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".
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.