Pastor’s Blogs

“Various Trials; One Joy”

Date: 9-9-14

Text: James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Though there may be various trials of all sorts, there is only one perspective: Joy.

My Thoughts: 

Hebrews 12:7a exhorts us to: “Endure hardship as discipline.” Or as I have said in the past, “Be trained by the pain.” And James supports this exhortation by telling us that though there may be various trials of all sorts, there is only one perspective: Joy. Now to some this may seem perverted. We need not enjoy the pain, but we definitely enjoy the product: becoming more like Jesus.

Lifestyle worshipers, is an attitude or perspective check is in order? Ironically, just this past Sunday, I was chatting with someone about this perspective/attitude check. We have a banner over the entrance to our facility. “As you leave, you can ask yourself where you fit,” I exhorted my fellow follower: “The wounded whine; the broken serve,” the banner states with two passages underneath, one of which is John 13:14: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” Not sure if they did or not, but I am sure I did. How about you? Do you need to “consider it pure joy,” too? 

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:2-3 (NIV84)

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

— Romans 8:18 (NIV84)

Keep on rejoicing in the Lord at all times. I will say it again: Keep on rejoicing!

 Philippians 4:4 (ISV)

Heavenly Father, by the shed blood of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and through His power, I confess I need an attitude adjustment and a perspective shift. I have been near-sighted and whiny, caring only about my personal comfort.  I ask You, Lord Jesus Christ, to bear the consequences of my actions. Remove the pain and shame I have caused Your Name. Be that part of my Life that has been disobedient to You. I release myself into Your hands. Be the fullness of Joy in my Life through Your Holy Spirit. In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Still A Servant Leader”

Date: 9-7-14
Text: James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. [NIV84]
The Big Idea: Join James’ example of keeping a servant’s heart even though he was thrust into the ‘spotlight’ of leadership.

My Thoughts:
James was clearly humiliated to discover that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. This is evident in that he, like Peter, ‘required’ a special audience with the Risen One (see 1 Cor. 15:5-7). In this humiliation, James chose, as his older Brother did, to take on the form of a servant (see Phil. 2:7-8); thus, the ‘title,’ servant, in the opening salutation of his letter.
But at some point in his walk with the Master, he was asked to step up and be a leader in the church in Jerusalem (see Acts 12:17 & 15:13ff). He was even consider a “pillar” in the church; and he’s listed first!
Lifestyle worshipers, have you been offered a position of leadership? At work? In your home? In school or a community club? In the church? If so, join James’ example of keeping a servant’s heart even though he was thrust into the ‘spotlight’ of leadership. … But, remember, at least he stepped up…. How have you responded when leadership was ‘thrust’ on you? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. — 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV84)

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. — 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV84)

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
— 1 Peter 5:2-3 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, be the servant leader in my Life You have designed me to be. May I hear Your voice and obey Your promptings as You empower me by Your Holy Spirit to live a Life that is pleasing to You. In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“He Called Him ‘Messiah’”

Date: 9-6-14

Text: James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: James uses this title with significant importance.

My Thoughts: 

Some say it is too early in the young church’s history for James to use the title of “Christ” connected to Jesus’ name. But I am convinced it is not, especially in light of James’ awkward past with Jesus. The word, “Christ,” is a transliteration of the Greek word for “Anointed One,” which is the word for Messiah, in Hebrew. And for James to use this title is of significant importance.

At first, James thought Jesus was “out of His mind” (Mk. 3:21 NIV84; “beside Himself” KJV). But now he calls Him the Messiah. This is a pretty monumental change, don’t you think?… James finally sees that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah. True, at first, He is the humble  servant of the Holy One, riding on a lowly donkey rather than a white charger, but remember, James was personally visited by the Resurrected One?

Lifestyle worshipers, have you had a truth staring you in the face, but it isn’t until much later that you see it? A passage you have memorized, can quote it without thinking, suddenly comes alive with deeper insight—and at just the right time? Or a relationship of significant importance? Then you know how James must have felt. The light bulb has come on: Flash! A brilliant light blinds our eyes. We shield them with our hand, but the brilliance penetrates right through. Slowly, but nonetheless steadily we see Him more clearly…, and He had been there the entire time…. Do you see Jesus more clearly today than yesterday? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

   In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. — John 1:4-5 (NIV84)

For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. — 2 Cor 4:5-6 (NIV84)

As [Saul] neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” He replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.  — Acts 9:3-9 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, I put You on as my Helmet of Salvation. Continue to transform my earthly thoughts into heavenly ones as You become clearer to me every day. In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Passion for His People”

Sermon Title: “James: The Man We Thought We Knew”

Series: Families Grow Up In Wisdom: The Book of James

Date: 9-4-14

Text: James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: James always Loved his brother….

My Thoughts: 

Growing up with the Messiah must have been strange. Well, Jesus was the perfect son, but it probably wasn’t as noticeable until He launched out on His own and started gather crowds and doing miracles and teaching some rather intense and challenging lessons….

But what James did ‘get’ from Jesus was a passion for His people. And this is clearly seen in verse one above—and throughout his letter. I believe one author I read this week identified the truth: James and Jesus must have had a rather loving relationship; and though it was strained by Jesus’ teachings, James always Loved his brother…

Lifestyle worshipers, whether your family relationships are strained because of Jesus’ teachings—or even for some other reason, do not let this dampen or diminish the Love you have for them. Let the Love of Jesus flow through you to them. Your passion for them need not burn them, but it should definitely warm them, don’t you think?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
 — Matthew 23:37 (NIV84)
I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

 Romans 9:1-5 (NIV84)

  When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
 Mark 6:34 (NIV84)

 Lord Jesus Christ, I put You on as my Belt of Love. May I Love my brothers and sisters all the more dearly even as we see that Day approaching.  In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Practicing What He Preached”

Date: 9-2-14

Text: James 1:1  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: James uses a word that represents the lowest of the lowest slave: doulos.

My Thoughts: 

As you read through the book of James, can you sense his humility? He could have started off his book with, “James, the Oldest brother of our Lord Jesus and my older brother…,” but he doesn’t. Instead, he uses a word that represents the lowest of the lowest slave: doulos. Now, in the Christian community we have given this word a much ‘greater’ meaning. This is because of what our Lord said about this in Matthew 23:1: “The greatest among you will be your servant.” He chose a word that represents a position lower than the word for servant here….

What does this mean for us, Lifestyle worshipers? I see at least one lesson: James practiced what he preached. He exhorts his fellow believers to  not take pride in our high position (James 1:9) and not to show favoritism (2:1). In his case, do not give him any adulation for being the brother of our Lord Jesus. None. And in this lesson, I take comfort that it doesn’t matter what position or title I  carry in the Christian community, I am still but a doulos of the Lord Jesus Christ, washing the feet of the saints and shining the spot light on the Master, who alone is worthy.

What lessons from James do you see in this ‘title’ of doulos?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

  Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.— Matthew 24:45-46 (NIV84)

And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
 2 Timothy 2:24 (NIV84)
 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. — Romans 12:10 (NIV84)

 

Lord Jesus Christ, be my gloves of Kindness and my Socks of Gentleness as I serve my brothers and sisters in humility and Love.  In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Seeing Jesus More Clearly”

Date: 9-1-14

Text: James 1:1  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: The resurrection has a habit of doing this: That flash of white light first blinds, but then reveals, when they can see Jesus more clearly.

My Thoughts: 

Yes, James is the older of Jesus’ siblings. No, he—with them—did not believe what Jesus  was teaching about Himself; at least, not at first. They scorned Him, mocked Him and ridiculed Him—and James probably led the way….

Lifestyle worshipers, has this happened to you in your family when you first came to faith in Jesus? Each step you took in following Him was so scrutinized and challenged and doubted…? But then something changed. They began to see Jesus more clearly, just as James had—but only after the resurrection, for James, and only  as your life began to change. The resurrection has a habit of doing this: That flash of white light first blinds, but then reveals; then they can see Jesus more clearly. …

…and then they, too, like James, can become one of His dearest followers. Remember, the flash first blinds, but then reveals. Wait for their eyes to adjust….

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

   In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. Then He placed His right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.”

— Revelation 1:16-17 (NIV84)

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

 1 Corinthians 6:11 (NIV84)

  For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I [Paul] persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.

 Galatians 1:13 (NIV84)

 Lord Jesus Christ, be the Slippers of Patience in my Life as I wait on my family to see You more clearly in my Life. In the meantime, continue Your transforming work by Your Holy Spirit so they can see You all the more clearly.  In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“A Parent’s Reward”

Date: 8-28-14

Text: Proverbs 28:23  He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: A parent’s reward comes much later than sooner.

My Thoughts: 

Perhaps you are like me: As a parent, I so desperately want for my children to like me. As I look around, I see many a parent who desire this. They desire it so much so that they appear to forego being a parent and very early on act more like their child’s friend. Yet, I’m sure you also know, that if we do not endure their tears when they are young, we will definitely cry later. We have to remember that a parent’s reward comes much later than sooner.

Lifestyle worshipers, this morning’s Proverb can be applied to our parenting as well. Paraphrasing: “Parents who discipline their child will in the end gain more respect/favor than a parent who offers their child inflated praise.” In an age where everyone gets a trophy just for being on the team, or praise for any effort, we need to remember that correction and discipline are necessary for healthy, wholesome growth.

As a coach, I desire my players to be their best, and I cannot afford to offer inflated praise or inaccurate assessments. If I did, they would soon be proven a lie on the court or the field. The same in true with parenting, don’t you think? Have you found that a parent’s reward is later than sooner?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits.
     — Colossians 3:21 (The Message)
A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.
     — Proverbs 29:15 (NIV) 
 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
     — Hebrews 12:11 (NIV84)

 Lord Jesus Christ, be the parent in my Life as I discipline and correct my child(ren) in Love. May I realize that as their Mom/Dad, who Loves them dearly, I have a responsibility to be their parent first and then their friend.  In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Trust the Wounds of a Friend”

Date: 8-27-14

Text: Proverbs 27:6  Wounds from someone who loves are trustworthy, but kisses from an enemy speak volumes. [ISV]

The Big Idea: He became a curse of us, and by doing so, He has removed any curses.

My Thoughts: 

Perhaps even now it is hard to talk about, especially when the wounds are still festering and raw, but it is still good to know that when friends wound us, it is because they Love us. Yes, they really do care. Interestingly, just yesterday, I was talking to a friend about wounds of friends, and with both of us being poets at heart, we came up with a phrase, “God’s scalpel doesn’t slip.” When the LORD is using His scalpel on us to ‘wound’ us—by cutting away those ‘cancers’ that infest our souls, we need to remember He is a skilled surgeon. Indeed, His scalpel doesn’t slip….

But, lifestyle worshipers, sometimes we think our friend’s scalpel is constantly slipping, slashing us with reckless abandon. But we must remember that even if they are clumsy with their words or don’t use the “proper” tone of voice, they are still speaking to us on this particular issue because they Love us. No more and no less. And even if their scalpel slips a little (or a lot), this, too, the LORD can use….

When this happens, I do is try to remember that it pleased the LORD to bruise Jesus and by His strips we are healed. How do you deal with the wounds of a friend?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

   Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.
     — Isaiah 53:10 (NKJV)
  Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it.
     — Psalm 141:5 (NIV84)
  Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me 
     — Revelation 3:19-20 (NIV84)

 Heavenly Father, as You prune away the dead branches of my life so that Jesus’ Life may produce more fruit, may I endure the hardship as loving discipline, knowing that You Love me and have given Your only Begotten Son for me. In the Lord Jesus’ Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Don’t Let Them Nest”

Date: 8-26-14

Text: Proverbs 26:2  Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: He became a curse of us, and by doing so, He has removed any curses.

My Thoughts: 

First of all, a curse is some form of distain or contempt. It could take the shape of four letter words, like ‘fool’ or worse, maybe even some five letter words, like ‘stupid’ & “idiot”, or even some formalized statement. But what makes a curse undeserved? Well, I guess we could first ask, what if we deserve the contempt? My response used to be to beat myself up over it: “You, fool, you knew better.” But then the Lord shouted to me once, “Don’t call one of my children a fool!” (Okay, maybe He didn’t shout, but He sure seemed intense….) Now, however, I’ve learned to forgive myself, extending to myself the grace He has so lavished on me–and thus removing any curse, self-inflicted or no…

Lifestyle worshipers, in truth, whether we ‘deserve’ the curse or no, it is of no consequence when we do not receive it. Whether it be an expletive or a formalized ‘curse,’ it is of no matter because we are in the Lord Jesus. He became a curse of us, and by doing so, He has removed any curses: They are all undeserved in Him. And because of His Grace and Love flowing down on us, we do not need to let “it” nest in our lives….

So do you struggle with receiving silly, sad “curses” of all flavors and shapes? What do you do to not let them nest?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

   Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

— Eph. 4:29 (NIV84)

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

 Galatians 3:13-14 (NIV84)

Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above….”

 John 19:11a (NIV84)

 Heavenly Father, by the shed blood of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and through His Power, I ask You to remove any curses that have been hurled at or placed on me. I announce that I am Your child. Because the Lord Jesus Christ has bought me with a  price, any curses sent against me are undeserved. I thank You that Your Son, Jesus, is my Lord and I am Your child . In the Lord Jesus’ Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“First Responder’s Role”

Date: 8-24-14

Text: Proverbs 24:11  Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Do you consider yourself to be a “First Responder”?

My Thoughts: 

The First Responder’s initial responsibility is to make sure the area is secure before entering into harm’s way. But they are urgently looking for ways to help. Some go in when there is still danger, e.g. a fire, but they are taking a calculated risk that will more than likely assure their safety as well as those they are trying to rescue….

Lifestyle worshipers, do you consider yourself to be a “First Responder”? If so, are you sensitive to your surroundings as you respond to those who are “staggering” to death? How urgently are you looking for ways to “help”?  

Or maybe you do not consider yourself a first responder…. Any thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

— Jude 22, 23 (NIV84)

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ

 Galatians 6:1-2 (NIV84)

 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

 Acts 1:8 (NIV84)

 Lord Jesus Christ, as You reduce me to Love, instill in me Your passion for the lost. Keep excuses and rationalizations far from me. For Your Name’s Sake, Amen.

Pastor Mike