Monday, March 30, 2009


We have been focusing on John 3:16 and what this verse means. Mostly we had been focusing on God's role. God loved the world. God gave his one and only Son for whoever. Now the verse moves into our role. Whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. We believe.
Yesterday I showed a video of Team Hoyt. (At least I showed the video at the second service because the computer acted up at the first service. If you want to see the video I have it on my computer.) Team Hoyt is a father-and-son team who compete in marathons and triathlons. The amazing thing is that the son cannot walk. His father pushes him in a wheelchair during the races. The son says that is when he does not feel handicapped. In a few weeks they will run their 27th Boston Marathon. It is an inspiring story.
I compared this to what it means to believe in Jesus. When believing in Jesus is no longer just an idea in our minds and moves into our hearts we are trusting God to take us where he wants us to go. We become dependent on God. We need God's strength to move in this race of life. To fulfill our purpose in the world we need to believe God will take us where we need to go.
In a sense God becomes the driver of our life. We decide to go for a ride with God. As God drives we will see the beauty and wonder of his plan for our lives. We will begin to realize the world changing purpose he has planned for us. And we will notice the difference we can make in this world by God's strength.
This is not always an easy ride to take. I have fought with God several times about going different directions. He has taken me places I did not want to go. And I have even decided not to go his way from time to time, but in the end of those trips I usually recognize God's path was better than my own. So each day I try to allow him to drive and just go along for the ride.
Believing in Jesus means we place our lives in his hands and then move with his love and grace to transform this world. This is a high calling, but I believe.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Yesterday in a time of healing prayer we had many people come forward for themselves or for other people that needed a healing touch. Pastor Helen and I prayed for healing for cancer, autism, ALS, addictions, financial situations, and many other situations. A personal prayer was for my daughter with her delayed development. These were big prayers.
There were many brave people asking for prayers for their personal healing. The situations they face with their health concerns has to be difficult, but they fight on. We had sons stand in for their father and mother. We had friends stand in for one another. We had people from one service stand in for those from the other service.
I believe these prayers will be answered. Jesus said if our faith is as big as a mustard seed, which is pretty small, we can move mountains. I believe we had more than a mustard seed of faith in our prayers yesterday and God has already begun to work through those prayers.
I do not want to be too focused in God's response in thinking he can only respond in one way to these prayers, but to be open to how God chooses to respond. At the same time I am expecting miracles to happen and I believe God will respond in some cases with a response that we can only acknowledge as a miracle of God. Other responses might be quality care by doctors or new procedures, but those too are made possible by God.
I invite each of you to continue to pray for those who need God's healing touch. His Spirit will touch whoever is lifted up in prayer.
I also want to hear the stories of what healings take place from our prayers. So let me know how you see God respond.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pieces of Peace

Yesterday we looked at Jesus as the one and only. Jesus is the one who can hold our lives together and give us peace.
With the beautiful weather yesterday I finally got out onto my garage roof to install a new digital TV antenna. We had been using rabbit ears on each of our TV sets and I decided it was time to get a good outside antenna. I was proud of myself because it really did not take me too long to get things figured out and working because I am not always a great handy man.
My handy man training has mostly come from my grandpa who would never fix something I needed fixed without my help so that I could learn how to do it.
One practice I did pick up from my grandpa was to save extra pieces. If there are left over screws or bolts I put them into my toolbox in case I need them for another project. Then when I have a project that needs a spare screw or bolt I go digging through my spares. However, more often then not I cannot find the exact piece I need. Either the piece is too long or too short. It is too thick or too thin. Many times I have to go out and buy the piece I need.
I thought about this as I thought about the many different pieces we try to use to hold our lives together and to give us peace in our hearts. We look to wealth, beauty, popularity and everything else when Jesus says he is the one and only who can give us that peace. We can keep trying to use spare parts or we can just go to the one and only Son of God and ask for the peace he offers.
When I need a reminder of this peace in my life I just say the name of Jesus several times. It is a whispered prayer for Jesus to bring me peace. Usually in those few quiet seconds his peace comes. Does anyone else have a little way to remember the peace God offers in times of stress?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Hard World

I was preaching yesterday morning about the hard world we live in. John 3:16 says God so loved the world. I was wondering what in this world God loved. I was sharing some statistics like, 1 of 8 Americans is addicted to drugs or alcohol, 1 of 10 Americans admit to being addicted to on-line pornography, and there are around 16,000 murders in our country a year. As I was talking about this hard world one state over a pastor was being shot and killed in front of his congregation at the beginning of the worship service he was about to lead.
As a pastor this was shocking news. Reports say the pastor held up his Bible as a shield, but of course it was no match for the bullets of the gun. I wonder what hardened this gunman so much that he felt the need to walk into a church service and shoot the pastor?
After some of the shock wore off I also need to confess some hard hearted thoughts. I began to wonder what this pastor had done to cause this to happen. It could have been some random act of violence. But too often when the full story appears their is a reason behind the hardness. Had this pastor failed this gunman in some way? Had he caused him or his family some hardship or pain? I still do not condone the actions of the gunman, there is never a time to take someone's life like that, but is there a reason?
I do confess a hard heart when pastors fail in major ways. I am not saying pastors cannot make small mistakes. I have my own difficulties. I make bad decisions. I say the wrong thing. I hurt someone's feelings. But it pains me to see pastors, who are to be serving this awesome, loving God get caught up in some unloving situations. Pastors who betray the dignity of being a minister of Jesus Christ frustrate me, but at the same time I know they too are sinners in need of God's grace. We cannot be perfect, except by the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, we will see what story appears from this tragedy. I am praying for the families involved that God may surround them with comfort. And I pray that God will use his miraculous power to use this situation to soften the hearts of those who need his touch. Mine included.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Be the Expert of your own faith

Yesterday we looked at the story of Nicodemus from John 3. He came to Jesus at night to find out what Jesus was teaching. Coming at night gives some evidence to Nicodemus' caution of coming to Jesus. He is not sure he wants everyone to know he is talking with Jesus. At the same time, he wanted to come and talk to Jesus face to face instead of just hearing the stories from other people about what Jesus was teaching.
I appreciate Nicodemus making his way to Jesus to learn for himself what Jesus was teaching. I am one who will often find my way to an "expert" to help me in many situations. For instance, if I need something fixed around the house or with our vehicles I will go to an expert. I do know some about home repair and cars. I can change my own oil. I have tried to fix my faucets. But normally I will go straight to a professional instead of making a bigger mess myself.
Unfortunately, I also think in our faith we often rely too much on "experts." We listen to the pastor or other teachers and just accept what they teach about God. Instead of studying the Bible and learning what it teaches for ourselves, we let someone else study it and tell us what they learned.
As a pastor, I am not trying to disqualify our teaching. I hope there is benefit in learning from religious "experts." But along with learning from experts, I am encouraging everyone to also go straight to the source. Get into your Bible and study it, so you can know what it says. Become an expert at your own faith. Take in from God's Word what God wants you to know.
If you find something that is confusing ask me about it or look for information about the passage in a Bible commentary. As we ask questions of God's Word, as we read it and study it, God will draw us close and remind us of who he is. He is the God who gave his Son Jesus so that we will have eternal life. Study and know the truth found in John 3:16.