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Good Shepherds (May 11, 2022)

Flock of sheep | A flock of sheep following the shepherd | Joan  Campderrós-i-Canas | Flickr

CREDIT: Joan Campderros-i-Canas

Dear Sheep of God’s Flock,

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

I doesn’t always happen like this, but this year “Good Shepherd Sunday” was also on “Mother's Day”! How fitting! When I think about my mom, she is a shepherd. I was definitely a wayward sheep, but my mom always called me back to the fold in a loving and supportive way. One of those ways – making sure my brothers and me were all herded into the car for worship every Sunday – making sure we heard our Good Shepherd’s voice.

Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Where do we hear His voice? Whenever we hear God’s word proclaimed in truth, that’s the voice of Jesus calling to His sheep – you, me, and all mankind.

Unfortunately, the image of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” is more than an image. It’s a reality. Paul warned the church – both in his day and today – about wolves who would try to lead the flock astray by twisting the Good Shepherd’s words in ways that draw us away from the one, true God (Acts 20:29-30). Satan uses these wolves, false teachers all, to try to draw, slowly but surely, God’s children into the darkness of sin and unbelief. Usually, it’s through lies that seem good, seem nice, seem helpful, but are, in reality, counter to God’s intentions for us. But Paul reminds us of how we can fend off these attacks by discerning the truth saying, “I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up …” (Acts 20:32).

When we encounter these wolves, let the Good Shepherd lead you back into safety. Take time to look it up in His word. Take time to ask me, our Deacons, and other knowledgeable disciples for help. In these ways, God continues shepherding us through “the valley of the shadow of death … (to) dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:4,6).

He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

                                                                                                        In Christ’s Love,

                                                                                                        Pastor Jim

The World in His Hands (May 4, 2022)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

I remember singing a song in school as a kid called, He’s Got the Whole World in His HandsKnowing God had everything in His hands, no matter what, assured me everything would be alright no matter what was going on around me. What a great song of hope!

We celebrate our hope in the risen Lord, Jesus Christ every day, but especially during the Easter season! Our hope isn’t only personal, but for all mankind because (God our Father) so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God desires the whole world – every man, woman, and child – to be in His hands.

But God’s plan to save mankind didn’t end with Jesus’ death on the cross – or His resurrection. His plan continued through His apostles. We see His plan continue unfolding with His call to a man named Saul on the road between Jerusalem and Damascus. Saul, a brutal persecutor of Jesus and His followers, was blinded by Jesus to get his attention and soften his hardened heart. Jesus did this because He desired to turn Saul’s zeal for persecution into zeal for His Gospel. Jesus told His followers not to fear Saul because “He is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Saul, known as Paul, was among God’s chief means to bring the whole world into His hands.

And today, all who believe in Jesus, regardless of where they live or what they look like, continue this plan of God’s. We are a kingdom of priests on earth – bringing Christ’s name to all mankind that they too “shall not perish but have eternal life.” And one day, protected by His hands, we’ll reign together with Christ forever over His new creation, the new heavens and new earth on account of His sacrifice for us all (Revelation 5:9-10). 

He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

                                                                                                        In Christ’s Love,

                                                                                                        Pastor Jim


Hands, Feet, and Heart of Jesus (April 27, 2022)

Food For The Poor

Dear Disciples of Christ,

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Last Sunday started the new season of Easter! Easter is not a single day, but a seven-week season in which we see how the risen Jesus Christ truly lived with His disciples – eating and drinking, teaching and preaching just as He did during His three-year ministry. He continued providing all His disciples, including you and me, everything they needed. 

Our gospel today isn’t the traditional post-Easter Sunday gospel. Rather, we’ll hear Jesus teaching His disciples what His next coming will bring for those who truly follow Him. Jesus demonstrated what following Him entailed as He provided for the physical needs of many – food and healing to name a few things – in addition to the spiritual needs of all. 

Today, He still does these things through “means” – you and me. He gives us everything we have. He does this, in part, so we can live. But a bigger reason is so that through us – His “means” – He can provide for others’ needs while we demonstrate our trust in His continued abundant provision which still supports our own needs. 

One of the ways we can show our trust in His provision is by giving to those in need through a ministry called Food for the Poor.  Using Jesus’ words, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:31-40), Food for the Poor helps “link the church of the First World with the church of the Third World in a manner that helps both the materially poor and the poor in spirit.”  They do this by spreading God’s love throughout the Caribbean and Latin America through food aid, housing assistance, clean water, emergency relief, micro-enterprise projects, and education opportunities. 

I’m thankful to Food for the Poor for helping us be the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus. Please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry as one way you show God’s love to the world as you reach out to others in need.

                                                                                        In Christ’s Love,

                                                                                        Pastor Jim

He is Risen! (April 16, 2022)

Dear Children of God,


I pray that you’ll be hearing and reading these words often! In fact, we should remember them always … after all, Christ is – not was … not will be … but is – in fact risen! He is alive today and forever. This is the essential truth found in the Easter story we hear once again in 2022. “Christ is risen” is the basis for all our hopes in this life. 

God’s word shares many accounts of people being raised from the dead, besides Jesus. Elijah and Elisha each raised a boy to life (1 Kings 17:17-24 and 2 Kings 4:32-37). The bones of Elisha also raised a man from the dead (2 Kings 13:20-21). Then Jesus raises a widow’s son, a synagogue official’s daughter, and his good friend Lazarus from the dead (Luke 7:11-17Mark 5:35-43, and John 11:39-44). When Jesus dies on the cross, immediately a host of the dead come back to life (Matthew 27:50-53). And later we hear that Peter and Paul raise Tabitha and Eutyches (who falls to his death from an open window when he falls asleep during one of Paul’s sermons) (Acts 9:36-4120:9-10). But all these people join with every other person in history, except for one – Jesus, in that they all die for good … 

Only Jesus dies and then, on the first Easter, rises to new life for good (Luke 24).

When I said, “for good” in reference to everyone else in history, I need to make a point of emphasis. We all remain dead in the grave until our risen Savior, Jesus Christ returns. On that Day, “in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:22-23). When He returns, we’ll all be raised from the dead … forever. This is the great Easter promise causing us to proclaim each day of our lives,


                Your brother in Christ,

                                                                         Pastor Jim

Going the Distance (April 6, 2022)

empty gray asphalt road

Photo by Nicolas Moscarda on Unsplash 

Dear Followers in Faith,

I love the “car trip” now. But when I was a kid in Arizona, I dreaded them. Especially when we needed to drive the interminable distance between home in Tucson and friends in Phoenix – 220 miles, roundtrip, through nothingness, without phones, movies, even cassette tapes! These trips were “UGH!!!”

Today is Passion/Palm Sunday – near Lent’s end. Today we remember the distance Jesus went to fulfill His Father’s desire to redeem His creation. How far? A distance not measured in miles but, in glory to shame & agony and back to glory. Jesus, “who, though He was in the form of God” (Philippians 2:6) gave it all up, becoming a servant “born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). He traveled from His glorious throne to the place where people mocked and beat Him – shouting “Crucify, crucify Him!” (Luke 23:21)

The almighty Son of God submitted Himself to earthly authorities. He carried His cross from Pilate’s palace – past hostile crowds – to the top of Mount Calvary. Then, “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”(Philippians 2:8) He could’ve used His almighty powers to bring immediate judgment on His torturers. But He endured suffering and death to redeem His Father’s creation. And rising to new life, He defeated the power of death – granting eternal life to all who confess His name.

Then, mission accomplished, He returned to His Father. His Father “highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:9). His Father restored His Son’s to glory so “every knee should bow, in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). Jesus has completed the roundtrip for our salvation.

Let’s not forget how far God went to bring us into His presence once again. He went the distance – from the glory of heaven to suffering, death, and resurrection and back to the glory of heaven. Thanks be to God for His infinite grace and mercy!

                                                               In His Love,

                                                               Pastor Jim

Balancing the Books (March 30, 2022)

Register | A wordcloud featuring "Register". Would appreciat… | Flickr

Dear Ambassadors of Christ,

It may be a lost art these days, but reconciling the checkbook is something I try to do regularly. “Reconciling” is a fancy word for balancing the checkbook – making sure what I’ve recorded for debts and deposits adds up to and equals what my bank says. In reconciling my account, I make sure I agree with my bank on where I stand with my finances. 

Paul uses the financial term “reconcile” to describe our status with God. It’s a good analogy because God would like for us to be in agreement with Him on where we stand with Him. Unfortunately, our sins – the ways we disobey God’s law – cause us to have too many debts which we can’t possibly offset by adding anything in the way of deposits to our accounts (Romans 3:23). No amount of “good works” we do can offset our sin-filled expenses (Romans 3:20). But, as impossible as it is for us to balance our books with God, it isn’t impossible for God – the one to whom we are indebted – to reconcile them for us. Paul reminds us that God the Father sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world in order to reconcile the world, including us, to Himself by balancing our books – offsetting our sinful expenses with His grace through His forgiveness of our sins on account of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Paul writes, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself … not counting (our) trespasses against (us)” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). For all who believe in Christ, their accounts with God are balanced enabling them to receive eternal life with Him.

God balances our accounts through His mercy. And He calls us to be His “Ministers of reconciliation” in His creation … “Ambassadors for Christ” through whom He works to bring His grace and mercy to others. He charges us, His “new creations,” to “enthusiastically share Christ’s love” with others. Let’s all make His appeal to His creation through His word that others might also be reconciled to God through us.

                                                                    Your Fellow Ambassador,

                                                                     Pastor Jim

Good Example ... Or ... (March 23, 2022)

Horrible Example | "Either be a good example or a horrible w… | Flickr

CREDIT: Major Clanger

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Ever hear the saying, “You can be a horrible warning or a great example”? In either case we can learn from these kinds of people – what not to do and how not to act or what to do! I’ve experienced this saying for a while. I had a boss many years ago who was a “horrible warning” - he hoarded all his good employees, keeping them from advancing in their careers. Fortunately, he was succeeded by a “great example” who saw value in promoting his best so others could also move up. I hope I learned from both; what to do and what not to do.

God’s word is filled with “great examples” of faith, as well as many “horrible warnings” so we might see firsthand the importance of keeping ourselves firmly tied to God and His word through regular worship, prayer, and the study of His word. St. Paul gives us some “horrible warnings” help us learn from. God’s own people, selected by Him and saved from the tyranny of the Egyptians, still engaged in idol worshipindulged in sins of the fleshput God to the test, and grumbled against Him and His miraculous provision. Lacking faith in God’s loving promises, they all fell dead before entering the Promised Land. He says, “These things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction” (1 Corinthians 10:1-11).

God’s word gives us, His people today, these “horrible warnings” to teach us a simple truth. God saves us by the power of the Holy Spirit. He gives us the gift of faith to believe His word and promises on account of Jesus Christ. But, without proper nourishment through worship, prayer, and His word, our faith can shrivel, grow weak, and even die. Satan, taking advantage of our weakened state, can lead us astray through temptation. But, when faced with temptation, turning to God and His word, He strengthens us to endure as we journey into the eternal Promised Land, the kingdom of heaven (1 Corinthians 10:13).

                                                                                                        In Christ’s Love,

                                                                                                                Pastor Jim