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How to Strengthen Our Faith

June 2019
Jeremiah Krieger
 
Hebrews 12:1, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”
 
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. Yet during this season I have found myself training for a 1/2 marathon.
 
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 reflection. 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 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 victoriously! 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.
 
One way we can help develop growth in our faith is by cross training in 3 specific areas. 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 place 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 num-ber 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 worships services weekly will help us stay in the game and strong in our faith.
 
Second, we should 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 be-long 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 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 to 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.
 
Training in obedience to Christ is essential to growing our 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. If we want to run for the long haul, we should make it a priority to devote 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.
 
Let’s not forget these opportunities for growth as we enjoy this season in our life.
God bless you,
 
Pastor Jeremiah


How to Fight Against Sin When We Don’t Get Along

Matthew 18:15-16
 
May 2019
Jeremiah Krieger
 
All the kids were sitting there on the couch, perfectly lined up.
 
“What do you want, daddy?”
 
“Your mommy and I are going to take a trip and Mema and Bebah are going to be here to watch you while we are gone. We need to go over the rules before mommy and daddy leave.”
 
We went over house rules and scenarios about the right response each child was to take if they felt frustrated by their sibling. Each child was able to recite back an appropriate response for how they would work through their frustrations.
 
We prayed the instructions we left would stick with them while we were gone.
 
Many of us might remember our own parents going over house rules at times when we were growing up. They are important because they are the agreement for how we relate to one another. They are also the guidelines for whether blessing or discipline might be administered for behavior.
 
Just like we go over house rules, Jesus went over house rules with his disciples. Weeks before Jesus would complete his earthly ministry through his death on the cross and resurrection, he trained his disciples for the time when he too would be gone and unable to coach them through life’s problems.
 
We were created in God’s image to be stewards. However, because of the problem of sin, sometimes we wield our influence in harmful ways towards others. Jesus understood this and fortunately, he taught us how to honor one another in our fight against sin.
 
In Matthew 18, there are a couple of principles that Jesus gives us for when we engage in conflict so that at the end it helps us to conform more to the image of God and to honor our brother or sister in Christ.
 
As we read Matthew 18:15, we see that this verse is about fighting fairly. When we have a disagreement with a brother or sister in Christ, we need to follow the rules of engagement that Jesus gives us. Just like there are international laws for how an enemy can be engaged in war, Jesus also gives us guidelines.
 
In the case when we are sinned against, Jesus says to “go to your brother.” Our first directive for fighting fairly in a way that honors God and honors our fellow believer is to call out your opponent when they sin (v. 15a). This phrase gives the sense of how a lawyer works to prove his case convincingly when he examines and cross examines witnesses. In other words, we are to make it clear to our fellow believer when they sin and specifically how that sin has affected us.
 
Second, only two in the ring (v. 15b). Jesus said, “go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” This is where many of us get it wrong. How many of us, when  we are frustrated with someone, go to others and tell everyone but the person who has hurt us?
 
One of the best ways to honor another believer is by going directly to that person. One of the best ways to cause division in the church is by spreading offenses to others who should not be involved. We should keep the circle as small as possible.
 
Third, Jesus says, “If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” In other words, Jesus is teaching us to understand the battle (v. 15c). The purpose of going into the ring with an offender who is a believer is to “gain your brother.”
 
Ephesians 6:12 says,
 
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
 
Getting into the ring to battle an opponent is a battle with an opponent and not against an opponent. Our battle when we engage in conflict is a battle against sin. If we can understand this, it will help mitigate some of the fears we might have in going to our fellow believer when their sin affects our life.
 
You might be thinking, “I’ve tried this and it didn’t go well.” Perhaps the person withdrew (and isolated). They didn’t engage with you. Or perhaps, they escalated and there was a shouting match. Or they negatively interpreted what you wished to share or invalidated your feelings. What should we do when we are stifled by these negative responses and the other refuses to listen?
 
Jesus says, “16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.”
 
There is a circumstance when we need to expand the circle in conflict. There is a time when we need to grab a coach (v. 16). Jesus says, “But if he does not listen.” The word means, “to take heed, to admit, such as mental acceptance.” The time we are to get help is when sin is ignored (v. 16a).
 
When this happens Jesus says to invite 1 or two strong believers to observe and recommend (v. 16b). The purpose of these witnesses is, “that every charge may be established.” The witnesses are not there to take sides. They are not there to argue on behalf of another. They are there primarily as a coach who carefully watches how two people are sparing in the ring.
 
Coaches observe technique and instruct when someone is not fighting fairly. They testify to the conflict resolution techniques and are available to call a timeout to instruct an opponent on how to spar. They might teach the prosecutor how to carefully make his case: to help them to be more clear about the issue. They might help the offender to see when he is not listening well or they are not validating. In the end the coaches will be witnesses of the agreement if restitution is required and witnesses to the terms of reconciliation. They are also there to help testify to an offender who doesn’t listen to coaching.
 
Fighting fairly and grabbing a coach are the first 2 principles for fighting against sin when someone hurts us. These are the ways that we can honor our opponent when their sin hurts themselves or others.
 
Romans 12:9-10 says, “Rom. 12:9   Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
 
Sin is a problem that each one of us must battle against. Jesus left us rules of engagement for this period of time when he is gone. Let’s honor one another because we are members of his household. Let’s honor one another because how we work through conflict will mark us as believers. If we become skilled at in these two principles in conflict resolution, we will better love our brother or sister in Christ when their sin is too big to be overlooked and when it is causing serious harm to themselves or others.
 
After we came home from our trip this week, we were happy to discover how well our children did while we were gone. There will be a day when Jesus returns to gather up his family. Let’s be prepared for that time by honoring Christ by how we honor one another through conflict.

In Christ,   Pastor Jeremiah



The Kingdom Harvest Machine

April 2019
Jeremiah Krieger
 
Matthew 28:19-20, “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.”
 
A few days ago, I had a discussion with a sister in Christ and her husband about the focus of the church. Should the focus of the church be internally focused or externally focused? Should we focus on discipleship (internal) or evangelism (external)?
 
It is an interesting question to think about, but when we remember the commission given by Jesus to the disciples, we will discover that our orientation is actually dual. The life of the believer and the focus of the church is both internal and external.
 
Last summer, my youngest son, William, and I had the opportunity to ride with Justin Clayton during the corn harvest. It was quite the experience as we watched the machine take up corn stalks, rip away the fodder, and save the kernels of corn. William was mesmerized by the machine.
 
I can’t help but think that the work of a combine harvester is a marvelous picture of the work of the church. The command of Jesus is to “go” and “make disciples.” The church is missional in its going, much like a custom harvester is missional in the fields. The aim is to gather the harvest. The aim of the church is to evangelize and make disciples.
 
Jesus speaks of the harvest when he commanded his disciples to pray for harvest workers. It is God’s desire to have a great harvest (Mt. 9:38). The command is given in second person plural form, which means that Jesus was looking at the entire group of disciples and not just one person. Instead of being isolated as a single individual, the harvest is to be done as a team.
 
Second, the Apostle Paul makes clear the aim of the church. The aim of the church is to do good works (Eph. 2:10), serve, and achieve spiritual maturity (Eph. 4:12-13). Just like a farmer works his machine for the sake of the harvest, so also should the church work together for the sake of the harvest. However, before that can happen, the operators need to learn to operate. That is what we call discipleship. Discipleship is the process of teaching new converts how to become harvesters.
 
The commands in Matthew 28:12-20 are in second person plural. That means evangelism and discipleship are to be accomplished in the context of a team called the church. First Baptist Church is a local expression of the body of Christ in Holyoke, Colorado. When believers join this fellowship, we become part of a team. There is a place where everyone can fit in. We have several “works” for discipleship, where we can be built up and learn about our faith— in the same way the farmer learns about his equipment in order to operate it.
 
When we are discipled through participating in church services, Bible studies and discipleship groups, God changes our character and we learn our purpose. We learn how we fit into the church and become a cog in the Kingdom harvest machine.
 
That means there are two questions we need to consider. First, we need to ask, “What am I doing to be built up (i.e. how am I growing in Christ)?” Daily devotions are as essential as daily meals. Participating in small groups or bible studies are also opportunities to be built up. This needs to be a regular part of our life in the Church– something that we are willing to sacrifice time for and in which we participate.
 
Second, we need to ask, “What am I doing to build up others (i.e. how do I serve and share Christ with others)?” Often times we can get stuck learning about Jesus without actually sharing him with others. We need a healthy diet, but the diet is for the sake of exertion of the body. The same thing is true spiritually.
 
Learning about Jesus without sharing him with others through service and evangelism is like a farmer who has learned how to grow crops but never plants or harvests. It is like a fishing club that talks about fishing but never goes fishing.
 
When was the last time you shared Christ with someone? Who is in your life that you may have occasional or regular contact with who doesn’t know Jesus? Would you please pray about how God might use you to serve that person? Consider inviting them to Church. Consider sharing the Gospel with them. Share your burden for that person (or those persons) with people in your bible study, prayer group or discipleship group.
 
The Church is Christ’s Kingdom harvest machine. Let’s work together to build each other up and reach others who God loves but are yet still far from Him. God bless you all.
 
In Christ,
 
Pastor Jeremiah


A Trade You Will Love

March 2019
Jeremiah Krieger
 
Back in the summer of 2003, I found myself driving through Richmond, Virginia when I saw a sale sign for a car dealer. The green paint had faded on my 1997 Pontiac Bonneville and the clear coat was chipping away. The headliner inside the car had detached from summer heat and hung down so that it brushed against the top of my head when I drove. I wasn’t really looking for a new vehicle, and the one I had ran just fine. I had many memories in this car too. I knew I could justify driving it longer, but it was truly time to trade in ‘ol Betsy.
 
I really had no intention of actually purchasing a vehicle that day, but was open to the idea since I had passed my nursing boards and secured a stable job. After nearly 3 hours of bartering that afternoon, I left the car lot with a new dark blue Chevy Blazer 4×4. It was perfect for what I needed at the time. It was one of the most exciting purchases I had ever made. It symbolized a threshold of responsibility that I crossed.
 
As I drove off from the dealer that day, I only had the joy and excitement of owning a new vehicle. Never once did I look back and think to myself, “I wish I had that old vehicle with paint chipping off. I wish I could feel the headliner bumping against my head while I drove.” I was never concerned about the performance of the new vehicle either. It was a night and day difference. The transaction was a clear upgrade that was much needed. There was only confidence and joy to share my new purchase with others.
 
That kind of joy and confidence pales in comparison to what it must be like when followers of Jesus enter into eternity and are clothed in their eternal body. But it is a small picture of the transaction that takes place.
 
Often times we might find ourselves trying to ignore death or being fearful of it. We think about all the blessings of this world and the beauty we enjoy here. Even though life is as messy as it is and through the darkness we might experience here, we still treasure life and cannot imagine trading it in for something better.
 
If we understood the magnificence of what is on the other side in eternity we would joyfully anticipate what is coming in our future. We would have no fear when we know the future. But something to consider is this.
The Apostle Paul writes that what we know here is a shadow of the things to come (Col. 2:17). The author of Hebrews also reminds us that the earthly tabernacle is a shadow of the glory of what we will see in the heavenly tabernacle (Heb. 8:5, 10:1). In other words, the glory of this life is only a shadow of the reality of eternity.
 
Shadows are much less glorious than the objects that cast the shadow. The body we have here on earth is a shadow cast by the glorified bodies we will be clothed with in heaven. This week we will be studying Matthew’s account of the transfiguration of Christ. The disciples were able to witness Christ’s glorified body. Matthew reports at that moment when Jesus was with Peter, James and John on the mountain, Jesus, “was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.”
The disciples literally were able to peak into the future and get a taste of what the glorified body of Jesus looked like! It was so remarkable that the disciples fell on their faces and were terrified.
 
While, it is difficult to imagine just how glorious our new bodies will be, we can have a joyful sense of anticipation as we await that moment we receive our new body in heaven. We can still enjoy the shadow of glory that we are clothed with in this life. But as we experience the evidence of living in the shadow (living in bodies that are under decay and fading away), we can have hope for the future. We will experience slower metabolism, aches, pains, and illnesses. We will see new wrinkles and thinning hairlines as we age. Yet, we can also be confident in those moments that we have something better that is waiting for us. Let’s not get too attached to the tent we live in today!
 
Back in 2003, I never thought twice about trading in that old Pontiac for a brand new Chevy Blazer 4×4. There wasn’t a day that I wished I had the old. The new was exceptionally beautiful and extremely reliable. How much more enjoyable and glorious it will be when Christ clothes us in the eternal glory of our new body.
 
The transfiguration of Christ is like a door that we get to peak behind to peer into the future so that we can be confident in what is on the other side. While we have no intention of trading in the blessings of this life and wish to get the most out of it, let’s remember that there is something better waiting for us. If you are enjoying your shadow in this life, just wait for what is prepared for you in heaven. It is going to be awesome. It will be a trade you will love!
 
Blessings,
 
Pastor Jeremiah
 


Consumed by People Pleasing

February 2019
Samantha Krieger
 
Consumed by People Pleasing? Live for This “Yes” Instead.
 
Recently, a friend who I admire, and respect asked about my interest in helping with a project. After we talked a bit, I knew in my heart I wasn’t comfortable with it. I needed to be honest about how I felt, so I said:
 
“No, I’m sorry. I don’t think I’m the best person for that. Do you think someone else may be interested?”
 
My friend said it was fine and she’d ask another, but after we got off the phone, I replayed our conversation in my mind. I worried about what she thought of me. Was I not being a good sister in Christ? Did I hurt her feelings? Should I have told her yes?
 
I replayed our conversation over and over to the point of getting a headache. Yet I knew I didn’t feel comfortable with the request. I’d already said no, but I was still caving toward people pleasing.
 
A futile attempt
 
It’s amazing the tendency to people please or say “yes” to something we don’t really feel led to do. People pleasing has been a sin struggle I’ve dealt with most of my life. It shows itself in different forms: a constant need for approval, acceptance, a desire to be well-liked, and obsession over what people think.
 
In the past few years I’ve been more awakened by my sin and have asked the Lord to change me in the process. I’ve learned that I can say “no” kindly and not have to give an excuse. I can say no to good things in order to say yes to the most important: my relationship with Jesus, husband, and children. I can be confident in how God has uniquely made me. And much more.
 
The truth is that it’s futile to seek out glory, honor, or approval from others instead of the Lord. It’s quite exhausting and leaves you feeling emptier. No number of likes, followers, or “you’re doing a great job!” can replace what our hearts ultimately need in Christ.
 
Winning the approval of God
 
The Apostle Paul knew that pleasing men and pleasing God was impossible. He could not do both and be a servant of Christ. To be a servant of Christ meant that his one mission in life was to live for God’s will and glory alone, as he says:
 
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
– Galatians 1:10
 
If others were not handling the gospel properly or living according to God’s ways, Paul couldn’t flip flop his position based on their opinions or feelings. He had to remain steadfast on the word of God.
 
A Crazy Calling?
 
Now if we’re honest, we know this isn’t always easy. Family, friendships, parenting, work relationships and more can make this tendency towards wanting to please others really sticky. Our dear friends Jay and Julia recently left for the mission field thousands of miles away with their six kids and we saw the tension it created in their family at the beginning. God’s calling on them was to serve an unreached people group where only 1% call themselves Christian.
 
Their news was difficult for her parents and sister to swallow- not being able to see their grandkids and worrying about their safety were just a few concerns. It’s been hard for them. Sacrifices have been made and many tears shed.
 
But while some might call this “yes” crazy, I’ve seen Jay and Julia walk in radical obedience to the Lord (even when it doesn’t always feel good) and it’s been such an encouragement to my faith. They live their life to please Jesus alone. He’s the one getting them through the adjustments and enormous culture and lifestyle changes. He’s taking care of them. God has also given their family in the states greater peace.
 
You can’t please everyone, and that’s OK
 
Whether it’s a simple no to a request as mentioned at the beginning of this article or a real gospel issue, the Lord will take care of us. He will see us through. We are his servants. We worship him and submit our lives under his reign and authority – not ourselves or other people. We must be willing to say yes to whatever he’s calling us to do.
 
You and I can’t please everyone, and that’s ok. It was never intended to be that way. But to be a servant of Christ, we’re called to please him alone.
 
God desires to give us his joy, peace, satisfaction, and an abundant life when we repent of this constant need to live for the approval of others. He wants us to be free to worship him and live in the calling he has placed on our lives. And make no mistake—it’s a special and unique calling, and it requires a daily effort of realigning our hearts to His.
 
Is your heart fully devoted to Him?

Blessings,

Samantha


Running Together

January 2019
Jeremiah Krieger
 
Col. 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
 
When I was the age that my own children are now, my parents faithfully took us to AWANA. AWANA was a big deal. I loved memorizing the verses and getting my sections marked off. I also loved the game time. We took that time seriously every week because we trained for one purpose: AWANA Olympics.
 
My older brother and I were an even height, so we would always be paired for the three-legged race. For the three-legged race to work, there was a strong piece of velcro strap that bound our ankles together. Our arms would lock around each other’s waist. We would count out loud, “One, two, one, two, one, two,” over and over again as we walked in stride.
 
After we mastered walking together we were able to work our way up to a sprint. It was a seamless stride. When the Olympics came, we were ready. As we sprinted around the circle we would quickly catch up to other teams who hobbled out of sync. We would tag them and they would be disqualified as we zoomed past. We torched the other teams in the AWANA Olympics because we were in stride together.
 
The three-legged race can be both painful to watch and painful to participate in when there is not synchronized unity. Pairs of runners who are not strapped together and moving in sync will stumble, or they might completely fall on the ground so that, in either case, they don’t win in the end.
 
In an illustration of training, the Apostle Paul exhorts the Church at Corinth to compete with an attitude to win the prize (1 Cor. 9:24). One of the biggest obstacles to Corinth being a winning church was a lack of unity in their local church.
 
The warning of Paul is that lack of discipline in this area can disqualify our ministry (v. 27). When a watching world sees the church hobbling along and falling on its face, they watch and say to themselves, “Ouch! I don’t want to be a part of that!” And in that sense we have disqualified ourselves from beating our competitors (Ultimately Satan), the temptations and lures of the world that have captured the hearts of man and kept them from their Savior. In short, we will fail to win hearts for Jesus.
 
While disunity is one of the greatest obstacles today that keeps churches from winning, there is a way to unify. There is a “velcro strap” and “arms that lock the waists together” so that we can run in stride and beat the competition: Love…Love that exemplifies itself in compassion, kindness, meekness, patience, and forgiveness.
 
The discipline of sacrificial love and forgiveness must be practiced by the church in stride, “One, two. One, two.” Over and over again. It will take humility and compassion, the willingness to seek to understand another’s position. The willingness to take responsibility for our own mistakes. The willingness to seek forgiveness and extend it.
 
Recently, I was sharing a “frustration” with a friend of mine. He said, “You sound bitter.” I said, “I’m not bitter. I’m just frustrated because…” I was trying to justify myself, I suppose. But later I went home and looked up the word bitter and found out that my friend was right. As I thought about the root of my bitterness, I had to forgive. Once I forgave, I no longer felt frustrated. I also discovered that I had actually caused a large part of my own frustration and found an area to grow— all this without having to confront anyone about their “problem” that may have led to the frustration. I was the problem.
 
When we stumble, let’s not quit. Let’s not give up on each other. We need to get back up and practice some more. That’s how we win the race. Practice. Let’s practice love and forgiveness as a regular part of our lives. How regular? As often as we need it. Daily. Moment by moment. That often.
 
When Thomas Edison was working on his invention of the light bulb, it took a whole team of men 24 straight hours to put just one together. The story goes that when Edison was finished with one light bulb, he gave it to a young boy helper, who nervously carried it up the stairs.
 
Step by step he cautiously watched his hands, obviously frightened of dropping such a priceless piece of work. Can guess what happened. The boy dropped the bulb at the top of the stairs. It took the entire team of men twenty-four more hours to make another bulb. The exhausted Edison who was ready for a break, was now ready to have his bulb carried back up the stairs again. He gave it to the same young boy who dropped the first one.
 
As a church we must be disciplined in love and forgiveness. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. We all sin and are sinners until the day we die. As a result, we will regularly need the forgiveness of Christ (and his blood cleanses every sin). We also need to regularly be forgiven by one another and regularly extend forgiveness to one another. Whether an offense is intentional or not, we must practice discipline if we are going to have an effective ministry. This discipline must start with our own self, in our own families and it must be practiced in our church between individuals and families.
 
As 2019 starts, let’s all consider how we can do better this coming year than previous years. Is there someone you are bitter towards? If you have gone to another and said, “I’m frustrated about…” then you might be bitter. Seek to forgive and accept that person. When necessary, go to that person with a compassionate heart, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Seek to work it out. Unsynchronized disunited ministry will break us apart, but if we strap ourselves together with love and forgiveness, we can have our best year yet.
 
Pastor Jeremiah Krieger


5 Areas to Overspend On Christmas and Not Feel Guilty

December 2018
Jeremiah Krieger
 
This year has already been different for our family as Christmas season has kicked off. Usually, we have a good chunk of our gifts purchased by now, and the lights are hung on the house. None of that has started yet. It will eventually get done though.
 
The Saturday after Black Friday, I was walking though Walmart and noticed all the gadgets and gifts being promoted along the aisles. It’s funny how when you get older, some of the things that used to excite you become less important.
 
I’ve done the camping out early in the morning to get the latest fad at Best Buy. I remember making trips with my family to Grand Rapids when I was a kid. Circuit City was the place to go back then. One Christmas, we went there to get a VHS camera. It’s silly to think that these things can become so important and they become outdated so quickly.
 
Consumers spend lots of money on these few days of the year. Sometimes that thrill of purchasing is opposed with the remorse of a credit card bill that taunts you for overspending. That’s certainly happened before. It even happens with good church people like you and me, even while we tell others that Jesus is the main reason for the season.
 
However, as I have gotten older, I have started to morph in my attitude towards Christmas. As life goes on, and the realities of the broken world sting us each year that passes (like when a loved one dies or someone gets gravely sick) we are faced with the reality that these gadgets and gifts won’t matter in the long run.
 
What will matter when all is said and done are just two relationships: those with each other and those with God. Rather than overspending on gifts this year, one of the greatest things we can do is overspend in these areas of our life and we won’t feel guilty. Here is a list of 5 areas we can overspend with great confidence:
 
1. Spend time on you. That might sound weird at first, but it is important to take time to invest in your life during this season. Spend lavish time in solitude letting God’s word feed you and refresh you during this season of busyness. Get up early in the morning when the house is still peaceful and brew a cup of coffee or hot cocoa for yourself and spend time in reading, prayer and meditation. You won’t regret it!
 
2. Invest in your spouse. Sometimes our planning for gifts and get-togethers can overshadow actually caring for our spouse. We can become selfish with out time with deadlines approaching. Make sure to put times on the calendar to be with each other (emotionally and physically and spiritually engaged). This can be a cheap date as simple as driving around together to look at Christmas lights in our neighborhoods with Christmas music playing in the car. Dress nice and wear cologne or perfume because the romance might set the stage for other investments that evening!
 
3. Invest in your kiddos. Be present with your spouse. Be present with your kids. Play football out in the snow. Make snowflakes out of printer paper. Bake cookies together. Get on the couch and watch a Christmas movie. Put a puzzle together as a family or play a game. These are the memories that will be reflected on for years.
 
4. Invite others into your circle. This season can be a lonely time for the many singles in our community. We have many singles that live among us of all ages. Include them for a meal together. Make it a goal to send some singles a card and possibly invite them over to enjoy some family activities together. Make sure they have a place to celebrate on Christmas morning.
 
5. Serve with your church. There are many ways you can make a difference right here at FBC. Consider how God has gifted and wired you. Find a place to fit in to do something special to help the Gospel message be proclaimed through our ministry. If you are a sociable person, be a greeter. If you are hospitable, bring treats for Sunday morning. If you are a giver, we have financial needs that would be a blessing to have met this year. If you have been gifted with a singing voice or can play an instrument, consider doing something special for the Christmas Eve service. If you like to serve through projects, consider contacting a trustee and see what we can do to spruce up our Church.
 
There are many ways we can spend. Above are five ways I invite all of us to overspend. You won’t feel guilty. You’ll never say, “I wish I had devoted less time to the Lord and learned more about Him and His promises in my life.” You’ll never say, “I wish I had spent just a little less time with my wife or kids.” You’ll never say, “I wish I had given less to invest in God’s Kingdom by considering others who may be alone this season.” You’ll never ever say, “I wish I served with the church less and partnered together with Church friends to impact our community.”
 
We all have a limited number of Christmas seasons in our life. Let’s spend them lavishly on the areas that matter most. When all is said and done and we have celebrated our last Christmas season in life, it will be much more reassuring to reflect on our overspending in these areas instead of saying, “I wish I had been more generous with…” Let’s get together with our family and friends this season and overspend on these 5 areas together. We won’t regret it!
 
Pastor Jeremiah Krieger
 


Enjoying the Blessing That Belongs to You

November 2018
Jeremiah Krieger
 
“So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you?” (Joshua 18:3 ESV)
https://accordance.bible/link/read/ESVS#Josh._18:3
 
When I graduated from nursing school and passed my boards, I made my first major purchase. I bought a queen sized pillow top mattress. It was awesome! The problem was that I felt a little guilty for having purchased something so nice. I wasn’t used to having luxury in my life. So I ended up sleeping on the floor for the first few days instead of enjoying the mattress. I eventually got over it and started using the mattress after I realized that God had blessed me and it was OK to enjoy his blessings in my life.
 
When Israel has entered into the Promised Land there were some who were hesitant to take the Land that was promised to them. There they were just camping out. Hanging out in the subpar ordinary life. There was so much more for them to enjoy, but they had to take hold of it.
 
The spiritual life is the same. Jesus doesn’t promise health, wealth and prosperity in this life. But he does promise the abundant life, and that life comes through a relationship with Christ. There is a life of adventure and promise that we can enjoy when we follow Jesus.
 
Often times, we sit on the sidelines of our faith, as if we are watching the game but having not really participated. Instead of saying, “that was an amazing touchdown,” or “incredible home run,” we are saying, “wow, great service,” or, “the church was full today,” or, “that missionary had a great story.” We might have so little to do with the growth of others, and we might not be fully committed to the service opportunities that requires self-denial that Jesus frequently gives us because we are pursuing our inwardly focused selfish agenda.
 
We sit and watch every week when we could be part of the story. It is better to be in the game than it is to be watching it as if we aren’t supposed to be involved. Spectating is not nearly as fun. We were created for the joy of following Jesus and being in right relationship with God. We can’t enjoy that if we are just watching from the outside living the mundane life and not believing that blessing is for us— that God could use us to make a difference in the lives of others; that the abundant life comes through selflessly and sacrificially serving Jesus. Let’s make sure we are in the game by putting Christ first, loving others well and grabbing hold of the opportunities Jesus puts in front of us each day. After all, these are the blessings that belong to us.
 
Blessings,
Pastor Jeremiah


Why it’s Actually Okay to Release Control of Your Life

September 2018
Samantha Krieger
 
Earlier this year Jeremiah and I embarked on a 3-day cruise to celebrate our 12-year anniversary. On the first night in our cabin, intense fear woke me up in the middle of the night. As I looked out our window I could barely see the ocean waves. I was worried the ship would sink and rehearsed the emergency exit plan in my head.
 
The lack of control I felt from being on the open water paralyzed me and it didn’t help that I wasn’t fully awake. Were we crazy to take this vacation and entrust our very life to the captain in charge?
That experience got me thinking about faith and how often we can feel like we’re losing a sense of control when we place our trust in Jesus – who we can’t see on a daily basis.
 
When Jesus called Peter and Andrew to, “Follow me,” (Matt 4:19) Scripture says that immediately they left their nets and followed him. They left their comforts, all that was normal in their trade as fishermen, and what they could control.
 
I’m guessing they weren’t thinking: At this time and on this day, the Messiah will come out of nowhere and meet us where we’re at… They were not expecting that at all. But that is what happened. Jesus came out of nowhere into their lives and met them right where they were.
Peter and Andrew handed over their life to the One who was greater. They surrendered their life to become a learner of Jesus even when they didn’t exactly understand what that meant.
 
The truth is that releasing control of our life is the means by which we’re truly free and able to experience deeper intimacy with Jesus. Even as much as our hands want to hold tightly to what we think provides security, Jesus tells us where our ultimate hope is found:
Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” – (Matt 10:39)
 
The truth is that I love holding on tightly to my life (my loves, wants, wishes, desires, needs) and thinking only about my inner circle. Yet Jesus calls me to something better. He calls me to seek His kingdom first and then all these things will be given. He calls me to step out of the boat and join him in his mission of winning broken and lost souls for eternity. He calls me to love, selflessness, and servanthood where he’s placed me. That can be both scary and inconvenient.
 
Placing our faith in Jesus can be terrifying because of the unknown. What will happen if I diligently follow Christ with my life? How will I learn to deal with stresses if I go to Jesus instead of my current coping mechanisms? Does this mean anything for my personal goals and career? What will people think and say when I try to engage them with the gospel? And the list goes on…
 
When you surrender, Jesus gives you new desires and tastes. What was once pleasing and attractive to your eyes will not be anymore. The intense desire to please others and find your identity in material things begins to lessen. Your mission is no longer self, but to serve your Savior. You become more concerned with living for eternity rather than how many “likes” you have in a day.
 
You’ll begin to find joy and excitement from continually asking the Lord, where can I serve you today? What can I give away for your kingdom? The unknown becomes an adventure.
 
He’ll also equip you for exactly what you need in the moment – whether that means reaching out to a stranger, seeking forgiveness, inviting a friend to church, giving up an addiction, seeking counsel, changing your circle of friends, opening up your home to your neighbors, seeking healing in your marriage, confessing sin, investing in an “unlovable” person, starting a ministry from scratch, using buried talents and gifts to build the body of Christ, and more.
 
On the cruise ship that night, I was stressed out. But before I knew it, it was 8:00 am, the sun was shining, and the boat was docking safely to the Baja shore. Even in my anxieties, the captain knew exactly what he was doing and the next night I slept peacefully.
 
When we release control and trust in God as our sovereign Creator and Father who loves and cares deeply for us, we can rest easy knowing that the plans he has for us are for our good even when we can’t see the future ahead.
 
Samantha Krieger
 


How to Bloom Where You Are Planted

August 2018
Jeremiah Krieger
 
Acts 28:30:31
 
Acts 28:30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
 
Ever since I can remember, I have had struggled with the defiance of a strong will that grips me when God puts me into circumstances outside of my control. I have always liked to be in control since I was a young child. So, when I am put in situations that I am uncomfortable with, sometimes I try to resist. This isn’t the best way to live. God’s word shows us a better way.
 
The Apostle Paul was minding his own business serving God. God had radically converted Paul. He had gone on three missionary journeys (Acts 13, 16 & 19). His life was fully devoted to Christ. But God called him to another journey that wasn’t pleasant.
 
In Acts 20, Paul senses God’s call to go to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a place where the Apostle Paul knew he would be persecuted. God was leading him into an extremely dangerous situation, and eventually this journey would cause him to be imprisoned in Rome.
 
The book of Acts strangely ends abruptly with Paul living in Rome on house arrest. He lived in Rome at his own expense. That clearly wasn’t fair. Should his accusers have paid his tab? Not only was he inconvenienced by his accusers, but he had to pay his own way through.
 
Sometimes life isn’t fair. Not only does the sin of others affect you, but you end up picking up tabs in life that you should not. This happened to Paul.
 
Even though Paul’s journey took a strange twist, landing him in an unfamiliar place and costing him more than his fair share. But the way that Paul lived during his two years in Rome is remarkable. He bloomed where he was planted.
 
Acts 28:30-31 records that while Paul lived in Rome, he welcomed all who came to him, proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus with confidence. Paul didn’t let his circumstances shake his attitude. Instead, he used it as soil to grow and bring blessing to others.
When God leads us into territories in life we never wanted to go, he is planting us exactly where he wants us to grow. We can either resist or trust. When we trust God, it will bring blessing to our life and to the lives of others.
 
To bloom where you are planted requires sacrifice. Paul lived at his own expense. Sacrifices we pay are ultimately for the glory of God and even for our good. Instead of complaining, it is better to work through frustrations and learn to praise God.
Second, once we learn to accept our circumstance from God, our attitude will change. Just like a seed takes root in soil, our attitude will become welcoming. It will transform from being inwardly focused and turn outward to others. Challenging times in life are God’s opportunities for us to serve others.
 
Paul served others by opening his life up to all who came to him so that he would bear the fruit of the Gospel in his life.
 
In order to bloom where we are planted, we have to be convinced that God is working for our good in the situations he plants us (Romans 8:28). We have to learn to see our life as not our own. Instead, we find that we are agents to share the Good News that Christ’s Kingdom has come, and there is nothing more exciting in life than that!
 
If you have found yourself in circumstances that are difficult to appreciate, trust God through the journey. It is an opportunity to grow; an opportunity for new life to take root in yourself and to produce fruit to encourage others. Instead of resisting these moments, let’s learn to bloom where we are planted instead of resisting or fighting for control.
In Christ,
Pastor Jeremiah