COMPASSION NOT JUDGMENT | 9/19/17

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

A study once came out from Germany that I question a bit.  That study found that older people don’t like to read stories about older people.  They like to read stories about young people (so far, so good).  They especially like to read negative stories about young people (this is where I question the findings).  That same study found that young people don’t like to read stories about older people either.  They like to read positive stories about young people.  From this information, the German researchers decided that older people like those negative stories because it boosts their own self-esteem.  I guess that’s one way of looking at the information that has been compiled.

I think there is a different explanation. Older folks have seen a lot of life.  They have seen the disappointments, the pains, the sorrows, and the hurts.  They also know that while they have survived these things, younger folks are just beginning their struggles.  I believe they read these stories because they want to know how things are going for the younger set.  I realize my interpretation of the facts is 180 degrees removed from those of the researchers.  But my conclusion wasn’t made without evidence.

Let’s start with Romans 12:3. “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you, do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought to think.  Instead, think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
 
When a teen starts to wander, I have seen the agonizing of the grandparents.  When a grandchild is involved with the wrong crowd, I have heard the heartfelt prayers of grandma and grandpa.  I have listened to the incredibly loving words of advice that come from those whose age has made them wiser and wonderfully understanding.  In short, I have seen the love of Christian grandparents.
 

It is a wonderful thing to see that kind of compassion.  It can remind a person of the love Jesus has for us.  Pained by our sin and desiring to do something about their consequences, Jesus came to this world to offer Himself up as our Substitute.  He did everything necessary so our future might be changed.  That is a most blessed and compassionate reality for us.

 

From one who desires to show compassion,

Pastor Steve



NOT TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE | SEPTEMBER 12, 2017

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

Hanson Real Estate in Escondido, California gave away a house.  Does that sound too good to be true?  It kind of is because there was a catch.  While the house itself is free, it had to be moved off the land where it was located.  Moving it cost at least $10,000.  So the house is free, but not really free.

Hanson Real Estate was to be commended, though.  They were up front about the “catch.”  This makes them quite different than the devil.  The “father of lies” often tells us things which seem too good to be true – and are.  For example, he told Adam and Eve their eyes would be opened if they ate from the forbidden tree.  Somehow, he neglected to mention there would be a catch – a very expensive catch that directly affects our lives today. 

You can probably come up with a time when the devil made you an offer which seemed fantastic.  Only later, after you had fallen victim to his temptation did you find you had been hoodwinked.  But our Lord and His Word have always been reliable.  His promises are trustworthy.  His love is unquestionable.  If you have any doubt about that, look to the Bethlehem manger, Calvary’s cross, and the empty tomb.  There, you will find the truth, the whole truth, and that Jesus is The Truth.

 

From one who depends on the truth of God’s Word,

Pastor Steve



PULLING TOGETHER | 9/5/2017

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

Rather than using the traditional gold-plated shovels for special people to turn the dirt at a church ground breaking ceremony, a church enlisted the aid of an antique farm plow.  Two youth group members started the pulling.  But the plow wouldn’t budge.  Then some of the elders joined in.  The plow stayed still.  Finally, all of the families of the congregation grabbed hold of the rope.  With everybody pulling together like a team, the plow moved, and the ground was broken.

How wonderful would it be if everybody in our churches, communities, and homes would pull together like that?  Think of the things we would manage to get done.  So what’s stopping us?  Sometimes people don’t want to get their hands dirty with an old rope.  Sometimes people pull in different directions.  Sometimes we just don’t give it our all. 

That’s a far cry from our Redeemer who got His hands dirty, who always pulled with His heavenly Father and who, most definitely, gave the saving of our souls everything He had.  So what can we do?  James 2:22 tells us,

“You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.”

How about this?  You don’t wait for me.  I won’t wait for you.  Instead, we’ll just grab hold of the rope and pull with all we’ve got – in step with the direction the Savior would have us go.

 

From one who wants to pull together with you,

Pastor Steve



SEEKING ISN’T FINDING | 8/29/2017

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

In Matthew 7:7 Jesus tells us,

“Seek, and you will find.”

Perhaps that is not always the case.  Let me explain.  Over a three-month period several years ago, British Petroleum’s broken oil well spewed somewhere around 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  That’s a lot of oil that should be easy to find.  But that was not the case.  Salvador Cepriano, one of the shrimp boat captains hired to skim off the oil, could not find it.  Even the federal government could not find it.  National Incident Commander Thad Allen said, “It is becoming a very elusive bunch of oil for us to find.”  So what happened to the oil?  It never was all found.

That bit of news got me wondering about other things that disappear.  What happens to our sin and brokenness when we are given faith in Jesus?  The book of Hebrews says that God remembers our sins no more.  You can look, hunt, or search for them.  Try as you will, those sins are gone.  They have not been absorbed back into our own personal ecosystem.  They have not evaporated.  They are not hidden away waiting for some researcher to discover them.  They are gone – completely and totally gone.  That is a reality for us brought about by the life, suffering, and sacrifice of the Savior.  It is, in short, the best news we will ever hear.  It’s even better, in the long run, than hearing 200 million gallons of spilled oil is disappearing.

 

From one who lives as Jesus’ forgiven child,

Pastor Steve



TRUE RICHES | 8/21/2017

Families and Friends of Christ Our Redeemer,

Rick Norsigian is a commercial painter who has lived in Fresno, California.  He is also a very blessed and rich man.  Over fifteen years ago, Norsigian went to a garage sale for the purpose of buying a barber chair.  He didn’t get the chair.  But he did pick up some old photographic glass plates.  For years, Norsigian stored the two boxes containing those newspaper-wrapped glass plates under his pool table.  But he’s not storing them there any longer. The plates were original Ansel Adams plates – some of which escaped the fire which destroyed the great photographer’s studio.  That means the plates Norsigian paid $45 for were worth somewhere around $200 million.

Upon reading this, you may be wondering, “Why doesn’t something like that happen to me?”  As a believer in Jesus Christ, many I assure you it already has.

When other people look at us, they may not see very much.  We may appear to be just an average Joe or Jane.  But when the Lord looks, He sees something quite different.  In Luke 12:7 Jesus said,

“Even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not, you are of more worth than many sparrows.”

  The Lord sees a soul so valuable He was willing to sacrifice His own Son so it might be saved.  What are you worth to the Lord?  You are worth the life, suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection of God’s Son.  That kind of worth is not something you can take to the bank.  It’s not going to get you on the cover of a fashion magazine.  But it still counts.  Because Jesus sacrificed Himself for you, you have been forgiven, redeemed, and promised eternal life.  In short, you are deeply blessed and given true riches.

 

From one who is rich in Jesus’ love,

Pastor Steve