From The Pastor's Desk

From The Pastor's Desk

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From the Pastors Desk November 2019

Posted on 26 October, 2019 at 10:20 Comments comments (1433)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3.  November brings fall weather as well as thoughts of Thanksgiving. We realize that all our blessings come from God and appropriately give Him thanks. When asked what we are most thankful for, most recite our material blessing including home, a good job, good health, a good church family, good parents, a good spouse and a comfortable life style. We hear people thank God for Jesus, for salvation and for the hope of eternal life.  Seldom do we hear praise for other spiritual blessings. The Apostle Paul was well aware of these spiritual blessings as he enumerated them in the first chapter of Ephesians. He reminds us that God chose us before the foundation of the world. He could have created us as He created the plants, animals, sun, moon and stars then decided to ignore us. Instead He chose us to have an intimate relationship with us.  He also adopted us as His sons through Jesus Christ. That means we have the privilege of being part of God’s family now and will receive our inheritance (a home in heaven) at the end of life.  If being chosen by Him and being adopted by Him isn’t enough, Paul reminds us that we have redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of sins. Because we are sinful, our relationship with God has been damaged but He has paid the penalty for our misdeeds and has restored us to His favor. And the exciting news and blessing is that we have to pay nothing as He took care of our sin debt Himself.  Paul states that God has lavished (piled up or heaped on) wisdom and understanding. All of man’s knowledge of the universe is predicated on the fact that God has revealed many of the secrets of creation to man through scientific discovery. God has also revealed to us the mystery of His love through Jesus Christ and even though we don’t understand why He loves us, He assures us that He does.  This Thanksgiving, take time to read Ephesians 1 and reflect on the other spiritual blessings catalogued there in addition to the ones listed above. And remember to give thanks for them as well.  Dave Kent, Interim Pastor West Side

From The Pastor's Desk May 2019

Posted on 1 May, 2019 at 17:20 Comments comments (7076)
What God is calling us to do in this passage is to avoid being involved with sinful activity. Often that means that we have to separate ourselves to some degree from people involved in the sins. That requires conscious choices and decisions. It is said that Christians lose their non-Christian friends within three years. That largely happens due to a change in lifestyle and interests. I've had several parishioners in the past who actually felt bad because they lost friends when they quit the partying lifestyle. Obviously, those friends weren't true friends anyhow. As our culture continues to become more corrupt and evil we are going to feel more and more alienated from the world around us. We really shouldn't be surprised by that. We have a different citizenship, a different purpose for living, and a different mission in life. All that leads to a different lifestyle from most of the people around us. As Christians we should be living to please God and to do all we can to extend His salvation to the world. As our culture debates such things as infanticide, euthanasia, gender change, legalizing drug use, etc. we need to maintain a biblical view of life. That will require renewing our minds regularly in the Word. As Jesus promised, we can expect to be hated and reviled. We should feel like the "aliens and strangers" Peter calls us. Even as we become more and more alienated from the culture around us we have reason to feel gratitude and hope. It is in the state of turning from wickedness to righteousness that God declares, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (II Corinthians 6:18). Let's choose to be separated, holy people. Pastor Jim

From The Pastor's Desk April 2019

Posted on 30 March, 2019 at 0:10 Comments comments (839)
As we approach Holy Week with all its drama and emotion, I would like to take this opportunity to focus on the cross and its significance for us who believe. Jesus purposefully endured the physical pain and spiritual alienation that accompanied the Calvary event. Although His humanity longed for another way to accomplish salvation, Jesus willingly hung on the cross and shed His blood to pay the penalty for our sin. We should never become calloused to the horrific nature of Jesus' sacrifice. He suffered, bled and died to take our punishment upon Himself. The natural man doesn't like to focus on the gory reality that was the cross experience, but for those of us who understand the spiritual reality that Jesus' death accomplished, that scene becomes a beautiful picture of love and grace. The blood of Jesus that flowed down that wooden cross is what provides a covering for our sin, and purchases our redemption. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says, For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. Jesus' blood is precious to us. It cleanses us. It effectively restores us to a relationship with God giving us peace with Him. The old hymn says, "So I'll cherish the old rugged cross." This Lenten season I encourage you to take a fresh look at what Jesus did for us at Calvary. His sacrifice should fill us with gratitude and devotion. It should also lead us to be committed disciples, willing to pick up our own cross to follow Him. A right perspective of the cross will make the resurrection even more exciting and powerful. Pastor Jim

From The Pastor's Desk March 2019

Posted on 26 February, 2019 at 19:40 Comments comments (4783)
Worry for some people is like a badge of honor. They not only accept the fact that they worry a lot, they seem to glory in it. Allowed to flourish in one's life worry can become a preoccupation or a habit. Certainly it is not something to be proud of. In truth, worry ultimately indicates a lack of faith in God. Since Jesus teaches us not to worry, it quickly becomes sin to us and needs to be dealt with. Like all sin it is destructive and harmful to our lives. What do people tend to worry about? They worry about almost anything that is uncertain, but of seeming importance. Jesus, in His teaching on this issue in the Sermon on the Mount, stressed that we should not worry about temporal things. Instead, we are to trust our Heavenly Father to provide for these needs.. He used the birds and flowers as illustrations of earthly things that God cares for. He said, "are you not much more valuable than they" The answer is obvious to those who understand that mankind is the crown of God's creation. It's said that 90% of our worries don't come true. If that is accurate, worry becomes a huge waste of time and emotional energy. It certainly is not an efficient use of life. If worry has been your preoccupation, it's time to receive Jesus' teaching about this and determine to give it up. Of course, you'll need to replace worry with something positive faith. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you" (I Peter 5:7). Hear these words from the Lord, "in repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength" (Isaiah 30:15b). Amen. Pastor Jim

From The Pastor's Desk February 2019

Posted on 31 January, 2019 at 18:55 Comments comments (18531)
The snow on the ground reminds me of the forgiveness and cleansing of Christ that comes to every sinner who repents. It is a beautiful expression of God's love that so often we take for granted. God not only grants us a reprieve from the ultimate consequences of our sin, He also scrubs away the defiling residue of sin that would threaten to stain our image or self-worth. Can you grasp how infinitely valuable is the cleansing grace of God? He not only takes away our deserved punishment for sin, He restores us to a place where it's as though we had never sinned. He justifies us. He declares us fully innocent of any charges against us. That truth should elicit a response of pure joy and gratitude. It should also humble us to realize that we are the recipients of such "Amazing Grace." As you encounter the pristine beauty of a new fallen snow this winter, be ever reminded of God's saving work in your life. Reflect upon the truth that, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." (Isaiah 1:18b). Then rejoice and give thanks. Pastor Jim

From The Pastor's Desk December 2018

Posted on 24 November, 2018 at 22:35 Comments comments (3533)
But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23b) It is not quite Thanksgiving yet, but the Christmas gift buying season is already underway. Stores are gearing up for the purchasing frenzy that could make or break their fiscal year. Consumers are readying their lists and their credit cards for buying sprees that will sap their energies and finances. Many people bemoan the commercialization of Christmas, but does not seem to be able to break free from the rat race and focus on the best gift of Christmas--Jesus. The message of Jesus' birth is filled with miracles and intrigue. There are angel visitations, an unplanned pregnancy, a hazardous trek to a small town called Bethlehem, a miraculous star guiding astrologers to a foreign country, and an infant slaughter ordered by the king. All this and more surround the remarkable story of that first Christmas gift. Jesus came to earth as the embodiment of God's salvation for man. He was born in humble circumstances to a young peasant couple in a crude stable for animals. His birth was celebrated by rough, unsophisticated shepherds. Then, after a God-given warning to flee to Egypt, Jesus' family became aliens in a foreign land. There they stayed until the king died. The drama surrounding Jesus' birth is fantastic and amazing. It is all part of God's plan to bring redemption to lost humanity. It was conceived in love, brought to reality by the sovereign power of Almighty God, and offered to us today as a word of hope to our generation. Have you received God's Christmas gift to you,salvation in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ? Open your heart and invite Him into your life. He will make your Christmas celebration meaningful and exciting. May you and yours have a blessed Christmas season. Pastor Jim

From The Pastor's Desk: July 2018

Posted on 21 June, 2018 at 13:20 Comments comments (6738)
Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31b-32) On July 4, America will celebrate its political freedom from England. This is the date in 1776 when our political forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence, declaring the 13 colonies free from the King's authority. The boldness and sacrifice of those early leaders, and subsequent actions, led to the many civil freedoms we enjoy today. For these we thank God. Far more significant than political and civil freedom is the spiritual freedom procured for us by Jesus Christ. Speaking of Christ, John says, "to Him who loves us and freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father -- to Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." (Revelation 1:5-6). Jesus freed us from sin so that we can live a positive, God-honoring life. We are no longer slaves to Satan. We are free to serve God. Peter reminds us "not to use that freedom as a cover-up for evil"? (1 Peter 2:16b). With freedom comes responsibility. Paul tells us that we should not use our freedom as a "stumbling block" to weaker Christians. We may feel free to do something, but if it offends someone else's conscience we should refrain. Laws and rules are generally made as a barrier to someone's bad behavior. Undisciplined people need boundaries. Christians really shouldn't need a lot of rules. Jesus condensed the whole law of Moses into two positive commands. First, "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." Second, "love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37,39). That's it! That's all! Get this truth into your mind and lifestyle. Experience the freedom Jesus has for all His children. Celebrate freedom! Pastor Jim

From The Pastor's Desk: July 2017

Posted on 13 July, 2017 at 11:35 Comments comments (1709)
"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him." Psalm 34:8 We recently canned black cherries. They are so good fresh that when you start eating them it is hard to stop. That's the way it is with some foods. You can hardly get enough. The psalmist, David, carries that sentiment over to our relationship with the Lord. He believed that if we would simply get a taste of God in our lives we would want more and more of Him. To taste God is a pretty unique way of describing what it means to experience Him. We talk about hearing God or seeing Him work in our lives. We talk about feeling His presence, but it's unusual to talk about tasting the Lord. To taste something is to truly experience it in an intimate way. It's more that a casual or superficial experience. In this Psalm, David invites his readers to experience the God he had come to know and love. He does this by giving witness to his own life's blessings from knowing God and describing the good things of God that accrue to those who serve Him. Some of these things are a deliverance from fear and shame, protection, and provision. He says, "those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." He assures us that God is attentive to our prayers and delivers us from our troubles. He is especially near to those who are discouraged and sad. David's call and invitation to us is to give the Lord a chance to do His good work in our lives. Just see if that isn't a positive experience that you will want to continue. Don't just observe the Lord from a distance. Get in there and truly get to know Him and ask Him to be involved with you as Lord of your life. You will enjoy the journey and experience God as a delightful part of your life. Go ahead! Taste and see! Pastor Jim

From The Pastor's Desk: June 2017

Posted on 8 June, 2017 at 0:30 Comments comments (1506)
"If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on My holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." Isaiah 58:113-14 Isaiah, the prophet, was reminding Israel of the importance of keeping the Sabbath for the blessing it would bring them. Many Christians today have simply abandoned the Sabbath concept almost completely. They seem to think that the commandment only pertains to the Jews or history. May I remind us that God established the Sabbath at creation, not at Mount Sinai. While Jesus condemned the legalistic rules established by Jewish leaders, He never abolished or negated the Sabbath principle. It is still relevant for God's people today. We are blessed when we heed its teaching and reap negative consequences when we ignore it. Keeping the Sabbath provides a positive witness to a watching world that we choose to honor God with the first fruit of our time. It allows us to prioritize worship and rest, or re-creation. It is a practical demonstration to our families and neighbors of the importance of our relationship with God. Jesus reminds us that the Sabbath was made for us. It was established by God for our benefit and blessing. God deemed it so special and important that He made keeping it part of the Ten Commandments. The atheist philosopher, Voltaire, thought it so significant that he believed if he could rid society of its practice, he could destroy Christianity. He tried, but fortunately he failed. Today, evangelical Christians are simply neglecting it to the attendant consequences. I challenge us all to read and study relevant passages related to the Sabbath, and to rethink and develop convictions in response to God's provision. Who knows, but what that could spark revival in the church? May it be so! Amen. Pastor Jim

From The Pastor's Desk: May 2017

Posted on 11 May, 2017 at 11:15 Comments comments (15154)
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Luke 12:25-26 Worrying is a harmful trap of Satan that steals the time and emotional energy from many people, even Christians. Frankly, it???s sinful because Jesus told us not to do it. It???s also a huge waste of time because much of what people worry about never materializes. Worry reflects fear and fear results from deficient faith in God. Do we believe God can handle anything life throws at us? Take it a step further. Do we believe He will? If so, worry becomes a useless effort in futility. What do people worry about? Some people are frightened by the international stage???Russia, North Korea, Syria, ISIS, etc. Some people are worried about the financial markets, their jobs, and retirement funds. Others obsess about potential health issues. There are many things to worry about, if one chooses to do so. Jesus reminds us that God cares about the grass and the birds, and that we are more valuable than they are. Surely He will care for us too. Therefore, we are called to simply trust God with all the concerns of life. As an alternative to worry, Jesus urges us to give our lives to ???seeking??? the Kingdom of God. That means we are to make God???s priorities and purposes our own. We are called to own His goal of reaching the world with the gospel of Christ. That focus should permeate our thinking and activities. People become primary. Eternity looms large. The things of this life, which seem so essential, pale in comparison. Jesus reminds us to lay up our treasures in heaven so that will be the focus of our desires. Where is your heart today? Leave your worry behind. God is in control. Heaven awaits His people. May 14 is Mother???s Day. Mothers: this is a great opportunity to invite your unchurched family members to join you in worship. Someone said, ???all hell cannot tear a child away from a mother???s prayers.??? Take advantage of every opportunity to influence your children for the Lord. Happy Mother???s Day! Pastor Jim