Reporting a Break-In (11/27/16)

Please take a moment and wrestle with this question: As I think about my Christian journey, have I pursued God…or has God pursued me?

As I’ve been reflecting about my own life, I’ve realized something. If God hadn’t pursued me, I wouldn’t be a pastor today. I might not even be a Christian.

I grew up in a home with high moral standards which were based on Biblical principles and I was taught Jesus is the Savior, but I wasn’t taught what it meant to walk with God. Although Mom took us to church when I was a child, I hardly attended at all when I became a teenager.

After my wife, Stephanie, and I got married, we sensed God was calling us to attend worship so we started going on a regular basis. Stephanie and I grew in our spiritual maturity but I had no desire to be a pastor. When I was 23, I began to sense that God was calling me to preach. I was so opposed to doing this that I actually did things I knew were sinful just to show God he was calling the wrong person. (more…)

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What Makes A Good Thanksgiving? (11/20/16)

Are you really thankful today?

American author and clergyman Henry Van Dyke said, “Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” This Thursday is the day our nation has set aside for us to collectively pause from the busyness in our lives and express our feelings of thankfulness. As Christians, we enjoy it not only because it is a secular holiday – it also has a biblical mandate. Colossians 3:15b says we are to “be thankful” and 1 Thessalonians 5:18a tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances.”

Throughout the centuries of its existence, many individuals and families have formed customs and practices which have become very important to them on Thanksgiving Day. Please take a moment and think about the things your family does on Thanksgiving which have become special to you. (more…)

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Letting It Go (11/13/16)

Jesus says in Matthew 18:15-3515 “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Jesus’ teaching is very clear in this passage. If others sin against you, go talk with them. If they won’t listen to you, take two or three others with you to help work things out. Just remember this doesn’t mean you are to take two or three people who agree with you. You take two or three impartial people who can objectively hear both sides of the story. If this doesn’t work, take it before the whole church and let the church help deal with it. Then forgive whoever sinned against you because God has forgiven you for a lot worse things than what this other person did to you. Jesus ends up saying that refusing to forgive is nothing more than sin.

Before you read any more, please take a few minutes and wrestle with this question: Have I forgiven others the same way I want Jesus to forgive me? (more…)

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Standing with the Blessed (11/6/16)

Matthew 5:1-12 says “Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

This passage makes it clear that being a disciple of Jesus was never supposed to be easy.

Umar Mulinde grew up in a strict Muslim home in Uganda. His grandfather was an imam (religious leader of a mosque), and Umar was trained in Islamic thought which went unchallenged until he left home for college. (more…)

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