in control and he is the only one who can fix this.” Worry put the pressure on us. Prayer puts the pressure on God. Worry robs us of rest. Prayer gives us rest. Worry is transferable to others and makes you unhealthy. Prayer heals, grows, and is the best thing for the people you love.

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As a Child – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Feb 15, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Jesus says, “Anyone who does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Jesus is saying that there are child-like characteristics that adults need. The need it so bad, in-fact, that adults will not enter into the Kingdom of God without it. So what is it? Faith. Children have an uncanny ability trust. If we are going to trust like children, what can we do?

We learn to pray like children in four ways.

First: children are bold. They make no apologies about their needs. They know what they want and they make their wants known.  I’m always surprised that my children can ask for a cookie immediately after they eat a donut. They are not afraid to ask.  As adults, we tend to worry whether our requests are legitimate and worthy of God’s time.  We become timid in our requests.  The apostle James teaches, “you do not have because you do not ask.”  The point isn’t so much that we ask for the right things.  The point is we bring our requests to God—all of them.

Second: children are persistent.  I have four children under 10.  The younger they are the more they are in need.  They can’t do much.  If they need something—say milk—they move toward mom or dad and they ask.  They don’t meekly ask once and shy away.  They ask over and over and over and over.  Parents can say, “wait just a minute,” but that’s not good enough for a child.  Their need is now and they are unafraid to keep asking.  That is how we are to be.  When we pray, we don’t ask once and then throw our hands up and say “it’s up to God now.”  No!  We come back, day after day asking, seeking, and requesting that God would move.  Does God get irritated the way we get irritated with our children?  No! He is always patient.  He is always kind.  The point of praying like a child is to be persistent, because persistence means you believe that God is going to answer.

Third: children are dependent.  Adults make the common mistake of believing they are responsible for everything that needs to get done.  Children don’t make that mistake.  There is very little they can do about their circumstances.  They can’t get food or clothes or anything really.  Children are totally dependent upon their parents.  When you grow older you don’t really lose your dependency, but you can forget it.  The attitude of dependence is the right one, otherwise why would prayer be necessary at all?

Forth: children are in the father’s presence.  When my children ask for something, they do not make a request and leave me alone to make my decision.  They get in my personal space—my bubble—and they make their request known.  They do not call me on a phone.  They do not write me a letter.  They grab ahold of my leg, look directly into my eyes and ask.  They are with me.  That is what prayer should be like.  It’s us grabbing onto God’s leg not just because we have a need, but because we don’t want to be anywhere else.  Children might have a need, but what they really want is their parent.  I might have a need, but what I really want and need is my Father in heaven.

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Together as Bride – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Dec 5, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Our weekly schedule says a lot about us.   It tells us plainly the things we are committed to doing and the things we aren’t committed to doing. Many of us call our schedules our “commitments”.   For many of us we are committed to a job for—at least—40 hours a week. We are committed to our families in the evenings and on weekends. We are committed to our friends when we can put them on our calendars. We are committed to our hobbies and things that give us energy. All these commitments are good. They also tell us who we are. We are what we are committed to.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul talks about the church as being the bride of Christ. This is a powerful image for a number of reasons. Christ, as the groom, has given himself up for the bride (the church) to make her pure and spotless.

It is significant that the church is seen as the bride of Christ, not only because Christ is caring for her, but because she is defined by her commitment to the groom. That’s who the bride is; one who makes a commitment. By definition a bride makes a commitment. When a bride and groom come together to make vows, they are verbalizing their commitment. After the vows, they throw a party because they are celebrating the commitment they just made to each other.

The church is a body of believers, who are committed to God and to each other. That’s what a bride does, she commits. Certainly commitment to God and commitment to each other looks different. But if Jesus is the groom who gave himself up for the bride to make her pure and spotless, than how important is the bride? Extremely. It would be impossible to love God and not love his bride.

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