Posts by Tami Kalhagen

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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True Thanksgiving – Joel Ericson

Posted by on Nov 28, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

I recalled the holiday we’ve just completed and began to examine the purpose behind Thanksgiving; back to our forefathers. The meaning of Thanksgiving has undergone numerous transitions — an expression of gratitude for survival, a council’s recognition of its flourishing community, submission of the local natives, the defeat over the British, resulting in a collection of our nation’s traditions and values. Over the centuries, families added their customs to the Thanksgiving celebration, preserving that which they held most precious. At best, this includes:

·         Gathering with family and dear friends reconciling with them of our commonalities and purposes.

·         To devote our hearts to gratitude for all we have been given, granted by our Lord and blessing us throughout the year and in our lives.

·         Remembering the sufferings and sacrifices of those that came to this country and settled, seeking after the freedom to worship the lord in the manner that seemed right to them

·         Hopefully also to extend ourselves to those less fortunate

 But sometimes I am afraid that there are less than noble traditions seeping into this worthy holiday:

·         The carnage observed at various “Black Friday” war zones as our brothers and sisters FIGHT for a chance to purchase the latest discounted fad item in preparation for the Christmas holiday; imagining that these things will make THAT holiday (holy day) a success.

·         The flood of circulars overfilling our mailboxes announcing sales and special pricing, not to mention television and radio. We’re assaulted for the next month.

 Let us hope that we remember well the former and eschew that latter. Thanksgiving is really about our relationship with God and our earnest prayers and communication in supplication, for those benefits that the Lord offers and freely grants us as his children.

Upon their arrival at New Plymouth, the Pilgrims composed The Mayflower Compact, which honored God. Thanksgiving begins with acknowledging God as faithful, earnestly giving Him thanks, in advance, for His abundant blessings. “. . . In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

And: (1 Timothy 4:4-5) For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

Thanksgiving is an attitude that reinforces our intimate relationship with our Savior.

 Dear Lord:

 I come before you with all humility in order to give thanks for the great bounty that you have given to me and mine. I am thankful Lord for everything that You allow to cross my path. 

I am Thankful for the decisions that You allow me to make and the lessons that come from these decisions. I thank you for the good, and the hardships, and the strength that the you provide to overcome those difficulties.

            God You are and always will be there with me.  When I am in the wilderness, or when I am conducting my daily business, and in times when my path takes me further and further from You, You, my God are there guiding me back to Your arms.

            We thank you for the sustenance that you provide. Dear Lord, this table overflows with your abundant blessing. Help us to always be aware that all gifts come from You.  May we serve Your heavenly will In everything we do. 

 Amen.

 BTW: What did Solomon discover? That our purpose here is to serve God and keep his commandments. From that simple concept comes all that is good, a sense of purpose and a grateful heart.

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Martin Luther – Matt Ragain

Posted by on Oct 25, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

In the year 1505, Martin Luther was caught in a tremendous lightning storm. He was convinced that he was going to die. In the midst of his great fear, he prayed to St. Anne. He cried, “Help me St. Anne! I will become a monk.” This was the beginning of Luther’s life as a professor and priest.

What makes Martin Luther so unique is that he started his career as way to earn God’s grace. He became a priest, not because he was called into it, but because he knew it was the best path to earn God’s favor.

Ironically, Martin Luther learned that it is impossible to earn God’s favor in any meaningful way. To put it in the form of a question, how much do you have to do for God to save you? How much is enough? How much is too little? These questions are impossible to answer. Romans 3:10 says, there is no one who is righteous, not even one. So even if we live as best as possible, we still fall impossibly short of God’s perfection and holiness; this Martin Luther became convinced of after reading through the book of Romans.

In his book on Galatians, Martin Luther explains it well. He says there are two types of righteousness: the active (the things we are obligated to follow, i.e. laws of man and God) and the received (what is given to us by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross). The more important is the received righteousness. This is the kind of righteousness that we cannot hope to attain on our own, but can only do so through God’s free gift of grace.

One of the best examples of this received righteousness comes at the cross. Next to Jesus hangs a thief. He is unrighteous, a law-breaker and rightly condemned to death. And yet he humbly confesses that he deserves to die, and asks Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. Jesus responds, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” How did the thief become good enough for Jesus to welcome into his kingdom? The answer is, he didn’t. He received the free gift of righteousness.

Had he lived longer, I’m sure the thief would have become a totally redeemed and different person. But he died hours after Jesus. My question is, did he deserve to go to heaven with Jesus? No! And neither do we. That is what is so amazing about grace. We all deserve what the thief got, and much worse. Even on our best days we are selfish, inward focused and undeserving of heaven. And yet our hope does not rest on our own ability to get to heaven on our own, but on the grace of Jesus Christ.

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Daniel-Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Aug 17, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Daniel-Pastor Matt Ragain

In Daniel Chapter 4, King Nebuchadnezzar is walking on his roof and heproclaims, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my might power and for the glory of my majesty?”  At that very moment, God took from King Nebuchadnezzar everything.  God took his roof, his royal residence, his power, his majesty and even his mind.  Nebuchadnezzar was driven out of his home to live as an animal in the wilderness.

God did this to show the frailty of human endeavor.  The problem with the King was not that he was powerful or wealthy.  The problem was that he was proud.  He could not see that God gave him his power.

Pride is one of those silent killers.  It almost killed King Nebuchadnezzar, and it deceives so many of us.  We are all capable of looking at the good around us and believed—like Nebuchadnezzar—that we are the source of those good things.  But in reality all good stems from our good father.  James 1:17 says, “every good gift comes from God.”

Pride attributes to ourselves what only God can claim.  And if we don’t see the good come from God, we see the good come from us.

In verse 34, God returns Nebuchadnezzar his mind.  The first thing Nebuchadnezzar does is praise God.  Why?  Because when you see God as the sources of all good, you worship him regardless of your external circumstances.

When we are able to clearly see how much God has freely given to us, our whole perspective changes.  We now see a good thing as a gift.  And we now see a bad thing as a good thing enhancer.

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Daniel-Quiet Preparation. Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Aug 17, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Daniel-Quiet Preparation.  Pastor Matt Ragain

Henry David Thoreau said, “most men live lives of quiet desperation.” He was talking about how most people go through life feeling as though something is missing. They have a never-ending sense of discontent. In other words, most people never experience true peace.

In the sixth chapter of Daniel, we read about a conspiracy. Certain government officials hated Daniel and wanted him dead. They tricked King Darius to create a law that made it illegal for anyone to pray to God. The punishment would be death. Knowing that Daniel would not stop praying to God, they knew he was going to fall in their trap.

We shouldn’t be surprised but Daniel doesn’t change his daily devotions to God. Daniel continues to pray to God three times a day in full view of anyone who wanted to see. What would motivate Daniel to do something that could cost him his very life? Daniel knew true peace.

Daniel lived a life of quiet preparation. Through his many years of devotion he knew that there was nothing more important than his connection to God…nothing…not his job, not his status, and not his life. Daniel accepted the judgment to be thrown into a den of lions because he knew that it would be worse to lose his connection to God.

Daniel gave up his life. What are we willing to give up to be close to God?

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