Pastor's Blog
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November 9, 2016, 7:57 AM

Servant of All

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May the same spirit that lived and reigned in Christ, live in you. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. That, I suppose, raises a good series of questions. What was the mind of Christ? What attitude did he maintain? And can we mirror such an attitude in our own lives?

In response, the Apostle Paul declares in Scripture, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:4-11, NLT).

Jesus has clearly shown us the way we are to live. We are called to lay down our lives. We are to give our lives away in service. Instead of lording over our neighbor, we are to be a servant of all (Mark 10:42-45). This is a constant theme throughout the Bible. Galatians 5:13 implores us, “serve one another humbly in love.” Again 1 Peter 4:10 declares, “Each one of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others.” This leads me to ask: How are you serving your fellow brother and sister today?

Henri Nouwen writes: “The mystery of ministry is that the Lord is to be found where we minister. That is what Jesus tells us when he says: ‘Insofar as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me’ (Matt. 25:40). Our care for people thus becomes the way to meet the Lord. The more we give, help, support, guide, counsel, and visit, the more we receive, not just similar gifts, but the Lord himself… Living this truth in our daily life makes it possible to care for people without conditions, without hesitation, without suspicion, or without the need for immediate rewards. With this sacred knowledge, we can avoid becoming burned out.”

I invite you to pray the following with me: Heavenly Father, I ask you to enable me to gladly do the work to which you beckon me. May I do it as a servant of Christ doing the will of God from my heart. May you be glorified in the way that I serve and minister to those around me. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

November 2, 2016, 7:56 AM

Compassionate Living

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May the God of all compassion (2 Cor. 1:3) fill you with compassion. May the love that moved Christ to the cross overwhelm your heart today. May this same love flow out of you and impact a needy world.

In Scripture we are implored to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32) and to “clothe yourselves with compassion” (Col. 3:12), but what exactly does compassionate ministry look like in action? Frederick Buechner has tried to describe it in this way, “Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” Thus, to be compassionate is to walk a mile in another’s shoes. It is to see a need and then be moved in our guts to do something about it. This was the incarnational ministry of Jesus Christ.

The Savior looks with compassion on his people. He could not rest satisfied with the few who had heard his call and followed. He shrank from the idea of forming an exclusive little club. Unlike many religious leaders, he had no desire to withdraw his disciples from the vulgar crowd and initiate them into the monastic life, hidden away from the masses. As Bonhoeffer states, “He had come, he had worked and suffered for the sake of all his people.” He loved and ministered to all and subsequently sent his followers to go out and do the same (John 21:15).

Norman Cousins writes: “Compassion is not quantitative. Certainly it is true that behind every human being who cries out for help there may be a million or more equally entitled to attention. But this is the poorest of all reasons for not helping the person whose cries you hear. Where, then, does one begin or stop? How do you choose? How to determine which one of a million sounds surrounding you is more deserving than the rest? Do not concern yourself in such speculations. You will never know; you will never need to know. Reach out and take hold of the one who happens to be nearest. If you are never able to help or save another, at least you will have saved one.”

I invite you to pray the following prayer with me: Loving Father, teach me to love and care for those that need you today. Those who are passed over and do not feel love unless I love them for you. May Christ’s love for others be felt through me today. In your name and by your power I pray these things. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

October 12, 2016, 8:20 AM

God Over Everything

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord be the center of our lives today and always. May His kingdom, His heart, His passion, be that which consumes us fully. As those who have been called out unto His good and pleasing purposes, may we desire nothing more than Him and His divine will for our lives. May we truly hallow His holy name.

Many of us are familiar with the Lord’s Prayer and the declaration “Hallowed be thy name,” but do we really pause to consider what it is that we are pronouncing in these words? When we say “Hallowed be thy name,” we are praying, “May the whole of my life be a source of delight to you and may it be an honor to the name which I bear, which is your name. Hallowed be your name.” Ray Stedman has rightly observed that we find the same thing in the prayer of David’s at the close of one of his great psalms: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

The trouble is that though we declare, “hallowed be thy name,” we so frequently know there are great areas of our lives that are not hallowed. There are certain monopolies which we have reserved for ourselves, privileged areas which we do not wish to surrender to God, where the name of our boss or the name of our loved one or the name of our bank account or some other name means more to us than the name of God.

Hannah Whitall Smith writes: “Oh, be generous in your self-surrender! Meet his measureless devotion for you, with a measureless devotion to Him. Be glad and eager to throw yourself headlong into His dear arms, and to hand over the reins of government to Him. Whatever there is of you, let Him have it all. Give up forever everything that is separate from Him. Consent to resign from this time forward all liberty of choice. Glory in the blessed nearness of union which makes this enthusiasm of devotedness not only possible but necessary.”

I invite you to pray the following prayer with me: Eternal God, my Sovereign Lord, I acknowledge all I am, all I have is yours. I humbly thank you for all the blessings you have bestowed upon me – for creating me in your own image, for redeeming me by the death of your blessed Son, and for the assistance of the Holy Spirit, through Christ I pray. I humbly submit my whole life into your care. Amen.

You are Loved
Pastor Jason Stevens

October 5, 2016, 8:21 AM

Confess Your Sins

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I trust you are having a blessed start to your week. Wasn’t that a fabulous Friend Day this past Sunday?! I was greatly encouraged by the numerous first time guests and the positive response to the message. It is truly wonderful to know that we are the sheep of His pasture! May you be encouraged today in the realization that you are not alone in your spiritual journey. We’re in this together! With that in mind, as we journey together, may God give us grace once again to recover the discipline of confession that we may be partakers of its many benefits, including our very holiness. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). 

The Scripture is clear, our healing is tied to our willingness to confess our sins and pray for one another. Yet, few engage in this practice. “What if I share too much?” “What if others are shocked by my confession?” “What if I choose to be transparent and the community of faith turns their back on me?” Our fears of rejection and condemnation overcome us and the result is we neglect this vital practice all together. What a travesty! Engaging in mutual confession brings an end to pretense. It helps us to remove the mask of self-righteousness. Our loving Heavenly Father knows this and thus He is calling into being a church that openly confesses its frail humanity and knows the forgiving and empowering grace of Jesus Christ.

Richard Foster writes: “Confession is so difficult a discipline for us partly because we view the believing community as a fellowship of saints before we see it as a fellowship of sinners. We come to feel that everyone else has advanced so far into holiness that we are isolated and alone in our sin. We could not bear to reveal our failures and shortcomings to others. We imagine that we are the only ones who have not stepped onto the high road to heaven. Therefore we hide ourselves from one another and live in veiled lies and hypocrisy. But if we know that the people of God are first a fellowship of sinners we are freed to hear the unconditional call of God’s love and to confess our need openly before our brothers and sisters. We know we are not alone in our sin… In acts of mutual confession we release the power that heals.”

I invite you to pray the following prayer with me: Dear Lord, grant me absolution and remission for all my sins, true repentance, amendment of life and the grace and consolation of your Holy Spirit. Help me to live in transparency with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Help me also not to look in righteous indignation upon others as they live confessionally with me. Amen.

You are Loved!
Pastor Jason Stevens

September 28, 2016, 10:27 AM

Spiritual Disciplines

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever (Hebrews 13:20-21). May we willfully choose to practice the spiritual disciplines (prayer, mediation, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, etc.) as well as the denial of self that we might experience and know our Heavenly Father in an intimate way.

There are no two ways around it, denying ourselves and the taking up our cross, in the full extent of the expression, is not a thing of small concern: It is not expedient only, as are some of the circumstantials of religion: but it is absolutely, indispensably necessary, either to our becoming or continuing His disciples. If we do not continually deny ourselves, we do not learn of Him, but of other masters. If we do not take up our cross daily, we do not come after Him, but after the world, or the prince of the world, or our own fleshly mind. If we are not walking in the way of the cross, we are not following Him: we are not treading in His steps; but going back from, or at least wide of, Him (A.C. Outler). The Lord has provided everything necessary to equip us for the Christ-life. We, however, must be willing to engage in those equipping practices. Therefore, what practices/disciplines will you pick up that you might know Him?

Annie Dillard writes: “God does not demand that we give up our personal dignity, that we throw in our lot with random people, that we lose ourselves and turn from all that is not him. God needs nothing, asks nothing, and demands nothing, like the stars. It is a life with God which demands these things. Experience has taught the race that if knowledge of God is the end, then these habits of life are not the means but the condition in which the means operates. You do not have to do these things; not at all. God does not, I regret to report, give a hoot. You do not have to do these things – unless you want to know God. They work on you, not on him."

I invite you to pray the following prayer with me: Lord, let my life be orderly, regular, temperate; let no pride or self-seeking, no covetousness or revenge, no little ends and low imaginations pollute my spirit and unhallow my words and actions. Let my body be a servant of my spirit and both my body and spirit be servants of Jesus, doing all things for your glory. Amen.

You are Loved!
Pastor Jason Stevens

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