Posts Tagged "sin"

My Work, or God’s Work? – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Aug 24, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

My Work, or God’s Work? – Pastor Matt

What is the difference between someone who tries to earn their righteousness (person A) and someone who knows that righteousness can only be received by the work of Jesus Christ (person B)?

Person A works really hard at doing things that will prove they’re righteous.

Person B knows there is nothing they can do to earn righteousness.  It has to be received as a gift.

Person A asks, “doesn’t all my good work account for something?”

Person B says, “God doesn’t owe me anything, yet he loves me so much that he sent his son to die for me.”

Person A wants credit.

Person B wants Jesus.

Person A says, “God loves me, and the proof is all the good things I do.”

Person B says, “God loves me, and the proof is Jesus on the cross.”

Person A is resentful of other people’s blessings.

Person B celebrates when good happens to others.

Person A hides their sin that cannot be seen.

Person B confesses to others their sin that cannot be seen.

Person A defends their righteousness by comparing themselves to others.

Person B loves others because they are keenly aware of their personal need.

Person A puts themselves in the position to never be wrong.

Person B puts themselves in the position to receive God’s transforming grace.

Person A doesn’t actually need Jesus.  They have it all figured out.

Person B understands that every breath is a gift from Jesus.

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The Right Thing – Joel Ericson

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

The Right Thing – Joel Ericson

Off on a business trip some eight years ago I was eating dinner in a family restaurant I cannot recall. As I was finishing up I saw a nice young family come in; a young couple with two small children. By their actions I could see that this was not their usual routine. I could also see the unmistakable signs of distress, as the wife was wearing the head scarf, concealing baldness, and the pallor, a little more pale than the rest told me that she was battling cancer.

I considered them for a long time since I knew what it was like to be in that situation. I wanted to go over to them and offer an encouraging word, or pray over them, or maybe pay for their dinner…or something. Unfortunately while I allowed MY heart to ache a little and whispered a little prayer to MYSELF, I quietly paid my check and moved on. I was soon so convicted by my failure to act that I went back to that restaurant to try to make amends, but they were gone. I have not forgotten that family to this day. Fortunately God has used this to educate me in several ways because as I continue to read scripture; it keeps coming up.

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17

 There are so many small things I should have done to lighten their burden; just a little but I really did nothing. Appropriately I was saddened and ashamed and have vowed to not make that same kind of mistake.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’  Matthew 25:34-40

On the Judgment Day I want to be standing on the right… And finally I have tried my best to heed Jesus’ warning:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “  Matthew 6:1-4

This incident did not perfect me. I am still a sinner; too selfish, too forgetful of God’s teachings, to arrogant and unforgiving. By some strange coincidence however, often as I fall into each of these traps, I am reminded of that nice young family in that restaurant and am humbled to know that Jesus bore much greater burdens for my sake and I am once again resolved to learn from my failings.

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Resist and Refocus – Pastor Mark

Posted by on Jul 21, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Resist and Refocus – Pastor Mark

Part of my sermon last Sunday included a series of pictures on PowerPoint.  They included chocolate layer cake with peanut butter filling, crunchy, salty, potato chips, an ice cream cone of 4 scoops (all different flavors), warm chocolate chip cookies, a tray of yummy pastries and one of a glass of ice-cold Coca Cola.  The purpose of the pictures was to illustrate the principle that “knowledge is not enough to deter us from sin.”  I was certainly not saying that eating chocolate cake, having a cheese danish or enjoying a Coke was sinful!  The point of the exercise was to illustrate that knowledge is not an automatic protection against sin.

The apostle Paul used an example from the 10 Commandments.  The 10th command is “You shall not covet.”  In Romans 7:8 Paul writes, “I would never have known what it means to want to take something belonging to someone else if the law had not said, ‘You must not want to take your neighbor’s things.’  Sin found a way to use that command and cause me to want all kinds of things I should not want.”

After seeing all the things that were not healthy, did the congregation have a stronger commitment to be healthy?  Or were they hungry?  Yup…you’re right.  They were hungry!

You live in a world of stimulation.  From every direction, from every device – phones, radio, computers, tablets, TV – you are bombarded with images and sounds that can shape you, if you let them.  And they can shape you in ways that aren’t exactly holy.  What can you do?

Romans 12:2 says that first you can RESIST.  “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-make you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed.”  You have a choice.  You can choose NOT to allow certain things to shape you.  At the same time you can choose TO allow other things to shape you instead.

The second thing you can do is REFOCUS.  Writing to the church in Philippi, Greece, Paul summed up his message by saying “you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things (that are) true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

These portions of Scripture are good words to live by.  Grab a handful of grapes and read them over again!

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Murky Waters – Tami Kalhagen

Posted by on Jul 21, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Murky Waters – Tami Kalhagen

With the onset of summer, I have been anxious to get our swimming pool functional.  After filling the pool with water and adding the suggested chemicals, the beautiful, clear, sparkling water soon became dark brown and gross looking.  Having your own well creates these kinds of issues for pool owners.  Chlorine and iron do not make for a pretty scene.

After doing some research on the Internet, I came across a remedy that many pool owners have used to clear up their water color.  With the help of my handyman husband, we made a red-neck filter that was supposed to filter out the iron in a matter of hours.  Did it work?  Yep!  Hooray for those YouTube junkies!

Through the process of fixing the pool water I was reminded of how our lives get so gross and dark because of sin.  We try to filter out the bad stuff ourselves, but our lives are still murky and unclean.  We can’t do it on our own.

I am so thankful that through the blood of Jesus our lives can be made clean again.   1John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Jesus has the solution.  He already did the work of making us clean before God.  We just have to go to him, confess our sin, and accept his cleansing plan of salvation.

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Vow to take an Oath – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Jul 24, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Vow to take an Oath – Pastor Matt

Jesus says in Matthew 5, that we should not make vows or oaths either by heaven, God, earth or ourselves.   Jesus continues to say, “All you need to say is simply, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

What is the purpose of a vow or oath?  It is to give validity to what is being spoken.  But here is the problem.  Unless you are in a court of law, a vow or oath is spoken because credibility is in question.  So the purpose of a vow or oath is to basically manipulate another person.  If one cannot be believed, a vow is simply a way to make one more believable.

Jesus says no.  If you cannot be trusted by your yes or no, you have a truth problem.  If you feel the need to swear by something—a stack of Bibles, your Mother, God, your goldfish—perhaps that is an indication of a lack of trustworthiness.

Jesus goes on to say that anything beyond a yes or no is from Satan.  Strong words you might say.  But a swear, vow or oath is nothing more than a way to deceive however subtle.  When deception is used Satan is around.

As I write this I’m keenly aware of my own flippant use of swears, vows and oaths.  When I am confronted by my own sin, often times I want to protect myself from the pain I have already caused.  So I project truthfulness, I lie.

We compound sin.  This is why Satan is close, because not only does he want us to sin, he wants us to suffer for it.  But as Christians, we fight our sinful inclinations, by bringing truth.  We light a lamp in all the corners of our homes.  We shed light on every part of us.  So even if we have made vows or oaths in the past, we now put away those evil tools and bring light wherever we go, even if it hurts in the moment.

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