May 22

I am not going to post much today because it is later on in the week already, but I just want to give a brief shout out to my middle son who graduated this week on to high school and my youngest son who will be going to middle school next year.  They are growing fast.

May 15

Again, this post is a few days late because I went to a conference for our region of the Missionary Church.  For those unfamiliar with our denomination, the Missionary Church is divided into several regions around the USA geographically.  Our region covers churches in Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.  We met in Gurnee for two days to conduct business, to hear reports from various churches and from the national office as well as plan and cast vision for the coming year.  I love attending these conferences mainly because of the fellowship and interaction I get from meeting and fellowshipping with various pastors.  Some of these pastors are of larger churches, but many of them are churches like Groveland which are a bit smaller in attendance.  I do not know if you know the experience of learning and helping peers in your fields of business but I love hearing from pastors who are going through the same struggles and experiencing areas of praise as well.  Pastoring can sometimes be a lonely adventure, but knowing there are others who are like me encourages me to remain faithful to the call of God on my life.  And I hope that I intern can inspire or help others by sharing my experiences as well.
That is why in-person worship experiences are so important as well.  I know you can hear great sermons online (I heard one great one traveling up to Gurnee) and praise music is available everywhere, but when you gather together as a church of like-minded people who worship the same God and have some of the same problems/joys you have, is just one reason why you cannot “phone-in” church.  Literally rubbing elbows with someone in the pew with you and sharing our lives together as we serve and worship Jesus cannot be done via computers or zoom calls.  So take a couple of hours each week to go and worship in a church building.  I can almost guarantee that your Christian walk will grow stronger and you will be encouraged.

May 8

Friend.  What comes to mind when you hear that word.  Hopefully someone who is near and dear to your heart.  Someone who you can share your most intimate thoughts and concerns.  Someone who you can rely on and call upon at a moment’s notice.  And I hope that one of those people who you call a friend is Jesus.  That is what he wants to be in your life.  A true blue friend.  “What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer”

May 1

As I was looking at the name of Christ, Immanuel from Matthew chapter 1, I could not help but observe other unexpected names that Matthew uses.  As I explained in my sermon Immanuel was not a prophetic name for the future Messiah but a sign that God was with King Ahaz.  However, if you look at the list of Jesus’ descendants, Ahaz is one of them (vs 9).  But there are four unexpected names on that list that are a surprise, especially for a book that relies heavily on Old Testament quotes (Matthew is the most Jewish of all the four gospels).  But there are 4 women in that genealogy, Tamar (vs 3), Rahab (vs 5), Ruth (vs 5) and Bathsheba (vs 6 Uriah’s wife).  Three of these 4 women are foreigners.  And of all the female names Matthew list, all of these women had dubious sexual histories.  Why?  Was it because Mary’s sexual history was going to be questioned in just a few verses?  Jesus’ linage is full of people who God redeemed including this virgin who conceived and gave birth to Jesus himself.

April 24

This week I turn 50.  To me it is just a number.   But I cannot help but think of all the years that I have know God’s faithfulness in my life.  I have never known a time when God has let me down.  That is not to say that I have not had any trying times in my life.  And I an sure there will me more in the future.  But God has always been by my side.  He has proven himself faithful time and time again, even in my unfaithfulness.  And he can be the same with you.  If you have not experienced God’s faithfulness, maybe this week is the week that you ask him, “Show me your faithfulness.”   I can guarantee, that if that is your earnest prayer, He will prove himself faithful.  He always does.

April 17

Taxes!   It has been said that the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes.  And with the way many people fell about taxes, death may be preferable.  But there is something else that we can be certain about.  God’s love and care for us.  As we looked at the 23rd Psalm, we can clearly see how much God watches over his people.  And this continues with Jesus in the New Testament.  His love and faithfulness will never cease, so let’s celebrate that today by reading once again those familiar words. “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

April 10

I am going to get this done first thing this week so it will not get put off.  I hope some of the information I shared yesterday helps you as we have just finished Easter week.  I know I learned a bit about how God laid out that last week of Jesus’ life.  I of course knew the Bible stories and how they connected to the days of the week, but sometimes I forget that Jesus wants those same kind of thoughts and actions we apply to holy week done every week of the year.  His command to love one another is not just for Maundy Thursday, but for every day of the year.  Our mission to show that love is our daily mandate.  So Yes, Easter is special and Good Friday and the rest but lets make every day Maundy.

March 20

The first day of spring brings with it new life in the world around us.  It can also bring new life in your heart as well when you consider the name Yahweh Mekaddesh which means the Lord who Sanctifies you.  And as he renews you and cleanses your heart, you can walk in newness and holiness.  All you need to do is ask him for his holiness to transform you and your life.  And then follow in his footsteps day by day.

March 13

I have been thinking a lot about my unrighteousness this last week.  I have fallen short many times of God’s standard.  And yet even in that unrighteousness, I point fingers at others who are “more unirighteous”.  It does not make sense.  We all will be held accountable to a righteous God (Tsidkenu), so why are we boosting in ourselves or criticizing others?  We all need to humbly come before Yahweh Tsidenu and ask for his righteousness to be superimposed upon us.  This and this alone makes us righteous and worthy of our Lord and Savior.  Ask him for his righteousness today!

March 6

David and Goliath is the classic Bible story that even non-Christians know about.  And so this message is a good one to keep “in your back pocket” for telling others about how God works in people’s lives.  Because inevitably, everyone feels like they are battling some giant in their life at one point or another.  And being able to tell them that when faced with impossible odds, this shepherd boy took down a mighty warrior is a great message to link them to the fighting God of Yahweh Tsabaoth.  You may not remember the name, but you know that it was not David alone on that battlefield.  And God is still with us on our battlefields.  Let him win our battles.