From a Seedling to Salvation

A tree sprouts. Little by little branches form and strength occurs. Over the years God waters it with His mighty hand and He knows this is the tree that will be made into a cross for His Son. Yet He still waters it.

He grows it up big and strong only to be chopped down to humiliate and torment His Son on that fateful day. And He knows this! And Christ knows it, too. I wonder if the cross builder knew that he was fashioning this for the King of Kings. I wonder what Simon of Cyrene was thinking when he carried the cross behind Jesus. The criminals on either side; what were they thinking?

A Christian contemporary group called Third Day wrote a profound song called “Thief”. If you aren’t familiar with it you really need to listen to it, as it will impact you in a way you won’t forget.

As you celebrate the Risen King, remember all the thoughts that must have gone through people’s minds. Remember what was done for you and pass on the Greatest Story ever told with all your abilities!


April Fool’s Day

I love when Easter is in the month of April. March seems too early to celebrate Resurrection Life formally. (I know we need to celebrate Resurrection Life all the time.) But  April seems more appropriate than March. Spring is bursting forth, trees are budding, flowers are blooming, the weather is warmer  it just seems like April and Easter is a good fit and celebrating just feels right. April, however, has one little thing hanging over its head, “April Fool’s Day”.  What a way to begin a month. Let’s make something out of it, okay?
The book of Proverbs often talks about the foolishness of rejecting God, rejecting His wisdom, and His guidance. So, let’s not be fools. Let’s embrace all that Christ has for us. Let’s search for, run after, hold clear the precious truths and guidance of the Holy Spirit. May we allow our God to pour into us the Resurrection Life He has freely given to us. May we celebrate a the newness of life that April has to offer, both physically and spiritually.
Looking forward to celebrating Easter with you!

The Old Rugged Cross

“So l’ll cherish the old rugged cross. Till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross. And exchange it someday for a crown” (Bennard).

“The emblem of suffering and shame… ” At the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, the cross was a shameful symbol. I tried to think of a present day equivalent, but there simply isn’t one. I once read a book where the author joked about Christians wearing crosses. He said that they might as well have a modern-day electric chair hanging around their necks. The thought sounds a little irreverent to me, but he kind of had a point.

‘‘I will cherish the old rugged cross… ” Why do we cherish an emblem of suffering and shame? What is it about the cross that draws us to it? How can something so notoriously ugly, be so beautiful?
While I write this, I am thinking about all the suffering and shame that I once carried. I could tell you some stories  I’m sure you could tell me some, too. Today when I think of the cross, I see Jesus. I see Him taking my suffering and shame and making them His own. I see Him declaring hope and healing over my failures and misery. Through a shameful cross, His blood has bought me a new life.
Why do we cling to and cherish this old, rugged cross? Because our Savior’s blood covered it, along with our sins. It has become an emblem not of shame, but of forgiveness and victory. I encourage you to spend some time recognizing the beauty of the cross, for it is the chosen instrument that God used to rescue us.

New Seasons

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
2 Corinthians 5:17

March is called a transition month for the season of winter to let go of its hold, and allow the next season of spring to once again prime the earth for a new growing season. Obviously, March is repeatedly known to give a surprise blast of snow or a week of single digit temperatures in the mornings. But I don’t care. It’s 30 days closer than last month.

Let’s take a look at ourselves and compare us to the next season. I did say March was a transition month. We can’t expect spring to be here tomorrow. It takes a process of little steps, but each one is a development for one big reawakening of spring. Spring is about small signs of hope of what is to come, which leads to something more spectacular. We go through a very similar transition as winter does to spring. By saying yes to God, this allows Him to start the reawakening process inside us with desires and a hopefulness for our future.

A transition takes place through God’s steady command over our lives. Then gradually a Godly beauty will begin to swell up inside us, break through that dormant crusty layer, and we will bloom with all sorts of greenery, colors, and fruits. Don’t stay trapped behind frozen soils. Let God and His promises be used like a spring tonic. God wants each of us to participate in the reawakening process, and He is there to guide the transformation of our lives in Christ.

Prepare our hearts for budding! Let this church be the biggest green space of hope ever! ‘


New Seasons of Life

Daylight Savings Time is here. That means that Spring is just around the corner. The days will be getting longer. The weather will be getting warmer. Spring is one of my favorite seasons. The dull gray winter sky is replaced by the bright blue. The dead trees begin to show leaves and bloom again. Grass goes from brown and nasty to the deepest shades of green you can imagine. There is a newness that comes with every season of the year.

Just as the planet goes through seasons (winter, spring, summer, fall), we also go through seasons in our lives. Maybe the season that you are in isn’t one of your favorites. Maybe it’s been rough. Maybe things haven’t been going the way you had hoped that they would. Maybe you’re dealing with some difficult situations right now. Just as winter turns to spring, the seasons in our lives change as well. Revelation 21:5 says:

“And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new… ”’

Even if your season in life hasn’t been kind to you, God is seated on the throne and He is going to make all things new. I want to encourage you to allow God to lead you on through the difficult seasons of your life, trust that He is making all things new, and will be faithful to turn cold winter into spring. Surrender to Him your situation and allow Him to handle it.


Your Glorious Power

The other night, I think it was Tuesday, or rather early Wednesday morning, I was awakened by a loud clap of thunder. Lightning flashed, and then another boom of thunder. If I hadn’t seen the lightning I don’t think I would have taken it for thunder, but some other noise in the dark. lt’s February for crying out loud!

I began to think about this unusual occurrence, this freak of nature, it’s not very often we have a thunderstorm in February. I was reminded of Job and the conversation the Lord had with him in chapters thirty-eight through forty-one. God describes His creation, His marvelous works … “Who can explain them.”  … God asks Job, “Can you send the lightning bolts on their way?” God continually declares to Job, “Everything under heaven belongs to me.” What a dissertation. The thunder in the night once again reminded me how awesome our great God is. His majestic power is a wonder to behold!

Then consider this… If He has such displays of power in nature, how much more can He demonstrate through those created in His image, called to do His glorious works? How He will help us glory in His presence … thunder His word in displays of awesome magnitude. I say, “Yes, Lord,” help us demonstrate Your awesome works and power! Give me the ability and strength to let my world see Your Glorious Power!

~Pastor Rod

The Mountain

“As the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, Master, it is good that we are here…” (Luke 9:33).

‘‘It is good that we are here.” These words of Peter were spoken right after Jesus’ transfiguration on a mountain. The Bible says that Jesus’ face was altered and that His cloths were dazzling white. Elijah and Moses made an appearance on the mountain with Jesus. I would love to know what Jesus talked about with them on that day. Whatever it was that Peter saw and heard, he felt that it was better for them to stay there. He offered to set up tents for them. He didn’t want to move. He didn’t want to leave that moment.

Last weekend the youth spent some time on a hill at Camp McPherson. I can assure you that there were some great moments spent all over the campground…but without a doubt, the greatest moments of the weekend happened at the top of the hill in the tabernacle. Jesus met with our kids. Hearts were moved by the same power that moved the stone away from our Savior’s tomb.

In my years in youth ministry, there is always an “after camp let-down.” Like Peter, it seems better to stay on the hill. At camp the circumstances are perfect to meet with God. The whole point of the hard work and agenda of the weekend is to bring Jesus to the campers. Though the time can be intense, it is easy to meet with God there compared to when the youth are back home.

What isn’t easy is meeting with God when the circumstances don’t line up…when life does all it can to keep you far from Him. I’ve seen it over and over again. School, work, family issues, sports, social media…can make it really hard to remember what Jesus said on top of the hill.

My challenge to the youth and to the rest of us, is that we thank God for the times on the mountain. Those are times to be treasured. We need to show up when the situation is perfect and when everything points to Him, but we can’t stop there. It’s just as important, If not more, to earnestly seek Him in the valleys.

Will you join me in praying for our youth? May we not be satisfied with only having mountaintop experiences with God, but follow Him down the hill and allow Him to speak into our everyday lives too.


Snowflakes Falling

As I settle into my 50’s, I find myself desiring a wintery snowfall. I desire to see the abundance of flakes cascading to the ground with a substantial accumulation. It’s hard for me to believe those words are coming out of my being! I have always been just a “summer” person! I have come to realize that a snowfall says to my soul that God is near and He is standing by my side.

So, let’s put on our winter attire and stroll through all those soft, relaxing, and beautiful snowflakes. Close your eyes and imagine! Take a deep inhale of breath and extend your face towards the Heavens. Enjoy all those tiny little flakes tickling your nose and marvel in God’s tranquility. His voice whispering to you ever so lightly. Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” The world seems to stop momentarily during a winter storm. Soak the quietness into your soul and let it soothe and refresh you. Imagine every snowflake that is softly falling, as different shapes and sizes. God made each one special and with sparkling beauty. There is not one alike but spectacular in its own way. This is exactly how God created each one of us; special and unique. The snowflake sprinkles down from Heaven, made just for us from our Heavenly Father. It is a time to reflect and be thankful for our many blessings. The new fallen, pure, white snow reminds us that God sent His only Son to be crucified on the cross for our sins. Our sins washed white by the red blood of Jesus. Oh thank you, Jesus!

So, the next time it snows, try to have a new perspective. There is more to this beautiful white stuff than shoveling and slippery roads. It is a chance to experience a moment with our Father and spend time with Him. He will enjoy our company immensely. I encourage you to take a stroll during a snow storm and meet God on the pathway.

Happy Trails!


Peace Be Still

It always amazes me how fast January goes by. One day we are celebrating the new year, and the next Punxatawney Phil is looking for his shadow. February can be a strange month weather wise. I never put much stock in the furry rodent’s predictions but, the up and down weather can be a trial. February can be cold, stormy, icy, warm, flirtatious, and down right horrible! What are you gonna do?

Tuesday and Wednesday evening during our Bible study . . . hey here’s an idea, if you don’t normally attend our Bible study, try it, I know you’ll like it. This past Wednesday we talked about Jesus calming the storm in Luke chapter eight. A furious storm descended upon Jesus and His disciples as they crossed the Sea of Galilee. This storm that was attempting to sink the boat can be likened to the storms of life . . . the storms of February that would try to sink us. The enemy stirs up those storms in order to frustrate, discourage, even destroy us. You may be experiencing a storm this morning. Be assured Jesus is with you, He cares, and He can speak to that storm, “Peace be still,” just as He did in Luke chapter eight.

Let February blast us with its worst . . . let the enemy throw what feeble attempts he may have at us . . . our God is greater, more than able to take the teeth out of the storms of life. At the end of the day we can rest assured in “Peace, Be Still.”

~Pastor Rod

Love & Grace

The other day I read the above quote and something in my heart was tugged. I don’t know what humbles me more, the picture of God’s
love catching me or His grace carrying me.

There are days when I know that I am not as easy to love as I would like to think. These are the days when I fail and know that there is no sugar coating it. . . I am a total disaster. That’s when I am most grateful and dependent on God’s unwavering, breathtaking love for me.

There are other days when It’s not so much about my personal failures, but about the external pressures of the world that make me feel like just getting out of bed is a huge accomplishment. Those are the days when I roll out of bed and ask God to carry me through the day. Whether It’s when I’ve suffered great loss, or an overload of responsibilities that feel too big for me to shoulder, God’s grace is strong enough to bear the load that threatens to crush me.

I don’t know what you may be going through. Maybe you’ve gotten yourself into a set of hard circumstances that are completely your fault. Guess what. . . God’s love will break your fall. You don’t deserve it (and neither do I), but He won’t let you down. He won’t shake His head and cross His arms when you ask for His help. Even when you’re at your worst, He will open His heart and arms to you and embrace you with His Love (Romans 5:8).

If you find yourself in a situation that’s simply too much for you to endure . . . something that breaks your heart . . . God’s grace will carry you when your own strength isn’t enough. When you feel empty from being poured out, He will fill you up. His grace draws from a well that never dries up (2 Corinthians 12:9).

I challenge you to humbly ask for God’s help today. Whether you are overwhelmed, or have really messed up, God has exactly what you need . . . and He has more than enough to go around.