“But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).
Have you noticed, there’s no end to the confident voices of those who have “the answer” to the problems facing our country? “If we just vote the right people into office….” “If we just take the right steps in the economy….” “If we just spend money on these programs….” On and on it goes with the tsunami of words. Most of our leaders and officials still ignore God and adopt an attitude of We can fix things ourselves. The implied (although not spoken) attitude is: We are so wise that we can figure out how to transform this country with our brilliant ideas. Please don’t misunderstand me…. I am not against efforts to reform and improve our way of life. It’s just that my heart aches (and my mind is cynical) at how we continue to think we can just forget God, and everything will be just fine. As believers in Jesus, we know true change comes through the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. The “wise people” of the world look at Christians as simple-minded children who live in a fairy tale. To think that a man who was crucified 2,000 years ago could affect modern civilization right now is “Santa Claus” thinking to most. However, to those of us who have been changed by Jesus, we know and believe Christ to be the power and wisdom of God! “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). At my age, I am weary of all the “words” about change devoid of the power to change. We believe true hope begins by humbling ourselves before our Creator and Savior and asking for His forgiveness. We seek the wisdom which comes from above…that which helps us to walk in the fear of God and to shun evil. Whether you realize it or not, fellow Christian, the good news of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection is the hope for our nation! Don’t be ashamed of the truth or be intimidated by those who pretend to have all the answers. The first and best thing you can do is trust in the Lord and pray for our country!
We are quite complex—especially when it comes to our emotions. Our feelings can drive us all over the map, sometimes all in one day! Feelings can “feel like” our best friends, and, at other times, we wrestle with them as our greatest opponent. Having served the Lord for a while now, I understand that the enemy of our soul takes aim at our emotions and tries to get us to choose feelings over faith. We are tempted through our negative thoughts and emotions to make unwise decisions, which can alter the path of our life. How many people in the heat of the moment have decided “I quit this job!” or “I’m out of this marriage!” I find comfort in the fact that God understands emotions. After all, we are made in His image, and He has emotions as well. He is never confused or dominated by His emotions. The very existence of emotion in God reveals to us that emotions are not evil. He also reveals to us through His emotions that He is not some type of machine or merely a “cosmic intelligence.” He is a person, although much greater than we can ever understand the concept of “personhood.” Because God wants us to experience victory in our emotions (as well as the rest of life), He often speaks strength and comfort to our hearts. This week, I noticed a verse that seemed to leap off the page at me. This verse is good medicine for us as we battle the negative emotions of fear and discouragement which so often attack. In the Book of Isaiah, God is speaking to the nation of Israel through Isaiah the prophet and proclaims, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (41:10). Wow…talk about an emotional lift! This verse was just what I needed at just the right time. My prayer for you as I write this is that you will allow the Lord to help you to control your emotions by your faith. May you experience victory over the feelings of fear and discouragement, knowing that you are being held in His strong hand. Jesus, be the Lord of our feelings!
Since August 1999, we have fellowshipped with you. In 2012 my wonderful wife and I took on the role of pastoring Resurrection Life Church upon request of our great friend and spiritual encourager, Pastor Mark Boucher. For the past eight years we were blessed to lead services, work in partnership with our school, and see several people accept the Lord.
After much prayer, it became clear to us that our time at Resurrection Life Church had come to a close. Through the support and blessing of Highway Tabernacle, we were able to plant many seeds and see the Lord build families and grow children in Christ. Before pastoring at Res Life, I was with Highway for over 12 years serving in various capacities—including some of my favorite memories as a worship leader under Pastor Otto Wegner. Thank you all for the opportunity to bless God!
Our children were personally blessed by their involvement and growing up in this church. Highway and Resurrection are all they knew. Spring Garden Academy also was heavily involved in their early lives. We want to thank you all, family of God.
May the Lord continue to grow us and bless us as His Church in these trying times as may grow faint of heart. We believe the Lord has greater things in store for all of us. May His favor greatly rest upon His people.
One great thing about this country is the food! What an amazing blessing to have supermarkets and so many different types of delicious selections. So, I must make a confession…I really enjoy eating! My challenge is eating in moderation, and, as the old saying goes, “eat to live, don’t live to eat.” What does this have to do with the Bible you ask? Well, in the Bible I read about thanking God for the blessing of food and about seeking God through the discipline of fasting. Here’s where my love/hate relationship surfaces. I love the benefits of fasting but I must admit I don’t like fasting. It’s hard. It takes focus. It doesn’t “feel” good. When Jesus was with His disciples one day, some of John the Baptist’s disciples asked Him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast” (Matthew 9:14b). Jesus went on to explain something about fasting that we need to know. He taught that fasting needs to be done at the proper time. The disciples of Jesus did not need to fast while Jesus was with them physically. Jesus used the idea of a groom and his friends of the wedding party. For them to fast while together waiting for the wedding would not be proper. However, Jesus went on to say, “The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast” (v. 15b). Fasting produces a sense of mourning or yearning for Jesus because He is not physically present with us, and, in this sense, He is “absent” from us. Paul says that “as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6). Fasting, then, is a discipline Jesus gave us to “heighten” our awareness of Him as we humble ourselves from the everyday things we enjoy. The Bible gives no formula for how often we are to fast or for how long. However, I would encourage every Christian to make fasting a part of your life with Jesus. By faith, pick a time or day. Set your heart on what you will gain by fasting (more of Jesus) and not on just what you’re missing (a meal, or a day of eating). Even though fasting is not easy, I can testify that the Lord has faithfully given me special guidance and breakthroughs through fasting. Who knows? Because of the grace of God, maybe we can get to the place where we actually love to fast…rather than hate it. What do you think?
This past weekend, Terry and I traveled to Massachusetts to attend the wedding of our daughter’s best friend, Leah. While in Leominster, MA (the city in which I pastored for 15 years), we visited the church and had a great time of fellowship with the pastor and his wife. Just outside the window of the office I used to occupy, there is a beautiful white birch tree. When I first arrived there in 1995, this tree was about my height. Now, the tree is 25- to 30-feet high with wide branches and abundant leaves! Often, when I was meditating or studying for a sermon, I would look out the window at this tree and consider Psalm 1:1-3: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” The birch tree reminded me of the power of faithfulness and consistency. Even though I could not “see” the tree growing each day, I knew that growth was taking place because it remained rooted in good soil and received the blessing of sunlight and water. The promise in Psalm 1 is that fruitfulness follows faithfulness! My prayer for you, God’s people, is that you practice faithfulness and consistency daily by staying close to the Lord in prayer and by reading and thinking about God’s Word. Simply receive the grace and blessings God provides each day, and you won’t have to worry if you’re growing or not. Your life will be like a tree that increasingly spreads as time goes by. Jesus faithfully fulfilled God’s will each day, and His presence and power lives in you! Stand firm in Him…and you will keep growing!