Foundation to a Welcoming Ministry

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:11)

The Apostle John in the verses quoted above is laying for us a foundation for being a Welcoming Church. A love for one another that reflexively acts in a reflection of the love God has for each of us. This is not only the basis, but also the highest aspiration of a community of believers.
We live in a world that loves postering, postering that we have the “virtues” that puts us above those around us. Whether it is the 38 ribbons we are to display on our lapels that show our concern for the “cause du jour,” or the symbols on our social media accounts that announce our devotion to the herd. All this is called virtue signaling, and it is one of the most prevalent forms of hypocrisy trending in our culture.
The spiritual quest for us is how do we show genuine concern and love for others. John gives us the path; we respond to others the way God responded to us. It is God’s love that is the power and source of our love for others. God’s love is not a sentimental love. God’s love is an active love, a love that works whenever it is demonstrated.
“One Another” passages in the Epistles of the New Testament are a fascinating study. Each one is based on the love of God given to us in Christ but looks at relationships within the church and our lives from a variety of angles. Search through them and let me know which ones you find addressing something in your life.

Pastor Greg

Spirit of God Dwells in You

Romans 8:1-11

The existence outside of God is described as the law of sin and death.  This principle (as in the law of gravity) keeps us condemned in our actions and desires.  We cannot do the righteousness of the law of God because we are bound by the law of sin.  But Romans 8 now brings us to the place of “no condemnation” when we are in Christ Jesus.

In our text this Sunday, the Apostle rejoices in being in Christ, then he takes it further by telling us the Spirit of God is in us.  The Holy Spirit of God is giving us assurance that we are a child of God.  The Holy Spirit also delivers us from the power of the law of sin and death into the glorious liberty that is ours as a child of God. 

Romans 8:1 is the high point of the book of Romans and the rest of the book is telling us what it means to be in Christ and Christ in you.

Pastor Greg

The Fog that Saved America

In August of 1776, in response to the Declaration of Independence, the British moved to take and control New York and the Hudson River.  This would disrupt the trade between the northern and southern colonies.  George Washington with 19,000 troops had to oppose the British with 32,000 troops.  The colonials were defeated at the Battle of Brooklyn Heights, and it seemed all his army could do was to wait for annihilation.  In a desperate attempt to escape, the Americans begin using small boats to ferry their troops across Long Island Sound.  There was no moon that Leviticus night, so the British Ships did not see them.  When the Sun began to rise, they still had almost 8,000 troops to evacuate.  A dense fog rose from the water, so thick that one officer said it was hard to discern a man at 6 feet.  When the fog finally lifted, all of Washington’s men, horses, and cannons were gone, and all the British found was an abandoned camp.

George Washington wrote in 1778: “The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all of this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.”

From the founding of Plymouth Colony, through the Revolutionary War, the saving of the Union and abolition of slavery with the Civil War, in most of its history, the United States of American has identified with Israel in the providential working of God in our nation.  No, we did not always allow the better angels of our nature to direct us, just like the Israelites (read the book of Judges).  Yet, we continually return to our message of proclaiming “liberty throughout the land” (Liberty Bell, Leviticus 25:10).

Independence Day is not a religious holiday, but it is a day that we can acknowledge the hand of Providence that has been conspicuous in our history, and our obligations to the God of History to heed our better angels and our mission of “liberty and justice for all.”

In the text for this Sunday, Deuteronomy 10:12-24, we hear the voice of our God calling us to blessing and telling us plainly what is required of us to be a good people and nation.

Pastor Greg

Ending a Senseless War

Romans 7:15-25

One of the easiest ways to defeat is to never realize that you are in a war.  In Romans 7 we see the instructions for us to withstand the onslaught of Satan and sin.  We must realize the danger that is at work to make our lives ineffective and defeated for Jesus Christ.
 Death is Satan’s Chant.  Satan wants us consumed with death—God wants us to be consumed with life, Jesus Christ came that we may have life, and have it “more abundantly.”

The conflict is between the Spirit and the Flesh, or the ways of God and the ways of human.  The victory is not through reform, more rule keeping, more doing.  The victory is living the life of the Crucified One, and not making any provisions for the way of the flesh.

Pastor Greg

Also, next week will be a special Sunday for the Independence Day Celebration.  I hope you all can attend.