Following unto Life

Holy God,
You are awesome and great;
mighty and wonderful.
You call us to leave behind all that we have
in order to gain so much more;
Life
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Grant us faith to see that what we have in stuff
doesn’t even come close to Your infinite worth,
and thus may we boldly carry our cross
and follow Jesus.
Oh God,
we praise You,
for You save sinners such as us.
In Jesus name we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Not Beaten Down

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
[Psalm 42:11]

Isn’t this something we need to hear each and every day?
Isn’t this something we need to remember?
Isn’t this something we need to lift up our soul?
Isn’t this something we need to encourage us along the way?

I don’t know about you, but I can feel discouraged from time to time. I can get frustrated with what I see around me. I can feel beaten down by the forces of the evil one. I can feel defeated.

But…

…the psalmist reminds us of our hope. Though you may feel discouraged or frustrated or beaten down or defeated, we have a hope to which to cling.  He says, “…for I SHALL again praise him…” Did you see that? Read it again, We SHALL praise him again; for our salvation is a sure and certain thing in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Satan rejoices when we feel discouraged or frustrated or beaten down or defeated, but instead of allowing Satan to rejoice, let us rejoice in our Lord; who has already beaten down Satan through the cross and the empty tomb.

So take courage and praise GOD; our salvation through Jesus; for Satan has nothing on you.

Oh God, when Satan comes at me and beats me down, remind me of your Son, Jesus Christ, who has already beaten down Satan. May I not wallow in defeat but rather in the victory I have through faith. All praise and worship be unto You, oh God, through Christ Jesus my Lord, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Gripping the Cross

image

The hand that grips this cross
is sinful and stained,
but thankfully the one who died upon the cross
is holy and perfect.

The hand that grips this cross
is in need of help and rescue,
but thankfully the one who died upon the cross
has won the victory through his resurrection.

The hand that grips this cross
falls short of God’s glory continually,
but thankfully the one who died upon the cross
extends grace and mercy endlessly.

The hand that grips this cross
will one day give way to death and decay,
but thankfully the one who died upon the cross
has risen that the possessor of this hand may live eternally.

The hand that grips this cross
doesn’t always treat people as they ought to be treated,
but thankfully the one who died upon the cross
doesn’t treat the person of this hand as they ought to be treated.

and therefore,

The hand that grips this cross
will always cling to the promises secured therein;
thankful for Jesus, the one who died upon the cross
FOR YOU and FOR ME.

The Pastor -|—

Beneath

image

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I am humbled by your love.
It’s for sinners that you died;
through grace coming from above.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I’m convicted of my sin.
But sacrificed as the lamb;
My Savior was slain for me.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I am captured by your grace.
Undeserving as I am
but life’s given by your hand.

Beneath the cross of Jesus;
reflecting on Your mercy,
Your precious Son died for me
to heal me forever more.

The Pastor -|—

Palm of my hand to my forehead

I did it again…

[Palm of my hand to my forehead]

…I forgot the cross. (see my post from two years ago: Where’s the cross)

“Traditionally” we put a huge, rugged cross in the narthex at Salem on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of Holy Week.  It has a crown of thorns on top with a purple cloth draped over the cross beam. For Good Friday, the cross is moved outside to the end of the ramp leading to the narthex with a black cloth draped over the cross beam.  Then for Easter the cross is moved into the sanctuary where it is “decorated” with Easter lilies (something that gives my allergies a run for it’s money).

After this happened in 2011 I asked my secretary to write it on her calendar figuring one of us would remember. We remembered for 2012…just not for 2013.  So…like what we did in 2011, we will wait to put the cross out until Palm Sunday as a way of setting Holy Week apart.

There is so much that can be said theologically about this but I will refrain since I am too busy palm planting my forehead.

Doh!

The pastor -|—

Sanitize and Repent

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
[Luke 3:7-8]

This influenza season has gotten me more nervous than any other I can remember.  The number of people being hospitalized and/or dying is alarming.  People young and healthy are succumbing to this illness…and quickly.  So I have started taking precautions:

~ I’m washing my hands more.
~ Using hand sanitizer more.
~ I am suspending hand shaking during worship.
~ We are wiping down and disinfecting commonly touched surface areas around the church building.
~ I am being very diligent…more so than any other year.

When I hear of a friend or someone I know getting sick my heart skips a beat or two.  Recently…someone I know was hospitalized with influenza A and pneumonia.  I am praying hard for healing.

And I know I am not the only one concerned about this flu season.
I know I am not the only one taking extra precautions.
I know I am not the only one changing my life and routines.

Produce fruit in keeping with repentance

And why doesn’t the epidemic of sin cause people to be just as diligent (or even more) about their lives.  I mean…sin is a lot more deadly than any influenza strain nature can devise.  Yet…we often take sin for granted.  We come to worship; confess our sins and then go home feeling some emotion or sense of satisfaction.

But…

is there any life change?
is there any repentance?
is there any running away from that confessed sin?

Or…

Do we continue in our illness, embracing the symptoms, and running to our death?  Sounds dramatic, I know, but sin needs to be taken seriously because God takes it seriously.

How seriously?

Look to the cross; that wooden instrument of death that Jesus was nailed to, suffered upon and died upon.  Jesus died on that cross; taking our sin with him and announcing forgiveness and giving us hope.  But more than that, God gave us the cure to this deadly disease.  God gave us life.

Through confession we expose our disease to God and receive the cure.  But what next?  Sanitize/Repent and produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

Why?  Because of fear of retaliation from God?

NO!

Because God has given us an amazing gift.
Because God has shown us amazing grace.
Because God has given us an amazing future.
Because God is worthy.

Be healthy and produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Sanitize your life.  Run away from sin.  Embrace the love of God.  AND…praise God always and forever. Sin is deadly, but Jesus is for us.

Have a great day 🙂

The pastor -|—