Answering the Call

Do you remember the days before phone ID? The phone would ring and you never knew who it was going to be. All calls got answered. Now, the phone rings and the first thing we do is look at the ID. We want to see if it someone on the phone making us aware of breast cancer which seems to take money or if we need our ducts cleaned. We want to avoid the call from “Microsoft” letting us know we have some problem with our computer (even though I have a mac), or the “IRS” telling us to pay now preferably with a debit card or we could face arrest. Increasingly the call numbers are spoofed so you don’t really have any idea who is calling. I finally got a filter that gets rid of the robo calls, that is nice. It can sometimes make it difficult to answer the call if you don’t know the number.

What if God were to call? How would you answer then? The phone rings and you look at the caller ID and it says God in Heaven. Seems like it would be hard not to pick up. For some of you (and I want to apologize in advance) this puts the mildly heretical song the “Royal Telephone” in your mind (is the Holy Spirit electricity?). Hopefully it doesn’t stay there too long. Yet amazingly some would just let it ring. Maybe it is too scary. Maybe they think they have already answered. Maybe still others just are too busy to take that call. What would it mean if you answered it? What might God say? Why might he be calling you?

Moses got a call. It wasn’t on a cell phone or even the ancient and disappearing “land line” more like a flaming Fuchsia.   He wasn’t too sure about taking the call either. So this week as we continue to look at his life we will look at the kind of attitudes and character that is needed to answer that call. Consider how you would answer.

See you at church.
Pastor Chris


Hero or Human?

When you read the Bible, and you see the characters written of there, do you think of them as humans or heroes? It is true that most heroes are indeed human (other than Balaam’s donkey or maybe Jonah’s whale, unfortunately neither of which are named). But the distinction I want to make is not that of species but rather perspective.

Regular ole humans come with character flaws, warts, and actions that we can totally relate to. Hero’s on the other hand stand tall, the wind in their face, with heroic music playing in the background. They take dramatic action, which always works out with legendary results. The problem is that making hero’s out of Bible characters completely misses the point.

You see the Bible is not a book about heroic men and women. It is not the hall of fame where no one has a bad day. In fact, uncomfortably so, the characters of the Bible are incredibly …. ordinary.   They are ordinary people with ordinary flaws, that just so happened to be in the place where GOD used them. As it turns out, while David was certainly brave, what is more believable; a shepherd boy killed a hardened battle giant with some rocks or that God used a shepherd boy and some rocks to make a point about faith? Is it more believable if we skip over the parts where Elijah battled unsuccessfully with his doubts and fears running away after an amazing victory? Do we obscure Samson’s disappointingly horrible judgment and only emphasize his strength and battle prowess and great hair? Overly romantic notions about Bible characters makes the Bible about them instead of the reality of the situation: the Bible is about God.

It also separates us from them.   Instead of learning that God can and does use humans, even deeply flawed humans, to advance His agenda of redemption. We come away discouraged thinking that we could never be like so and so in the Bible. The opposite is true. We can be like so and so because God is still God! And He is still in the business of making His appeal through us.

This week we start a new sermon series on Moses and as we look to his life we will discover some good news about God and who He is pleased to use!

See you at church!

Pastor Chris



Blessings: The Reward

Don’t you love it when all your hard work finally pays off?  You plant a garden and the vegetables finally come up and then you harvest it.  You plant fruit trees and after years you finally see a yield.  You invest in your business and it finally starts paying you.  You invest in your children and they make you proud.  This is reward. 

Sometimes when the task is particularly difficult the reward at the end is what keeps us going.  Whether it is a degree from college, a skill you are trying to master, or a relationship you are investing in, the reward often gives us that little boost we need to persevere and not give up.  Rewards can be motivating and there is nothing wrong with that.   In fact, I think it is one of the blessings of God, which is why he tells us of the rewards he has prepared for us in advance.  He wants us to be motivated by them!

When you think of the rewards of knowing Jesus what do you think of?  What reward motivates you and gives you that steel to keep going?  What reward keeps your eyes on the prize?  This week we will talk about the blessing of reward.  As you prepare your heart for what God has for you think of all the rewards he has promised!

See you at church!

Pastor Chris



Beyond Understanding

This life is difficult. Nothing comes easy, and the things that seem easy are probably going the wrong direction actually making our life harder. There is pressure from everywhere. Financial pressure, social pressure, political pressure, even pressure from ourselves as we strive to achieve. Difficulties that lie outside of our control constantly intrude to create chaos.

Everything is moving too fast. We have a 24 hour news cycle, trading cycle, work cycle. There is no time to breathe. Every day we make hundreds of decisions each with their own set of consequences. When life slows down it takes us days to get used to it, then we suddenly feel bored, too much space to think, so we fill it with self distraction.

We can be overwhelmed with a past we are ashamed of. The complications of decisions made, life lived, and relationships gone wrong. The one we were is no more, but the history still exists. We beat ourselves up. Not out where everyone can see but inside where it really counts. We hear the lie of not being good enough, damaged goods, incomplete, inadequate. Ultimately we fear we will fail.

Can you relate?

We need peace. Not just a little bit once in a while. Not just a spoon full like cough medicine so you can sleep. We need to be immersed in it. We need it to flood over us like a hot bath on a cold day. We need it to penetrate all the way to the bone. We need it wrap around us like strong arms and hold us. We need gentle hands that cup our face and tell us it is going to be all right.

Do you need it?

This week we will be talking about one of the most incredible blessings of God, peace. Peace that goes beyond human understanding. Incredibly God wants you to have it. Come find out how you can.

See you at church.

Pastor Chris



I Want It All!

When you start thinking of what God has for us, don’t you want it all? Jesus reminded us that God is the good Father.   A superior father to us even thought we know better than to give our kids snakes when they ask for some water or rocks when they ask for bread. God the good Father has good gifts.

Unfortunately I think we all too often are willing to settle for just a bit of the gifts of God. We would like just enough to warm us on those cold spiritual days but don’t really want to get carried away or become radical or something. We are content with minor blessings because we are afraid. Not usually afraid of the gifts, but rather afraid of not receiving them. Afraid that maybe it is all just wishful thinking and that there isn’t really a God or your faith doesn’t really amount to anything. Afraid that the blessings of God are for someone else.

Well I have much better news than that. We can receive the gifts that God has already given us! They are incredible gifts and represent the ultimate blessing from a Father who loves us deeply. For the next couple of weeks I am going to be talking about those blessings we already have and how we can, in our walk with Jesus Christ, realize them in a greater way.

Come and experience the blessings of God!

See you at church.

Pastor Chris



Proclaim Him!

We are only days away from Christmas, and I love to see all the excitement and joy.  People are busy but in many ways it is a happy busy.   Houses are being filled with the smells of baking and candy making.  Special church services are being planned and people who don’t regularly come will come this weekend. Lights are everywhere and living in the North I appreciate both their beauty and the light they give. Yesterday we only had 8 hours and 25 minutes of light.  We will take all we can get!  
 

It would be easy to become cynical this time of year and overemphasize the problems of consumerism etc. that have crept into the holiday.  Indeed we should not ignore them or we as people of God risk sharing in them.  But even in the middle of all that is going on there is so much positive that can be embraced.  The biggest positive I see is that the birth of Christ is being proclaimed!

Everywhere you see displays of nativities and stars and Wisemen kneeling at the foot of a savior in a manger.  You hear the greeting of Merry Christ mas as people increasingly abandon the fad of political correctness.  And on Christmas Eve all around the world people will join in song and worship proclaiming the good news that a Savior is born.

We too should proclaim him!  Make a point of talking about Him, and all that he has done.  In your families read the Christmas story either from Luke or maybe a more simplified version (depending on how old the little ones in your family are) but don’t miss the opportunity to proclaim our Savior and all that He did by coming to this Earth! 

Enjoy your family! Enjoy the celebrations!  Proclaim our Savior!

See you at church!

Pastor Chris



Infused with Grace

This time of year as we talk about the birth of Christ I am always struck by the multitude of facets to the story.  The incarnation of Christ was and is so significant that the people, places and the events,  surrounding his birth are given a fair bit of attention.  We have multiple accounts bringing with them a different focus.  You have different characters who bring different perspectives.  It is rich with details and dripping with importance.  Still it is a story often told (at least once a year as it turns out) so it can become easy to allow it to loose focus and become as blurry as it is familiar. Every year while retelling the story I try to bring out something new that maybe you have never seen before.  One of the things that stood out to me this year was how the entire story is infused with Grace

Infused might be a curious word to describe it but I think it fits.  To infuse something is to allow something to completely soak into it. Like the hot water is infused with tea or the air is infused with the aroma of Cinnamon.  It is a bit more subtle than to overwhelm and yet it completely permeates.  I think that describes the aroma of grace on this story.  It is not blatant or overbearing.  Like the characters of Joseph and Mary, it is somewhat quiet and humble.  Yet, mixed through all of it we find grace.

In this weeks sermon I hope to draw out for you examples of that grace, and how it impacts us.  But in a bit of preparation read the story again and purposefully look for grace, see if you don’t find it infused into all of it.

See you at church,

Pastor Chris.



What Happens Next?

Did you ever read one of those books that was so good you just couldn’t wait to see what is next? Page after page as the story unfolds you want to know more and more. The characters develop and texture and depth is added. The plot thickens and the protagonist faces the conflict, you never want it to end. But the thing is, it always does. The same is true for us.

Our lives develop and add layer after layer of depth and texture. Relationships are built, grow, and sometimes even end. We can’t wait to see what comes next whether it is because we anticipate great things or we are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Ultimately we never want it to end, but it always does. Or does it?

There are all kinds of speculations about what happens when you die. People make up all kinds of metaphors and euphemisms to try and explain the unknown. Things like “Well he is in a better place.” “He is with mom now.” “He is in the happy hunting grounds, killin ducks.” (I confess I never really heard that last one but it does sound pretty comforting). But in all of those sayings is there any truth? When it comes to what comes next, I don’t want to hold onto platitudes and wishful thinking. I am not interested in your mind fantasy or even what someone thinks, I want the truth. Scripture does not leave us to the imaginations of humanity, but God clearly lays out what happens next.   Because we know, we have the opportunity to live into it even now, and that makes all the difference.

This week we explore the Biblical doctrine of resurrection. Come discover what happens next.

See you at church,

Pastor Chris



Face to Face

Everybody has a hula-hoop, well not an actual one, although you may own one. (I will spare you the image of me actually doing the hula-hoop or being a hula-hoop champion, oops too late- rub your eyes real hard it will go away) Instead I am talking about a hula-hoop of comfort. You know that personal space radar thing. Everyone’s hula-hoop is a different size. Depending on the person and the circumstance your hula-hoop may be large, may be a handshake away or then you have those folks who have no hula-hoop at all.   You know the close talkers and close walkers. My hula-hoop is the perfect size and people who get too close are weird and uncomfortable and those that are too far must be timid or aloof.   But of course we all feel that way.

 

Hula-hoops disappear with those we are most intimate with. When children run to their mommies they do not stop two feet away and extend a hand for a hand shake. In fact, it always makes me smile when a little one buries their face in your neck seeking comfort and security. And the most intimate of our expressions of closeness occur face to face. When you are communicating face to face there is no need for any intermediary such as a written note, a phone, a text, tweet, snapchat, or really old school email. Rather, with the most subtle movements of our face we can say volumes.

 

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians and in the midst of “The Love Chapter” speaks of such communication. A time when our relationship with God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is no longer mediated by prayers that need interpretation or the gifts that come from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Right now the Holy Spirit’s gifts are an incredible deposit, but when we are finally in the presence of God, we will know and be known. We will commune with Him face to face. (1 Cor. 13:8-12) I can’t wait.

 

See you at church,

Pastor Chris



It Can’t Be Fixed

I have a love hate relationship with cars.  I love them when they work and do what they are supposed to.  But I hate them when they break down.  It is the nature of cars that you might in one moment happily cruising down the road feeling no pain, and then suddenly that moment your car decides to have issues.  Well I know it doesn’t decide but sometimes it feels like it.  And now you have to try and fix your car.

The thing with car repairs is that at any given moment it can become a fatal brokenness. Fatal not in the life of the driver or passengers , but fatal to the car.  You can take it in to the mechanic and he can tell you; “Well your doosenhimer regulator has fibulated and it can’t be repaired.”   That is what you never want to hear.  It just can’t be repaired, there is only one solution.  It has to be rebuilt or junk the car.

I have heard about people rebuilding engines and transmissions  and any number of essential car parts.  And while my knowledge is minuscule concerning all things cars,  I have picked up a little bit about the rebuilding process.  They take an engine or transmission down to to its essential parts and then replace the broken bits, recondition the ones that are not broken but have wear, replace all the gaskets etc. and then put it back together so that it has been rebuilt.  Sometimes because of upgrades or newer replacement parts, the rebuilt component of a car can actually be better than when it was new.

Man had a sin problem.  It was a fatal problem and the issue couldn’t be fixed.  We can not rebuild ourselves, by deciding to be good, or avoiding making mistakes.  Our problem was bigger than good intentions could solve. In fact, no stick on Band-Aid or external solution would be adequate.  We could not just be repaired.  There was only one thing that could be done,  we had to be rebuilt and the one to rebuild us is the Holy Spirit.

Have you been rebuilt?

This week will be talking about the work of the Holy Spirit as he applies the salivation provided by Christ to our lives in regeneration. 

See you at church.

Pastor Chris