A Response to Evil (like the massacre at a Texas church)

(I originally wrote this as a personal journal entry on Monday, November 6, 2017, after the massacre at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  I decided that maybe others were trying to make sense of all the tragedies occurring so I decided to rewrite it as a blog post.  I pray it brings hope to other heavy hearts as we await the return of our Savior. - Pastor Mike Gauch

   First Baptist Church (Sutherland Springs, Texas) Massacre - November 5, 2017

  First Baptist Church (Sutherland Springs, Texas) Massacre - November 5, 2017

Sunday afternoon, as I was driving home after a delightful lunch with family, I was shaken by the news of another massacre. This time in a Texas church.    I was also shocked how quickly I began numbing these painful emotions through various well-worn practices. I'm just so tired of senseless, dehumanizing violence on such an epic scale.  As we in America get desensitized to mass murders, that seem to happen weekly, let us be clear that it never does to God.  His heart breaks over the evil acts of men.

This statement in itself brings up the age-old question: Why does a good God not stop the evil?  I personally wrestle with this question as individuals and groups abuse, enslave, ruin and destroy others.  I must always go back to what is true to find a path through the evil to the place of hope.

Evil has been unleashed by Adam, our distant progenitor, therefore there is no escape.  Evil cannot be caged until it leaves its destructive trail through history.  Its path, set by God, has boundaries and an expiration date but this does not mean we can dodge evil’s effect. 

If anyone had the moral right and righteous might to not experience evil it was the God-Man, Jesus.  Fully God, fully man, he stepped into the polluted flow of wickedness taking on its full blast by undeservedly enduring the shameful cross and humiliating death as a rebel slave.  Evil’s short-lived victory lasted 3 days - a Pyrrhic victory indeed for it won a battle but lost the greater war!  Jesus defeated evil, devils and death through His resurrection which verified that His sacrificial death was accepted and complete.  Evil would never win in the end. 

My imagination is such that I cannot help but put myself in the place of those dear saints.  In community, they came to meet Christ in worship through song and teaching.  Suddenly they were pounced upon by unvarnished evil.  Death and destruction, heartless and indiscriminate, has left a trail of tears and grief.

Those who died at the hands of a deranged, demon-controlled hater of God, did so as blessed martyrs of Christ.  They therefore saw heaven open up where the glory of God encompassed Jesus, who greeted each with a loving embrace of the shared experience (Acts 7:55-60).  For these faithful saints, young and old, a special crown of life was given to them by the Lord Himself (Rev. 2:10).  They are alive, just not here, with the God of the living (Matt. 22:32).  This is our hope, which we rest everything upon.

My heart breaks for those who experienced this trauma.  My tearful prayers rise up for them.  Evil-experienced has a way of lingering for years affecting both the consciousness of day and the dreams of night.  I pray that they will be kind to themselves and grieve, hanging on to their hope as best they can. 

Even though life will never be the same, I believe from both God’s word and experience that Jesus will heal these deep soul wounds over time.  His promise still stands true, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance” (2Th 3:16).  I pray for courage and humility to seek help from wise, gifted and Spirit-filled aides whom God has raised up on His behalf. 

Last, I pray for God’s unlimited and empowering grace to be received by this whole community.  This is so needful for the body ministry of the “one anothers” to each other but also of displaying the gospel to those who now know they need this saving grace.  This grace will also aid in forgiveness which Jesus displayed on the cross (Luke 23:34).

Hope comes as we long for the day when we experience this promised experience:

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Rev 21:4).

As we yearn for this future day while “in the midst of a wicked and twisted generation,” we can know that there is a crown that awaits each of us.  Jesus, the righteous judge, will award this crown of righteousness “to all who have [expectantly] loved his appearing” (2Ti 4:8).  This is the path through the evil of our age where our hike always ends at our Blessed Hope, Jesus (Titus 2:13).

Christ's Resurrection Power Available Any Day

Easter, the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection, is the high, holy day of the Church Triumphant.  This day seems like the culmination of God’s plan, and yet it is really the beginning of a new age which pulls the past up to it and leaps ahead making the future submit.  But this glorious day in which we delight also impacts our present day life in marvelous ways.

In Paul’s prayer request for the believers in Ephesus (Ephesians 1:17-23), he asks God the Father for the Holy Spirit to “open their eyes of their hearts” (this is heart knowledge, which includes the mind, but takes it to a more experiential place in our lives).  He wants them to know the Hope and Inheritance that believers have in Christ.  The third nugget of illumination is found in verses 19 – 20:

…and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places...

Have you ever wondered about how much strength was required to raise Jesus from the dead?  I have a theory that may or may not accord with what actually happened.  If I was Satan, I would have called in every demon from earth and heaven to Golgotha to stop the predicted resurrection.  (Side note: If true, I wonder if every other place in the world that Sunday experienced an amazing blissful day without demons?)  Maybe this is how God, in one fell swoop, “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in [Christ] (Col 2:15).”  The point remains that at the resurrection, God defeated the demonic, evil, death, and sin.

Christ Triumphant over Sin & Death, Peter Paul Rubens (& Workshop). Columbus Museum of Art

In a recent trip to the Columbus Museum of Art I was struck with this painting by Peter Paul Rubens called “Christ Triumphant Over Sin and Death” (about 1615-1620).  These iconic paintings were meant to communicate spiritual ideals to a largely illiterate people.  Jesus is depicted here, not as a pathetic, beaten figure on the cross, but as powerful, in spite of His visible wounds, as He rises from the grave.  One cherub worships Him with what I believe is a palm branch. The other, after removing the shameful crown of thorns, is placing a victor’s laurel on His head.  Jesus is holding a standard to signify a sovereign is present, as well a rallying point for His army that He is not defeated, but rather victorious.  This victory is best seen by His left foot crushing both the serpent (representing Satan and Sin) and the skull (representing Adam’s sin which brought Death).  The fires of Hell cannot reach Him.  While this painting gives a vivid picture of the victorious Resurrected Christ, it pales in comparison to how He currently exists (e.g., Revelation 1:12-17). 

When the Monday after Easter is upon us, we desperately need to remember that there is a power available to those of us who believe in Christ as our only Savior and Lord.  This power is working in us to conform us to the Son (Rom 8:29-34).  God’s might has made us more than conquerors in Christ Jesus so that nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:37-39).  The power is released in our lives through humility, like Christ’s example, and our acknowledged weakness (2Cor. 12:5-10).  So we live in light of Easter as Paul later instructed the Ephesus faithful, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might (Eph. 6:10).”

Darkness cannot hide the Light of the World

As in the 2 other art blogs (you can read them here and here), artwork moves my soul but only if I slow down and contemplate, much like God's word.  The painting below did not initially strike me since the Getty museum is filled with pictures of Jesus.  I was actually looking at, I think, this one when I began to notice “Christ on the Cross” by El Greco (1541-1614) seen below.  I read the plaque,  listened to the audio, and then just contemplated it, keeping in mind what I had learned.  This picture was painted for personal reflection for people who did not have photos, radio, movies or television.  It was meant to move them from the secular to the spiritual.  Maybe it can still do the same.

Christ on the Cross by El Greco. Click to expand in lightbox.

What I noticed first was the depressing, encroaching darkness.  Notice the clouds are almost completely blocking out the sun.  The black and blue hues communicate that a punishing evil is engulfing the whole world.  In the bottom right corner, the soldiers, a picture of worldly power, march in victory with banner held high.  They turn their backs on Jesus, and are, therefore, unknowingly, being swallowed by the darkness they created.  It is this impending darkness that dominates the majority of the painting.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:5 NAU

Of course, in the middle of this bleak scene, Jesus, alone with eyes raised upward, is commending His spirit to the Father.  What is fascinating is that the sun is behind the clouds.  Jesus with his back to the cloud-covered sun is fully illuminated from within Himself.  He is truly the Light of the World.  El Greco makes his point further by bending the body of Christ in a flame configuration.  Can you see it?

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  John 1:4-5 NAU

Here is the point of the painting and this post: if our world is getting darker and more evil and if the power brokers of society aggressively turn their back on God charting their own failed course, we need only to fix our eyes on the True Light “and the things of earth will grow strangely dim” as the old song goes.  The Light is with us, in us, and for us.  Someday He will be the only source of Light we need (Rev. 22:5). 

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:12-14 NAU

May we all enjoy this day with Jesus because of His Grace and Truth that reveals the light of His glory!

If you would like a worship song to cap off this devotional thought then may I suggest Lauren Daigle’s “Light of the World” video below:


A Picture of Repentance

Last week’s blog mentioned my late-in-life enjoyment of fine art.  While in Los Angeles for my oldest son David's graduation, this passion was renewed again as we visited the J. Paul Getty Museum of Art.  When J.B. asked me which was my favorite painting, I did not hesitate, it is The Penitent Magdalene by Titian (pronounced “TI-shən”).

                                                                                                    Click on image to see more info on The Penitent Magdalene at Getty Museum

                                                                                                   Click on image to see more info on The Penitent Magdalene at Getty Museum

A little background is necessary before I explain why this work struck me, and why I hope after reading this blog, it will strike you as well.  Mary Magdalene was a beloved figure for Renaissance artists, yet the church’s teaching on her was, to say the least, muddled.  In A.D. 591, Pope Gregory the Great, possibly not the best student of Scripture, preached a sermon in which he combined 3 New Testament women into one.  Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2, Mark 16:9), the sinful woman (the sin being prostitution) who anointed Jesus' feet and washed them with her tears (Luke 7:36-50), and the Mary of Bethany who was the sister of Lazarus & Martha (John 11:2, 12:3) all became the same person!  This error persisted through the centuries, and it became the story most people believed.  The great Italian Renaissance painter, Titian (1487–1576), was under this erroneous impression as well.  Hopefully this is not too confusing.  If it is then just think of the woman pictured not as Mary Magdalene but the sinful woman in Luke 7.

This painting was so popular that Titian made several copies of this painting, but the one featured here was the one he kept in his studio.  Let me state up front that staring at a photograph of a work of art is not even close to seeing it up close, displayed in a museum.  But even so, if you will slow down and look at the picture, I think you will see why it was and is so popular. 

First, look at her outfit.  She is still dressed provocatively, which signifies her sinful profession.  Yet, look at how she is beginning to cover herself.  Something has happened.  The Word of God lays open before her.  I like to think this Bible symbolizes Jesus.  She has had a personal encounter with Jesus, the Living Word.  Now I say “had,” because her tear-filled eyes are not directed down but up toward heaven.  I believe the truth and grace of the Lord’s message has moved her to repentance, and now she is gratefully and humbly basking in forgiveness. 

The artist has told us about her past & present but he has more to say about her future.  She came in darkness (left side) but she will leave into the light (right side).  There is one object left, an unbroken alabaster jar of perfume.  She will leave this place and worship Jesus with her tears, her hair, and her heirloom perfume in an anointing for the ages.  The painting anticipates this spiritual act of service.

I’m sure you’ve been here like I have.  My shame before me, I come to the Lord through the truth of His word.  Owning my sin against Him, I cry out in repentance.  He, in His amazing, costly grace, lovingly forgives and restores.  I’m taken from darkness to light.  How can I not worship the Lord with my life as I’m covered with mercy and grace?  The Penitent Magdalene is meant to be a mirror as much as a painting where we can see ourselves in the picture of unmerited grace purchased by Christ at the cross.

A Timeless Reminder for our Independence Day Celebration

I enjoy art museums.  I’m not sure when it started, but I certainly know when it caught fire.  I was on a mission trip to France when we were given 2 hours in the Louvre.  I was shocked at my initial reactions to certain works of art, as well as my hunger to know more.  By no means am I an expert.  In fact, I’m barely a novice.  (Someday I will take some art appreciation classes so I can at least claim ‘novice’ status.

Independence Day is almost upon us.  As I type this, I believe our nation is undergoing a radical transformation where liberties are being exchanged, thereby creating winners and losers.  Even with all this, we have enjoyed, and still have an amazing array of freedoms and rights compared to much of the world.  This Manet painting, which I saw at the J.Paul Getty Museum in California, speaks to this national pride.

                                                                          Manet - Rue Mosnier with flags (Click on image for info on Painting at  Getty museum)

                                                                         Manet - Rue Mosnier with flags (Click on image for info on Painting at  Getty museum)

Not that it is needed, but let me explain as best I can.  Manet, the great Impressionist painter, is looking out his studio window at the 1878 celebration of a French national holiday, called the Fête de la Paix  (Celebration of Peace).  It is not many years removed from the end of a war.  In preparation for the celebration of national peace and prosperity, street banners are being placed (note the ladder leaving the scene at the bottom suggesting  the task was just finished) and the wealthy folks, with their hansom cabs, busy themselves for the festivities. 

An isolated figure interrupts the scene.  It is a one-legged veteran on crutches who hobbles in the left corner of the painting with the feeling of being forgotten by the festivities. This celebrated peace and prosperity cost him more than anyone yet he is alone and forgotten on this day. 

It is important that we honor and appreciate those men and women who have served in the military to secure the liberties we still enjoy.  Stand and cheer loudly when the veterans roll past in the parade.  It will do us all good to remember.  As Paul reminds us:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things. (Phi 4:8 NIV)

Right Where You Are

Every weekend, CFC fills her walls with people from many different walks of life: single moms, high-schoolers, empty-nesters, athletes, musicians, academics, couples, singles, businessmen & women, doctors, teachers, parents, children, young, less young, and many others.  

Each is on a different journey with the Lord.  Each person is in a different place in life in his or her trek.   As we all know, the smooth trip gets (excuse the pun) “tripped up.” Our trail turns, as quickly as switching 2 letters, into a trial.  Many times we’re tempted to hunker down alone and save ourselves.

The story of Esther comes to mind when I think about facing difficult times.  She was a Jewish orphan exiled to Persia , raised by her older cousin Mordecai – not ideal.  But she also happened to be drop-dead gorgeous.  After winning the national beauty contest her prize was she became queen of the most powerful nation around.  Life was good except her husband, the king, had a very strict rule: if anyone, even the Queen, burst into his presence without being summoned, then the death penalty could be executed immediately, if the King so desired.

Evil people (seems like they are always messing up the journey) hatched a plan to trick the King in killing all the Jews in the land.  Esther’s path is about to get life-threatening - as in, one wrong step, and she falls off the cliff.   When cousin Mordecai tells her of this plan to wipe out all of the Jews, her people, she is distraught.  But, alas, she tells Mordecai that she has to wait to be summoned by the King or she could die.  

Mordecai's response to Esther is full of truth.  

"Do not imagine that you in the king's palace can escape any more than all the Jews.  For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish.  And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?" Esther 4:13-14

Esther perceives that God had placed her on this perilous precipice for a purpose.  She acts on a prayer-bathed, risky but wise plan.  She does go to see the king unbidden, and because she finds favor in his sight, he does not kill her.  The plan succeeds, the Jews are saved, and the bad guys get it in the end – my kind of story!

Maybe Esther’s putting herself on the line for others is more significant because I watched a number of volunteers step up to provide a successful, fun, Jesus-centered VBS. 

Or certainly the Headings Clan hiking the Grand Canyon with patriarch, Bob, who is paralyzed from the waist down is such a clear picture of the struggle and joy in the journey.  By the way, please invite others to our June 28th Sunday Service to see the film and hear the story of "Faith, Love & Family" which has been featured on the Today Show and the Columbus Dispatch.  Here is the short trailer to their video.  

Thank you for taking the unselfish risks to help others navigate their walk with Jesus!  Remember that wherever you are, and whatever you are in the middle of, God can use you.  Allow Him to do so.  

Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading

I love books.  Actually I love books that impact me.  This could be by a life-changing teaching, inspiring thoughts, a new way to look at the familiar, or just a plain-old ‘fun read’.  Recommending a book to me is a little like suggesting to someone a perfume or cologne, it is so highly individualistic that success is not guaranteed so with this in mind I humbly submit books that I love. 

Read More

Indie Bands & CFC

Having watched my sons over the years and now their wives, I’ve noticed how they enjoy discovering music from “indie bands.”  As I understand it, indie bands are artists who have not signed with a major recording company.  In fact, many have no desire to “sell out” to a corporation, therefore losing their artistic freedom.  They want to create & express authentic art, even though it means they may never achieve as large a following as those artists with major recording contracts. 

Psalm 40:3 He gave me reason to sing a new song, praising our God.  May many see what God has done, so that they might swear allegiance to Him and trust in the LORD!

So how does this relate to CFC?

CFC is described as an “independent church,” meaning we are not officially a part of a larger denomination or organization.  Over the years, I have made inquiries about joining one of these groups because there are some advantages to being connected to a consortium of churches.  Each time, though, the Lord has stopped the process.  I have come to believe that the unique ministry He has for CFC is best accomplished as an independent church.

Maybe we are like the "indie" artist.  We have not signed with an organization that would require us to conform to some outside standards and lose a level of control.  If we did, we might get more exposure because of the organization’s "brand."  Without this, however, we are forced to seek Jesus on what He wants us to be, which has been a great blessing and encouragement.  In order to grow spiritually, we have had to study, watch, and listen to see the ways in which He has blessed.  In the end, I believe CFC, through the people here, has been an authentic expression of Jesus to all who have been exposed to her.  In contemporary terms, CFC is an “indie” church producing an authentic, beautiful "new song" that, we pray, pleases our Lord.

Psalm 40:3 He gave me reason to sing a new song, praising our God.  May many see what God has done, so that they might swear allegiance to Him and trust in the LORD!

Forgiveness - Unexplainable, Apart for God

As I mentioned on Sunday, I had a remarkable amount of technical glitches.  So traumatized by this, I refused to turn on my computer for 2 days which explains why this blog took so long to post.  My excuse if this post is a little disorientated is that I woke up today with what I suspect an inner ear issue because I'm unusually dizzy ('unusually' was added for all of you who were thinking, "Isn't 'dizzy' his normal state?").

One of the greatest evils in our time is being unleashed on the world through the radical Islamic group, ISIS.  This group has a special hatred for us, followers of Jesus.  The atrocities done to our Brothers & Sisters in Christ who found themselves in their path have been despicable and, quite frankly, make me angry.  YET, through the rubble & ashes of evil, something beautiful & fragrant has been rising above it all...GRACE. This grace is displayed with Forgiveness, Unexplainable apart from God.  Jesus forgave the Romans and Jews who unjustly crucified him (Luke 23:34). This Jesus, resurrected and alive, lives in each of us therefore forgiveness is truly a part of our DNA.

Without further ado, below is the interview with Christian children who find themselves in an Iraqi refugee camp, having been chased from their homes by ISIS.  The little girl, Myriam, is a very special messenger of Jesus.

I recommend reading the English translation of the gospel tract, "Two Rows by the Sea".  I read with tears the powerful poem from it .  Here is an article explaining the development & impact of this tract.

Click HERE for the article, "The greatest weapon against ISIS? Forgiveness" by Martin Saunders.  I read excerpts from it at the end of the service.

Finally, below is link from the Voice of the Martrys which I saw earlier this year.  It is the story of a Christian mom in Syria preparing her children for what may come at the hands of ISIS.  This is very powerful, emotional, and painful, so understand your own heart before viewing. Click HERE for "Liena's prayer" by Voice of the Martyrs.  Your prayers for the persecuted Christians in the Middle East will change in frequency and fervency...

God bless, Pastor Mike

 

Day 10 of 22-days of Gratitude & more!

Almost half-way done and the Lord is pleased with all the thanksgiving going up to Him and the blessings others are receiving in experiencing our gratitude.  Remember the unique aspect of our recognizing our being Blessed, then our subsequent Gratitude is that we express this to someone.  We don't have to do this every day but do try for a couple of times per week.  One of my favorite examples this week, was the empty-nester who sent a gratitude note to a retired Middle School teacher who had a huge impact on their child. 

For those who would like something to spark their gratitude reflection, click HERE for a Thanksgiving checklist derived from all the New Testament passages regarding Gratitude.

For those who enjoy deeper Bible Study, I mentioned in the sermon on Sunday about the 5 different sacrifices.  Click HERE for 2 charts that will help differentiate between them.

Day 4 of the 22 Day Gratitude Challenge

At the end of the sermon on 11/9/14, I invited any one who would like to join me in a 22 Day Gratitude Challenge that would end with Communion (Eucharist means "Give Thanks") on 11/30.

If you are blessed by God then humbly express that gratitude to Him and then others.  This can be done with words, actions or gifts.  I'm finding that we are a grateful bunch.  Emails, notes, phone calls have all been used these last few days.  Someone was grateful for the neighbor who served his country years ago that this person cut and raked this veteran's yard.  Blessed leads to Gratitude leads to Blessing.

I've been blessed by your expressed blessings which causes me to express gratitude and the cycle continues.  Maybe this is what is meant by the author of Hebrews stated, "...let us CONTINUALLY offer to God a sacrifice of praise.. Hebrews 13:15 " because once started it self perpetuates.

Last, I'm grateful to our Lord who allows me to be a Pastor to such a grateful group of Christ-followers!  (I also just completed my Day 4 Gratitude Challenge :) )

The Devoted Voted . . .

Today I was researching the candidates and issues for Tuesday’s election (11/2/14).  The internet is a wonderful to tool to help in this endeavor.  The Dispatch voter guide which allows you to not only research and compare the candidates but record your choices to use for your ballot.  I even like their endorsement page. While I may not agree on every choice, they do give their opinion based on performance which many times I do not have a clue how a judge or official has done.  Bottom line, it took time but my conscience is clear before God and men.

My prayer is that you will take time to vote this next Tuesday.  

If you need a little motivation on voting, I would suggest you watch the compelling video below that both Cathy Williams and Barry Cook brought to my attention.  Below the video is a little something I wrote which briefly explains from a Biblical perspective the motivation and the mechanics of voting as a citizen of heaven. 

 

OUR DUAL CITIZENSHIPS AND VOTING

 Sometimes I feel like I’m "preaching to the choir" because I know how passionate most of you are toward the right and responsibility to vote.  For some, though, voting is discouraging and compromising.  "Can I trust any of these candidates to do what they promise?" "Does it really matter?"  "Is it right to pick between 'the lesser of two evils'?"

Because Jesus is our Lord (King), our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20).  He has given us a clear duty to be good citizens in the earthly kingdom He places us in (Rom. 13:1-7. 1 Pet. 2:13-14).  This means not only doing 'right' by obeying laws but doing 'good' which speaks to being a blessing to those in authority and other citizens for which no law can command.  I believe voting is a 'good' task that fits in perfectly with our roles as having dual citizenship. 

Our vote, is in essence, the Lord's.  Our first criteria then  for any vote is where a candidate stands on issues that God has clearly addressed.  Let me name a few: the sanctity of life (Gen. 1:26-27; 9:6) and of marriage (Gen. 1:24, Matt. 19:5),  'natural law' jurisprudence that recognizes a transcendent law above man-made law (Dan. 3:16-18, Acts 4:19-20), or God's healthy balance between social justice (Gal. 2:10) and personal responsibility (2 Thes. 3:10).  The integrity of a candidate in his personal and professional life is important as well (1 Kings 22:52, Prov. 14:34).

We may have some reasoned positions and some based on personal preferences that we use to evaluate a candidate or issue but they all submit to the clear instruction of our Lord through His word (2Tim. 3:16, 17).  Enjoy our King Jesus' pleasure when you do 'good' as a citizen of this country!

 

Cure for the Common Idol Sermon Updates

One balancing comment on the sermon, "The cure for the common idol" should be made.  Productivity is a good thing & shouldn't be confused with "busyness".  What was at issue on busyness is when it becomes an away of escape from dealing with other important issues OR it is the 'carrot at the end of a stick" means to overcome self-worth issues.  Someone mentioned to me that sometimes they will spend hurried time with the Lord but are not "plugged in" to Him so little happens of significance.  It is  like turning on an unplugged light and expecting light.

Here is a PDF of the sermon on Sunday: Idol Sermon Presentation.

Click HERE for article, "Why Are We So Busy?" by Kevin Offner.  I do not know from what website or publication this was taken from but the whole article is worth reading, better yet, applying.

Click HERE for the article "Are we more narcissistic than ever before?" by W. Keith Campbell.

Click HERE is the section of the Sexual Addiction 101: Understanding the Basics & Beyond Seminar dealing with "10 Criteria for an Addiction" presented by Greg Schad & Lucinda Bolinger of Crossroad Counseling Group.

Sermon updates: Paul Harvey on Motherhood and an error check

In regards to Sunday's sermon, "Rely on the Heavenly Supply for the Spiritually Dry"; The Paul Harvey script on motherhood seemed to strike a chord with many of you so here is the PDF and the website link.  Let me just say that I believe this to be something that was aired by Paul Harvey but I could not find any verifying evidence like the audio or copyright owners.

In regards to last Sunday's sermon, "The Cost of a Free Lunch", I mistakenly referred to the year of Jubilee as a 7 year period which, when someone asked me about it, I realized I misspoke.  The Lord instituted that every 7th year the land was to go "fallow" or unplanted (Exo. 23:10-11).  When they completed 7 of these cycles (49 yrs) then the 50th year the Hebrews were to celebrate "Jubilee" where debts are forgiven and slaves set free (Lev. 25:8-55).  For more on this please reference this Eerdmans Bible dictionary entry.  I apologize for any confusion.

By the way, the 70 yrs of exile that Judah experienced was for the 490 years of not letting the land go fallow therefore the land would have its rest (2 Chron. 36:20-21, Jer. 29:10).

 

Just finished listening to Women's Luncheon and . . .

I just finished listening to the Women's luncheon and I was so blessed.  This was even heightened because it was led by 2 young ladies in our midst who have a depth in their relationship with Christ that belies their chronological age.  They shine like stars in this dark, crooked generation (Phil. 2:15)

Megan Holmberg accompanied by her Dad, Tim, sang Aftermath, a song I wasn't familiar with but it is beautifully powerful.  Megan has such a unique, beautiful and soulful voice that resonates deep within everyone who hears it.  She has an ability to show her heart when she sings.  The 2nd time I listened to it I had the lyrics before me which drove home the sacrifice of Christ and that we were rescued in the aftermath of that amazing, humbling act of our Savior.  Click here for the lyrics to Aftermath.

Alyssa Lindsey's testimony is one of surrendering in order to experience more and more of Christ through very difficult medical issues.  Having spent time with her , I can tell you that Christ is real within her.  This comes through very clearly where, in the end, you will join with her in Glorifying the Lord.  I highly recommend listening to this.

Don't stop listening too quickly because Sumita does an amazing Gospel presentation that is filled with wisdom, understanding and heart.  To hear her passion is why I thank God for her leadership of our Women's Ministry Board where the other women there share her heart as well.

"Resurrection Skeptics to Believers" List & 2 outstanding sermons you may have missed

Someone asked me for the list of Resurrection Skeptics who ended up proving / believing in it, that I mentioned in the Easter Sermon.

A resource that was most helpful in compiling this list was "The Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ — Can It Persuade Skeptics?" By Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon.

Christ really IS risen, INDEED!

Two sermons you may have missed . . .

  1. If you did not join us for Good Friday then you missed an outstanding  sermon by Pastor David Pound titled, Pierced for Our Transgressions. It is well worth your time.
  2. Alyssa Lindsey sent me a YouTube video (below) that was taken from a sermon by Judah Smith, where someone has placed words and images to the spoken word.  It is very powerful.  On a personal note, during Easter week, this video yanked me out of a "grump zone" & pity-party back into worship, surrender and "right" thinking.

Sermon Update about my dog & the skunk

A few of you were kind enough to tell me that I never did say if my dog, Denry, got 'skunked'  on our 5:30am walk this past Sunday.  I'm glad to report that in a rare act of obedience Denry actually responded to my hysterical, ear-splitting scream.

 I did insert a picture of him at 6am on September 5 just after he endured his latest"de-skunking".  His expression is very similar to the ones  I see in the congregation when I'm preaching.  I never really thought of this but I guess some sermons do help us 'de-skunk' so we return to the Lord's presence.

God bless,  

Pastor Mike

Deskunked Denry

An Introduction to Pastor Mike's Blog

From ""The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass" by Adrian Plass:

Saturday December 14th

Feel led to keep a diary.  A sort of spiritual log for the benefit of others in the future.  Each new divine insight and experience will shine like a beacon in the darkness!

Can't think of anything to put in today.

The opening entry in Adrian Plass' Diary still makes me laugh even 25 years later.  The self-importance to write a blog is only over-shadowed by the quite humbling thought that I may not have anything of significance to say.  The "Interweb" has brought us Social Media so we all have a voice whether well-informed or not.  I will belatedly and begrudgingly add mine but would rather have the "social" without the "media" where the discussion takes place in a living room or over a Crimson Cup french press coffee in a real mug or floating on a boat talking while fishing.

Applying the "Ready-Fire-Aim" approach, I plan to put things that impact me and may be of interest of others. There are times I would like to add or balance a recent sermon.  Sometimes I will post a link to referenced book, article or video.  There are church-related events that need an outlet as well.  Maybe one of my Daily God Encounters will work its way in or, better yet, one of yours with permission, of course.  The adjectives that I hope would guide this blog are "authentic", "thought-provoking", "encouraging", "humorous" "truth-based", and, most importantly, "God-glorifying".

They've told me that it would be a good idea to get a Twitter account so people can know when I've updated the blog.  My Twitter name is @PastorMikeGauch if you care to follow.

Let the blogging begin...maybe tomorrow...I got nothing, right now...