Posts Tagged "Immanuel Church"

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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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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Love Is – Cassi Piper

Posted by on Feb 2, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Love Is – Cassi Piper

I have always struggled with the concept of tough love. To be honest I have often felt the term was used too broadly. Some have used it when they don’t want to enable someone to make unhealthy choices or continue to engage in sinful behavior. Others apply it when the hard work of loving becomes too inconvenient, using “tough love” as an excuse to move on rather than acting in the best interest of someone else.  Few of us would admit to the latter. But I think if we were to examine our deepest motives, the ones we don’t want others to see, in one way or another we have all used the “tough love” card as an easy out rather than doing what real love requires.

So in the spectrum of the relationships we have with others, where does tough love fit? What is it and how should it be applied? When should it be used and what should the state of our hearts be when we use it? These are the questions that have been rattling in my head lately. I wish I had a definitive answer. But scripture does give us a true definition of love and that’s where we should start.

In the renowned 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians Paul lays out for us what love is. Many of us are familiar with at least a few of love’s many defining traits: “ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” When I look at this list I am reminded of how my sinful nature is quick to defy loving others.

How often am I really patient with others? How often do I walk through one day without an envious thought? How often are my motives truly not self-seeking? I am humbled by this passage, especially when I think about how God’s love is perfect towards us in all of these categories. No matter what we do, God’s love does not fail.

When I think of love as Paul describes I do not picture a warrior toughened by battle ready to protect themselves from an oncoming enemy. Instead I see a shepherd with a staff ready to look out for the needs of others. I see a father patiently waiting for his son to come home. I see a savior, entitled to all things divine, but choosing to be hung on a cross so that others might live.  I see love emanating from within rather than a protective barrier keeping things unloving out.

This type of love is radical. It’s open. It’s freely given. And it can be heartbreaking. To give of ourselves in love of another and not have that love take hold in their life is painful. But we are still called to love. How often do we grieve the Holy Spirit with our thoughts, our actions or our apathy? But still God loves. And so must we.

It is my conclusion that real love is tough. It’s tough to be patient. It’s tough to be kind. It’s tough to always hope, to always persevere, to keep no record of wrongs. But the reward is worth it. For when we love we get a glimpse of God’s undying love for us. And the more we realize His love, the more we love others. Thus a beautiful cycle of grace, redemption and growth is begun.

Our love for others is not conditioned on others. It is conditioned on Christ’s example for us. We love unconditionally for we are unconditionally loved. It is my heartfelt prayer that as a church we recognize our need for God’s love while fulfilling our calling to love others so that they too recognize their need. May others see Christ in us because of the depth of our love for them and may we continue to bow in worship of the One whose love knows no depths.

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Sinless – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Apr 20, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Sinless – Pastor Matt

I have been having a lot of conversations lately about the meaning of sin.  I sense that there is a general feeling of helplessness when it comes to sin.  The rational goes something like this: Christ took away my sin at the cross, I accept his good work, I still find myself sinning, I try extra hard to stop sinning, I am unsuccessful, I start to lose hope, I start to believe things will never be different, and finally I make peace with my sin.

The biggest challenge we have as Christians is knowing what it means to be born again.  Jesus says in John 3, that we must be born again.  Jesus doesn’t say, “it would be nice if you were born again.”  He says, “you must be born again.”  Being born again denotes a newness of life.  It means breaking away from our old self and becoming a new person.

Here’s the problem: how can we be born again and yet still struggle with sin?  How can we be new and yet struggle in our oldness?

Part of the problem is how we view being born again.  Wouldn’t it be great if Jesus simply took away any sin I might have in the future? Barring a few exceptions, Jesus doesn’t work like that.  If Jesus were simply there to take away all temptation to sin, then what would be the purpose of a community of believers?  We wouldn’t need each other at all.  We could become fully self-actualized individuals who never struggle with sin.

In my sinful heart, I admit, that sounds pretty good.  It’s certainly more convenient, isn’t it?  I wouldn’t have to be accountable to anyone.  I could be all on my own without the difficulty and inconvenience of other people.  I suspect that most of us want that on some level.

But maybe one of the primary ways that shows we are born again is that we enter into committed relationships based upon the life of Jesus Christ (even when it is inconvenient).  And perhaps, it is specifically through those relationships that we become born again.

If God truly designed the church as the way we become more and more like Jesus, it now becomes priority, not only as a place of fellowship, but as a means to become holy like Jesus.

I feel frustrated for friends and family who desire to stop sinning, yet they have zero connection to a community of believers.  It’s kind of like saying “I want the all the benefits of being married but I want to still live alone.”  We want all the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice for our sin, yet we don’t want to enter into relationships that would move us in the direction of holiness.

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Any Given Sermon – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Nov 4, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Any Given Sermon – Pastor Matt

This past Sunday, Pastor Mark gave a great illustration of Immanuel Church.  He said, “It’s the exact opposite of the NFL.”  Mark’s reasoning is simple: the NFL is mostly preparation.  Teams and coaches spend the majority of their time and energy training for a game that only takes place in a period of hours every week.  Immanuel Church, on the other hand, takes a few hours to prepare for the entire week.

Granted, Sunday church isn’t the only way we prepare ourselves for ministry outside our church walls.  I can’t help think that we have much less preparation time than we actually need.  This is especially true when we think of how important our various ministries and responsibilities are outside the church walls.

What I find to be incredible is how Jesus prepared his disciples.  In Mark 3, Jesus appoints his disciples to be with him so “that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.”  Notice that this is the beginning of Mark and not the end.  So Jesus has his disciples doing active ministry before they had extensive and comprehensive training.  Had I been Jesus, I would have given the disciples authority when I knew they could handle the authority and not mess things up.   But one thing I’m absolutely sure of is that I’m not Jesus, and his ways are infinitely better than mine.  He gives his disciples authority not because they were ready but because that’s how they grow.

I believe that God does the same for us.  There is not a graduation day were we get our official Christian diploma.  We are already Christians who do work.  We still have a long way to go, but we are doing his work all-along-the-way.  Doing ministry is preparing, and preparing is doing ministry.

What has God put on your heart for ministry?

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