Category Archives: Romans

Soaking In

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
[Romans 3:23-24]

Did you notice that above verse? Please don’t tell me you skipped it just to get to the “good stuff”. Read the verse. Now, read it again and this time include yourself in the word “all“. Now, read the verse again, keeping yourself in the word “all” and now, soak in the words “are justified by his grace as a gift“. Are you feeling silly for skipping that verse the first time?

My point is that YOU are a sinner, but through the grace of God in Jesus Christ, you are justified; made right in God’s eyes, as a GIFT.

GIFT!

GRACE!

No strings attached
No fine print
No bait and switch

Through faith in Jesus (which is a gift) you are justified by his grace.

Wow, I mean, WOW!

Soak that in.

A sinner saved by God.

Justified.

Wow!

The Pastor -|—

Groaning

My most recent article in the Tacoma News Tribune (TNT)…

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. [Romans 8:22-25]

I don’t know about you, but I have been doing a lot of groaning recently. I wrote in my last article about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in our culture and called for men to step up and change this culture of abuse. Since writing that article, things have continued with more “big name” people being fired, and more politicians being accused. No, I didn’t expect my article to have an immediate impact, but I am still groaning at the depth of this sin in our culture.

I also groan over the hurt in people’s lives close to me. I groan over the hate that continues to run amuck in the world. I groan over the rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. I groan, I sigh, and I lift my eyes to the heavens. I cry out to God for redemption. I cry out to God for renewal. I do all of this in hope, though, remembering God’s promises that came to us at Christmas time.

Yes, it is that time of the year, yet many people see increased tension as to-do lists become longer and household budgets get stretched. The Christmas season is upon us with Advent beginning on Sunday. “What is Advent?” you may ask? Advent is a time of waiting; a time of preparation. No, I’m not talking about decorating or searching for that perfect gift. Advent is a time of preparation as we wait for our Lord Jesus. It is a time to prepare our hearts and make room for him, and not just make room, but clear house.

Advent is also a time of hope as we groan, for the birth of Jesus signaled the beginning of the end of God’s plan of redemption for creation. It is not just us groaning but all of creation and thus we wait in patience; knowing that Jesus’ birth means that our groaning will soon come to an end. Thus, this is a season of joy and peace and love. This is a season of celebration and expectation and anticipation.

Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Jesus was born. Jesus lived on this earth. Jesus was crucified. Jesus rose from the dead. These are all verifiable facts. Now we wait for Jesus to come again. That is where my hope is placed. We live in a world of groaning, but Jesus is coming to end all groaning. Prepare and make room for Him, for Jesus was born for you.

Happy Advent
and
Merry Christmas

The Pastor -|—

Nothing

Holy, awesome and mighty God,
I praise and worship You,
for through Jesus Christ I am sure that
neither death nor life,
nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present
nor things to come,
nor powers,
nor height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate me from Your love.
And so may I live with patience and hope
knowing that I have already won the victory through faith.
In Jesus Christ I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Living Worship

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [Romans 12:1]

Weekly gathering for corporate worship is just part of what we do as members of the body of Christ. We worship not to become Christians, we worship because we are Christians. Worship is not a have to; a duty, but rather a get to; a want to; a joy. That’s part of our worship life. Another part of our worship life happens “Monday through Saturday” as we present our bodies; our very lives to God. We offer our lives to God as a living sacrifice; forsaking all others and all things; placing God first. We live in such a way that is different from the world and that, right there, is really what is at the core of worship. You see, everyone worships. It is just a matter of who or what. What makes Christians different; holy, is that we worship a living, eternal God, not a finite, powerless god. We worship a God that is holy and thus demands that we be holy. God does not demand just part of our life, but the whole thing.

When you present your body to God as an act of worship you are saying to God, “Here I am. Mold me, shape me, guide me, direct me. Help me be more like Jesus. Help me be more holy as You are holy. Here I am, all of me.”  Don’t mistake worship as a weekly event but rather see your worship as a 24/7 way of life that submits to and glorifies God. When we divide our worship out or only present part of our bodies/lives to God, there is conflict and tension within our lives and our very being but when our whole being and life is presented to God, then you are at peace. Don’t divide your life up, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. In the words of a popular praise and worship song…

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

The Pastor -|—

Death is No More

Death is the stark reality that we must face every single day, and therefore this is the motivation behind Jesus’ ministry. He was on a death-destroying mission. So when Jesus comes face to face with death, while at Lazarus’ tomb, he is moved to deep and powerful emotion that gives us a glimpse into what kept him focused on the cross. Jesus is so angry at sin that he is obedient to the Father’s will and stays on the cross even though he had the power to call down a legion of angels to protect him. Jesus remains on the cross because the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) Jesus defeats death and thus we have hope. Now, our weeping is not over death’s victory. We weep because we will miss our loved ones but also, through faith in Jesus, we can weep tears of joy over what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

Cling to the hope of the resurrection, oh weary soul.

The Pastor -|—

.blog

Hey all,

The Heart of a Pastor is now the owner of http://www.heartofapastor.blog.  I decided to streamline my blog address as the new .blog domain names just became available. This shouldn’t mess people up (too much). I believe my old (and longer) address will redirect you to my site.

In any case, nothing is changing with this site, just the shorter address. So to close, I am not going to leave with you just an administrative update but rather with the Word of God:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 15:13

Have a great day 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Don’t be a Jerk

I saw a Facebook post recently that said:

“Sometimes the best evangelism is simply telling people you’re a Christian and then not being a complete jerk.”

There is some truth to that but it definitely does not go far enough in today’s world. There are way too many people who claim to be a Christian but do not follow Jesus (which doesn’t make sense to me). For some, “Christian” is just a title to be used when it suits them but when opposition comes the title is abandoned. Then there are people who claim the title “Christian” but under a new and “relevant” definition. It’s like a Twitter post I saw recently,

“Saying you’re a new kind of Christian with a new kind of Christianity is basically saying you’re an old kind of heretic.” [Burk Parsons]

To “simply” say you’re a Christian doesn’t tell me much now days, which is kind of sad. “Christian” used to mean something but now it is just a watered down title. So now what? Well, you can’t simply tell people you are a Christian and then not be a complete jerk. In today’s world, Jesus-following Christians need to confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead. That is salvation and that is the message that needs to be proclaimed.
Jesus is Lord.
Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus died for you.
Jesus was raised for you.
Through faith, when you confess your sins, you are forgiven.

So don’t “simply” stop at Christian, but confess with your mouth what you believe in your heart…and THEN don’t be a complete jerk.

The Pastor -|—