Pastor’s Blog

The Empty Tomb

April 8, 2021

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In Ephesians 6:12, the Apostle Paul reminds us that we live in the midst of a great spiritual war. Our struggle is not really with people who we disagree with, or nations, or things. We struggle against, wrestle with more hideous powers:

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

The Christian life can be difficult because it is lived in the midst of a spiritual war – and war is hard. However, in all of this, we Christians are reminded that while the war rages on, our victory has been secured. The Easter Season points to this through the shocking glory of the empty tomb of Jesus Christ.

The empty tomb is our wonderful guarantee of the day to day victories we experience and the total and complete victory to come. The enemy who causes so much turmoil in our lives does so out of desperation.

The empty tomb points to the risen, conquering King, Jesus Christ, and the victory secured on the cross for those who come to him by faith.

Yes, the Easter Season is over, but let us never forget that the cross is not the end, and the empty tomb continues to remind us of that.

HE IS RISEN! Pastor Mike

The Love Of God

January 1, 2021

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Reflect.  It is a word I use often.  When used as an intransitive verb, it means “to think quietly and calmly” or “to express thought or opinion resulting from reflection.”  I use the word often because I enjoy the process of thinking calmly and quietly.

This morning I was reflecting about this past year and the coming new one…the changes and challenges that we all have experienced and will continue to face as we move into 2021.  While these thoughts have been both positive and negative at times, I believe the scales of life are still tipped in our favor.  God is God, and He is still sovereign.

While these thoughts work their way through my process of reflection, one continued to stand out:  the love of God.  Can any words truly describe the love of God?  Its depth, its fullness, its ability to touch the soul that cannot be adequately explained.  Yet, in our moments of reflection we continue to try and find the right combination of words or a phrase to do justice to God’s love.

One of my favorite hymns was written by Frederick M. Lehman.  The hymn was written over 150 years ago; it is simple but also moving.  That hymn is The Love of God.

The final verse was not written by Lehman but was added later.  It was written by a man who had been confined to an asylum.  It was found written on the wall of his room after he had died.  It read:

Could we with ink the ocean fill  And were the skies of parchment made; Were every stalk on earth a grill ;  And every man a scribe by trade, to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry. Nor could the scroll contain the whole though reach from sky to sky.                                                                  .

In many ways, these are uncertain times.  If we are truly honest with ourselves, life comes with a degree of uncertainty.  Yet, as we look forward to a new year, we  can count on the steadfast love of God.  In all that comes with life, we have this certainty: God’s love.  in the gospel of John, we are reminded of this: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

Human words may not be completely adequate; John’s words work well and give us something to reflect on.  Happy New Year!

Pastor Mike

The Marks of a Spiritually Healthy Church

September 24, 2020

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As a pastor, I have often asked myself this question: what are the marks or indicators of a spiritually healthy church?  I know that I am not the first to ask this question and will not be the last.  Yet the question is valid and needs to be considered.  While there are a number of sources to turn to and many opinions can be examined, I believe the Scriptures are where we must look.

 

In Acts 2:42-47, Luke writes about what is often referred to as the fellowship of the believers- a description of the gatherings and actions of the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem who made up the church there.  Within these verses a number of indicators can be drawn out to give us an answer to the opening question.  As I read through these verses, I would like to point out four that I believe are necessary for a church to be considered spiritually healthy.

 

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching…” V. 42

In a real sense, we could say the first mark of a spiritually healthy church is that it is a learning church.  These believers recognized that God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, had placed men over them with the authority to preach and teach the Word of God and the “Good News” of Jesus Christ.

 

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” V. 42

The second mark is that this church was a worshipping church.  They gathered together as a community.  They broke bread together, and they prayed.  This in all probability, is a reference to formal gatherings for worship, like sharing communion, and also informal gatherings of sharing meals together in fellowship.  These believers understood the church of Jesus Christ is truly a community of faith and worship.

 

“And awe came upon every soul…” Vs. 43-47

The third mark is a sense of awe.  An awareness of the presence and power of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  This is the source of the church’s power, its ability to draw believers together. As Christians, we should be a source of encouragement, of witnesses to the power and awe of God through his church and his people.  The world around us is in great need and we have the spiritual ability to provide people with a purpose greater than themselves.

 

“And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”  V. 47

Our fourth mark: This church was an evangelistic church.  This church was not just a community club for a certain type of people.  It was not just inwardly focused on its own needs or the needs of a chosen few.  This church was an active, faithful community with an inward and outward sense of mission.  They understood the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 and desired to live them out on a daily basis.  They understood their need to live within the context of the Scriptures and community.  They understood the influence they had on the lives of others, that all they had to do was make themselves available.  The Lord would continue to add to their number.

 

I encourage you to read the second chapter of Acts.  May you be blessed by how the early New Testament church lived and served.

Pastor Mike

The Communion of Saints

August 8, 2020

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Most Christians today have heard of Dietrich Bonhoffer, the German pastor and theologian who was martyred for his faith by the Nazis during WWII. Bonhoeffer wrote his doctoral dissertation, Sanctorum Communio (The Communion of Saints), at the age of 21. His choice of this topic was influenced by his understanding of Martin Luther’s doctrine of justification and reformed view of the church as a community. Bonhoeffer understood the importance of Christian community and the fact that it could easily be taken for granted or misconstrued. He realized that there were those who loved the dream of community more than the genuineness of Christian faith and and community. Their inaccurate views of community were not properly developed or grounded within the Word of God. In his work Life Together Bonhoeffer writes, “Precisely at this point, Christian community is most often threatened from the very outset by the greatest danger, the danger of internal poisoning, the danger of confusing Christian community with some wishful image of pious community.”

Bonhoeffer understood that genuine Christian community would be built upon a community of sinners. Sinners create imperfect communities. So any attempt at Christian community must be grounded in and built upon the Word of God. He understood that Christian community can never be formed in the abstract. Political slogans and causes will not enhance the bonds of a faith community. Justice comes from God, not from societies of sinners. God continues to be God, not just a name to be pulled out of a box by those who want to add weight to an argument or cause that they are promoting.

The Christian community is a community built on faith in God. it seeks to inform and promote the biblical justice of the God of the Old and New Testaments, not a flawed system of “social” justice where the wisdom of God’s Word is never mentioned in its proper context.

The bond that holds our faith community, our church, together is our relationship with the one true living God, through His Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ.

During a very difficult time, the prophet Zephaniah wrote these words:

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV)

As Christians, we must continually be reminded that the essence of our faith community is “HE” and thenWE,” working together for HIS glory.

Blessings, Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Letter, April 13, 2020

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Good Monday morning,

 

I want to begin this letter with some very meaningful words from the Apostle Paul.  Words I believe provide focus as well as comfort.  These words are found in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

 

“So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the thing that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

 

The world, life, has its times of struggle and affliction – it has been so since the fall.  As Christians, we must remember that “we are not citizens of this world” ; we have a higher calling.  Yet we all feel the stress and loneliness of our current situation.  Good information can often relieve some of the stress of isolation so I have listed some points to share below:

 

The governor’s current shelter in place mandate runs to Friday, May 8.

 

Providing that date is not extended, we will have Sunday service at the church on Sunday, May 10 at 10:30 am.

 

No decision will be made about Sunday School at church until we get close to a confirmed return date.

 

With June and the tourism season possibly approaching, we will take all necessary precautions to keep our church clean.

 

We will continue to look at lessons learned from our current situation to prepare for any possible future event.

 

We will also look at positive and safe ways to bring fellowship into our church community.

 

We will continue to encourage your generous giving and look for ways to make that process more accessible.

 

We will continue to encourage evangelism and bringing others into our church and a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

So for now, I would ask you all to continue to support FPC, continue to spend time in the Word of God, continue to pray for one another, and continue to remain safe.  Soon, we will all be praising God together again.

 

Continue to look to the church website for sermons and encouragement.  We will continue our series in 1 John starting this coming Sunday.

 

 

And be encouraged!  By recording the sermon and making it available on YouTube, Facebook, IGTV and the website, we reached at least 500 people (a conservative number) on Easter. We have picked up more Instagram followers and more Facebook page followers.  We are reaching people not only in our area, but also across the country and world with the hope, peace and love found in Christ.

 

So, have a great week, be strong, be healthy, and be safe.  More to follow…

 

Blessings,

Pastor Mike

 

 

Pastor’s Letter, April 8, 2020

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Good Morning Church Family,

I want to take a moment to address our upcoming Easter Sunday video. The bottom line is I have decided not to pursue a live service on Zoom or Facebook live. I have come to this conclusion based on the information I have listed below:

  • While Zoom works great for small gatherings it has numerous security issues
  • Zoom has been slowed considerably by over usage internationally and nation wide
  • Zoom also requires users to have at least a minimal familiarity with the platform
  • Zoom will also limit the number of people who can use it and can be reached
  • Facebook live is an additional option but again it does not have as wide of a reach
  • Facebook live does not allow participants to see one another
  • Facebook live also has a number of security issues that are now being discussed by churches and other organizations
  • Suggestions have also been made with regards to doing videos in our church; however, this also presents a number of sound and equipment challenges

 

There are a number of additional considerations I have discussed with folks in and outside FPC that have also colored my decision not to do a live service but to share these now would be a bit redundant. So as we move forward I will continue to post pre-recorded sermons and short videos and you can find the links to these on our church website at fpcnewport.org. As we approach Easter Sunday I want to encourage to spend some additional time in the Scriptures and in prayer. While things may seem surreal and disjointed let us never forget that our God is God and he never ceases to care for his people deeply.

 

Besides the normal readings we often do at Easter, let me suggest another great read which is found in the Old Testament writings of the prophet Habakkuk. It is unusual in its structure in that Habakkuk does not address a specific group of people but instead he records his own struggles with questions of faith and God`s sovereign control over human affairs and events. In the first two chapters we have a question-and-answer session that takes place between the prophet and God. Habakkuk`s prayers or complaints to God have a structure similar to psalms of lament. These psalms, like Psalm 10, are built around a complaint followed by a divine response. Habakkuk`s writings reflect the perplexity which he struggles with as he seeks assurance in his faith. In chapter three Habakkuk`s complaints are transformed into a song of joy and in a clearer understanding of God. In this short book we also find some of the most comforting verses in Scripture.

In Habakkuk 3:18 we read, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God the Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer`s; he makes me tread on my high places.”

 So as we continue to follow the recommendations of our national, state, and local officials, take some time to walk deeply into the word of God, you will never be disappointed.

On another note, if you are able to sew and are looking for an opportunity to help, a local group, SewHope, is making masks for Lifespan and Care New England hospitals (RI Hospital, Miriam, etc) at their request, using a pattern and fabric approved by the hospitals. THEY DESPERATELY NEED THESE MASKS AND ARE BEGGING FOR MORE. If you are an experienced sewist with a sewing machine please find the “SewHopeSNE” group on Facebook and join—they need more people who can sew! Materials will be supplied to you. Please help out if you can! (Please note: they cannot take any more requests for masks.) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/291487031831768/)

 

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay home, more to follow …

Blessings,

Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Letter, Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020

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A Reformed Believer’s Shorter Manifesto

 

By Rev. Mike Herring

 

Manifesto: a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, views or beliefs of its issuer.

 

I am a believer in the reformed traditions of the Christian faith. I now share these beliefs with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

As a Reformed believer I believe the final authority for all matters of faith is found in the Bible, known as the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God.  As the Apostle Paul shares in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

 

As a Reformed believer I believe that God is three in one, God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit. These persons of the trinity are one in essence, essential in nature, in purpose, and in agreement. In other words God is only one being, not three. There is only one God! Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

 

As a Reformed believer I hold a Reformed perspective regarding the work of Jesus Christ, seeing it as the center of my understanding of the love and justice of God towards all. It is here we experience his atoning work (see John 3:16 and Romans 3:25). Through his death, Christ died as a sacrifice for our sins. He died as a propitiation, to remove from us the wrath of God. In his death he reconciled us with God and redeemed us out of the bondage of sin.

 

As a Reformed believer I believe we are saved by the irresistible grace of God through faith alone, not by what we think or do to earn God’s favor (see Ephesians 2:1-10). Our good works don’t earn our salvation, but are a way to thank God for this free gift of salvation.

 

As a Reformed believer I believe in the Reformed tradition of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They remind us of God’s promises and help us to claim those promises as our own. These sacraments are an outward sign of an inward act in the life of the believer.

 

 

 

As a Reformed believer I am confessional, which means we believe we have written statements of belief, called creeds and confessions. These statements help to guide our understanding of faith and shape its practice within our lives.

 

As a Reformed believers I see the church as “Reformed and always reforming,” seeking to know the mind of Christ as it strives to be faithful in a changing, complex, and often troubled world. The church must also be communal. “Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

 

As a Reformed believer I believe worship is corporate. Worship is not a performance with the minister as actor or actress and the congregation as the audience. God is the audience and the whole congregation is involved in the service, in prayers, songs, and offerings.

 

As a Reformed believer I must continually strive to grow and mature while remaining grounded in my faith as a disciple of Jesus Christ, always willing to share the “good news.”

 

I write these words in the hope that you will find comfort in them and, more importantly, in your positions as believers in Jesus Christ. As Presbyterians we are part of the Reformed family of the Christian faith. We have a solid history founded in the life, ministry, death, resurrection, and promised return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we can stand firm through all types of adversities and difficulties because we are never alone.

 

As we enter into this thirty day quarantine period I want to assure you that your leaders at First Presbyterian Church are doing all they can to manage this storm. So below I have listed some points of information for your consideration:

 

  • Remember, we will not be meeting in our church for services, Bible studies, or other events for the month of April.
  • These steps are ordered by our Federal and State authorities for your protection and the protection of others.
  • During this time we will be posting weekly videos on Facebook, IGTV (Instagram), YouTube, and links on our website.
  • The Enews will continue to be published on at least a bi-monthly basis and copies will still be mailed out to our shut-ins.
  • We will all continue to prayer for one another.
  • Finally, I encourage you to continue to give to the church and if possible give generously. Your checks can be mailed or dropped off at the church office. We may not be physically meeting but the church still has obligations to meet – and it is the right thing to do.
  • We hope to have an online giving process set up soon for you to use.

 

Folks in this part of the country are used to weathering big storms; it is part of who they are. As Christians we should embrace that same mentality with greater passion because we belong to the God of all creation, who controls even the biggest storm. A God who’s steadfast love and care surpasses all human understanding.

 

So my friends stand firm, let not your heart be troubled, have courage, and stay healthy.

 

My God bless you and keep and make his face shine upon you!

 

More to follow …

 

Blessings,

Pastor Mike

 

Pastor’s Letter, Monday, March 30, 2020

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Dear Church Family,

Romans chapter 8 is one I often read for encouragement. In this wonderful chapter Paul writes about our life in the Spirit, our position as heirs with Christ, future glory, and God’s everlasting love. However, I am especially drawn to verses 26 and 27. Here Paul writes, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

The world we live in is often in crisis.  Often the crisis does not affect us, but the world, our country, and our communities are now feeling the stress and uncertainty of living with the Covid-19 (Coronavirus). Yet, as I often say, “God is God, and God is always in control.” This we must never forget as believers in Jesus Christ and as those, who because of Christ, are indwelled by the Spirit of God. No matter what difficulties life serves up for us, we have the advantage because we have given our lives, by faith, to Christ Jesus and God has given his spirit to us.

In verse 31, Paul asks two great rhetorical questions: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us who can be against us?” The first question is answered by reading verses 1-30. The second question is answered with a resounding “No one!” So, as believers we must be encouraged and strive to stand firm in our faith.

Below I have listed some of the information you need to know with regard to the church and worship services. I have also added some suggestions of a general nature:

  • There will be no church services or gatherings through April 14. At that time we will evaluate our position and needs.
  • Please continue to support the church with your generous giving. Checks can be dropped through the mail slot at the James House, or can be mailed to the church office at 6 Everett St, Newport, RI 02840.
  • Please continue to check our website fpcnewport.org and our Facebook page www.facebook.com/fpcnewport for information updates, audio and video sermons. You can also find devotional videos on IGTV and Instagram (fpcnewport), and YouTube (FPC Newport Pastor Mike Herring).
  • The church office currently has limited hours of operation, but messages can be left by calling 401-847-1749 or emailing of the church secretary at secretary@fpcnewport.org.

Finally, continue to pray for our nation, its leaders, your church and its leadership, and your brothers and sisters in Christ. And remember the words of Paul in Romans 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” He answers his own question in verses 38-39: nothing!

God bless you all!  Stay strong, stay healthy, and more to follow …  Blessings,  Pastor Mike

A Time for Truth

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As we continue to feel the effects of Covid-19, the Coronavirus, in our communities and our nation, I hear more and more people complaining. The city is not doing enough, the governor needs to do more, the Federal government is not being totally supportive, and the media is not honest. It seems truth is in high demand these days.

I recently was asked a question by a friend of mine, when does a half-truth become a full lie? I have heard people use the phrase “half truth” as a sort of bridge between the truth and a lie as if it were an acceptable compromise. To be honest, I find this kind of moral quibbling very disappointing, and I view it as a proverbial slippery slope. It is easy to profess variations of what might resemble the truth but much more difficult to possess what is the truth.

As followers of Christ we are encouraged by the scriptures to speak the truth. Our credibility is founded on truth, spoken with love, for the good of the listener, as well as the speaker. There is no place in the Christian life for half-truths, three quarter truths, partial truths, or fragments of the truth or rumors. This is especially true for those in positions of authority, clergy, elders, deacons, teachers, etc.

So here is my plain truth answer. The half-truth does not exist; it is just a phrase used to disguise a complete lie. If one decides to withhold part of the truth then one has taken it upon oneself not to tell the truth. Half-truths are the less sophisticated cousins of innuendo and gossip, but all are liars at heart. This is just as true with individuals as it is with the media and the press.

In Zechariah 8:16-17, God spoke these words to Zechariah: “These are things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely, I hate all this,” declares the Lord.

As Christians, we are called to speak the truth in a faithful and loving manner so that it may benefit the one who hears and the one who speaks. It may be uncomfortable, difficult, or even a painful task to complete but it is what we are called to do. God encourages us to never be afraid to question or examine our words and the words of others. We are to hold them up to the sound wisdom and guidance of scripture where truth and lies are easily separated.

So do not be afraid to seek and speak the truth, the whole truth. In doing so you will be one step closer to living the life you seek. This is especially true in times of difficulty and stress. At First Presbyterian Church we will continue to provide you with the truth. So do not be seduced by rumors. Check the facts and sources, and be diligent in your faith. Take time to support and thank those who are working to provide assistance and leadership during these stressful days. This is the time when the people of God need to be an example to others. God is still God and we are his people, so live as you have been called and trust in the one who has called you.

I will be sharing regular encouragement and teaching through  a series of videos.  You can access the first one on our Facebook page (fpcnewport), IGTV (Instagram -fpcnewport), and YouTube (FPC Newport Pastor Mike Herring).  We are also working on uploading to our website, as well as Facebook live sermons on Sundays.

More to follow …

Blessings, Pastor Mike

 

 

Pastor Mike encourages us from the Psalms.  Click on the links below to access YouTube.  You’ll receive uplifting teaching to help keep you at peace during these stressful times.

While We Wait

While We Wait – Pastor Mike Herring

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever – Pastor Mike Herring

The Lord Delivers from All Fear

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As the song says, “The times, they are a-changin’.”  Our world has changed dramatically over the last month.  People are feeling the stress of uncertainty and the limitations that come with addressing the coronavirus.  Routines and lives have been interrupted, and there is a sense of fear descending over our land.

On March 4, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated president.  In his first inaugural address, FDR had to speak to a nation in the grips of a serious depression.  He did so with these words:

“So first of all, let me say it is my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

FDR knew the importance of responding to fear in a way that encouraged the people of this country.

The psalmist said it this way, “I sought the LORD, and he answered and delivered me from all my fears.”  Psalm 34:4  In Proverbs 29:25, we read, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.”  As I continue to say, God is still God, and he is in control.  Paul would remind us “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7.

So let me make a few suggestion to help us deal with our current situation as we move forward:

1) Stay calm and wash your hands.

2) If you are sick, stay home and limit your contact with others.

3) Stay informed via our website, Facebook page, emails and telephone.  For government updates, cdc.gov and https://health.ri.gov/data/covid-19/  are websites to get the latest federal and state restrictions, updates and information.

4) If you have church related questions, please call an elder.

5) Limit the amount of time you watch the news – once or twice a day is more than enough.

6) Take time to read and study the Scriptures and pray.  The Psalms are a place to find comfort, peace and hope.

7)  Rest and eat smart.

Remember there will be no church service on Sunday, March 22 and March 29.  All meetings, small groups and Bible studies are also cancelled for the next 2 weeks.  This may be extended as we seek to conform to federal, state and local authorities.  The college care package collection and program has been cancelled.  The leadership of FPC will continue to keep you informed and provide spiritual support. 

Please continue to support FPC financially  You can mail your tithe checks to the church at 6 Everett St, Newport RI 02840. 

Finally, and most importantly, keep your brothers and sisters in your prayers.  Call to check up on each other.

More to follow…

Blessings,

Pastor Mike

 

Pastors Blog / 05.11.2019

Recently, I hear more and more people using the word moderate in their conversation. Maybe this is because we are enduring one of the most turbulent and divisive elections in our history. Passions run deep on both sides of the political aisle. To define oneself as moderate allows for a bit of wiggle room and can produce a bit of civility in those who might hold opposing views. Moderate, when used as an adjective, carries the idea of average- in amount, quality, and intensity. As a verb it means “to make or become less intense or rigorous,” and as a noun it refers to “one who holds moderate views in politics or other areas of thought.” So in the explosive and emotionally charged world we live in, maybe choosing to be moderate is a good decision. However, I do not believe this is true for Christians when it come to their faith. Christianity has never been viewed as a moderate set of beliefs by those outside of its influence. The history of Christianity is colored with the blood of those who held firm to the faith yet withstood some of the most brutal persecutions known to man. However, more and more churches today are struggling with moderate Christianity. Moderate Christianity is much like many of the beliefs peddled in the market place and on social media. It is grounded in the comfort of self and promotes average as the social norm. Above all, it strives to be less intense and rigorous in sharing and living out its beliefs. Its mantra is “don’t rock the boat.” C.S. Lewis once made this observation, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” Moderate Christianity was not an option for Lewis, and it is...

Pastors Blog / 05.11.2019

Truth is an important word within the scriptures. It is a word mentioned over and over, in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. The scriptures teach us that we are changed or sanctified by the truth. It is truth that brings us to God as we recognize we are all sinners, unable to achieve righteousness outside of a true relationship with God. As believers we are to practice, live by, the truth (1 John1:6). Paul says it this way: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24). The latter part of verse 24 is more literally translated “in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” This would line up with what many commentators say, that truth should be seen as a source of the righteousness and holiness that is being created in the new person. The idea here is simple; truth has a direct connection to righteousness and holiness in our lives. The opposite would also be simple; a lack of truth will have a direct connection to the lack of righteousness and holiness in our lives. Truth is directly connected to our spiritual lives and is required in our day-to-day walk as believers in Jesus Christ. With all of this comes the reality that we often do not know the whole truth. We may hear information first or second or third hand. It may be passed on by those who have only heard only one side of the story or who want to pass themselves off as the appointed representatives for a specific opinion or...

Pastors Blog / 23.10.2019

Are you easily offended?  What types of things do you find yourself becoming offended at?   We can be offended by something as little as someone not saying hello to us.  As a person who has struggled over the years with being over-sensitive and reading into things, I have prayed for God to help me become unoffendable.    It is only natural to have our feelings hurt, and because we are human beings, we will sin against each other.  How are we, according to Jesus, to handle it?   One of the most radical concepts Jesus ever spoke about was forgiveness.  When Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?  Up to seven times? ”Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”  Matthew 18:21-22   In other words, Jesus was saying that every time a brother or sister sins against us, that we should forgive them.  That was a radical departure from the Old Testament law which said an eye for an eye.   Another radical concept that Jesus taught was the idea of resolving conflict in Matthew 5:23-24:  “If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”  We need to settle differences before approaching God!  And key here is that if we know we have offended someone, we are to go to him or her.   Let Christ’s humility be your example. Some of the most powerful words in the New Testament can be found in Philippians 2:5-7 and 17:  “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,...