The Pastor's Perch

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Same Old, Same Old

We begin again in our sanctuary tomorrow with our former times, 8 & 10:45 am worship, with 9:30 Sunday School, Bible Class and Confirmation. It will be an adjustment, but one we may grow used to doing. 

Over the last two years, having one worship time, we were all in the same place and time, and it was wonderful. Getting to know once again all of our members was the greatest joy I experienced. The elders, faithfully every single Sunday, served The Lord's Supper at the end of the worship service. We became a tighter, connected and more spiritual people. My prayer is that it continues on and on into the future.

Unity in Christ is beautiful, and I pray we continue down the road together in this community.

Psalm 133:1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!
3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

Fight From the Inside

What is a song from the rock group Queen doing on my spot? Roger Taylor, who wrote the song, put in some haunting lyrics about how a person's biggest battle is with themselves. You do not have to go far to find that you are not only part of the problem, as a sinner in need of God's grace, you can be your own worst nightmare. At the risk of quoting lyrics that have a copywrite, I can only allude to the gist of that song: your fight is not just from the outside, but from your own heart, as you seek your freedom. The problem is, as natural born sinners, we do not want to fight, but we want to fit into the world around us, we want to be at peace with the world, which is at war with God. That is why we need to be renewed, daily.

Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Continue through that entire chapter to get how one fights with the outside and inside. For those in Christ, the renewal begins with Baptism and continues each day with repentance and forgiveness, as each stain and blemish is cleansed and each sin assured of pardon. Freedom comes through Christ, and He accents this well when He speaks of freedom in John 8.

John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Thanks be to God that in Christ and His Passion, we have been offered the freedom from the slavery of sin. We have His freedom through His death and resurrection and we live in that freedom daily.

The End of Epiphany; Lent Ensues

As we continue into 2022, we are also advancing very quickly to the season of Lent. Every year I encourage people to not give up something for Lent; that just recommences when Easter finally arrives. I have said in the past that people should give up themselves rather than merely giving up a bad habit. It also would fall in line with what Jesus calls us to do in Matthew 6. So that we are clear about this, we do not do this penitential move so that it is recognized by those around us. The point is that we do all things like this so that the Lord is the only one who needs to know, and we do it in response to His wonderful love for us and His salvation that He provides in His Son.

Lent begins this next week, on March 2, and that will be the last time we as a congregation officially use our family life center as a place for public worship. I am so thankful that we had a place to worship, a place that could socially distance ourselves and yet be together as a family of God in the family life center. I am extremely glad and thankful for all those people who made the difficult transition from sanctuary to center and back again. But it will not be the same because we are different people now and yet, the same that God has rescued. We rejoice in His salvation in Christ Jesus. We will be entering into the sanctuary on Sunday, March 6. Divine Worship is at 8 & 10:45, with Sunday School, Bible Class and Confirmation at 9:30.

2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

Same Old...

Having just finished preparing my tax information, anticipating my appointment next week with our tax preparer, I received later the same day an additional (late) document for the IRS. Oh well, it always seems to happen, and it happens to everyone. It is nothing personal, I am told. It is the same old thing, different verse. 

But waking up each day to a new day of grace; indeed, waking up on this side of heaven with mercies new and opportunities unbounded, I can thank God for what He is doing in me and through me. Not that I am better than anyone else. I just have more capacity at times to step back and see what God is up to doing in my life. My prayer is that you have the same opportunities. I am still a sinner in need of daily forgiveness, but I know my Redeemer and He knows me. And you also. My prayer is that you find your peace, comfort and mercy in Christ Jesus, Who has guaranteed all our tomorrows.

Lamentations 3:22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. 26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. 28 Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; 29 let him put his mouth in the dust—there may yet be hope; 30 let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults. 31 For the Lord will not cast off forever, 32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; 33 for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.

Moving Forward

We have been worshiping the Lord as a congregation in our family life center since early summer 2020, and now our leadership is moving us into the sanctuary as of March 6, 2022. This is one huge leap for us as we continue to open up to the world around us. The family life center allowed us so much room to socially distance ourselves; yet, it was not quite church for some folks. I realize we can gather in the Lord's name most any place, but the sanctuary has been our place to gather for 50 years. 

It is not a goal to move from one place to another. We worship God as we gather together. The point is not that we find a place; the point is that we worship Jesus together, and keep Him as our center and focus.

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Matthew 18:18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Rubbish!

While waiting out the snowstorm today, I was reading some health literature about stuff that scares people. It is sad that so many live in fear, and the more I read, the more it reminded me of how national weathercasters like to scare people: 

76 million people under threat of impending storms; 90 million in path of destruction storm. 

And so on. By the way, I was one of those 76 and 90 million people. So maybe were you. It is a big deal when you come out after the storm and find damage. But most of us miss this and we often are thankful that we missed the destruction, only to forget that someone else got it. Thank God for the volunteers, the disaster relief funds that are almost immediately filled with people's treasure and quick response to recovery.

But most of the time, we live relatively quiet lives. Most of us like it that way, unless you are a continual thrill seeker and cannot get enough danger in your life. Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but I was like this when I was younger. Most of what goes for fun these days--including the danger stuff with which people love to expose themselves--goes along with the general business of living in this world: rubbish. It also goes along with by what people want to be remembered: more rubbish.

If your God-given vocation is not giving you enough thrills, beware. You may become a victim of your own lust for danger and destruction. Covid is enough of a warning--not because of all the stuff we do to protect ourselves--because there is no escape from it. As are many other things that lurk out there for you. Be content with your life. Be content with your family. Be content with your vocation. God put you there. Pray He give you a thankful heart and wise mind. Remember what Paul said about his pedigree:

Philippians 3:7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

This, indeed, is the greatest adventure. God willing we will all learn it.

Roller Coaster Weather

Our local weathercaster just upgraded the winter storm bearing down on us--and we are not the only ones under the gun--and it all lands on Groundhog Day, February 2. Wonder of wonders, the poor rodent will need an all-wheel drive backhoe to get himself out of the hole in which he hides long enough to hide even further. Our prayers and support to those who must go out into this weather to aid, assist, rescue, protect and travel. There is not enough to say about them. Maybe it will all pass by or not happen, but Who Knows? Not us.

When the time of winter overtakes us, we can reflect without the aid of Netflix, Hulu, Roku, Prime, etc. Life is not measured by how many livestreamed series we can binge watch. It is measured in the associations and friendships we allow to grow and mature. Tomorrow, if you cannot travel--or should not--take out a piece of paper and write to one of your associates and remind them that they are worthy at least of one day locked up of your attention. Remember that life is short and eternity is long, and maybe these people we love need to be encouraged by someone who understands the long game.

John 13:34 [Jesus said] "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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