Are You the One?

"John the Baptist, having done exactly what God has wanted him to do, finds himself in prison and about to be beheaded.  He sends his disciples to ask Jesus, 'Are you the Messiah, or should we seek someone else?'"  Matthew 11:2-6

I used to think John was questioning Jesus.  However, he knows who Jesus is and he, John, knows he is about to die.  So, he sends his followers to Jesus to become disciples of Christ.  Jesus tells them, “Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard.”  In other words, go back and tell John that you believe the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  Tell John that he has accomplished what God the Father had for him to do (Jeremiah 29).  Tell him that those who have been living in darkness now see the LIGHT, that those crippled by the enemy now walk in that Light, that those who were living in sin are now cleansed by the power of the Holy Spirit, that those who refused to listen to the WORD are now living by it, and that those who were dead to the SPIRIT are now alive and are preaching the Good News.  Now John can die in Peace (John 16:33) and he knows that he has been blessed by God.  “God blesses those who do not turn away because of me” (v.6).  When we proclaim that we are followers of Christ, do we truly know how blessed we are, and that we can die in peace, or are we looking for something else?  Jesus has already done what He is going to do.  Like John the Baptist, those who are persecuted in this world for being followers of Jesus, yet do not turn away, shall be truly blessed.

On the Inside,

Pastor Pete

Is There Enough Evidence to Prove You Are Saved?

"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save them?"  James 2:14 NIV

This verse begins a controversial passage, one often misunderstood.  Here, James will begin to make the case that genuine faith in Christ results in genuine change in the actions of believers.  On the surface, it's really not such a radical idea.  Human beings tend to act on what we truly believe.  Those who believe God is right and good and powerful will most naturally obey Him.  Those who believe God has called them to meet the needs of others will most naturally look for ways to do that.

The controversy comes with what appears, at first glance, to be a contradiction with the teachings of Paul and the other New Testament writers.  Paul says in Ephesians 2:8–9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."  James, on the other hand, seems to be questioning whether or not a person can be saved without works.

Read more: Is There Enough Evidence to Prove You Are Saved?

What to Do for Christmas

I Googled “What to do for Christmas” and found 100 things.  Number 20 was go to church and 33 was make a nativity scene.  The other 98 had nothing to do with Christ.  How about you and me?  Are we going to do better than 2%?

Praying you have a Christ filled Christmas, and life,

Pete.

Giving to God

First let me thank Connie and Mike Skultety for their generous contribution of “Mums for Bibles”.  If you missed it, Connie and Mike grow the biggest and best mums around, and they donated the proceeds to our mission at the Hopkins County Jail.  Connie has been known to share her gift of growing mums with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, The Ballard Veterans’ Center, Hanson Elementary School, and the Boy Scouts of America.  Well done good and faithful servants!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The “Water People” are at it again.  Four of us are venturing back to the Yucatan November 27th thru December 2nd to covenant with another church, helping them to provide clean safe water for their village and surrounding communities. All of the LWW team will be soliciting your prayers and support for the 2018 LWW Mission Project.

Read more: Giving to God

Our Body is Missing a Few Toes

I NEED YOUR HELP!

Paul told the Corinthians that the Body of Christ is made of many parts, each having a specific important role.  And he told the Romans we all do not have the same function, but each of us is vital to the life of the church.  He told the Ephesians that some are to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some shepherds, and some teachers.  He tells us that some will speak in foreign tongues, some will have knowledge and understand mysteries, and some will love us simply because we need love.  We are all important and are needed.

Our church vitality is not whole and is not functioning as it should.  We find fault in others’ service, yet we don’t participate.  How can those who do participate be 100% effective if the body is not whole?  Think about it.  If all 195 members of First Pres showed up, worshipped, and sang praise to the LORD, can you imagine what a visitor would say about our church?  Do you think he or she would be inspired to come again?  Can you imagine coming to church late and having to park across the street?  Can you imagine how much work we could accomplish toward our mission, "to know and make known," if every part was functioning as God intends?

Read more: Our Body is Missing a Few Toes

There Is No Fence

“How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between heaven and hell.  There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for any man.”  Johnny Cash

Many a man, and woman, believe they can happily occupy a place somewhere between the world and the Word.  We believe we can come to church on Sunday and Wednesday, listen to the Word, and go back out there and live as if we have no obligation to the Lord.  We want to get all gussied up, shake hands with all our fellow congregants, sing praises and repeat psalms, and then go out and cuss, fuss, and shush.  Living large and in charge throughout the week and then humbling ourselves for an hour or two before going back out into the hustle and bustle.

Is it because we may have developed religious patterns and behavior without really experiencing change by the power of the Holy Spirit?  Have we found it socially advantageous to attend church and do church things without placing Jesus above all things?

Read more: There Is No Fence

"Who Are You, and Why Are You Here?"

God gave Ezekiel the difficult task of presenting His message to ungrateful and abusive people.  Sometimes I believe I’m in Ezekiel’s shoes when I try to deliver the Word of God to our inmates at HCJ.  The Lord told Ezekiel to speak His words whether or not the people listen, and whether or not it is convenient.  God called His people obstinate and stubborn because they would not admit their sin.  I know the feeling.  Our measure of success is not how well the people respond, but how well we obey God and whether we fulfill God’s purpose for us.  God’s truth does not depend on how people respond.  He will not judge us for how well others respond to our witness to our faith, but how faithful we have been.  Last Sunday I was told that I’m not entertaining enough, and that I keep reading from the same book (The Bible) each week.  Last week we were in 2nd Kings and 1st John 5.  This week we’ll be in Ezekiel 3 and 1st Timothy 4.  I think I’ll try to be more entertaining by telling a story of a rabbi named Akiva, who lost his way home and stumbled upon a Roman garrison.  He was challenged and asked “Who are you, and why are you here?”  Akiva responded, but then asked the guard to come with him and to ask him these questions each time he came and went. There are many times I ask myself, "Why are you going to spend time with obstinate and ungrateful people?"  God always responds, "Who spent the time with you before you came back home?"  So I am reminded when Ezekiel is told “I will hold you accountable for their blood’ and “you will have saved yourself," that I, too, am accountable to God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit for presenting His message and following His will.

On the Inside,

Pete