Pastor’s Pen

When do you forgive someone’s grievous sin against you?

Happy Friday GCT:
Great news… as believers we are fully forgiven. Those of us who are children of God, regardless of background, regardless of current struggles, are fully forgiven. All of our sin, past, present, and future, has been absorbed on the cross of Jesus Christ.
 
So, how do we practice that same forgiveness with other people around us? You know those difficult times when you find yourself having been sinned against by your friends or husband or wife or the next-door neighbor? The relationship that you once enjoyed and loved that was filled with mutual care and acceptance is now broken, fractured, frustrated and filled with resentment. This brokenness is a result of something they said or did not say or did or did not do. There may have been a difference of opinion or purpose that created a frustration that then created this conflict. It is during this challenging moment that a root of bitterness can easily take root and create great division and even death of a relationship. Oh my! This is never a pleasant place to be. So, what are we called to do in a relationship as a follower of Christ when we were the ones sinned against? How and when do we practice Gospel forgiveness when others are slow to repent or don’t repent at all?

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Are you a Peacemaker or a Peacefaker?

Hey there church family! As we continue our series on “How the Gospel Changes us,” let us consider how broken and fractured relationships lead us away from experiencing the fullness of the Gospel.

This Christmas season with who do you find yourself in conflict? We live in a world where there is constant opportunity for conflict, fights, struggles, bitterness, aggression, disunity. Husband and wife, friendships, co-workers, neighbors, children and parents are all vulnerable to daily conflict and disunity. Our culture is somewhat toxic as it loves to see and encourage the tearing down of others. We tend to wound and attack others quickly whether there has been an injustice or not. We do not seek to give charitable judgment or the simple benefit of the doubt. We do not seek forgiveness or reconciliation. We ignore, avoid, smile and move on without any desire to live out the command that Jesus has given us to be Peacemakers. Instead we have a tendency to embrace the culture around us of peace-breaking and peace-faking. We cannot be a people, we cannot be a disciple or a child of God without us actively pursuing peacemaking in all relationships.

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What does gratitude look like today?

Hey wonderful church family. Have you ever thought about how interesting it is that our society so quickly can go from a day devoted to thankfulness and gratitude to the very next day that declares that you need more, more, more so go, go, go and get more stuff that you don’t have. Our society says don’t be thankful for too long. One day is enough! The struggle of living in a consumerist society is real. Our society says reach past what you have right now and focus on what you do not have. This is the heart of ingratitude. Ingratitude says things are never as good as they should be for me. Ingratitude focuses on the next thing instead of celebrating what you have been given. Ingratitude blinds us to the never ending blessings in our life. Ingratitude has as its center – me. Ingratitude worships self and loves entitlement thinking that I deserve this. Ingratitude makes us cosmic pessimists in life which makes us unable to be content with the gifts that have been given or even recognize those gifts. Ingratitude robs us of joy, delight and worship in the One true God who is always good and His steadfast endures forever. So, God is not joking when He says over and over “give thanks to the LORD for HE is good and His steadfast love endures forever” (2 Chronicles 16:34).

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We Grieve with Hope

Hello church family: This week I have to start out this letter with some bad news but I promise, as God also promises, there is always good news coming. You know that this world that we live in is difficult. It is broken. We are living in a world that is not operating the way it was designed to operate. And the difficult truth about our lives is that we will not escape life’s realities. None of us will escape disappointment, none of us will successfully avoid pain and none of us will escape loss. We cannot escape these while living in this fallen world. As a result of disappointment, pain and loss we experience a very strong emotion. This emotion may be the strongest emotion we will ever experience on this earth. This emotion is the emotion of grief.
 
Grief is an all-encompassing emotion that visits us for some time after we experience loss. Grief is a normal emotion to experience. There is no time-table or even constant order of how it works in each of our lives. Grief is as individual as our own fingerprint. Even as grief is a natural reaction to loss we must understand that grief can also be an emotion that can lead us away from the truths of the gospel. Grief can make us run from God. Grief can paralyze us and isolate us from the people of God. Grief can lie to us that God just does not care, or that He is punishing us, or that he is mad at us.
 
The great news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ has come to understand our grief so that He can minister to us in that grief. Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). Jesus shares our grief. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to intercede for us in our grief with groaning too deep for words (Romans 8:26) and to give us great peace in our grief (John 14:26). The story of the Bible makes great promises to us during our times of loss and grief. Our God is a God of hope so that we may abound in hope during our grief (Romans 15:13). The promise of the gospel is that Jesus is the resurrection and the life and that whoever believes in Him, though he die, yet he shall live and everyone who believes in Him shall never die. This means that Jesus is always conquering loss and death in the lives of those who believe. Jesus has come to put to death – death and loss. Not just physical death but also the death of relationships, or the death of of a job, the loss of trust, the loss of friendships, or even the precious things we thought we would have but never did. Jesus has come to bring life to each one of the places in our lives where death has come near. Even in physical death Jesus promises newness of life with Him in eternity. As believers we have the promise that everything that is bad is going to become untrue, undone, made new, redeemed. As Jesus asks in John 11:26, “Do you believe this?”
 
Remind your grief that God knows it. He cares for your grief. He puts all of your grieving tears in His bottle, He knows every one of your tears that have been shed (Psalm 56:8). Tell your grief that God is going to make all things new. Tell your grief that you will not let it define you, because God has promised us, “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” Psalm 84:11. The gospel is for us to navigate grief with the understanding that we are a child of God and He is resurrecting us now even in our loss and grief. Get up, trust God and embrace the life that God has given you today.
I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday: – Steve
 
Psalm 42:5 What are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, may salvation and my God.

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Fear wants to be your boss. God says, “Nope…”

Happy rainy Friday church family! So far we have covered three hindrances to enjoying the Gospel changing us. These three so far have been guilt, shame, and anger. This Sunday we will add another great hindrance to life change through the Gospel, FEAR AND WORRY. Our fear dwells in the present telling us that this world is dangerous. Worry lives in the future and continually says, “What if this happens, what if that happens, what if this does not happen, what if, what if. Worry is rooted in the future but reaches back to our present lives robbing us of all joy and peace in the Lord and happiness in our families. Fear and worry team up and says right now may be OK but I know things are going to get worse soon. Fear can become the norm of everyday life. Fear can result in misery, depression, anger, overprotection, anxiety. What about my children, their driving, their schooling, what about my health, economic collapse, investments failing, being broke, being forgotten, my hair, my figure, cancer, Alzheimer disease, sharks, spiders and our next president? There is an endless list of things to fear and be worried about. There is no real limit to our fears. Pause for a moment and take your top three fears and ask what they say about yourself? What do they say that you really desire, what you value, what you love?

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What does your anger look like? What is your anger saying?

Hello Church Family: Great news Friday… The Gospel is the power of God to kill your anger. Everybody knows anger. Anger is everywhere. Anger is a destroyer. Anger destroys unity. Anger destroys people. Anger is blind to itself. Anger says, I am right and you are wrong. Anger sees the speck in everybody’s eye and yet does not see the plank in its own eye. Anger tends to be atheistic with God and prayer not being part of our anger.
Do you seek love and unity in your anger? Does your anger seek reasoning? What is your anger rooted in? Is your anger saying, “I am right and you are wrong!” “I am not getting what I want!” “I am not getting what I demand!” Most of our anger is rooted in our own selfish desires. We are focused on our own desires more than the desires of others. We desire our desires more strongly than desiring that others would have their desires realized. The Lord has called us out of that selfish mindset commanding us to put the desires of other’s first (Philippians 2:3-6).

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