Monthly Archives: December 2010

Becoming A Pilgrim

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I got a Kindle eReader for Christmas.  I really didn’t think I would like it, since I’m just one of those people who don’t easily embrace technology and I like paper (sorry, trees).  So I downloaded a couple of books, and to my amazement, I actually do really like it.  It saves my place automatically so I don’t have to earmark pages or search for a bookmark (that inevitably, one of my children removes), and it is silent (again – no pages), so the hubby doesn’t get so annoyed when I read in bed.??

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Anyway, that isn’t the point of this blog.  One of the books I have downloaded is The Pilgrim’s Progress, written by John Bunyan and published in 1678.  I’m only 21% finished (yes – the Kindle keeps track of that, too), but the book has had a profound effect on me thus far.  A brilliant analogy for the Christian walk in this life, it is about a Pilgrim (by the name of Christian), who is leaving his home in the city of Destruction, carrying a large burden on his back.  During his travels, the Pilgrim meets many characters – Evangelist, Obstinate, Pliable, Mr. Worldly Wisdom, Patience, Passion, among others. He gets trapped for a while in the Slough of Despond; makes a wrong turn and almost follows Legality.   His family would not follow him and he had to leave them behind.  He was traveling on his way to find Zion, “an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away; and is laid up in Heaven”; a place he read about in his Book.??

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So many false teachers today try to persuade those seeking peace in their lives by promising that God wants them to be happy; God wants them to be wealthy; do “this” and you will have everything you want.  God has never promised that.  Yes – God does have great plans for our lives, but we are not to assume that this plan equals good times, no pain, no suffering.  If fact, the Bible clearly states that, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23, NIV).  Absolute surrender to Christ; willingness to die for Christ.  To me, this doesn’t necessarily sound like happiness in this life, but the promise for life eternal is great. ??

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Like the Pilgrim in John Bunyan’s book, we are all on a journey.  Our decision to follow Christ may come in a single moment or be a process.  But once this decision is made and the Holy Spirit is dwelling within us, we are guaranteed to keep growing, keep learning, and keep facing challenges in our lives.  It isn’t a sudden switch and we’re done.  Living a Christian life is a process, and while we undoubtedly will experience great joy and peace in our travels with Christ, we are equally guaranteed to experience pain and frustration in one form or another.??

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Pastor Dave will be talking about some of the things in this life that can drain us spiritually in his four week teaching series beginning on January 9th.  He will be talking about the “characters” of worry, anger, fatigue and guilt.  Please join us in this teaching series, and learn what the Bible says about avoiding and overcoming some of these pitfalls on your spiritual walk.??In the meantime, I am going to continue reading about the Pilgrim.  I want to find out how he removes the burden from his back.   Wishing you all peace in the New Year.

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Kris Milashus

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Remembering 2010

??Can you believe it? Christmas is 363 days away. Every year the holiday season passes so fast. It?s amazing how much time we spend preparing for the day and yet, in 24 hours…poof! its over. Quickly, life returns to normal. We go back to work, we take down our Christmas decorations, we return all our gifts (or at least some of them!).  Yesterday, Pastor Dave encouraged us to to look ahead to 2011.  He challenged us to take a step forward in our spiritual lives by ramping up our spiritual training, developing our spiritual gifts, and praying for our unsaved friends and family. I hope 2011 brings great spiritual growth for us all. But before we fully turn our hearts and minds toward 2011, I encourage you to take one last look at 2010. Think about the last year, its ups and downs, its joys and hurts its laughter and tears. When difficult times came, the authors of the Psalms often remembered the the good things God had done in the past. Asaph wrote in Psalm 77:????11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;??yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.??12 I will consider all your works??and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”??13 Your ways, God, are holy.??What god is as great as our God???14 You are the God who performs miracles;??you display your power among the peoples.
Asaph continues to praise God for the parting of the Red Sea that rescued the Israelites from the Egyptians. Of course, Asaph hadn?t witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, but by faith he meditated on what God had done and it lifted his discouraged heart.
So what did God do in your life in 2010? How did He encourage you, heal you, free you from sin? What has God done in your family, your marriage, or your finances that you can praise Him for? Its so easy to forget! Before you move on to 2011, take the time to remember the good things God has done in your life. Take them to heart, because trials and difficulties may come in 2011, and when they do you can praise God for His faithfulness and constant presence in your life.
Guest Blogger: Kristen Williams

Advent – The Final Day

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The wait is almost over! Today is the final day of Advent. Tomorrow is the day that we celebrate the birth of our Savior. Last Sunday, our worship team performed a new song that I absolutely love. It?s from the North Point Christmas CD (you can find the CD here). The song was Everything Changed by Eddie Kirkland. I?ve been thinking a lot about the lyrics and thought it would be a fitting way to end this Advent series.

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On a night like this on a broken road

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she is far from sleep, she is far from home

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for a baby?s cries tear the still of night

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She wonders why

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The future was bright and clear; she planned for a wedding day

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her daddy would hold back tears giving her hand away

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now all her hopes and fears in a cradle lay

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for a baby came and everything changed

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On a night like this many years ago

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as she held him close, she had come to know

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that a mother?s heart could not let him go

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and she knows why

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The future was bright and clear with hope and a promise made

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the Light of the world was near, choirs of angels sang

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heaven?s exalted king in a manger lay

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cause a baby came and everything changed

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When our dreams grow dim and our hearts grow cold

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he is never far from our broken soul

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Gloria! our God is with us!

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Gloria! He has come to save!

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Mercy and love now for every generation

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for the Savior came and everything changed

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??The Savior came and everything changed! I hope you?ll make plans to join us for one of our Christmas Eve Services. We have services at 4pm and 11pm. The 4pm service is a Family Service and childcare will be available for Infants – preschool age children. The 11pm service is a Candlelight Service.
Grace,
Chris

The Slow Grace of God

I am grateful for the sometimes slow moving (sometimes agonizingly slow) grace of God. This grace has crept into my life incrementally over the last few months. Enough so now that I actually sense it.
When my dear father died this past October 5th it was as if a plug was pulled on my soul and virtually all vitality was drained. It was like getting sucker-punched in the gut but my wind didn’t return to my lungs. It was an unsettled feeling – that mix of confusion and fear when you startle awake in the middle of the night but you don’t know why: did I just have a nightmare? Did I just hear someone breaking into my house
?I went weeks not being able to pray – to read – to concentrate. My motivation level was as low as my physical energy – nothing there whatsoever. I had to force myself to do even the simplest of tasks. Even though I know my dad is in heaven. Even though I got to be with him in his final moments here on earth. Even though I know he loved me and that he knew I loved him. Even though I have no regrets regarding my relationship with him.
I am starting to do better and I wanted you to know that. I wanted to thank you for your kind words and thoughtful notes and cards. Thanks for praying for me when I couldn’t pray for myself.
Please forgive me for this being so personal. Forgive me for this being so morbid in our season of Christmas celebration. I just wanted you to know that I am doing better and I am grateful.
I am grateful we have a Heavenly Father who understands loss and heartache. He experienced it himself.
I pray His grace meets your greatest need.
Peace,
Dave

Advent – Week 4

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Christmas is rapidly approaching. This Sunday is our last Sunday in Advent. Traditions vary, but in my experience the fourth candle in the advent wreath is typically pink (in contrast to the 3 purple candles). This candle represents love/joy as the celebration of Christ birth draws near.

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I think it?s my Mother?s doing. Anytime we have guests coming to our house, I have to clean. It doesn?t matter who it is, I have to clean. Everything needs to be put in it?s proper place, floors need to be vacuumed, bathrooms cleaned, garbage taken out, beds made, etc. My intention is not necessarily to impress, but rather to make our guests feel comfortable in our home.

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As Christmas draws near, the pink candle reminds us of how we need to prepare ourselves for the birth of Christ. Some of us may have some housecleaning to do. We are expecting the greatest visitor of all, Christ the Lord.

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In Luke 1, we learn of the birth of John the Baptist. Luke 1:16-17 tells us that John will bring many people back to God and that he will prepare the way for the Lord. John does this by preaching a message of repentance. He tells the people of Israel to repent (turn away from your sin and back to God) because the kingdom of God is coming. The people of Israel had some housecleaning to do in their own lives.

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What kind of housecleaning do you need to do to prepare for the coming of Christ? Priorities that need straightening? Sin that needs to be thrown out? Attitudes that need to be adjusted? A Bible that needs to be dusted off? I hope you?ll take seriously the need to prepare for the coming Christ.

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Here?s 3 more suggestions of ways to focus your heart this Advent season.

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  • Read My Heart Christ?s Home by Robert Boyd Munger. It?s a fairly short booklet. You can find an online version here
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  • Seek or grant forgiveness. We?ve been forgiven and are called to forgive.
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  • Make plans to join us for one of our Christmas Eve Services. We?ve got 2 services. A 4pm Family Service, and an 11pm Candlelight Service.
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??Grace,
Chris

THE ULTIMATE “JESUS PLUS NOTHING” QUIZ

Sunday morning we wrapped up our 11 week teaching series on the book of Galatians. “Jesus Plus Nothing” taught us the powerful truth that we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone.
Lets find out how much you retained! Go ahead – take the quiz below and see how you do. Feel free to use any sermon notes you still have in your bible.
The answers are at the bottom of the quiz so be sure to not cheat! We are on the honor system. Grade your own quiz and then if you have the nerve – leave a comment sharing with me your score. Have fun and try not to sprain your brain!
Peace,
Dave
THE ULTIMATE GALATIANS QUIZ:
1. Galatians was written by:
A. Barnabus
B. Peter
C. Paul
D. Jude
2. It was written at about:
A. 25 BC.
B. 48 AD.
C. 100 AD
D. 1960 AD.
3. The primary doctrine taught in Galatians is:
A. The Law of Moses is obsolete
B. The inerrancy of Scripture
C. Justification by faith
D. Sanctification by the Spirit
4. Where was Paul traveling to when he was converted?
A. Jerusalem
B. Ephesus
C. Damascus
D. Wheeling
5. To be justified means:
A. To be declared righteous
B. To  defend yourself
C. To stop feeling guilty
D. To find your inner child
6. The Judaizers were:
A. An extremist Jewish sect within the church
B . Jerusalem’s minor league hockey team
C. Followers of the apostle Jude within the church
D. Ultra-liberal do-gooders within the church
7. The Judaizers taught that to be a real Christian you must:
A. Get baptized
B. Get  persecuted
C. Get circumcised
D. Get jiggy
8. Paul illustrated the difference between the Law and the Promise by comparing:
A. Sarah and Hagar
B. Sarah and Rachel
C. Sarah and Hannah
D. Hagar and Ruth
9. Who does Paul publicly confront because of his hypocrisy and racism?
A. Barnabus
B. Titus
C. Peter
D. James
10. Paul claimed that he was made an apostle by:
A. The Jerusalem Council
B. Peter
C. Abraham
D. Jesus Christ
11. People of faith are the true children of:
A. Paul
B. Abraham
C. Moses
D. Jerusalem
12. To boast in the cross (most closely) means to:
A. Obsess
B. Obfuscate
C. Trust
D. Feel good
13. What son represented the child of promise (faith)?
A. Ichabod
B. Isaac
C. Ishmael
D. Iggy Pop
14. A primary purpose of the Law was to:
A. Reveal our sinfulness
B.  Show the steps to salvation
C.  Prove Moses was da man
D. Establish Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel
15. Paul often used terms and illustrations from the world of:
A. Astronomy
B. Quantum physics
C.  Sports
D. Diesel mechanics
Answers: 1 – C, 2 – B, 3 – C, 4 – C, 5 – A, 6 – A, 7 – C, 8 – A, 9 – C, 10 – D, 11 – B,     12 – A, 13 – B, 14 – A, 15 – C.

Advent – Week 3

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This coming Sunday, 12/12, marks the start of the 3rd week in Advent. I hope you?re finding ways to focus your heart and mind on Christ in this time leading up to Christmas.

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This week, I?ve been thinking a lot about the announcement of Jesus birth. In Luke 2:8-20  we are told that an Angel of the Lord appeared to group of shepherds to announce the birth of Christ. To be honest, I?ve read this story many times without stopping to consider the significance of this passage.

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Recently, my wife and I had our second child. Shortly after his birth, I was on the phone making calls to family and friends. We announced it through other means, but the first to know got a personal phone call. Not everyone made the “phone list”, only those who are closest to us, those who hold a place of honor in our lives. In this passage in Luke, we see that the shepherds made the “phone list”. They weren?t chosen at random. God is never random. There is tremendous significance in the fact that shepherds were among the first to know of Christ?s birth. A few things that stick out to me about this:

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  • God is for everyone. The shepherds didn?t do anything to deserve being on the “phone list”. We?ve learned recently in our Galatians sermon series that salvation is for all people. The requirement is faith in Christ. Jesus, plus nothing. God has opened wide the gates of grace. Salvation is available to all.
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  • God is not impressed with our status.  Shepherds weren?t high on the social/economic ladder. You might expect Christ?s birth to be announced to people of power and wealth, or maybe to the religious leaders of the day. The fact that God chose to announce to shepherds is indicative of his compassion for all.  In I Corinthians 1, Paul writes about how God uses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise.
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  • God is our shepherd. The Old Testament is full of shepherd imagery. Again and again God is described as the loving shepherd who cares for his sheep. In John 10, Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd who lays his life down for his sheep. In Matthew 18, Jesus describes God as a shepherd who goes after his lost sheep.
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??The announcement of Christ?s birth, an announcement the Jews had eagerly awaited for hundreds of years, didn?t come to the spiritual elite. It came to some ordinary shepherds. Let this be a reminder to us of revolutionary message of the Gospel.
3 more suggestions to focus your heart this Advent season.??

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  • Read Luke 2 and journal about what God is teaching you.
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  • Consider what gift you can give Christ this Christmas. It?s his birthday, but we give each other gifts. What can you give Him?
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  • Share the Christmas story with a friend. We read in Luke 2, that after seeing Jesus, the shepherds went and told others about Christ. Who do you know that needs to hear the real Christmas story?
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??Grace,
Chris

He Ain?t Heavy…

Listen. Hug. Pray. Advise. Give.
Just a few of the myriad of ways you can fulfill the command of Galatians 6:2:
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
We have 48 communication cards from Sunday morning that indicate people seeking this week to be intentional in helping another person bear their burden. That is awesome. What a difference it could make in our church (and our school, neighborhood, work place, etc.) if we each had our radar up to identify the hurting around us and then do something to make their load even a little bit lighter.
To be a burden bearer takes love. It takes intentionality. It certainly takes an investment of time, energy – often even our material resources.
But it takes courage to ask for help with your burden. It takes wisdom and humility. So many walk around with overwhelming burdens and they suffer in silence. Is that you
?God wants you to be vulnerable enough to reach out to someone else when you need help. Make a phone call. Jot off an email. Schedule a cup of coffee with a friend. Just reach out. There are plenty of people around you who love you – who really do care. Allow others to serve you. This is how the church is supposed to function!
Peace,
Dave

Advent – Week 2

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This Sunday begins the second week of Advent. How are you doing in regard to focusing your heart and mind on the Savior? My hope with these Advent posts is to provide some encouragement and direction for you to do just that.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  – John 1:14

??This is the beauty and mystery of Christmas. It?s the story of Emmanuel – God with us. A few things that stick out to me??

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  • Not only did God dwell among us, he took on flesh. The creator left the comfort of heaven and entered his broken creation for the purpose of redemption. We need a savior. No suitable option could be found, so God took on the responsibility.
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  • He could have come as wealthy king and lived in comfort…he certainly deserved that at the very least. Instead he came as a baby, a helpless little baby, born in a filthy barn. We can hardly begin to understand what it means that Christ humbled himself for us.
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  • It?s the embodiment of love. God?s love for us was the motivation for his action. A love that would lead him to the cross.
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??This is too significant a story to get lost in the busyness of the Christmas season. I gave you 3 suggestions last week to focus your heart this Advent season. Here are 3 more??

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  • Listen to Christmas music. I?m not thinkin “Jingle Bells” here. I?m thinking more along the lines of  “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”, “O Holy Night”, “What Child is this?” songs like that. So many Christmas songs are full of scripture.
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  • Help someone in need. Follow Jesus example and humble yourself to serve someone. Maybe make it a goal to do an act of service each day.
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  • Go without. Jesus limited himself for us. Denying ourselves often has a way of refining us.
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??Grace,
Chris