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October 30, 2018, 12:46 PM

Letter from the Pastor for October 2018


  1. makes you a Christian? Why do you call yourself a Christian? The short answer is that we were all baptized and made a profession of faith in Him. We have proclaimed we trust; but, do you trust Him for? For life after death? Yes. You trust Him to give you eternal life, but what about life today? Jesus said He came to give abundant life. This is great news because we all crave life and want more of it; but how do we receive the abundant, eternal life that Jesus died to give us?

Abundant life has two main components; first the individual Christian first is called to live by faith in God and second, to give witness to God to others. If we live in faith, the Lord promises that we will have abundant life, we will bear fruit, and give life to others so that they will learn to live in faith. The individual witness is, the witness of the body is even stronger. The fruit of faith of the body is more plentiful than the fruit of one believer.

I offer three Scriptures that capture the importance of a faith connection with God:

 

Matt. 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

 

Matt. 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

 

People of faith live by faith, yoked with God, connected to God as branches are connected to a vine serve with him, resting in Him, and even bearing the cross of adversity with him. Faithful Christians live by faith in God who is unseen. Because they walk in faith they receive life from him give witness to the Lord. In other words the invisible God works with, in and them to bear visible fruit He forms in them.

People of faith are connected to God as the son is connected to the father. Like Christ, Our mission is to glorify and love the father and participate with Him in his work to give salvation and new life to others and make disciples through our faithful witness.

Hebrews 11 is a walk of fame that tells the story of people who lived by faith and gave testimony to God by their faith. The life they received from God was abundant and eternal. They gave life to others when they lived and continue to give witness to God even though they have passed from life on this earth.

We like all of them are called to live with God by faith. God promises that when we live by faith we will bear fruit, giving life to others as receive it from God. Individual Christians, Christian families and Christian churches are weaker than they could or should be today. If we only trust God for life after death but do not walk with Him and trust Him for today, then that is likely the reason for our weakness. As individuals, as families and as the church let us turn back to God, seek His face, accept His easy yoke and trust Him again; for life and for fruitfulness, today, this month and for eternity.

 

 

 




October 30, 2018, 12:44 PM

Letter from the Pastor for October 2018






September 5, 2018, 9:45 AM

September Letter from the Pastor


Welcome to fall! The somewhat more relaxed summer schedule is giving what to the renewed work of the fall. We should pause and give thanks for the summer season before looking with joy and anticipation to the blessings fall will bring.

Scripture calls is to rejoice in every circumstance because you rejoice in the Lord who is the author of all our circumstances. The Apostle Paul writes,

 

Phil. 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Rejoicing in the Lord means looking to God who made you, saved you and is with you always even when life is uncertain, hard, and painful. With God you have access to the eternal peace, love, and rest your soul needs to deal with whatever you face in life. God is with you and will show you the way to deal with life to his glory. He promises eternal life with him no matter how painful, embarrassing or humiliating your circumstances may be.

The ability to rejoice in the midst of suffering does not come from humanity, it comes only from God. The ability of a tree to stand the power of the storm does not rest in itself but in its connection to the ground in which its roots are deeply imbedded in the soil.

 

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

 

The best source of fullness for your soul is to rejoice in the Lord and live in a faithful yoked relationship with the only eternal source of filling for your soul.

When you seek God and rejoice in him you will be filled to overflowing with joy and peace says Paul. Jesus said that by abiding in him you will bear much fruit.

Delighting and rejoicing in God will improve every situation of your life. Every day is stressful. Stress tries to take life from you and drain your soul. Whenever your soul is empty you have nothing to give anyone else. Their despair joins with yours and drains you more and more.

In contrast by turning to the Lord you can delight and rejoice in Him in all situations so your soul is filled and your gentleness will be evident. Your life will bear fruit of love, joy, peace and all the fruit of the spirit. People around you will receive life and be less empty.

  1. life we crave, the life everyone craves deep in their souls comes only from God. By delighting in God first good things get even better and we get the ability to resist those things that are sinful and must be resisted. In order to have the life our souls crave we must go to God every day as individuals, as families and as his people, as we go to him now to delight in his love and be filled at his table.

 

 

May God richly bless your Fall season!

 

 

 

Jon




July 31, 2018, 11:41 AM

Pastor's Letter for August


The good news of the gospel is that God sees you and loves you on both our good days and bad days. We are cleansed by the blood of Jesus and given the gift of the Holy Spirit. With God you defeat the power of sin and death, guilt and shame and bear the fruit of the Spirit. You no longer hard downcast, weighed down by the tribulations of life, you are radiant;

 

Psa. 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

 

Again and again in the Scripture God comes and saves desperately sinful people who he loves consider the apostle Peter, the apostle Paul, 3000 jews at Pentecost, the samaritan woman at the well, adulterous woman, prodigal son, etc.

 

God comes to us and makes a way that we can come to Him be saved. In contrast the idols of our lives stand apart and demand that we come to them and sacrifice in order to receive a blessing. Human power and oour idols can earn short and long terms benefits but these benefits eventually turn to dust and must be earned again and again. Shame fills the void and bids us to strive to deal with the pain by achievement.

 

God however seeks his people by grace and bids us to respond to his love by seeking him as the solution to our guilt, shame and tribulation.

 

In the old and new testament God bids his people to rest in fellowship with him see for example Isaiah 30, Matthew 11, John 15.

 

The gospel of grace it can be a bit scary because if God cannot love us any more or any less, what do we do then? Do we just stop working completely? Isn’t the lazy and disobedient? What would we be without our accomplishments? Hearing the gospel and believing in God’s unfailing love in the core of your being does not mean your work will stop. What it means that you no longer will work alone. Your effort to gain God’s approval through work will.

 

When you receive and abide in his love you are able to love God and love others as he commands through your life and work. You no longer work in order to earn or gain blessings from anyone.

 

The love of Jesus means you are valued for who you are, who He has made you to be. He sets you free to learn and improve in your ability to be obedient and faithful for you, for everyone you touch and for his glory.

 

When you receive His love, you are in a position to come alongside others and show them about the love of Jesus that is present on their worst days as well as their best day. You are in a position to encourage them and to be encouraged as together you seek the loving face of God and become radiant as you receive his love. Wherever you go and whatever you do God loves you and gives you the opportunity to love others with Him.

 

God bless your August!




June 4, 2018, 9:49 AM

June 2018 Letter from our Pastor


The Bible describes shame as the core consequence of the fall. Adam and Eve were not satisfied with their own being. They wanted to be more than they were, to be more than human.  Before Adam and Eve ate the fruit they were naked before God and one another and were unashamed. In other words they felt worthy of respect and beheld the other as being worthy of respect.  But tempted by the desire to be like God,  they disobeyed God’s word,  rejected communion with God, and rejected the great worth given to him by God.  The penalty for the sin of wanting to be like God was debilitating shame, a deep feeling of unworthiness. They became ashamed and hid from God before they attacked each other and were cast from the garden of God’s presence.  

We all like Adam and Eve fall short of expectations at times and are disappointed in ourselves.  In these moments we feel guilt, shame, unworthiness.  These feelings are healthy if they last only a moment and they motivate us to learn.   But, instead of the momentary feeling shame, a person can come to believe that his whole self is fundamentally flawed and defective. A person says, “I am a mistake— everything I do is flawed and defective.” This type of shame psychologist John Bradshaw calls toxic shame.  Toxic shame could also be called toxic unworthiness. In the bible there are different words to describe shame.  Healthy shame turns us from error and sin back to the love and truth of God but toxic shame that makes us feel condemned and hopeless as they did in the garden. Healthy shame is of God but toxic shame is of Satan  

Life lessons begin at birth. In a healthy family life lessons are taught with love and acceptance.  The harmony of a healthy family is at least somewhat similar to the garden when they were naked and felt no shame.  The difficulties of life do not drive a healthy family apart. Instead they deal with the difficulties of life together without shame.

In an unhealthy family, however toxic shame is constant. The problems of life cause resentment that drives the members apart.  Even newborns receive the message “I  am a mistake” if caregivers withhold or are unable to provide effective nurture.  Toxic shame therefore begins to form in early life and becomes a greater and greater force in life.

Toxic Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of being fundamentally flawed, defective, unworthy, and “deficient in some vital way as a human being.”  Toxic shame drives people apart, causing loneliness.  Shamed and lonely people must find a way to dull the pain. 

Even young children learn it is possible to work to earn approval and thereby fight the toxic shame they feel. Young and old think, if I get over this next hill though work, then I’ll feel better about myself and how things are going to step back and relax. But for now I can’t stop. When motivated by toxic shame a person’s  value ultimately fuses with his own act or performance. He becomes a “human doing” without any real sense of his true God given value.. Such a person feels emptiness, hopelessness and futility of toxic shame.

Toxically shamed people tend to become more and more stagnant as life goes on. They live in isolated, guarded, rigid, secretive and defensive ways in order to protect their vulnerable shame filled hearts.  Once they find a way to stop the pain of toxic shame they become addicted. Toxically shamed people use work, adrenaline, drugs, alcohol, sex, and more to deal with shame, but all earthly ways lead to death.

Psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Kauffman says,

“The affect of (toxic) shame is important.  No other affect is more disturbing to the self. In the context of normal development shame is the source of low self esteem, diminished self image, poor self concept and deficient body image. Shame itself seeds doubt and disrupts both security and confidence. It can become an impediment to the experience of belonging and shared intimacy. Shame always alerts us to any affront to human dignity. It is the experiential ground from which the confined and identity inevitably derive. In the context of pathological development, shame is the emergence of alienation, loneliness, inferiority and perfectionism. It plays the central role many psychological disorders as well, including depression, paranoia, addiction and borderline conditions. Sexual disorders are largely disorders of shame.”

Healthy shame turns us to the God of love and truth.  Healthy shame brings eternal life. Toxic shame ends in condemnation and death. The good news is that we can be saved from toxic shame.   The good news of the gospel is that Jesus is the true and eternal antidote to toxic shame.

Recovery from toxic shame begins with preaching the gospel to your toxic shame.  The gospel transforms toxic shame into healthy shame.  God’s love is the only power that can conquer the shame of unworthiness and return us to the unashamed conditions of the garden. The Gospel quenches shame and returns you more and more into secure attachment to God and others. Secure attachments with God and others allow you to develop a renewed sense of worth.  Love of God and the security He provides allow your true self to come out of hiding. Feeling loved , you will in turn want to love others. Receiving the gift of God’s love seems to be the hardest task for all for humankind. God’s love is the only foundation for happiness.  When you receive God’s love you are able to love yourself and others.

A person who is secure in God’s love is capable of connecting with another in an committed, intimate relationship. Giving and receiving of gospel based, genuine love is the most effective and powerful way to personal wholeness and happiness. As trust grows, spiritual and emotional bonds are formed. These bonds become an interpersonal bridge between members of the family or group(church). The bridge is the foundation for mutual growth and understanding. The interpersonal bridge is strengthened by certain experiences we have come to accept and depend on. 

People become significant in the sense that love, respect and care for others really matters. They allow ourselves to be vulnerable and accept the love others. Preaching the gospel to our shame and loving others will breath new life into individuals first, then families, the church and the community just like it did at the first Pentecost.

Christian life and ministry is a battle against shame/unworthiness. In order to be saved and live fruitful lives people must continuously receive the love of God that is the antidote to their shame.

I pray that this summer, we will all preach the Gospel to our shame and learn the power of God’s love in our lives more and more.  You are beloved and you are not a mistake!!

God bless your summer!!

In Christ’s love, Jon

Sources

Bradshaw, John. Healing the Shame that Binds You . Health Communications, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Scazzero, Peter. The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World (p. 70). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.


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