The Need for Follow Up

July 2018
Acts 15:36, “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in
every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.”
Last fall something quite amazing happened. William kept coming up to me and begging me to
take his training wheels off his bike. I would consistently respond, “You are too young William.
Maybe when you get a little older.”
William never liked my response, but finally one day he wore me down. “Daddy, can you take
my training wheels off please? I want to ride without them.” For some reason I was feeling up
to it, and immediately after I removed the training wheels, William grabbed his bike with a huge
smile and got on.
With all my other children, I let them peddle while I held the bike seat until they gained enough
confidence for me to let go. William got on his bike and took off like he had been riding forever!
I couldn’t believe it. He had just turned 4 in August, and here he was zooming down the street.
I would be lying if I said that he never had an accident on his bike. He zoomed around for a few
minutes until he had to figure out how to turn at various speeds. He would crash occasionally,
but I was always there to encourage him. With the encouragement, William kept getting back
on and has now become an excellent biker.
In life, there is always a constant need for encouragement. With the impact of a world that is
under the curse of sin, there are always new curves, terrains and hills in our faith that can make
us want to quit and walk away from it all— especially if we are new to the faith.
Even those of us who are seasoned believers understand the relentless struggles of life, and
we all appreciate people checking in on us. If you are a new believer, you might appreciate it
even more when people who care about you check in to see how you are doing.
The spiritual like can be like riding a bike the first time. Some of us take longer to ride with
confidence, while others might get on and start riding like a champ. Some feel like they fit in at
church right away while others feel reluctant. Some jump into spiritual disciplines right away—
like prayer and bible study, while others need more time.
But it doesn’t matter where we are at in the journey. We all need to be followed up by others.
One of the Apostle Paul’s methods in ministry was follow-up. Scripture records 3 different
missionary journeys of Paul. He made it a point to visit, revisit, and write new believers to
follow up on their faith and encourage them.
One of the most important parts of discipleship is following up with others through every step
of the faith, whether they are new to faith or are leaders in the faith. We need to follow up with
each other and ask, “How are you doing?” We need to spend time with each other to see that
the way one answers that question is consistent with their life and to learn from each other and
teach each other God’s Word.
The spiritual life is like being on a bike. You can’t just say a prayer of faith and then zoom away
into the sunset. There is a need for consistent follow-up. Check out these encouraging verses
about following up with each other:
• Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing
one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with
thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
• Hebrews 10:25, “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but
encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
• Ephesians 5:19, “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart…”
• Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one
another in honor…”
The Christian life isn’t intended to be lived out in isolation. Sometimes we might hear of a
brother or sister in Christ stumbling in sin or falling away from faith, and we wonder, “What
happened?” We can become critical or judgmental. But before we might think like that, we
might reflect on what we have done to check in with that person.
It has been exciting to have newcomers attend FBC and participate in worship. One of the
greatest ways that we can help serve these newcomers is to get to know them. Work to
connect with visitors (We should do this with regular attenders and members as well).
We have many ways to follow up with others:
● Utilize the “meet and greet” to invite someone to lunch.
● Get a phone number or email and reach out.
● Utilize social media appropriately to connect in real life.
● Send a text during the week, or call on the phone and let someone know you care
about them.
● Invite others to church and bible studies.
● Visit each other– and especially visit the elderly and widows. As people age they need
even more encouragement than ever as they face new challenges that come with age.
Let’s work hard to be there for one another, and for every person who comes through our
doors at FBC. Let’s ride with each other until one day we “ride off into the sunset,” to meet our
Savior face to face so that we all will be able to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful
God bless you all,
Pastor Jeremiah

Waiting On God

June 2018
By Jeremiah Krieger
“This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’”— Acts 7:38-40
One of my favorite experiences in Holyoke is going to the Marketplace because the people are always friendly, and especially because they are always looking to keep their lines short. This is a gift to parents who have children because there aren’t endless aisles of impulse buy items to tempt the kiddos, nor do they have to stare at these items for a half hour or more while you have to wait to check out.
It was torture going to the grocery store most days in Dallas— especially when kids had to come along. Every parent who is going to survive a trip to Walmart without having a stroke or heart attack because of the stress of bringing the children along has to have a game plan before ever going. It was always a rat race trying to figure out the fastest lane to check out.
I remember impatiently trying to walk past other customers on the way to the checkout…almost like it was an unadvertised race that everyone in the store was registered for. You scope out the lines as quickly as possible and pray to the Lord that you make the wisest decision in which line you will spend your eternity waiting— lines that back up to the women’s clothing aisle. I was pretty sure that when Jesus spoke of Gehenna, this was probably close to what he was talking about.
And then there was the waiting. And waiting. Slowly, I would start to slouch on the cart. Waiting for the line to move. Keeping my eyes fixed on the lanes next to me. Wondering if I was “winning” this race that I seemed to be in. Endless, endless waiting. I would impatiently wonder in my head, “What is that cashier doing? Are they even working?” (I’ve never been the most patient person in the world. I would rather drive extra miles than sit in a traffic jam. At least I would have a sense of making progress. But I am learning.)
There are times in our life when we need to learn to wait patiently on God because it seems like He isn’t working. Patience is not something that you have to pray for (or that I would recommend anyone to do). If you want to learn patience, just go to a big city. God will give you many “at bats” to take a swing at patience.
Waiting on God isn’t easy. This week during my devotionals, I was reading through Acts when Stephen was giving his defense before the Sanhedrin. He recounts Israel’s history before the Council, and I was reminded of that time when Israel had just experienced an incredible emotional and spiritual high. God had majestically delivered his people from the hands of Pharaoh. It was the single greatest act of redemption since Noah and his family being spared from the flood. It was the greatest act of redemption on earth until the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the cross.
God delivered Israel, and then came the waiting. It was like the train that was moving 100mph came to a jarring halt. God was really preparing Israel for the next step of the journey, but what Israel saw was eternal lines at the grocery store. Moses was supposed to go up to the mountain to get a word from God, but he didn’t come back so quickly. And the people waited. And they waited. And they waited some more.
Crickets were chirping. People were fixed in an empty spiritual daze. Until finally, someone said, “Hey, let’s do something! I’m bored. God has kinda left us hanging here, so it looks like we need to find our own path.
So, God’s people impatiently pushed God aside. “Forget waiting on Moses,” they thought. And their hearts turned back to Egypt. They would rather go back to the bondage and heavy labor of slavery than to wait on God. Going back to Egypt became a romantic idea. The people took steps back to idol worship.
When Moses found out about this from God, it did not go well for God’s people. There was an incredible loss of life because Israel searched for blessing and prosperity outside of God. Fortunately, though, Moses was able to intervene on Israel’s behalf, and for the sake of God’s reputation the Lord relented from completely destroying his people.
Waiting on God can bring out the weakness of our faith sometimes. Especially when we are new to the faith and have experienced salvation in our own life, there are times when God makes us wait: maybe it is for a job; or maybe it is for a new spark of life in our marriage; maybe it is for direction in life. Perhaps in these moments, we would turn back to sin and toward an impulsive decision that would ultimately rob us of the blessing that is waiting for us if we just wait a little more patiently for God to provide.
While we wait for God to work, we can be tempted to look back to Egypt. An old way of sinful living that once was a slave master that brought us pain suddenly looks charming. Waiting can cause angst to build in the heart. That angst can turn to frustration. That frustration can become an impulse that might cause increased frustration or even tear our life apart.
Life is full of ups and downs. There are good times and bad— satisfaction and longing for more. We go through these cycles. But as we go through it all, just like God was working on behalf of Israel through Moses back then (even when Israel could not comprehend), God is working on our behalf today.
The Apostle Paul praised God because of the work God was doing that was greater than what the Church at Ephesus could comprehend. In Ephesians 3:20-21, Paul proclaims, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
When we enter into those seasons of waiting, instead of turning back to Egypt, let’s turn toward God. He is doing far more abundantly than all that we ask, or think, according to the power at work within us! In those moments when life seems to move like the aisle of a grocery store in a big city, give God praise. He is up to something!
Pastor Jeremiah

Confident In the Gospel

May 2018
By Jeremiah Krieger
Rom. 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Last fall I attended a board meeting for the Rocky Mountain Church Network. It was there I learned during a devotional time that the verse that ignited the ministry of Martin Luther was Romans 1:16. It became his life verse. It was one of the scriptures that started the Reformation.
Embedded in Romans 1:16 is the answer to the questions of why we gather and why we do what we do as a church. Our very purpose for gathering together and the very reason we do what we do is because of the Gospel. The Gospel is that we have salvation because of the faithfulness of Christ alone. It paved the road for the justification of the believer. It is by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, based on the authority of Scriptures alone, and for the glory of God alone that we are saved. Nothing else.
The pulse of Luther’s heartbeat became for the purity of the Gospel. The Gospel alone is the power for salvation. It is a power that belongs to God. It is the instrument that he has used to bring salvation and hope to those who believe.
The Gospel is also the container that holds God’s power. As Moses lifted up the Serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21) so that those who gazed upon it would be spared from death, so also has Jesus’ body been lifted up on the tree so that those who gaze upon it will be healed and spared from God’s wrath.
The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:8-9 that the formula for salvation is by grace through faith plus nothing else. It is a gift of God. It is the power of God and not ours. When we accept salvation it is a gift (John 3:16). Our only part is to believe it, and we receive it into our life. Jesus has done the work. No outside influence can promise us what is guaranteed to us solely through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
We live in a day and age where the Church is facing some of the same pressures at the time of Luther. I would argue that this pressure is so great that we need another Reformation in the Church, because the Church has let the Gospel message become retarded through the influence of society. My heart breaks daily for the increasing number of churches that seem to be caving to the pressures of society to redefine good and evil or to pursue man-centered methodologies to grain a crowd instead of winning outsiders the with the love of Christ.
Churches across America and the world are abandoning sound doctrine that has been the bedrock foundation of the Church since its inception. There is incredible pressure in American churches like never before to embrace a false gospel.
The cost is rising to cling to our faith. In fact, if we hold fast to the Gospel, in our rapidly changing culture we might increasingly find ourselves alone in this world. Yet, we will never be alone. Jesus is always with us. He will never leave us or forsake us, and what we suffer for the sake of the Gospel is worth it because of the future we have in Christ.
This is not a time when the Church can shrink back and try to broaden the gate to heaven by adopting policies of the world. Christ is the only gatekeeper, and there is nothing outside of Him that is worthy to offer to people whose deepest need is Christ.
The Church isn’t called to be a social club to appease the social demands of government or society. We love and serve our society and government. We are to be influencers in their midst by speaking the truth in love and modeling it to the world. When we abandon the Gospel, we abandon Christ.
A gathering without the Gospel is just a gathering. It might be called a church, but it is not a Church that has anything to do with Jesus. It is not a church that has power to change lives. The power to change lives is contained in the Gospel. It is the power of God. There is nothing to be ashamed of when we live and operate in His power.
We need reformation in our culture, but first we must have reformation in our church. We need reformation in our own hearts. Until the Gospel has become the primary focus and passion of our life and ministry, how can we have anything that will offer hope to this world?
If we want to see culture changed it has to begin with each person in this church. Do we live Cross-centered lives? Is our deepest passion and yearnings rooted in the Gospel? Do we care more about exalting the risen Jesus than our personal preferences?
When the Gospel has reached us and when we have embraced it into our life, the evidence shows in how we love one another. It shows itself in the words we speak to others. It radiates through God’s people seeking to out-serve each other. That’s what will distinctly mark us in our culture.
As I write this, I wonder where the Cross aligns in my own life. What is at the center of my life? How often do I use the personal pronoun, “I?” Is it in pursuit of my own selfishness: “But I want..but I deserve…well, I don’t like..?” How about you? How does the Cross align in your life? Is it at the center?
Oh how often is our selfishness at the center of our life instead of the cross of Christ! We can lament with the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:24, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
May God help us to prize the cross and to be ashamed of man-centered worship and personal exaltation that is at the root of ministries that are weak. I pray that Christ will be our confidence as we continue on in this world and wait for Christ’s glorious appearance in the clouds. Let’s be confident in the Gospel and put it at the center of our lives. It is God’s power to change your life and mine.
God bless you,
Pastor Jeremiah

When you get angry, you might be struggling with this problem:

April 2018
By Jeremiah Krieger 
I scooted up to the table to begin my morning routine. Coffee house jazz played quietly on Alexa. Steam wisped away off my oatmeal and coffee. The sunlight reflected off the worn pages of my bible. I couldn’t wait to have my morning of solitude and prayer.
That is, until my son John kept saying in my ear… “Hi Will…..Hi Will….” He sat nearby at the same table and flipped through his Lego building instructions creatively dialoguing a story in his head and out loud. My face frowned a little bit in irritation. He was interrupting my solitude.
“Dad. Get me a paper towel.” I ignored my daughter’s request trying to focus on the words in front of me. Besides, she shouldn’t talk to me like that. A few seconds later, her voice pierced my ears again, “Dad! Get me a paper towel!!!”
“Get it yourself, Bekah. Don’t talk to daddy like that!” I looked back down at the page I was trying to read now for the fifth time.
I focused even more intently, trying to defy new noises that were now coming from William playing in the background.
“Hi Will…” Faster that John’s words echoed into my ears again, my arm instinctively reached over and my hand grabbed John’s Lego instructions and tossed it across the room. My mouth erupted, “Can’t you see that I’m doing my devotions? You guys need to quiet down!”
My solitude was ruined and it made me angry. I was boiling inside. My son felt ashamed and left his food at the table though he had done nothing wrong.
I knew at that moment I had failed. I was fixated on my morning ritual rather than being faithful to what God wanted me to do. He wasn’t asking me to read my Bible and pray. He wanted me to practice engagement and love with my wife and children. I had to give everyone an apology. What a disaster I created!
Inside, I knew my obsession with my ritual was damaging my relationships. Ironically, I wasn’t listening to God in that moment, even when I was trying to pursue Him most.
In Luke 8, Jesus tells a simple story used to illustrate a spiritual lesson to the crowd that was pressing in on him. The crowd listened intently to a story about a farmer who scattered seed. Some seed fell on a path and was eaten by birds. Other seed fell on rock, didn’t take root, and withered away after it sprouted. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced a crop.
The disciples were as confused as the crowd. Jesus explained that God’s word is the seed that is cast among all people. They have all heard it, but for various reasons the seed was not implanted into everyone’s lives so that it was heard, understood and put into practice by everybody. It was only those who had a good heart that retained the seed of God’s word and persevered through the season of their life to produce a crop for the farmer (Luke 8:15).
Jesus then warned his disciples that everything we do in life will be brought to light. We will be held accountable for what we do and who we are. The exhortation to the disciples then was, “Take care then how you hear…(v.18).”
As the crowd squeezed against Jesus, someone yelled out from the back, “Hey, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But Jesus gave a peculiar response:
My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it (v. 21).
Jesus had a one track mind. He went from town to town to do the will of the father (John 4:34). Doing God’s will was Jesus’ fixation. This is what it means to hear the word of God and do it.
The question in Luke 8:1-21 is, “What is my fixation?” What am I focused on right at this moment? Is it the right thing?
Insisting on doing my devotions, even though my family needed some attention, wasn’t doing the right thing. As a result, I felt like I was losing control. Anger began to build. When my expectations weren’t being met, I blew up. I wasn’t listening very well to what God was really wanting me to do. My morning ritual was leading me, not the Holy Spirit.
When we get angry, our problems may actually be a hearing problem. A listening problem. A problem of application. Are we fixated on what we want to do and not paying attention to God’s voice in the moment? Are our assumptions about God’s voice incorrect in those angry moments? Could it be that when we are angry we are listening more to our voice more than anything else?
If we suddenly find ourselves angry and we aren’t doing well (i.e. our actions are creating disasters), our problem may actually be that we aren’t hearing well.
Jeremiah Krieger

Why the Church and Its Members Cannot Be Even One Degree off Course

March 2018
By Jeremiah Krieger
In our world today, many simple tasks are completed thousands of times per day with exact precision. One of those tasks that we might not even think about is flying. Many of us fly to different cities on a fairly regular basis. We probably don’t think much about the logistics of how we get from place to place. That’s what we pay the Captain for when we buy our airline seats. But what would happen if your pilot would accidentally navigate just a little bit off course?
For every degree you fly off course, you will miss your target by 92 feet for every mile that you fly. For every 60 miles you fly, you will miss your target by one mile. Flying around the equator will land you almost 500 miles off target. Flying from JFK to LAX will put you nearly 50 miles off course. Getting that far off course wouldn’t be very noticeable during the flight if the pilot was only one degree off, but upon arrival to the destination reality would quickly set in.
Sometimes we can look at disasters in life and wonder, “How did that happen?” Recently, I was reading an article about a once thriving church in Philadelphia that has now become a heroine den. I thought “How did that happen?” In my short life, I have seen friends who appeared to have thriving marriages quickly disintegrate after 15-20 years together. I wondered, “How did that happen?” I have lamented with addicts in recovery groups who have lost everything. And I wondered, “How did that happen?”
It happens when we allow our lives to go one degree off course. There is that small and subtle thought that becomes a bad decision. The bad decision becomes a habit that quickly becomes a lifestyle. Then we deplane after a while, and we realize the disaster we have because we weren’t paying attention to small things that took us a great distance away from God.
God’s Word continually affirms us about the atrocities that occur when God’s people live outside the boundaries of the grace of community with God. We think, “It’s OK just this one time.” Or, “I’ll get back on track after I enjoy this just once.” Suddenly, we are walking away from God.
There are several places in God’s word that compel us to enjoy the blessings of life through Christ and warn us not to drift away from Him. One of the most prominent books in the Bible that warns us about the dangers of walking away from God is the book of Judges.
The book of Judges depicts Israel’s dark spot in history as their hearts slowly drifted away from God. They were never fully faithful to do what God had commanded them to do when they entered the promised land. Instead of conquering their enemies and fully destroying the idols of the pagan land, Israel continue to live in mediocrity and tolerance of sin.
Appearance of faithfulness occasionally blip the pages of Judges when God would raise up a deliverer for His people after Israel had whined long enough in their bondage. But in reality, their true state is understood in the final chapter of this messy book: “In those days Israel had no king. Each man did what he considered to be right.”
Judges chapters 1-21 are a testament of what happens to a nation when they turn away from God and turn towards themselves. Throughout these pages the reader continually asks, “How did that happen?”
The answer is one degree. Judges is a testimony of the false repentance of people who wanted to live their own way and then beg God for help when they got in trouble. Israel had a habit of leaving her King and then running back to him in the midst of her trouble. Does that sound familiar?
This kind of cycle can be played out in the lives of believers today too. We too can think one degree is OK. Today, when we let our guard down and downplay the importance of each choice we make, we have become one degree off course. The church becomes sick and powerless as His presence fades into the backdrop of our sin.
Today, Christians must be careful to make sure they are living in right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The state of our relationship with God will show in our attitudes and the decisions we make. That tiny step of unfaithfulness away from Christ will become a chasm of pain and suffering that we needlessly inflict on ourselves. Nobody plans to create a mess in their life. It happens by subtle unfaithfulness left unchecked that erodes our faith little by little.
As we evaluate our life today, how does it measure up to God’s word? In our marriages, have we drifted from God’s standard of love that we are to have for our spouse? As we raise our children, are we discipling them and teaching them in a way that doesn’t provoke them to anger? What are we doing to help serve the body of Christ so that others will be successful in their journey of faith? Do we participate regularly in the weekly gatherings to worship Christ together?
Every step we take will affect our ability to be faithful to our calling from Christ and commitment to others. Nobody wants to one day look at our church or life and say, “What happened there?” The journey away from Jesus is a slow fade. It might start with an attitude that has gone sour. That attitude then becomes a behavior. That behavior then becomes the steps in a journey that can take us far away from God and all the blessings that are found in Him. Suddenly, we are doing what is right in our own eyes. That’s not the way we want to live.
As we enter into March, let us consider our compass. How does it read? Are we on the right course in the journey? We cannot afford to be one degree off. We all want to get to the right destination.

God bless you,

Pastor Jeremiah

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 

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