Pastor’s Corner

Gods Calling

Listen; God is Calling!

How do we know? How will we know?  Is it God calling or just my inner voice? Maybe it isn’t God at all but a deceiver trying to lead me off track?  Sometimes, it seems impossible to figure out what God wants even when we remember to pray and listen.  What do we do?

  Samuel was in just such a circumstance.  He was living at the temple of the Lord (really the tabernacle as the temple had not yet been constructed) as a young boy of maybe 12 years old.  Samuel heard a call and needed to figure out who it was from.   Samuel went to his mentor and spiritual advisor to get help, but Eli offered very little in the way of clarity.  What he did offer serves as a model for us today.

Listen, the first thing Samuel did was listen.  This may seem straight forward but our minds are so cluttered and our schedules so full we have little need or space to listen to God.  If we want to know God’s will for our lives we need to make time to listen for His voice.

Determine its authenticity.  Samuel didn’t just start responding or doing what he already thought in his mind.  Samuel’s response was “Speak LORD.” This may seem over bearing, but Satan is known as the great deceiver.  If Eve or Adam had asked for this clarity of the serpent, the results would have been very different, for they would have known they were listening to the wrong voice.

Trust how He leads.  If we listen for His voice and faithfully respond seeking the Lord’s will, then we must have faith to follow where He leads.  Samuel was given some difficult information about his mentor and spiritual leader, Eli.  We would all understand if Samuel didn’t want to share that information.  But, Samuel and Eli knew they needed to hear whatever the Lord had to say, even if they didn’t like it.

Know God works in ways we don’t always understand.  After Samuel and Eli’s faithful listening and responding, Eli’s sons died, the Ark of God was captured and Eli broke his neck falling out of a chair and died.  In my human mind, this does not seem like the work of God and I would be tempted to think we had gotten something wrong along the way.  Instead, God calls us to remain steadfast, to remember we are in warfare against the Devil and that along the way the curse of sin and death will be made known, but the victory belongs to the Lord.

In God’s divine wisdom and mercy, the Godless future was replaced by faithful leadership.  The Ark was regained and both the people of God (Israelites) and the enemies of God’s people (Philistines) grew to believe in the power of the one true God.

God does not need evil to show His goodness, but humanities greatest sin is not recognizing evil in all its subtleties.  We give evil its power when we ignore God’s calling, fail to determine its authenticity and turn away from God for our own idols.  But, God is faithful and just and continues to call out to us and giving us His Spirit and wisdom to follow Him.

Pastor’s Corner

1 Corinthians 1

Gideon on Spiritual Growth

In our culture more is more and more is better. If it is bigger, faster or stronger, then it must be better.  If it is richer, more popular or influential, it must be more desirable.  This isn’t unique to our country or culture; this is common to all humanity.  When Israelites finally chose their first king, they got Saul, “an impressive young man without equals… a full head taller than all the others.”  This was a son from the tribe of Benjamin, the tribe of the most skilled and ferocious warriors in all of Israel, the strongest of the strong, the bravest of the brave to lead them against their scary, strong enemies.

The second king of Israel, David, was the least of the brothers in an unimportant family in the afterthought clan of Judah. We know Judah is important now, but then it was unthinkable that a king would come from them, much less the Messiah (Jesus) who was later born of the same clan in the tiny, unimportant town of Bethlehem.

This week we will be talking about Gideon who had to be called out of hiding by the angel of the LORD and be declared a “Mighty Warrior” or “Mighty Man of Valor.” After this Gideon builds up a mighty army of 32,000 men.  By human standards this would have been an impressive army, but God said it is too big and too strong.  God shrank it down to 300 men.  No, that isn’t a typo.

How in the world would an army of 300 people be good for anything? How would they defeat the bigger, stronger armies of their enemies?  And why isn’t 32,000 better than 300?

So we would KNOW it is of God, not of man.

Throughout history God has chosen the foolish, the weak, the poor, the sinner in order to shame the smart, the strong, the rich and the self-righteous. This isn’t out of necessity, but it is a reality of our material based mindset.  When we see others who have worldly success and fame, we want to lift them up.  When we ourselves achieve worldly gain, we look in the mirror and believe we are something more than we are which causes us to see less of who God is.

What excess is in your life causing you to not see God clearly? Is it success or coveting another’s success?  Is there lacking or perceived lacking in your life that takes your focus off God?  What needs to be trimmed back to make you less reliant on yourself or your possessions and more reliant on His provision?  If you want your faith to grow, it can only grow when you rid yourself of anything that blurs your true self, a person weak in flesh but STRONG in Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29, 31 – ‘”But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him… Therefore, as it is written:  “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”’



Pastor’s Corner


Won’t You Be My Neighbor? 

“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine?  Could you be mine?”  These first few lines of this song bring back wonderful memories of watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood as a kid.  Mr. Rogers was that wonderful “neighbor next-door” who embodied kindness and patience as he taught children how to handle all sorts of feelings and difficulty in life.

Mr. Rogers’ song is very different from the question asked by the lawyer in the Gospel lesson: “and who is my neighbor?”  The unspoken aspect of his question is this:  “and who isn’t my neighbor?”  Jesus had just challenged this lawyer to do what the Law commands – love God and love your neighbor as yourself.  But the reality of actually loving like God loves has put this lawyer in a difficult position.

If this lawyer says he loves God, well, then he needs to love his neighbor too. And if he says he loves his neighbor, someone could ask him for proof that he actually loves his neighbor.  So to help get out from under this responsibility, the lawyer asks “and who is my neighbor?”  Clarifying this would allow the lawyer to determine who is “us” and who is “them.”  It would help him know whom he should love and whom he could ignore.

“Us” and “Them” – we know this well. As a society we divide ourselves in many different ways.  We are constantly bombarded with divisions of race, gender, sex, education, financial means, and religion.  Sometimes we use these issues to determine who is just like us and who is not – and in making that separation, we can be very unloving to “them” because they are not like “us” at all!

What Jesus brings to light is that we, like the lawyer, are like that man left for dead on the side of the road. We all needed someone to love us, show us mercy, heal us, pay for our hotel stay, and help us get better.  Jesus is the One whom everyone despises because He associates with sinners, but Jesus is the One who perfectly embodies God’s love.  Jesus fulfils the Law – He loves God perfectly and He loves His neighbor perfectly.  And now as ones who have been shown God’s mercy, we too can love God and love our neighbor – not motivated by a rule of “us” and “them” but rather living that love of God we’ve already experienced, and living toward everyone.

“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine?  Could you be mine?”

God has said to you, “You are mine.” How then should you live?  What if that little song played in your mind this next day?  How would you live life differently toward your neighbor?

In His hands,

Pastor Matt Conrad

Pastor’s Corner

Building on the Past, Faithful for the Future.png

Building on the Past, Faithful for the Future Update

The volunteer leadership team is excited to announce a relaunch of the” Building on the Past, Faithful for the Future Campaign.” The results of our initial effort last fall can be characterized as a mixed bag.  Many families were excited about the possibilities, how God is leading us and the faithfulness we are following with.  At the same time, many others were concerned and our in home visits allowed them to express those concerns safely and confidentially.

We took the season of Lent and Easter to prayerfully focus on the sacrificial death and resurrection of our Lord. We considered the sacrifice Christ made on our behalf and the expectation He places on His church to make sacrifices for those who still do not believe.  Recently, the leadership team started to meet again and put together a way forward that addresses the concerns expressed, celebrates the faithful steps forward and honors what God has been doing amongst us.

Starting this weekend, June 10, our Capital Campaign Committee and a team of volunteers will relaunch with our revised strategy. This revised strategy allows us to address the most urgent items like the children and youth ministry areas and will also allow our pre-school to continue growing.  At the same time, we will delay the worship space and sending space changes until a later date. The final plans will still need to be worked out and approved by the congregation, but we have a real good understanding of what needs to be done and what it will cost.

We will work this summer to get as many details as possible to each of you. There are MANY opportunities to attend a Ministry Victory Party to hear all about it and ask all your questions.  There is a ministry Victory Party scheduled for EVERY Sunday this summer during BOTH the 9:15 AM and the 10:45 AM services!  You only need to attend one!  Please make the time to do this over the summer and more importantly pray.  Pray for unity, wisdom and victory in His name.  Sharing the good news takes a lot of sacrificial work, but the eternal results are worth it!

Contact the church office or keep your eyes on the newsletter for more details on Ministry Victory Parties so we can celebrate the victory we each have through Jesus Christ! Also, so we can share in that victory with all of God’s beloved people.

“… we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.” Psalm 78:4

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner


Old Testament Challenge

Last fall, when we began the His Story journey through the whole Bible, it became very clear there were more questions on the Old Testament than we had time to answer! As this summer ministry season gets in gear, we will dig deeper into a portion of the Old Testament.  The hope is we will be able to spend a little more time on a smaller chunk and therefore get a few things ironed out.

We will start June 2-3 with Joshua, the leader of the Israelites after Moses dies without entering the Promised Land. Joshua is tasked with overcoming the previous objections, leaning into his faith and encouraging the whole group of Abraham’s descendants to do the same.  This is no small task but will require great faith and a great God who will make Himself known through Joshua.

After Joshua we will move into the era of the Judges where we will explore how God sends leaders at just the right times to accomplish just the right things. Each Judge had different skillsets to help the people overcome the particular spiritual crisis of the culture.  God does this in each of our lives as well, if we let Him, in each of our own spiritual crises.

The six week Old Testament Challenge will conclude with the prophet Samuel and the selection of the first earthly king of the Israelites, Saul. This account is one of great importance; the people want an earthly king.  God challenges the people to trust in God alone above all things and yet relents and gives the people what they want.  What does this mean for us when we beg God for things that may not be a blessing?  Why would God gift us things that are not necessarily in His plan for us?  How is God able to redeem all these things and still accomplish His will for all mankind?

This more in depth look at a small portion of Old Testament teaching is sure to be one to challenge and enrich our walk of faith. Our hope in working through these accounts is to see how God interacts with humanity, points us to Jesus, and continues to be present for us today.  We challenge you to join us these next few weeks by digging into the Word of God and engaging with Him like He continues to engage with us.  The hope is that our faith is refined and we increasingly become a more faithful reflection of Him in our everyday lives.