“I don’t like it when pastors say things like that.”
“Say things like what?”
“That just because someone was baptized as a baby they’re now in heaven.”
“Why don’t you like that?”
“Because it’s not true.”
“What do you mean it’s not true? That’s what I’ve believed my whole life.”
“You may believe it, but it’s not in the Bible, and it’s not true.”
WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT’S NOT TRUE?
That was pretty much my conversation with my fiancée as a twenty-three year old while driving away from my grandfather’s funeral in 1997.
My soon-to-be wife and I were in Wisconsin snowmobiling that February when we got word that my grandfather had passed away. So we loaded up the sleds and headed home to be with my family.
A few days later my grandfather’s funeral took place at one of the churches in our town, which to be honest, I found a bit odd.
Matthew 5:16 says, “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” As we get ready to close out 2016 here are three things we need to do as followers of Christ to let His light shine:
1. Share it! We share all kinds of things every day through social media. Whenever ‘good news’ happens you share it. Use our Christmas Eve-Eve Service as an opportunity to invite your family and friends to church so they can hear about the greatest news ever shared; that God sent us a Savior! Your friends who don’t know Jesus need Jesus! Share our event on Facebook and INVITE!
2. Be generous! Our Heavenly Father is a giver! God has done some amazing things this past year in and through Cedar Point, and in 2017 He’s asking us to continue to GROW in our faith and generosity. We want to see more people take the step of following Jesus. Let’s not allow finances to keep us from reaching more people with the Good News of Christ! Be generous in your year-end giving and to those around you this Christmas.
3. Enjoy it! This is something I always have to remind myself to do. Take time to sit back, relax, and just enjoy your family and friends this Christmas season. But most importantly, remember to celebrate the reason we gather; God has sent Light into our darkness. Through our faith in Jesus we can find true rest in those moments of chaos and uncertainty and more importantly, “find rest for our souls.”
I am so proud to be able to pastor such a great group of Christ followers! Here’s looking forward to what God has in store for 2017. Hope you have a Merry Christmas!
What ever happened to hard work?
The generations have changed. There’s been a shift in our culture that is a bit discouraging. There’s been a shift from the gratification and tremendous feeling of knowing that you’ve worked hard in order to earn something to a lazy, entitlement, “you deserve a break today” mindset. We now live in a microwave, fast-food, streaming, 80Mbps, instant gratification, video gaming day and age where the goal is to work our way out of work; Friday night is the goal, lazy days on the beach are the goal, retirement is the goal. Many people have given up on work.
And it’s not just trying to work our way out of working hard in our jobs, but it’s extended to every area of life. We view work as something that only the lower class should do. Therefore we don’t put in the work of raising our kids, managing our finances, strengthening our marriages, and building our families. Work has quite literally become a dirty word, and that mindset Continue reading
For whatever reason this has been coming up a lot lately for me: “I grew up in such-and-such church, but yours doesn’t do all the typical readings.” And I know all too well what they’re saying and why they’re saying it. I’ve been there. I grew up in a Lutheran church and can still yet today recite the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds. I remember my first time going to a ‘non-liturgical’ church (like Cedar Point) and asking my girlfriend, “When are they going to recite the Apostle’s Creed?” At first it drove me crazy because all they did was sing (a whole lot) and listen to a sermon. They didn’t even say the Lord’s Prayer. But I’ll never forget walking away from that experience knowing one thing: yes, it wasn’t church the way I was used to, but man do they love Jesus!
You see, there’s nothing wrong with liturgy and reciting certain things. But for me, those things didn’t mean anything to me. It was just something we did, like at a football game… “stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight!” There’s nothing wrong with reciting the Lord’s Prayer, though that’s not what Jesus had intended for us to do. In Matthew 6:9ff, Jesus never said, “This then is what you should pray.” He said, “This then is how you should pray.” Not what, but how. It was a model prayer meant to teach us how to pray.
And personally, I believe God would rather Continue reading
Gladiator has to be one of the best all-time ‘guy’ movies. I love it, not only for the awesome fight scenes, but it’s also full of little nuggets of truth; and all truth is God’s truth. When Russel Crowe enters the coliseum with all the other gladiators, in his knowledge and experience of battle, he takes charge and says to the rest of them: “We have a better chance of survival if we work together. Do you understand? If we stay together, we survive.” When the enemy comes out looking to destroy them, a few decide to go off on their own and are immediately cut down. They obviously didn’t understand. But those who stick together win the battle and emerge victorious.
The same is true in life. That’s one of the reasons God created the church. Commitment to a local church is one of the greatest things you could ever do for your spiritual life. And when I say ‘commitment’ I don’t mean just Sunday morning attendance. But you have to get into a circle, a small group of some sort. I’ve known too many people who have sat in a pew their entire lives but are no closer to God than the day they walked in. Rows are good, circles are better! Continue reading
I’m not perfect. I wasn’t feeding the homeless. I wasn’t leading a Bible study. I wasn’t tithing 30% of my income to the church. I wasn’t even going to church. I wasn’t doing any of those things when God showed up. Instead I had been passed out in a bathroom stall. I had been chasing after money and all the world had to offer. I was living my life for ME when I heard HIS voice, and it was right there all along. It’s right there for all of us if we’d just listen. I know you’ve heard it too. But this time, instead of ignoring it, I decided to act on what I heard. And I’m glad I did!
The Bible says Jesus is a ‘friend of sinners’ (Luke 7:34) and boy am I glad for that! There are times in our lives when we need a friend but no one’s knocking on our door; no one wants to listen. Yet God has always been there waiting, not with judgmental eyes but with outstretched arms. He loves YOU. You matter to Him. I have never yet heard anyone ever say, “I followed Jesus my entire life; what a waste of time!” So if you’re ready, He’s knocking on your door waiting for you to open it. Will you open it?
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~Romans 5:8
“We implore you on Christ’s behalf…”
The Christian ‘Super Bowl’ is this Sunday. There is no greater day in the Christian faith than Easter. Without Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his rising from the tomb we’d still be dead in our sins and separated from God. But thank God for Jesus!
For those of us who already know Christ as Lord & Savior Easter presents an awesome opportunity to invite others who are far from God or have given up on the church to give it another shot. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthian church begged Jesus followers to reach out to others. The truth is, God works through us in bringing people to himself. We are His ambassadors, IF, we choose to be.
We have two days left before Easter. Make them count! Invite that coworker, your neighbor, your friend to church. Don’t simply come and sit through another Easter service without doing anything with it. Go be an ambassador, a herald, a proclaimer of the greatest news the world has ever heard. Grab that person on your left and the person on your right and invite them to church. They matter to God too! The question is, do they matter to you? Make this weekend count.
2 Corinthians 5:14-21
“14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
“Now I know I’ve got a heart, ’cause it’s breaking.” The Tin Man, “Wizard of Oz”
God has made each one of us unique in our own way. Yet, created in the image of God, we share many similarities. One being we all have a heart, a heart that’s capable of being broken. And many of our hearts have been broken. They’ve been broken by divorce, betrayal, the loss of a child or a loved one, and countless other things. When our hearts are broken we feel lonely and empty inside, like there’s nobody else in this world who could possibly understand how we feel. But there is One, and our broken hearts can be mended! That’s why Jesus went to the cross. His heart has felt every conceivable ounce of pain that ours has and more. When our heart aches, so does his. He knows your pain and he’s there with you in it and he’ll see you through it! You can try to medicate and mask your broken heart in countless ways, but only Jesus can mend it. Don’t run from God, but run to Him! And when you do, our Heavenly Father will then use your mended heart to help heal others too. But only if you run to Him.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” ~Matthew 11:29
I love to hunt! When I was in my twenties I spent countless hours hunting. If I wasn’t hunting I was doing something related to hunting. I worked construction, so I would pray for rain days so work would be canceled and I could either spend time walking in the woods scouting new spots or drive to Cabela’s to buy new gear. Whether it was deer, turkey, elk, ducks, or whatever, I loved hunting it. I loved the challenge, the planning, the time alone in the stand, and that rush the moment the arrow left the quiver. Needless to say I was obsessed with hunting. Continue reading
As we close out 2014 there are 3 things we need to remember to do in order to finish strong:
1. Invite! Your friends who don’t know Jesus need Jesus! Everybody goes to church on Christmas. Use it as an opportunity to invite your family and friends to our Christmas Eve-Eve Service next Tuesday night. Grab some of our postcards this Sunday and INVITE!
2. Be generous with your year-end giving! God has done some amazing things this past year in and through Cedar Point, and in 2015 He’s asking us to have an even BIGGER faith. We want to see more people take the step of following Jesus. Let’s not allow finances to keep us from reaching more people with the Good News of Christ!
3. Relax! This is something I have to remind myself of often. Take time to just relax and enjoy your family and friends this Christmas season. But most importantly, remember to celebrate “The One Who Had Come.” Through our faith in Jesus we can find true rest.
I am proud to be the pastor of such a great group of Christ followers! Here’s looking forward to what God has in store for 2015. Hope you have a Merry Christmas!