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Archive for March, 2013

Redeemeed

Redeemed how I love to proclaim it!

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;

Redeemed thro’ his infinite mercy,

His child and forever I am. (by Fanny Crosby)

 

This past week someone in New Jersey won a $320 Million Power Ball Lotto jackpot. Talk about a nice sized Easter Egg. In order for that person to claim that winning prize he had to redeem it, take in his ticket and claim it. What would you think of that person if he would have just held onto that thicket and never redeemed his prize with it? My answer would be, “That’s ridiculously dumb, unbelievable!”

 

There is something that needs redemption that makes $320 pale by comparison – your soul. “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world (get everything he/she wants), yet forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36 (NIV, parenthesis MSG). That’s what Easter is about, redemption, your and my redemption.

Maybe you are one of the many who quickly dismiss this as a bunch of religious horse puckey. But please hear me out. Can you escape death? Have you ever done something wrong? Are you absolutely certain you can stand up to God’s judgment on your own merits? I know my answers, “No, yes, and no.” That’s why I need redemption.

Redemption has two sides. Through the death of Jesus Christ a sinner debt is paid for, the penalty of God’s law for sin, death, is forgiven, and God is able to pronounce a sinner justified. We have to be redeemed from, but we also have to be redeemed to. Jesus didn’t just die, He arose from the dead, He has the power to restore what sin and death claimed, to remake a sinner into a child of God, to grant someone destined to die eternal life. All of these you and I are completely incapable of accomplishing. When it comes to these we are utterly hopeless apart from Jesus Christ.

You and I could win every lottery jackpot for the rest of our lives, although the chances of just winning one are remote, and they would not compare to what God offers to you and me through Jesus Christ. In contrast to the odds of winning a lottery the odds of dying and appearing before God are 100%. It is vastly more foolish to bypass Jesus Christ, the only source of eternal redemption, than to hang on to the winning ticket of last week’s Power Ball. In order for the redemption God offers to you and me to be applied and realized in our lives we must believe in Christ as your Redeemer, admit our need for redemption, and commit ourselves to following Him. “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV).

To God be all glory, Happy Easter, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

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The Jesus, the Messiah you want may not be the Jesus you need, the Messiah God sent.

On Palm Sunday we remember Jesus’ last arrival in Jerusalem. He rode in on a donkey (signifying He came in peace) and was welcomed by a huge crowd that provided an impromptu red carpet made of palm branches and coats (Matthew 21:1-10). They were welcoming the Jesus they wanted, the one who would advance their political agenda, end corruption, bring prosperity and peace, kick established religion’s butt, and work miracles to boot. The Jesus who would stay out of everyone’s bedroom and bring back integrity and profitability to every boardroom. The Jesus who sets everything straight without confronting or offending anyone. The Jesus who relieves guilt, erases consequences, and finds a way to bless no matter what. The Jesus who hangs out with sinners, loves sinners, and never challenges sinners to repent and change. Oh how they welcomed that Jesus, the Jesus everyone wants.

Fortunately that’s not the Jesus who sat on that donkey, the Jesus who God sent. It took less than a full week for people to figure out that the Jesus they wanted is not the Jesus they put their coats in the dirt for. So they changed their vote from “Hosanna” to “Crucify.” They wanted more miracles not more sermons, especially not sermons on judgment, personal responsibility, serving others instead of self, or our need for God to provide a Savior, who can deliver us from sin and death. This was not the Jesus who ushered in religious tolerance at the price of truth, who promised everyone heaven regardless of whether or not this corresponds to actual reality. This was the Jesus who said “If I don’t wash you, you won’t be clean (John 13:5-9),” who declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” John 14:6 (NASB). This was the Jesus who changed the definition of blessing (Matthew 5:1-16), who challenged “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” Matthew 16:24-25 (NASB). This was the Jesus who claimed it was imperative that He would die, be buried, and rise from the dead in order to save you and me form sin, death, and the eternal judgment of God, “He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem’” Luke 24:46-47 (NIV).

Maybe it is time to abandon the Jesus you want and embrace, believe in, and follow the Jesus whom God sent. The Jesus we want is a creation of our own hearts and minds, his only power is to deceive, he cannot save. Only the Jesus who lived, died, and rose again is able to save, to forgive, to reconcile you and me, that’s why God sent Him. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved…,”Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”
Romans 10:13 (NIV).

May hope and prayer is for you and me to fully embrace the Jesus God sent.

“Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” – Jesus Christ

To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I love spring. It is like an explosion of life, of color, and of song. I love the fresh green of new leaves, the morning songs of birds, the evening choir of frogs, the humming of the bees, the splendor of blossoms, the spell of fragrances, and the soft carpets of grass. I love the return of longer days, of warm sunshine, of open windows, and eating outside. I love tilling Susie’s garden, the smell of fresh cut grass, and our goose laying eggs. I love the abundance of spring, its happiness, and being able to see God’s glory reflected in innumerous ways.

I love the challenge of spring, to join in, to participate in life, to leave last year behind and concentrate on growing something again. There is a spot, right before Marsh Flat Road drops down to Moccasin, which explodes with wildflowers each spring. Yesterday, on my way to Sonora, I stopped there for a minute to look at some small California Poppies blooming on a rocky bank. They are in a hurry, they have to be, they don’t have much time. So each year they give it all they got and anoint an utterly barren spot with undeserved beauty and life, they make that place glorious. They waste no time complaining why they couldn’t be across the road and down a small swale where the dirt is rich and their cousins grow tall.

God told the ancient Israelites that he was giving them a “land flowing with milk and honey.” This wasn’t the dry side of the road. He wanted them to blossom in that land and make into something even more incredible, a land of justice, un-poverty, of love for one’s neighbor, and of devotion to God. But the story of ancient Israel can by and large be summed up with “what could have been.” That can happen to you and me – to us, you know. There are qualities that need to blossom and grow into fruit to create lasting beauty. Qualities each person, each generation needs to embrace. Qualities that are only sustainable if we are connected to, and  rooted in God – “the fruit of the Spirit (of God) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV, parenthesis mine).

I have stopped to look at those poppies for going on thirty years. Every year they  refuse to wait, refuse to complain, refuse to throw in the towel. They are committed to bloom right there on that inhospitable and unforgiving rocky bank, they are committed to bring to bear all of their God-given potential for beauty, they are committed to grow.

I pray you and I refuse to simply resign ourselves to merely growing older and instead answer the challenge of spring to grow, to produce all that is good and godly to the benefit of my neighbor and the glory of God.

To God and Christ be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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Did you change your clocks to Daylight Saving Time? Or are you among those who keep their clocks and various timepieces unchanged, only to have to continually add an hour till November? I know, Arizona and Hawaii don’t change their clocks, but most of the US does. And regardless my point is that wherever you live you have to adjust your watch to that time if you want to function. Besides DST you also have to make time-zone adjustments if you want to keep your job, make it to appointments, go shopping, and keep people from getting mad at you.

Since the switch to DST currently is made on a weekend (2nd Sunday in March), at 0200 hours (2:00 AM) to be exact, and since I am a preacher I get to perennially see people who forgot to set their clocks forward show up late for church (and see people show up early in November). And there are some who think you have to do the actual changing at exactly 2:00 AM, but it is ok to do that before you go to bed. I have tried both and I like the second option much better.

Your and my opinion really doesn’t matter much in this, whatever the official time is you need to adjust to it. Your doctor won’t care that you have chosen to go by a different time, neither will the airlines, the courts, schools, restaurants, libraries, retailers, TV schedulers, your wife or husband, or boyfriend or girlfriend. And against all your objections I am fairly certain if you need life-saving surgery you will adjust your time to whenever your surgery is scheduled. If not, then you are just not very bright.

Funny how we can adjust our watches (cell phones adjust automatically) and lives around things that are not very important, a television show, sports event, hunting or fishing season, … and forget to adjust to eternity. We can be meticulous about our clocks and careless about our souls.

Funerals are the place and time when we are most aware that we should make adjustments regarding eternity, regarding the creator and giver of time – God, Jesus Christ. A funeral marks that someone’s time has run out, someone who can longer adjust their time and life to live for what God calls important. Someone who has entered eternity either well prepared or arrives embarrassed like those who will be late this Sunday.  The wisdom literature of God’s word instructs us, Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies— so the living should take this to heart” Ecclesiastes 7:2 (NLT).

My hope and prayer is that you will adjust your life to eternity, to God, which in turn will impact your time and how you spend it. What counts in the end is that God thinks you spent it wisely, glorifying Him and His Son Jesus Christ.

Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

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