Rejoicing in Victory

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What a powerful and reassuring couple verses. I wish more people would take this to heart and cling to this promise. There’s a lot of crap happening in our nation and our world today but our Lord and Savior and King reigns supreme. His victory did not happen through an election but rather through the cross. Seek JESUS and you will be found safe and secure. Seek JESUS and rest in him.

Holy Father,
words don’t and can’t adequately express my thankfulness,
as I gaze upon the cross and see
VICTORY.
I see my Lord suffering and dying there,
FOR ME.
I see my King reigning supreme,
OVER ALL.
I see my Savior with my life in 
HIS HANDS.
How can possibly express my thanks with mere words.
And so I worship
YOU.
I praise Your holy
NAME.
I rest in Your mighty
ARMS.
Holy Father,
may I not fear this world,
but rather,
rejoice the victory through
JESUS CHRIST.
Amen!

The Pastor -|—

Fear and Hope

Holy God,

there is much to fear in this world.
Satan is running around
trying to lead us astray through false worship.
He is trying to drag us down into hopelessness.
At times Satan succeeds
and thus paralyzes us with fear,
so much so,
that the Gospel is not proclaimed.

But we ask that You may send Your Holy Spirit
to teach us
and remind us
of the victory we have through faith in Jesus Christ.

Show us the cross.
Show us the empty tomb.
Show us Jesus.

May we see the life we have in You
and know that death has been defeated.
May we rejoice in You
and thus share this Joy with others.
And in the end,
may You and You alone be glorified.

Now may the words of my mouth
and the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable to You,
oh God,
through Christ Jesus our Lord,

Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Don’t Kill Jesus (John 11:48)

If we let him (Jesus) go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” [John 11:48, ESV, Bible.com/app]

Earlier on in this chapter, Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and greatly troubled over the people’s lack of hope. Later, when at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, Jesus wept. He didn’t weep because his friend was dead and gone, but rather  Jesus wept because the people were in a state of hopelessness; they didn’t believe that Jesus could do anything. But Jesus knew what he could do and therefore wanted the people to have hope that death is not the end. Jesus wanted people to believe in HIM.

Following the raising of Lazarus scripture says that many people believed in Jesus but others went and reported this to the pharisees; the religious leaders of the day. Their response was troubling (the verse above) as…

They were only concerned about their jobs and not the people.
They were only concerned about their “Church” instead of the Kingdom.
They were only concerned about their job descriptions.

The people were coming to faith in Jesus and that would change the course of the “Church”; the course of history, and (as they feared) the course of their nation. So something must be done (as we read in the rest of the chapter):

[53] So from that day on they made plans to put him (Jesus) to death.

Kill Jesus
Stop this Gospel
Get control of the situation
Stay relevant

Wow, that sounds familiar (and not because I have read this text before). This is familiar because this is happening today in a couple ways:

(1) The Gospel, the Church, biblical interpretation are changing because many feel if they don’t change these then the Church will get left behind. And so in order to “protect” the church; 2000 years worth of doctrine is changing, interpretation of the Bible is “evolving”; and all in a effort to help the Church become/stay “relevant”. So this Pharisaical concern is nothing new as leaders are trying to protect their jobs, positions and status.

(2) This Pharisaical concern is also happening in the local church. This appears through churches afraid to take a stand for what they believe. “Let’s just go along with how things have been done and not upset the apple cart”.Let’s just continue with what the higher ups tell us is the truth,” The fear is that change will cause a disruption in the peaceful status quo.  And so the status quo is fought for, tooth and nail, when fighting for THE Gospel should be the way.

We can not allow things to go on like this. THE Gospel of Jesus Christ is what we should be clinging to and not this Pharisaical concern of relevancy. The Church can not let the culture dictate it’s doctrine. Our doctrine comes from God and God alone through Jesus Christ. Our doctrine is the unaltered Bible; the Word of God. This hasn’t changed and it is not going to change. People need to hear THE Gospel and not some watered down version that meets their needs. To do that causes great harm as anything watered down loses it potency.

Jesus (and him alone) is the Resurrection and the Life. All who believe in him, though they die, will live; and all who lives and believes in Jesus will never die. That is the Good News. Do you really believe this?

If so…

Worship GOD through Jesus Christ
Spread THE Gospel
Give GOD control of the situation
Stay in Scripture

Cultural relevancy is something Jesus never advocated but rather Gospel faithfulness; no matter what the culture thinks or says.

So with Jesus I weep and thus pray…

That the Church remains faithful/returns to faithfulness
That Christians stand strong for what they believe against all odds
That the authority of scripture is held high and untarnished
That the unaltered Gospel is proclaimed with boldness
And that in the face of relativism, the Church does not budge

JESUS is Lord and King. Let’s boldly and proudly announce this and stick with this confession…

…and not kill Jesus.

God, King of all creation, make us bold in our faith that we may boldly proclaim Your glory. Make us strong to stand, that when push comes to shove; as relativism tries to assert it’s so-called claim on the culture, that we stand. Make us unashamed of the Gospel that our hope may be secure in Jesus. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Sunday is coming

It’s Saturday.

It is the day between Good Friday and Easter.

A dark day.

A bitter-sweet day.

But for those first disciples this had to be a day of deep darkness and hopelessness.  Think about it:  Their teacher, Messiah, friend, hope had been killed and placed in a tomb.  All of their dreams of a new kingdom had been completely destroyed.  Now what?   Their fear of the Jews kept them locked inside but I can’t imagine they would even want to leave anyway.  I would want to stay curled up in bed…forever.

Jesus is dead.

But we are not living in those days.

We know something that they didn’t know then.

It is 2013 and we are living in the days after that first Easter morning.  We are living in the days when we know what happens next.  It is Saturday, but Sunday is coming.

EmptyTomb-50JESUS HAS RISEN!

Dark days come and go in our lives.  Hopelessness enters the scene from time to time.  There may be days when you feel like curling up in a ball and staying in bed.  But know this…

JESUS HAS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!

Ever since that day when Jesus defeated Satan and destroyed the grip of death, Satan has been trying to shoot arrows of hopelessness at God’s children.  But know this…remember this…boldly proclaim this…

JESUS HAS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!

Satan has been defeated.  His arrows are powerless.  His threats are empty.  Death still remains but death does not have the final word.  Why?  Because…

JESUS HAS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!

Have a blessed Saturday knowing that tomorrow is Sunday; that tomorrow is EASTER 🙂

The pastor -|—

Not that bad…really?

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
(1 John 1:8-10)

Maybe you have never said that you are without sin.
Maybe you have never claimed to be perfect.

But…

Have you ever said or thought:
At least I am not as bad as that person sitting over there
At least I am not living in sin like that couple.
At least I attend worship more than that person.
At least I don’t________” (Fill in the blank).

Sin can be a tough thing to talk about or listen to because many people don’t want to hear that they are sinful, they want to hear how to make their lives better.  Our society today has been so inundated with the prosperity gospel that any talk of personal sinfulness has become very offensive to people.

“Don’t tell me I am sinful, tell me how to be successful.”
“Tell me how to have a better marriage.”
“Tell me how to be blessed by God.”
“Tell me how to be happy in this life.”
“Tell me that, deep down inside, I am a good person.”

Go to the self-help section of any bookstore and you will see book after book after book that uses scripture to “teach” you how to be successful, to be happy, to get ahead in this world.  These authors claim that God wants to bless you and this is how you can make that happen.

Really?

The Good News is not that God wants to bless you, but the Good News is that because we are SINFUL God has blessed us with his Son, Jesus Christ.  There are no steps or actions we must take, but…

Jesus has already died on the cross for you.
Jesus has already risen from the grave for you.
Jesus has already made the offer for forgiveness.
Jesus has already gone ahead to prepare a place for you (John 14:1-7)

And Jesus has done all of this because we really are that bad.  We are sinful, evil people.

[Sorry if I just burst your bubble.  Well…actually…I am not sorry.]

Being happy and successful in this life is something Jesus never promised.  But what Jesus has promised is that we can have a PEACE that surpasses all understanding and HOPE in this life of eternal life.  And it is this PEACE and HOPE that sustains me in this life…even when things are not going my way because I know that there is more than just THIS life.

Admit your sinfulness and know that God is faithful and just and will forgive your sins through Jesus Christ.  For in the end, that is all we truly need.

Dear sinner…have a great day basking in the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord 🙂

-edh-

All the craze

I have been utterly amazed at this wild thing called “the Wii craze”.  My sister and I got one for our parents for Christmas.  A number of our friends got one for Christmas and a number of my students got them.  And since then, Connie and I have been looking for one.  Every store we go into there is no Wii to be found.  A sales person at Best Buy said that there are people that come in everyday asking about them.  And since we live no where near a place that would stock a Wii, we are at a disadvantage. Before Christmas I never gave too much thought in getting a Wii.  I knew they were out there, but I haven’t had a gaming system since the Atari 2600 (now that dates me) so I never got captured by this craze.  But after we got my parents one and started playing it…well…I got hooked.  And then we heard about the Wii Fit…that right there convinced my wife.

So we have been looking online and the story has been the same…”Out of stock”…until last night.  Connie’s brother put us onto Gamestop.com and sure enough…a Wii…so I ordered one.  I should have one by next week.  I guess I gave in to “the craze”.

Today is January 20 and our 44th president is being sworn into office.  Today…January 20…we (officially) begin a new era.  It’s an era that worries me because of what I have heard from people in the media and in my own little world here in SW MN.  I have heard comments that suggest people are putting their hope and faith in Obama.  People are putting this president up on a pedestal.  It is almost as if they view him as a savior.  I guess one could say we are in the midst of an “Obama craze”.  But this is one craze I am not going to get caught up in.

I am not here to express my political beliefs.  As a pastor and as a Christian I am going to pray for Preisdent Obama and for the congress and for all elected leaders.  They all have a tough road ahead of them.  But I am not going to put my hope and faith in any person of this world…no matter how popular they are.  Our hope and faith needs to be in one person and one person alone…JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD!

I hope and pray that God uses Obama to work for peace.  I hope and pray that God uses Obama to stabilize this country.  And I hope and pray that Obama is faithful and listens to God.  I hope and pray that Obama puts his agenda aside and asks for wisdom from God our Father.  I hope and pray that the people of this county recognize the fact that Obama is a sinful human being (like we all are) and not our savior.  I hope and pray that the people of this country (and the world) recognize Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Only one person can save us.  Only one person can restore peace in this world.  Only one person can lead us in ways of truth and justice.  And it is not our president or any world leader…it’s JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD!

When I was a kid, the Atari 2600 was all the craze…but that faded away.  In the 80’s Rubik’s Cube was all the craze…but that faded away as well.  Today, Wii is all the craze…but that too will fade away.  As with anything of this world…all things will eventually fade away (Yes…even the “Obama craze” will fade away), but one person has not and will not fade away…and that is…JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.

-edh-