Month: September 2017

Does God Sleep? Guest Post by Connie Milchling

When Psalm 121 appeared as the primary reference in Pastor Brian’s message on September 24, it brought back vivid memories for me. I had committed the entire Psalm to memory in junior high school, after moving twice within 15 months. The transition to 7th grade in Ohio, then 8th grade in Pennsylvania, did not go well for a scrawny little red head from a very small town in West Virginia. I struggled a lot. And that’s when it became one of my “go-to” Psalms.  I would read it frequently and reflect on it often.

Of all the great phrases found in it, one of my favorites appears in verses 3 and 4:

He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he … will neither slumber nor sleep.

I find that amazingly comforting. The God of all creation never nods off and forgets about me or releases the reins of world order to take a power nap. God is sovereign. He is on his throne.

In 1 Kings 18 there is an awe-inspiring, Hollywood-material duel that takes place between the only remaining prophet of God, Elijah, and 450 prophets of Baal who are determined to establish whose God is real. …

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See You at the Pole

On Wednesday morning, all across the United States, high school students will be gathering for one simple thing: to pray. To pray for our nation. To pray for their schools. To pray for their friends. 

At some schools, great crowds of teens gather. At other schools, it may be just a few.  See You at the Pole (SYATP) is not an organization, but more of a movement. They want to help teens know they can make a difference for Christ and his purposes in the world.

Teens can follow God with all their heart.

Teens can have God’s heart for the world.

Teens can have an intimate relationship with Jesus.

Students from Living Word will join with followers of Jesus from many churches at many schools. They will gather Wednesday morning around the poles where the flag is raised. And they will pray.

That is tomorrow.

Today, please take a minute and pray for SYATP. Pray for many teens to show up with courage and faith and love to pray.

And pray for this Next Generation. They will soon be carrying the baton, or better, they will be carrying the cross of Christ as they follow Jesus. The country

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Fire!

 

Pascal (pictured here) was a famous mathematician, scientist, and philosopher when he converted to the Christian faith. He had a profound conversion experience. So powerful, that he recorded a few brief words and sewed them into a secret pocket in his jacket to carry them close to his heart – always.

He began with one word: FIRE!

For the full text, click here and scroll down.

The Holy Spirit has been associated with fire (Matthew 3:11; Acts 2:1-4). The pastor and theologian Samuel Chadwick captures the necessity of life in the Spirit.

Destitute of the Fire of God, nothing else counts;
possessing Fire, nothing else matters.
Spirit-filled souls are ablaze for God.
They love with a love that glows.
They serve with a faith that kindles.
They serve with a devotion that consumes.
They hate sin with a fierceness that burns.
They rejoice with a joy that radiates.
Love is perfected in the fire of God.

Jesus says striking words in Luke 12:49: “I have come to bring fire on earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”

That is what Pascal experienced, fire being kindled in his soul and his life set ablaze for the glory of …

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One Early Morning …

My heart was strongly encouraged by this thought from an unknown author:

All of the darkest, saddest, most terrible nights our world has ever known are counterbalanced by ONE EARLY MORNING in Israel when holy angels rolled the stone away from an empty tomb and proclaimed,

He is risen!

He is risen, and if you are in Christ, you are risen with him. And that one bright morning conquers every dark night.

Pastor Brian

 

 

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Worth Thinking About …

God had one son on earth without sin,
but never one without suffering.
-Augustine

That’s it!
It is my story and my journey, as it is yours.
Making sense of suffering.
Finding hope in the hard times.
Just worth thinking through.

May you have strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Pastor Brian

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Understanding the Trinity (For People in a Hurry)

 

Despite the standard secular mantra that all religions are the same and teach the same thing, nothing could be further from the truth. All religions do have things in common, like a belief in God, praying to God, holy writings that tell the followers about God, and practices of worship.

But every religion has truly substantial differences in how they answer the questions that matter most: “Who is God?” and “What is God like?” There, the answers are radically different. And the God (or god) described in a religion is what then defines everything else about that religion.

A religion is truly valued and honored when its teachings are viewed as unique and worthy of consideration in their own right.

Christianity is a MONOtheistic religion, which believes in ONE personal God. The three great religions of the world that are monotheistic are Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

What differentiates Christianity from the others is its belief in the Trinity. The Father is God. The Son Jesus Christ is God. The Holy Spirit is God. But they are not three gods, they are ONE God in THREE persons.

Yes, it is complicated. Here it is unpacked with more detail.

FIRST:
Not …

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You Are “In Process” and What a Process It Is!

I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see …

John Newton is the famous author of the beautiful song “Amazing Grace.” He was a former captain of slave ships who became a pastor and then worked to oppose the slave trade.

Here is a delightful and encouraging thought from Newton about his own journey. I hope it inspires, encourages, and motivates you.

I am not what I ought to be.
I am not what I want to be.
I am not what I hope to be.
But still, I am not what I used to be.
And by the grace of God, I am what I am.

Be sure to read Paul’s words on his own experience of not being what he wants to be, but no longer being what he was (1 Corinthians 15:10). All of his hard work is love-inspired and grace-empowered. Read Philippians 3:1-14 for a longer reflection by Paul on his spiritual journey.

Grace and hope to all of you,
Pastor Brian

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Christian Morality Is Too Restraining for Many Moderns

A final reason why many choose not to believe in God.

The first three reasons were:

  1. The problem of suffering.
  2. Bad religion that has hurt people.
  3. Misconceptions about the conflict of science and Christianity.

The fourth reason is going to be a little touchy, so I will just put it out there and give a few of my thoughts on this.

4. Many (most) 21st century post-Christians simply do not like the morality of the Christian faith. The most rejected part of Christian morality has to do with sexuality.

If there is one thing a modern (or post-modern) believes, it is this:

I (fill in your name _____) am the only person who has the right and authority to decide what I will believe. I am the only person to describe what will be right or wrong for me. You cannot push your moral position on me. You may choose what you want, I will choose what I want. There are no moral absolutes, there are only moral relatives that we kind of agree on so society will basically function. But in the arena of sexuality, I (and you) can think, feel, and behave in whatever way we want.

And, …

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Science Disproves Christianity (or Does It?)

In my last blog post, the first two reasons given for not believing in God were the problem of suffering and “bad” religion. There are two more reasons that shape the minds and hearts of many people about faith. I will talk about the third reason today.

Three: The theory of materialism, (or) secularism, (or) naturalism that flavors much of modern science.

Many books have been written on this subject. One of the reasons why many teenagers moving into young adulthood leave the Christian faith is because they are pursuing careers in science. The message they hear over and over in their education is that it is EITHER science OR Christianity. They are incompatible. They are in conflict. And science has proved Christianity and all religion as primitive ways of thinking about the world. We no longer can believe in that primitive, pre-scientific way of thinking.

The place where this is most obvious, is in discussions about the origins of the universe. Commonly, we know this as evolution vs. creationism.

Here are a few basic and brief conclusions I have come to over the years of my reading and study on this subject. I also need to make a …

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Two Main Reasons People Choose Not to Believe in God

Do you know what a straw man argument is? It is when you set out an opposing position in such a way that it is easy to dismantle that position. We can’t do that with unbelief. We must take with great seriousness and intellectual rigor the reasons people choose not to believe. There are four primary reasons people choose not to believe in Christianity. I will explore two of them today, and two more tomorrow.

ONE: The problem of suffering.
It is usually stated like this: How can a loving and all-powerful God allow suffering and evil? Either such a God is not loving or not all-powerful. Or maybe there isn’t even a God to blame!

The problem of suffering is a problem for EVERYONE. Every person, every religion, every faith, every spirituality, every philosophy, every political ideology … everything and everyone must deal with the problem of suffering. No one is exempt. Everyone needs to state his or her position and support it.

About a year ago I taught a group of people on the theme of suffering. Part of that evening included a brief tour through the main alternatives to Christianity and what they each say about suffering. …

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