Pastor's Corner


Pastor's Corner - October 2017

posted Oct 4, 2017, 9:21 AM by Linda Dickinson

Dear Elmwood Family and Friends,

 

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ…Stand firm in one spirit, contending as one person for the faith of the Gospel, without being frightened in any way.”  Philippians 1: 27-28.

 

This passage from God’s Holy Word was the theme of our service Sunday, September 24.  During the message I shared with the congregation an update from the September Church Council meeting.  At that meeting we welcomed Pastor Dan Moose, multiplication catalyst, from the North Central District office of the EFCA.  His job is to assist churches of the district in finding a way forward with the current challenges of aging congregations, declining church attendance, lack of vitality and growth, and the secularization of our society.  Dan is a man of faith and prayer, humble and wise.  He came with a listening ear, asking questions, seeking to help us know and understand ourselves and the options for the future.  This was his first visit with the Council and he will return in November to continue this process with the Council.

 

As Dan began, he spent a considerable amount of time seeking the Council’s response to the question, “What are the good things about Elmwood?”  This was done to celebrate what the Lord has done and is doing here in our congregation.  He filled the white board with the Council members’ responses.  Here’s a quick run-down of the list; they are not in any form or order of importance:

·         Sweet fellowship

·         Hospitality

·         Ministry of “hosting” other churches and ministries

·         We hold our things loosely

·         Praying for one another

·         A good reputation in the community;

§ With the school district, police, & fire dept.

§ Pay our street assessments

·         Truth/whole Bible is preached

·         Loving and caring pastor

·         Excellent givers

·         Good stewards of our property

·         Bible studies

·         Seniors group

·         Faithful servants

·         “Tech savvy”

·         Living our mission

·         Mission minded

·         Good connection with local Bible colleges and universities

·         Open to the work of the Holy Spirit

·         Strong history

·         Altar prayer ministry

·         Encouragement

·         Mission support 10-15%

·         Solid foundation in Christ

·         Kingdom minded

·         The church is not “ours”

·         Generosity

·         True Body-life

·         Unity

·         A sending church

·         Music ministry

 

After we talked and talked about all these great things about Elmwood we were asked by Dan to make a short list of what we would label as the “Elmwood Legacy”.  What is it that we want to see passed on to the next generation of the Body of Christ?   This list included:

·         The Truth of the Bible

·         Being open to the leading of the Holy Spirit

·         Strong dependence on prayer

·         Faithful abiding in Jesus

·         Daily living out the Gospel

·         Serving other followers of Jesus

 

In order to continue our legacy, what would be needed:

·         Remain true to who Elmwood is

·         Be multi-generational

·         Become multi-cultural

·         Continue to support the other ministries that are here with us

·         Keep the Gospel flowing freely

·         Continue to be open to the free working of the Holy Spirit

·         Discover new ways to take “the church” out of the building

 

In Dan’s final segment we began to discuss the issues that we must face as a congregation in order to move forward and thrive:

·         We will have to change

·         We must be proactive

·         Continue to make room for more “nests” in our big old elm tree

·         We must learn how to keep the legacy going

·         We need younger people

·         What must be done to keep the light of the Gospel shining from this place

·         How can Elmwood be more of a community church that reflects the community around us

·         Dealing with finances and up-keep

·         Need for more people power to meet the needs of doing ministry

 

Our first session with Dan was excellent.  He gave the Council much to pray and think about.  This will not be an easy process or one that can quickly happen. As a congregation, it is vital that we consistently be in prayer for the will of God to be done in this place and that the Holy Spirit would guide and direct us. It is also important to not fear or give any place to the evil one, but that Jesus would be glorified as we go through this process.

 

Glory be to God, a work in progress, to be continued,

Pastor Fred

Pastor's Corner - September 2017

posted Aug 31, 2017, 11:12 AM by Linda Dickinson   [ updated Aug 31, 2017, 11:12 AM ]

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last Sunday I spoke about the important question that Jesus asked His disciples at Caesarea Philippi, “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  (see Matthew 16:13-20)

Our answer to this question is incredibly important.  How we answer it not only has bearing for our lives today, but also for all of eternity. There were those that saw Jesus as a great teacher, others saw Him as an amazing healer and miracle worker, still others said Jesus was a prophet, or was He certainly a wise philosopher, or even a radical revolutionary?

So when Simon Peter is inspired by the Holy Spirit and declares, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” the glorious truth is revealed and it becomes apparent that the disciples are actually beginning to see and to understand who Jesus really is. As I shared on Sunday, Jesus was just six months away from going to the cross. Time was short. These men were the ones who would carry on with the proclamation of the Gospel when Jesus’ earthly ministry was completed.

I find tremendous encouragement when Jesus says to these dear men, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (Hell) will not overcome it.” The original Greek word for “overcome” can actually be translated “to be strong against.” Our Lord is saying here that the gates of Hell will NOT be strong enough to hold back the Christian church. No matter how hard the evil one tries to attack and destroy the Body of Christ, he will not succeed. Sure the attacks will be fierce and the battle long, but we know the end of the story: our God wins! We serve the Risen Savior, the Victorious Christ!

Jesus never promised that life would be easy.  But He did promise to always be with us and that the gates of Hell will not overcome us. The devil will try to keep us from doing the work of the Kingdom in this generation. However, God’s Word also declares, “Greater is He (Jesus) who is in us, than he (Satan) who is in this world.”  (1 John 4:4) It is our honor and privilege to be Christ followers in this land and at this time.

We all have challenges to face each day. It may be an outright attack from Satan or it may be health or family issues.  Nevertheless, we must not despair or give up. While we still have breath we must wholeheartedly seek to be diligent in our service to our friend and master, Jesus.

What would you say if Jesus personally asked you, “Who do you say that I am?” How will your answer impact today?

Eternally grateful,

Pastor Fred

Pastor's Corner - August 2017

posted Jul 28, 2017, 11:03 AM by Linda Dickinson

Greetings Dear Elmwood Family and Friends,

Over the past weeks I have been thinking a lot about the challenges that one meets in life.  All around us there are people who are dealing with major life issues.  They certainly come, don’t they?  Either we have just been through something, are in the middle of something, or there is something coming.  That may sound pessimistic, but I don’t mean it that way.  Life is not easy, and certainly not trouble free.  In Psalm 27:5 we are told, “For in the day of trouble…”  God’s Word states this as a fact, not as a possibility.  Friends, there will be “days of trouble”.  Even our Lord Jesus tells us, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  This world we live in is not a perfect place.  It is broken and we cannot fix it.  As I shared recently in a sermon, the wages of our sinfulness brings the payment of death.  Sin, death, and the devil have brought about this brokenness.   Mankind cannot fix it.  No matter how hard we may try.  Only our holy perfect God could remedy the lostness and brokenness.  This is why our Heavenly Father, in unfathomable love, sent His Son to do something about it all.  Therefore, even in the middle of our “days of trouble” we can rejoice, for we are not without hope.  We are not a people abandoned or forgotten.  We are never alone.  The Lord has promised to be with us and never leave us or forsake us.  Jesus says in Matthew 6, “Do not worry then”, be like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”.

I realize that it isn’t easy to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness when one’s life is under assault or falling apart.  We may just be trying to survive.  But that is exactly why we must trust in the Lord and not try to cope with these things by our own strength.  We must acknowledge that we are a needy people and that we need someone beyond ourselves to rescue us, and be there for us in the tough times.

Sitting here on my book shelf is a smooth white stone which I picked up in Israel last March from the dry brook-bed in the valley of Elah.  (See 1 Samuel 17)  It was from this very same place that David, the shepherd boy, picked up five smooth stones when he decided to take on the Philistine giant, Goliath.  As David courageously took him on, he placed His trust in the LORD, not in the sword or spear of King Saul.  He boldly declared, “The battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into my hands.”  And He did, slaying the vile Philistine.  My smooth stone reminds me continually that I serve the same LORD, and that the battles that come in my day of trouble will not defeat me for the battle is the LORD’S. 

Give your battles each day to the LORD.  Stand and see His deliverance.  He has revealed His love and might in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  His victory is our victory and His joy is our strength.  Thank you, Jesus!

Pressing on with you in Christ our LORD,

Pastor Fred

Pastor's Corner - July 2017

posted Jun 30, 2017, 3:19 PM by Linda Dickinson   [ updated Jul 5, 2017, 11:41 AM ]

PASTOR’S CORNER

Dear Elmwood Family,

The following article from Wallbuilders is a great reminder of what’s good and wonderful about our country.  Truly we are blessed to be a blessing.

With liberty and justice for all,

Pastor Fred

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Happy Fourth of July!

 

America is celebrating her 241st birthday! Our unprecedented freedom was the result of specific ideas, many of which were drawn directly from the Bible. In fact, at the 150th anniversary celebration of the Declaration of Independence, President Calvin Coolidge affirmed:

No one can examine this record and escape the conclusion that in the great outline of its principles the Declaration was the result of the religious teachings of the preceding period. . . . They are found in the texts, the sermons, and the writings of the early colonial clergy who were earnestly undertaking to instruct their congregations in the great mystery of how to live. . . . Placing every man on a plane where he acknowledged no superiors, where no one possessed any right to rule over him, he must inevitably choose his own rulers through a system of self-government.

On the 200th anniversary, President Gerald Ford also affirmed its Biblical roots:

Our Bicentennial is the happy birthday of all fifty States, a commonwealth, and self-governing territories. It is not just a celebration for the original Thirteen Colonies. . . . The earliest English settlers carried the Bible and Blackstone’s Commentary. . . [and] American families in prairie schooners like these took with them on the overland trails the principles of equality and the God-given rights of the Declaration of Independence.

As we celebrate our 241st birthday, let’s make sure we preserve our memory of these unique governing principles.

Read the Declaration of Independence. [https://wallbuilders.com/the-declaration-of-independence/  It is both a pleasurable and a rewarding experience that should be enjoyed by every citizen. The Declaration is a deep, rich document, giving the twenty-seven reasons that America was birthed, and also setting forth in its first 155 words the six immutable principles of American government – the six principles on which the Founders later erected the Constitution of the United States – the six principles that still produce American Exceptionalism today.

Learn something new about those who wrote the Declaration. Look at the names of the fifty-six signers; find one you don’t know – perhaps one you’ve never heard of before, and look him up and read a short bio about him (perhaps from sites such as Colonial Hall) or get a copy of Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence by Benson J. Lossing, so that you can have a short bio about each one of the signers. In short, rediscover a new Founder.

John Adams said that Independence Day “ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.” So enjoy the fireworks and parades and celebration – but also make sure to honor and thank God.

Happy Birthday America! May God continue to shed His grace on Thee!

By WallBuilders, January 4th, 2017

Pastor's Corner - June 2017

posted Jun 2, 2017, 3:27 PM by Linda Dickinson

Greetings Dear Friends,

Henry van Dyke declares in his famous hymn, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”:

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain,
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

The Apostle Paul likewise calls us in Philippians 4:4 to:  “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!”

The praise of God is not to be a secondary aspect of our lives, but central.  We have been created by God to be a people of praise.  We are privileged to join with all of creation joyfully proclaiming the greatest of our Heavenly Father’s love, the incredible goodness of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the never-ending provision of strength by the Holy Spirit.  As a part of the on-going hymn of praise that continuously rises before the throne of God, we truly join with the angels themselves when we worship.

This month as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost take heed to God’s Word in Ephesians 5:18-20:  “Be filled with the Spirit.  Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

As Scripture calls us, let us day by day seek to bring a “sacrifice of praise” to our Lord and Savior.  We cannot buy or earn His love, but we can freely express our joy, gratitude, and adoration consistently and faithfully throughout all that life brings.  It easy to praise Him when things are going well and when we feel we are at the top of the world, but it takes discipline to worship the Lord in the toughest of times and when we do not feel like rejoicing and being glad.  That is exactly when we need to look up and beyond our current situation and praise Him. 

As Francis of Assisi, the hymn writer of “All Creatures of Our God and King” writes: 

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him!
  Alleluia! 
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!
 
O praise Him!  O praise Him! 
Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

Together may our praise continually be poured out to the glory and honor of our God and King.  Amen!

Praising God for each of you,

Pastor Fred

PASTOR'S CORNER - MAY 2017

posted Apr 28, 2017, 12:16 PM by Linda Dickinson   [ updated Apr 28, 2017, 12:17 PM ]

Greetings Dear Elmwood Family,

It is May, my favorite month of the year.  I love late spring, the sense of new-life bursting out all around us, the warmth of the sunshine after a long winter, Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, the Sunday School picnic, and Memorial Day.  As a boy, May also brought the opening of the fishing season.  My father would wake us early and we would be on the shore of a local lake or on the bank of a trout stream before the sun rose.  It's funny, I still consider myself a fisherman, but I haven't gone fishing in years.  Hopefully this year will be different as I am making plans to go fishing with my son-in-law and grandson.  Thinking about all of this reminded me of the following parable.  It has haunted me for years.  It compels me to stay the course, press on in ministry, and what is really important for the church in our day.  I have shared this parable before, but it's time we all heard it again.  I pray that the parable will not shame you, but compel you to always be a fisher of men.

Come on, let's go fishing,

Pastor Fred

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A PARABLE OF FISHLESS FISHERMEN • John M. Drescher

Now it came to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in the waters all around. In fact, the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry.

Week after week, month after month, and year after year these who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how they might go about fishing. Year after year they carefully defined what fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation, and declared that fishing is always to be a primary task of fishermen.

Continually they searched for new and better methods of fishing and for new and better definitions of fishing. Further, they said, “The fishing industry exists by fishing as fire exists by burning.” They loved slogans such as “Fishing is the task of every fisherman,” and “Every fisherman is a fisher,” and “A fisherman’s outpost for every fisherman’s club.” They sponsored special meetings called “Fishermen’s Campaigns” and “The Month for Fishermen to Fish.” They sponsored costly nationwide and worldwide congresses to discuss fishing, to promote fishing, and hear about all the ways of fishing, such as the new fishing equipment, fish calls, and whether any new bait was discovered.

These fishermen built large, beautiful buildings called “Fishing Headquarters.” The plea was that everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish. One thing they didn’t do, however—they didn’t fish. In addition to meeting regularly, they organized a board to send out fishermen to other places where there were many fish. All the fishermen seemed to agree that what was needed was a board which could challenge fishermen to be faithful in fishing. The board was formed by those who had the great vision and courage to speak about fishing, to define fishing, and to promote the idea of fishing in faraway streams and lakes where many other fish of different colors lived.

Also, the board hired staffs and appointed committees and held many meetings to define fishing, to defend fishing, and to decide what new streams should be thought about. But the staff and committee members did not fish. Large, elaborate, and expensive training centers were built whose original and primary purpose was to teach fishermen how to fish. Over the years, courses were offered on the needs of fish, the nature of fish, where to find fish, the psychological reactions of fish, and how to approach and feed fish. Those who taught had doctorates in fishology. But the teachers did not fish. They only taught fishing. Year after year, after tedious training, many were graduated and were given fishing licenses. They were sent to do full-time fishing, some to distant waters that were filled with fish.

Some spent much study and travel to learn the history of fishing and to see faraway places where the founding fathers did great fishing in the centuries past. They lauded the faithful fishermen of years before who handed down the idea of fishing.

Further the fishermen built large printing houses to publish fishing guides. Presses were kept busy day and night to produce materials solely devoted to fishing methods, equipment, and programs to arrange and to encourage meetings to talk about fishing. A speakers’ bureau was also provided to schedule special speakers on the subject of fishing.

Many who felt the call to be fishermen responded. They were commissioned and sent to fish. But like fishermen back home, they never fished. Like the fishermen back home, they engaged in all kinds of other occupations. They built power plants to pump water for fish, and tractors to plow new waterways. They made all kinds of equipment to travel here and there to look at fish hatcheries. Some also said they wanted to be part of the fishing party, but they felt called to furnish fishing equipment. Other felt their job was to relate to the fish in a good way so the fish would know the difference between good and bad fishermen. Others felt that simply letting the fish know they were nice, land-loving neighbors and how loving and kind they were was enough.

After one stirring meeting on “The Necessity for Fishing,” one young fellow left the meeting and went fishing. The next day he reported he had caught two outstanding fish. He was honored for his excellent catch and scheduled to visit all the big meetings possible to tell how he did it. So he quit his fishing in order to have time to tell about the experience to the other fishermen. He was also placed on the Fishermen’s General Board as a person having considerable experience.

Now it’s true that many of the fishermen sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. They received the ridicule of some who made fun of their fishermen’s clubs and the fact that they claimed to be fishermen yet never fished. They wondered about those who felt it was of little use to attend the weekly meetings to talk about fishing. After all, were they not following the Master who said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men?”

Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who didn’t catch fish were really not fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. Yet it did sound correct. Is a person a fisherman if year after year he never catches a fish? Is one following if he isn’t fishing?

PASTOR'S CORNER - APRIL 2017

posted Mar 31, 2017, 10:28 AM by Linda Dickinson   [ updated Mar 31, 2017, 10:32 AM ]

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Resurrection,

How wonderful it is to know that our Lord Jesus Christ by His innocent suffering and death has truly conquered the old landlord.  This month we conclude this excellent teaching by Larry Christenson with a discussion of “The Principle Behind It.”  May the power of the resurrected Christ fill you with joy and expectation throughout this Holy Season.  How good it is to know that we serve a Risen Savior.  Christ is Risen!  Hallelujah!

Pastor Fred

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THE OLD LANDLORD  -  Part 3
by Larry Christenson, from “The Renewed Mind”

“The Principle Behind It”

This encounter with the old landlord is based on sound biblical principles –

1. “Sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14)

Does this mean that our spiritual life becomes lawless and disorderly?  “God forbid!” says St. Paul.  To live under grace does not mean to live contrary to law.  It means that you are now operating under a different regime in the battle against sin.

One of the prime responsibilities of a government is to protect its citizens from coming under the dominion of any foreign power.  When you live under the regime of the law, and sin mounts a siege of temptation against you, you start a counter-barrage of “Thou shalts” and “Thou shalt nots.”  You hurl them with all your might, but after a time you become weary.  Sin outlasts you and gains dominion over you.

When God transfers you to the regime of grace, you no longer depend upon the law to defend you against an onslaught of temptation.  You are under a regime with much more sophisticated weapons.  Not the weapons of law, which you must wield in your own strength and determination, but the weapons of grace, which Christ himself puts into operation.  When you learn to call upon the power of Christ, sin will not gain dominion over you.

2. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2)

The mind that is conformed to this world pays endless tribute to the old landlord.  The renewed mind sets its faith and hope and trust and love upon Jesus.  It “leads every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  “Take it to Jesus” and “Praise be to Thee, O Lord” become the obligato of one’s life.  And in this life of trust, we are transformed into the image of our Deliverer.

So if the old landlord comes and calls you a terrible sinner, you simply tell him, “Take it to Jesus.”  If he comes and stirs up feelings of hatred, resentment, or despair within you, you tell him once again, “Take it to Jesus.”  If he whispers in your ear that you did a marvelous job, and begins to inflate your ego, you tell him the same thing, “Take it to Jesus.”

If he comes to you with the whip of the law and says, “You have to be more loving! You have to be more patient! You have to be more honest!”  Remember, Christ is the end of the law, also.  You tell him, “Take that to Jesus.  Whatever good is to be worked in me will come through His Spirit, not through the law.”  And, with each encounter, you turn to Jesus in praise and adoration.

3. “As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him” (Colossians 2:6)

The faith that brought Jesus into your life is the faith by which you live.  He is all-sufficient.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  You wake up in the morning.  The cares of the day begin to crowd in upon you.  You send them on to Jesus.  You go through the day facing the temptations and frustrations and problems of everyday life.  One by one you refer them to Jesus.  The life of inner warfare is transformed into a life of restful abiding in Christ.  He is your Deliverer.  He is, moment by moment, your ever sure defense.

Do you wonder whether such a life of faith and victory is possible?  Do you find a little corner of doubt in your mind that says, “Perhaps for some this might be true, but surely not for me”?  Send that doubt on to Jesus, and you will see!

Christensen, Larry (1974). The Renewed Mind. Minnesota: Bethany House Publisher

Pastor's Corner - March 2017

posted Feb 24, 2017, 9:33 AM by Linda Dickinson

Dear Friends,

This month we continue with the excellent teaching, “The Old Landlord,” by Larry Christenson.  This month four practical tips are given on how to specifically deal with Satan, the old landlord.  May you be encouraged and blessed as you give the evil one “no occupancy” in your life with Jesus.

Richest Blessings Always,

Pastor Fred

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THE OLD LANDLORD  -  Part 2
by Larry Christenson, from “The Renewed Mind”

“Four Practical Tips”

1. Don’t let your feelings fool you.  Feelings are one of the old landlord’s strongest weapons.  When he waves these things in your face, it will stir up all the old feelings you had before Christ delivered you – fear, doubt, guilt, lust, anxiety, despair.  The old feelings will be right there, and strong.  Don’t be afraid of them.  Simply do not follow them.  Rather, just quietly tell that thought, “Take the whole matter up with Jesus.”  It may take some persistence on your part, but eventually he will leave.  He has to.  You have the Name of Power.

When Christ sets you free, it’s like pulling a big weed out by the roots.  There are little troughs left in the earth, where the roots used to be.  These don’t cover over at once.  So what does the Enemy do?  He beams a thought into your mind.  He lays it right in the trough where the old root used to be – right where the memories are still easily aroused, right where the feelings that used to accompany that thing still lie raw and exposed.  The memories stir up, the feelings are inflamed.  Your faith in Christ faces a practical test.  Are you going to trust the Word and promise of god, even despite your thoughts and feelings?

Remember the simple rule: Feelings follow faith.  The old landlord cannot stay around forever.  Then he leaves, your feelings will subside.

2. Do not become discouraged by the frequency or the repetition of the same temptation.  Repetition is another of the old landlord’s favorite weapons.  We might resist him two, three, four times, but then we become weary.  He convinces us that we are, after all, still as undelivered as ever.  So we open the door and let him in.

If the same thought comes back a hundred times in the same day, a hundred times quietly and confidently send it on to Jesus.  And rejoice!  Yes, rejoice!  Because the old landlord cannot come knocking one more tie than he gets permission from God to do so.

Read the book of Job and see: Before Satan ever moved against Job, he had to get permission from God to do so.  God lets the old landlord come knocking.  This is the way in which your faith is built up.  Every time you send the old landlord on to Jesus, your faith in your Deliverer is strengthened.  And if he knocks loud and bellows fiercely, and if he returns a hundred, yes, a thousand times, rejoice!  For with every encounter – with every turning him away to Jesus – you are being knit in trust and faith to your Deliverer.

3. Do not feel that this requires some kind of superhuman willpower.  This whole way of victory in Jesus is not based on willpower at all: It is based on faith – faith in the reality and authority of Jesus.

Consider again our illustration:  Suppose the old landlord comes knocking at the door when the father and mother of the family have gone to the store.  The five-year-old daughter is home alone.  He blusters out his usual threats and demands.  In herself the child has no “strength.”  She is just a five-year-old.  But she is prepared.  She knows the way things really stand.

By no strength of her own, but purely because of the incontestable authority of the new Landlord, she says calmly and confidently, “You’ll have to take that up with the new Landlord.”  No fear.  No shouting.  No struggle.  No “willpower.”  Just simple trust and confidence (the Bible calls it “faith”) in an incontestable authority.  That is what you have in Jesus: An Incontestable Authority.  All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).

4. Cut your conversation with the old landlord short.  In effect, give him to understand that you have other important things to do!  For instance, you can turn to Jesus in an act of worship, song, or praise.  This guards against the danger of this whole thing becoming just a “new law” – a routine which you follow, more-or-less successfully, but one which does not really build up your personal relationship to Jesus.

Imagine the case of a man who has had a habit of lust.  He cannot sit down at a lunch counter without casting a furtive, lusting glance at the waitress.  He never goes by a newsstand without paging through some lurid book or magazine.  Even in his relations with his wife, there is more of lust than real love.


Then he is saved.  He receives the life of Jesus, and he knows that he cannot continue to do this sort of thing.  But he does not understand this life of deliverance-through-Jesus.  So he merely applies the law.  He tries to “contain” this lust of the flesh by resolve and willpower.  He has a measure of success, but also many a failure.  And in none of this is he really bound to Jesus in love.  In fact, he may even begin inwardly to resent the hard life Jesus calls him to, and excuse himself a little lusting.


But now he learns this life of deliverance.  He sees a lewd magazine on a bus station rack.  He does not “fight” against this temptation.  He does not simply grit his teeth and suffer through the duration of this temptation, saying over and over to himself, “I will not lust, I will not lust, I will not lust.”  Evil resisted grows stronger.  “The power of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56).   The more he invokes the law against his lusting, the more powerful grows the sin within him.  He has tried that method before, and failed.


The way of real deliverance lies in quite another direction.  He sees the lewd magazine.  He quietly recognizes within himself that this is a situation of temptation.  At once he takes up his impregnable position IN CHRIST through an act of conscious worship.  He averts his eyes from the immediate source of temptation and inwardly begins to praise Jesus.  Perhaps he sings a hymn to himself.  He praises his wonderful DELIVERER.  Not in a fearful spirit, as though the lust at any moment might break through the door.  (He has sent it on to Jesus, and it has to leave!)  He praises Jesus in a joyful, confident spirit knowing that He, Jesus, has won the victory over lust.  His authority cannot be challenged.


As he binds himself to Jesus in this conscious act of worship, the temptation will retreat.  It is not the law which has saved him.  He has simply yielded the whole thing to Jesus, through an act of worship.


Another thing you can do is enter into a preconceived plan of intercession.  A man once found himself afflicted by blasphemous thoughts.   He fought against them with all the resources of his conscious will, but to no avail.  Then he struck on a different approach.  He determined that whenever these blasphemous thoughts came knocking at the door of his mind, he would begin praying for his cousin Henry, a missionary in China.  It was not long before the old landlord quit bringing that blasphemy bill around for collection, for he found that all it did was stir up a lot of prayer for China!


Turning to some routine job is another way to excuse yourself from a conversation with the old landlord.  A good stint of garden work, or taking care of some long-needed repairs around the house, has frustrated the old landlord’s plans more than once.


It is important to realize that the old landlord may tell you the “truth.”  Some of those bills are due – worry, hate, lust, laziness, pride.  But that is not the point.  The point is that Jesus is now handling the matter.  The bills must be taken to Him for collection.  He has paid the debt and set you free!


Tune in next month for “The Principle Behind It” as we conclude this teaching from “The Renewed Mind.”

Christensen, Larry (1974). The Renewed Mind. Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers


PASTOR'S CORNER - FEBRUARY 2017

posted Jan 27, 2017, 1:23 PM by Linda Dickinson

My Dear Friends in Christ,

This month I would like to begin sharing with you an amazing Bible teaching by Pastor Larry Christenson, one of the pioneer leaders of Lutheran Renewal.  Pastor Christenson has given us permission to print this powerful, life transforming message from his book “The Renewed Mind”.  Take the time to quietly read through this article and allow the Holy Spirit to bring the reality of these truths deep into your mind and heart.  I pray you will be wonderfully blessed as you experience in a fresh way the grace and goodness of our Lord Jesus, the NEW landlord.

In His love and Joy,

Pastor Fred

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THE OLD LANDLORD
by Larry Christenson, from “The Renewed Mind”

Think of yourself as living in an apartment house.  You live there under a landlord who has made your life miserable.  He charges you exorbitant rent.  When you can’t pay, he loans you money at a fearful rate of interest, to get you even further into his debt.  He barges into your apartment at all hours of the day and night, wrecks and dirties the place up, then charges you extra for not maintaining the premises.  Your life is miserable.

Then comes Someone who says, “I’ve taken over this apartment house.  I’ve purchased it.  You can live here as long as you like, free.  The rent is paid up.  I am going to be living here with you, in the manager’s apartment.”

What a joy!  You are saved!  You are delivered out of the clutches of the old landlord!

But what happens?  You hardly have time to rejoice in your new-found freedom, when a knock comes at the door.  And there he is – the old landlord!  Mean, glowering, and demanding as ever.  He has come for the rent, he says.

What do you do?  Do you pay him?  Of course you don’t!  Do you go out and pop him on the nose?  No – he’s bigger than you are!

You confidently tell him, “You’ll have to take that up with the new Landlord.”  He may bellow, threaten, wheedle, and cajole.  You just quietly tell him, “Take it up with the new Landlord.”  If he comes back a dozen times, with all sorts of threats and arguments, waving legal-looking documents in your face, you simply tell him yet once again, “Take it up with the new Landlord.”  In the end he has to.  He knows it, too.  He just hopes that he can bluff and threaten and deceive you into doubting that the new Landlord will really take care of things.

Now this is the situation of a Christian.  Once Christ has delivered you from the power of sin and the devil, you can depend on it: that old landlord will soon come back knocking at your door.  And what is your defense?  How do you keep him from getting the whip hand over you again?  You send him to the new Landlord.  You send him to Jesus.

 

A Personal Testimony

When this first broke in upon me, I was out mowing the lawn.  Suddenly I realized the implication of this simple truth:  If Christ has set me free, then I am free indeed!  I don’t have to entertain all the negative impressions that come knocking at the door of my mind.  I don’t have to let that old landlord come barging in, waving all his bills in my face.  So I consciously claimed my deliverance in Christ, and then I waited.

Sure enough, the old landlord was right there, knocking at the door.  The thought came into my mind: “When are you going to find time for any reading and studying when the fall program begins at church?  You are going to be snowed under!”  But now I realized that this wasn’t my thought.  This was a thought which was trying to infiltrate my mind, get me to accept it, so it could hold a club over my head.  This was the old landlord, trying to collect from me a bill marked “Worry.”

“You’ll have to take that up with Jesus,” I told him.

He began to enumerate a few more details, telling me how impossible the fall schedule was going to be.  But I told him again, “That may all be true, but will you take it up with Jesus, please?”  He went reluctantly.  He knew I was right.  “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7)

He didn’t stay away long.  He was back a few moments later.

“Say, I want to come in and talk with you about those people that have been telling lies about you.”  He had a nice friendly smile on his face.  He oozed concern.  But I saw what he had behind his back:  A big fat bill marked “Self-pity.”

“Take it up with Jesus,” I told him.

“They may get you in real trouble!”  His voice took on a little edge, and I saw that he had another bill lurking behind his back marked “Fear.”

The same answer: “Take it up with Jesus.”  That’s the way I handle temptation now.  Not will-power, not strength of character, not making a flock of resolutions.  Just: “Take it to Jesus.”

The old landlord must have come back a couple of hundred times that first hour, while I was out mowing the lawn.  I never realized before what a playground for Satan our minds can become.  But here’s the point, and the power: we don’t have to let him in!  Christ has delivered us, really delivered us.  When these thoughts come knocking at the door of our mind, we can quietly send them on to Jesus.

Don’t argue with them.  That’s letting them get one foot in the door.  (That was Eve’s trouble – she got into a conversation with the Tempter.)  Before the conversation even gets under way, quietly and confidently say, “Take that up with Jesus.”


Tune in next month for “Four Practical Tips” as we continue this teaching from “The Renewed Mind.”


 

Christensen, Larry (1974). The Renewed Mind. Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers


PASTOR'S CORNER - JANUARY 2017

posted Jan 27, 2017, 12:12 PM by Linda Dickinson

My Dear Friends in Christ,

Happy New Year!

It is so good to know as we step out into the year 2017 to know that Jesus goes before us.  That He who is the Light of the World shines His unstoppable light upon our life’s way. We are never alone.  He has promised to be with us always.  We do not know what the new year brings, but we do know who holds us in the palm of His hand.  The weeks of Advent and our celebration of Christmas were especially meaningful for me this past year.  “The Call of Christmas” series that we did was a tremendous encouragement to know that God uses the earthen vessels that we are for the wonderful and amazing work of His Kingdom.  In Sunday School the children were encouraged with the message of JOY, because anything is possible with God.  The memory verse, “Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord, I will say it again.  Be joyful!”  (Philippians 4:4), speaks wonderfully as we look to the months ahead.  It gives me a sense of excitement and anticipation for what the Lord has in store for us.

I want to encourage you to be diligent to stoke the fire of God that burns in your heart.  It is important for us to faithfully seek the Lord and to be about the work of the Gospel.  Don’t coast; instead stir up the good gifts of the Spirit in you.  Come join the adult Sunday School class on Sunday mornings as we study Lee Grady’s book, “Set My Heart on Fire” or attend the Real Church weekly study starting this month, “Hosting the Presence” by Bill Johnson.  Join the Seniors’ Bible Study each month as we explore the book of Proverbs.  Work on your prayer life, read and study Scripture more this year.  Volunteer to do something you have never done before.  Expect to see God moving in new and surprising ways!  It’s exciting and who knows what miracles lay ahead?

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6.

Together with you on the Great Adventure,

Pastor Fred

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