Reopening – Pastor Abe

The world is beginning to reopen – stores, restaurants, theatres, offices are coming alive again. Although the church never closes (because the work of Christ in the world never stops!) we have not been able to worship in person in a while. This Sunday, however, we will begin to responsibly meet in person again. As things reopen and people begin to reunite, I’ve been pondering these questions: what do I want to reopen myself to? And what would the perfect reopening look like?

Early in the pandemic, Dave Hollis said, “In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” Great question! What do you want your new normal to look like? What do you want to open yourself up to in your vocation, your relationships, your faith, your hobbies? And as you open yourself up to these things again what do you want them to look like? What would be the ideal situation in each of these areas?

The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians, “The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead. It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose (Phil 3:10-12).”

Paul gets it. He is living for the resurrected Christ. He is not dwelling on the past or longing for the good ol’ days. He is growing forward, pursuing Jesus in all he does. I want to be like Paul as we begin to reopen. In a world filled with many good and great answers, Jesus is the best answer! If we could give people the opportunity to experience who Jesus really is, the world would truly change.

We are an Easter people! Grab hold of this truth, pursue it, live it, share it, and may our “new normal” be centered on Jesus!

 


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What Did Jesus Pray For? – Pastor Abe

What and who do you pray for? When my children were little, I taught them the typical bedtime prayer (click here to see me praying with my two-year-old son in 2012). Following the prayer, we would list all the people and things we were thankful for. So, what would Jesus pray for? The Gospel of John records Jesus praying, “I’m not praying only for them but also for those who believe in me because of their word. I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I pray that they also will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. I’ve given them the glory that you gave me so that they can be one just as we are one” (John 17:20-22).

Jesus didn’t pray just for his immediate disciples, but also for those who would believe in him because of their word. That means Jesus prayed for us! Jesus prayed for generations of people who would place their faith in him. His prayer for them, and for us, is that we would be unified so that the world around us would know the love and grace of God. Many people have a hard time fully embracing the unique and unparalleled message of the gospel in Jesus Christ – through no effort or merit of our own we are loved by God.

So, let’s get together by coming to Jesus and seeking his life, his love, his will, and his Spirit to help us be what he has called us to be. We are called to be a living example of God’s love and grace in the world. Take time today to pray for future generations who will place their trust in Jesus, and then share your story of God’s grace in your life with someone else.
 
Blessings,
Pastor Abe

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We Are What We Repeatedly Do – Pastor Abe

My mom, next to my bathroom sink, hung a plaque which read, “Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
It’s hard to imagine that our simple, small, everyday thoughts lead to our destiny. What is it you think of every day? Is it ways to be generous?
Proverbs 11:24 reads, “Those who give generously receive more, but those who are stingy with what is appropriate will grow needy.” This passage communicates a common thread throughout Scripture. Generous people receive more, but the “more” is not worldly things. Generosity leads to more of Jesus. When we invest our resources (thoughts, actions, things) in God’s Kingdom, our heart will also be pulled in that direction. God freely shares with us unconditional love; Jesus freely gave his life on the cross…generous acts that lead to redemption and transformation.
Want to be more like Christ? Want your heart to be awakened to the desires of God’s will, to the things of heaven? Think about and act on ways to be more generous, and your small actions will lead to a changed character and ultimately a destiny of generosity
Be sure to visit our stewardship page. This webpage includes a resource of 20 Bible verses on Generosity and dozens of ways to become more generous. And if you haven’t filled out your estimate of giving card, it’s not too late!
We are what we repeatedly do. Be generous for God’s glory!
Blessings,
Abe

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Silent Night – Pastor Abe

“Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright.” Really? The first words in the song Silent Night speak about a calm night with a sleeping baby, but it was likely anything but calm and peaceful. Crying baby, unwed mother, barn animals close by, no room in the inn…doesn’t sound too peaceful. This year feels more like that first Christmas, chaotic, isolated, stressful, anything but normal. But what if this Christmas could be different?

Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us, “Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.” The peace of God begins with prayer and thanksgiving.

The pressure to buy everyone the perfect gift, to fulfill every holiday tradition, and this year to manage in the midst of a pandemic is not going away. We bring peace to chaos by learning to pray before we plan, to center our lives on Christ in every moment of the season, and by giving thanks for the blessings of God.
The most comforting Christmas song for this year is likely, O Holy Night. “Long lay the world in sin and error, pining. ‘Til He [Jesus] appeared and the soul felt it’s worth.” It is in Christ that our soul feels its worth. It is in Christ, not the world around us, that we find peace. The Gospel of John records Jesus saying, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27).

Take time to pray, and let your soul feel its worth as you center your life on Jesus, knowing you are unconditionally loved. May the peace of Christ fall afresh on you!

Merry Christmas,
Pastor Abe


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What Question Would You Ask God? – Pastor Abe

If you could ask God only one question, what would you ask? Seriously, take a moment to consider your question. Now consider why this question was important to you.

In the Bible, Moses was asked by God to go to Pharaoh and set the Israelites free from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 3:1-15). Moses asked God two questions, which gave him clarity and courage for his journey. Moses asked God, “Who am I…,” which God responded, “I will be with you.” And Moses asked, “What if Pharaoh asks who sent me,” which God responded, “I Am Who I Am.” God’s answers showed Moses (and us) that our life’s journey is not about us, but what God is doing through us. Life is about trusting God’s plan for our future. God’s name – “I Am” – gives Moses the confidence that God exists, God is inexhaustible, God draws near to us, and no reality exists without God.

Asking questions was central to Jesus’ life and teachings. His questions brought clarity and transformation to people’s lives. Who do you say I am (Mt. 16:15)? Do you want to get well (John 5:6)? Do you believe (Mt. 21:22)? Why are you afraid (Mt. 8:26)? What does Scripture say (Luke 10:26)? Do you love me (John 21:15)?
Questions bring about learning and clarity. They provide observation and assessment to our present thinking and guide us in more meaningful paths of life.

Asking questions may be the most powerful tool and resource we have as humans. Albert Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about the solutions.” Einstein believed that asking quality questions about a situation would lead you to the heart of the matter, which would then allow one to move forward with clarity.

Questions help us think mindfully. Quality questions lead us closer to God and give us the courage and clarity needed to grow in faith. May God be glorified in all that we say and do- in the questions, and the answers!

Blessings,
Pastor Abe


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