Notes From Pastor

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May 2024

Think about that. Your face and features, your voice, your style, the way you walk, your background, your characteristics and peculiarities, your abilities, your smile, your handshake, your manner of expression, your view-point – everything about you is found in only one individual since people first began – YOU!

How does that make you feel? It should make you feel elated! God did not make you from an assembly line. How creative is God? Just think! Out of all the millions and gazillions of people that have populated that planet, over the course of history, not one is identical to another. When you look up the word, “creativity,” how could there not be a portrait of God?

Listen to David’s perspective on the subject:
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb,
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one them came to be.
~Psalm 139

Listen, again, to David about mankind in general.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and
honor. ~Psalm 8

If I read these astounding statements correctly, you were prescribed and then presented to this world exactly as God arranged it. Reflect on that truth. You/we/I were not a mere blip on the cosmic screen. We are at the center of the cosmos. We are the reason God fashioned the cosmos. We are the foremost of His visible creatures, for nothing else – no other kind of living creature – was fashioned in the image of God (Genesis 1:26).

Dig as deeply as you please in the ancient, dusty archives of Homo sapiens, and you’ll not find another you in the whole lot. In your case, as is the case for each of us, the mold was broken, never to be used again, once you entered the flow of humankind! Wow!

You are you. There is only one you. And you are important. Thus, with David, we sing and say and shout: Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! 

Until June,

April 2024

I want to share with you what is labeled as “A Hymn to God the Father.” It was written by John
Donne. I am not certain if it is a poem or, truly, a hymn to be sung. Regardless, in the shadow the
empty tomb, I find it relevant. Read it slowly. Read it contemplatively (ponder and meditate on
what it is saying.). It reads as follows:

Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which is my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive those sins through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done before,
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin by which I won
Others to sin? And my sin their door?
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou has not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
Swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy son
Shall shine as He shines now, and heretofore;
And, having done that, Thou hast done,
I fear no more.

In the shadow of the empty tomb, living in the reality of the resurrection, we have nothing to
fear, we fear no more. His resurrection affirmed, confirmed, sealed His power to forgive every
sin in your life – every sin in my life. Jesus would say, shortly before His ascension, “All
authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” The authority of which he speaks has to do
with His power over the grave; over Satan; over our sin. Because of that authority, He sets before
us the purpose of His Church – the purpose of this church (Faith LC). “Go, therefore, and make

This is what we are to do as our faithful response to His resurrection! We reach up to Him for
power. We reach out to others with His forgiveness. He forgives anew. He forgives again, and
again and again as we deal with our unconquerable sins and debilitating doubts. It is called “The
furious love of God!” We are the objects of that love. The resurrection proves it. The only way
for others to know this love is through us. God does not do His stuff in a vacuum. He uses
people; His Church; us. The aim for all is singular. The last stanza says it all:

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
Swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy son
Shall shine as He shines now, and heretofore;
And, having done that, Thou hast done,
I fear no more.

Until next month,

March 2024

I am almost done reading a book titled: “The Last Arrow,” authored by Erwin Raphael McManus. He is an iconoclast, artist, and cultural thought leader known for his integration of creativity and spirituality. He is the founder of MOSAIC, a church movement started in (wait forit!!!) Hollywood with campuses across Los Ange-les, Orange County, Mexico and a global community that spans the world. We tend to think that are no Christians in Hollywood. Erwin Raphael McManus and his congregation proves otherwise. I digress. Let me get back to the point. Oh, by the way, who was it that got “her Dad” into Erwin Raphael? Got it. My/our daughter, Hannah.

The Last Arrow is based upon an obscure text in the Scriptures. At the center of it is Elisha –post, tak-ing the mantle from Elijah. Do you want to read it? Go to 2 Kings 13:14-20. Let me just quote from the book itself: [There’s] an obscure moment and could easily be missed, yet it is both poetic and profound. It is also a window into how God works in the world and how we either open ourselves to his bigger future or ensure that we make the future smaller than he intends for us. In this story, Jehoash is the king of Israel when the kingdoms of Israel and Judah are divided and at war against one another. His kingdom is being threatened by the armies of Amaziah, king of Judah.

The one great advantage Jehoash has is that the prophet Elisha is with them, but now Elisha is suffer-ing from an illness that will lead to his death. Jehoash goes and weeps over him, less because of his sorrow for the loss of the prophet and more because of his fear of the loss of Elisha's protection. Jehoash calls out Elisha, who has been the symbol and source of God’s strength and power, but now is clearly at the end of his life. Elisha then gives him a somewhat unusual series of instructions. Elisha says, ‘Get a bow and some arrows,’ and he does so. Then he tells him, ‘Take the bow in your hands.” When Elisha commands Jehoash to do this, the king immediately complies. When the king raises the bow and arrow, Elisha puts his hands on the king’s hands. 'Open the east window,” he says, and the kings opens it. “Shoot!” Elisha says, and Jehoash shoots. ‘The Lord’s arrow of victory, the victory over Aram!’ Elisha declares. ‘You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek.’

Then he says, ‘Take the arrows,’ and the king takes them. Elisha tells him, ‘Strike the ground.’ He strikes it three times and stops. Then the Scriptures tell us something that is quite unexpected: ‘The man of God was angry with him and said, ‘You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completed destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.’ Right after he says this, the story tells us ‘Elisha died was buried.’ What is the point Elisha seeks to make to the king? Empty the quiver! He says the same thing to us – to you! Are you hanging onto arrows, thinking, believing that you need that last arrow?

Emptying the quiver is about trusting God with your life, your future, your eternity. You cannot take that last arrow with you. The king struck the ground three times and then what? He quit. He quit and the victory was lost. He just didn’t want it badly enough. How many victories are lost before the battle even be-gins because we are misers when it comes to trusting God? Read Hebrews chapter 11 – a whole litany of those who struck every arrow – left none in the quiver! Read it! From Noah to Abraham to Moses to Joshua, all the way around and to Jesus! Oh, yes! Jesus! We go to Holy week at the end of this month. Let me ask you this – ponder this – where would you be if Jesus only struck the ground with three arrows? He empties the quiver for you! His empty quiver leads to the majestic, glorious resurrection! If he does not “strike the ground five or six times,” we/you stand defeated, still lost in your sins. Because He does empty it all at Gol-gotha, you stand victorious over the “three-headed monster” – the devil, the world, and your own sinful flesh. Is it not time for you to empty the quiver?

Until next month,

February 2024

As I’m guessing you know by now, I announced to our congregation that I will be retiring from full-time ministry at the end of the Church Year. My farewell sermon is scheduled for Sunday, November 24th. To be sure, this has been a long pastorate as I received the call to pastor Faith in1990. Amazing! Most pastorates don’t last this long.

The Lord had other plans. It has been an incredible ride with all the highs and lows, pain and joy that parish ministry brings. The singular greatest blessing that comes from being here so long are the relationships that have been forged over time. I have come to know you – and you have come to know me. One can’t quantify that.

In these last years I have come to de-emphasize numbers. Without question, we want this slice of God's Kingdom to grow – and that always means more people. However, because of our size, I have truly been able to be your Pastor, your friend, your spiritual caretaker in the most deep and personal way. This comes with trust. And trust in a per-son can only be forged over time. I know of thousands. In many ways, I truly see this as what Jesus had in mind, in the book of Acts, as the early Church takes formation and clusters of congregations sprout up in the world of the New Testament. I am guessing there were no “mega churches” when Paul and Peter and the rest of our Lord's posse were preaching the Gospel. It is not just about numbers. It is about relationships. It is not just about numbers. It is about people. And so it has been, for me, here at Faith.

You know where to find me. My door is always open. Come on in – as many of you always do. I find it appropriate that my farewell tour, as it were, begins with the season of Lent. Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day this year – February 14th . This year, I, again, will be in pulpit exchange with Berea – two churches – four Pastors. Myself. Pastor Schimm (will make sure he gets to church on time this year!!! We love him!). Pastor May. Pastor Mueller. Our theme is titled: SUFFERING JOY! We will be exploring the Passion story as recorded in John’s Gospel– chapters 18 and 19. Go ahead and get a jump start by read-ing the account on your own.

I encourage you to be intentional in your worship during the season of Lent, making the most of your opportunities to worship the One who goes to the cross for you! Bring a friend. Come with your family. The only thing that awaits you are blessings from on high! See you soon!


January 2024

But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and
valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the
Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.
~ Deuteronomy 11:11-12

Today we stand upon the verge of the unknown. There lies before us the new year and we are going forth to possess it. Who can tell what we will find? What new experiences, what changes will come, what new needs will arise? But here is the cheering, comforting, encouraging message from our heavenly Father, It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. All of our supply is to come from the Lord. Here are springs that shall never dry; here are fountains and streams that shall never be cut off. He is the source of all our mercies, even as He was in 2023! Our God, our help in ages past. Our hope for years to come. No heat, no drought can parch that river, “the streams whereof make glad the city of God. "The land is a land of hills AND valleys. It is not all smooth. The wind is not always at our back. Sometimes, we are marching, moving, maneuvering into the wind. If life were all one dead level of dull sameness it would oppress us; we need the hills and valleys. It is the hill of difficulty that drives us to the throne of grace and brings down the shower of blessings; the hills, bleak hills of life that we wonder at and perhaps grumble at, bring down the showers. How many have perished in the wilderness, buried under its golden sands, who would have lived and thrived in the hill country; how many would have been killed by the frost, blighted with winds, swept desolate of tree and fruit but for the hill – stern, hard, rugged, so steep to climb. The Apostle Paul puts it this way: Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us; because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.~ Romans

We cannot tell what loss and sorrow and trial are doing. Trust only. The Father comes near to take our hand and lead us on our way today. Because He carries us, leads us, guides us, it will be a blessed new year!

He leads us on by paths we did not know;
Upward He leads us, though our steps be slow,
Though oft we faint and falter on the way,
Though storms and darkness oft obscure the day;
Yet when the clouds are gone,
We know He leads us on.
He leads us through all the unquiet years;
Past all our dreamland hopes, and doubts and fears,
He guides our steps, through all the tangled maze
Of loses, sorrows, and o’er clouded days;
We know His will is done;
And still He leads us on.

Until next time,

December 2023

In these December “notes,” as we ready ourselves for the first coming of Jesus, I want to share with you something written by one of the greatest Christian apologist’s, author’s, and theologian’s of the last century. His name was Helmut Thielicke. He writes about the result of Christ’s first coming for us. Because He came to be our substitute unto death, and rose victorious, this is how it will be at the consummation of all things.

When I have to appear at the last judgment, God will see me in him who has bound his fate with mine. We have discussed this scene of the final substitution with one another before. When the hour of my defense comes and the eternal judge calls out my name, he will ask, “Who are you?” And before I can answer the Pros-ecutor will take the floor and reply, “Who is this?” He is one who has done this and that. Because he has no sympathetic love, he has overlooked the loneliest colleague of his who worked right beside him. He is a slave to his ambition and has only a pitifully small amount of love for others. He has always been his own best friend. He has never noticed that people right and left of him cried for his help, for a kind word, and for just a little mercy. He has been too self-centered to be able to figure that out or even to begin to try.

And, when the Prosecutor says that, my whole past will rise up before me and I will have to admit that he is right, difficult and painful as that will be. For, indeed, I am my past. When I want to know who someone is, I certainly ask about his background, because a man truly is what he has behind him, what he accomplished and what he failed in, what he did and what he left undone. Every businessman who hires and employee asks about his background, because he instinctively says to himself, “This man is what has been up to now.” When it be-comes a serious matter about what I have in my background – and before the eternal Judge – it is awfully and inevitably serious – then there is no escape; I am at the end of my rope. I cannot avoid this identification with my past.

But then my attorney, my defender, Jesus Christ, steps forward and obtains the floor. He says, ‘Mr. Prosecutor, everything you said is correct. And yet it is completely wrong, because this man no longer is what he has in his background; that is really behind him. I have crossed it out and taken it upon myself as my burden. I have blot-ted out the accusation and nailed it to my cross.’ (Col. 2:14). Then He turns to the throne of judgment. ‘Father and Judge, if you ask who this is, I answer that he is the one for whom I died and that I have suffered with him and because of him. I have become his brother and he has let me adopt him. He knew his hands were empty. He knew about his stained conscience. He knew that there was no escape from his wretchedness. And he was pleased when I said to him, ‘be clean!’ He accepted my offer to bear everything for him and with him. He stood beneath my cross and said, ‘I want to stay here by thee. Despise me not, I pray.’ Therefore, Father, he is yours and he is mine, and I bring him to you now. As he has looked at me with eyes full of trust, look upon him now has my brother and let him be with me always in your peace and in your glory.’

Blessed Christmas to you.

Your Pastor

November 2023

“BE STILL.” ~ Psalm 46

As I write these notes, the Middle East is a powder keg ready to explode. What is going on in the Gaza strip, on the border of Egypt along the Mediterranean Sea, has consumed the news feeds, from Fox News to CNN, for the better part of a week at this point. We saw the optics –“ horrific” doesn’t do justice to the terror that has been perpetrated upon the Israelis in the Gaza by the terrorist group known as Hamas. Inexplicable wickedness. That is how we define evil. This is what we have seen. We have no clue, as I write these notes, how this will play out. Israel is positioned to move in, via, ground troops to expunge Hamas and try and find, and rescue, hostages. We have riots, in so many parts of the world, many blaming Israel for their response to what was perpetrated against them. It feels, to me, like we are on the threshold of World War III.

Gaza. This small parcel of land, south of what was the Promised Land, is as old as creation itself. We read about it in Genesis. Ponder that for a moment. Gaza is in the Bible. The Arabs warring against the Israelis. The Israelis warring against the Arabs. The tribalism in that region is as old as Cain taking the life of his brother, Abel. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

We cannot forget about the displacing of the innocent Palestinians from the Gaza, as well. Egypt – as I write – closed the door to Palestinian refugees in fear that, among them, are more of the members of the extreme Jihadist group – Hamas, with the potential of exacting the same kind of terror in Egypt. Displaced at the southern border with nowhere to go and no way in Egypt. Oh, my! The history of Egypt! Joseph, the dream-weaver, with his coat of many colors, interprets the dreams of Pharoah. Four hundred years, after the Pharaoh’s of Egypt are no longer sympathetic to Jew, in fact, as we know, they have enslaved them, Moses is commanded to “Tell ol’ Pharoah to let my people go!”

Egypt. The cradle, crib, home of Moses, raised in the house of Pharaoh – best food, best education, best “digs,” best life until what? Until he finds out that he is a Hebrew. A couple of thousand years later another Joseph, different Joseph – the earthly father of Jesus – is told by God to take the babe and Mary to Egypt to avoid the slaughter of innocence, by Herod, in Bethlehem. Do we see a connection here?

We look at the global landscape and we are wont to wonder, “is anyone in control?” “Is God in control?” “Where is God?” “Is there a God?” These are real and legitimate questions. Only through the eyes of faith, as we search the Scriptures, can we find the answer. There is no Psalm in the Psalter that says it better. Psalm 46. Read it. Read all of it. Go to verse 10. “Be still, and know that I am God.”

In other parts we read the following:
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. And we read: He makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth; he burns the shields with fire. And we read: The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

God is never more sovereign then when it seems like He isn’t. He knows. He sees. Part of the purpose imparted upon the chaos is for us to turn to Him; for all to turn to Him. Not Allah! Yahweh! The One true God! The One who, in the deepest love for us, sends His Son to be terrorized on a cross so that we can become part of the eternal habitation of the Lord.

As we see the optics, we pray. We pray for peace. We pray for ALL who are innocent. We pray for God’s will to be done. Through such praying we are empowered to adhere to the imperative: BE STILL. And so we will – “though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea.”

Until next month,