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Yellow Stickies (May 11, 2021)

Photo by Will H McMahan on Unsplash 

Dear Friends and Family,

I have a lot of things going on. If I try to remember everything, I’ll forget something. Then I’ll smack my head! Then I’ll get a headache. So, when I need to remember something, I use the “Yellow Sticky”. I write it down and carry it with me. Then, when I do the task, I check it off. Having something written down, helps me remember!

God has told us how He wants us to live through His commandments. He first gave them on Mount Sinai. He wrote them on stone tablets. Then the people took them and put them in the Ark of the Covenant. The problem though, with them out of sight and out of mind, people forgot the commandments at times. The Israelites broke the commandments and the covenant God made with them. But through His prophet Jeremiah, God provided them some good news. He said He’d make a new covenant with His people. And to make sure they always had it with them, He said, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33) Even better than a sticky note … God wrote His covenant on our hearts – something we carry with us wherever we go!

However, even though we might never lose our hearts, we can still lose track of God’s covenant promises to us. We ignore God and His word as we drift off. But that covenant is still written on our hearts. Do you ever get the feeling when you drift off that something isn’t quite right? Does your heart ever get a weird feeling in it that something’s a little off? That’s the Holy Spirit calling attention to the covenant God wrote on your heart. He’s calling you back to Him. Because of Jesus, our Father wants to show His mercy and love to you. He’s calling you to confess your sin and receive His forgiveness so you can start anew. That’s good news!

                                                                                        In Christ’s Love,

                                                                                        Pastor Jim

Thank a Teacher (May 5, 2021)

woman standing in front of children

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash 

Dear Easter Friends,

Alleluia! Christ is risen. 

Learning something is hard, especially when trying to learn it on our own. I’m glad I had teachers who helped me learn my ABCs, math and science, and the arts. And that they also helped me learn to dig into the basics to understand why things worked the way they did. They’ve helped me throughout my life. I thank Mrs. Wong, Mrs. Fetzger, Mr. Simpson, and Mr. Nido – to name a few of the schoolteachers I had. Next time you figure something out – thank a teacher for helping you develop the gifts God has given you.

While the 3 Rs, “readin’, ritin’, and ‘rithmetic”, are important, the most important subject is God’s word. Here we hear how to live our lives in this world – and how to live in a way that guarantees eternal life. But, to understand God’s word we need good teachers. We see one of these teachers in Acts 8:26-40. An official in Queen Candace’s court was trying to figure out the prophet Isaiah. Guided by the Holy Spirit, Philip asked if he understood what he was reading. The official said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” So, Philip taught him the good news about Jesus. Because of Philip’s teaching, the official started understanding God’s word and how his eternal life depended on faith in Jesus. He told Philip, “Here’s water! Baptize me!” So, Philip did – by the power of the Spirit, the man was saved for eternity by the most important knowledge of all, that Jesus came to save Him from Satan, sin, and eternal death.

God calls on us to teach others about Jesus through our words and deeds. He also encourages us to turn to His word for guidance when we’re unsure of something. We’re both teachers and students of His word. Let us all continue to learn from God while also teaching others that all might come to believe and trust in God’s promises of forgiveness and eternal life through His Son, Jesus.

He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

                                                                                                In the Risen Christ’s Love,

                                                                                                Pastor Jim

Following the Voice (April 28, 2021)

Photo by Martin Wettstein on Unsplash 

Dear Easter Friends,

Alleluia! Christ is risen. 

How do penguins tell each other apart? Scientists have learned that even penguins themselves struggle to tell themselves apart. And that could be a problem. Penguins don’t have nests and a penguin chick’s parents take turns foraging for food, traveling hundreds of miles round trip. But when they return to the waddle (a bunch of penguins) with hundreds of identical birds – how do they find their partner and child? They use sound. Each penguin has a unique vocal sound only their family recognizes. When they return from hunting, they make their unique sound until their family responds in kind. They’re reunited for a nourishing feast.

Jesus calls Himself “the good shepherd” (John 10:11-18). Like penguins, sheep also look alike. When a shepherd wants to gather his sheep, he calls to them. They recognize his unique voice and come to him. Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me … And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:14-16). You and I, through faith received from our Father, have heard Jesus’ voice. We’ve responded to His call and come to Him. He’s brought us into His flock – the church of believers.

However, another characteristic of sheep is a tendency to wander while looking for things to satisfy their hunger. We can tend to do the same as we look for things in the world to satisfy our hunger for excitement, recognition, happiness, and other desires. Sometimes these things endanger our lives – maybe not our temporal lives, but certainly our eternal lives. Yet Jesus continually calls out to us by His word through the Holy Spirit. We hear His voice and then return to Him as He forgives us our sins and rejoins us to His flock … now in the church and in eternity with Him in His new creation. 

He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

                                                                                                In the Risen Christ’s Love,

                                                                                        Pastor Jim

The Rest of the Story (April 21, 2021)

Dear Easter Friends,

Alleluia! Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

When I was a kid, a man named Paul Harvey was noted for a daily program called (I think) “And Now, The Rest of the Story”. He’d take a story everyone was familiar with and provide interesting insights into the lead up to the famous story, or what happened after the story took place. For example – after telling a story about a bumbling, up to his eyes in debt barkeeper who became a lawyer after losing a couple of bankruptcy cases he ended with, “… and now you know the rest of the story of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. Good day.”

After Easter, we hear the familiar account of Jesus’ upper room appearance to His disciples in John’s gospel. The one where He breathes the Holy Spirit upon them, gives them power to forgive sins, then a week later, helps Thomas to believe by showing him His scarred hands and side. It would appear from John that only Thomas had his doubts. But Luke tells us – the rest of the story. Luke tells us more about Jesus sudden appearance in the upper room (Luke 24:36-49). Here we see that they too had their doubts. They too needed proof that Jesus was, in fact, alive. It wasn’t until they also saw Jesus’ nail scarred hands and feet and watched Him eat some broiled fish that they believed He was alive. 

Then He proceeded to open their minds to understand the scriptures; everything Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms said about Him. He told them clearly how He alone fulfilled the promises found in what we call the Old Testament. Finally, He said, “You are the witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:48). The disciples had a hard time believing too. But Jesus enabled them to believe so they could pass the stories along that we too “by believing may have life in His name” (John 19:31). And now we know the rest of the story. Good day.

                                                                                        In the Risen Christ’s Love,

                                                                                        Pastor Jim

No Islands Unto Oneself (April 14, 2021)

Photo by Martine Jacobsen on Unsplash 

Dear Easter Friends,

Alleluia! Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

I think one of the most satisfying things in life is the ability to help someone in need. Whether it’s through something I know or have, it gives me a good feeling to know I can use the gifts I have to help someone besides myself. After all, “No person is an island unto themselves.” It does take others to get through life.

The idea that we’re here to help others shouldn’t be news to us – it’s the way God created us. After all, in the very beginning, God noted it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone, so He created a helper for him (Genesis 2:18). As Jesus prepared His disciples for life without Him in a physical sense, Jesus knew they’d need someone to help them out. He promised them a Helper – the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-27). And the Helper filled these men and women in ways they couldn’t imagine as they came together as “one heart and soul … having everything in common” (Acts 4:32). And as a result of being one with each other, they also worked diligently to give what they had, from among the generous provision of God, to whomever had need (Acts 4:34-35). Trusting God would continue to supply their needs, they had no fear about giving to others to ensure nobody was lacking.

As modern-day disciples, God continues to richly bless us with many different gifts. He gives all of us the gift of life and mixes in time, talent, and treasure as He sees fit. Guided by the Holy Spirit, He launches us all into the world to be His hands and feet to help any and all in need by giving freely and generously from the gifts He has blessed us with – trusting His promise to refill the coffers from which we give. So, let us rejoice in God’s loving provision and then respond to His love by helping any and all in need with the gifts He has given us.

                                                                                        In the Risen Christ’s Love,

                                                                                        Pastor Jim

He is Risen! (April 7, 2021)

white printer paper on brown wooden table

Photo by Joshua Burdick on Unsplash 

Dear Easter People,

ALLELUIA!  CHRIST IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED!  ALLELUIA!

This is the Easter acclimation! Easter is not just a single day. It is in fact a season. But it’s really more, it lasts to eternity. When the eggs are gone, the bunnies consumed, the baskets put away, and the photos have been posted – remember – “CHRIST IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED!” 

Jesus claimed to be “the Son of God.”  He taught from the Holy Scriptures. He performed miracles. He raised people from the dead. But many had made similar claims and performed similar deeds. Prophets and rabbis taught from the Holy Scriptures. The Old Testament tells of mighty men of God performing miracles. Jesus’ disciples even raised people from the dead (Acts 9:40-41). However, none of these were God. But Jesus is who He claims – God! 

Jesus died on the cross. He was dead!  A guard drove a spear into His body – the blood and water that had settled in His chest poured out. He was buried in a sealed tomb for three days. “Three days” is significant. Many believed a body wasn’t “dead” until it showed no life for three days. Jesus was in fact truly dead! Yet three days later, Jesus appeared to His disciples alive.

Jesus’ resurrection proves He is who He says He is – God. As God, His word and promise are true for all mankind. He says He forgives our sins – they are forgiven – no matter how bad we think they are!  He says He will raise us to eternal life – we will be raised to eternal life. As Easter people, we “confess with (our) mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in (our) heart that God raised Him from the dead and (are) saved.” (Romans 10:9) One day, we will be raised to new life. We will join all who believe in Jesus and His promises in His eternal kingdom. Why? Because CHRIST IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED! We celebrate and shout this fact not just today, but every day! Amen!

                                                                                        In the Love of our Risen Savior,

                                                                                        Pastor Jim

Spoonerisms (March 29, 2021)

Dear Friends and Family,

Have you ever heard of a “spoonerism”? My father-in-law Jerry was known for them – “Sorry to be late, my truck got a tat flier.” “Spoonerisms” sound like verbal mistakes caused by switching parts of two words in a sentence. A “flat tire” becomes a “tat flier”. Maybe it’s a slip of the tongue. It might also be a play on words emphasizing a point. Reverend Archibald Spooner, famous for this verbal technique, is credited with the “spoonerism”.

Jesus’ life might be called a “living spoonerism”. Paul writes, “Christ Jesus, who, thought He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of man” (Philippians 2:5-7). The problem most in Jesus’ day had with His claim to be the Son of God, is He didn’t act like it. In their eyes, the Son of God, should’ve ridden a war horse into Jerusalem to conquer the Roman occupiers and restore Israel’s greatness. What we call “Holy Week” shows the extent of Jesus’ humility. “He humbled Himself … to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8), a death reserved for slaves and the lowliest criminals. A death that took place on that first Good Friday.

Jesus didn’t come into the world to conquer it. He came to conquer sin and death. To do this, He lived as a perfect human being. He humble Himself by submitting to His Father’s will and to those He came to serve. He did all this perfectly – Jesus destroying the power of sin and death to rule over us. Then, on the first Easter, His Father raised Him from the dead. He raised Him to His eternal throne “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 5:10-11). And we who believe in Him, sinful humans all, are forgiven and made worthy to serve Him now, on earth, and in eternity, as His children. Come to think of it, we might be “living spoonerisms” too.

                                                                                        In Christ’s Love,

                                                                                        Pastor Jim

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