Monday, September 30, 2013

The One Year Bible- September 30th

Tomorrow we turn the calendar to another month and nothing says October like the Major League Baseball playoffs or Sunday Football, perhaps it’s the dusty corners that turn into pumpkin patch carnivals. But ask any of the readers of “The One Year Bible” and they will tell you October is for the book of Jeremiah. Beginning October 3rd and going all the way until the 28th, Jeremiah holds its spot as the most days spent on any book (other than Psalms and Proverbs which we read every day). So settle in and get comfortable. Get your hot cider and your blanket because it is time to cuddle up with Jeremiah (that is a joke, if you don’t get it, you will soon). On to the study for today...

Where We Have Been

The Old Testament
I said last week I would spend some time talking about the book of Isaiah. I continue to be fascinated with this book every time I read it. There has been much debate on whether Isaiah actually wrote the entire thing. Most of this controversy is not worthy of mention here. In my mind, the arguments are not very convincing. For me, the one thing that really glues the whole book together is the continued mention of “The Holy One of Israel”. We talked about this a bit a few weeks ago. This phrase occurs 26 times in the book and only 6 times outside of the book. The overarching theme of the book to me is one that unveils the full dimensions of God’s judgment and salvation. God is “The Holy One” who must punish his rebellious people, but will afterward redeem them. This not only came to pass with the remnants return to Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah, but also came to pass with the coming of Immanuel, God with us, in the person of the Christ child born in Bethlehem. The parallels are striking. The book of Isaiah refers to the people as evil, wicked, prostitutes, selfish, and [place your own adjective here]. Sounds a bit like the circumstances when Jesus arrived, not to mention today. Isaiah, like no other book, spells out the wonderful plan of salvation in the promised Messiah. Not only was salvation found in the remnant returning, it also was found in the person, work, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. This same salvation can be found today through the power of Jesus Christ, in His word, and through what he left behind, namely baptism and communion. I don’t want to get too philosophical or theological on you, but just stop for a moment and sit in the majesty of God who, in his perfect plan, provided a way for you, a lowly sinner, to be made right with him. How awesome is that. Other main themes in the book include holiness, and hope. God is the one true God, who is holy and desires us to be holy too. There is a wonderful sense of hope in the book as well. Because of the promises from God, we have hope in salvation and hope of eternal life with him forever. Please know I am pouring in some meaning from other parts of the Bible that bring these themes out for me, but that does not change the fact that I believe that Isaiah was talking about them as well.

We will start Jeremiah this week and we will spend quite a while chewing on the topics in this book in the weeks to come. It may sound like Jeremiah keeps repeating himself, and that is true, but only because the people are not listening to the message. They just don’t get it. Look for the following mega-themes to come out in your reading and in our studies: Sin & Punishment (similar to Isaiah), God is Lord of All, New hearts, Faithful service. We will spend some more time on these themes in the weeks to come.

The New Testament
We finished off the book of Ephesians this week with the armor of God. I always thought this was great original imagery from Paul, then I read from Isaiah one day later,
He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head” (Isaiah 59:17 NIV) I guess Paul really knew his Old Testament well!! The idea of the Armor of God is great concrete imagery that can be quite useful in teaching about the faith.

We did get to experience this week one of my favorite things about reading the Bible this way. We got to read an entire book (even though it was a small one) in just a few days. This is cool now but when we get a bunch of small books in a row coming up it will be hard to keep it all straight. The one thing to say about the book of Philippians is, rejoice! It seems to be a recurring theme with Paul in this letter. Paul rejoices for the people in Philippi and he instructs them to rejoice always and in everything. One amazing passage jumped out at me this week, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Philippians 1:21-24 NIV) What a great vision Paul has. Sometimes we get the “poor is me” attitude and it gets us down. Paul takes it the other way and says, “I don’t care what you throw at me, I still know that God will be honored.” I pray I can have that attitude every day. Philippians chapter two has one of the most amazing descriptions of who Jesus is. This is a great passage to share with someone who is just starting the journey of the Christian life. Paul gives us some great words of comfort and of hope in this letter. Two last quotes, But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13b-14 NIV)I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:13 NIV) I can’t say it much better than that. I like to go to this book whenever I need a pick me up. It is full of great phrases and encouragement.

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
Get ready for a steady stream of warnings from Jeremiah about destruction from the North and to repent and turn back to God. We will see this play out over and over again in the next few weeks.

The New Testament
We will finish up the book of Colossians and get into 1 Thessalonians this week. Here are the vital stats for the book:

PURPOSE: To strengthen the Thessalonian Christians in their faith, and give them assurance of Christ’s return
TO WHOM WRITTEN: The church at Thessalonica and all believers everywhere
DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 51 from Corinth; one of Paul’s earliest letters
SETTING: The church at Thessalonica was very young, having been established only two or three years before this letter was written. The Thessalonian Christians needed to mature in their faith. In addition, there was a misunderstanding concerning Christ’s second coming—some thought Christ would return immediately, and thus they were confused when their loved ones died because they expected Christ to return beforehand. Also, believers were being persecuted.
KEY VERSE: “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” (4:14)
LAW THEMES: Imitation; affliction; parental care; God’s Word at work; God’s wrath; idleness.
GOSPEL THEMES: Deliverance; God’s Word at work; resurrection of the dead; salvation; complete sanctification; God’s faithfulness
KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Timothy, Silas
KEY PLACE: Thessalonica
SPECIAL FEATURES: Paul received from Timothy a favorable report about the Thessalonians. However, Paul wrote this letter to correct their misconceptions about the resurrection and the second coming of Christ.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bethany Bullet - September 24, 2013

King Solomon in his wisdom from the Old Testament book Ecclesiastes noted, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”  (Ecc. 3:1) There was a time when everything had a season.  Sports and politics, school and holidays, even the church has seasons. But it seems like the lines have been blurred and we are constantly called to get ready for the next season.   Perhaps Nike had it right with their ad campaign entitled “There is no off season.”  Today we are focusing on our Parish Theme and the word “Ready.”  We will focus on what makes us ready as followers of Jesus and what we are to be ready to do.

Players in the National Hockey League are doing it now.  Students were engaged in this activity a few weeks ago.  Cities with major league baseball teams hope to do it in a few weeks.  What is this activity?  They are getting ready for the season. 

As the puck drops in a few weeks and baseballs second season gets underway, people are getting ready.  A new football season is upon us, be it under the lights of a high school field or media spotlight of the NFL, people are ready.

Sunday was the first day of a new season.  Fall is here.  Are you ready?  I know I have gutters to clean and repair, yard work that has been ignored and a list of projects too long to complete.  I’m not ready.

The stores are getting ready too.  Halloween decorations abound and candy fills the aisles.  My brother sent me a picture from a store near his house that has their Christmas items proudly on display in September. 
Seasons come and seasons go; are you ready? 

As we talk about our Parish Theme, we will look at what it means to be ready. 

Let’s dive into our text from Sunday that comes from 2 Timothy the 4th chapter. Paul is giving a charge to the young preacher Timothy.  Previously in the book he has shared with him the importance of self-discipline, he reminded him of the grace that is in Christ Jesus, he encouraged him to flee the desires of youth and of the flesh, he warned him of what is to come in the last days and now he gives him this charge, from verse 2, “Preach the Word; be prepared [we might say get ready] in season and out of season.” (2 Timothy 4:2a)

Get ready, not just for the season but for all seasons. 

Timothy heard the strong words of Paul in this letter.  Paul was not beating around the bush, he tells the young pastor to proclaim Jesus at all times. 

Unfortunately in the 21st Century we have the notion that preaching is to be left up to the professional clergy.  Timothy never went to seminary, he was not officially called or installed by a congregation, most likely never garnered a paycheck to preach, but was charged to proclaim the Word of God in season and out of season. 

The term “preach” was first used not in the context of worship but within the structure of government.  The king’s herald was to preach a message from the king.  The herald was not an ambassador with the privilege of negotiating, but he was to be a messenger with a proclamation to be heard and heeded. 
For me, the preaching season comes on a Sunday morning, in worship, for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Seems like a short season and I need to be ready for it, but Paul’s words are for me too.  I need to be ready to preach the Word in season and out of season, at the front of the church and at the doorway, in an email, or meeting, at the grocery store and at the gym. 

But it’s not just me.  All believers in Jesus have the charge to preach the Word to be ready in season and out of season, whether the time is opportune or not, but to proclaim like the heralds of old, in a loud and clear voice so that everyone can hear that Jesus is Lord.

We are not simply called to talk about the Word but to preach the Word.  Church is not a place to just engage in spiritual talk, but to come face to face with the Spirit of God who can change lives. 

Look at Paul. He came face to face with Jesus who changed his life and afterwards he used every opportunity to preach.  He proclaimed the Word in the temple courts, in the synagogues of the cities, on the stormy seas and even in prison. 

I know that at times you don’t like all the words that come out of the mouth of the preacher. Perhaps you have complained at the length of the message or the content of the sermon. Perhaps you have been uncomfortable because what is being condemned is what you really like to do.

There is an old saying that the job of the preacher is to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”  Let me do some afflicting right now.

Why must we preach the Word?  Paul continues in our text, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from truth and turn aside to myths.”  (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

A few weeks ago we talked about being surrounded.  Pastor Kevin talked about how it can be seen as a positive thing and a negative thing.  Let me dwell on the negative for a moment. 

What have you surrounded yourself with?  What do your itching ears want to hear?  Is your presence in God’s house for your own ego? Are you here out of guilt or obligation?  

Many people in power surround themselves with people who will say “yes”, people who will bend over backwards to please them, who will tell them anything they want to hear. Pundits and politicians pump people up with prognostications that promise pleasure whether it is true or not. Soon the platform is built on myth, far from the truth and the Word. 

In his younger years Paul surrounded himself with the trappings of religiosity. He gathered around him a great number of teachers who said what he wanted to hear. As a Pharisee he was blinded to the promise of the Messiah and sought to destroy the followers of the way. 

Do you simply desire the religious novelties of worship or the appearance of spirituality in a world that finds it fascinating?  Are you blinded to the truth of what Jesus is all about?

If this doesn’t describe you now, the time will come, says Paul, so be ready.
In the recent Discovery Channel program “The President’s Gatekeepers” about the men who have served as the Chief of Staff in the White House, James Baker, Ronald Reagan’s first chief said, “You have to be the one to tell the president what nobody else will, you have to have the courage to tell the president no. The job is not to say what the president wants to hear, but what he needs to hear.”

Preaching the Word is not just saying what you want to hear, but what you need to hear so listen closely.
10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14   “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
  (Romans 3:10-18)

True words to describe the state of humanity; we are all guilty and give in to lies and myths.  The words of Jesus to the Pharisees in our Gospel reading could very well be directed at us today, “Jesus said to them, “You try to justify your actions in front of people. But God knows what’s in your hearts. What is important to humans is disgusting to God.” (Luke 16:15)

We are to preach the Word, all of it, whether we like it or not. 

Are you afflicted enough? That feeling that you want me to stop is not just boredom, the thoughts of, “How long will this guy talk?” or the distractions to read the Chimes and make a list of all the things you need to do today is the devil attempting you to not encounter the Word of God, and His law.

It is the job of the law to get us ready for the sweetness of the Gospel.  If you are not afflicted by the law, the Gospel loses its meaning.  The law hurts, condemns, kills, and makes us ready. 

But I would not be preaching the Word if I did not proclaim the Gospel message so let me proclaim some words of comfort, let me preach the Word, are you ready? 

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”  (1 Timothy 1:15b)  True words not penned by me but by Paul to Timothy. 

Hear Paul’s words to the believers in Rome, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)

Jesus was ready to leave heaven for earth for you.  He didn’t wait for us to be ready; His act of love on the cross and His victory over death provides the way to heaven for all.  He makes us ready.  His Word is proclaimed here today so that we can preach the Word and be ready in season and out of season.  He makes us ready, sets us upon the rock of His Word so that we can go and bring the good news to others.  Are you ready?

-Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, September 23, 2013

The One Year Bible- September 23rd

A number of years ago I was introduced to a form of devotion and reading called Lectio Divina. In short it is a tool to use when you are reading God’s word. Here is a quick definition: Lectio Divina is Latin for divine reading, spiritual reading, or "holy reading," and represents a method of prayer and scriptural reading intended to promote communion with God and to provide special spiritual insights. It is a way of praying with Scripture that calls one to study, ponder, listen and, finally, pray from God's Word. The past few weeks I have used this tool to stop and spend some time just chewing on God’s word and praying through what we have been reading. I have stopped in various places including parts of Isaiah, Ephesians and especially Psalms. I encourage you to give it a try. One thing you have been doing without even knowing it is something called Lectio Continua which is Latin for continuous reading. It is the discipline of reading the entire Bible without omitting anything. Both Lectio Continua and Lectio Divina can bring some depth as well as breadth to the study of God’s Word. On to the study...
Seth’s Thoughts
The Old Testament
I think I could write a novel on what we found in Isaiah this week. I think I told you that I am putting a star in the margin of my Bible each time I read “The Holy One Of Israel”. Remember that this is a term that points to the coming Messiah, Jesus. One thing to keep in mind is that you need to remember who the “I” is in some of these passages. Sometimes it is Yahweh, other times it is Isaiah. Make sure you know who is talking. This will go far in helping you understand some of the significance of the passage. Some general thoughts; we have entered the second part of the book of Isaiah and we will start to see much more of a prophetic message. Isaiah’s audience has changed from the people living in the Promised Land, to the exiles living in captivity. Here we see a message of hope and promise. Chapter 40 begins the new section with such a message, “Comfort, comfort my people says your God” (Isaiah 40:1 NIV). The people are in need of comfort because of what has happened. The people have been exiled. They are living in a foreign land and they need to hear the comforting words of their God. Chapter 40 gives a hope filled message and ends with a verse near and dear to my heart, “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV). This verse is my confirmation verse given to me by my father. It has been a source of comfort and hope for me for most of my life. I know that God is right there beside me giving me the strength I need to do his will. He promises to be with me when all other things seem to go wrong. Chapter 41 continues this same theme. Some of the most controversial parts of the book of Isaiah come from the sections where he mentions a character named Cyrus. He is called a shepherd, and one who will fulfill the purpose of God. He is also called an ally of God. Some translations use the Hebrew word Messiah to describe him. Cyrus was not a follower of Yahweh, he was the king of Persia, and a Gentile. He was used by God to bring the remnant back to the Jerusalem. Many believe that this name was inserted in later years to make Isaiah look good. There is no proof of this, and we should be careful to say that God was not the one who inspired Isaiah to write about this king. Many years later it would come to pass that King Cyrus would issue a decree that would allow many Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and more importantly the temple. Isaiah also spends much time on the topic of monotheism. There are so many references to the Messiah in Isaiah it is hard to mention them all. Keep on looking for things that seem familiar to the life of Christ. I will post some of the connections in an upcoming post.

The New Testament
We finished up Galatians and now are in Ephesians. One of the main themes in Ephesians is “The Body of Christ” and the church. One key idea to keep in your mind while reading is one of Paul’s presuppositions of the book, namely that we are “In Christ” and apart from Christ we can do nothing. We are part of Christ by what he did on the cross and by claiming us as his own in baptism. We have been adopted into the family and now we can celebrate with all the rights and privileges as heirs of salvation. This is an amazing gift of God. This idea of “gift” is huge in Ephesians. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV). What a wonderful message. It is not up to us. If it were, I know I would be in trouble! I think I could just give quote after quote from Paul for this post. I have underlined so much in my Bible this week. Here are some of the best in my mind. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13 ESV). “For he himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14 ESV). “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 ESV). “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6 ESV). “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV). I could go on and on, but you get the point. This book is a deep rich read, filled with so many good things. Don’t just skim over these things. Meditate on them, let them sink in, roll them around you head for a while. You will be blessed by doing so.
Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will finish up Isaiah this week. I will have a lot to say next week about it. This week we will start the book of Jeremiah. Here are the vital stats:

PURPOSE: To urge God’s people to turn from their sins and back to God
AUTHOR: Jeremiah
TO WHOM WRITTEN: Judah (the southern kingdom) and its capital city Jerusalem
DATE WRITTEN: During Jeremiah’s ministry approx. 627-586 B.C.
SETTING: Jeremiah ministered under Judah’s last five kings—Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. The nation was sliding quickly toward destruction and was eventually conquered by Babylon in 586 B.C. (see 2 Kings 21-25). The prophet Zephaniah preceded Jeremiah, and Habakkuk was Jeremiah’s contemporary.
KEY VERSE: “’Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and relize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,’ declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty” (2:19).
KEY PEOPLE: Judah’s kings (see list above), Baruch, Ebed-Melech, King Nebuchadnezzar, the Recabites
KEY PLACES: Anathoth, Jerusalem, Ramah, Egypt
SPECIAL FEATURES: This book is a combination of history, poetry, and biography. Jeremiah often used symbolism to communicate his message.

The New Testament
We will finish up Ephesians, read Philippians and start on Colossians this week. Here are the vital stats for Philippians:

PURPOSE: To thank the Philippians for the gift they had sent Paul and to strengthen these believers by showing them that true joy comes from Jesus Christ alone.
TO WHOM WRITTEN: All the Christians at Philippi and all believers everywhere
DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 61, from Rome during Paul’s imprisonment there
SETTING: Paul and his companions began the church at Philippi on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:11-40). This was the first church established on the European continent. The Philippian church had sent a gift with Epaphroditus (one of their members) to be delivered to Paul (4:18). Paul was in a Roman prison at the time. He wrote this letter to thank them for their gift and to encourage them in their faith.
KEY VERSE: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (4:4)
KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Timothy, Epaphroditus, Euadia, and Syntyche
KEY PLACE: Philippi

Here are the vital stats for the book of Colossians:

PURPOSE: To combat errors in the church and to show that believers have everything they need in Christ.
TO WHOM WRITTEN: The church at Colosse, a city in Asia Minor, and all believers everywhere
DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 60 during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome
SETTING: Paul had never visited Colosse—evidently the church had been founded by Epaphras and other converts form Paul’s missionary travels. The church, however, had been infiltrated by religious relativism, with some believers attempting to combine elements of paganism and secular philosophy with Christian doctrine. Paul confronts these false teachings and affirms the sufficiency of Christ.
KEY VERSES: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority” (2:9-10).
KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Timothy, Tychicuys, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Epaphras
KEY PLACES: Colosse, Laodicea
SPECIAL FEATURES: Christ is presented as having absolute supremacy and sole sufficiency. Colossians has similarities to Ephesians, probably because it was written at about the same time, but it has a different emphasis.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bethany Bullet - September 17, 2013

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out of us.” - Hebrews 12:1

Unlike the 5k, 10k, half or full marathon we didn’t enter the race of faith after careful consideration, intentional training and estimated successful completion. By our own strength we can’t start down the path. By our own reason we can’t determine to participate. The author to the Hebrews, one time companion (St. Paul) in his letter to the Ephesians wrote, “Faith is not of your own doing, it is a gift of God.”  In other words, the LORD is the one who brings us to faith and we run because of His work begun in our hearts and minds. The author of the letter to the Hebrews, (the author of this Bullet believes that to be Paul’s first missionary journey companion, Barnabas) in chapter 9 & 10 already declared that it is due to the sacrificial blood of a perfect offering; that we are God’s people and have entered His presence. In other words, we race because of Christ’s work on our behalf. Luther in explaining and expounding this theology writes, “By our own reason and strength we cannot believe in Jesus Christ or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit has called us by the gospel and enlightened us with his gifts.”  We don’t “run the race” because we chose God but because He chose us and in the words of Jesus appointed us to bear fruit.

Now as His people, we can however, choose not to run! The children of Israel did. They turned back, “We don’t want to go any further, this desert path will lead us to death, let’s back track to Egypt.” The crowd did when they heard Jesus say, “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.”  We are told they responded with the words, “This is a hard teaching; who can accept it?” Many turned back and no longer followed Jesus. Thomas did the same. “The path led you to an empty tomb you say, you sprinted to the place and found the grave clothes folded did you? He jogged right through that there door did He? How delightful for you! WELL UNLESS I see Him! I choose NOT TO. . . run (race, rejoice, believe any more or any longer).”

The Lord in His goodness fed the children with manna and quail and they carried on.  He continued to preach from town to town and many followed.  He made His way to Thomas, touch, see stop doubting and believe.  And Thomas Ran.

To run simply means to follow the one who has brought us to faith and forgiven our sin.  The author of Hebrews pushes the metaphor of running further with the analogy of a few well placed steps.  Let’s look at the first in this Bullet. 

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…” 
Even if you’re not a runner you realize that few who are do so wearing army boots and sweatpants.  As light and little as possible, discarding anything that will weigh and slow them down is how they run.  So we too are called to throw off everything that hinders.  This is a call to Repentance and Resistance. 

First it is a call to repentance:  To confess that, which you are carrying, that which you’re lugging around, and threaten to pull you off course and keep you from continuing.  While we’re not gonna not sin, and when we do the only remedy is the grace of God given for the sake of Christ; while we’re not gonna not sin, that is exactly what we’re called to do in this text.  To avoid sin!  Throw it off!  Repent.
If you went through our Discipleship by Divine Design (DbDD) small group Bible study you’ll recall that we talked about worship as the finishing line and the starting gate.  (You can view that on our website if you’ve not seen it; go to the Formation Group Link) Click HERE to see video on worshipping faithfully. (*If unable to open link, copy/paste this into browser:

You know every time you enter worship you cross a finish line?  Every time you come to church you’ve just completed a week on the leg of the race called the Christian life.  You’ve crossed the finish line but not without aches.  Tied, worn, weak from the week; but more than that, we also find ourselves carrying something that needs to be thrown off!  Not a week in the race goes by without something happening on the route that tangles us up.  Sometimes we are tripped up by our temper.  You know the feeling, you found yourself saying (yelling) or doing things (even if just a gesture) that should not come from the mouth that also praises Jesus; or be done by one who dawns the racing garb that is the robe of righteousness.  Sin so easily entangles doesn’t it? For some the gutter of greed has caused a slip.  These are those who find themselves occasionally more concerned with the stuff along the route than the destination to which they’re headed. Sin so easily entangles doesn’t it! Some have crossed the line with lust’s limp, others with toes stubbed on self centeredness or self righteousness. Sin so easily entangles doesn’t it? But when we walk into His presence and cross the finish line of this week’s race…as we throw off (repent) all that so easily entangled us we find a God who is so gentle, unwraps us from the tangles, and sets us free. 

That is when “Throw off” itself changes pace and that which was a call to repentance becomes a call to resistance.  God’s presence, for those still on the course, is not only the finishing line it is also the starting blocks. In it we are given strength to resist sin, boldness to bypass, dexterity to detour and agility to avoid that which would entangles us. It comes in the Spirit who fills you and promises to work in you through the words sung, read, pondered, expounded and reflected upon and through the post and pre-race nutrition of bread and wine, and water that long after poured continues to work His wonders.  Now we’re not gonna not sin, but that is indeed what we are called to, so let us!  Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  Let us repent and resist as we run the race.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

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