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June 6, 2019, 10:46 AM

Pastor's Letter for May 2019


I write to bear witness to the depth of Lord’s love for you. God cannot love you any more and cannot love you any less. He loves you as much as the father loves the son and the son loves the father. Let the love of God wash over you and let Him touch you and bring you into closer walk with Him.

needs new life. Yahweh, the heavenly father is the creator sustainer and the savior of life. To have life, that is eternal life is to know and love God. New life to comes whenever a person is touched by God. God touches people he loves both forcefully and gently in combinations that are all his own. Jesus died as the took upon Himself the sins of the world. Even in agony on the cross, however Jesus never turned away from the father. Forsaking the Father brings inevitable death, but seeking the father leads to new life.

As Jesus received new life he immediately set about to resurrect the lives and hopes of His disciples just as his life and hope had been resurrected. Invigorated with new life, His disciples were given the great commission to go and make disciples, to resurrect the lives and hopes of others as they had been resurrected.

Jesus met two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus who had left the company of the others, left the scene of Jesus death went away. Why? They were seeking life from somewhere, anywhere. Jerusalem was where they had experienced deep pain and tragedy. They were loaded down with grief, loneliness, shame. They had hoped Jesus was the one to redeem Israel, to set them free from bondage, to be the king that would liberate them from the oppression of Rome and who would give them respected again as a people. Jesus death seemed kill away this great hope.

Anyone who loses a spouse, a dream or has their sense of security deeply damaged knows what the disciples were likely feeling….What is the point of living, what quality of life is possible for someone who has experienced such a deep wound. Jesus came to them and comes to us in this place of great pain and disappointment. Remember this is the God of whom David wrote, that even through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil. Jesus the good shepherd came to find these wayward sheep.

entered into their loneliness, he asked them to tell him why they are so downcast….he heard them and then used the word of God to explain what had happened. Through these things eases their burden as indicated by the fact that the disciples invited him to stay with them when it looked like he was about to move on. Even at that point they did not recognize him….which means their grief had not been touched sufficiently by the one who could and would heal them.

he broke bread with them their grief turned to joy and they received new life….their dead faith, their dead hope was resurrected to new life and new hope and new joy. The one who was resurrected from the tomb, now gave them new life. With new hope the disciples did not press on to Emmaus, they went back to help resurrect the hope of the others.

We are all on a road to Emmaus. Perhaps not just one road. By that I mean we may have many reasons to despair many dreams unfulfilled many reasons to have our hearts broken by despair and shame, many reasons to feel lonely. The Lord is the only one who can resurrect our lives and our hopes. We need him and we need to seek him in every one of those places. The good news is that He is with you there, he is instructing you there. When the time is right he will reveal himself there. When he does you will experience new life and new hope and you will want to tell others what he has done for you.

Christians have been touched by the Lord and given new life at least once. Therefore you all have a story to tell, a reason for the hope that is in you that others who are in despair need to hear. Jesus is the answer to every question, every problem. He is the healing of every source of despair. He is walking with you so that you can join him in giving new life and hope to others in despair.

As you look around the see others who are on their own road to Emmaus…with eyes downcast because they have lost their reasons to hope. They like you need to be touched by the Lord. You have a role in their healing…an active role or a passive role….what exactly does the Lord expect you to do? These are hard questions that are impossible to answer by human reason. The only way to answer that is by turning to the one who saved you and trust him. You can trust him to teach you and show you as you walk with him in his easy yoke.

Jesus gives us a powerful example of how to minister new life to one another;

Join hurting people on the road of their lives.

Hear their stories.

Share God’s word of love.

Break bread with them.

life comes through a process, a walk. Ministering life to others is a long process of doing such things. The first and most vital step is to seek the resurrected Lord of life and take every step with him.

May the Lord find you this Spring on your road to Emmaus and use you to spread His love to others.

Jon




June 6, 2019, 10:41 AM

Pastor's Letter for June 2019


What do you desire most? What does everyone desire most? Are deep desires highly variable, highly dependent on the individual or is there a fundamental similarly to the deepest desires of all people? Everyone has the same deep need to be loved and valued. We all were born with a deep need for relationship. When we feel loved and valued by ourselves and others, life is good, pleasant and joyous. Conversely, when we don’t feel loved and valued, life is hard, painful, depressing.

The need to be loved and valued is universal, what is variable are the ways in which we try to obtain love and value.

Jesus, the son of God was beloved before, during and after his life on earth. He was and is part of the Godhead, the Trinity of three priceless persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In the trinity, the son’s value and worth are fixed and unchangeable. Outside of the triune relationship however, His value was challenged. In the heavenly realms, Satan challenged the worth of God. On earth, Satan challenged the Lord’s worth. Humanity alternately hated and loved him based on their perception of His ability to contribute to their own sense of value and worth.

true worth came from the Father. If people listened to God they loved and valued Him, but if they refused to listen to God they hated him and wanted to kill him. People who listen to God hear of God’s love for the son. They also hear receive their own value and worth through their faith relationship with the Father. For example Mary the mother of heard the angel of the Lord greet her as one who is highly favored. With her value and worth established by God, she walked in faith through conditions that threatened her life, her marriage and scrambled all her expectations about her life. The only way she was able to navigate this path was by trusting God and believing His Word about her value and worth. When Joseph heard about Mary’s pregnancy, he resolved to divorce her until God intervened and communicated Mary’s worth to him and his worth to God. Mary, Joseph and worth to the world was in question, but their eternal value and worth were established by God. The only question was who they would believe.

Peter faced this same question about Jesus worth when the Lord asked him, “Who do you say that I am? The Lord called Peter blessed when he responded, “you are the Christ, the son of the living God”. Almost immediately however, Peter was rebuked as Satan for not believing the word of God that said that Jesus would have to suffer, die and be resurrected on the third day. Peter was blessed and highly valued by God but his worth depended on his faith in the Lord and his word.

This month we celebrate Pentecost, when the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples and all who placed their faith in the living and resurrected Lord. Remember that those who proclaimed their faith and received the Spirit that day were people who all had turned away from Jesus and previously failed to trust him or his word. Peter denied Jesus three times, all of the 11 ran away when Jesus was arrested. All struggled to believe in the resurrection. Thomas is famous for his doubt. After coming back to faith, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit preached to those who killed Jesus. The common problem of all of them was that they failed to believe that Jesus was the Christ, the beloved son of the living God. They failed to value him and failed to believe that they themselves were so valued that God sent Jesus to redeem them. At Pentecost, many of these sinful, unbelieving people turned form their sin and received the value and worth from God that was proclaimed by the Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. All these people now understood that Jesus was the beloved son of God and understood that they too were beloved by God.

The value and worth that these former sinners received from God renovated their individual lives, their family life, their life as the worshipping community and began to affect the life of the whole world. Before they came to faith they saw Jesus as an enemy, a threat to their value and worth. After they came to faith they became vibrant and fruit bearing members of the body of Christ. They loved and valued others because they understood that God loved and valued them.

We live our lives in the same tension in which Jesus himself, Mary, Joseph and Peter. Do we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God? Do we trust His word that we like Jesus are beloved, or do we try to draw value and worth from the world who denies God and His love? At Pentecost thousands of people embraced God’s love and turned away from the values of the world. They understood that their deepest desires could only be fulfilled in Christ. May it be the same for us every day of our life.

Have a blessed Summer!!

Jon




April 4, 2019, 2:07 PM

April Letter from Pastor Jon


We all have heard the word synergy. The definition of the word is literally “to work with”. Positive synergy happens with the whole is more valuable than the sum of its parts. When the parts work well together they can accomplish more than the sum of the individual parts. People who work together in positive synergy bless others and are blessed in a way that makes them all better.

God is the Lord of positive synergy. God built intimacy of relationship and positive synergy into the garden of paradise. God gathered the dust and made man and filled him with His spirit. Adam was the synergy between dust and God. Adam and Eve were intimately and synergistically united; Eve was bone of Adams bone flesh of his flesh. Adam and Eve were naked before each other and with God in paradise. They were fruitful and they multiplied which gives evidence to their positive synergy. Think of how wonderful it was, Adam and Eve working with God, having children who would learn to walk in faithful synergy with their parents and with God. Together they would expand the paradise of God over all the earth. Positive synergy is the domain of God. If you look you will see again and again in the Scriptures that God works to create positive synergy between man and God.

In contrast, Satan works to destroy positive synergy and replace it with negative synergy. In negative synergy instead of working together the parts work against each other canceling out their individual effectiveness. Satan works to turn positive synergy of God into negative synergy. He stresses and tries to break the bond of positive synergy between God and humanity and between people.

 

Gen. 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

 

The serpent does not seem special and seems to ask a harmless questions….But it is not, the serpent attacks positive synergy by accusing God of an unreasonable law that says the they may not eat from any tree in the garden. Eve is under attack. At first, Eve responded out of positive synergy with God. She knew the truth but she is under pressure because she must defend the truth and defend God.

The serpent challenged God’s word and caused Eve to feel alone. She did not stand on God’s Word, she did not appeal to Adam for support. Adam was with her but he did not intervene so he left her alone. God said it is not good for man to be alone, and it is not good for woman to be alone.

 

Being or feeling alone is a bad problem, and even a crisis for anyone. Loneliness is a painful emotion that demands an antidote. The serpent presented the fruit of the forbidden tree as way to stop the pain. Eve finds demonstrated why it is not good to be alone. Instead of seeking the help of God or Adam, she acted alone and caused shame and death to enter paradise.

 

Gen. 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

 

A fig leaf is something used figuratively to convey the covering up of an act or an object that is embarrassing or distasteful. A fig leaf is anything we grab to protect ourselves from others. A fig leaf is a flimsy self acquired covering for shame. We usually think of Adam and Eve as using one type of fig leaf, but in reality they had a number of them. But all their fig leaves were silly and in effective.

First, the trees of the garden served fig leaves for Adam and Eve. Can you imagine anything so silly and ineffective as hiding from the all powerful creator in the bushes. When God found them, Adam and Eve tried to hide behind fig leaves of blaming another for their shame; Adam tried the fig leaves of blaming God and eve, Eve tried the fig leaf of blaming the serpent.

Anything we use to deflect blame and shame away from ourselves onto anyone else is a fig leaf. We all grasp for fig leaves to cover our shame when our relationship are broken and we feel the pain of shame loneliness. You and I live in loneliness reality every day, in our families, and every place we go. The intimacy and positive synergy we need to defeat loneliness are very hard to come by.

Is there any way for humanity to find positive synergy again return to paradise in which there was no loneliness? It is impossible by human effort, it is only possible with God. The only way to regain positive synergy is to regain trust. Building positive synergy requires that trust be rebuilt. The first place that positive synergy was lost was between God and mankind, so this is the first place that trust must be regained.

 

Jesus trusted the father completely. He was naked and unashamed before God. Jesus became man so that positive synergy between God and man could be resurrected. On the cross, Jesus was stripped naked of clothing reputation, beauty and worth of any kind, yet he trusted God through it all. He died in shame but was resurrected to glory because of his faith. With the resurrection positive synergy between God and mankind returned to the world.

Without faith in God everyone is lonely….worthless to ourselves others…we are terrified to be exposed, terrified to trust, even more we are totally self absorbed. Negative synergy reigns in our experience. We rely on fig leaves of many kinds to protect ourselves and assert our worth at the expense of others.

But God loves you so much he allowed himself to be stripped of all honor so that you could be saved. On the cross He was focused on you and the father and not himself. The positive synergy he had with the father makes it possible for you to be saved and return the paradise of a synergistic relationship with the father like Adam eve enjoyed before the fall.

It is by faith in He that gave himself for you that you forsake your fig leaves and enter into this positive synergistic relationship with God. By working with God in positive synergy, you no longer need to care for yourself because he cares for you and provides for you. Because he cares for you you can care for others as he commands. The Christian life is lived in positive synergy with God. The synergy grows as our faith grows. As we live in faith and faithfulness our synergy grows with others as it grows with God.

Positive Synergy is the desire of your heart for every situation and every context of your life. The great thing is that it is the desire of God’s heart too. Our calling is to work with him to achieve positive synergy. What better time is there to start seeking synergy with God than at Easter!

 

In His Love,

 

Jon




March 7, 2019, 10:15 AM

Letter from the Pastor for March 2019






February 5, 2019, 12:36 PM

February 2019 Newsletter from Pastor


Everyone wants more life and more out of the life than they have. We all have a deep desire to feel worthy and respected by ourselves and others. We all want more life tomorrow than we enjoy today.

 

The question is what path will you seek, what approach will you follow, and who will you trust to get there? There are really only two choices: walk with God and trust his promises or walk apart from God and trust the promises of human flesh.

 

As Christians we find ourselves in tension. Christians know that they are called to walk with the Lord and trust him as his disciples but we also know how easy it is to turn from God and trust ourselves. You might say that we are always at a crossroads

 

Jer. 6:16 This is what the LORD says:“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it,and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.

 

We know we should ask God to guide us on the ancient paths where good is found, where rest is found, but as fleshly sinful people we too often refuse to walk in this way choose our own path.

 

This situation has faced God’s people since the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve wanted more than all God had given them. The only thing they did not have was the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil which could only be had by human reaching out and taking it for themselves.

 

They disobeyed God and hid from him rather than seeking God for the more that they wanted and need from life. They were cast from the presence of God and were forced to make their living from the land by hard work.

 

We have this inheritance from the first sinners. We all know what it means to work hard for life and fruitfulness. We even work hard for the right to rest for a little while. We constantly long to have more life, freedom and fruitfulness but do we stand on his promises or ourselves in our effort to obtain them.

 

God promises that we will have eternal life, freedom from sins and the fruitfulness of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self control if we will follow him and stand on his promises.

 

We must learn to walk in the good and ancient way, resting and standing on the promises of God and turning way from the natural ways of trusting the promises of our the power of our flesh.

 

Heb. 3:7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice,

8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert,9 where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did.10 That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

 

Life is hard. Life is painful. We naturally trust ourselves to cope with all that life throws at us. We easily trust the power of our flesh to get the life that we want. But the reality is that when we trust ourselves we seldom if ever rest. There is always more work to do in the effort to find more life, more fruitfulness. We must work hard to keep what we have and get more. We yearn for and need rest but find it very hard to find. This is what life looks like if we try to do it without God.

 

But if we Seek god for the ancient ways…he promises we will find rest and find what is good. Wouldn’t life look different if instead of turning to ourselves when the stresses of life happened, when we are hurting and scared, instead of turning to ourselves we turned to God and encouraged others to do the same? Wouldn’t our marriages be happier? Wouldn’t our families be more loving? Wouldn’t church life be more joyful? The way to find such blessings is to ask God to show us the ancient way.


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