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


Where Did You Get Your Information?

“Where did you get your information?” I can remember being asked this question on more than one occasion by more than one English teacher. With High School came the introduction of the “Works Cited” page. It wasn’t acceptable just to borrow information from different sources. Those sources needed to be listed so readers could be enlightened to how you came to your thoughts and conclusions. In life, we come to many thoughts and conclusions. These direct the way that we interact with the world around us and with the Lord. Our ideas have been influenced in some way from somewhere. So, what if you were asked, “Where did you get your information?” What would be your source(s)? To conclude the book of Ecclesiastes, the writer tells us in verse 11, that true wisdom comes from One Shepherd. Our sights should be set on the words that He is the source of! The writer then continues with a warning in verse 12, “But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.” We need to be aware that there are various teachings and ideas that surround us. These things make their way into endless amounts of books, movies, sermons, and songs. They vie for our attention and devotion. If we are going to be able to navigate through life then we need the ability to navigate through these things. Our information for life should ultimately come from the Lord. If what we are taught (whether through story or sermon) does not match up with what He teaches, then it must be thrown out.

In 1 Thess. 5:21-22 Paul gives this command to believers, “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” We are called to practice discernment. We should be able to judge what we come across as good or evil and act accordingly. How are we to judge or “examine everything”? The writer of Hebrews says this in 5:14, “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” We do this by knowing “solid food” or as the writer defines this in verse 13, “the word of righteousness.” We train our senses by God’s Word. We “chew” on it which is to think through, search out, examine it carefully (Eccl. 12:9; Acts 17:11) and then “practice” what it says. The writer tells us that when we do this our senses will be trained to discern good and evil. We will be able to tell fact from fiction and good ideas from bad ideas. This practice is extremely important for us especially because we live in a world of “endless books”. There is so much out there pulling us in different directions. Be warned. Go to the Shepherd’s word of righteousness first so that your senses are ready to take on what else is out there.

Discernment isn’t only needed when we walk into the “Non-Christian” section of the library, turn on secular radio, or venture outside of the family section at Redbox. It is needed, even more so, in the areas labeled “Christian.” It is not just enough to bear that tag. Some may shrug off fiction as, “It’s just a story” but every story has been written to influence and inform us in some way or another. For instance, the author of the best-selling book “The Shack” (which has reached Amazon’s list of top-selling books of all time and will soon be released on the big screen) has designed his story in such a way to cause the reader to question the authority of Scripture just as the main character does. There have been many who have left the book resolving to put down their Bibles and seminary teaching to find their own relational experiences with God. This is the last thing that we want to do! We meet with God not in our own “shacks” but in and through His Word! Another popular devotional book that has led to many follow up books for both adults and kids is “Jesus Calling.” In this devotional the author speaks for God and admits that her purpose for writing came out of a desire to hear God outside of the Bible. Again, the conclusion is to put down the Bible to see what God really has to say. If we know our Bibles this is far from the conclusion that John comes to in Rev. 22:18-19.

I give these examples not to start a book burning or to suggest that it would be an unpardonable sin to read either. This is a reminder to do what the writers of Scripture urge us to do: Be warned, practice discernment, and trust the sufficiency of Scripture. We cannot go wrong with the Word God has given to us. As the writer of Ecclesiastes concluded the Word is like “a goad” that sets us straight and “well-driven nails” that secure us. Let’s be a people that draw our wisdom from the words that give life and encourage others to do the same.

Seeking Discernment With You, Pastor Rudy


Use Wisdom

This past month we learned a story in Ecclesiastes 9:13-16 that left a major impact on the Preacher’s life. He could see the importance and significance of wisdom through what happened. The Preacher says this, “Also this I came to see as wisdom under the sun, and it impressed me. There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it, and constructed large siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man. So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the wisdom of the poor man is despised and his words are not heeded.” Despite the outcome for the poor man (he was not remembered, despised, and his words were not heeded) it is still better to use wisdom. There are many experiences that we can face in life where we learn this lesson to. We can even look into our own American history to a remarkably similar story that perfectly illustrates this passage.

In 1781, the battle had turned for the worse for Virginians as they had to deal with the impact of Benedict Arnold’s treason and opposing troops gaining ground under British General Charles Cornwallis. Marquis de Lafayette led his army to fight but there was only so much they could do without information on their enemy’s movements. The battle did not look good for Lafayette’s men just as the battle did not look good for that small city in Ecclesiastes 9 but here is where an unlikely hero steps in. Black slaves had nothing in early America. No power or position. They were, by all means, considered the poorest of the poor. One particular slave from New Kent, Virginia had a deep desire to serve and fight for his country. He also had the wisdom to do so. Under the permission of his master, James Armistead joined the war efforts. In this time slaves were mostly used as spies by both British and American forces to gain information from the other. Armistead managed to be enlisted by both sides gaining him ground with British troops that very few men had. Armistead was given a position under Lafayette and under Benedict Arnold. In Arnold’s camp he played the part of an escaped slave that could guide them through the territories of Virginia. As Armistead spent time with Arnold he gained important information that he sent back to Lafayette. Through Benedict Arnold, Armistead was led right into the midst of General Cornwallis’ camp where he discovered details of battle operation without detection. Britain had planned to move 10,000 troops to Yorktown, Virginia by means of the British fleet. Armistead relayed this to Lafayette who was able to pass it along to George Washington. American troops took hold of the town ahead of the British fleet and, with the help of the French, built a blockade strong enough to dismantle enemy plans. Through one poor man’s wisdom the battle was turned in favor of America. The British military surrendered in October of 1781.

What happened to Armistead after this great act of wisdom and heroism? He returned to slavery, despised and no longer remembered. His wisdom delivered just as the poor man in the Preacher’s story and sadly, his story ended the same. Wisdom is not always honored as it should be under the sun. Foolishness often gains more fame and recognition than wisdom does. Compare how many people know the name Benedict Arnold as to James Armistead! Yet God doesn’t give us wisdom for popularity’s sake. He gives us wisdom to use to glorify Him and to guide us in His way to the eternal benefit of ourselves and those around us. We should use and pass on the wisdom God has given that we may know Him but also to “save the city” by bringing others to this wisdom as well. There’s a powerful ending to James Armistead’s story. He tried to petition Virginia to be freed after his acts in the military but it was not granted him. Lafayette heard the tragic news that one of his best soldiers was in slavery so he took action by assisting Armistead in gaining his freedom. In 1787, Armistead finally was freed under the recommendation of Lafayette. Out of deep appreciation and love Armistead took on Lafayette’s last name for the rest of his life. Although poor in the eyes of our country, Armistead was rich and remembered in the eyes of Lafayette. On this earth we may remain poor and forgotten but through Christ (who is the wisdom of God) we are rich and remembered before our Father in heaven!


Seeking His Wisdom In All Things, Pastor Rudy


God Causes The Growth

We have now moved from the season to be jolly to the season to get busy. We’ve had our celebration now it’s time for change. It’s the time for resolutions and lists. We decide that in the same new year we are going to work harder, get thinner, become healthier, and grow spiritually. This will be the year that we finally see the change that we want in ourselves. Isn’t it amazing that in a matter of days we go from rejoicing in the One who has come to save us to resolving that we can save ourselves? We spend the beginning of the year convincing ourselves that we’ve got what it takes to produce growth that only God can provide.

Paul had a difficult task in writing to the Corinthian church. There were many issues that needed addressing from gross sin and disorderly worship to spiritual growth. Resolving to read your Bible more, start a Bible study, or attend church more regularly are all great things but it is important to know where your growth is ultimately going to come from. Many of the Corinthians were accrediting their personal growth as Christians and the growth of the church to individuals. There were some who said, “Paul’s the reason” and others who claimed that it was, “Apollos.” Paul responds in 1 Corinthians 3:5 with this, “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.” Paul stops the Corinthians from raising anyone to a position they should not have. Paul points out to them, “Apollos and I were just servants. We were just a tool that God used to bring about your belief. We didn’t cause the change in you but God gave the opportunity!” He continues to confront the Corinthians for accrediting Apollos and he for doing anything more than they actually did. Verse 6, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” All Apollos and Paul could do was care for the seed in the way they knew how. Paul proclaimed the Gospel. Apollos followed up with encouragement and reinforcement on the truth of God’s Word. Neither of them had any control over the seed. Neither of them could make any individual grow or bring about a harvest of plants. “…God was causing the growth.” Jesus refers to Him as the “Lord of the Harvest” not Paul, Apollos, or any of us.

We would all love to see ourselves grow. I’m sure many want to see themselves grow closer to the Lord than in the past. We would also love to see our church grow. It would be exciting to see Pike busting at the seems with people but we must remember where this growth is going to come from. As strong as our resolve is or as hard as our work is- these things are no guarantee for growth. God is going to cause the growth so if we resolve anything we must resolve to depend on Him. Yes, we work. This is what Paul told the Corinthian church in verse 9, “For we are God’s fellow workers.” He shows them that there are those who plant and those who water but these gardeners of God must dependently obey, trusting Him alone for the growth. This is what I am praying for 2017 that we would see growth as a church; Growth in our love for the Lord and others, growth in our knowledge and trust in God’s Word, and growing numbers in who we see coming to Christ and following Him. I pray that God would be the cause of this growth in 2017! Will you resolve to pray this with me this year?


Trusting The One Who Causes All Growth, Pastor Rudy


O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

This November Lindsey and I struggled with a question, “How early is too early to listen to Christmas music?” For some reason this year we just couldn’t wait. By the time Halloween was over I had already started breaking out the Christmas CD’s. One of my favorite songs to hear at Christmastime is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” There is such longing expressed in both the words and melody of this song. Each verse references a prophecy of who Messiah would be and what He would accomplish. With each prophecy Israel longed for the day when they would no longer be held captive. They longed for Messiah. We also long for Messiah but we rejoice in knowing Him and what He has done! We have been set free from sin and death by Emmanuel! At the same time we long for His second coming when we will once and for all be set free from the captivity of this earth. We also long for the day when Israel will once and for all see Emmanuel in the face of Christ! This song encapsulates what it means to anticipate Jesus (so I don’t feel so bad for listening to it early because I just couldn’t wait!). This song is also a testament to God’s provision. He promised that Messiah would fulfill these truths and He did. God promised to give the gift of Himself and He provided Jesus. In reflecting on the prophecies and their fulfillment in Jesus we are reminded at how God worked throughout history to accomplish His Word. What’s amazing is the way this song came about is also a testament to that same truth.

The original author of this song is unknown. All we know is that the words were probably written by a European monk at some point around 800 A.D. This was during the time known as the “Dark Ages”. A time marked by warfare, disease, and spiritual darkness. You can see that this writer experienced some of the same longing that those earlier Israelites did. In a time of ignorance to the Scriptures he longed for Messiah’s truth and presence to be known. Years later, in the 1400’s, a group of French nuns located at a convent in Portugal put music to these earlier written lyrics. It wasn’t until the 19th century, almost 1,000 years after it was written, that an Anglican priest was reading through an ancient book of hymns in a church off the coast of Africa. In this book he stumbled across a Latin hymn put to music 400 years earlier. Being fluent in 20 languages, the Priest translated the words of this song into the version the world sings today. Over hundreds of years, in different places, through different hands the truth of Jesus came together to be proclaimed in song. In the same way over hundreds of years, through different prophets, and in very different places the truth of Jesus was proclaimed. God oversaw each part that the name of Jesus would be lifted high.

This Christmas we rejoice in what Jesus has accomplished and we look forward and long for what is still to come. We thank God for how He has worked throughout history. We rejoice in the fact that He oversees all things. We also praise Him that He has provided Himself. Because of this gift we are able to sing, “from depths of hell Thy people save, and give them victory o’er the grave.” Jesus is “God with us” and one day, because of Christmas, we will forever be with Him. O come, O come, Emmanuel!


              Rejoicing In The Songs Of The Season, Pastor Rudy


When The Election Is Over

It is hard to believe that in a matter of days this election season will all be over. There were certainly days where it seemed like it would never end. This whole process has been messy, discouraging, and confusing. There were days when I felt certain about who I wanted to vote for and then others when I just had no clue. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this election. Even if our vote wins it is hard to imagine what will transpire over the next few years. In all of this, there is something that does not need to be uncertain and that is how we respond on November 9th. God has given us His Word to train us in righteousness and to make us ready for good works (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Through His Word He shows us the way to live (Ps. 119:105) and what pleases Him (Eph. 5:10). So take a deep breath and pursue these responses when the election is over.

PrayPaul instructs Timothy (1 Tim. 2:1-3), “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior…”. Before you rejoice or lament over the announcement of the next president of the United States, pray for that individual. It is very hard to hate the person you are lifting up in prayer. God also shows us that the way that we are able to live peace-filled lives is ultimately not through voting but through prayer. Our prayers are more powerful than democracy. Through our prayers God can bring about decisions and acts for the good of all men. Notice that Paul also calls for us to lift up “thanksgivings…on behalf of all men.” Part of having peace in our hearts and living lives of godliness is having gratitude even when things don’t go our way. We can still thank God that He is in control. We can thank Him for the freedoms that He has allowed us to enjoy. We can also thank Him that He has a plan for whoever is in charge (which may even include their salvation). So let us “first of all” pray knowing that this is “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior”!

SubmitNext we look to instruction from Peter (1 Peter 2:13-17), “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” God calls for us to submit to authority. Peter points out that this is His will (vs. 15). It is through this submission that others see a godly witness from us. Rather than hear whining or witness worry, our world should see how we honor all men, love one another, fear God, and respect the one in authority. Paul teaches us in Rom. 13 that this authority comes from the Lord and as Peter also shows us, this is regardless of the fairness or ruthlessness of the ruler. In submitting to those over us we display our submission to God. We also follow the example of Christ who submitted and suffered under the authority of those He didn’t have to so that God’s will would be accomplished! So before you complain, riot, or cause a scene know that God wants you to submit, not so that the ruler would receive glory and praise but for His sake (vs. 13).

TrustFinally, let us trust. The future of our country doesn’t rest on your vote. It doesn’t rest on who becomes the next president. No individual holds that kind of power. God is not relying on us to “get it right” nor is He relying on a person to set our country state. As Paul and the writer of Hebrews teaches (Col. 1:17, Heb 1:3) Jesus holds all things together and He does so by His powerful Word. We can trust the power and authority that belong to Jesus. We can trust that whatever will come to pass will be for His glory and for our good (Rom. 8:28-29).

Praying, Submitting, And Trusting With You,

   Pastor Rudy


Listen to Him!

I’m sure we all can remember the old Verizon commercial slogan, “Can you hear me now?” Recently, this same spokesman has made a comeback moving from Verizon to Sprint. He’s now trying to make the phrase, “Can you hear that?” just as popular. Listening is something that I struggle with. It’s something that I’ve always had an issue with which I’m sure was the cause of many headaches for my parents and teachers growing up. Poor signals and dropped calls aren’t the only things that can get in the way of us really hearing someone. There are times when we are distracted, times when we are only thinking of what we want to say, or times we just shut out others because we already know the answer. The list of excuses and reasons continues even beyond these things. This isn’t just an issue in our relationships with our friends, family, or spouses but these same issues show themselves in our relationship with Jesus. There are times when Jesus clearly tells us something in His Word but we don’t hear Him as we should because our minds are elsewhere. We aren’t the only ones to struggle in this way. When you look at the disciples and their interactions with Jesus you can see that they too had a hearing problem. This is why Jesus graciously repeats Himself, explains Himself, and even makes sure that He is heard again and again. Before Jesus’ ministry, God the Father audibly speaks from heaven telling all those around on of His most important instructions “This is my Son…Listen to Him!” If there is anyone whose words we should focus on and listen up to they are Jesus’. Through hearing His Word we are given faith, strength, and guidance for all of life.

When reading through the Gospels there are many times that when one of the disciples opens their mouths (mostly Peter) or someone else speaks up after a teaching from Jesus and you want to say, “Were you even listening!?” One particular time where multiple hearing problems are presented was during and after the meeting with the Rich Young Ruler. In Luke 18:18, a ruler comes to Jesus wanting to know how he may gain eternal life. The ruler is focused on his own goodness and his own efforts. He thinks there’s a way possible for him to reach heaven on his own. Jesus takes the young man to the Law in order to test his goodness. Still blind from his sin and clearly not hearing Jesus as he should, the ruler responds in verse 21, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” He believes he is good enough and that he’s done enough to earn his way to heaven. When Jesus engaged the young man in a conversation about goodness and sin, the young man wasn’t listening to a word that Jesus was saying because he had everything all figured out. There are times we don’t hear God’s Word on our sin as we should because we’re too preoccupied thinking, “They’re not that bad…they could be worse…or at least I don’t (fill in the blank)…” Any sin, whatever it may be, can hinder our relationship with Christ. The young ruler’s own perceived goodness plugged up his ears from hearing Jesus as he should.

Jesus responds to the ruler in verse 22, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess, and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me.” We know that the young man left then, deeply sad because he was extremely rich. He didn’t hear anything about the gain that there is in following Jesus because his focus was on what he would lose. He was too distracted by all of his stuff that he couldn’t hear what Jesus was inviting him to; this was a grace-filled invitation both to eternal life and tremendous gain. If you continue on in the story you can see that Peter then has some hearing problems of his own.  There are many times we can breeze through God’s Word and check it off our list for the day without really hearing what Jesus has to say to us. We can also miss what Jesus is calling us to because our focus is on ourselves. Just like we sing, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” we also need to “Turn our ears open Jesus” so that we hear His Word that leads to life!

Learning To Listen, Pastor Rudy


Remembering Flight 93

On September 11th we remember the tragic events that took place on the east coast and right in our backyard. As weak as our minds are we must decide that we will never forget what happened because in remembering we are able to find a renewed gratitude for life, appreciation for our freedom, and wisdom for living. Where were you when you heard the news? Who were you with? What were you doing? I can remember sitting in a classroom silently stunned waiting to be sent home as we watched the news coverage on the television. You may even be able to feel some of those same emotions or feelings in your chest as you recall that day. I can’t imagine how those passengers felt on board flight 93. 40 ordinary people boarded a plane, some for business and others for pleasure, headed from New Jersey to San Francisco. When the plane made a sharp turn in Cleveland and began heading towards DC their lives were turned upside down. Those 40 ordinary people had a choice to make that day with the life that they had been given.

How would you have responded when you saw the commotion take place at the front of the plane? What would have been going through your mind as you heard strange voices over the loud speaker? I’m sure there are many of us who may have responded in anger, fear, or even great panic. In the midst of turmoil those 40 ordinary people showed extraordinary courage and selflessness. Instead of giving up they decided to take action. 33 passengers and 7 crew members all from very different backgrounds and different stages of life unified together. They chose to stand together against evil. We will never know what exactly happened inside that plane but what we do know for certain is that Flight 93 did not reach the hijackers intended target. By the grace of God the plane landed in a field just outside of Shanksville. Those 40 died tragically but at the same time heroically. Hundreds of lives, if not more, were spared because of their sacrifice.

In reflecting on what took place that day, one politician said, “In a field in rural Pennsylvania, right prevailed over wrong and hope was born again.” Many were given life and many enjoy freedom today because of the selfless act of those men and women. It is hard to remember a story like this and not think back to an even greater moment in history. In John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friends.” Great love was shown on September 11th but even greater love was shown over 2,000 years ago when one man, sent from God, gave His life on a cross. There at the cross, in a field outside of the city, right prevailed over wrong. Sin was paid for, death was defeated, and hope was born again for all those who would trust in Jesus. So what will you do with the life that you’ve been given? My prayer is that through Jesus you would respond as those 40 did; that you would stand courageously in the face of evil, act selflessly towards others, and trust Jesus whole-heartedly.

Remembering With You, Pastor Rudy

Marriage Opportunities

This past month I had the privilege of performing a wedding ceremony for a wonderful young couple. I am excited to see how the Lord leads them on their new adventure together. As part of their ceremony I reflected on Colossians 3:12-15. Here Paul gives instruction for relationships between all believers but I believe that the truth Paul lays out in this passage can especially be applied to the marriage relationship. Here Paul says, “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” If you ever wonder why we do marriage it’s because of what God did in Genesis 2. There God brought a man and woman together and the two became one. Verse 24 instructs us, “For this cause (or this reason) a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife.” God gave marriage and Scripture gives us reasons why He did so. One reason is found in Ephesians 5. There we see that God gave marriage as a picture of what Christ’s love looks like for His bride, the Church. But God also gave marriage to give us opportunities and we can see from Colossians 3:12-15 what those are and how we can take advantage of them.

For starters, marriage is an opportunity to remember our need of the gospel. On our own we cannot reach the standard Paul gives us in these verses. Apart from Christ we won’t have this compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience he speaks of. We will always fall short. This is why we have the gospel. God knew that man could not reach His standard so He sent His Son, who lived this life perfectly, without sin, yet He went to the cross. At the cross, Jesus was punished not for the things that He did but for the things that you and I have done; for all of the ways that we have fallen short. Jesus died so that we would not only be forgiven completely and have eternal life but also so that we would be given new hearts. At salvation God takes our hearts of stone and gives us hearts of flesh; hearts that bear the fruit of Colossians 3. Marriage is a high calling. It’s a calling for the husband to be Jesus to His wife and for the wife to be Jesus to her husband. The only way to live up to this calling is through Jesus. We need Him to fulfill these things.

Marriage is also an opportunity to show the grace of the gospel. There are two ways in which Paul says to show grace. One is by bearing with one another. I hate to break it to any newly-wed couple but expectations won’t be met. People snore, they have bad breath, toilet seats are left up, we get tired and cranky, we forget things that we should remember and fail to fulfill promises but Scripture says “bear with one another.” In doing this we show the grace of our Lord who says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He bears with us because in spite of how we fall short of His expectations He loves us.

Paul also instructs us to forgive each other. At the cross all was forgiven. Everything from our past, present, and future sins were paid for and done away with at the cross. The words, “I’m sorry” probably come up more times than “I love you” in a marriage. We must be ready to forgive. Paul says, “If there is the slightest complaint then forgive it.” He goes on that we should do so, “in the same way that the Lord forgave you.” We have been forgiven infinitely and graciously. We’ve been forgiven in ways that don’t make any sense. Marriage is an opportunity to choose to forgive even when it’s hard knowing how God has forgiven you.

Finally, marriage is an opportunity to be thankful. We can love because God first loved us. We can bear with one another because Jesus bears with us. We can forgive because Christ has forgiven us. We have more than enough reason to be thankful. If we want to be thankful we must first remember all that we have in Christ and then second see all that He has given us in our spouses. Marriage is a gift from Him. Remind yourself of that when days are hard, look to show your loved one your thankfulness each day, and take advantage of the opportunities God has given you in your marriage.
Thankful For This Gift, Pastor Rudy