Archive | March 2015

Stand up and Hope

Here is a great devotional reposted from Goshen College Lenten devotionals.

“It is easy to fall into God’s comfortable arms of grace, and carry on with our busy lives.

It is easy to lay our heads on our pillows, and make a quick and mediocre prayer to fulfill our “Christian duty.”

It is easy to ignore God’s omnipresence that is constantly trying to catch our attention, so we may seek Him.

It is easy to focus and submerge into our work, relationships and ourselves, and only think of God on Sundays.

It is extremely easy to think that our relationships with God are fine, and what we do is enough to maintain a status as a “follower of Christ.”

But when hardships in life force us to see a new reality, all of a sudden our world is shaken and held upside down.

It is hard to find comfort and peace amidst our busy lives.

It is hard when we lay our heads on our pillows, only to spend sleepless nights of agony and confusion.

It is hard to ignore thoughts that constantly tell us that we are hopeless.

It is extremely hard to find the strength to extinguish the burning sorrow in our souls.

Frankly, it is easier to view life as purposeless, senseless and worthless.

Yet, when we are facing anguish and affliction, God has promised to wipe away our tears from our faces, remove our disgrace and provide a refuge and salvation. So stand up, hope and believe that God is near.

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 25:6-9 (NRSV)

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations;
he will swallow up death for ever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

By Angeliky Santos, a senior history and youth ministry major from Goshen  Used with permission  https://www.goshen.edu/devotions/stand-hope-believe/?utm_source=Devotions&utm_campaign=cbdd75c984-DEVOTIONS_RSS&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4651879faf-cbdd75c984-46294545

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Palm Sunday

What do you think of when someone says “Palm Sunday”? Perhaps palm branches? Dancing, shouting children? Grumpy priests and adoring disciples? A donkey? And, of course, Jesus, right? We hear sermons about the significance of riding a donkey, waving palm branches and the meaning of the oft cried “hosanna”. But have you ever paused to consider what was going through Jesus’ mind during this time? In the midst of the jubilation was Jesus just sitting back basking in the adulation of the thronging crowd? Listen to Sunday’s message by Pastor Marlan and take a deeper look at what held Jesus’ attention during the procession through the city. It may not be what you think.

 

 

you’ll find the bulletin posted on the publications page of this blog.

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Spring Cleaning

There are many things in life that are nice but not necessary – like chocolate cake and hot fudge sundaes. Then there are things that are both – like the increased amount of daylight each day. (And all of the Alaskans said amen.) Then there are the things in the necessary but not nice category – like spring cleaning. Or cleaning in general. So we pick up our bucket of cleaning supplies and get ‘er done. And that’s what we did with our day today; we worked hard and got the job done.  Thank you to all of the volunteers who came out on this beautiful Saturday, rolled up their sleeves, and knocked out a long list of “honey do’s” waiting for them on the counter. Thank you to Pastor Marlan, Grace, Lynn, Karrie, Brianna, Tammy, Caleb & Shayna, Rachael, Cheryl, Heidi, and Mike for all your work to get the church building cleaned up and ready for spring.

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Good Friday and Easter

Good Friday and Easter are so close you can almost smell Easter dinner in the oven and taste the jelly beans and marshmallow bunnies. It’s time again to stop and take time to celebrate the foundations of our faith.  JCC invites you to join us for our Good Friday service Friday, April 3rd at 6 PM. Come share a time of reflection and communion as we think about Jesus’ death on the cross. Then celebrate the resurrection with us Sunday, April 5th at 10:30 AM. The JCC Teens will be presenting an Easter drama during the service as well as hosting a cheesecake silent auction. The proceeds from the auction will go to Speed-the-Light to purchase equipment for missionaries. Contact information and directions are posted on the contact page of this blog. We hope to see you Easter weekend.

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Last Chance for March

Baptism Sunday Worship StillThis will be the last chance for this month if you would like to be baptized in water or become a member of the JCC family. A baptism/membership class will be held tonight, March 25th at 6 PM at 4335 Laurel Street for those who wish to be baptized or join JCC. You can call 349-0255 to let the pastors know or just show up at the class tonight. The baptismal service and receiving new members service will be this Sunday, March 29th at 10:30 AM.

Like A Howling Wolf

wolfIn 1 Peter the Bible tells us that Satan is like a “roaring lion” looking for someone to devour. Here in Alaska we aren’t very familiar with lions, but boy howdy do we know about wolves. There are all sorts of horror stories about wolves stalking and attacking people. Sounds like a good simile to me; our enemy is like a howling wolf looking for its next meal. Sometimes in our walk of faith the enemy uses the circumstances in our lives like a pack of wolves to surround us until we don’t know where to turn. We wonder if someone will ever come and rescue us. Hopelessness creeps in and we begin to doubt that we will ever experience a “happily ever after”. As Christ followers, though, we don’t have to live a hopeless existence. God hears our cries and will answer us. He has given us some tools or weapons to  use against the encroaching foe. Click on the arrow to listen to Sunday’s message by Pastor Marlan about the tools that God has given us so that we can overcome the evil one.

 

What Does Jesus Say?

Today’s devotional by Francis Frangipane helps us stop a moment and listen for God’s voice before making decisions.

“We must relearn how to think. We must learn how to pause before we speak — give ourselves a moment to enter the secret place of God’s presence — and then listen to what Jesus has to say. For Christ Himself is the source of our discernment. In listening, we create the opportunity to hear the Lord’s voice; postured before Him we can receive answers, wisdom and insights that we otherwise would not discern.

Indeed, using the gift of discernment, we can counter the advance of the enemy and reverse the gains he might have otherwise obtained. Consider the gospel story of the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11). As experts in the Mosaic Law, the Pharisees knew well that the woman had sinned. Wishing to publicly discredit Jesus, they brought her to Him hoping, perhaps, to prove Him a heretic:

“Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” —John 8:4-5

This is the big question: What does Jesus say? Everything we will learn about discernment is found in knowing the answer to this question. There will be pressure to answer. It’s likely that turmoil may surround us. Yet we must stay sheltered in the calm of God. The woman is obviously guilty; witnesses have condemned her, as does the Law of Moses. Stones are waiting in the hands of her accusers. But if we will actually possess true discernment we must stop, listen, and actually hear: What does Jesus say?

Christ recognizes her sin. However, His thoughts were higher than that of the Pharisees. He saw this situation as a means to bring redemption to the woman, repentance to the Pharisees, and glory to His heavenly Father. Stooping down, He wrote on the ground. Then, as the Pharisees persisted with their accusations, He stood and said, “He who is without sin … let him be the first to throw a stone” (John 8:7).

The hardened hearts of the Pharisees were so deeply pierced that, “one by one, beginning with the older ones,” they departed (v. 9). Scripture does not tell us what Jesus wrote (some say He wrote one of the Ten Commandments or perhaps some other Scripture). What He wrote is unknown. However, in the Lord’s response He made it clear: in His kingdom, the merciful and the pure in heart decide when, and if, stones will be thrown.

The issue I seek to underscore is not that Jesus drew on the ground but that, in the heightened turmoil of the moment, Jesus drew upon the Father. He remained calm. He waited, listening in His heart to hear the voice of His Father.

This is the pattern for true discernment: we disown the limits of our opinions and reactions, and we learn to wait and listen to the Lord.

As the Voice Comes to Me
Jesus expands this discipline of focused waiting. Consider His comment in John 5:

I am able to do nothing from Myself [independently, of My own accord — but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]. Even as I hear, I judge [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision]. —John 5:30 AMP

Jesus said, “As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision.” This small statement unveils such a large truth!

When we accept Christ into our hearts, He does not enter simply as a doctrine. No, He enters us as a living voice. His Spirit brings conviction and direction; He speaks through dreams, visions, revelation, and understanding of the Scriptures. He illuminates our hearts, speaking to us of repentance and the renewal of our soul. He lifts us, reminding us of the faithful promises of God.

Yet this voice — the sacred voice of God — refuses to compete with the clamor of our fleshly minds. This is God, King and Creator of the universe. He requires the honor of our full attention! He will not yell as though we were disobedient children and He a frantic mother. He will not chase us. He waits.

Yes, there are times when He may resist us, gently pushing against our prideful efforts. He will wait until we stop our harmful activity. Our problem is not that God won’t come to us; it’s that our anxious souls fail to give Him time to speak.

Remember, His thoughts are “higher than” our thoughts (Isa. 55:9). He would speak to us, but our opinions monopolize the conversation. Our ideas and preprogrammed reactions rush out of our mouths and into the world of men. We hurry by the narrow path that leads to His presence. He is left out of the conversation; He wants in.

Jesus taught, “Take care what you listen to” (Mark 4:24). Do we truly know how to listen? Discernment is the art of listening to Him who does not speak audibly and perceiving Him who is otherwise invisible. And the one great question that leads to all we need to know is this: What does Jesus say?”

 

(c) 2015 Francis Frangipane Used with Permission http://www.frangipane.org/