Monthly Archives: April 2015

Book of Job Part 1

by Pastor Gary Jennings Jr.

The book of Job. What a wonderful book. I wanted to do a blog series on this book, and so I started reading and studying it again and started to remember how deep and complex this book is. Probably the most well known verse in this book is in Job 1:21b, “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord”. Many know this verse because we sing this verse in the worship song “Blessed be the Name of the Lord”. Its something worth thinking about for sure, but that isn’t the only thought provoking part of this book. This book deals with some very big questions like 1) why do good people suffer? 2) who is God? 3) If God is good, why is the good world he created so . . . not good at times? These are big complex questions that are all raised in the book of Job, and the book tackles these questions in such an interesting way. So I am going to do a few blog posts on some things that jump out at me as I read this book, and maybe how to deal with some of these big questions.

Before we get to any of those big questions, its probably worth doing a quick overview of the book. The book is about a man named Job who was moral, wealthy, had a big family, a successful business, and was respected by everyone. In Job 1, he is described as “the greatest man among all the people of the east”. This was the man everyone held up as the model to emulate, because he was living proof that doing the right thing always pays off. Doing the right thing always leads to prosperity, wealth, health, good family life, and respect . . . right?

In Job 1, we also read about a scene that takes place in heaven. Satan approaches God and says Job only does what is right out of self interest. Who wouldn’t be moral if it always meant a big pay out or reward? Men do not obey God because they love Him, they only obey to advance themselves. Is this true? Do we only follow God because of what he can do for us, in this life or the next? This is an important question for all of us to ask.

Lets go back to Job, he is a wealthy man who is blessed in every way, but then tragedy hits. War, thieves and natural disaster hit all at the same time and instantly his business is ruined and his children are dead (if you want to know how this happened, you can read it in chapter 1 of Job). In chapter 2, Job becomes very ill. In the following 36 chapters we read about Job and his friends trying to make sense of these events. In the final 4 chapters, God breaks his silence and speaks to Job and his friends. So I like to look at Job as having 3 parts. Part 1 – Tragedy hits (ch 1-2), Part 2 – Job and friends try to understand tragedy (ch. 3-38), Part 3 – God speaks (ch. 39-42).

In the next post, we will look at what Job’s friends have to say about tragedy. We will also talk about how we should understand God’s blessing in the Christian’s life.

Watering and Planting

by Pastor Nikki Ragush

Although this blog may sound like it will be about the excitement of spring and the beautiful flowers that blossom, I will admit quickly that I am not a gardener. I appreciate the smell, and look of beautiful flowers but have no desire to plant any myself. We live today in a society where we have been taught to appreciate instant gratification. If we need an answer to any question it is at most of our finger tips as we quickly pull out our smart phones and type in the question, or for some of us we simply ask our wonderful friend Siri. We are at a time in our culture where waiting for anything causes anxiety, frustration, anger, and grumbling. This is all to say, I would rather see the blossoming of a flower than be the one to plow the ground, plant it, water it, protect it, etc. I’m going to make the assumption that most people enjoy seeing the end product more than the actual doing of the work, sometimes the only thing that keeps us on task is the thought of the end product.

Recently, I have not been able to get away from the Lord reminding me of this passage.

1 Corinthians 3:6-9,

“6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

God continues to teach me in life how important it is to listen to what Paul is saying in this moment. Many times in life I have been involved in people’s lives through school, sports, and youth group and later wondered what happened to them. Sometimes the stories are expected and encouraging, I see someone pursuing God’s calling just as I suspected. Other times the stories are unexpected, seeing them go down a path of unfortunate hurt and hearing their cries of “Why me, God?” But there is another group that I must not forget, those unexpected stories that encourage me. Those stories where I realize that my job the entire time with them was not to watch them grow, or even to water them, with some it was to plant a seed and others it was the step before that of ploughing the ground.

Paul is giving some warning here, and I think it is important for each one of us to listen to what He says, “But only God, makes things grow.” We must be humble of the work we are doing if we see growth take that as encouragement however it is God who has grown it. If we don’t see growth, don’t be discouraged because it is still God who will grow it. If no one plows the ground then no one can plant, if no one plants the person who waters it has no job, if the seed is never watered then it will not grow. So although Paul is giving a warning to us He also is giving an encouragement, “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). Even when there is no growth, “let us not become weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9). God has called us to be co-workers in His mission, let us celebrate with one another on the victories that come in our journey, and encourage each other to pursue God’s purpose for us at each moment of our lives.

Life After Easter

By Pastor Vern Kratz

As I was cleaning up the platform after our Easter presentation I found myself saying things like, “Well, we won’t need these choir risers for another year.” And as I boxed up and labelled the music books, getting them ready for the archives (possibly never to be pulled out again), I realized that I was forgetting what Easter was really all about.

Easter, the empty cross, the empty tomb, and the risen Savior isn’t just an event that happened in the past. Yes, I truly believe it was the greatest day in all of history, but never has there ever been an event in the past that has such profound effects on our future.

The truth of Easter isn’t just something I reflect on as a past event, it is something that challenges and shapes how I live today and my decisions about tomorrow.

Easter is the story of new life and new opportunity. It is the story of new beginnings, because without the event of Easter we would be without hope.

Because of Easter we have the opportunity to have a real relationship with Almighty God right now. And to all who believe in the truth of Easter there is a home in heaven waiting for them in eternity. This hope and truth affects how I live every day – not just the days leading up to Easter.

So yes, the choir risers have been put away for another year, and the music has been archived, but the message of Easter lives on. I trust the truth of Easter continues to resonate in your heart and gives you hope and joy for your life and will continue to affect how you live throughout the entire year!

I love that Easter always comes in the spring – just as spring is a reminder to us of new life, so Easter is a reminder of new life and new beginnings.

“And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again…Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:15&17

Exalt Christ

By Pastor Gary Jennings Jr.

When I read Philippians, I am struck by one word, optimism. Paul must have had a huge amount of it in order to write a book like Philippians while in jail in Rome, awaiting a trail which would determine whether he would live or die. If I were in a similar situation, what kind of letter would I write? Who knows, but Paul’s letter has a surprising amount of life and optimism and joy, given that it is written by someone in jail somewhat preparing himself to die. How does somebody in such circumstances write such a letter? Well, lets take a look at Philippians 1:18b – 20:

“I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

When Paul talks about death, he isn’t thinking about a far off event, he is talking about the outcome of his trail. And this is how he deals with it, ‘whatever the outcome of the trail is, Jesus will be exalted in my body either way”. What an attitude. Paul goes on to say that whether he is free or in chains, whether he preaches or others preach the good news, its all good. No matter what happens, God’s plan will continue.

Many of us can be crippled by our uncertainty of the future. We deal with all sorts of either/or’s. Will I get this job or that job? Will I succeed in this or will I have to take another route? Paul dealt with probably the most stressful either/or I can think of, will I live or die? Although those are important questions, Paul wants to draw our attention to something even more important, will I exalt Christ in every situation? A lot of times God’s plan depends less on events and more on our choice in the midst of events. Paul was jailed 3 times and shipwrecked 3 times. I am sure it was tempting to see these events as getting in the way of Gods plan, but Paul instead saw them as opportunities to exalt Christ.

In a few days we will be celebrating Easter, Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s a celebration of how God can take the worst events and make them fit perfectly into His plan. So no matter what you are going through, be encouraged that we can exalt Christ in any situation, and that any shipwreck in our life can be redeemed.