OUT OF THE PASTOR’S PEN

 

 

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This Sunday Is Pentecost Sunday

This coming Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, which commemorates the very beginning of the church. On this day 2000 years ago, as recorded in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem, and they were filled with boldness and power. Spilling into the streets, they declared the praises of God in different languages so that Jews gathered there from many different nations could all understand in their native tongues what the disciples were saying. Peter addressed the crowd to explain both the extraordinary event that was happening and the meaning of Jesus’ recent death and resurrection that had taken place 50 days before. His talk was so compelling the crowd was “cut to the heart” and cried out: “What must we do?” (Acts 2:37)

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins,” was Peter’s reply. Acts 2:41 says 3,000 were added to their number that day. Thus, the Church of Jesus Christ was born.

The reason the disciples had gathered on that day was to celebrate the traditional feast of Pentecost, which dated back some 1200 years before to the time of Moses. To Jews then and now, Pentecost celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, when according to Jewish tradition the nation of Israel was established because all the Jews who were gathered at the foot of the mountain agreed to do what God told them. (See Exodus 19:8 and Exodus 24:3.) The name “Pentecost” means “fiftieth” and refers to the fact that this feast day  comes 50 days after the first Passover, when Israel fled Egypt as the Angel of Death passed over them.

The parallels between what happened on the first Pentecost at Mt. Sinai and the second Pentecost in Jerusalem are very striking and reveal the perfection of God’s plan for the world’s redemption. On the first Pentecost God showed up with loud thunder, smoke and lighting. On the second Pentecost God’s Spirit showed up with a loud sound of rushing wind and tongues of fire. At the first Pentecost, God came over the Mountain to reveal His Covenant with Israel. He gave the Commandments as His “marriage contract” outlining Israel’s obligation for fulfilling their covenantal relationship with God. At the second Pentecost, Peter revealed that Jesus was Israel’s long-awaited Messiah and gave instructions for how people were to fulfill God’s New Covenant based on God’s love and grace. The Bride of Christ arose for the first time in Acts 2, a process that continues to this day as new believers are added to God’s church every day.
 
Remarkably, 3000 people were added to the first church following Peter’s exhortation on the second Pentecost, which perfectly parallels the 3000 people who were slain on the first Pentecost after they had worshiped the Golden Calf.
 
Did you know that today in our time some 174,000 new believers are added to the church every single day? (Click here for details.) In addition, 3500 new churches are begun every week! The power of Pentecost continues unabated in our time ever since the church began in 30 AD.
 
Jesus said He didn’t come to abolish the Law of Moses but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17) Not only was He the  perfect Lamb of God who was slain to redeem us from our sins, but He released the Spirit of God at Pentecost to sweep the nations of the world off their feet and impart the ability to enter the Kingdom of God. That’s something well worth celebrating! 
 
Pentecost Header Image Credit: Rebecca Brogan, John the Baptist Artworks

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Expecting?

We were never called to single parent our destinies!

 
God shows us some amazing things about ourselves through moms! A few things all moms can teach us:
  • New life comes through an expectation and sacrifice,
  • Unity and commitment birth new realities,
  • New reality and vision must be carried to maturity.
Nothing is as clear as day as a mother expecting! What’s the one question you’re not supposed to ask any woman? Are you pregnant!? But did you know that you are expecting? Yes, I mean you! And I guarantee you’re showing it whether you know it or not.
 
Imagine if Noah had let his environment determine his reality. God directed Noah to build a boat to save his family from the coming flood. If Noah had let his expectations be based on his worldly circumstances, he never would have built the ark and humanity would have been lost. Instead, Noah’s based his expectations on God’s Word and goodness. We are invited to do the same. God doesn’t want us to abort His dreams for our life just because we don’t see how it’s relevant or possible in our current season. We are called to live out “Christ in us” to full term.
 

Matthew 17:20 says, I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.

God loves to affirm the mystery of motherhood. All it takes is one tiny seed planted in unwavering expectation of faith and love, and anything is possible! Expectations are meant to grow to maturity through relationship. That’s why God ordained man and women to come together in covenant to have children. God’s design is to give us hopes, expectations, and purpose to fulfill through intimacy and relationship with Him. We were never meant to single parent our lives apart from our Heavenly Father!

The One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:6) sent His Son to nurture what He plants in your hearts. Keep your eyes on Jesus and you’ll carry the dreams He gives you to full term. Happy Mother’s Day.

Declare today:

 I am not a single parent to the dreams or desires God has placed inside of me.

  • I am not a single parent to His love, grace, patience growing in me.
  • I am valued and have a destiny in Christ full of peace, blessing and abundance.
  • Daily, I partner with Father God to see His Kingdom come into my life and world as it is in heaven. 

I am certain that God who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Phil 1:6


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Daffodils in the Snow

Sunday the daffodils in front of the church glistened brightly in the flurry of the late April snowfall. It’s always encouraging to see the beauty of spring burst forth out of winter. Isn’t it amazing that snow can’t hold back the glory of delicate daffodils?

 

It seemed fitting that my topic on Sunday focused on coming to church with expectations that God will show up and do something fresh in our lives, kind of like daffodils breaking through untimely snow and cold. While prepping for my sermon, I reread the healing miracles of Jesus, especially those described in the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark and Luke. Jesus healed all who came to him (Matthew 15:30), but did you know Jesus never corrected someone about their sin until after He healed them? He always addressed their need for healing first.

 

His healing miracles reveal His authority and power to release God’s will to transform human suffering into health, wholeness and hope. They demonstrate Jesus’ mastery over disease, demons and death itself. They also speak to the supernatural foundation of our faith.

 

Hebrews 11:1 says: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Verse 3 continues: “By faith we understand the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.”

 

During my talk Sunday I riffed a little on insights that have come to light from quantum physics that challenge conventional wisdom about matter and energy. Some science-minded Christians are seeing amazing parallels between dramatic insights from quantum physics and the miracles of Jesus that have long defied what science believed was possible. In particular scientists have discovered that what they observe is affected by how they observe it, and that behaviors at miniscule sub-atomic levels reveal an interconnectedness between matter and energy that is not dependent on time and space.

 

Some scientists still insist there must be a mysterious “God particle”, as if God can be reduced to an impersonal substance of force. They simply can’t recognize the God of Scripture who imparts intelligence, love and connectedness throughout the universe. Colossians 1:15-17 puts it this way:

 

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

 

We know from experience and countless testimonies that God is neither a mere particle, though He has a tangible presence, nor mere energy, though He moves with power and force. God is alive. He is the designer, creator and imparter of purpose to everything that exists, including us. And He wants us to know and connect with Him to experience the fulness of His blessings and love.

God wants to communicate and heal. Come next Sunday expecting it for yourself and others! By then the daffodils will be in full swing.


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T.I.P – Testimony in Progress

By Pastor Pat

Our lives are a series of testimonies.  Each circumstance and situation we encounter is a testimony in progress.  As we allow God access to our hearts and experiences and we yield to the work He began in us, He will shape our testimony through the process. 

Philippians 1:6 TPT

the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Jesus’ T.I.P.

A Coronation, A Cross and A Stone

Jesus rode into Jerusalem as a king. He entered unlike other kings… kings rode horses as a show of power.  Jesus rode a donkey as a sign of humility and peace. The people were compelled to celebrate his “Triumphal Entry”.  They threw down their cloaks and placed branches on the path to prepare the way for him. 

Jesus’ coronation culminated on the cross.  After being beaten, stripped to his undergarments, spat on and mocked, the guards placed a red cape on his shoulders and crowned him with a crown of thorns, and hung him on a cross.

He was sinless….. righteous before God. He did not deserve that moment in history, but he understood the testimony unfolding before mankind was God’s plan.

By choice he took on all sin, for all people, for all time.

He “became sin”.

He did this that his testimony might be fulfilled.

21 For God made the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us, so that we who did not know righteousness might become the righteousness of God through our union with him.       2 Cor. 5:21  TPT

The testimony of the coronation and the cross is powerful, but the story was not complete without the stone.

After three days, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary, mother or Jesus went to Jesus’ tomb. As they arrived they found the stone that sealed his tomb rolled away.  The tomb was empty.  The women were confused, perplexed and stunned by what they found.  Suddenly angels appeared before them and said:

“Why would you look for the Living One in a tomb?  He is not here, for he has risen!”       Luke 24:5 – 7 TPT

At that moment the revelation of the fulfillment of Jesus’ testimony broke upon the women.They shared this with the disciples who could not comprehend the Truth.  The surrounding circumstances spoke louder to them and clouded the testimony in progress.

The Truth:

He was resurrected…… He had died but was alive again!

Death and sin did not have the victory!

The very thing He said would happen, Happened!

But the disciples could not see this Truth, yet.

They were so caught up in the circumstantial evidence that when they encountered him on the road to Emmaus they did not recognize him.  Even when Jesus stood with them they couldn’t “see” him until he did something familiar.  Something they had seen him do many times before.  Suddenly their eyes and hearts opened and they saw Him.   They had been looking for the familiar when God was doing something NEW.

They saw the TRUTH of His testimony playing out in front of them.

At that point the power of  the coronation, the cross and the stone exploded into Life!

All the things Jesus had taught them….. 

All the life He shared with them, pushed all the negative “facts” of the circumstances out of the way……. 

Their personal stones, which blocked true belief and faith, were finally rolled away.

Hope broke open and faith for what God would do in them, around them and through them exploded in their hearts, minds and spirits.

An atmosphere of Truth and Life were released.  The bar of belief, hope, faith and truth was raised.

The impossible was revealed and realized as possible.

In our personal lives,  the circumstances we face in life are T.I.P.s  or Testimonies in Progress.

We may be weighed down or distracted by the negative “facts” of those circumstances.  There may be a haze or fog that attempts to settle in on us, to keep us from seeing God in the midst of our experience. Things may have turned out contrary to what we had hope or faith for.

As we live these “testimonies in progress”, it is our job and our challenge to rise above the circumstances and situations,  the negative “facts” and long waiting periods.  To look up to Him and see from His perspective. It is also our job and challenge to choose Life and not death, hope and not doubt, love and not fear.

We get to choose to:

  • Believe what God says.
  • Give ourselves grace for when we struggle with doubt.
  • Go after Him with everything in us….. heart, soul and mind.
  • Believe God is a good Father who wants good for His kids.
  • Believe that God is in the process with us. 
  • Remember our story, which  His story of our lives, is not complete yet. 

May God bless each of us to hold on to Him in the process and to have the grace to live out His testimony in our lives.


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It’s Time

If you knew you had access to a place where you could connect with God 24-7, where He could literally transform your entire life, where it was like the oval office to your world and you even had the key already…what would you do? This place is called the mind.
 
God makes a big deal out of the mind and shows us it’s the battleground for where we experience daily victory. Who has ever had a bad day? It could be that your car has issues or you simply wake up on the wrong side of the bed. In Hebrews 13:5 we read, “…you always have God’s presence. For hasn’t He promised you, “I will never leave you alone, never! And I will not loosen my grip on your life!”

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Highways of the Heart

As I am sitting here working on this blog, I received a call from the mechanic saying that there is more work needed to be done on our car today than we had anticipated. And the price tag for this work is one best read sitting down. This comes on the heals of several other challenging circumstances I have faced just
today. So I find myself at a crossroads facing a decision. What will I align with, what will I believe and what voice will I listen to? Will I allow the swirl of the moment to determine where my heart
is lead, or will I take a moment and allow God, my Good Father to build His highway in my heart? My mind and emotions unbridled, attempt to build a rogue highway…. however, when my spirit rises up I am able to put my emotions in their proper place and make a choice to line up with Truth.

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Be the Encounter!

We have a chance everyday to encounter God through receiving His love and giving it away. That might seem simple but that’s because it really is! Often times we can think of God encounters as big earth shattering events – which can be true. But often times, God encounters us in the little things throughout the day. We just have to open our eyes to see Him move. So what does love look like? The most famous love passage we find in the Bible paints a vivid picture – 

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Hope Overflowing

Hope is one of the most powerful doorways to encountering God in our lives. In today’s culture, it seems as if hopelessness is the new acceptable norm. In fact, if you are hopeful about something, you must not know the whole reality! Just turn on the news or go on Facebook to get what’s actually going on…Let’s just laugh at that! God paints a very different picture. In Romans 4 we read, “Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.” Hope is defined by the One living inside of us – not by our surrounding circumstances! God is always in the business of making something beautiful out of nothing.
 

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God Is Blessing Your New Year

God pours out His blessings all the time.  Some blessings, like the sun, the rain and the air we breathe, He pours out on all people.  Other blessings are reserved for those who love the Lord and recognize they are called according to His purposes in this life.

Dozens of verses from the Bible speak of His blessings.  I chose an even dozen below to help you start your new year in confidence that God is on your side. 
 
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11
 
The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing.  He refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.  Psalm 23:1, 3
 
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and donor; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.  Psalm 84:11
 
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him.  Matthew 7:11
 
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19
 
Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.  Luke 1:45
 
His favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.  Psalm 30:5
 
The One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.  1 John 5:18
 
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  2 Corinthians 9:8
 
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.  Psalm 23:6
 
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 1:3
 
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28
 
So resolve this year to not be anxious about anything.  Instead, in every situation make your requests known to God through prayer and petitions offered with a thankful heart.  Then you can be sure that the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
God bless your new year, day by day by day!
 

 


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The Battle Over Jesus’ Birth

I loved the way our family celebrated Christmas when I grew up.  It was a family spectacle with a wonderful tree glistening with silver tinsel and lots of lights, including magical ones filled with water that bubbled in bright colors all day long.  Friends and neighbors dropped off cookies, candy and gifts.  Carols were sung by strolling carolers.  Four Sundays of Advent prepared our hearts to hear the story of Jesus’ birth presented on Christmas eve with candle light, beautiful music and a crèche depicting baby Jesus in a manger surrounded by animals, shepherds and wise men. 

What a magical time for us children, retelling again and again how Jesus came as God’s unique gift to humanity on a starry night when angels sang to fearful shepherds tending their flocks near Bethlehem.

Then, much later, we discovered the pagan origins of Christmas and how many of our Christmas customs had origins in a Roman holiday dedicated to their god of agriculture.  The Romans ate and drank a lot, and lit candles to fend off the darkest days of the year. They could only hope the sun would return once again.  In the 4th century the church fathers finally redeemed those misdirected customs by associating the season with the birth of Jesus. 

In early America Puritans banned Christmas celebrations as pagan, and Congress actually began its first session in 1789 on Christmas day, an ordinary business day.  Christmas was widely seen in the Colonies as an English thing fit mostly to be ignored.  Not until after the Civil War in 1879 did Congress proclaim it to be a national holiday.  Charles Dickens’ famous story, “A Christmas Carol“, published in 1843, is credited with re-framing the holiday as a family-centered event, popularizing it in the public’s mind.

The last 50 years, Christmas controversy has continued. We’ve seen atheists oppose Christmas displays in the public square, merchants turn Christmas into the biggest selling season of the year, and the words “Merry Christmas” widely displaced by “Happy Holidays” out of political correctness.  Today, Christmas is viewed by the secular world as a season of heightened depression and increased suicide (fact check: suicide rates are actually highest in spring).  Psychologists say Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) peaks this time of year when unrealistic expectations and excessive self-reflection increase, perhaps due to winter weather and diminished daylight.

Who’d have thought this wonderful holiday dedicated to celebrating the birth of a perfectly innocent baby could be so controversial or, so…well, SAD?!

We shouldn’t be surprised. Jesus Himself said: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”  When He said this He was teaching His apostles about the need to go and tell people that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand.  He foresaw the opposition that would come to their message.

At Christmas time Baby Jesus looks so sweet and innocent lying in the manger.  Beautiful baby Jesus destined to save the world from itself.  Isaiah called Him: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

This particular Christmas let us remember once again “unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.”  This is the reason for the season.  It’s a beautiful thing, indeed.

May you have a hope-filled, Spirit-filled Merry Christmas, indeed! 


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