We Have Won

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[Isa 52:7 NIV] 7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

On April 11, 1945, US forces entered the Nazi camp at Buchenwald. More than 21,000 people were liberated from that camp. Edward R Murrow, whose radio report of his arrival and reception was broadcast on CBS and became one of the most famous: “I asked to see one of the barracks. It happened to be occupied by Czechoslovaks. When I entered, men crowded around, tried to lift me to their shoulders…”

One could only imagine the joy that comes with being set free from the horrors of war and prison. Isaiah captures the moment of joy for those who hear of their salvation. The legend of the marathon, is based on the story of a messenger who ran about 150 miles in two days to deliver the news, “we have won!”

Whether getting the news or giving the news, it is good news! Paul in his letter to the Romans connects this verse to the sharing of the gospel. He has won! Jesus has set us free! What great news we have for all mankind!

Let us take a moment today to celebrate our freedom! To rejoice in the one who has liberated us from our prison of fear, shame, sin and death. May we also remember the privilege we have in carrying this message of freedom to those who are still captive. How far will you run? Who do you need to tell? Jesus has won! We are set free! 

Running Home

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Rich Cathers:

I have this vague memory when I was about 5 or 6 years old. I was in kindergarten and remember being very, very upset about something.  Somehow I was able to escape the confines of the classroom and I ran all the way home.  Many years later, my parents told me that my mom was having serious health issues at that time and that more than once I would run away from school and run home. The funny thing is that every once in a while, when I feel so overwhelmed by the things I’m facing, I still get that urge to want to get up and run home to my parents’ house.

King Hezekiah was facing difficulty beyond imagining.  The evil, ruthless Assyrian empire was right outside the city gates, ready to destroy Jerusalem. And so it was, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. (Isaiah 37:1)

I think God has put inside of each of us a longing for “home”.  It’s that place where we feel safe and secure. Even those who have wandered from God feel it.  When the prodigal (Luke 15) reached the end of his rope, spent all his wealth, and lost all his friends, he realized that he too needed to go home to his father.

Do you feel like running?  Run home to Papa.  He loves you more than you will ever know.  His arms are open wide.  He’s our refuge.

My Absolute Favorite Chapter

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Daniel Grant.

This is my absolute favorite passage of scripture, both for teaching and for application to my life. Colossians 3 is one of the best prescriptions for Christian life and attitude I have EVER found.

Paul’s exhortation begins by setting our perspective twice: 1 seek those things which are above,” and then 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”  Our perspective matters, and it needs to be set daily!

Paul sets up an epic contrast between the people that we used to be and the people that we are to be… We are to put to death the old ways of the flesh “fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” And put off “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” Paul masterfully sets this list of our old way of life against the new ways of life “12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another” He ties in our motivation which is love – “the bond of perfection” He reminds us to be thankful, and sing from our hearts to God (that’s good news for those of us who can’t carry a tune;)

Lastly, he reminds us of the relationships that we are in and what our responsibility is in each of those. Paul’s summary here of good Christian living is needed for us to re-calibrate our lives around what God has called us to do, and what God has called us to let go of!! Do some Godly re-calibrating this week!

Counselor

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Rich Cathers.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

Sometimes we think of a “counselor” as a person who listens to you tell them your problems.  There’s value in that.  The word that Isaiah uses is one that implies advice.  It’s the giving of direction from one person to another.  Kings had their “counselors” who listened to the king’s questions and responded with their “counsel”.

There are plenty of times in my own life where I’ve needed “counsel”.  In fact, let me share with you a little secret.  I think that I’m often quite clueless on many subjects and situations in my life.  I need good counsel.  Even Moses needed “counsel”, and one of the individuals that gave him advice was his own father-in-law Jethro.

As helpful as some “counselors” are, it’s good to be reminded that there is one Counselor who is “Wonderful”.  That Counselor’s name is Jesus.  It’s not a bad thing to spend time in counseling, but make sure you don’t ignore the Wonderful Counselor.  His advice is found in the Bible.  While I have found that His advice is not always what I want to hear, I have found that it’s always good.  In fact, it’s wonderful.  I would do well to read it and follow it.

Tug of War

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[Gal 5:17] For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

Step one in many of the 12-step programs begins with a critical diagnosis, my flesh is powerless to save itself. Paul’s letter to the Galatians is all about how the gospel brings true freedom. So many of these Galatians were trying to live a life of legalism and performance. The gospel had become such a burden and the works of the flesh seemed to be spreading. Like putting water on a grease fire, legalism only made the flesh worse!

Paul reminds us the issue comes down to a battle of “wills”. The good news is that we have help if we are willing to take it. God’s Spirit is ready to empower and direct me to victory. Gal 5:16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  

I am glad that Paul said, “walk”, it allows me to take it one step at a time! Step one for me is about recognizing the power of my own flesh. It helps me to know that even as a believer my flesh still wars against God’s Spirit. Step two is about recognizing the daily presence and power of the Spirit in me as well. Step three tells me because of the gospel I have the power to choose to say no to the flesh (19-21) & say yes to the Spirit (24).

Fighting the flesh in my own strength is still pulling against the Spirit. Let us let go today of trying to save ourselves and grab on to the one who has already done everything to save us!

Futility

“This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Rich Cathers.”

“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

They say that the big three temptations in life are sex, money, and power. King Solomon knew about these things – he had them in abundance.  He had a thousand wives, gold everywhere, and he was the most powerful king in the region.  Now, at the end of his life, Solomon could look back as he wrote Ecclesiastes, and see that it was all so very empty.

In his search for fulfillment Solomon tried challenging his mind to grow with wisdom and knowledge.  He tried to drink himself happy.  He tried every kind of pleasure he could think of.  And these too were empty.  Meaningless. Vanity.

Could we take a moment for self-examination, beloved?  Have you experienced the true fulfillment that God desires for you?  Are you still walking in that sense of peace and purpose? I find even among Christians, who should know better, an unrelenting searching for meaning and happiness. We can fall into the trap the world sets for us, thinking that we will find answers in the “stuff” and people around us.

Solomon eventually concluded that true fulfillment can’t be found apart from a relationship with God.  If you are feeling empty and unfulfilled, stop your searching.  Look to Jesus.

Job-like Faith and Trust

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Daniel Grant

Job was a man of integrity. He feared God, loved his family, carefully watched over his friends and community. He prospered exceedingly, abundantly, and that in itself was a GREAT test. Job never once put his trust in his flocks, his family, his standing in the community, his abundant wealth, or any of these things. Job’s one desire was to honor God above all, and it showed – everyone noticed Job.

Enter Satan. Satan detests Job’s faith and trust in God and will do anything to disrupt, destroy and steal that away from him. Satan asks for the authority to take away everything that Job has, his vast wealth, his flocks, his sons and daughters, and his relationships. God (who knows the end from the beginning) allows the tempter to take this from Job, and in the midst of the suffering, the pain, the anguish and the loss, Job chooses to worship God. Job 30:16 “Now my life is poured out before me and days of suffering have seized me.” Why did God allow such anguish and great suffering to take hold of Job?

Further on in chapter 30 Job says, “But when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, darkness came. I am churning within and cannot rest. Days of suffering confront me.” When we suffer and hurt we need to stretch out our hand to God, the God of all comfort. We must say, “I trust that even though it doesn’t make sense now, I am choosing to put my trust in the God who knows the end from the beginning. I trust Jesus. He won’t leave me or forsake me”. Hold on to Him with all that you are, don’t cease to worship and wait for the deliverance of the Lord!

The Better Way

This week’s Pastor to Person is written by Pastor Rich Cathers.

The Corinthian church was a divided church. They were filled with petty little divisions, each group thinking they were better than the other. It was because of their divisions that Paul called them “carnal” and “immature. Throughout his letter Paul deals with some of the root causes of their divisions, but it’s not until he gets to chapter 13 that he stops and gives them the “more excellent way” to get along as a church. He speaks to them about the issue of “love”, the very thing that Jesus said would show the world that we belonged to Him (John 13:35).  With this in mind, Paul writes to the Corinthians:

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7 NLT)

Do you have any relationships that are in turmoil? What would happen if you tried putting some of these qualities of love to work? I know it sounds hard, but I know someone who not only knows how to love better than any other, He also promises to help you to learn to love like He does. Turn to Jesus.

Cleansing of the Gospel

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

1Co 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Many Christians still struggle today with the idea of what sin or sins the gospel can forgive.

Paul lists 10 things in verses 9 & 10 that highlight a life and lifestyle apart from the gospel. In verse 11 we see that our past sinful identities do not have to be a life sentence. Paul says, “and such were some of you.”  Some in the church were defined by these things, but something happened. Paul lists 3 truths of the gospel that helped change their lives.

First this idea of washing implies something we do. The other two, “sanctified” and “justified” they could only receive. Like picking up the bar of soap and using it, Paul speaks about the power of Jesus’ blood to wash away our sin. Jesus’ blood is powerful enough to remove the stain of sin, but we must pick it up and wash ourselves with it for it to be effective.

The next point about being sanctified implies a change of purpose. I have been saved from my sin, but I am also saved for the work of the gospel. Jesus doesn’t just cleanse us, but He gives us a new purpose and power to live for Him.

Lastly Paul says we are “justified”, we could say “not guilty” but it is even more than that. The Bible says our sin was placed on Jesus; and His righteousness was also placed on me. As a Christian when God looks at you, He sees Jesus!

Like the Corinthians may our lives reflect the radical change that applying the Gospel can bring!

The Trouble With Unity

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Rich Cathers.

“…that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:6)

Did you know that sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to get along with other Christians?  Well it’s true. While I want to give up on people and kick them to the curb, Jesus said others would know I’m His disciple by how I love others (John 13:35).

Sometimes the trouble comes by how we each handle life’s decisions.  When I’m serious about following God, and I believe God is leading me to turn right, I get upset with everyone turning left.  They must be wrong.  They must not be as close to God as I am.

Paul writes to the Romans that sometimes I need to learn to just let it go (Rom. 14:4).  Instead of living to please myself I need to learn to put others first.  Even Jesus didn’t live to please Himself (Rom. 15:2-3).  He lived to look to the good of others and to build them up.  I need to follow the One who set the example.

Getting along with others really isn’t something that comes naturally to us.  It’s something we need supernatural help with, and it’s something that God wants to help us with.  He is the God of patience and comfort (Rom. 15:5) and He wants to help me so I can have patience and give comfort to others.

This is what brings God glory.