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".
EPIPHANY - If your calendar is like mine, on Sunday, January 6 there is the word "Epiphany" (from the Greek meaning "appearance" or "manifestation", thus "to shine forth". 1/6/2019 makes the beginning of the next season of the church year often called "the Gentiles Christmas". Usually lessons focus on the visit of the Magi or Jesus' escape to Egypt, etc. However, this year we are going to trace the origins and steps of God reaching out to the Gentiles through various lessons of the Old Testament, including our introductory lesson of God calling Abram. Our text is recorded in Genesis 12:1-3 and out theme is "YOU want me to do what?"
2019 -- What if you could see into the future? Would you even want to? And what would you do with that kind of knowledge? We close 2018 with a lesson from Revelation 2:8-11 where we see Jesus tell an early church what was in their future. Spoiler alert, it's not all good news - at least not from a human perspective. But that's the great thing with God, each day and every year is a chance at a fresh start to trust Him. Our theme, simply put, is "What if...?"
Christmas Eve sermon, a look at the birth of Christ through the eyes of the shepherds.
WE WIN!! What if we ran a race and we all crossed the finish line at the exact same moment? Wouldn't we all be the winners? I'm not talking about the kind of race where you don't keep score or everyone gets a prize just for showing up.
Finishing a race at the exact same moment is a good picture of what we wrestled with in our second installment of our Advent series "Christ is Coming". This week we wrestled with one of the most misunderstood concepts of the end times “the Rapture". What is it exactly? What does the Bible really say about the Rapture? We turned our attention to 1 Thessalonians 4:11-18 and our theme was the Greek word translated as "rapture" = HARPADZO (the right kind of rapture).
I HATE WAITING! When I [Pastor Krause] am trying to find a sermon illustration to portray the struggle of waiting, I typically grab a picture of traffic on the Beltline. It works because most, if not all, of us have experienced frustration trying to get across Madison. It always seems the worst when I am running late or in a hurry. But the traffic isn't the problem. The waiting is. This weekend we begin our Advent study. Our seasonal theme is: "Christ is Coming" and all our lessons will focus on Jesus' second coming which highlights the necessity of His first coming. Our first lesson is from 2 Peter 3:1-9 and this weekend's theme is appropriately "Why Wait?"
Pastor Krause leads us through a study of the principles and practice of thankfulness as we look at 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
How did we do?
Have you noticed that almost every on-line business asks you to rate them as you complete your purchase or use their services? (Maybe churches should start doing this, but then again, I [Pastor Krause] am afraid some of the sermons I,ve preached wouldn,t rate very well). What if you were asked to rate your life? How many stars would last week get? As we near the end of our Christian Character(s) study we come to one of the more challenging characteristics for us as God's children - satisfaction. Are we satisfied with what God has given us? Do we long for more? This week we "take a bite" out of John 6:27 and "snack on" one, simple concept... "Satisfied?"
Time Out! "Have you ever stopped to think about how much we are controlled by our schedules as well as our own concepts of time? Most folks live their lives ruled by the clock and the calendar (guilty as charged)." writes Pastor Krause. This lesson is about how God - as the creator of time - controls time for us. Ecclesiastes 3:1 teaches us how to trust in God's perfect timing.
"I'm not sure you heard what I said." What's the difference between mercy and grace, between justice and fairness, or between being oppressed and being poor? Sounds confusing, doesn't it? That's how the devil likes to work, he likes to make us question, doubt and confuse what we think we hear God saying. This weekend we listened more closely to what God says about the Christian characteristic of being just while at the same time being merciful. We studied Micah 6:8 and our theme was "Just Christian".
Ever have one of those days when you plans change? Not only will people throw us a curveball when it comes to our schedules, but sometimes God does too. Instead of getting frustrated, a better response is to take a step back and look at the bigger picture - the eternal picture. This weekend we took a look at our next Christian characteristic, Flexible Faith, as we study Colossians 3:2.
Stuck in a rut?
Everybody loves innovation, for example: cell phones, safety features on cars, dishwashers - for most of us these are things we could not live without. It took some "outside the box" thinking for people to come up with these great ideas. But what about our faith, do we like innovation there? What if God pushes us beyond our comfort zone, challenges us to think bigger than our own personal beliefs, or even tests us to the point where all we can do is finally let God lead us where we would not ordinarily go? This week we begin a new phase of our Christian Character(s) study as we begin examining a variety of Christian virtues. Our text is Romans 12:2 and the lesson is "Faith outside the Box".
SEX - It is a subject rarely discussed openly and honestly. In the sermon, Pastor Krause talks about it as we arrive at our third topic of love in the marriage relationship as a reflection of God's love for us. Our lesson is Hebrews 13:4-5 and our topic is "The Naked Truth". (P.S. the sermon is rated PG).
Relationships: Back in my day (Pastor Krause speaking) we didn't have fancy dating apps or computer programs to determine if a person was a good "match" with someone else in their system. Back in my day we asked a girl out and prayed to God she would say "yes". It is nice to know some things about relationships never change, starting with the relationship God chooses to have with us. This month we study our Christian character(s) from the perspective of the marital relationship - the one human relationship God uses to describe His love for us. We study Proverbs 30:18-19 and see that "Love is for Losers".
What is Love?
Every time I hear the question "What is love?" I (Pastor Krause) immediately think of Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell bobbing their heads to the song of the same name by Haddaway. It became famous as part of the SNL "Roxbury Guys" sketches. (I'm guessing this ages me a bit!) It's not a very good picture of love as the lyrics go on to say "Baby, don't hurt me no more". We will get a better picture of love as we conclude the first part of our mini-series on Christian Character(s) related to the SHEMA, and as we get ready for the second part of the study looking at the marriage relationship. This week's lesson is Deuteronomy 10:12-13 and our theme is "Love: It's Not What You Think".
Heart Attack: Do you know what's happening if you have chest discomfort, pain in your upper body, shortness of breath, and you break out in a cold sweat and feel nauseated? You may have some kind of heart condition, maybe even a heart attack. Do you know the signs of a spiritual heart attack? Are you keeping spiritually fit so as to protect your heart? And what exactly does God mean when He tells us He wants our whole heart? This weekend we look at our next big word from the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:5) as we study the heart from Psalm 51:10. Our theme is "Cut to the Heart".
What did you think would happen? It always amazed me [Pastor Krause] as my sons were growing up and I would warn them about the consequences of their actions if they did not listen, that they would then complain about getting themselves into trouble. We're kind of like that with God. God prescribes a path for our lives here, we often don't listen, and then we complain when life takes a turn.This week we begin a new phase of our Christian Character(s) study. For the next 2 months we will be looking at some of the more intense directions God gives about being His children.This week we start with Deuteronomy 6:5 and look at the characteristic of "muchness".