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September 16th 2018

Pastor Steve’s Blog Sep 16, 2018 I ran across an interesting article this week while I was reading the online magazine put out for pastors from Christianity Today. I thought I would share a small portion of the article on the “Ministry of Absence” written by Stephen L. Woodworth. It made me stop and think and perhaps it will for you as well. “Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian who participated in the Nazi resistance during WWII, shared (Henri) Nouwen’s conviction when he wrote, “Before God and with God we live without God.” While frequently misunderstood and misapplied, Bonhoeffer’s challenging observation points to the reality that our lived experience on this side of heaven is an existence among shadows. God is certainly present, but in a way very much unlike the totality of presence we will experience in the world to come. We live “before God and with God” as imperfect creations, marred by sin and limited by our ability to see only “in a mirror dimly” (1 Cor. 13:12). According to Nouwen, that is a reality rehearsed regularly in our weekly worship. Through the ministry of the Word and sacraments, we are simultaneously reminded of God’s presence as well as his absence. We study his revelation and allow his eternal voice to speak into our current lives, yet we grasp it imperfectly until we are able to see him face to face and “know even as we are known.” We consume bread and wine with the conviction that Christ is spiritually present even as we acknowledge the explicit promise that we will do so “until the Lord returns.” Our entire lives of worship and ministry are practiced without the physical presence of our Lord. While spiritually present at all times, the impetus for our following lies in a future hope of our reunion. We anticipate the kind of unending presence of God that alludes us until we are glorified.”

January 13, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog Jan 13, 2019 I wake up in the morning and I don’t want to turn on the television. Why? Because of all the goings on in Washington these days. It’s all enough to drive you crazy if that is all you hear all day. But I will say this, when I wake up in the morning, the one thing I do want to do, besides having a little breakfast and contemplating going to the gym, is opening up the Bible and turning God on in my mind and spirit first thing. My day certainly goes better when I spend those few minutes starting out with God. Lysa TerKeurst, in her book, Embraced: 100 Devotions to Know God is Holding You Close shares a devotion on “Giving My First Moments to God.” She uses Psalm 86:11 as the foundation for her devotion. Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Let her devotion prayer be your prayer this week as you begin each day. “Lord, may nothing separate me from You today. Teach me how to choose only Your way today so each step will lead me closer to You. Help me walk by your Word and not my feelings. Help me to keep my heart pure and undivided. Protect me from my own careless thoughts, words and actions. And keep me from being distracted by MY wants, MY desires, MY thoughts on how things should be. Help me embrace what comes my way as an opportunity…rather than a personal inconvenience. And finally, help me to rest in the truth of Psalm 86:13: ‘Great is your love toward me.’ You already see the ways I will fall short and mess up. But right now, I consciously tuck your whisper of absolute love for me into the deepest part of my heart. I recognize Your love for me is not based on my performance. You love me…shortcomings and all. That’s amazing. But what is most amazing is that the Savior of the world would desire a few minutes with me this morning. Lord, help me to forever remember what a gift it is to sit with You like this. In Jesus name, Amen.”

January 6, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog Jan 6, 2019 As we start out the New Year, I want to share this inspirational thought about “the true standard of success.” “Bobby Jones, one of golf’s greatest players, was only 5 years old when he first swung a golf club. By the age of 12, he was winning golf tournaments. During this time, he was known for his hot temper, and he soon had the nickname “Club Thrower.” Jones became friends with a man named Grandpa Bart, who worked part-time in the club pro shop. Bart had been an excellent golfer but had retired when arthritis gripped his hands. After Bobby lost the National Amateur Tournament at the age of 14, he said, “Bobby, you are good enough to win that tournament, but you’ll never win until you can control that temper of yours. You miss a shot---you get upset---then you lose.” Bobby knew Grandpa Bart was right, and he became determined to improve---not his golf swing---but his mood swings. When Bobby won a major tournament at age 21, Grandpa Bart said, “Bobby was 14 when he mastered the game of golf, but he was 21 when he mastered himself.” Records are always established in relationship to other people’s performance, but the true “standard of success” is established within the competitor. Let your “standard of success” be one that includes controlling your temper and taming your tongue. As a leader, you will be setting a Godly example for others to follow.” James 1:19-20 (KJV): “My beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” “God’s Little Lessons for Leaders.” Tulsa, OK: Honor Books, 2001, p. 9.

December 30, 2018

Pastor Steve’s Blog December 30, 2018 Well, we are finishing up another year of life. One more year in the books, so to speak. These milestone times are the times we can reflect back on all the things that have happened over this past year… both good and some not so good. It is also a time to remember that no matter what we went through this past year, God was always there with us, never leaving or forsaking us. God is a good God. He does not leave us as orphans. He loves us more than we will ever know and God expresses His love to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, and through the personal presence of the Holy Spirit. He gives us the strength and courage we need to always move forward so that we might continue to grow into Christ’s likeness. With these thoughts in mind, let me ask you the following questions. Take a few moments and reflect on each of these. What blessings did God bestowed upon you in 2018? In what ways did God help you when you needed it most? When did you feel the Holy Spirit’s presence most strongly?