A Deep Breath

John 19:28-30

28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

“It is finished,”  the words have such great value and meaning to us.  In that moment Jesus changed the fabric of reality.  In that moment he paid the price for my sins, your sins, and the sins of the whole world.  And after such a momentous event you would think that everything would look different but it didn’t.  It was the Preparation day, and Sabbath was coming, so they laid him in a borrowed tomb, and he rested.  It was the pause.  It was a moment of reflection.  A deep breath before what would come next.

Tonight as the sun goes down, I would encourage you to pause.  Reflect and remember the price that Jesus paid.  Consider Jesus who rescued you from sin, and remember Jesus in the tomb. 

That is where we will start tomorrow, and move from reflection to celebration!
See you at church.

Pastor Chris

Made New!


The nice weather this last week (and the week to come) has me thinking about my garden. The old saying was “get your potatoes in by St. Patrick’s day” if true I am already a week late! I hate all the preparation for gardening but I do enjoy the garden and I especially enjoy the fruit of the labors later on.

One of the things about gardening that I find truly amazing is the process of planting seeds. Seeds are in themselves an amazing piece of God’s work. They can lie dormant for years (lots of years in the case of grain sprouted from Egyptian tombs) and still they manage to sprout and come to life. While I can appreciate the science of it all it is still miraculous. Beyond the germination and the sprouting is the fact of how different the seeds are from the plant and even the fruit itself! To me they are the perfect example of what happens to us in Christ.

Like seeds, we are seemingly dead. Our hearts are all wrinkled and hard. There is before Christ no evidence of real life. Real life is more than just existing. It is showing growth not just decay. Real life is to be transformed, not stay the way we were.   The bean plant looks amazingly different than the bean you planted, and our lives after Christ equally look different. The reason is we become something new. “It is Finished” provides the spark.   It provides the opportunity, the means by which we can enter into new life, and truly be transformed.

Want a new life? Tired of being just potential? Come discover how “It is Finished” was an act of creation not just destruction.

See you at church.

Pastor Chris

Beyond the Fix

“Can it be fixed?” That is the question that you hate to ask when your car is broken and you take it to the auto Wizard, (because everyone knows they work on some kind mechanical magic). You want them to fix it of course, but in reality you want them to do more. You want them to return to you a vehicle where not only the immediate problem is fixed, but in the long term, it will once again represent reliable transportation. There are all kinds of things besides just cars that sometimes need a bit of fixing.

Sometimes even our relationships need a bit of repair. We said it and we shouldn’t have. We accidently hurt our beloved, or even just a co-worker, and just like our car we really want more than just a fix to the immediate situation. We of course need forgiveness and restitution (I will make it up to you I promise…) but what we really desire is a relationship that is stronger and if possible even better than it was before. We want to go beyond just the fix.

“It is finished” accomplished the fix. Our sin was paid for. The sacrifice to turn aside wrath was provided. Jesus, flawless in every way, fully human but living without sin, was our atonement. Amazingly it didn’t just stop there. In fact, that was just the beginning of what He accomplished. Because not only was our sin problem addressed but now a new and amazing opportunity was brought into being; a new way to be in relationship with God.

This week as we remember what Christ accomplished on the cross, we will look beyond the fix! Come discover what Jesus has made possible!

See you at church,

Pastor Chris.

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.