What God Suffered For

On this final Sunday of the church year, “Christ the King Sunday,” we focus in on the kingship of our Savior by looking at a well-known passage, Luke 23:32-43, dealing with Jesus’s crucifixion.  Listen in as Pastor David explains the unique structure of that passage and what it means for our understanding of Jesus today.  What did God really suffer for?  For us or something bigger than us?

Listen now!

(Coming soon: images of the visual aids used in this sermon.)

What God Hears

We often take comfort in the truth that God hears his people when they call out to him.  Yet this truth is a little more complicated than that.  As Malachi 3:13-4:3 teaches us, the Lord hears all that his people say to him – both words of adoration and words of complaint.  Malachi’s vision of the coming “day of the Lord” was intended to cause people to live differently in the present.  How do all these thoughts tie together?  Click here to listen to Pastor David’s sermon on this passage.

Listen now!

A Three-Hour Nap

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2 NIV)

Everyone needs rest.  Whether it takes the form of a weekend getaway, a vacation to a distant location, or simply a weeknight at home with no responsibilities, everyone needs rest.  Often, we work so hard that we overlook one of the most important responsibilities we have:  to take care of ourselves.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:2-3 NIV)

The creation story is a wonderful narrative describing God’s relationship to his creation.  Many people will emphasize different parts of the story (or, really, the stories – there are two different creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2!).  You may remember that God rested on the seventh day, thus setting the example for us that we should rest from our work as well.  As Jesus said in Mark 2:23-28, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (NIV).  In other words, we do not rest in order to please God by our obedience, but we rest in order to take care of ourselves – because God desires to take care of us in this way.

photo by CC Chapman
photo by CC Chapman

Earlier this week, I did something rather unusual for me:  I took a three-hour nap.  In the afternoon, after a full morning, I came home and slept.  And I slept hard.  You have to understand, I am not a napper; normally, even on Sunday afternoons, I am awake all through the daytime.  The last period of my life when I regularly took naps was kindergarten!  So when I laid down to take a nap and woke up three hours later – with a pretty foggy post-nap brain – I realized I had needed that rest.

We spend a lot of time and energy in the church on serving other people, donating goods and resources, running errands for people, loving, caring, giving, befriending, helping, … on and on and on.  And this is all worthwhile, because our call as the church is to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything [Jesus] has commanded [us]” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV).  Christian faith is not idle faith.  We are interested in seeing the kingdom of God grow in our midst, and sharing Christ with others – in a multitude of ways – is crucial to that work.

Yet we must take care of our bodies and souls, as well.  It is just as important for us to allow the kingdom of God to grow within ourselves as it is to introduce other people to Jesus.  For through our personal transformation, others will see the power of God to change lives – namely, our own.  When we are healthy, then we can communicate the message of Christ clearly and appropriately.  My three-hour nap enabled me to function well through the rest of the week – not just physically but spiritually as well.

Friends, remember to care for your own selves in the coming weeks and months.  Find regular opportunities for Sabbath rest.  And then, once you have rested up, resume the outward work of the kingdom of God.

Pastor David

What God Thinks of Us

Our reputation as believers in the surrounding community is very important:  people can be attracted to Christ or turned away from him based on how we live!  But our reputation before God is even more important.  That is the message of Isaiah 1:10-20, and that forms the theme of Pastor David’s sermon this week.  Click here to listen to his message on this challenging passage of scripture.

Listen now!

Pastor’s Appreciation

texture by Patrick Hoesly
texture by Patrick Hoesly

This past month was “Pastor Appreciation Month,” and I have to admit: I feel very appreciated!  Thank you to all of you who sent cards, gave gifts, wrote notes, and participated in last Sunday’s potluck dinner after church.  None of those expressions of appreciation are required; they are all “bonus blessings” from my perspective.  I feel confident in speaking on behalf of Pastor Jerry when I say that we are both deeply grateful and appreciative of you, the good people of Mt. Haley Church of God.

As this month draws to a close, I think it is proper to turn things around.  Another way to read “Pastor Appreciation Month” is to ask the question, “For what is your pastor appreciative?”  So here is a short summary of a few reasons that I am grateful to be your pastor:

  • Your hard work and volunteer attitude.  Tara and I have frequently commented on how blessed we are to serve a church that serves!  Any time a need arises in our congregation or community, we can count on several people – depending on the required skill sets – showing up to lend a hand.  Packing groceries, hauling wood, raking leaves, cooking meals, providing transportation … you serve in wonderful ways.
  • Your willingness to learn about the Bible.  I am grateful that every single approach to teaching the Bible I have tried has worked – whether Sunday morning sermons, Sunday evening Bible studies, devotional booklets, or anything else!  I think back to the study on Revelation we finished about a year ago, and I see a congregation full of people who are really interested in tackling the hard stuff.  That’s an enormous help to your pastor!
  • Your gentleness and flexibility.  Do you realize that Tara and I have served here three years already?  And do you remember that this is the first and only church I have ever pastored?  I continue to be amazed at how smoothly you grafted me into the church family and how easy you have made it for me to work with you over the past few years.  You truly are a blessing to me!

Take a few minutes to read the first eleven verses of Philippians.  Those are the words Paul wrote to his beloved congregation in Philippi.  I think they speak very well of my appreciation for Mt. Haley Church of God, as well!

–Pastor David