Pastor’s Perspective

May 2022

Change

Why is change so difficult? I can think of a few reasons. I am sure many of you reading this have great answers to that question. If several of us put our heads together we could probably come up with a comprehensive list. I won’t pretend to have mastered psychology and list a bunch of reasons people find change so difficult. In fact, I’m not generally concerned about the reasons. It is enough to know that change is difficult for most people, some more, some less. This fact is cause for compassion and patience.

By the words, “compassion and patience,” I do not mean avoiding change, or insulating from change. I do mean intentional effort to help others and ourselves process change. One way we can help one another process change is by remembering this: change, in and of itself is not a bad thing. It can be good, and change is promised and even commanded in the Bible.

God tells us in the Bible- when Jesus returns to establish the fullness of his kingdom, things are going to change. Wrongs will be made right. Creation will be liberated from the present corruption and “we will be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed (1 Corinthians 15:52).”

Jesus speaks with all authority on earth and in heaven when he says, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3).” God changes hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. God changes prideful people into humble people. God changes self-centered people into caring and generous people. As swiftly as Jesus changed water into wine he changes hopeless into hopeful, faithless into faith-filled. God even uses change to change us. If you ask him to show the way(s) you need to change and become like a little child, he will show you. He will also work those changes in you, for your good, because he loves you and delights in you.

Peace, Pastor Dan.

April 2022

Why You Should Cook Up Some New Friendships

I’m not much of a cook. I’ll try from time to time, but I don’t like it much. Mainly because I don’t think I’m very good at it. I tend to make a mess. It usually doesn’t turn out to be very tasty. And I’m slow. The slow part is what really gets me. It just seems to take me soooo loooong. I think many of us feel similarly about making the effort to build new friendships. We’ll try from time to time, but we don’t like it much. Mainly because we think we’re not very good at it. It often feels as though our efforts don’t produce much more than a mess. The outcome usually turns out to be less than what we’d hoped. And progress is slow. It just seems to take a long time. So, why make the effort at all?

Because – friendship is an important tool in God’s Kingdom. It’s an essential ingredient. Think of it like this- Jesus promised to build his church (Matthew 16). You know – Jesus’ first vocation was in construction. He worked with stone, he worked with wood. He built structures. I sure would like to have been employed by Jesus, working alongside him on job sites. I’d love to see his tool collection and learn from him, the designer and creator of the universe, how to build. We still can, you know – work alongside him and learn to build. Jesus is still in-to construction. He talks about building his church. He talks about making disciples. He says, “If you love me you will obey my instructions (John 14).” Friendship is an essential Kingdom ingredient. Friendship is an important tool. Friendship is the tool for building his church, for making disciples. Friendship is the tool for getting the truth of Jesus’ life, crucifixion, and resurrection across to people. And with this truth, the Holy Spirit builds forgiveness, life, and salvation into a soul.

Making the effort at new friendships can be messy and take longer than we like. Perhaps we’ve just been missing an ingredient in our friendship making recipe – Jesus. If the Master (builder) Chef is guiding and blessing our effort to cook up some friendship, if the goal of our effort is serving Jesus, then something fabulous will result. For example, after not hearing from a new friend for many months even after repeated attempts on my end, I recently got the following text message. “I need to apologize for how I handled things. Please forgive me…..I would love to meet and give you a hug.” I got a great-big bear hug later that day, and we also enjoyed a long conversation, picking up right where we left off. Jesus is building his church.

Hey, even in the kitchen I sometimes do alright. When I ask, “how did it turn out?” my wife says, “hmm, ahh, well…… it’s pretty good.” I wonder how it might turn out next time if I asked Jesus to bless my effort to cook something up? You do the same and let me know how it goes as you cook up a new friendship.

PEACE – Pastor Dan

February 2022

Small Groups

Do you ever feel like you want to learn the Bible better but don’t know where to start? Or do you  feel a sort of intimidation about the idea of joining a Bible study, thinking, “others will know so much more than me?” Do you ever feel a need to have solid Christian friends? Do you ever have a nagging feeling that your faith is not as strong as it should be? Do you have questions and even doubts? If you answer yes to any of these questions, then participating in a small group is the answer for you.

Small groups are a great place to bring your questions. There are two Bible Exploration Small Groups getting started at OSLC. I am very interested in helping more of these get started. I have the perfect resource designed for people who are new to exploring the Bible in a small group, and the format is based entirely on questions. And the questions have built in, multiple choice, answers, which often lead to great discussion and learning.

One of the groups is meeting in a home of an older couple and is comprised of young couples who are new to the Bible and authentic Christian faith. Let me know if you’d like to be a part of this group. The other group is a ladies group, primarily middle-aged women. Let me know if you’d like to join this group or have any questions at all.

As I interact with people lately a couple of themes keep surfacing. One theme is relationship difficulties. Some are difficulties in extended family relationships others are marital difficulties. It would be great if we had a small group specifically for those struggling with relationship difficulties. Please, let me know if you’d be willing to try. With God in the midst, a small group like this is just the thing that will bring hope, provide tools, and bring healing.

The other theme is isolation. Obviously the cure for this is being with others. Exploring the Bible with others is obviously going to overcome feelings of isolation. But you must be willing to give it a try. Let me know if you are willing. I can help you get started.

I remember one small group I was a part of. Ten adult Christian friends and a large number of kids got together in a home for a Thanksgiving meal. It was such a magnificent feast, with everyone contributing something. During the meal, with homemade bread already on the table and glasses full of wine, we paused and celebrated the Lord’s Supper, the Great Thanksgiving. It remains to this day, one of the most meaningful and memorable communion experiences I’ve had. I’d love for you to get to know the joy and wonder of growing in Christian faith and love with others in a small group.

Pastor Dan

January 2022

PRAYER -Thursday, December 16, 2021.

Yesterday was a strange weather day. We had 70 degrees and strong winds. Then we had a crazy rainstorm (it rained mud) with super gusts of wind, power outages, and tornados nearby. 29 people attended worship last night. I was surprised at that many. During our time of prayer, I was led by the Holy Spirit to pray for the families in our neighborhoods who are suffering from storms on the inside of the house not just the outside. These storms manifest as various depths of conflict, disharmony, hostility, violence, substance abuse, addictions – all sorts of dysfunction. God wants to bless homes with joy, love, peace, purpose, and faith in Jesus – and he wants those of us who are BLESSED in this way already to come alongside these storm-ridden homes and be used by God to lift them out of the dominion of darkness and into the Kingdom of Jesus.

Now, here is the punchline: That is how I prayed last night. Just this afternoon I came back to the church building after lunch. Leaning up against their car, right outside the church office doorway was a young couple taking a break from an intense meeting. They were having a “team meeting” (regarding their children) with social workers and lawyers. We became acquainted. I learned their names and a bit of their story. I was able to point them to a resource that would solve a practical problem they are experiencing. And, I was able to bless them with a crisp $100 bill thanks to a secret Santa-member of OSLC who supplies me with a stack of them this time of year for just such purposes. And, the three of us made a plan to see each other again. There it is, step one in last night’s prayer becoming reality.

Such is the power of prayer. I don’t mean my prayers. I mean anyone who prays in the character of, in the way of, in the name of Jesus. Dear ones, join me in praying for families in our neighborhoods who are suffering storms on the inside of their house. Then watch for how the Holy Spirit will order your steps to meet and interact with people in a way that makes you part of the answer to those prayers. “And whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” – Jesus (John 14:13).

Elsewhere in this newsletter, you will read about, “LCMC – Three Days of Prayer.” Plan a time to pray in the ways suggested and in the way I have just encouraged. Jot it down on your calendar – a specific time. You’ll be more likely to do it if you write it down in your calendar. Even consider coming to the church building and sitting in the sanctuary during these Three Days of Prayer. The doors are open.

Peace – Pastor Dan

December 2021

Happy New Year!!!!!

No, I’m not confused. We have arrived once again at the season of Advent. The season of Advent is for us Christians, the first month of the Christian year. It is very similar to the Israelites. God delivered them from bondage in Egypt under the leadership of Moses. Regarding this Passover Exodus experience, “The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, this month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year (Exodus 12:1-2).” Christians mark time differently from the world.

We Christians live in the world, but we are called by God to live distinct and different from the world. Here is one such Biblical admonition from the Apostle Peter. “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires that war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us (1 Peter 2:11-12).” Here is another from the Apostle Paul. “Do everything without complaining or arguing; so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…(Philippians 2:14-15).” These exhortations will serve us well in the busy Advent season.

This Advent, like every Advent, we focus on the coming of the Messiah. As we prepare to celebrate the Messiah’s birth, his first advent(coming/arrival), I want you to realize something. The season of Advent gives us a long-range view of our Lord. Think of Advent’s Christmas preparations as if you were looking through a telescope. You can see Christmas in the forefront of your view, but the focus is in the distance. The distance is his second coming. During this Advent, look through Christmas to Jesus second coming as King and Judge and re-Creator. You will be blessed.

Peace,

Pastor Dan

November 2021

ONE PERSON, PART 2

Jesus calls his followers to make disciples. All of us who confess the faith outlined in the Apostles Creed are called by Jesus to make disciples. And Jesus promises that he will be with us always. The Holy Spirit of Jesus is with us and in us, empowering, enabling and creating opportunities for us to partner with him in his mission of making disciples. The most common way for God’s people to participate in this mission of making disciples is through relationships, through friendships, “one person at a time.”

Last month I wrote about the importance of taking time with people, one person at a time. I wrote about a friend (Mike) here in town who died suddenly. What I didn’t tell you is – he called me, “Pastor.” He is not a member of OSLC, yet he called me pastor. (This is not an uncommon occurrence.) Even though he was interested in coming to worship at OSLC, he struggled to make his way back into the halls of a church. This struggle was mainly fueled by a wrong conclusion he held. His wrong perspective was – thinking/feeling he needed to get himself cleaned up a bit more before coming. Nevertheless, he  perceived me as his pastor. This was a correct conclusion he held. He was a disciple in the making. He is now, a disciple perfected.

My dear partners in the gospel, please continue your “one person at a time” endeavors. Take time for people. Take time to befriend those who need the saving power of Jesus in their lives. Your friendship is the bridge on which the gospel travels. Don’t worry if you don’t know how this disciple making business works. Don’t worry if you are unsure how your friendships can “make disciples.” You can lean on me. That’s what I’m here for. I will encourage, coach, equip, pray for, and help you in your disciple BEING and your disciple MAKING efforts. Let’s get together and see where God takes us.

PEACE,

Pastor Dan

October 2021

ONE PERSON

I’ve lived in Audubon for a year and four months now. One thing that struck me from the very beginning and still impresses me is this: People take time for one another. People will stop what they are doing and visit when running in to one another.

I’m learning these days the importance of taking time for one person. This is the way of Jesus. Jesus taught the masses. But He also took time to give an individual his undivided attention. In Mark 10, we learn of a blind man calling out for His attention. Others tried to shush him. But Jesus made his way through the crowd and asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” And in Luke 15, we learn that even the angels rejoice, not just over masses of people, but over one person.

Are you taking time for people, one person at a time? It could be the last time you see him or her. That happened to me last week; maybe you as well. I made a friend in town. I saw him last week, crossing the street towards his house. I stopped my motorcycle turned off the engine. We chatted for a bit. “I’ve got something for you,” he said. “Give me thirty seconds, I’ll be right back.” He came back with a big hard cover book in hand, smiling. “Here is that Steven King book we were talking about the other day.” “Thank you,” I said. “I’ll get it back to you when I’m done.” But I won’t be getting it back to him. He died suddenly after that encounter.

Take time for people. It very well could have eternal consequences.

Peace,

Pastor Dan

September 2021

“I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” – Jesus.

Bringing the Father Glory; What does it mean to glorify someone, to bring someone glory? It means – to cause someone to have glorious greatness in the eyes of another. When a producer makes a movie about a superhero, the intention is typically to cause the superhero to have glorious greatness in the eyes of the viewers/fans. I remember going to see one of the “Rocky” movies in the theater with my cousins. We were so pumped up. On our way out of the movie we were whooping and hollering and punching and pushing and jumping onto each other. Rocky had achieved glorious greatness in our eyes. We were electrified with energy, elation and enthusiasm. The producer and director and actors all succeeded. They brought Rocky Balboa glory.

In the above quotation, Jesus claims to have accomplished for The Father, the same thing the producer of the “Rocky” movie did for Rocky Balboa. Just a few sentences later Jesus claims that his disciples did the same thing for him. They caused Jesus to have glorious greatness in the eyes of others. How did they do that? They brought Jesus glory by following him. By their words and actions, they demonstrated a singular, primary, life ambition – to be an ardent student, an obedient servant, and devoted follower of Jesus. People took note of them. More importantly, they took note of Jesus. “Who is this Jesus?” they asked. “What kind of person must he be to warrant this sort of allegiance from those guys?”

Jesus prayed for you who believe in him, that you also would bring him glory. And his desire is to live in you in such a way that he brings glory to himself through you. How can you bring him glory? Pray to the Holy Spirit, to work in you, causing you to become an ardent student, an obedient servant, a devoted follower of Jesus. People will take note. More importantly they will take note of this Jesus you follow.

In this article I placed four phrases in italics. They are either direct quotations or paraphrases of the things Jesus was saying. Read John 17 and see if you can identify these four.

PEACE, Pastor Dan


August 2021

“Wanting to justify himself he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor’?” – LUKE 10:29

A friend of mine is taking good care of his aging and slowly declining father. My friend’s mom died about six years ago. Part of his caretaking strategy has been to move in with his dad. It is often apparent that this has been a wise, useful, and necessary strategy. However, it is not always smooth or easy. There are times when they butt heads. Occasionally, my friend’s work requires him to travel. This provides a needed release valve for them both. But my friend carries with him the stress and guilt of wondering what dilemmas may arise while he is gone.

Dad has enough resources to hire some at-home help, or even for assisted living or nursing home care. My friend could certainly focus more ardently upon his own career if he encouraged Dad in this direction. However, his moral compass keeps him pointed in the same direction he is already going. Even if he were inclined to pressure Dad towards these alternatives, I do not believe he would win that argument.

When things are difficult I remind him, “you will never go wrong making Dad a priority.” By way of a terse warning, the Bible tells us this fact rather plainly: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1Timothy 5:8).”

Choices and decisions are presented to us daily. Prioritizing is always necessary. When you are given a choice between your list or a person, remember my friend. Intentionally make people a priority. You will never go wrong making people a priority. If you do this, God is faithful and trustworthy. He will make clear what items on your list are truly necessary and provide every resource needed to accomplish what truly needs doing. “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).” And by the way, my friend’s career…..he is thrilled with all the doors of opportunity God is opening right in front of him, right where he is.

Peace,

Pastor Dan

July 2021

The Body-Soul Connection

Martha’s brother had been dead and in the tomb four days. When Jesus arrived, there was much commotion. When the emotional dust and conversation cleared Jesus said, “take me to him….roll the stone away (despite objections regarding the foul odor spilling from the unsealed tomb) ….Lazarus come out…..unbind him from the burial cloths.” It was an exceedingly amazing day for everyone. Many people, then and since, have wondered where did his soul go while his body was in the tomb? What did he experience? These questions seek to explore and understand the mystery of the body-soul connection. We know the body-soul connection is severed upon death (to the criminal crucified next to him: “today you will be with me in paradise” -Jesus). But just exactly how the body-soul connection works while we are alive, remains mysterious. We do know the body-soul connection is unified. What effects the one, likewise the other, but not always in the same way. A Christian persecuted physically can experience a diminishing strength of body, yet simultaneously experience strength and clarity of soul. At other times, a bitterness of soul can accelerate and exacerbate diminishing physical health.

If Jesus explained what happened with Lazarus’ soul those four days, we do not have a record of it. There is no clarity on that front regarding the body-soul inner workings. But we can learn about this great mystery. We can learn through observation, personal experience, and the Holy Scriptures. Later this year we will examine this more closely in a series of messages. We’ll uncover what God reveals in his Word regarding the body and soul during life and after death. In the meantime, an observation: Last week, my wife and I led a Vespers worship time at the Friendship Home. Earlier I had a delightful conversation with several residents asking about where they ate dinner, with whom, what time – small talk. Initially, I directed these questions at a particular resident. She smiled contentedly and was completely unphased answering, “I don’t know,” to all three questions. Then, during worship, I asked the attendees for prayer requests. This same resident said I should pray for God to, “sort everything out.” I asked for clarification. She said I should pray for Jesus to return soon and sort out the mess of this world. What great fascination! On the one hand, her physical, (bodily) cognitive functioning is diminished. On the other hand, her soulish, cognitive functioning is crystal clear. Here is clear evidence Jesus statement, “I am the resurrection and the life. he who believes in me will live, even though he dies;” is absolute truth. What a profound and exciting mystery!

Pastor Dan

June 2021

The Top 10 Struggles

In April we began a sermon series titled, “The Top 10 Struggles of Your Life.” In giving us the Ten Commandments, God blesses us by exposing the sinful attitudes of human hearts. The resulting struggles dominate our lives. Left to our own devices we are powerless to overcome them. Our only hope is to rely on God’s own power to overcome these struggles.

The first commandment: “You shall have no other God’s before me.” Translation: Your struggle with God. Will you trust God enough to let him be the boss of you? Ask yourself, “what do I really mean or intend when I pray in The Lord’s Prayer – ‘Thy will be done’?”

The second commandment: “You shall not make for your self an idol…you shall not bow down to them or worship them.” Translation: Your struggle with worship. Worship means to bend the knee, bow down before, prostrate oneself. We struggle between worshipping created things (ourselves, nature, hobbies, work, children) and worshipping the creator. What are you worshipping? Are you doing your own thing and calling it worship? Or are you worshipping God as he has decreed? Read Isaiah 58:1-11 and think over your everyday week to week experiences. This analysis will help clarify what and how you are worshipping.

The Third commandment: “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God.” Translation: Your struggle with religion, religious observances, ritual, ceremony, man-made rules. A simple definition of religion is, a set of beliefs and corresponding behaviors. The struggle is not between going to worship and not going to worship. The struggle is what we worship, and how we worship. We violate this command when we attach God’s name to religion. The danger here is using religion to cover up our own sinfulness, use religion to gain power and influence and using religion to build our ego, feel good about ourselves. True religion is to care for the neediest of the needy and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. Read James 1:26-27, Is your religion producing the desired Biblical outcome?

The fourth commandment: Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Translation: Your struggle with time. Did the seven-day week derive culturally or did it come straight from God? Taken together, history, archeology and biology indicate the seven-day week came from God. Look up Ecclesiastes 3 in your Bible. The first verse indicates there is plenty of time for us to do everything needful. However, we struggle with feeling like there is never enough time. We constantly battle to find a balance between the things we want to do and the things we should do. But if we are willing to ask God what is needful, God will show us what we need to do. There is enough time to do everything we need to do. True joy, peace, contentment, courage and gumption will be ours when our need-to-do’s and our want-to-do’s are the same thing. Will you trust God enough to let him tell you straight from the Bible what you need to do one day out of seven? If so, look up Leviticus 23:3. Keep asking him what you need to do on the other six as well. You will be blessed.

The fifth Commandment: Honor your father and mother.” Translation: Your struggle with authority. We struggle with authority for two reasons. 1) We don’t like being measured, assessed, judged. Authority and judgment are inseparable. 2) We love our sin. See John 3:19-21. If we will submit to authority (come into the light) we will be empowered to love what God loves and hate what God hates. Read Matthew 28:18-20. Which elements of Jesus’ words make submitting to God’s authority structures an appealing concept?

We’ll review the remaining five commandments next month. Meanwhile, peace to you as you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus,

Pastor Dan

May 2021

WHY DOESN’T GOD JUST DO SOMETHING? READ JOSHUA CHAPTER ONE

He did! He made you! And just like Joshua was given a task of leading, and advancing the Kingdom of God, so he has given you the same task: to lead and to advance the Kingdom of God. Joshua is a general. You may not be. However, there is a chain of command. From the general down to the private, all are called to lead and simultaneously submit to authority. Leadership always goes hand in hand with submission to authority. Imagine the chaos, the inefficiency, the lack of progress, the counterproductivity when the chain of command is not followed. Even the lowest ranking soldier leads by example as he dutifully carries out his assignments and takes his part in advancing the cause of the King’s Kingdom. 400yrs slavery. 40yrs wilderness. Charge!

Joshua: What is in a name? Joshua’s given name was Hoshea. Hoshea means, salvation. Moses changed his name from Hoshea to Joshua, Numbers 13:16. Joshua means, Yahweh Saves (the LORD) saves. Joshua is the name given by Joseph and Mary to our Lord. Translating Joshua into Greek and from Greek to English we get, Jesus. Jesus is the 2nd Joshua. See Matthew 1:21.

The book of Joshua is the story of the Kingdom of God breaking into the world at a time when national and political entities were viewed as the creation of the gods and proof of their power. In the following verses you see the second Joshua doing the same thing. Look up Matthew 22:18-19. Mat. 2:1. Mark 1:14-15

Joshua is chosen by God to lead (1:5) What about you? Is the calling and promise for Joshua in particular or could it be about any believer?

Psalm 139:13-16 – Is that about the author in particular, or people in general?

Jeremiah 1:4-5 – What part of this is true, or could be said of you? What part is not applicable?

Acts 9:15 – “My chosen instrument.” Specific or general?

Ephesians 1:4 Who is this about? How does that inform the answer to the above questions? The following principles necessary for Joshua are very much applicable for you as well.

Joshua 1:5 RELY ON God for your future (His plans) Proverbs 16:9

Joshua 1:7 & 9 ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE without being terrified. God will be with you and before you.

vv. 6-9 what is at the center of being strong, courageous, successful, strong and courageous? Is the promise in verse 9 specific to Joshua? See Matthew 28:20; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:23, 1 John 3:1-3

Joshua: 1:18 What do you find remarkable about this verse? Be mindful of the same pattern in your life.

Pastor Dan

April 2021

What is TRUTH?
-Pastor Dan Beattie, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church
“What is truth?” Pilate asked. – John 18:38

Is there such a thing as absolute truth? If there is, does anyone actually possess it? People also ask, “Whose truth?” And add, “What’s true for you is not for me.” The existence of absolute truth, the nature of absolute truth or the ability to know absolute truth are very old questions and remain very relevant questions.

Whether any human creature possesses the truth depends on how truth is defined. If you think truth is a set of individual conclusions determined after careful study or life experience; or if you think truth is a set of self-evident, noble principles or ideals, then no. No one actually possesses the truth. Claiming to have absolute truth is arrogant. It’s like claiming to understand the world from outside the world. Take, for instance, the world’s many claims of life after death and how to get to “that other place.”

People can go to the internet, bookstores, television, etc. to learn about God and spirituality and arriving at “that other place.” People have a plethora of churches or spiritualties to try on for size. However, if church “A” claims to have the truth, and churches “B” and “C” down the street also claim to have the truth but simply teach it differently, and perhaps a book or another philosophy says something different yet, how can they all be right? They can’t. Therefore, many people determine truth is relative.

But truth is not relative. There is such a thing as absolute truth. Truth is a person. That person revealed to us the very heart of God. That person gave us access to the mind of God and to eternal life. That person is Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus made the boldest claim, “I am the Truth…” (John 14:6; see also Revelation 19:11). Jesus also said to his followers, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will lead you into the whole truth” (John 16:13). Absolute truth is found in God alone. Only God can look at the world from the outside. God’s Spirit – and God’s Spirit only – can convince us of His absolute truth, and even then only insofar as our finite minds can grasp His infinite truth.

Jesus opened the way of eternal life to us through His life, death and resurrection. He initiated a personal relationship with His human creatures. To know Jesus is to have eternal life, and if you receive Jesus as Lord, then you have absolute Truth. The closer one grows in friendship with Jesus, the more one begins to see the world from outside – from God’s perspective. Seek Truth. It’s more than just “out there.” It’s near you.

March 2021

VICTORY – READ: Matthew 26:40-41.

So, Jesus is moments away from being arrested. He wants his friends to sit near him and keep watch. In other words, just be there and make sure he is “going to be ok.” He goes off to the side to pray. He knows that brutality and death await him. He has begun to feel the weight of mankind’s hate, grief, regret, misspent ambitions, self-centered living, violence of word and deed, rebellion, disobedience, hard heartedness, resentment, bitterness, basically everything ungodly, unkind and wicked. He has begun to experience it as his own – piled on guilt. He is personally going to have to answer for it all.

Do you remember the sinking feeling of being called to the principal’s office or having the principal call home or being told to wait in your room till your Dad gets home, or just having anyone tell you, “We need to talk?” Well multiply that sinking feeling a million times and you might start scratching the surface of what it was like for Jesus when he asked his friends to sit near and keep watch over him. It bears repeating. Jesus bore our guilt, shame, grief, sorrows as if they were his own. When he finished praying, he came back to them sleeping. “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak,” he says.

This tells me two things. 1) Jesus knows the good I want to do. He recognizes it and approves. 2) Jesus knows that my body (which includes my will) is weak. He knows the first because he is God and sees right into my soul. He knows the second because he became a man like me. “But I’m only human,” is not an excuse for lack of victory, a lack of doing the good I desire. When you and I see that our soul desires to do good, to make an improvement in our behavior and character, this is a good thing. The problem is the good not being accomplished, the improvement failing to happen.

You can have victory. Do not settle for making excuses and saying, “well Jesus understands, he became a human being like me.” No! The solution is to cry out to God. Beg him to make your body/will stronger. How badly do you want to stay awake? How badly do you want victory? READ Romans 7:15-25. There you will see the formula for victory. Do not give up. Keep going to Jesus in prayer until you have victory. Bring others alongside yourself if you are failing to reach victory. When you gain the victory, God will give you rest and joy. You will grow closer as friends. Then when the time is right, he will bring you through another growth-spurt and you will need to cry out again. This is how we are made fit and ready for life in the age to come, life in the Kingdom of God when Jesus brings it in all its fullness and glory. READ Romans 8:37-39.

PEACE – Pastor Dan

February 2021

Wise Men Follow His Star (a Lenten Lesson)

Matthew 2:1-2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, magi from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

We spent some time in worship the Sunday after Christmas, thinking about the wise men. Even so, the wise men also have a lesson for the season of Lent. Their example teaches us to take God seriously. How serious were the magi about worshipping the King of the Jews? They did not just admire the star or study it. They did not just send up a quick prayer of thanksgiving for the arrival of the king. They followed the star. They bowed before King Jesus. They brought King Jesus gifts. They lived the command found in Romans 12. “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship.” King Herod told the magi to report back to him once they found the one born King of the Jews (in order to execute him). So, what risks did the magi take when they disobeyed King Herod, not reporting back and returning home by another route? How serious were the magi about worshiping the King of the Jews? VERY SERIOUS, obviously.

Here is another question to consider. When did the magi worship Jesus? It was not only when they bowed before him at Mary and Joseph’s house. They began worshipping Jesus the moment they set their plans in motion to go and worship him. Their going was worship. Their action was a response to God’s initiative. God always takes initiative in our life with him. He initiates, we respond. Any action we take in response to God is an act of worship. Here is a final question for you with the magi in mind. What act of worship is the Holy Spirit calling upon you to do – that if you did this act of worship, it would be obvious you are taking God seriously?

The season of Lent begins this year with Ash Wednesday, February 17th. Lent is a season for taking God seriously. It is a season for recommitting to spiritual disciplines (acts of worship) – prayer, fasting, and giving to those in need. Plan on attending Ash Wednesday worship the evening of February 17th, and we will kick off the season of Lent by challenging ourselves to take God, and our friendship with him more seriously.

PEACE, Pastor Dan.