Category Archives: Uncategorized

Don’t “Facebook Friend” Jesus

Facebook has been around since 2004. From its beginning, it has slowly been changing the way that we interact and communicate with the world around us. This mode of socializing has opened the door to a whole new world of virtual interaction. Great things have been done in bridging gaps between long distant friends or even reuniting relationships of the past. We are able to keep up with others in ways that we were never able to before. We can now witness family grow up right before our eyes in online photo albums. We can keep in touch through posts and comments. These things are great but with all of the advantages of this tool there are also many dangers. Whether we recognize it or not social media has affected the way that we relate with others. Yes, we are able to feel close to people but, in all honesty, we can also keep them at a safe distance. We can now feel like we “know” people without ever having to talk with them or even offer anything of ourselves. All it takes is a click and a scroll. Relating in this way has a sad resemblance to how many people relate to the Lord.

Jesus said in John 17, “This is eternal life, that you know Me and the One who sent Me.” In one sense Jesus is describing how we gain eternal life. To know Jesus is to have eternal life. We cannot have forgiveness and a right-standing with the Father if we do not know and trust the Son. In this statement Jesus is also showing what eternal life is. It is all about knowing Jesus. How will we spend eternity? Knowing, getting to know, and being in relationship with Christ. This is important for us to realize because if we don’t have it now then we will never have it then. A relationship with Christ is much more than just acknowledging His existence. It goes beyond being able to rehearse some events from His life or having some of the same interests as He does. This is proven in Matt. 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” I could say that I know Carson Wentz. I know that we have some similar interests. I’ve followed his activity and kept up on his current injury status but even with all that I know about him, he would have no idea who I was. There’s no relationship there. We’ve never truly interacted. Any connection has only been from a distance. Many people have “added” Jesus at some point in their lives. They follow some of His posts every now and then and feel like this has given them a status with Christ when the truth is, there is nothing there.

When it comes to your relationship with Jesus, how would He respond when you say, “I know Him!”? To truly know Jesus we must give ourselves to Him. We cannot know Him fully from a distance. John makes this clear in his epistle. To know Jesus means to walk with Him (1 John 1:7) and keep His Word (1 John 2:4). Jesus explained in Matthew 7:24 that this looks like hearing His Word and acting on it. To be more than an acquaintance requires action. This is true, both, in relationships with others and with Jesus. It’s also interesting, when John talks about walking with Jesus, he also talks about confession. If we are going to get close to Christ we are going to need to leave the comfort of a safe distance and share ourselves, for who we really are, with Him. When we interact in this way we reveal our need to know Him and we also gain the opportunity for forgiveness and transformation. This New Year let’s look to get to know Jesus. Let’s take an active approach to taking in all that we can of Him and offering up all that we are to Him so that we may see what it truly means to have a friend in Jesus.


Getting To Know Him, Pastor Rudy


Joy To The World

Tis the season to be overwhelmed and inundated with signs and decorations telling us how to feel. “Be Merry!”, “Be Joyful!”, “Don’t get your tinsel in a bunch!” are just a few that I’ve seen so far. Of course, this promotion of good attitudes, joy, and peace are a good thing but sadly what people are missing are the signs pointing to where those things come from. It’s not that those signs are not there. They exist. They just often get overlooked in the hustle and bustle or ignored in the tradition of the Christmas season. There is certainly reason to feel joy at Christmas. One way we can remind ourselves of that is by taking a fresh look at a familiar song that has accompanied Christmas for a very long time.

In the early 1700’s Isaac Watts set out to create his own paraphrase of the Psalms. In this process he, unintentionally, wrote the words to, what would become, one of the most popular Christmas carols we have today. Watts’ paraphrases turned into a collection, entitled, “The Psalms of David, Imitated in the Language of the New Testament.” In his writing, Watts set out to see Jesus in the Psalms. In Luke 24:4 this is what Jesus told His disciples they should see when they look there, “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’” As Watts read through Ps. 98:4-9 he could see within the Jewish song for deliverance the Christian’s anticipation and joy in Christ’s return. How could he not be overwhelmed with joy after reading, “Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy before the Lord, for He is coming…”? Yes, joy is commanded, “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth” but it is also enabled at the thought of the Savior’s coming. Originally this song was intended to look ahead at what was to come in Jesus’ return to earth. He would judge and rule with righteousness and equity over His people. Think of what this means in light of the current climate that we live in today. Government will one day, no longer be associated with corruption or controversy because it will all rest on Christ, Himself. Lives will no longer be needlessly taken and peace will no longer be a distant thought because the Prince of Peace will reign.

The thought of Christ’s return was especially joyful to Watts because it meant the end to the suffering and hardships that plagued much of his life. Watts’ family experienced mistreatment and persecution because of issues surrounding his father and the fact that his mother was a refugee. Watt’s also had many health issues. He longed for the day when there would “…no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain…” (Rev. 21:4). We also see in Revelation 22:3 that the curse of sin will no longer be. This is what brings us to Christmas and what Christ came to do in His first coming. In his birth, death, and resurrection Christ “no more let sins and sorrows grow nor thorns infest the ground [because] He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.” You don’t have to look very far to find the curse. We have all been plagued by it in our sin but there is blessing that flows in turning and trusting in the One who came to die in our place and then resurrect for our life. He is the reason for joy! Be joyful knowing He has come and will soon come again!


Praying For Joy In Jesus, Pastor Rudy


Believers With Attitude

What do you think of when you see the word, “attitude”? A lot of the time, we associate negative thoughts with this word. We may think of a tough guy with sunglasses or a little girl with sass. In our society, along with those in the past, young people were often thought of as having attitude problems. We can see that in how Paul addresses Timothy in 1 Tim. 4:12 he says, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness…”. People had the tendency to look down on young people because of their attitudes. Bad attitudes revealed themselves in their actions. Paul challenges Timothy, “…but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” There are specific areas that Paul calls Timothy to be an example in, “speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.” If you think about each of these areas, they are all affected by our attitudes. Our attitudes have a direct impact on our behavior.  So, if we want to be examples in all of these things (which is something that all believers should strive for, not just the young ones) then we need to be believers with attitude but the right attitude. One that has been adjusted and directed by the Holy Spirit.

One of Jesus’ favorite illustrations is fruit. In Matthew 7, good fruit only comes from good trees. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit. In those cases, it is cut down and thrown into fire. Jesus explains in vs. 20 that the indicator of the condition of the tree is its fruit. The same is true of our attitudes. This is the indicator of our hearts. If we have a bad attitude then we need to look at the condition of our hearts and if we want a good attitude then we need to be sure that our hearts are rooted in the right place. Jesus shows us in John 15 where that is to be. In verses 4-9 He says this, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.  Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” Jesus is clear that we cannot produce any good fruit on our own. Our attitudes will not be what they should be by our own decisions or strength. This work must come through Jesus. It comes by abiding in Him. There are at least 5 times just in these verses that Jesus tells us to abide in Him. The idea here is to be “planted in Jesus.” The way we are planted is first by trusting in Him. In verse 9, Jesus says, “abide in my love.” We must trust that Jesus loves us and that He has shown us that love by His work on the cross. We must trust that He is our only hope for the fruit that God desires in our lives. The other way to be planted in Jesus is to obey His Word. In verse 10, Jesus says, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love…”. If we want to abide then we must trust and obey Him. Just like the old hymn says, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”

As we trust and obey, the Holy Spirit begins to do something in our lives. Just like a good tree we begin to produce good fruit. Paul shows us in Galatians 5:22-23 that this fruit is, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Would you consider these words to be consistent with your own attitude? Do you see this fruit evidenced in your day-to-day? Maybe it’s time to go to the Lord for a holy attitude adjustment that you may be an example of what it looks like to be a believer with attitude.


      Seeking The Fruit Of A Holy Spirit Shaped Attitude, Pastor Rudy


Truth For The Nations

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians shows us the messy and dysfunctional reality of the Church. When sinful people get together there are going to be issues but this letter also shows us that in the midst of all of the mess, there is still beauty. The issues don’t define the Church, the truth does. God desires for His Church to be a place where imperfect people can come and see the perfect Truth. Paul calls the Church, “a pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). So, in a world full of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, people can depend on the Church to bring the Truth. The way we do that is by sticking to the Word that God has given us. Jesus said in John 17:17, “Your Word is Truth.” As long as the Church is preaching the Word, the truth will be made known and people will be set free. Yes, there may be problems, but by walking in the Word, people will be set on a path to life change and holiness. Sadly, there are many churches that have neglected the Word. In doing this, they have not only led people astray but they have also abused the name of Jesus and completely misrepresented who God is and what His will is. To be the church God has called us to be we must continue to uphold the Truth that He has entrusted to us, with our words and with our lives.

We have a sad example of what happens when churches stray from the Truth in some of the most recent events in our country over the past few months. There are people claiming to know Christ and churches claiming to know the Truth that have used the name of Jesus and the position of the church in order to promote racism and spew hatred of people of different color, race, and nationality. Acting out this way, however, shows no knowledge of the Scripture or the Truth at all. From the start, Scripture reveals to us that God has designed and created all mankind in His image. Inherently each person has value and demands our love and respect as God’s creation, fearfully and wonderfully made. Not only is this true, but also in Christ, “whosoever” will may come. The promise of Revelation 7 defines the “whosoever” as people of all tribes, nations, tongues, and people. All of those red, yellow, black, or white will rejoice at the throne of Jesus and yet those who carry out hatred towards others will not. As believers, we are called out to set the standard and example in this. We show what it looks like to love others even when it doesn’t make sense because of the immense love that we have been shown in the Gospel. We lay down our prejudices and preferences and look past stereotypes to people that desperately need the Truth of Jesus Christ (just like us).

Another mark of the Church is love. Jesus said that this is how the world will be able to identify us. This isn’t a self-love or a love reserved for one nation or skin of people but one that is imitative of the Father, sacrificial, looking out for the interests of others, and considering them as more important (Eph. 5:1, Phil. 2:1-7). The only supremacy associated with Christianity is that of Jesus Christ’s. This One, who is over all things, has given us the task of representing Himself in our homes, community, nation, and world. As He displayed grace and truth to those He interacted with, His Church is called to do the same during our time on this earth. We work towards His will of the whole world receiving the good news before His return. We do that by continuing to be “the pillar and support” of His Truth so that as David proclaimed, “[His] way may be known on the earth, [His] salvation among all nations” (Ps. 67:2). We also do that by stopping any form of racism in its tracks. We cannot be associated with any part of the lie that certain people or groups are less human based on where they were born or what they look like. Where others look down, mock, or avoid we stand up that the Truth would be displayed.

Lifting High The Truth of Jesus, Pastor Rudy

Study Scripture Like A 6-Year-Old

Part of our evening routine before we tuck our boys into bed is to read the Bible together. Our hopes in this is to fulfill God’s role for us as parents as laid out in passages like Duet. 6 and Prov. 22:6. We have found that the Lord has used this training experience not just for our kids but for us as well. Our boys are very inquisitive which, if my wife and I are being honest, can be down-right exhausting at times. Their questions come in all shapes and sizes. There are times when we look forward to answering them and other times when we just look forward to getting them to bed! The other night, however, the Lord used a question from our 6-year-old that taught us a valuable lesson about our God and how we interact with His Word.

Recently we have been working through the story of Moses leading God’s people out of Egypt and into the promised land. If you know anything about this story then you know that the Israelites have got to be the worst travelers in the history of traveling! If you thought the complaints from the backseat were bad on your last family road trip open up the Old Testament again and look at what Moses had to deal with! When you get to Numbers 11, Moses has gotten to the point where he would rather die than listen to another complaint from this people. Now they want meat. They’re tired of the same old menu so they make their demands known. This upsets Moses because he has no idea where all this meat is going to come from but it also upsets the Lord because they continue to choose to whine, complain, and grumble rather than trust God’s provision and care over them. God then tells the people that they will have meat to eat, “not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you.” How’s that for an answer! God responds this way because in their complaining and weeping they have rejected Him and His plan for them. If it is meat they want, then meat is what they’re going to get!

Moses is still unsure about where all of this meat is going to come from. He can’t seem to fathom a whole month’s supply of meat for over 600,000 people. So, God has to confront Moses as well in vs. 23 by saying, “Is the Lord’s power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.” Here is how the story ends, picking up in vs. 31, “Now there went forth a wind from the Lord and it brought quail from the sea, and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp and about two cubits deep on the surface of the ground. The people spent all day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very severe plague. So the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had been greedy.” The Lord provided the meat as He said He would in the form of quail but because of the greed and grumbling of the people they also got a side of plague.

Now, this is where our 6-year-old comes in. Right now, Jude is on an animal kingdom kick. If there is something that he can choose to watch on TV it’s a kids’ program called “Wild Kratts” which follows the Kratt brothers as they educate kids on different creatures in the wild. As far as Jude knows, Quail don’t regularly fly. It is only if they need to and he’s right. So, naturally he would ask, “How did this happen?” This sparked our interest too. Yes, it could be possible that God just miraculously plopped a group of quail in the midst of the camp but it could also be possible that He designed these birds to specifically carry out His will. We found that the second is true! The quail of the Middle-Eastern part of our world migrate. Guess where their migrating path travels? From the sea over the route of the Israelites. Want another fascinating fact? There is a specific time when quail meat is poisonous and dangerous to eat. When they are migrating! Isn’t God’s Sovereignty amazing? That He would specifically design this bird, it’s flight pattern, and the changes its body goes through to carry out His will, to reveal Himself, and to teach a very important lesson. There’s no way we would have dug into this truth unless a certain 6-year-old opened up our eyes to the importance of asking questions and digging deeper into our Bibles. There is truth to be found in Scripture but as Solomon calls us to, we’ve got to search for it like treasure. This means slowing down, this means reminding ourselves that we don’t know everything, and taking the time to study like a 6-year-old to discover some amazing truths about our God.


Studying, Asking, And Digging For Truth With You, Pastor Rudy


Onesimus’ Salvation and Ours

Paul’s letter to Philemon may be small in size but it is jam-packed with some amazing truth. In this letter there is a wonderful picture of the gospel through Paul’s relationship with Onesimus (Philemon’s former slave). In this letter we see how God uses circumstances and situations to draw us to Himself and then how He transforms and makes us new through Jesus. Through Philemon’s conversion story we are reminded of God’s amazing grace in our own but we are also given hope that God could do this work in someone else’s life if we take advantage of the opportunity to minister to them just as Paul did with Onesimus.

Starting in verse 10, Paul says to Philemon, “I appeal to you for my child, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, Onesimus.” Look at how Paul used his circumstance. He saw his imprisonment as his mission field. He took advantage of where God had placed him to minister to a fellow prisoner named, Onesimus. Imagine if Paul spent that time sulking and moaning about how he’d rather be anywhere else. He would have missed the opportunity that God had placed right before him. Paul shared the gospel with this young man and he was saved.

Then Paul describes Onesimus in verse 11, “…who was formerly useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me.” Apart from Jesus, this is the condition of each of us. We have nothing to offer God. Our righteous deeds are filthy rags and our strength is useless. In John 15:5 Jesus says, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” When Onesimus came to trust in Jesus Christ, he found his usefulness. This is where each of our usefulness lies, in the realization that we don’t have what we need or what it takes on our own and in placing all of our trust in Christ. It’s interesting, Onesimus’ name actually means “useful” but he only truly lived up to his name when he found Christ.

So, how did Onesimus get to this point? We first see in verses 15-16 that God used the circumstances in his life to bring him to where the God wanted him to be. Paul says, “For perhaps Onesimus was for this reason parted from you for a while that you should have him back forever no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” Joseph sees in the book of Genesis that what his brothers meant for evil, God used for his good. The same is true for Onesimus’ life. What Onesimus meant for evil, in the stealing from his master and then running away, God twisted for his good. This brought him to be cellmates with Paul which then led to his conversion and transformed life. This certainly, doesn’t excuse Onesimus’ sin but it shows us God’s control and His love over us “while we were yet sinners.”

Plus, this sin was forgiven through Christ. Paul gives us a picture of Jesus in verses 17-18, “If then you regard me a partner, accept Onesimus as you would me. But if he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.” This is essentially what Jesus said to the Father, on our behalf, at the cross. All of our sins were charged to Christ’s account. He took them and then paid that account in full with His blood and His death. Jesus then is able to say to the Father, “Accept them as you would me.” This is true for us today, because our debt has been paid, the Father looks at us, loves us, and blesses us the same way He would His Son. Think of what God has taken you from and who He has transformed you to be, think of the situations and circumstances He brought you through to lead you to Himself, and praise Him for the work that He’s done through Jesus on the cross that we would find forgiveness and freedom before Him. Just as Paul stood on behalf of Onesimus, the Lord stands on our behalf. What an amazing truth!


                                               Holding To The One Who Saves, Pastor Rudy


Don’t Treat Missions Like Flossing

Missions is something that we all know is important but just knowing it is important doesn’t always drive us to be active in sharing the gospel with others. David shows us the importance of missions in Ps. 96:1-6. Here, and in many other passages of Scripture, we can see that missions is an important part of the will of God. There are times that He commands missions like in Ps. 96 and also in the Great Commission of Matt. 28:18-20. Then there are other times when the Lord shows that His work over certain events and situations was for the purpose of missions. God has a desire for people of all tribes, tongues, and nations to hear the good news of the gospel and respond to it. Again, these are things that we probably all know and yet “proclaiming the good tidings of His salvation” is either non-existent or very sparse in our day to day lives. We must go beyond just knowing that missions is important if we want to be active in it.

Here is something that we can all relate to. If we go to the dentist regularly then we know that flossing is important but, for the majority of us, just because we know it’s important doesn’t mean that we do it. At every visit we know what’s coming from the dentist. He tells us how important flossing is, he gives us instruction on how to do it properly, and then he even gives us what we need to do it on our own. And what happens when we get home? We don’t do it. At every visit there is also that dreaded moment where the dentist asks, “Have you been flossing?” It’s at that moment that we feel a weight of guilt come upon us. We know we should be doing it. We knew he was going to ask but we didn’t have time, didn’t think about it, or just didn’t care to. There’s a mindset that we have with flossing, “yes, it’s important but really only a special group of people can do it” or “No one can do it every day” or “That’s what the dentist is for! As long as he is doing it then we’re fine.” Now, I know you probably would have never imagined that in your lifetime you’d read missions related to flossing but how different does how we act toward flossing sound from how we act when it comes to sharing the gospel? Sadly, not that different at all! We feel guilt when someone gets up front to talk about it because we know we should be doing it but we’re just not. There are times that we think that missions and sharing the gospel is only for a select group of people or we may even think “That’s what the Pastor is for!” Again, God has called, commanded, and commissioned each of us to missions in some way. We are left here on this earth to make disciples. To deny or neglect is to brush off the will of the One who has made, saved, and sustained you to this day. God desires to include us in what He is doing.

So, what led David to speak the way that he did in Ps. 96:1-6 about missions and sharing the gospel? One answer is that he saw the Lord as His treasure. David proclaims who God is in verses 5-6. He shows us that the idols all around us are nothing and worthless but that God is everything. The idols can do nothing for us but God has made the heavens and the earth. David starts this passage off by talking about singing to the Lord. We sing as an overflow of the heart. It is natural for humans to burst into song as a reflection of how they’re feeling. David is overwhelmed with the Lord so what comes out is a song. Jesus says in Luke 6:45, “The mouth speak from that which fills the heart.” This means that our conversation is a good indicator of what takes center stage in our hearts. What we treasure determines what we talk about. David has determined that the Lord is his treasure and the result is opening his mouth. He sings, proclaims, and tells all that he can of “wonderful deeds” of God. The way God is going to carry out His will for missions on this earth is by us opening our mouths. Let’s not treat missions like flossing by only knowing the importance of it. Let’s pray that God would open our mouths that others would know the treasure of He is as well!


                                          Seeking To Share His Good News, Pastor Rudy


I Thank Jesus For Putting Me Here

As I prepare for my ordination service this weekend (May 21, 2017) I can’t help but think of how the Lord has led me to this point. Six years ago, this June, Lindsey and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary by candidating at Pike. Nervous and excited I stood behind the pulpit to give my first sermon in this church. Following the service, the church graciously invited us to serve here. As we drove down the highway we were overjoyed at the response that we received and ecstatic about the opportunity that was before us. There was no way we could have ever known what the Lord would have in store for us by putting us here! Abundant amounts of love, lessons, and grace awaited us.

When I arrived at Pike, Youth Ministry was all that I knew and, honestly, all that I wanted to do. I studied Youth Ministry in school, sure that this is what God wanted from me. As my friends talked about the stepping stone of youth ministry, I didn’t have any dreams or aspirations of doing anything else. I arrived at Pike ready to learn and grow in ministry which is exactly what the Lord had in mind. There were lessons filled with joy and lessons filled with heartache but God was clearly in them all. I needed to be humbled, I needed to understand what it looked like to serve, and grow in relationship with our people. The Lord used accidents, sickness, and disappointment to teach me all of those things. In Ps. 119:71, David said, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statues.” As much as anyone would love to go without suffering, there are tremendous truths that the Lord can teach about Himself and His Word through them. As I look back, I know that I serve, care, and love in the way that I do because of those things.

In March of 2014, I stood behind the pulpit to preach again. I wasn’t thinking anything permanent. I thought I could fill in for a season but this would turn out to be the first of many sermons to come. I trembled up front knowing that I really didn’t know what I was doing. There was no strength or expertise in me to do what the Lord was asking me to do. However, when I served in this new capacity I saw something amazing happen, God was equipping me in each and every way necessary. From performing funeral services for very dear people in our congregation to leading meetings to preparing sermons. The Lord was strengthening me to serve in ways I never thought I could or would. Thankfully, there were others in my life who could see this also. I am so thankful for our elders who didn’t push but prayed with me as we moved towards the transition. I fought the Lord’s leading for a long time but through our elders’ encouragement and our congregation’s love, patience, and grace I eventually got to the point where I could see clearly the step the Lord was calling me to.

A verse that has become near and dear to me throughout this ministry so far has been, 1 Tim. 1:12. Paul looks back at his own ministry in thankfulness and says, “I thank Christ Jesus, my Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service.” This has been my experience and my praise as well. Even when others didn’t consider me faithful, the Lord did. He could see what others couldn’t and He continues to do what is necessary to make me faithful to this calling at Pike. I love where He has put me into service. I love our people here. I have no doubt that this is what God has called me to and I am confident that the Lord will continue to teach, lead, and equip me for the service He has for me in the days ahead.

Grateful to Serve You, Pastor Rudy


Free From The Love Of Money

In 1 Timothy 3:3 Paul instructs Timothy that elders should be “free from the love of money.” From further study of the Bible it’s clear that this instruction isn’t just limited to elders but it is for all of God’s people. I know for me, it can be easy to feel like I’m “free from the love of money” just because I don’t have a lot of it but Paul’s instruction here doesn’t have anything to do with our quantity of money. Paul doesn’t say, “Be free from money.” This instruction deals with our desires and feelings towards money, whatever the amount. My heart is often revealed when unexpected bills or payments come up. If I get stressed or frustrated this shows exactly how I feel about money and what my desire is. The stress comes because I am unsure or uncertain about having what we would need. This reveals that I desire money just to feel comfortable and under control. Frustration is usually a result of selfishness. I get upset because money that I thought I had can no longer be used to get what I want. This reveals that I desire money to have my way and depend on myself for what I think I need. There are many tough lessons the Lord has already taught me and is continuing to teach me concerning money. It is something that we all need to function in our society but it is also something that we all need to be extremely cautious and aware of because of the dangers that it can cause in our relationship with God.

Money can be hard to talk about but the issue of money, wealth, and possessions is touched on all throughout the Bible because it is important to talk about. The Lord not only gives instruction but also gives clear warnings about what the love of money can cause in our lives:

The love of money can cause us to forget God (Deut. 8:11-17)

God warned the people of Israel that there would come a time when they would be blessed and all that they had would increase. This seems like an unusual thing to give a warning about but God says, “Beware, lest you forget the Lord your God…otherwise, you may say in your heart, “My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.” If you think about it when are we the least likely to come to God about our finances? When we don’t have a need. It can be really easy to forget God when you feel comfortable. You are also more likely to trust in your bank account or checkbook during these times rather than God but the truth is, God provides and gives to His people just to remind us that He is the provider. God cared for His people throughout their time in the wilderness to show them where their trust should be. There are times that God puts us into difficult situations financially just so that we will remember this. In Matthew 6:31-33, we can find a principle from Jesus’ command to us not to worry about our basic needs in life. That principle is: Don’t forget God because He won’t forget you.

The love of money can cause us to not be content (Heb. 13:5)

In this verse we see the same phrase that Paul uses in 1 Timothy 3:3. Contentment is what it looks like to be free from the love of money. Ultimately, we should be content with Christ. If we have Him then we have all that we need. One of the major difficulties that we face living in our American society is a sense of entitlement that we all face. When it comes down to it we are just expected to have different things at different stages in our lives whether we truly need them or not. We should fight those feelings that we deserve certain things or earned the right to possess other things and be content with what God has already given us. A great key to contentment is perspective. Just think of all that you have been given that so many others don’t have!

The love of money always drives out love for God (2 Tim. 3:1-4, 1 Tim. 6:9-10, Matt. 6:24)

Paul is clear about this because Jesus is clear about this. Just think of the example of the rich young ruler. His stuff won. He just couldn’t follow Jesus if it meant letting go of what he had. We cannot let our desire for money, comfort, and stuff beat out our desire for Jesus.

If we want to be free from the love of money we need to remember the message that Paul relayed to us from Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Giving is always greater than getting. Contentment is always greater than want. We were made to remember the Lord and rely on Him- don’t let your money get in the way of that!


Trusting The Great Provider, Pastor Rudy


The Lord Is My Shepherd

Over the past week, I spent some time with one of the most popular Psalms in Scripture. Sometimes in its familiarity we can lose sight of the great comfort the Lord provides through David’s words. When David wrote Psalm 23 he was in the midst of struggles: he had enemies on all sides, he was overwhelmed with emotion, and he felt like he was on the edge of death. I’m sure there are times in each of our lives when we feel like we just can’t take anymore. We feel like we are walking through a valley just like David. Even the hymn, Amazing Grace, shows us the reality that in life there are many dangers, toils, and snares that we must go through. Sadly, this is the reality that we face in life on earth. Because of sin there are valleys and struggles. In Rom. 5:12, Paul says that through sin death has entered this world. Because we all have sinned we face sickness, suffering, disease, and death. However, just like the hymn also sings God has given us amazing grace to lead us through these things and David held to this truth.

In the first line of Ps. 23 David writes, “The Lord is my shepherd.” David does not let his circumstances dictate his truth. This is what he knows to be true and this truth in the Old Testament points us to the truth of Jesus. He referred to Himself as “The Shepherd” showing where David’s hope was directed. Jesus came that He might lead us, as a Shepherd, out of sorrow and death, sin and punishment, and into joy and life. On our own we could not reach the standard that God had set for us. We had no hope but Jesus came to this earth. He lived this life perfectly yet He was taken, betrayed, and beaten, hung from a cross, and there at the cross He was punished by His Father for our sins. Jesus took the punishment of death so that we wouldn’t have to. Then 3 days later Jesus was resurrected from the dead so that we too could have life. So, when we turn from our sins to Jesus – He leads us as a shepherd.

As we continue reading through the Psalm we see what gives David comfort. God, the maker of heaven and earth, the one who upholds and sustains all things is his Shepherd. This is a good shepherd to have. This shepherd not only cares for our daily needs but he also cares for our soul. The Bible says in Ez. 18:4 that the soul who sins will die. Jesus leads us on the paths of righteousness that we may live. God guides us in honoring Him. He leads us in what is right. David hung on the words of His Shepherd because he knew that these words lead to life. In them he found care for his soul.

David continues in vs. 4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” There is no fear in the face of death when the Lord is our Shepherd. Why? Because we have a Shepherd that has promised to never leave nor forsake us. He remains with us even in the face of death reminding us of the hope that we have in Him. And for those who believe, we only walk through the shadow of death. We don’t experience it in all of its eternal sense. Even though we may take a final breath on this earth, our lives are not over. We wake up in heaven in the presence of Jesus. David continues (vs. 5-6), “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” There’s the ultimate hope and the great promise that David had and that we can have: that whatever happens we will dwell in His house forever.

Finally, back in vs. 1, David says, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want…” because nothing compares to knowing Him. There is no want of anything else. David could have great contentment in his circumstances knowing Jesus. He had everything he could ever want or need in Him. This Shepherd doesn’t just lead us to satisfaction for our soul but He is that very satisfaction! Do you know Jesus in this way? Have you learned to find comfort and rest in the Shepherd that He is?  I pray that you would find abundant comfort in the truth of this Psalm!

Following The Great Shepherd With You, Pastor Rudy