A DRIVING FORCE | 7 AUGUST 2018

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

When you watch the Olympics, you cannot help but be amazed with what the athletes there are doing.  You can watch the world’s fastest man and woman.  See gymnasts and divers leap, twist, and contort themselves in ways that would probably put many of us into the hospital if we tried.  Wonder aloud at how long the synchronized swimmers can hold their breath underwater while making incredible moves. 

What, to me, is the most amazing thing is not so much what they are doing (as spectacular as it is), but the dedication it took to train for an event such as this.  You don’t just show up at the Olympics and stun the world.  It takes dedication, hard work, and a driving force to push yourself to the high levels that these athletes display.

So what causes people to climb formidable mountains, explore unknown frontiers, and push on toward new scientific discoveries?  What motivates us to condition our bodies, fight for a higher rung on the career ladder, and struggle at times just to make ends meet?  Driving forces within us.  At times, those driving forces might be things that are not so good for us such as power, recognition, or even greed.  These driving forces can cause more grief than blessing in the long run.

But Paul in 2 Corinthians describes a more powerful and helpful motivation.  This driving force led Jesus’ followers in his day to travel the world, testify boldly, face natural obstacles, persecution, and death itself.  They continued loving their enemies, helping ungrateful churches, and clearly proclaiming Jesus Christ as the only way to life with the Lord.  What driving force motivated the disciples?  Paul states in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all.”  Paul knew that Jesus went to the cross to pay for our sin and brokenness.  Not interested in any personal gain and wanting only to follow His Father’s will, Jesus loved us to death.  Overwhelmed by His love, Paul lived boldly and joyfully because Christ’s love drove him.

Thank God for the driving force of God’s love.  We look to the cross and see Jesus, compelled by love to hang for us there.  We soak in the Good News in His Word.  Then, we rise to face the challenges of the day; people to love, goals to reach for Him, and opportunities for Christian witness.  Christ’s love moves us to willing and joyful action.  What a driving force the love of Jesus is in our lives each day!

 

From one who is driven by Christ’s love for me,

Pastor Steve



MOVING | 31 JULY 2018

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

What can I really say about moving?  It is not something I enjoy doing (and don’t want to do again anytime soon, Lord-willing).  There are many headaches involved.  I remember when I moved from Lincoln, Nebraska to Chugiak, Alaska, it took over a year for my previous home in Lincoln to sell.  Endless house showings, with a scurry each time to make the home presentable.  Moving arrangements, complete with sorting, garage sales, and packing.  A home to purchase in a new community.  Many little details including utilities, doctors, church and school choices, and adjustment to a new job.  Not to mention the emotional issues of leaving good friends and reestablishing roots.  Yet, God leads us into new situations and opportunities as part of His plan for our lives.  He walks with us in the midst of change.

God also came to Abraham with a call to leave his homeland and travel long miles to a promised land.  God was establishing a group of people who would carry out His promises for the world.  Out of that people would come the Savior of the world.

No doubt Abraham must have faced major obstacles and the wrenching experience of leaving his homeland.  But his faith in the Lord shined through in the midst of this.  Hebrews 11:10 tells us, “By faith Abraham obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  He lived in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, and was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

Perhaps that can give us a new perspective on moving or on any other changes that come into our lives.  We have something greater waiting for us through faith in God’s unconditional love.  God calls for us to live for Him, not only where he has us in life at this time, but in any new lands He chooses to put us in.  Ultimately, the greatest home of heaven awaits through faith.  His promises, fulfilled in Jesus’ death and resurrection, stands sure for us.  We live as pilgrims and wanderers in this world.  Someday, we will experience the joy of living in the heavenly city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  In the meantime, we look to the Lord in faith for strength and encouragement for any moves or changes that come into our journey of life and faith.

 

From one who looks to the Lord when changes come my way,

Pastor Steve



EVERY DAY IS A GIFT FROM GOD | 24 JULY 2018

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

One of the more exciting days in the life of a child comes but once a year.  Birthdays are quite special.  There may be a party, friends invited over, gifts exchanged, and a great time had by everyone.  As adults, you may well remember some of the birthdays you celebrated as a child. 

While adults may not look forward to birthdays with quite as much enthusiasm (it means you are a year older and hopefully wiser), they are still important times.  Birthdays and anniversaries are times when we can remember the many ways in which God blesses our lives.  As I look back on the years God has given me, I’ve seen many surprises, challenges, and opportunities mixed in my journey.  But as I look back, my eyes have been opened to see how God used the events and circumstances I faced to prepare me for today.

Challenging or stressful times were used by God as building blocks for the future.  He walked right next to me, even in the times when I felt lost or wondered how I was going to get through that time.  Every day, in every breath of my life, God has gifted me with His grace, mercy, and love.

God brings us these gifts every day, not just on birthdays.  Although we can struggle to see God’s plan for our lives at times, He has this unique way of pointing you where you need to go, and then leading you through it safely.  You never walk alone as an unconditionally loved child of God.  He also puts people into your life who will walk with you through it.  Being connected with Him and with others is a gift that God brings you every day.

Ecclesiastes 3:13-14 shares this God from God to you.  “That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil – this is a gift of God.  I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing can be taken away from it.”  The time that God gives you to be on this earth is a gift and blessing from Him.  There is a time for everything; in particular, time to be His child.

Through Jesus Christ, God made the time to call you His own.  He knew your greatest needs of forgiveness, life, and hope that go beyond this world.  Jesus took the time to die and rise for you, to bring you these gifts that you can remember and give thanks to God for each day.  God will never forget His promises.  His love for you lasts forever.  Thank the Lord for the gift of birthdays.  But even more, thanks be to God that He gifts you and me with blessings that make an eternal difference every day of our lives.

 

From one who sees each day as an opportunity to use the gifts and blessings God provides,

Pastor Steve



A SPECTACULAR DISPLAY | 22 JULY 2018

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

Fireworks go hand in hand with the month of July and the celebration our country had back around July 4th.  Large fireworks displays bring people flocking to parks, beaches, or city squares.  Gigantic firework shows fill the sky in large cities.  Sitting and watching an unfolding fireworks show from a blanket, lawn chair, or bleacher with thousands of spectators can bring out a chorus of “Oohs!” “Ahhs!” and “Wow!” as one burst of rockets follows another.  Towering Roman candles.  Multiple explosions of many colored starbursts, pinwheels, and trailing comet trails.  Everything breaks loose in a spectacular finale, with the sky full of reds, greens, blues, and golds.  But the spectacle is short-lived, and life soon goes on as usual.

Psalm 19:1 speaks of something far more spectacular and enduring than even the most dazzling fireworks; the work of God’s hands.  “The heavens declare the glory of God.  The skies proclaim the work of His hands.”  The heavens and all of creation provide a permanent display of the power and love of our Lord.  The sun traveling across the sky daily.  The moon and the stars.  The clouds.  The wind.  Springs pouring water into ravines.  The wildflowers this summer.  The snow-peaked mountains.  Birds nesting by the waters and singing among the branches of well-watered trees.

We can stand in awe of God’s spectacular display.  As we look around this beautiful state of Alaska, we quickly realize that God’s handiwork quickly surpasses anything made by human hands.  In thanksgiving, we praise our God who not only created this beautiful world.  He also gave us the most spectacular gift of all, His Son; the One who gave His life to bring you forgiveness, hope, joy, and the most spectacular display of all, a place at His side in heaven for eternity. 

 

From one who enjoys the spectacular beauty of Idaho and of the love God has for us,

Pastor Steve



VACATIONS | 10 JULY 2018

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

Vacations are times that we look forward to, especially when we have been facing hectic or, at times, crazy days in our lives.  They cause needed changes to come into our lives.  The fun part is deciding where we will go on vacation.  Should we go see some of our family scattered across the country?  Perhaps a week on the beach in Mexico or Hawaii sounds great.  How about a hike deep into the backcountry and camping along a lake?  When I lived in Nebraska, going hiking in the mountains and looking for that “perfect” wildlife or scenery picture was my idea of a great vacation (something I am now living out (in part) since I am in northern Idaho).  It was an opportunity to do something different, relax in a place that I loved being, and gave me some much-needed time to recharge my batteries and prepare mentally and physically for what would await when I returned home.

Vacations give us the opportunity to re-create.  Sometimes when a vacation is over, we are tired and even need to get back to the old routine for rest.  Actually, it is the change that produces rest, not the playing or loafing around.

There is a way to be sure the vacation will give us that needed rest.  In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Jesus can make our lives new every day.  Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are given the change, forgiveness for our brokenness and hope for our future, that brings rest.  That vacation from the ups and downs of life, the unexpected detours we all face, and the frustration that can come with it, is just what we need.

During these short summer months, my prayer is that you will be able to take a vacation and find the rest and recharging that you need.  But we can always find the rest and hope that we need more than any other in the unconditional love that our Lord has for us.  He never goes on a vacation in our lives.  Instead, He is there to bring us the gifts and joy that we need each day.

 

From one who enjoys the occasional vacation time to rest and re-create,

Pastor Steve