Category Archives: Jesus

The Pass

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. [John 5:24 ESV]

I lived in the state of Washington for a year while doing my internship just north of Seattle. It was my first time living that long outside of my home state of Minnesota. It was great living out there but I still longed for home.

After some time I became homesick for some snow so I decided to drive up to Stevens Pass, one of the ski resorts in the Cascade Mountains. So on my day off I set out on my little day trip but as I started ascending the mountains I came to a check station. The state police where stopping vehicles; highly recommending chains on tires. Of course I didn’t have chains (because us Minnesotans don’t use them) and so I was worried they wouldn’t let me satisfy my craving for snow. When I approached the check station the officer said they were recommending chains due to the heavy snow on the mountain pass. I told him I didn’t have any since I was just out here for a year from Minnesota. He asked for my drivers license (My guess he wanted to confirm my story) and said,

“OK then, being that you’re from Minnesota, you’re probably going to be fine. Go ahead.”

And he let me pass. I was still nervous since I had never driven in mountain snow before but once up there I found that navigating the pass was no problem for this experienced winter driver.

The pass was passable for me.

But the “pass” from death to life is NOT something that can be navigated by the strong or the experienced or the intelligent or wealthy. The “pass” can not be traversed through right thinking or big dreaming. The “pass” from death to life can not be negotiated through force of will.

The “pass” from death to live is only survived because of the One who survived it first: Jesus. When you hear the Word of God and believe in Jesus Christ, you receive eternal life right then and there. No, you are not transported to heaven at that moment; but rather given the hope of the resurrection; which is eternal life here and now.

And it is that hope that gives me strength now as I see the junk and chaos and death that is all around me. It’s the the hope of the resurrection that gives me joy when the world and culture are attacking the Church. It’s this hope that gives me courage when Christian liberty and freedom are being taken away; knowing that my true freedom is through faith in Jesus Christ.

It’s not me that defeats the “pass” but rather the cross of Christ; God’s love and grace for defiant sinners.

So hear the Word of the Lord:
~ You are a sinner worthy of death.
~ Jesus died on a cross that your sins would be forgiven.
~ Jesus rose from the dead that you may live forever.
~ The passage way from death to life has been secured for you.

And best of all, this is all GRACE.

Let Jesus take you over and through the “pass”. Trust him and praise him always and forever.

Holy Father, words cannot express my thankfulness for Your Son, Jesus Christ, defeating death that I my live. Receive me into Your arms through the gift of faith and may the hope of the resurrection give me joy and courage and thus bring You glory here and now and forever. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Call on Jesus

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Amen!
Praise be to God!
Alleluia!

But this verse is not hocus pocus.
It’s not a magical incantation.
The name of Jesus is not some name to be used to get what you want.

This verse is an act of worship; an act of submission. Notice that it does not say, “calling on the name of Jesus” but rather “Lord”. It is definitely referring to Jesus but instead uses the title that describes Jesus’ relationship to you.

To call on a lord is to recognize their authority over you. You aren’t going to call on a lord if you don’t think they can save you. But in this case, calling on THE Lord, Jesus, is something one does because they already know Jesus can and has saved them through faith. A person is not going to do this willy nilly because they want to save their butts from the eternal flames, but one does this out of love for the one who forgives sin through amazing grace.

But also, one doesn’t not submit to a lord if they still want freedom over their own life. You don’t submit to a lord if you’re too proud to admit you need help. You don’t submit to a lord if you want your cake and eat it too. But the fact of the matter is we need help and with Jesus you get something better than the proverbial cake. With Jesus you get THE Lord of lords who takes great joy in saving your life.

Amen!
Praise be to God!
ALLELUIA!

So go on, call on Jesus, submit to him and praise his Holy name.

Father God, you’re an awesome God. Thank you for sending Jesus to be Lord of my life to save me from myself. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

No Separation (Romans 8:38-39)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:38-39 ESV]

There is nothing more horrifying than that thought of being separated from the love of God. And that separation would be the definition of hell. Even among the flames; in the midst of pain and suffering, if God’s love were still there, there would still be hope of rescue and healing and restoration; even if not in this life. Without God’s love, though, there is:

No hope
No rescue
No healing
No restoration and…
No God

THAT is hell and THAT is something that no one would ever want a taste of for even a second. So when people say things like, “That was just hell going through that” or “I’ve been through hell and back” or other such sayings; people have no idea nor do they want an idea. I think we too often minimize hell and therefore we don’t take it seriously enough. Hell is separation from God. The Good News, though, is that through faith in Jesus, you have never, ever been separated from God and never will be.

death
life
angels
rulers
things present
things to come
powers
height
depth
anything else in all creation

None of these things will or can separate you from God’s love. You may think your suffering feels like hell, but it is not. Your suffering here is for but a moment and believe me, you are not alone. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you are not alone; you are not in hell; you are not separated from God. Granted, I don’t know what your suffering is like. I don’t know how you may be feeling. I don’t know exactly how I would respond in your position. But the one thing I do know is that in Christ Jesus…

GOD LOVES ME

and God loves YOU.

Cling to this wonderful promise in Jesus Christ and rejoice that hell is not your place but rather God’s love is your reality and hope.

God of life and salvation, we praise You that Your love over comes the powers of this world and therefore gives hope through Jesus. May those who suffer know Your love and may they know they are not alone. Give them hope. Give them strength. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

The Pastor -|—

Godly Training (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. [1 Timothy 4:7-8]

I think a lot of Christians waste a lot of time engaging in silly arguments, debates and controversies at the expense of godly training time. Christians also engage in everyday life without proper godly training. Christians deal with stress and temptation without proper godly training. This is basically what the apostle Paul was warning his young friend, Timothy, about. And this is something that all Christians need to take to heart.

Train so you can be ready.

I am currently registered for a half marathon in June. This will be number three for me to add to the three marathons I have already done, so I know the value of proper physical training. The problem is that I haven’t taken my own advice yet and really gotten into my physical training. I need to get moving because I can not expect to do well in June if I don’t prepare my body now. Without proper training my body will take beating and I high doubt I will be able to finish.

The same goes with godly training but godly training has many more benefits than anything we can do to prepare our bodies in this life. Recently I was reporting to my church council that Lent this year was going very well; that my stress level was down considerably from past years. I then went on to say that I have been continuing to exercise my faith through daily Bible reading, devotions and writing on my blog everyday (sometimes more than once). Following the meeting, a council member/friend approached me and said, “Do you think that your reduced stress this year has anything to do with your prayer/devotional life?”

Silly me, I never considered that, but absolutely!

Nurturing your relationship with God through Jesus Christ through worship, praying, reading God’s word, not only strengthens your faith as the Gospel is read and proclaimed to you but it also helps you deal with life now. Don’t get me wrong through, I am not slipping into a prosperity Gospel preaching mode; trying to give you some easy steps to a happy and stress free life (if I ever do that would someone please slap me up across the head). Anyway…what I am saying is that godly training is important in this life to bring glory to God. Because believe me, there are irreverent and silly myths and controversies all over the place and the Christian needs to be ready. So this godly training is not about a happy and stress free life (that is just a pleasant “side effect”). Godly training is about glorifying God today and preparing our souls for eternity.

And so if you don’t engage in godly training now; when life happens and the world challenges your faith, you will stumble and fall. But also, if Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, why wouldn’t you want to train and grow closer to him?

So…

Exercise your faith.
Train your soul.
Prepare your defense.
Be ready.

And when life happens, you can bring glory to God (and not yourself).

What a joy it is to spend time with You, oh God. What a joy to grow closer and closer to You. What a joy to soak in Your holy law. What a joy to give You glory in this life. May You bless our “training” not for us but for You, oh God. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Condemned but Free (Romans 8:1-8)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. [Romans 8:1-8]

Imagine this scene if you can…

You are on death row for the most heinous crime one can think of; and not just one time but you have committed this crime over and over, but you don’t think the crime is that bad. You look out and see that other people are far worse than you. But you are still considered a menace and therefore you need to be condemned and killed.

And so there you sit; condemned, when your attorney comes in. He has good news for you. He tells you he can set you free and remove your condemnation. All you have to do is, with your whole heart, admit your guilt, at which point, your attorney will take your place on death row and your record expunged.

Sounds like a pretty good deal.

But instead of taking the “deal” you are offended. You will admit nothing. So promptly fire your attorney; convinced that you can plead your own case and set yourself free. You don’t need any help.

FOOLISH!!!

Before the Almighty God you stand condemned because of your sin, but through faith in Jesus you are no longer condemned, as he has taken the punishment for you that your record may be expunged and that you may be free. And when you rack up charges again, your “attorney” stands ready to speak for you.

What a deal
What a gift
What mercy
What grace

You see, our flesh is too weak to satisfy the requirements of the law so therefore we have no hope of pleasing God. Yet many people try.

I’m a good person.
I go to worship (often).
I don’t kill people.
I don’t cheat on my wife/husband.
I help people.
I am definitely not like that person over there.

If this is your defense, you are still lacking ~ by a long shot. For you are NOT a “good” person. You are a sinner, evil, bad, condemned, no matter how many good works you do. In the flesh you are dying but in the spirit; that is if the Spirit of Christ lives in you through faith, you will live.

So why in the world would you want to fire your attorney when you stand condemned in front of God Almighty? As the saying goes, “A man who is his own attorney has a fool for a client”. So don’t be a fool.

Jesus has saved you by grace through faith. You did not earn this. You do not deserve this. And you can not live without this.

Set your mind on the spirit and not on the flesh and let Jesus take your condemnation and give you justification, righteousness and life.

That is a good deal so take it and live.

Mighty God, may Your Spirit transform our weak minds and hearts to be inclined towards You through Jesus Christ. May we see this gift of life and receive it with our whole heart. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Opening prayer ~ The Narrow Gate (Matthew 7:13-14)

As we prepare for worship this morning, let us first prepare our hearts to praise God and receive His Holy Word. Let us pray…

Father God,

scripture teaches us to “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14) May those who are here gathered enter by the narrow gate and deny themselves the easy way through the wide gate. May we enter through

Your Word
Your Promises
Your Grace and,
Your son, Jesus Christ

But we are not so foolish to think that the path through the narrow gate will be easy. It will be hard, so I humbly ask that you may send your Holy Spirit to make us lean; trimming away

the cares of this world
idols
false gods
false doctrine
hypocrisy
gossip
prosperity gospel faith and
anything else that weighs us down.

May we have the faith to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Jesus through the narrow gate.

So make your Word manifest among us as we lift up our prayers, praise and thanksgivings. You are worthy, oh God, You are worthy. So here we come, to worship Your holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

May you bless God as you worship this morning and may you be blessed by the proclamation of God’s holy Word.

The Pastor -|—

Dead fish and Salmon (Mark 8:34-38)

A fun “tip” my dad used to share when I was young:
“Only dead fish go with the flow all the time.”

And then you have the opposite:
Salmon struggle to swim up stream to find a place to spawn and lay their eggs.

[Now cue the theologizing of the Pastor as he works on the Sunday sermon]

Only dead fish (“Christians”) go with the flow (of culture) all the time.

Salmon (true Christ followers) struggle to swim up stream (deny themselves and pick up their cross and follow Jesus) to find a place to spawn and lay their eggs (share the Gospel and bring glory to God).

Hmmm…that could work.

Any thoughts on this?

The Pastor -|—