Don't you just love those moments in time when everything finally comes together and you just get it? What about such moments when God connects all the dots and something we have been wrestling with, something we have been trying to get our heads around, suddenly the Holy Spirit shows us the light?
This weekend we began our Epiphany sermon series: "Light-en Your Load". Our first lesson is from John 1:1-14 and God shows us how just one day can make all the difference in our lives and in this world.
Sad Tears or Happy Tears? Maybe both!
Could These Sad Tears Also Be Happy Tears? Sometimes tears are from sadness. Other times they are from joy. But our God knows how to take sad tears and turn them into tears of joy.
Looking at the spirit of Christmas - past, present and future. A Christmas Day message from Pastor Krause
The older I get (and yes, I am getting old) the more I seem to struggle to remember things. While forgetting things can sometimes be a problem, what if forgetting could be a good thing? What if there was something God actually told us we should forget? Our third Advent lesson “I'm forgetting something" teaches us about good forgetting as we study Isaiah 43:18-19.
Have you ever had a tree or plant that you tried to get rid of but it just kept coming back? No matter what you used: a saw, poison, digging up the roots - it just could not kill it. I know, it is a weird analogy, but that's how God's promises are - unkillable. No matter how many times we doubt them, reject them, or walk away from them, God's promises are always there. This week we begin the new church year and the Advent season. We start our series "New Beginnings" with a lesson from Jeremiah 33:1-16 with the theme: "Let's begin - Again".
You missed the point!
How many times have you heard a sermon on the feeding of the 5,000? Really, that many times - well get ready for one more. What if I told you that we have been missing the point of this miracle? While this miracle shows us God can provide everything we need, the truth it is about so much more than that. We will focus in on verses 16-18 of Matthew 14 with this thought in mind: "Expect More".
You're being lied to!
Not sure if you caught that, but every day you are hearing a lie. No, I'm not talking about that political ad you just saw on TV, or the story your kid just handed you about how they didn't do what you just saw them do.
I'm talking about your life. Every day we hear two stories - one heavenly and one earthly, and one of them has to be a lie. Which one is the subject of our 20th spiritual battle lesson and it just so happens to also fall on the observance of the Protestant Reformation. We will study 2 Timothy 4:10 and our theme is "The Problem with Jesus".
I'M ANGRY! I [Pastor Krause] was trying to find a good way to describe what we will be studying this weekend so I googled "anger" and the results kind of made me angry. Seems there is no perfect way to reference anger - I found one list identifying 4 kinds of anger, one says 7, one says 10 and another says 12 different kinds. Argh!
So I'm going to skip Google and go right to the expert, the man of our spiritual warfare lesson this week - Jonah. We will be studying chapter 4:9-10 with the theme "Anger Mismanagement".
I [Pastor Krause] think it is a pretty safe guess that you all know I am a huge Packer fan. I am excited the Pack is off to good start this season. But I am a bit concerned how our defense has been playing, especially with Sunday's upcoming game against Dallas.
I hope the Packers prepare for the game with a philosophy this weekend's lesson teaches us about spiritual warfare. We are going to study another prophet who was at the point of wanting to quit. And so God taught Jeremiah to "Bend, but not Break".
How strong are you? Strength can be measured in any number of ways: the amount of weight that can be lifted, the ability to stay focused in difficult circumstances, and even good old fashioned horsepower. As important as it is to be strong while fighting our spiritual battles, the real question is how much strength do we really have? Our next "I Quit" lesson shows us a man who thought he was weak but in reality he was really just afraid. We study Judges 6:11-16 and hear God tell Gideon, and us, "You are stronger than you know!"
The best time to win a spiritual battle is before it starts. Guard your heart! Our lesson comes from 2 Samuel 11:1. Let's strategize so we don't give up!
Words mean things. I am not a fan of people misusing words. Brain Anderson, one of the Brewer's TV announcers, often misuses the term "anxious" when the word he really should use is "eager" - “ i.e. so and so is eager to get another at-bat.
Many people also confuse the words "alone" and "lonely". Alone means being by one's self while lonely is that feeling of being unwanted by others, maybe even feeling unloved. Our next "I Quit" lesson is another look at the prophet Elijah and his spiritual battle with loneliness. Our lesson is 1 Kings 19:14 and our theme is "Alone or Lonely?
Ever been in a conversation where a person's words do not match their facial expression, that is, they are hiding what they are really thinking and feeling?
Ever try to have one of those conversations with God where we put on a brave face outwardly, but inwardly we are "dying". Our next "I Quit" lesson takes us to another Old Testament great - Elijah. But, like us, Elijah had his bad days too. This weekend we studied 1 Kings 19:4 and our theme is "Worth Less".
There is one universal topic you can discuss with just about anybody - the weather. Either it is too hot, too cold, too dry, to wet, etc. Everybody has an opinion about the weather. But the real hot topic is storms. How much rain did we get? Is it going to snow? Did you hear that thunder last night? Storms always get peoples' attention, especially the big ones. But what about spiritual storms? How many of us discuss the spiritual storms we need to weather? This week we have that discussion with our next "I Quit" lesson: Mark 4:38 “When the storm isn't really the problem!"
EVIL - How do you know for sure if a person is evil? And looks can be deceiving since we are unable to look into the hearts of others to examine if their motives match their words and actions. Often it seems we are unable to recognize true evil until it is too late, or so we may think. As we prepare for the next battle in our spiritual warfare on a personal level Jesus gives us a view of evil we might not ever considered. Our lesson comes from Matthew 13:24-30. And our study will be all about "Necessary Evil".
Problem Solving - Wouldn't it be nice if everything in life was simple, easy and fun? (That's the way it was supposed to be). But much like a muscle, without exercise, our faith would atrophy if everything were easy. And so God wisely allows challenges for our faith. Our next lesson in the "I Quit" series displays a challenge for the man whom this series is patterned from - Moses. Moses faced a big challenge and unfortunately he thought he had to face it alone - that became the real problem, the real spiritual battle Moses was fighting. Our lesson is specifically on Numbers 11:13-15 - but I'm adding verses 10-12 for a fuller understanding of the question on Moses' mind, "Why Me?"
NO END GAME?
Imagine this: I ask you to help out here at church but give you no information about how long the job will last or even how to know if you are meeting expectations. My goal here is not to describe how some churches recruit volunteers. It is about defining details. This week we begin the Trinity season and our new sermon series "I Quit" (spiritual warfare on a personal level). There is no better place to begin than with the details of what spiritual victory actually looks like as we study Luke 10:17-20. Our theme is one, glorious word: "Victory!"
FORGOTTEN HOLIDAY - Do you have your celebration planned yet and did you invite the relatives? Did you purchase the appropriate flower display to properly represent this next holiday? It is amazing how Christmas and Easter are off the chart holidays on the Christian calendar. Even the world pauses a few moments to "celebrate" these big days. So why does Pentecost, the third major festival of the church year, receive so little attention and celebration? I'm hoping we can change that, even a little bit, this weekend as we study Joel 2:28-32. Our theme is "Baggage Check" (and other blessings of Pentecost).
Because this is an expression that has been twisted and misused in recent times, allow me to define it for our purposes. The new normal is: the current state of being after some dramatic change has transpired. The new normal is what replaces what we previously expected. For instance, in high school I had a class to learn how to type on a typewriter. Now we do everything on computers - that is the new normal.
Easter presents us with a new normal for our earthly lives as we dig into our second last lesson of the Easter Epistles series from Romans 6:3-8.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. It's not just at New Year's when people resolve to change and start over. It seems whenever there is a new fad, a new diet program, or a new self-help process, people are compelled to change. So how's that working out for you? Maybe you are not one of the millions to start over and over, again. But maybe part of you is, or at least you have considered changing something in your life. What if I told you there is one thing that actually does change your life? I will tell you this weekend as we study 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 and see how Jesus' resurrection compels us to see life from a new perspective of "Not what, but why".
An Easter message from an unlikely source, Revelation 5:11-14. "Worthy is the Lamb, Amen!" How does looking out at the world from inside the tomb change the way we view Easter, and our lives?
I'm bored! I [Pastor Krause] remember the days when I would complain to my mom that I was bored - often during the summer"". I usually did not like her response: "Well, there are weeds to pull out in the garden. You could go do that!" It's strange how easily we can grow tired of the wonderful creation and life our loving God has given us. What's the problem? More importantly, what's the solution? This weekend we get down to our second last lesson in our Lent Means Love series as we study 1 John 4:10-11. God looks at us and His whole creation and never grows bored with us. Instead, He simply exclaims "I Love This!"
Sometimes we can get so caught up in the details that we can miss the beautiful big picture. Our "A Strange Kind of Victory" midweek lenten series continued with Pastor Krause taking us through a study of Luke 23:47.
How are you? Growing up we were taught that when we asked each other "how are you doing", we were supposed to care about and listen to the answer. Now it seems that phrase is just another way of saying "hi" because if you really want to know how someone is doing all we need to do is check out their social media status. This week we ventured into our third "Lent Means Love" study and worked our way through John's first epistle (chapter 3 verse 5). Our theme was "Absolutely" and that will make a lot more sense when you review the video. But let's just say it opens the door for us to consider who we are and who we want to be, but most of all, who Jesus makes us.
What does the face of love look like? Our midweek Lenten series "A Strange Kind of Victory" continued as Pastor Krause took us through a study of Luke 22:61-62. In this lesson we learned about Peter's denial of Jesus and considered the loving look of Jesus as He went about the work of winning back His sheep.
Have you ever noticed most people think they will be happy once they get something (like money or control) into their lives? But the not-so-secret "secret to happiness" is actually getting rid of, letting go of specific things in our lives. Another word for this is catharsis - "the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions". This week we begin our Sunday Lenten Series - "Lent Means Love". We will be working through a series of lessons from the first epistle (letter) of John beginning with 1 John 1:7. Our lesson theme is: Let there be Light!
We begin our midweek Lenten series "A Strange Kind of Victory" with a study of Matthew 26:36-46. Pastor Krause takes us through an in-depth study of how "God's Will Wins Over My Will."
Someone is watching...
Big Brother, data mining, your personal information being sold to the highest bidder - seems like we are living in an age when just about anyone can find out just about anything on just about everybody. There is the old adage: "If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" Our words, our actions, send quite a message. But what message? This week we study Daniel 6:19-20 and find the prophet Daniel's words/actions sent shock waves through an entire kingdom, even the world, as he found himself - Facing Lions.
TRUE LOVE -- If you were raised "in the church" you were probably taught to behave yourself. Obeying God's holy Law is a good thing, as long as the reasons for doing so are also holy. When we examine our own hearts we often realize we were taught to obey out of fear, or guilt, or even the desire to look good in the eyes of others. But what God wants from us is the is the very same thing He offers us - LOVE. This week we wrestle with true love as we examine God's love to the Gentiles in a lesson from Jonah 3:6-9 - So God Loves.
outside looking in...
...it happens. People form cliques or exclusive groups and it can make you feel like an outsider. In ancient times it was often rare for Gentiles to be accepted into Jewish circles, but sometimes God took matters into His own hands. This weekend we wrestled with a very unique group of Gentiles and saw how God brought them into His family. We studied Exodus 12:37-38 and got to know some Gentiles simply called "Many Other People".