Posts Tagged "Lord"

Sustained – Joel Ericson

Posted by on Jan 14, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Sustained – Joel Ericson

I have a good friend that as suffered an almost incredible series of health issues over the last few years, culminating in a series of hospital stays, failed operations, good reports, bad reports, and the separation from his beloved family, friends and students. The maddening ups and downs remind me of something written by Camus.

You remember the “The Myth of Sisyphus” from Greek mythology where a poor soul was condemned to struggling to push a rock up a hill, only to have it roll back down, obliging him to begin his labors anew. This is how I would describe Emery’s situation. (BTW, please pray for him by name).

Yet in all of these trials he is able to maintain a good attitude and is serving as an excellent witness to God’s love and the power of the Spirit and writes continually about his faith and thoughts about God’s grace. His attitude is: (Romans 8:31-39) “What then are we to say about these things?  If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?...

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I pray for him daily and we exchange encouragement constantly. He’s my friend but more so, my brother.

How many of us become discouraged when life hands us bitter circumstances; I do sometimes. But we can be sustained.

Job 5:7-9 says “but human beings are born to trouble just as sparks fly upward. As for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause.  He does great things and unsearchable,  marvelous things without number.” I’ve seen it work.

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The Sword Army – Cassi Piper

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

The Sword Army – Cassi Piper

Many young children have an imaginary friend or two that they do life with. My son has an entire sword army. My husband and I first began hearing about this mysterious band of weapon bearers several years ago. At first we thought he had picked up the idea from a television show or book, but we never could recall an episode or family reading time involving a militia of any sort.

Over time, we have learned many things about the sword army. For starters, it is very large and they practice, a lot. Every Sunday they gather to fight bad guys. Sometimes with swords, other times with tanker trucks and shields. Adults are not allowed at their station, and everyone is assigned a job to do. They have a family of pretty snakes for pets (the adult snakes are super long while the babies are really short), and they do not believe that root beer has sugar in it.

For the most part we don’t give the sword army much thought. After all, my son is only four years old and we think it’s awesome that he has such a grand imagination. Sometimes though, we wonder if perhaps he might take it a little too seriously. Like the time he told me he was super stressed because he thought the sword army was going to fire him from his job. When asked why he might be fired, my son blamed his dad saying that he gives him too many things to do so he is always late to his sword army job. When I jokingly told my son that he could get a job somewhere else, he quickly retorted that he had already tried every job in the universe, and that he would still choose the sword army even if he might be fired. Oh boy.

Although as adults we may think ourselves too mature to engage in an imaginary world like the one where my son sometimes lives, our imaginations are more present than we may think. Many of us, for instance, often live in the past replaying events and conversations over and over in our minds. Others use our imagination to catastrophize the future, causing ourselves to fear what has not yet happened, and most likely never will.  These mental wonderings can result in powerful emotions like anxiety, fear, shame, guilt and regret.

The good news however is that God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His love and grace are over our past, over our present and over our future. By faith our past sins and regrets are redeemed in Christ’s name. By faith our future is secure and we can have eternal hope. By faith we know God is actively working for His glory in our present circumstances. We can rest knowing that nothing happens outside of His divine authority.

So the next time our imaginations want to take us to a time of regret, let’s take them captive to the cross and be reminded that in Christ we are all made new. The next time we want to dwell on the worst case scenario, let’s take on an eternal perspective and remember God’s faithfulness. Let us remember the true purpose of our imagination, to contemplate God’s glory, His goodness, His steadfastness and His unending grace and love.

As for the sword army, regrettably one day my son will come to realize that it is all in his head. When that sad day comes my prayer is that as he lays down his imaginary armor he will pick up his spiritual one. That we will have trained him up to recognize there is a real war in this world, one for souls. After all that practice he should be a mighty warrior indeed!

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PHP – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Apr 13, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

PHP – Pastor Matt

There was a time in my life when I really wanted to be good.     I was in High School and I remember thinking it’s now time for me to start living the way Jesus wants me to live.   Without getting into specifics, I wanted to become a perfect holy person…a PHP.

So I tried.  I was improving, but there were still things that I needed to work on.  So, I tried harder.  Then things weren’t improving; and you might guess that I felt quite a bit of shame  in my inability to be a PHP.  Now looking back, there were two things I misunderstood about my faith.  The first is that I can’t make myself Holy, only God does that: Romans 3:22.  The second is that my motivations were totally selfish.

I made the mistake of thinking my actions towards holiness were noble; however, my actions towards holiness were nothing but me trying to become my own Lord.  Sure, it sounds good that we want to beat ourselves up to become more like Christ.  But the reality is, when we achieve our own holiness, what we have isn’t holy, it’s an idol.

Galatians 3:3 asks, “after beginning by means of the Sprit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?”

Paul is asking why do we think that our salvation comes through the Sprit, but our holiness comes through our work?  The reality is that both salvation and holiness come as a free gift of grace.  We are unable to become holy as much as we are unable to save ourselves.  Truly, both are products of the work of the Spirit.

This is where guilt and shame come from.  They come from the idea that we have to somehow become a PHP.  And if we don’t, than God is mightily unpleased with us.   This is the alternative: righteousness comes freely from God, salvation comes freely from God, power comes freely from God, and even the process of becoming a PHP comes freely from God.

 

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New Year Mud Pie – Pastor Matthew

Posted by on Jan 7, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

New Year Mud Pie – Pastor Matthew

So the first day of the year I opened my Bible for a little Bible study.  Like many of you, I had been thinking about the upcoming year.  I had been making plans, setting goals and thinking about getting closer to God.  And no joke, the heading of the chapter was “The Year of the Lord’s Favor”.  I’m usually not the type that relies heavily on Biblical coincidence, but my attention was officially grabbed.  Isaiah 61 talks all about proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor.  That got me thinking; ok, what does that mean?  What does it mean to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor?

Later on in the same chapter of Isaiah, it says, “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance.  And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.”  What Isaiah is saying here is that we are used to shame we are used to disgrace.  It is as though being human means that we are filled with guilt and deserve shame.  For Christians, this line of thinking is very common.  Our struggles with life and sin can easily translate into guilt and disgrace.  That guilt and disgrace is often our MO.  We feel we don’t deserve the Lord’s favor—which is true but misses the point.

The Lord’s favor is unimaginable blessings.  And we so often proclaim a year of struggle rather than proclaiming a year of the Lord’s favor.

C.S. Lewis says, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

The year of the Lord’s favor is infinite joy freely given.  So let us proclaim this year to be the year of our Lord’s favor.  Because a holiday at the sea is what is given, when so often we are content to make mud pies.

 

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Peace — Pastor Matthew

Posted by on Dec 4, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Peace — Pastor Matthew

This week we celebrate the second week in our Advent season.  The candle for this week represents peace.  This is the peace that was brought by Jesus.  Often the Christmas season is filled with anything but peace.  We are stressed financially.  We argue with those we love.  We are busy, making sure that everyone is happy.  We run from house to house and from event to event.  The Christmas season is frantic, stressful and tiresome not peaceful.

The Gospel of Luke tells us that Simeon was promised that he would see the Messiah before his death.  When he saw the new-born Jesus he prayed, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.”  Simeon was ready to die because he had the peace that only Jesus could bring.  No longer was Simeon worried about things of this world.  All that mattered was the presence of Jesus.

As believers in Jesus, our attitude for this season is an attitude of peace.  If we don’t get to everything, we’re going to be ok.   If we have to spend less money this year, you kids won’t hate you.  If you don’t see everyone you want to see, you won’t loose family and friendships.

We sometimes make Christmas into a burden.  Let’s take a deep breath and remember that Jesus brings peace not busy work.

p.s. If you’re one of those people who will get stressed about not being at peace, you might need to take baby-steps.  Go to Starbucks get a Tall Peppermint Mocha and enjoy.  Don’t do anything but sip on your 4-dollar coffee—this counts for being at peace:)

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