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!
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?



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)
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.
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

The Need for Follow Up

July 2018
Jeremiah Krieger
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 servant.”
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