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?
December 30, 2018
February 17, 2019
Pastor Steve’s Blog February 17, 2019 I want to start this week’s blog with the Scripture from John 15:20: “Remember the words I (Jesus) spoke to you, ‘No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.’” We are very lucky to live in a country that affords us the opportunity for freedom of religion. I know some would argue that we are losing some of that freedom as society is increasingly being called “post-Christian.” I, too, am concerned about that, but we are not losing our lives just for professing our Christian faith as has and is happening in other countries in the world. Because of that I don’t think that we, as a church, give much thought to this Scripture and the reality of persecution. But for some, the reality of persecution and death is all too real. I don’t know if you will recall back in 2015, when ISIS was seemingly at the height of its power in Africa and the Middle East, the horror of ISIS killing people for no other reason than for professing their faith in Jesus Christ. I read the following article this week in Decision Magazine. The title is: “Bodies of Christians Executed by ISIS Found.” “The bodies of 34 Ethiopian Christians killed by the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2015 have been found in a mass grave located on farmland near the coastal city of Sirte, Libya, which ISIS gained control of in 2015 before United Nations-backed forces regained control in 2016. The grave was discovered during the investigations of the terrorist group’s captured members, and the bodies of the Christians have been exhumed and will be repatriated to Ethiopia. According to Reuters, and ISIS propaganda video posted to social media in April, 2015 showed militants shooting and beheading Ethiopian Christians, who were in two groups, on the beach and in the scrubland. This incident happened two months after ISIS members executed 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt; a mass grave containing their bodies was found in 2017.” This week let us give thanks for the country in which we live. It may not be perfect, but it is our country and generally affords us a persecution free zone to practice our faith. Let us also pray for those who live in other places that, still to this day, suffer persecution for their Christian faith.
February 10, 2019
Pastor Steve’s Blog February 10, 2019 I want to confess one of my sins to you. It is my impatience at distracted drivers who get lost on their cell phones when they are stopped at a red light…and when the light turns green…we just sit there instead of moving forward. After some seconds, and nothing is happening, I am put in the position of having to be impolite and honk my horn. Has that ever happened to you? With some humor, let me go ahead and apologize up front if you were the car I honked at. I was reading in a book this week called “The Jesus Challenge: 21 Days of Loving God and Neighbor” by Justin Larosa and I ran across an interesting heading on page 16 of the book entitled: “Distracted from distraction by distraction.” Obviously it caught my attention since I am blogging about it now. Let me share these few paragraphs with you since Justin makes a good point and is worthy of some considered thought as we live out our lives this week. “T.S. Eliot wrote these words a long time ago. They still fit. Our culture is busier and more technologically connected than at any other time in history. The digital age promised fewer work hours, more efficiency, and a hyper-connected world. It has delivered on those promises—except for maybe fewer work hours. But not without cost. People are distracted and overscheduled. Disconnecting from technology is a constant struggle for everyone, and we don’t yet know the long-term effects of gazing at electronics. But we have seen disconnected living—both subtle and obvious ways—including in the spiritual life. Additionally, twenty-four hour connectivity has delivered non-stop communication about conflict, polarization, and violence, perpetuating fear among many. While we will never go back to the days of rotary phones and answering machines, we must find ways to mitigate distracted living because distracted living diminishes our ability as Christ followers to live out Jesus’ Greatest Commandment. Distraction is a gigantic hurdle.” Has distracted living impacted your ability to live out the great commandment of loving God and loving your neighbor? If so, how? What changes do you think you can make to get a different outcome?
February 3, 2019
Pastor Steve’s Blog February 3, 2019 I was reading a devotional this week by Claire McGarry entitled: ‘We’re All Messengers.” The Scripture she uses for her devotional is Malachi 3:1: “See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me.” She writes: “In college, I joined the theater crowd and began auditioning for plays. I secured my first role as Messenger #1 in MacBeth. During the entire two-and-a-half-hour production, I had only one line. To make me feel more important, my director told me that the message I was delivering would the help the audience make sense of what followed. John the Baptist was cast in the role of messenger by God. He was sent to deliver a message of repentance so people would turn away from sin, ask God for forgiveness and be baptized. All of John the Baptist’s lines were pivotal in helping people prepare for and make sense of Jesus’ coming. Every one of us has a part in life. Whether it’s big or small, if we deliver our lines with the right intention, our message will point others to Jesus. Doing so will help people make sense of who Our Savior is and what he’s done for us all. Prayer: Dear God, please give me the confidence I need to deliver your message to others. Amen.” The author is right. We are all messengers and the Christian messages we share with others should all point to our Lord Jesus and how much He loves all of us. We need more John the Baptists in our society today pointing the way to Christ.