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A Changeless GOD in a Changing World

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“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

Hebrews 13:8 was the theme verse for this year’s Pastors conference with the Pacific Southwest District. I was blessed to be able to attend this year’s conference (my 16th year in our district!) along with Rachelle and learn a number of things about how our God remains changeless even in a rapidly changing world.

It seems that with all the news about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump dominating the media (and our conversations) it is clear that we are living in a changing world. Our older members see this when they consider how the culture of our society has changed in a handful of decades. Our younger members see this when they witness new technology emerging day after day, week after week, and year after year. It does seem as though the rate of change is speeding up not slowing down, doesn’t it?

And so how does a Christian respond in these changing times? As we have been learning from the Apostle James in our “Faith That Works” message series, let me suggest that we put our faith into action, and let our thoughts and emotions be guided by our changeless God, rather than by the changing circumstances around us.   How does God direct us …

… In a changing WORLD? One trend that we must recognize globally is that the “West” (meaning Europe and North America) is no longer the epicenter of Christianity. One conference speaker said that in the 1800’s approximately 90% of Christians worldwide lived in Europe and North America.  In the 1990s 60% of Christians were living in Africa, South America Asia and the Pacific – and that trend is increasing.  This means that as Christians, we need to respond in humility, not seeing ourselves as “rescuers” of Christians around the world, but partnering with them as together we serve the same God – diverse in cultures, but united in His Spirit.  It also means that we must be careful that all of our ministry remains rooted in the Cross of Christ.  Anything else won’t transcend cultures, and ultimately won’t matter.

… In a changing NATION?  Trends in the business world have informed some church practices over the last several decades.  Interestingly, what we are learning now is that the business world has begun moving toward “values-driven” leadership. What this means is that today’s generation is more interested in what a company stands for than just the products they sell. This is a good thing for the Church because it means that this generation is interested in the deeper issues that drive our ministry rather than just the externals of our presentation. But truthfully, this raises the bar for us. Today’s younger worshippers are not attracted to simply a “slick presentation,” but are more concerned with what is really driving our faith underneath. They want to see the changeless God shining through us. They want to join a church where people are deeply transformed by their relationship with God and are filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit. They want to belong to a church where the friendships are deep, marriages are strong, and the people are full of joy and love. Unfortunately, when they look at the Church, they don’t see patterns of spiritual and relational health that are much different than the world. Quite simply we cannot have a faith that is divorced from our life. This generation is not interested in our knowledge.  They need someone to show them Jesus.  Let’s show them the unchanging God who is “making his appeal through us.”  (2 Corinthians 5:19)

… In a changing COMMUNITY? At Redeemer we want to “Join Jesus in our Community.”   This means that we actually need to get out into our community.  You will be seeing more opportunities at Redeemer to get the message of the Gospel out to our neighbors and friends.  But at the same time, you need to begin to expand your “invite list.” Ask God to reveal to you: Who are the people in the circles that you travel? Where is God already at work in their life? Where can you shine the light of Jesus into both their joys and their struggles? Who is God leading you to invite with you along your journey of loving and serving the Lord and His people?

… In a changing HOME? Unfortunately, the landscape of our homes has also changed in recent decades. Sadly, many children experience homes where faith is not evident. Perhaps even more sadly, though, many children grow up in Christian homes where the faith that is professed on Sunday somehow does not make it to the home on Monday. Too often our homes have “outsourced” the faith education of their children.  The message of the Church needs to be bolstered in our families as we continue to expose our children at all ages and stages of life to the unchanging God who is there for them, reaches down to them, loves them, saves them, and who calls them to Himself!

At Redeemer, we share a Changeless God in a Changing World – with people groups who don’t look like us – with a nation that desperately needs to see the faith of Christians expressed with authenticity and integrity – with a community that needs us as much as we need them – and with homes that are rich in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)!

Sharing the message and mission of Christ,

Pastor Augie

Bless This Home

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With Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day coming up in June this is a good time to turn our thoughts toward home and family. In particular, the Christian home.

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Our new Sunday messages series is called “Bless This Home” and will be looking at what it means to be a Christian family …  not merely one who identifies Christianity as their faith (though that is important) but one who seeks to be a Christ-centered home.

May 8    – “Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness”
May 15  – “Pure in Heart”
May 22  – “Peacemakers”
May 29  – “Persecuted”

In order to consider what it means to have Christ at the center of our home, we will be looking at some of the Beatitudes. “The Beatitudes,” as they are called, begin what is known as The Sermon on the Mount – one of Jesus’ first recorded sermons (Matthew Chapters 5-7).

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“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. … and he began to teach them.” – Matthew 5:1-2

They are a series of eight to ten blessings that describes for Jesus followers how life is different in the Kingdom of Heaven, rather than in the world. The word Beatitude itself come from a Latin word meaning “happiness.” In fact, what is often translated in our Bibles as “blessed” is really a word that could just as easily be translated as “happy.” However, in an effort to distinguish Christ-centered Joy from fleeting human happiness, the word blessed remains the preferable translation. But, we cannot deny that our search for a happy home, will only be fulfilled in the blessings and joy that come from our Father through Jesus Christ.

In week 1, “Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness,” we will consider how our families today, while surrounded with so many amenities, so much food and so many opportunities for recreation, are still hungry at their core. What are they hungry for? And how will that hunger be satisfied? We know as Christ followers that everyone is hungry for a relationship with Jesus. May our homes be a place where we hunger and thirst for that.

In week 2, “Pure in Heart,” we will talk about creating a culture of purity in our homes. Christ centered purity means having a heart that seeks with our whole heart and seeks to love our neighbor as ourselves. In so doing we not only desire not to harm our neighbor, but to lookout for their well-being. Our goal is to have our hearts and minds set on the things of God rather than the things of the world. In home, workplace and community we seek to live our lives with the highest degree of Integrity.

In week 3, “Peacemakers,” we will consider that a Christ-centered home is not one where we merely “keep the peace” but strive to make peace. That means that we often have to run toward conflict rather than run away from it. That means that we need to speak the truth in love even when it hurts. And that means that we need to give and receive forgiveness readily and completely.

And finally in week 4, “Persecuted,” we will recognize that as a Christ-centered family not only will we not be spared persecution, we can in fact expect it! Why? Because as Jesus told us, anyone that seeks to do His will, will also suffer persecution for His name.  We learn from Jesus not to run from persecution but to endure it and even embrace it.  Indeed, in that suffering we become like Christ Himself who endured the ultimate persecution for our sake and the sake of the whole world.

At Redeemer by the Sea we have been talking more and more about being a lighthouse to our community by not staying within the confines of our congregation, but rather joining Christ in His mission to seek and save the lost in our community. If we are to do that well, we will need the foundation of a strong Christian home. We will not simply be able to claim that we are Christians, we will truly need to be Christ-centered disciples – seeking Him in our daily quiet time, humbling ourselves, enduring persecution, and seeking to bring the Peace of Christ into the turmoil of our world.  In all this we are driven by a hunger and thirst for Righteousness!  This is what compels us as Christians, and what will ultimately bring us the most Joy in our lives.  What better purpose could there be?  What better source of happiness could there be, than to be blessed by God as we live out our faith in our homes, our church and in our community.

Blessed to be a blessing!

Pastor Augie