A Simple Contrast

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not perish
but may have eternal life.
John 3:16

     This Memorial Day weekend, as we remember those that have died for our country praying for those with the empty seat at the picnic table, let us value their sacrifice with the perspective of Jesus.  In this well-know verse, John 3:16, the Savior tells us there is a contrast.  The difference with between perishing and eternal life.  Eternal life is not just living a long time, it is letting your life count for something.  Perishing has the idea of futility and not gaining something of value.

     Those that have died defending their country may have had an early death, but they did not perish in futility.  They have added to the quality of our life of freedom in this country.  So, they did not “perish” they gave their sacrifice.
 
     Jesus is contrasting perishing and having eternal life in this verse, and here the difference comes from belief.  The belief that Jesus says brings eternal life is not an assent to the facts or creed, but belief that calls us to the way of life that counts for something.  The way that calls us not to waste our lives, but to be a living sacrifice for the message of hope the Savior brings us.

Pastor Greg

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit

(Romans 14:17)

      During the Season of Easter, I have been using the theme of joy in my articles.  As I’ve been thinking about Joy during this time, I’ve realized that most Christians simply forego the life of joy that God gives to us.  Simply we get caught up in other things.

     In the verse above, the Apostle makes the choice stark for us.  Is my spiritual life, or even my life, a matter of what other people are doing?  The eating and drinking here is following the dietary laws, and expecting others to follow them too.  Today’s world has deteriorated beyond simply judging others, it is now taking personal offense even at innocent things.  The comparison in this portion of Romans would be like bringing BBQ pork sandwich to the church potluck.  And then you becoming upset because that person should have known “that I don’t eat pork!” 

     Obviously, we want to be kind and considerate of others, but there are innocent things that happen, and we need to realize that your spiritual worth was not attacked.  Our default mode is assuming the person is doing this against me personally.  I have had people tell me that they left a church because the Pastor did not shake their hand on a particular Sunday.

     Being quick to take up personal offense is a sure-fire way loose that joy of the Holy Spirit.  A spiritual life of joy comes from me worrying about myself, doing the right thing, and seeking the way of peace.  It goes away when we are worrying what other people are doing.

     On this Pentecost Sunday, and the season that follows, let us be concerned with making it about joy in the Holy Spirit. 

Pastor Greg

The Great Joy of Motherhood

When a woman is about to give birth, she is in great pain.
But after it is all over, she forgets the pain and is happy,
because she has brought a child into the world
. (John 16:21)

Jesus says this in the Upper Room on the night he has betrayed.  He is talking about how our experience of believers is one of pain and sorrow that will result in joy.  He uses the example of a mother giving birth to illustrate this. 

We live in a culture that is bent on pain avoidance, not being in an uncomfortable situation, and even not delaying satisfaction for a higher goal.  It seems child bearing is looked down upon.  It is avoided so much that the citizen birth rate is the USA is below the replacement level. 

Even our attitude toward children themselves is skewed.  A child is seen as a loss for the producer, a polluter, and a burden to an alleged overpopulated planet.  Yet, in the divine perspective, children bring joy.  I read recently that the average person produces over 25 times more than he or she consumes in lifetime.  So, the net economic result is a great positive for society.  But even more that money, having children is the reason we exist. 

That is why it is important for us to celebrate Mothers’ Day.  It began as a recognition in the church, and still affirms the mother’s vital role in the formation and development of children.  We affirm the scriptural principal that children are a gift from the Lord.  Children are not a burden, but a blessing, and that is how we are to see them in human society.  Each is a gift from God, and each brings gifts and talents to enrich our world.

Have a Blessed Mothers’ Day,

Pastor Greg

Weeping and Joy

Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime.

     In the Easter Season we worship the Risen Christ that has conquered death, sorrow, and suffering.  Yet the realities of living this life confront us with the way we connect with our Savior.  We may feel distant from God, there may be times we suffer because we have strayed from the ways of God, and we are then left in the lonely nights fill with anguish and weeping.

     Faith in the Risen Christ does not remove us from the realities of the world we live in.  We have nights of weeping; we do have times we must face our failures and mistakes.  Then is when we must allow the presence of the one that promised he would never leave us nor forsake us to bring us joy in the morning.  Joy when we realize that our faith is greater than our sorrows and anguish.  Joy when we realize that the nail pierced hands are leading us in the same paths that Christ had to follow. 

     This Joy is to bring us above the things that are meant to drag us down.  The joy that comes in the morning is here for all of us.  So let us yield ourselves to the one that ministers this joy to us.

Pastor Greg

Next meal 5/26/2024