No Normal Day

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13 NRSV).

“But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NRSV).

EASTER is the day that love forever conquered sin and death. Whose love? The love that the Father had for His creation, and the love of the Son for the Father, to redeem the people they love and created, so we could be in a right and loving relationship with our Heavenly Father.

EASTER is the message that we no longer have to live in the sins of the present and the bondage of the past, but that our sins, past, present, and future were forever stained at the cross of Calvary, through the shed blood of Jesus.

EASTER is the loud message that Jesus was who He claimed to be, the Son of God; and that through Him we can have a new life filled and lived in the grace, love, and mercy of God.

EASTER is the grand event in the history of the world with the announcement that a Redeemer Lives, a Savior Reigns, and All Humanity shouts with one voice:

“He is Risen!”

“He is Risen indeed!”

May you all have a Blessed Easter with the assurance that “Your Redeemer Lives!”

 

Posted in Minister's Musings | Leave a comment

Prayer in the Face of Natural Disaster

Ou Loving Heavenly Father,

Comfort those who mourn. Give hope to those who seem to have lost all hope. With your healing power, touch and who are injured; to all medical and rescue workers give patient endurance, wisdom, and skill. As you give us opportunity to serve those in need, grant also generous spritits and the wise and efficient use of our ablilite in offering aid.

If today our words of praise are mute, if today we find it easier to cursen than to bless, point us to the empty tomb, which lies beyond the cross. Remind us that it may be Friday now, but in your Providence Sunday’s coming, and your love will see us through every darkness, every doubt, every desolation.

For you, O God, are our hope and our strength, an ever present help in time of trouble; to you we pray through Jesus Christ who triumphs over all things. Amen.

Posted in Minister's Musings | Leave a comment

Prayer

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8 HCSB).

What is your habit of prayer?

Martin Luther: “I have so much business I cannot go on without spending three hours daily in prayer.”

John Wesley: “God does nothing but in answer to prayer, ” and backed up his conviction by devoting two hours daily to that sacred exercise.

Bishop Lancelot Andrews alloted five hours per day to prayer and Charles Simeon rose at 4 a.m. to begin his four-hour regimen.

Nuns in an order known as “The Sleepless Ones” still pray in shifts through every hour of the day and night.

What are your daily habits of prayer? Are you satisfied or frustrated with your time in prayer? How can you improve your time in prayer?

As with so much of life, Jesus was and is our model in having a prayer-led life. Jesus would often go off by himself early in the moring to pray to His Heavenly Father. Do you take the time before the start of your day to have personal time with God? Are you knocking, seeking, and asking? We often do not have because we do not ask.

Prayer is one of the foundations of spiritual growth both corporately and individually. Take time to reconnect with God in prayer. Find a group of other people that you can pray with and also find time for yourself to be alone with God. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us.

Today enter the throne room of God’s grace and tell Him the things of your heart.

Peace and Blessings will be yours!

Rev. Jensen

 

Posted in Minister's Musings | Leave a comment

New Adventures

Shelley and I had a great time in our trip to Utah this past month. We saw a lot of the beauty of the state while we were there. Shelley’s niece was happy to have us there, for it gave her a reason to go to some places that she had not even been to yet in living in Utah for over 15 years.

Summertime is a great time to go out and experience new adventures and sights and take in the wonder and beauty of God’s creation. Possibly this summer, you also took in some new adventures or traveled to a new place or took on a new trade or hobby. As summertime calls our adventurous side, our spiritual life can at time become stale and we can get stuck in routine habits of prayer, worship, etc…

As summer gets closer to drawing to a close and we start to prepare for Fall and Winter, what possible adventures may God be calling you to take on? How might you energize your spiritual life? May it be joining a small group/starting a small group? A Bible study? Prayer group? Creating a ministry close to your heart? The list of possibilites is really endless. Take time to ask God to show you what He would have you do in the coming end of this year. Where may God be calling you to be a witness of His love and grace?

Pastor Eric

Posted in Minister's Musings | Leave a comment

Being Still before God

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). I think summertime is the perfect time to get away and find that nice quiet place to “be still” and find out once again the God that calls after you. Scripture constantly reminds us of the need to seek God and that the trees and the hills and mountains around us are reminders to us that God is near and that He is calling you to come and dwell in His presence.

There is the story of the Farmer who lost  a valuable watch in his barn. He searched frantically for it but with no success. Hired hands, motivated by the offer of a reward, also joined the search. But all the noisy seaching failed to turn up the watch. When the men left for lunch, a small boy slipped quietly into the barn and found the watch. Asked by the astonished farmer he he had discovered it, the boy replied, “I just laid down on the sawdust, kept very still, and soon I heard the watch ticking.”

May you take time to be very still before God and hear and feel the voice and presence of God in your heart and soul and be blessed!

Pastor Eric

Posted in Minister's Musings | Leave a comment

Death forever Defeated

This past week with the funeral of a beloved member of the church it caused me to reflect on the significance of Good Friday in contrast to the burial of a loved one. Death is that final frontier that we seek to avoid at all costs. We are forever searching and seeking after that which will forever keep us young and vibrant. But alas, death does come. And despite all that we do to stay safe death can come quickly and swiftly regardless of age, race, sex, and health. Death is an equal opportunity caller.

So what do we make of this day during Holy Week called Good Friday, what is good about death? Yet, when we explore and identify the person that was on the cross and the claims that He made, it causes us to stop and consider the meaning behind the death on a cross for us living in the world today.

As we stand at the grave site of a loved one, the words of the Apostle Paul come to life because of that which transpired over 2,000 years ago. “I passed on to you what was important and what had also been passed on to me, Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said” (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

For those in Christ death no longer has the final say for the Son of God went to Calvary for all of us, so all of us could enter into a living, eternal relationship with the very God that created and loves us. Although there is pain and sorrow on this side of heaven when a loved one passes, we are not living like those without hope for we know and serve a Risen Savior, Jesus Christ!

There are some days that seem like death has the upper hand in our world of constant wars and rumors of war and the violence that we heap upon one another. Thus again, we go to the fountain of comfort and hope, the Living Word of God, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

A blessed Easter,

    Pastor Eric

Posted in Minister's Musings | Leave a comment

The Great Adventure

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him” (Romans 6:5-8 NRSV).

We love adventure stories and the characters that bring them to life: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn or Captain Jack Sparrow, from Pirates of the Caribbean, Luke Skywalker, of Star Wars, and our brave gang in the trilogy, Lord of the Rings.  There are many, many others we could name and have some great discussions in their adventures and how they faced the obstacles to achieve their desired outcome.

The season of Lent could be described as a journey of adventure as we go through a range of spiritual disciplines and challenges to our heart, mind, and soul, in our walk with our Lord to the cross.  We have been told to deny our self, take up a cross, and follow a person who speaks of being beaten and having to die, but yet he also tells us that he will rise again in three days.

We are given words that we too will face persecution and hardship because of our commitment and obedience to one who calls himself “The Son of Man.”  So we humble ourselves in prayer and fasting and seeking forgiveness and renewal as we make our trek with this Suffering Servant, focused on completing the will of His Heavenly Father.

I think we enjoy various adventure stories for in them we wonder what we would do in that situation, how we would  react in the face of such danger.  For many, the cross is a place of danger.  Many have tried to go with Jesus toward Calvary, but finding the journey too hard, too painful, too high of a cost, they leave and decide to go it on their own never fully finding that missing piece to fill their heart and life.

Yes, going to Calvary is not for the faint or weak hearted. But surprisingly, for those that do complete the journey, they find in the death, life.  That by dying with Christ, we find our real and true life; for as we die with Christ, we also rise with Christ Jesus to New Life!

Right now each of us is living and participating in the greatest adventure of them all, the story of God’s plan of redemption for those created in His image.  We all have a part to play and God is using and working in each of us to fulfill our part for His purpose and glory.

I look forward to sharing in this epic adventure with all of you!

In Christ,

 Pastor Eric

 

Posted in Minister's Musings | Leave a comment

Getting Spiritually Fit

For Christmas this year, I purchased the Wii Fit Plus. On the first day of use, I was told that I needed to lose a few pounds. It was hard to argue as my weight and BMI (Body Mass Index) were staring me in the face from my television screen. But I had nothing to fear, for the Wii Fit Plus had recommendations and exercises to assist me in losing weight and getting in better physical shape. I have set goals and have enjoyed the various exercises that the Will Fit Plus offers to help me reach my goals. Additionally, I have seen progress already in the weight department that has energized me to stay the course for the long haul.

 However,  it has been a combination of things that I am doing to assist in losing weight and getting in better shape. If I were to just depend on the Wii and not watch what I was eating or my fluid intake or taking other steps for better health, the Will would still be fun but it would not really be assisting in my getting fit. I need other sources to help me.

 Likewise in our spiritual walk we think that if we mange to go to worship at least a couple times a month that we are getting ourselves in good spiritual condition. When often the reality is that God is telling us we need a spiritual revival in our life. One of my pastors use to say that the worship service is like a “Fast-food restaurant,” just enough there to fill you up, but not enough to sustain you through the week. God desires to give you more than 1 hour on Sunday mornings, but the effort to be fed more from God has to come from us.  Just like turning on the Wii to exercise, we have to pick up our Bible to read during the week. We have to intentionally find time to sit and pray to God.

 God has given us the church to assist us in our growth as disciples of Christ.  So the worship is important, but so is the private devotion time and the opportunities that the church offers in Bible Study’s, Prayer Services, and other fellowship gatherings to foster relationships among each other and to encourage and assist each other in our journey of faith.

 Some of my best times of spiritual growth have been in small group gatherings where we discuss God and faith and life and really learn about each other and really start to see the hearts and gifts of those that we worship with every Sunday. Would you make it a goal this year to get involved in at least 1 bible study and be open to the opportunity to share and fellowship with your church family outside of worship and together may we assist each other in becoming spiritually fit in our relationship with the Lord.

 In Christ,

  Pastor Eric

Posted in Minister's Musings | Leave a comment

God In Our Midst

I enjoy watching the “Holiday Classics” that come out this time of year. Though very few of them explicitly portray the true meaning of Christmas in the birth of Jesus, they do show us what life would be without the Incarnation in our world. Let’s take a look at three beloved Christmas shows: “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “A Christmas Carol”, and “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

One scene that always gets me in Rudolph is the “Island of Misfits Toys.” Those unwanted, discarded toys that hope every Christmas to be rescued from their misery and year after year, nothing. Until the year Santa finally came, thanks to Rudolph. How many times have we felt like Misfits wondering when and how we were going to be loved and accepted into our world? Good News: Emmanuel, God With Us, means that we are loved and accepted for who we are. We no longer need to feel like a misfit for our Creator is in our midst.

 Ebenezer Scrooge is almost an icon of American culture, howbeit, a fictional one at that. But there are a lot of people that walk around with the attitude and cold indifference that Ebenezer had. How many times do we hear someone called a “Scrooge” or a passer-by utter “Oh, ba-humbug” to any Christmas cheer? Sad to say, at times we may not have to look far to see Scrooge as this season can at times bring the Ebenezer out of all of us. However, in our midst is the very “Prince of Peace.” In our midst is the One who transforms hearts and lives, open the eyes of the blind and makes the deaf to hear. Even the eyes and hearts of people like Ebenezer Scrooge. Emmanuel is in our midst we will never be the same.

 George Bailey wished that he had never been born. Clarence, the angel assigned to George, gave George his wish; George Bailey was never born, never existed. Remember the scene when George went back into town only to find the town was no longer “Bedford Falls” but now called “Pottersville.” The town was sleazy and runned-down and no one knew who George was. George came to see what a rich, full life he had and how important his life and presence was to his family and friends and to the town he so wanted to leave. Yes, as George’s brother, Harry toasted, “To my brother, George Bailey, the richest man in the world.” Why? Because Harry knew what George had just discovered, George truly had a Wonderful Life!

 This Advent/Christmas season is the message to all misfits, all those with cold-hearts, and all of those feeling like bailing out, hear the words of the angels, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

 Rejoice! It is Good News! It is a Wonderful Life! God is With Us! Be blessed this Christmas season that God abides with you today and into the coming year!

 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Pastor Eric

Posted in Minister's Musings | Leave a comment

Taking Time to Give Thanks

The turkey has been in the refrigerator thawing for almost a week now. Shelley is buying last minute items for the Thanksgiving meal we will be having at our house. One of Shelley’s friends will be coming over tomorrow and she and Shelley will be making pies through the morning hours. On Thanksgiving morning we will rise and get the turkey ready to roast in the roaster and get all the other fixin’s fixed so we can spend some quiet time enjoying family, rest, laughter, maybe a parade and football, not to mention digging into the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, squash, and all the other goodies coming across our table that day. We will have many reasons to give thanks this day!

It can be so easy to get caught up in the prep and the gathering and everything else that taking a few moments to stop and give thanks to God can get easily forgotten or pushed aside and rushed through to where it becomes no different then many meals that we eat throughout the year. But this day is supposed to be different. A day set aside to give thanks. For some people,giving thanks has no spiritual equation, but for those of us who accepted the call of invitation from God, we are called to give thanks. And really when we stop and think, why would we not want to give thanks for all the ways that God has blessed us throughout this past year! Let us be counted of those that seek to have a spirit of gratitude to God throughout the year for all the ways that God has blessed us. May you enjoy your thanksgiving meal and fellowship with family and friends and know and feel the rich abundant blessings of your Heavenly Father this day and every day!

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1 NKJV).

Posted in Minister's Musings | Leave a comment