Blog

Following Our Commander

February 2018
Pastor Jeremiah Krieger

“But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”(Luke 6:49 ESV)

As the Civil War was reaching its final days of battle, Confederate troops were racing to High Bridge near Farmville, Virginia to escape the Union forces.

General Washburn and a Calvary of 80 horsemen and 847 infantry were in hot pursuit. Suddenly, these Union Soldiers found themselves surrounded by 1200 rebels. Washburn was hoping to get to High Bridge to burn it down and choke the last of the Confederacy.

In the midst of a desperate situation, Washburn came up with a plan to pierce through the Rebel lines and destroy them from the inside out. Orders were given to the infantry who were hunkered on the ground to follow the Calvary into battle and fight.

Washburn led the charge. The two forces clashed in the middle. But Washburn’s infantry never got up from the ground. They didn’t move a muscle. The Confederate Calvary picked up on this and they were emboldened in the battle. When all was said and done, Washburn’s infantry sealed their fate because they failed to follow orders.
Every single Union Soldier was either killed or captured! Only 100 Confederate troops lost their lives.

Just like in military battles, it is critical to follow orders, so also is it crucial to follow our Commander in our faith. Jesus calls his disciples to follow Him. Discipleship is following Jesus as Lord of your life. The Lord is the master. The director. The one who calls the shots. He is the one who sets the chief example. The one who gives the marching orders.

Jesus gives us orders for our benefit. He doesn’t want us to fall. In Luke 6, 46-49, Jesus says that the one who hears his words and does them is the one who has a sure foundation. It is the person who hears Jesus’ words and does not put them into practice whose foundation is the one that crumbles.

Following Jesus by listening to his commands is the way that we build a foundation that we can be confident will sustain our life. It will impact every decision we make. It will help us overcome attacks from the enemy.

Jesus wants us to be victorious in the battles we face in life. He doesn’t want us to be counted as a casualty of war. The greatest struggle we face is that sometimes we are like those soldiers hunkered down on the plains when Washburn gave his orders. The command to charge was given and the soldiers didn’t move.

The soldiers became a massive casualty. Washburn was their commanding General. He carried the rank, but in practice the soldiers didn’t listen. Each soldier remained in his predetermined position. The truth was that each soldier illegitimately pulled rank over the General by not obeying orders. The result is that they were decimated.

The spiritual war’s end that we all face today has been determined. But there are still battles we face each day. Whether our struggles involve loving our spouses well, disciplining our children right, making finances work, or the challenges we face at our jobs, Jesus wants us to be victorious. Jesus gives us direction and leadership in every situation we encounter, but are we listening to his commands?

Jesus asks us, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” Jesus is the commanding General, and we can have confidence in the strength and abilities of His leadership. He’s won the greatest battle the cosmos has ever faced when he was nailed to the cross and overcame death to rise back to the Father in glory.

Let’s remember that our victory is in Jesus Christ. Satan has been vanquished on the Cross. Jesus is King. Let’s follow His orders for our life. God bless you and stay safe under the command of the Lord’s leadership!
 
Pastor Jeremiah 


Cross-Training for 2018

Hebrews 12:1, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”
 
January 2018
Pastor Jeremiah Krieger
 
Running is one of my least favorite activities in the world. In fact, I know that I am highly allergic to running. Every time I do it, my face turns red; I sweat profusely, and I have a hard time breathing. In the medical world, we call these signs of anaphylactic shock! So I try to avoid it at all costs.

All kidding aside, in the Christian life, our faith is often equated to a long distance run. For some of us, that metaphor is a dream. We love to run. It is a time of freedom and inner cleansing. We live for the runner’s high. For others, we might wish the Bible had somehow creatively used a couch and channel surfing as a metaphor. But it didn’t. The writer of Hebrews encourages believers to exercise their faith with endurance.

The worst part of it is (if you don’t like running) that we can’t even casually live out our faith. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Cor. 9:24, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?
So run that you may obtain it.” The manner that we are to run is in a way that we might obtain the prize! That means we must be conditioned and trained to win. We don’t casually slip and fall over the finish line! In today’s world, serious athletes cross-train.

Cross-training is typically defined as an exercise regimen that uses several modes of training to develop a specific component of fitness. A runner who includes other forms of training into his exercise routine will prevent himself from injury and strengthen other muscle groups that are not focused on during running. Cross-training helps improve overall performance in one’s sport.

The Apostle Paul says, “Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Tim. 4:7b-8). Spiritual transformation (becoming more like Jesus in our attitudes and actions) doesn’t happen overnight.
 
One way we can help our growth in 2018 is by cross training in three specific areas of our life. If we are willing to devote these three areas to Christ, then we will see a remarkable transformation in ourselves and an awakening in our church and community. 
 

The first way that we should cross-train is through our corporate worship. Meeting together regularly is normative for disciples of Jesus and helps to strengthen our faith. Acts 2:42-47 shows us what followers of Christ did back then, “And they devoted themselves…to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

When we follow Jesus, we become part of a body. We become part of something much greater than ourselves. You can’t say “I love Christ,” but hate the bride. You can’t say, “I’m devoted to Jesus,” but not be devoted to his people. Being part of the Church is part of how Christ grows us. Attending worship services weekly will help us stay in the game and strong in our faith.

Second, we should cross-train by growing with each other. In the Epistles we will find the words “one another” joined together 45 times when speaking of our devotion to other believers for the purpose of deliberately building up their lives. Scripture calls us to be devoted to each other. Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in love.”

Practicing discipleship through small groups is instrumental in our spiritual growth. It is instrumental in finding freedom from sin. It is instrumental in aiding believers in their full devotion to Christ. It is the practice field where the team is built up and prepared for the game. If you don’t already belong to a small group of friends to intentionally build each other up, consider setting aside an hour per week and inviting a few others to share that time with you to build friendships and grow in faith.

Third, our cross-training should involve serving with each other. If everyone in our church devoted one hour per week to serving in a church ministry, it would result in both personal growth and the corporate growth of our church.
 
We have all been given unique gifts, aptitudes and abilities that only we can do. We all have something to offer the body of Christ. If we do not serve the Church, we are hurting both ourselves and the Church.

Devoting time to serve with the Church is normative behavior in the life of the Christian. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 12:1-2, Paul goes as far as to say that he doesn’t want us to be uniformed about our spiritual gifts. The implication is that those who do not use their gifts to serve the Church are those who are using their gifts to serve mute idols. Jesus said we cannot serve both God and money. He is calling us to singular devotion to serving him.

Understanding what Christ is calling us to is essential to the faith. If we are living out the faith like a channel surfer instead of a cross-trained runner, chances are that we are not running for the purpose of getting the prize. If we have a carefree and thoughtless attitude towards our faith and aren’t intentionally living it out with others, then we will miss the mark.

We all have 168 hours in the week. We all are called to run the race. Our training doesn’t have to be that complicated. If we want to run for the long haul, we should definitely cross-train by devoting an hour each week for corporate worship together, an hour each week for growing together in abiding friendships, and one hour per week of serving alongside each other with the Church.

Cross-train this year with me and watch God change your life. Devote that time to Christ and watch Him use you to transform this church and our community.

God bless you,

Pastor Jeremiah

 


To Marvel & Mend this Christmas

To Marvel & Mend this Christmas
December 2017
Samantha Krieger
 
The shepherds’ desire to see this sign was no Sunday stroll in the park. I can just imagine them running as fast as they could, sweating, hearts racing, maybe even stumbling through the fields because it was night.
I can imagine their hearts pumping through their chests as they reach their destination and look Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the eye for the first time. I doubt many words were uttered on their part but just sheer amazement. And this amazement could only lead them to make known what they had just seen.
The glory of God had just come down from heaven- a shining light in the midst of evil and darkness. Love had come down to save them and set them free from their sins. God had chosen them- lowly shepherds- to be the first to see this humble King lying in a manger.
 
They couldn’t help but spread the news that Peace was here. They shared the news to everyone and it spread far and wide.
“And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” (Luke 2:18)
But not only that, all the hearers of this good news marveled too.
And it’s this word “marvel” that jumps out at me today. It’s a word that I can’t skip over when I’m reading Luke’s account of Christ’s words and works.
Do I marvel at the gift of God sending his son Jesus down to this earth to save us? Has this good news so impacted my life that others see it and believe it as well?
Have I taken the time in these days leading up to Christmas to sit, reflect, be still and marvel at the mighty, mysterious works of God?
 
Because truthfully, I know there is a marveling that needs to be done in my own heart that has yet to happen. And there is a mending of brokenness needing to be done too. Both of which require God’s hand to awaken and heal.
And then I am reminded again of why Jesus came…
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
I want to see Jesus for who He is. To know him more. To put him first. To share his love to everyone he puts in my path. But I have to understand that this can’t be accomplished in my own strength. It has to be his mighty work through me for his glory.
Like the shepherds, when we see Jesus for who he really is, we are changed forever. Light pierces through our darkness. Our lives are radically different. And we can’t help but desire to see that change in other people too.
May you experience His light in a way you never have before this Christmas.
Samantha Krieger


U-Turn: A Signpost for the Spiritual Journey

U-Turn: A Signpost for the Spiritual Journey
November 2017
Jeremiah Krieger
 
God’s love for His people is unlike any other love that I have ever witnessed in my life. Throughout the message of the prophets, we can see God practically begging His people to return to Him- not in a desperate sort of way, but in a way that demonstrates deep concern and yearning for their well being. God’s love for His people is truly remarkable.
 
In Zechariah 1:3, the Lord said to His people, “Turn to me.” God wanted his people to return to Him with their whole heart. As I read this, echoes of God’s covenant with Israel ring throughout my ears. In Deuteronomy 30:1-3, the Lord promises Israel that when His people are taken into captivity in far away lands because of their disobedience, if they turn to the Lord and obey him with their entire heart, mind and being, then He will have pity on His people and reverse their captivity! In other words, God said that if His people were ever found lost and lead to captivity in distant lands, then the only way back was to do a spiritual U-turn.
 
When Zechariah prophesied, his purpose was to challenge returned exiles to return to the Lord so that they can be cleansed of their sins and once again enjoy the Covenant blessings. His message was, “return to me.”
 
Repentance is the U-turn for the heart that is lost in captivity from sin. Even believers today can get caught up in sin and cause immense pain in their life. We have all had that even after professing Christ as our Savior.
Today when believers fall into sin, the way that sin is dealt with is different than how it was dealt with in the Old Testament, but God’s appeal to us still remains. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
 
Today a believer enjoys relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Christ’s blood covers his sins past, present and future. His standing before God is eternally secure in the New Covenant. However, sometimes we make decisions that hurt ourselves and others. There can be a time when sin takes us farther than we want to go, keep us longer than we want to stay, and cost us more than we want to pay. It is in these moments when we can be assured of two certainties: 1) God loves us and his blood covers over all our sin 2) God wants us to return to him with all our heart.
Therefore, no matter how far removed from God we might find ourselves, not only do we have the opportunity to be reconciled back to right relationship with God, but that is exactly what God wants us to do. God’s promise always remains for any remnant of people who trust in Him. If you have found your heart distant from God, what are you waiting for? Return back to Him!
 
Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving,
 
Pastor Jeremiah


Simple Faith

Simple Faith
October 2017
Jeremiah Krieger
Do you ever find yourself confused trying to figure out just what God wants from you when you decide to follow Jesus? Have you ever felt overwhelmed or exhausted with Church life? Do you ever feel guilty because you don’t feel like you’re doing enough, even when you’re doing so much for Jesus?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, then chances are you might be making your walk with Jesus more complicated than it needs to be. When Jesus bids us to come to Him, he is not asking for an open ended commitment to leading and building church programs. He is asking us for something far greater: to be fully devoted to Him.
Being a fully devoted follower of Christ doesn’t require us doing more for Jesus. It requires Jesus doing more for us through the sanctification process of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:11 reminds us how the Holy Spirit is the agent who works on us so that Jesus can work through us: “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” The longer we follow Jesus, the more available we will become to Him, and the more He will continue to work through us.
Yet, if we gathered every believer from our church together in a room and asked a question, “What does it mean to be fully devoted to Jesus,” we would likely find out that everybody has a slightly different answer. We would discover that we have made the faith more confusing than it needs to be. Some of us are spending too much time doing too much work and getting burned out because we want to please God. Others are doing too little and are spectators rather than players in the game…
If we are going to be fully devoted to Christ, we might want to rethink our spiritual habits and to what we are devoted. We each have 168 hours per week. We each have natural gifts and talents. We each have resources that we are called to steward for the glory of God. How can we maximize our stewardship for God’s greatest glory and our greatest good?
There are 3 hours of our life that we should consider devoting completely to Christ— no if’s, and’s, or but’s. I believe that if we are willing to devote these three hours to Christ and to defend them at any cost, not allowing anything else to dislodge their use, then we would see a remarkable transformation in ourselves and an awakening in our church and community.
The first hour that we should unequivocally devote to Christ for His glory and our good is in God’s grace through corporate worship. Meeting together regularly is normative for disciples of Jesus.
When we follow Jesus, we become part of a body. We become part of something much greater than ourselves. Being part of the Church is not optional in the faith. You can’t say “I love Christ,” but hate the bride. You can’t say, “I’m devoted to Jesus,” but not be devoted to his people. Over and over throughout the New Testament we see how we are grafted in to Christ and are used to serve others. Being part of the Church is also how Christ grows us.
If your devotion to Christ is measured by your devotion to the Church, how are you doing? Corporate worship on Sunday mornings is an opportunity to be reminded of Christ’s faithfulness and to remind others of the same. It is an opportunity to express gratitude to God through songs, tithing, and service— all of which evangelize and declare to unbelievers that we truly believe that life is found in Jesus Christ.
Second, we should unequivocally devote an hour to Christ by growing with each other. Too often people come as spectators rather than players. Have you ever watched the Broncos score a touchdown and then turned to your spouse or friend and gave each other a high five or slap on the bottom like it was you who scored?
 
There is a remarkable difference between a spectator and a player. Both perform the same actions (high five and a slap and cheer) when their team scores. But only the player is engaged in the game. Only the player will get the reward. The same is true with the disciple. Scripture calls us to be devoted to each other. Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in love.” In John 13:34, Jesus told his disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
 
If your devotion to Christ is measured by your devotion to each other, how are you doing? Showing up on Sunday morning, singing a song, paying tithe, and listening to a sermon are all part of following Jesus. However, when we are called to Christ, we are called to abiding relationships with each other. If we don’t intentionally meet together for the purpose of edification and practicing the “one anothers” of Scripture then you are playing more the spectator than the player.
 
In the Epistles we will find the words “one another” joined together 45 times when speaking of our devotion to other believers for the purpose of deliberately building up their lives. Practicing discipleship through small groups is instrumental in spiritual growth. It is instrumental in finding freedom from sin. It is instrumental in aiding believers in their full devotion to Christ. It is the practice field where the team is built up and prepared for the game.
 
Third, if everyone in our church devoted one hour of service per week to Jesus by serving in a church ministry, it would result in personal growth and the corporate growth of our church. This past spring we did a series from 1 Corinthians 12 called, “Gifted.”
We have all been given unique gifts, aptitudes and abilities that only we can do, and nobody else. We all have something to offer the body of Christ. If we do not serve the Church, we are hurting both ourselves and the Church.
 
If your devotion to Christ is measured by your devotion to serving the Church, how are you doing? Devoting time to serve with the Church is normative behavior in the life of the Christian. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 12:1-2, Paul goes as far as to say that he doesn’t want us to be uniformed about our spiritual gifts. The implication is that those who do not use their gifts to serve the Church are those who are using their gifts to serve mute idols. Jesus said we cannot serve both God and money. He is calling us to singular devotion to him.
 
Understanding what Christ is calling us to is essential to the faith. It is essential to know what Christ is actually calling us to if we are going to actually follow Him— either as an individual or as the Church. Following Jesus wasn’t intended to be confusing. When Jesus saw Simon and Andrew casing their nets at the sea, he said, “Follow me.” Andrew and Simon got up and followed Jesus. That’s what all the disciples did. They left what they were doing and followed Jesus.
 
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus calls us to make disciples. Disciples are made, not born. In the discipleship process we need to make it clear what it looks like to follow Christ. It doesn’t have to be that hard. We all have 168 hours in the week. We are all called to follow Christ. It doesn’t have to be that complicated. If we want to follow Jesus, we should definitely start first by devoting an hour each week for corporate worship together, an hour each week for growing together in abiding friendships that spur each other on to follow Christ more, and to devote one hour per week of serving alongside each other with the Church.
 
Devote that time to Christ and watch him change your life. Devote that time to Christ and watch him transform this church and our community. It really is that simple.
 
God bless you,
 
Pastor Jeremiah


Salvation Through Numbers

Salvation Through Numbers
September 2017
Pastor Jeremiah
 
“When you go to war in your land against the adversary who attacks you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the LORD your God, and be saved from your enemies.” – Numbers 10:9
 
Have you ever found yourself frustrated because you cannot seem to kick that bad habit or sin in your life that keeps popping up too often? Or do you sometimes find yourself discouraged, isolated and alone when life’s troubles smash into you like a Mack Truck? Being alone in the midst of struggle is not fun, and nobody wants to admit when they need help. That is not the kind of life that God wants for his people. There is a better way that is life giving during difficult times.
 
The book of Numbers is a narrative of Israel’s history written by Moses. At this time Israel was a nation preparing for war after God had delivered her from the hands of Egypt. Numbers describes how God was getting Israel prepared to enter the promise land by providing a battle plan to fight against enemies of God who would be adversaries to Israel’s peace and prosperity.
In Numbers 10, the Lord instructs Moses to make trumpets. There were different signals that were announced through the horn. In verse 9, God instructed Moses to sound a signal when Israel went to battle against her enemies. The purpose of this signal was a battle call.
 
When the horn sounded, Israel would be called to arms to prepare for battle and fight. Israel’s salvation from her enemies required commitment to sounding an alarm throughout the camp. This alarm brought everyone together and strength was found in numbers. Salvation was found through the many people of God sticking together.
 
Today, our willingness to sound the horn still corresponds to our salvation. God is not necessarily calling us to make or buy a trumpet when we are in the midst of a spiritual battle. But if that works for you, go for it! Rather, there is a different way we can sound the alarm.
 
Confession is the sounding horn that frees us from the grasp of the enemy. When we are in the face of temptation, we need to have a signal that we send out to trusted friends and family who can support us as we battle (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10). When our enemy the devil is looking around for somebody to devour (1 Peter 5:8), and when his target has been set on you, one of the best ways to fight the battle is to gather strength in numbers.
 
When facing temptation to sin or the adversities in life, sending a text or making a phone call out to trusted friends is a great way to sound the horn for battle. Meeting regularly with people you trust who will spur you on in your faith is a great way to build trust and establish a network of warriors who will fight against sin with you and who will uphold you when your strength is failing.
 
Sounding the horn is a gift that God gives us to see us through in our salvation. Overcoming the enemy requires steadfastness and lasting commitment to “sound the horn” when we are faced with the choice to sin or doubt God in our struggles of adversity. When we confess to another, I am angry, or I am full of lust, or when we say, I fear man, or I am hurting right now, it brings us into the light before God and gathers others around us who will fight with us through temptation and adversity.
 
Just as Israel was required to sound the horn in order to be victorious over her enemies, so also ought we sound the alarm to take up arms to fight against sin. Who do you have in your life that will be an encouragement to you when you struggle? Who in your life holds you to live by God’s word instead of the ways of man in the midst of adversity? Finally, are you being that person to others?
 
Salvation, in Numbers, was found by Israel when the horn was sounded. Salvation in numbers (of trusted friends around us) is also how God saves us from the enemies of sin an temptation today. Let’s battle together and not alone.
 
Battling with you,
 
Pastor Jeremiah
 


Why God Doesn’t Always Give Us What We Want

Samantha Krieger
 
August 2017
Recently my family and I were on our summer vacation at a Christian retreat center and I decided to grab a Gold Peak sweet tea out of the vending machine before the speaking session. The man in front of me pressed the buttons for a Mountain Dew and to his surprise a Diet Coke came out instead.
“Aw man, it gave me what I needed, not what I wanted,” he turned around and said to me.
I smiled and empathized with him, offering my extra change.
“No, it’s okay. I’ll just take it anyway,” he said reluctantly.
As I went to carefully press the buttons for my tea, I thought about his words and how true they were in our spiritual lives.
Jesus is concerned about what we need, more than what we want. In fact, our wants, desires, and cravings can often lead us down a path of unnecessary pain, hurt, and tears: Coveting something that is not ours to the point of our family’s ruin, desiring the latest fad that only leaves us feeling empty, overindulging in sugar that gives us exhaustion and an expanded waistline, and more.
Jesus is the one able to give us more than we can think of or imagine. He is more than a quick fix but offers us everlasting joy and peace because he is the Living Water. What we see and long for here on earth barely scratches the beauty and majesty of the abundant life that he says he offers us today and into eternity. He knows what our soul needs most and it is Christ alone. Nothing more. Nothing added. No substitutes. Not Jesus + _______ (you fill in the blank).
It seems though, that we’re still on a meaningless chase to find happiness and joy that is already in front of us.
C.S. Lewis famously quoted:
 
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased.”
 
Jesus is the only one who can bring the lasting, infinite joy and pleasure that our souls are longing for so deeply. Truly, we know we were made for some- something beyond ourselves and what this world skillfully markets to us, but is a false sense of happiness and security.
 
Now, later in the day, as my kids play in the white sand and build castles with sticks, leaves, and rocks, they’re in their own world with not much at their fingertips but the gift of nature. Yet, they’re pleased, satisfied, and complete-ly entertained. They laugh and dance by the water. The sand covers their skin and they’re hot now.
“Let’s take a dip in the cool water!” I say.
“Yeah!” they yell, setting their shovels and buckets down for a better reward of crashing waves and clean skin. Their bodies are engulfed by the refreshing water and their little souls are refreshed.
May we be a church that is not too easily pleased by the “wants” in our life, but instead are “all in” when it comes to enjoying the beauty, greatness, and holiness of our God who promises that when we come to him that we’ll never be thirsty again.
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” – John 7:37
 


The Call of Missions

The Call of Missions
July 2017
Jeremiah Krieger
 
This July the missions committee is helping our church to focus on our missions. For the next few weeks, we have invited many of our missionaries to come in to share about their ministries. On July 2, I will be kicking off the month with a message on missions and then the next few weeks we will have our missionaries visit to share about their ministries and give a message of encouragement. This will be a great opportunity to both be a good host for our missionaries and to get to know them and reconnect with them as they share about the work God is accomplishing in their life.
 
When I was growing up, there was a time that I feared that God would call me to be a missionary. As a college student, I dedicated my life to the Lord and surrendered to his calling in my life. I became willing to go wherever and do whatever he wanted for my life. My life was at peace with whatever God would call me to do.
 
Now it is years later, and I have accepted my call to missions. But it is not a calling that I fully understood years earlier.
Mission is an important word in the life of the true Christian because it describes the personal work of his or her life. When we become a Christian, one of the fundamental transformations is that we adopt a new life mission (Eph. 2:1-10). In other words, we move from being inwardly focused, pursing the desires of our flesh, and we become externally focused, reaching out to those who do not yet know Christ. Missions is not necessarily about going across the world as it is about going across the room or across the yard to your neighbor. Being on mission is about engaging others with the hope of the Gospel wherever you are and no matter where God takes you.
Some of Jesus’ final words to his disciples before he ascended to heaven were, “19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus has called us to be on mission for him.

time that I feared that God would call me to be a missionary. As a college student, I dedicated my life to the Lord and surrendered to his calling in my life. I became willing to go wherever and do whatever he wanted for my life. My life was at peace with whatever God would call me to do.
Now it is years later, and I have accepted my call to missions. But it is not a calling that I fully understood years earlier.

Mission is an important word in the life of the true Christian because it describes the personal work of his or her life. When we become a Christian, one of the fundamental transformations is that we adopt a new life mission (Eph. 2:1-10). In other words, we move from being inwardly focused, pursing the desires of our flesh, and we become externally focused, reaching out to those who do not yet know Christ. Missions is not necessarily about going across the world as it is about going across the room or across the yard to your neighbor. Being on mission is about engaging others with the hope of the Gospel wherever you are and no matter where God takes you.
Some of Jesus’ final words to his disciples before he ascended to heaven were, “19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus has called us to be on mission for him.

The mission Christ gave was not new. God has always had a heart for the nations. 1 Chronicles 16:24 says, “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” Psalms 96:3 says, “Tell the nations about his splendor! Tell all the nations about his amazing deeds!” God has always had a love for the nations and he has always called his people to participate in the mission of declaring his glory and the good news of the Gospel.

 
2 Corinthians 5:20 reminds us of how we are involved in Christ’s mission: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us…” What an exciting opportunity to be used by God to help be a vessel for the Gospel. Through sharing the Gospel we will invite transformation and freedom in the lives of others. However, if we don’t do our part, our culture will continue to suffer without knowing the hope that is available to them.
 
Think about that last argument you might have had with your spouse…or that time someone inconvenienced you at the grocery store or parking lot…or that person who sat in your chair at church! There is nothing wrong with stability and comfort. But when we are fighting for those freedoms, we must make sure we fight for the Gospel more than our freedoms. Galatians 5:13 says, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
What would it look like if we used our freedoms to fully pursue the mission that Christ has given to us? What would it look like if we abandoned our personal mission and fully pursued the Gospel together as individuals and as a church?

As our missionaries come to visit, be encouraged by the updates we receive and how the Gospel is at work in our world through our support. But also be inspired by the sacrifice of those who have devoted themselves to pursing global evangelization and consider the sacrifices they have made to do the Lord’s work. We might ask ourselves, “What am I willing to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel? What is God calling you to do so that you might become more fully devoted to Him?”

In His Service,

Pastor Jeremiah



Finding Rest

Psalm 16:8-10

 

8          I keep my eyes always on the LORD.

                        With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9          Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

                        my body also will rest secure,

10        because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,

                        nor will you let your faithful one see decay.

 

            This summer, I am looking forward to taking my family on a journey to a place where my family often vacationed when I was a child during the warm Michigan summers. One of my favorite places in the world is Lake Michigan. If you’ve never been there, I can only give you my greatest encouragement to make that a summer trip for you and your family or friends one day before you die.

            There is nothing like disappearing from daily life and joyfully swimming through the crystal clear waters of the Lake and feeling the warm white beach sand squash down under your feet. The gentle Lake breeze and the smell of barbecues are inviting for you after you enjoy a full day’s activity at the lake– including swimming, boating, hikes along the sand dunes, bike trails, wind surfing and more.

            Whether you are looking to find rest miles away at a lake this summer, or whether you will simply enjoy an Eastern Colorado sunrise on your porch in the morning, I want to encourage you to take a journey that leads to rest for you this summer.

            King David describes the kind of rest that God desires for His people to have throughout their life and not just for a summer trip. We can drive hundreds of miles, fly across an ocean, and spend thousands of dollars but still not find rest if we are not careful. The kind of rest God desires you to have cannot be entered into your GPS. Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa will not help you find it either.

            The rest that God desires you to have this summer can only be found in Christ. King David describes the focus of his eyes. They are fastened on the Lord. He says that he will not be shaken nor will he eternally suffer, no matter what his days would bring. The road to rest that David is describing produces confidence in the presence and hope in the future.

            The Hebrew word for rest in this passage is Shakhan, which means to settle down, to abide, or to dwell. What David found is that there is a road to rest when we relinquish ourselves to the loving leadership of Jesus Christ in our life. It is a place where we can be at home with ourselves and with God. When we lead a life without rest, we are actually demonstrating that God is not good and that he is not trustworthy to lead our lives.

            Since Samantha and I moved to Holyoke, we have observed what a hardworking group of people this community is. It is quite impressive. Surprisingly, this culture is similar to the bustling city we left, a city that never slept. Just like how the deadlines of corporate jobs kept Dallasites hustling all year long, so also does the mercy of nature produce a hustle in this agrarian culture. If you are not careful, you will either work yourself to death or work yourself until death– neither of which are God’s desire for you.

             God desires for you to have rest this summer and all year long. The greatest activity you can do for yourself, your family and this church is to take advantage of opportunities to rest in Jesus– whether that is on your back patio, on the seat of a tractor watching the sun rise or set, or after you tell your loved ones goodnight. Take regular opportunities to remind yourself that your value, significance and worth is not found in your prestige, position or possessions. It is found only through a relationship with God by trusting in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

            Wherever your journeys take you this summer, be sure to make one of your regular destinations that of rest with Jesus. Wherever you are, find yourself at home with Jesus. May your summer be full of joy and fun, and may your hearts overflow with the love of Christ in you.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Jeremiah



Anchored in Christ

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”- Hebrews 11:6

 

Nearly 12 years ago, Samantha and I said, “I do,” and raced off to our honeymoon on the beautiful beaches of Hawaii. Since we believed that this could be a once in a lifetime experience for both of us, we decided to do every excursion and tourist attraction that we could possibly afford.

 

After experiencing a luau, helicopter ride, beautiful beaches, and much more, we decided to try out a catamaran tour we read about in the pamphlet we found in our hotel room. We looked forward to our journey on the north side of the island where we could see dolphins and whales up close in the ocean. Soon enough, we found ourselves living the dream.

 

It was beautiful. We saw dolphins jump in and out of the water. We were able to see the spray of a whale out off in the distance. But it wasn’t long before the choppy waves on the north shore caught up to us. Samantha and I turned 50 shades of green and we desperately needed something to anchor us in place. We really wanted solid ground.

 

An anchor is a person or thing that provides stability or confidence in an otherwise uncertain situation. The tossing of the boat made us sick that day several years ago. Today, we all experience things in life that can get us even more stirred up. Whether it is uncertainty in your finances, difficulty in a relationship, or changes in your life in the home, at work or at church, it doesn’t take much for an upset to occur. Is there a person or thing that can provide stability or confidence in our otherwise uncertain situations that we might face this day, week, month or year?

 

The answer to that question is, “yes!” There is an anchor for the soul to give us peace in the turbulence of life, and that is the person Jesus Christ (Heb. 6:19). At the heart of the Christian life is trusting the love of God that is demonstrated through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

 

Jesus Christ is the preeminent expression of God’s love to us. We must accept the love of God by receiving the blood of Jesus as our sacrifice and payment for sin. It also means that we find our acceptance and worth in life in the place of God’s love. Trusting God’s love is the highest priority in the Christian life.

 

In other words, we must have faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith, this abiding trust in God, is the essential and non-negotiable requirement to having favor with God. At the heart of faith is believing that God wants to bestow favor on you despite your sin and brokenness. That can be hard to swallow when we carry such an enormous amount of guilt and shame before Him, but that is exactly what faith means for our life. Faith is the act of going to God because we are certain that we have been set free from sin by the blood of Jesus, and we are no longer captive to sin.

 

Faith is motivated by the promise of reward. Our greatest reward is Christ, but He promises us that he will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). In fact, one of the emotional and intellectual obstacles that must be overcome in our hearts before we are ever willing to detach the anchors of our souls from idols and onto Christ is that His reward and promise is much greater than what we are offered by our idols. The motive to anchoring on to Christ is the promise of His rewards.

 

That might not sound right, but that is what His word teaches us in Hebrews 11:6. Not only is this theologically true, but it is also true when applied to life. The only way that we will overcome our addictions and idols in life is when we believe that the promise of what Christ offers has a much greater reward than what the promises of pornography, alcohol, destructive anger, legalism, materialism and idol after idol offers.

 

Part of the vision statement of our church states, “…in Christ, we pursue a better way to live.” In other words, our vision is to be a gathering of believers who increasingly detach our soul ships from anchors of idols that don’t keep us stable and to attach ourselves to the anchor of Christ.

 

If your life is being rocked back and forth by troubles in this world and changes that are happening around you that are not within your control or approval, then I would encourage you to examine yourself. Test yourself and see whether you are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). See what you are trying to be anchored with.

 

For some of us, our anchor might be the comfort of a relationship that looks the way that we wish for it to look. It might be for church and the worship experience to be something different. It might be more money in the bank. It might be to have our job turn out a certain way. But what happens if these circumstances don’t turn out to our favor? They will disappoint and we will be like a catamaran drifting in choppy waters.

 

I pray that you and I will increasingly stay anchored to Christ, especially during uncertain times in life. Our idols offer a promise of comfort, security and hope. But they always disappoint. Jesus also offers comfort, security and hope, yet his promises never disappoint (Matt. 6:25; Josh. 1:5; Ps. 37:25; 2 Cor. 4:9). Which anchor will you trust? One that has abandoned you over and over again, or Christ who has demonstrated His love to you by laying down his life for you, even when you were still a sinner (Rom. 5:8)? As for me, I choose Christ. How about you?