Darkness is always present!

We could only do it after 9 p.m.

Darkness finally arrived in Northern Wisconsin after 9 o’clock during the Summer months. So, by the time we were told it was time to come out of the water, we all knew there was still more fun to be had. After changing out of wet swimming clothes and into dark sweatshirts and shorts, all the cousins would disperse into the darkness to hide behind the cabin, random trees, neatly parked cars or the secluded out house. One of the older cousins would be ‘it.’ He or she wielded my uncle’s 1950’s edition of an old metal industrial flash light. That old, heavy flashlight could have sent signals to Sputnik had we known how to do that back then. The light beam was that intense.

Flashlight tag was a favorite game of Summer. So was Capture the Flag and Jarts. I loved hiding in the darkness. People I trusted were there to help guide and protect me. I expected to outwit the older cousin that was ‘it.’  We all committed to the game. We all took turns being ‘it.’ Even us 'littles' were given a chance to be ‘it.’ I needed both hands to hold the flashlight. Running while holding the flashlight was truly challenging for me. I think I may have been five years old for this memory. But, I was surely not going to allow them to think I couldn’t handle being ‘it.' 

I didn’t understand, then, that it would be difficult for my eyes to adjust to the bright beam in the midst of the darkness. It was certainly easier for me to hide in the darkness. I could see everything in the dark. I could especially see where the light was from any vantage point. But, being the one with the light was different. Imagine my surprise when my light beam met my 6 foot 5 inch favorite cousin as he came running up to me out of the darkness with his arm outstretched like a 747. High-pitched squeals, terrorizing screams and suddenly belly laughter developed as those big arms threw me into the air and caught me again.

Through the years, my relationship with darkness changed. Maybe it changed because the darkness of adolescence or adulthood wasn’t fun. It brought uncertainty, chaos and confusion into my life. Not even being a committed Christ follower kept me safe from the things that go ‘bump in the night.’ I definitely learned to respect the darkness. I tried to avoid it whenever possible. But, whether it was self-imposed or it crept in without invitation, I found myself lost in the dark. 

Surprisingly, I found other lost people in the darkness. It was appealing to believe they were true friends that were there to help guide and protect me. But, lost people rarely make great companions.The Light was always present. I knew where it was. I was’t blind. I could see things even in the dark. Eventually, I learned valuable lessons. Most of the lessons I learned were costly and way too numerous to mention here. I am sure you can relate at some level.  

Darkness is always present. There are innumerable revelations and pathways darkness tries to hide. Darkness can cleverly disguise a uniquely constructed passageway as a dangerous place or it can be a place of adventure and discovery. Some people allow darkness to rule their lives as it cloaks them in self-perceived isolation. They can know darkness as addiction, depression or chaos. Some experience darkness as fear, gluttony or laziness. For others, darkness is a place of wonder, peace and tranquility. Whatever the expression, it’s all darkness. We are all affected by it. God separated darkness and light in the beginning. I wonder, now, if darkness has a Godly purpose after all.

There is One True Light. The One True Light illumines everyone and for him darkness isn’t dark. Sunday we discover more together about Jesus could have meant when he said, “I am the Light of the World.” (John 8:12)

Pastor Jen


What makes someone ‘good?’

What standards do you use when describing someone as ‘good?’

1. Consider your children, grandchildren or children in general. Did you grow up in a culture where good children were seen and not heard? Is it possible for good kids to do as we say not as we do? Does a good boy or a good girl abandon their calling to care for a parent or someone else in need? Does a good son or a good daughter cause problems, if so what kind? What is a good son or a good daughter?

2. Consider your relationships. What makes a relationship good? Is it limited to good times, good communication or good emotional support for you? Does a good relationship call out the best in you, challenge you to consider different perspectives and drive you into new directions? What makes a relationship good?

3. Consider your influences? What constitutes a good influence in your life? Can an enemy become a good influence? Theology, philosophy, economics, math, science can be influences. Are they good? Does an influence have to compel you to respond to be good? What makes a good influence?

Jesus redefined much of what I thought was good. I find him turning over more than tables in the Temple Court in my life. The gospels of Mark and Luke reveal Jesus asking a next generation leader a similar question: why do you call me good?* I imagine the next generation leader being savvy or arrogant. I imagine him trying to impress Jesus with his actions. I imagine him to be a lot like me.

What makes someone or something ‘good?'

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd.” As a child, I was influenced by artwork that hung on walls of our Sunday school rooms. There was a painting of Jesus carrying a lamb as other sheep followed him that had a powerful influence in me. The title of the painting was engraved on the brass plaque: I am the Good Shepherd. I really liked the nice Jesus. The Jesus that was always there for me and could carry me when I needed it. I like the good Jesus who comforted me, the good Jesus who filled my emptiness, my loneliness and my every need. I really like the Jesus that allows me to be just as I am…me. Never in a million years did I imagine that my definition of a good Jesus was as juvenile, limited and ultimately stagnated my own spiritual growth. 

After some great time with our teaching team, I realized how I totally misjudged the John 10: 1-18 passage.  Jesus spoke to the Pharisees at the Temple Court. He was not sitting on the mountain side speaking to his potential followers nor was he trying to describe the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus was making a point. One that stings.

Pharisees were self-made men. They were not Sadducees born into the lines of priests who automatically inherited their position serving at the Temple. Pharisees were kings of personal sacrifice. They forfeited fortune, family and friends for a potential position in the Temple. They fought hard and worked their way up the ranks to get to the Temple Court. It is a mystery to some as to how some Pharisees actually made it into the Temple Courts. Sadducees were born into the ruling class.Their Sadduccean blood kept them in the highest place of honor whether they ascribed to the Lord and his commands or not. Pharisees measured each other on how they kept the law’s commands. They had their own definition of good.

I think Jesus made a serious indictment against the Pharisees and their ’sheep pen’…the Temple. He challenged the self-made men about leadership, salvation and motivation. He then masterly compared a good shepherd to a hireling. Jesus challenged them to consider if their faithful service to the Temple was faithful service to God. Or if they coveted the position at the Temple more than anything else in life. Dangerous territory for sure when challenging leaders with the truth of behaviors they believed to be….good.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:14-16 NIV

Pastor Jen



Four funerals in six days. 

I put my fourth Seven Layer Salad on the counter next to the other salads. A red jello salad, garden-fresh coleslaw, green pea salad and a fresh-cut fruit salad were already displayed beautifully in cut crystal bowls. Several women buttered buns and filled them with honey baked ham. A pyramid of funeral sandwiches would eventually make it to the place of honor. The women of the church quietly chattered with each other. The usual plates, napkins, silverware and serving spoons were already set out. Hot potato casseroles would be set next to the sandwiches. Arlene’s lemon pie, Joyce’s triple chocolate layer cake and Shirley’s German Chocolate cake were cut into decent sized portions and placed onto the normal yellow plates. Irene’s chocolate chip cookies were always arranged in a lovely basket.

That week occurred in early November during the second year of my first solo pastorate. Nothing can galvanize long term relationships like the intensity of ministry in the local church, especially in a church that did remarkable outreach to families in need of a place to hold a funeral service. Some of the local old guys teased me from time to time. “They say you’ll marry or bury anybody up there on that hill, pastor!” The Methodist church I served was located uphill from the downtown area where the taverns also doubled as an early morning coffee shops. There were no Starbucks or Duncan in Midwestern small towns.

I loved to banter with the old guys. 

In truth, I did bury the old guy who teased me most. He visited our church frequently during the years I served that congregation. He asked if I would even do his funeral. I assured him I would take care of him, too. He died at home. His son and I went to check on him because he didn’t make it to coffee one morning. “I think something happened to Dad,” his son looked desperate. “Let’s go together,” I said. My fourth salad was for him.

“How do you do this?” asked the son. He questioned the way I was handling all the deaths, my disposition and ability to do his father’s funeral in the midst of the other three that week. 

“It’s not hard if you really believe it,” I said. I meant it. I meant it then and I mean it still.

Sooner or later we will have the opportunity to consider what we believe about what happens to us when we die. Maybe you’ve heard the old joke: death doesn’t scare me—it’s the getting there that I am afraid of! I respect death. I don’t joke about it. Death is the ultimate boundary. It is absolutely something every created thing will experience. Many of my dear friends and family members struggle with what it means to go on living without a loved one or a significant person in their life. There is a lot of unfinished business. Sometimes people feel abandoned. Others feel set free and released from the guilt or shame of a relationship that had gone sideways. Grief is personal and painful. I don’t have any cliches or answers. But, I do have an assurance that I can share.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ changed everything. The promise of resurrection for us who believe came from the same God that raised Jesus from the dead. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the beginning and the end. The worst thing is not the last thing. I don’t have to understand something fully in order to believe that it is true. I do need a robust faith that sustain my belief—especially when it is challenged. Even in death, we are active in this holy pursuit. It is worth your undivided attention and apprehension to know Jesus Christ was and is raised from the dead. It’s not wishful thinking. It’s not some made up story to satisfy the masses. It is the very truth we stake our lives on.

Sunday, we begin a new series titled “I AM.” The gospel of John includes the “I AM” statements of Jesus. We will learn what these statements are and what meaning they have for us. We begin with Jesus’ words, “I am the resurrection and the life.” What could happen if you really believed this? Would anything change, if so, what?  Join us Sunday for worship and so much more.

But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:

Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now? 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 The Message

Pastor Jen


Peter and Paul

Paul had more influence than Jesus!

Many scholars believe the Apostle Paul had extraordinary influence as Christianity advanced from the nucleus in Jerusalem toward regions such as Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the world. Within Paul's undisputed letters of Romans, I&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, I Thessalonians and Philemon we discover amazing and courageous statements of faith about Jesus, the followers and how God chose to continue to work through men and women. No one ever disputed that the Apostle Paul was a real person. No one ever claimed he was crazy. No one ever made any statement that the Apostle Paul lied or invented the story. No one could ever do what Paul did. His entire life validated his belief.

Paul did not create Christianity. Christians didn’t create Christianity. The resurrection created Christianity.

Before the resurrection, there were no Christians.The resurrection of Jesus Christ set Christianity apart from any other belief system. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was such a powerful event, the early followers referred to dying as ‘falling asleep.’ (I Corinthians 15:6) Because of the resurrection of Jesus, Christians believed they too would rise from the dead. They had confident assurance. Many faithful men and women were eye witnesses who watched the Romans execute Jesus. No one disputes the Romans nailed Jesus to the cross in a very public, painful excruciating process. No one disputes the death of Jesus Christ. The resurrection changed everything. Jesus shocked and awed during his resurrection appearances. No one expected to go to the tomb and see no body. More than his body was raised. Questions were raised. Questions about belief in God challenged skeptics and fired up followers to share the news that Jesus was not dead but alive. 

It is within the questions we find belief. 

You might question the claims of Christianity. Maybe you once gave your life to Christ praying with a trusted mentor or during a Sunday school class. For others of you, it was a camp experience or on a mission trip that you experienced Jesus Christ as real and life changing. But, that was a long time ago and now you have questions. You’ve faced college scrutiny. You were exposed to life experiences and came out the other side questioning your belief. Perhaps your confidence was stolen because someone challenged you and you felt embarrassed by the simplicity in which you first believed. Past hurts, habits and hang-ups tend to clutter the hallways of our judgment with guilt and shame reducing us to powerless devotees of some ancient belief system no one considers credible. 

Maybe you never truly believed any of it. You went along because you loved the people who seemed to be so devoted to the cause. You attend Easter and Christmas with the family to placate a family member but you’ve never really allowed any of it to penetrate your heart, soul, mind or strength. Perhaps you’ve been far too suspicious to accept the claims that Jesus could rise from the dead, appear to many faithful witnesses and then ascend to heaven. But, the confidence in which you once doubted Christ and Christianity is now shaken by the culture of deception. A lie mixed with the truth erodes everything. Deception  creates mistrust. Now, you’re looking for truth. You will find it like many others when you experience it for yourself. This truth remains: his tomb is still empty.

Join us for an incredible celebration Sunday. We will proclaim Jesus Christ is risen from the dead—foolishness and a stumbling block for the unbeliever but to those of us who are being saved…it is the very power of God! (1 Corinthians 1:18) 

Happy Easter!


For further reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-22, Galatians 1:11-24, Acts 4:8-20, 2 Corinthians 3:1-6, Romans 6:1-10, 1Thessalonians 4:13-18

Finishing Well Is Hard!

Finishing well is hard!

I don’t always know when the end is near. It catches me off guard. My defenses low. My vulnerability revealed. Depending on the severity or the intensity of an ending, it can be traumatic and painful for me. I understand why people rip their garments, drop to their knees and throw dirt into the air. I can identify with the agony of the end. I’ve been that person whose hot unending tears stream down my saturated face. I've called out to the sky, my hands gripped in tightly held fists, gurgling the primordial scream, “why?” 

Sometimes, I know the end is near. I’ve had time to prepare. I could see it coming like the train on the proverbial tracks. Over the years, I learned to anticipate finishing well by dealing with what accompanies the end. Waves of nostalgia wash over me or sometimes heart-felt sentiments roll through me like a spring thunder storm. That’s the healthy way. But, I’ve also learned how to dodge it all. Ignore it. Put it on the shelf and deal with it later. Dangerous, I know, but I try to be honest with you when I write these blogs. 

I noticed something about myself. I agonize about not having enough time for all the wrong reasons. I often feel the heavy weight of my own limitations like a stone in my gut. I feel like I don’t have enough time to do all the things I need to do. Oddly, I noticed that when something is over, I declare the same ironic truth: I didn’t have enough time

I have a deep commitment in the pit of my soul to finish well. Maybe it’s a blessing. Maybe it’s a curse. I judge others by my lofty standard because I feel like finishing well reveals who we really are—our truthful character. For me, finishing well is the true revelation of our intent, our gratitude and our submission. Anyone can be a great starter. Everyone loves the beginning: puppies, kittens, babies, new beginnings, new jobs, new shoes, new car smell. But, finishing well requires us to make a commitment to carry out the mission regardless of the pain, suffering or loneliness we may recognize as companions along the way to the end. Few people hang around afterward. It’s just so…depressing.

Palm Sunday is the beginning of the end. Some believe Jesus knew everything before it happened and went through the events of Holy Week as a triumphant, omnipotent, omnipresent God. Others deny that claim citing Jesus isn’t a fortune teller. He may have known the plan but he had a choice. Each of the participants had a choice. Each step Jesus took, from entering into Jerusalem on a donkey to leaving the tomb once and for all, was a choice to finish well. 

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30 NIV

Pastor Jen

I Don't Want To Be Here!

I don’t want to be here.

I didn’t need them to tell me. I could see it in their eyes. I spoke with several Syrian refugee children about their artwork as our Faith Promise partner interpreted for me. Airplanes, bombs, explosions and destruction were all colorfully displayed on the paper. Some of the artwork included what I interpreted as family. There may have been four or five upright stick figures illustrated on the paper and one drawn on the ground or a house on fire. Preschool children can communicate very well through art. Their vocabulary was limited. Their imagination was not.

I don’t want to be here.

I didn’t need her to tell me. I could see it in her eyes. Hundreds of people spoke in hushed tones, smiled briefly and offered words of condolence. The lights were dim, piano music played in the background and the room smelled of a mixture of flowers and heavy perfume. I noticed she mentally checked out every once in a while as she glanced at the urn on the table in the midst of pictures of the life they lived together.

I don’t want to be here.

I didn’t need them to tell me. I could see it in their eyes. They had drifted apart. They fought all the time. She complained loudly with hands actively proclaiming her consternation in the air. He sat defiantly defending every accusation dejected with his arms crossed. I eventually seized an opportunity to ask a question as one of them took a breath. I asked why they had come to me and if their marriage vows were worth keeping.

I don’t want to be here.

I didn’t need him to tell me. I could see it in his eyes. His dream died long ago right along with his bankruptcy. The job search was dehumanizing. It erased his self confidence and played a rugby match with his soul. His family was counting on him. The employment environment was a new landscape he didn’t know how to negotiate. He had always been the captain. He made all the decisions. Now someone else would do that for him.

The essential meaning of exile is that we are where we do not want to be. We are far from home. We are in unfamiliar surroundings. Many times we are forced to be in a place where nothing is recognizable. Desolation, dislocation, distance all lead us to unexplored territory. It’s often hard to discern how we arrived at this destination. Exile is often traumatic and terrifying. Our sense of right and wrong is completely upended. Our worth and significance is easily destroyed in a heap of ruble when don’t fit anymore. No one needs us. We are no longer necessary.

The absolute foreignness of exile can provide a new liberty if one can mute the mental and emotional noise long enough to reasonably assess the situation. Our world is not predictable. We seem to know that on the surface and use that unpredictability to our advantage when the outcomes are favorable. But, its a very different story when we are the alien in a foreign land.

Exile is included in God’s story. We will learn about it Sunday from Jeremiah’s perspective. It is far more complex than any of us can comprehend. I am not sure if anyone can even prepare for exile. The circumstances are often far too complicated to discern while we are travailing through a foreign land. There is one important thing to remember—God is with us. Not in control, not allowing us to wallow in self-pity, not angry nor distant. He’s right in it with us. Emmanuel.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Pastor Jen

Never Give Up

“You are so stubborn!”

I wish I had a dime for every time I heard that phrase growing up. My dad tried. He really did. He tried to teach me, mentor me and be a dad to me but all I wanted to do was ‘do it myself.’ I wasn’t interested in listening to my dad pour out his wisdom for me so I could glean little nuggets of truth. I wanted to do things on my own. Now, I understand that I am an experiential learner. Back then, I was a bad girl, disrespectful girl, rebellious girl. I was a hard head. I was obstinate.

I’d like to tell you that I’ve developed new respectful behaviors and learned how to patiently listen to others all the time. Wouldn’t it be transformational if I could now apply all the wisdom that has been freely shared with me over the years? But, I honestly haven’t changed that much. I have a tendency to evaluate things pretty quickly and I often make my decision whether or not I’m going to listen or disconnect and move on in a flash. I have learned to respect others and allow for differing opinions but it’s rare that I honestly listen and take what is said to heart.

This ‘do it myself’ mentality has been a tough way to learn my life lessons. But, isn’t it my decision to learn this way? The more I talk with people, the more I learn there are a lot of us out there. We think we can do things better on our own. We can be more efficient. We can get the job done with less hassle. We’ve convinced ourselves it’s just better this way—so just let us do it.

I’ve been rewarded for this behavior.  Others have acquiesced and just let me do it. I can make things look easy. After all, I’ve convinced myself that if I can do it, so can you! Anybody can do what I do. I’ve been celebrated for being trustworthy and able to initiate things. I get the job done efficiently with fiscal responsibility. I’ve earned the ‘good girl’ badge of approval and it’s very tempting to wear it on my sleeve so that you’ll notice just how good I am.

Now, you and I both know that the very thing that makes me strong is also my greatest weakness. That steely resolve or that obstinacy gets in the way. It trips me up, limits my influence and exhausts me every time. I overdo it. I’ve over valued my own opinion, my abilities and my stamina. The only antidote that I’ve found to combat my ‘do it myself’ sin-sick illness is humility.

Please feel free to ask me how my practice of humility is going. Anytime. Anywhere. I am sincere in my request. It’s the only way my obstinate, stubborn, hard heart can be softened. I suspect it’s the only way for all of us.

Jeremiah had some big conversations with God about stubborn, hard headed, obstinate people and God had plenty to say about them too. Both Jeremiah and God remained steadfast and committed to their tasks: Jeremiah to deliver God’s message and God to speak the truth to those he loved the most.

I think this is what endears me most to Jeremiah. He continually spoke the truth to people regardless of their ability to accept or understand it. A prophet is not welcomed in his own hometown and he found that out the hard way. Maybe Jeremiah’s message wasn’t limited to a group of people that lived 2600 years ago. Maybe his message is as fresh for me today as it was for them so long ago.

“You refused to listen to my prophets, who kept telling you, “Stop doing evil and worshiping other gods! Start obeying the Lord, and he will let you live in this land he gave your ancestors.” Jeremiah 35:15 CEV

Pastor Jen


“The enemy of intimacy is secrecy.”  I immediately wrote it down, scrambling for pen and paper.  It was just one small point of many made by the facilitator of our premarital counseling session that day, but it is the one that resonated most.

How many times has it played out true in your life?

Maybe in a relationship?  You want to grow closer to this other person but you sense a wall, defenses up, something standing in the way.  There is just something not being said, something not being shared.  Intimacy won’t develop without openness, authenticity, vulnerability.

Maybe in the organization where you work?  You want to see it prosper and thrive, but not everyone is on the same page, communication isn’t great, transparency is non-existent.  There is the inside circle, and everyone else.  A lack of trust, humility, and collaboration will only result in floundering instead of flourishing.  

Or maybe in your faith life?  You go through the motions, and say all the words, but something is still missing.  It feels dry.  You’re not getting fed.  After a while of wandering in a seemingly endless desert, you give up, having lost all desire to try any harder.

Of all the prophets in the Old Testament, Jeremiah is the one who we get to know most intimately.  He holds nothing back.  He lays it all out there.  He’s an example to us and can teach us a thing or two about true intimacy.  This weekend we’ll learn from Jeremiah what intimacy requires, what hinders it from developing, and why it is so essential to our relationship with God and our relationship with one another.  

“You know where I am, God! Remember what I’m doing here! Take my side against my detractors. Don’t stand back while they ruin me. Just look at the abuse I’m taking! When your words showed up, I ate them—swallowed them whole. What a feast! What delight I took in being yours, O God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies! I never joined the party crowd in their laughter and their fun. Led by you, I went off by myself. You’d filled me with indignation. Their sin had me seething. But why, why this chronic pain, this ever worsening wound and no healing in sight?You’re nothing, God, but a mirage, a lovely oasis in the distance—and then nothing!”       (Jeremiah 15:15-18, The Message)

Pastor Derek

Change Direction

It was 1996. I listened intently to everything he said. He recalled what it had been like marching in Memphis with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I could visualize every step. His descriptions were graphic. His sentences were breathlessly short as the cauldron of his passion ignited. I wondered if his story would become the next best-seller on the New York Times list or if I was listening to the development of the movie script for next summer's block buster. 

I became his friend. I chose him to be the clergy person who placed my red stole onto my shoulders following the bishop’s prayer at my ordination. I broke all protocol and bear-hugged him in front of the bishop, cabinet and the entire crowd. Everyone clapped and cheered. He was old school and I embarrassed him for sure. But, there was a glimmer in his corrective gaze. He faded from my adventures for several years until I saw him walk to the podium and give that same speech I heard in his office at his retirement service. He continued to be a district superintendent, fulfilled his term and his words still pierce my heart, “I am outa here.”

Retirement did not suit him. Health concerns piled onto his husky frame. The last time I saw him was a few months before his death during an Annual Conference meeting. He was seated alone, a large oversized man whom I hardly recognized. I approached and asked if I could join him. Awkwardly, he looked up over his eye glasses. He didn’t recognize me. He mentioned he was about to leave. I apologized and excused myself. This time I was the one who was embarrassed. I wonder now, as I write this to you, if I was the one that had changed so much a friend would not recognize me or if he had. Or maybe he had not changed at all. At least not since those days in Memphis.

That’s my concern—we can be lured into believing we are a ‘one-hit wonder.’ Sometimes our experiences in life are transformational. It could be scoring the last second touchdown that won the game, landing the dream job you always wanted, acquiring the relationship that changed your life or closing the deal of the century. Sometimes I hear people speak so intensely about the past I feel like they’re stuck there unable to move forward or maybe they’re paralyzed by the fear that life could never deliver the same incredible experience. 

Maybe that was Jeremiah’s concern too. The People of God had not honestly kept their passion for God alive. He faded from their spotlight and had not been the God of their heart. Some might even say a smugness seeped into the Jerusalem culture as God’s chosen people were gently, methodically, intentionally lured away from their passionate love of God into pursuing the heartless rules and rituals of a religion. For God, it was like the marriage bed had been violated and that somehow going through the motions and saying all the right words no longer the same effect. God was looking for his bride and she was with another.

Complacency is dangerous. It is a feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one's achievements. It’s a defining moment or the ultimate feeling of “I’ve arrived.” There’s an air of entitlement or covert sophistication that can cloud our judgment when we approach the zenith of a journey that has cost us great sacrifice, plunged us into deep peril or transformed us from obscurity. Complacency isn’t always overt. Celebrities, athletes, politicians and business leaders have scaled that lofty mountain only to reach the loneliness of the summit. I feel like my clergy friend may have experienced something like this, too. My prayer isthis shall not be so with you. (Matthew 20:26) 

Jeremiah was called by God to deliver an important message to his people. It was God’s word of correction to change. I hear Jeremiah’s corrective words as from One who was hurt, heartbroken but hopeful the love of his life would listen to his message and change. Repentance means to change direction. I find the first step is always the doozy because it’s always to my knees.

If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. Jeremiah 7:5-7 NIV

Pastor Jen

You Are The Author of Your Story

This is your mission. There will be changes. Be prepared.

Intellectually we all imagine there will be challenges in life. We just don’t imagine the challenges will be that difficult or last that long. Its very tempting to simply brush them off with an eye-roll, chuckle and a “suck it up, Buttercup” mentality. Super smart people have a name for it: compassion fatigue. Sometimes it’s called ‘disaster fatigue.’ One more illness, winter storm, school shooting or story about a Chicago police commander murdered in the street can send us right over the edge into the ‘I don’t care anymore” abyss.  It can be relationship, work or school related. The symptoms include an overwhelming sense of psychological, mental and emotional paralysis. We get stuck. We don’t feel, don’t cry, don’t care….about anything.

"Sufferers can exhibit several symptoms including hopelessness, a decrease in experiences of pleasure, constant stress and anxiety, sleeplessness or nightmares, and a pervasive negative attitude. This can have detrimental effects on individuals, both professionally and personally, including a decrease in productivity, the inability to focus, and the development of new feelings of incompetency and self-doubt.” (Thanks Wiki)

I did a little research. How do we overcome or heal from this disorder? Each article gave some basic directives like get educated, take time away from the news or be kind to yourself. Blah, blah, blah. It felt like platitudes. A revelation to me that even people who work in these expensive institutes dedicated to investigating the problem don’t know what to do for people or societies who suffer from this problem. I was in Africa seven months ago, mention the word Rwanda. Trust me. Whole societies suffer.

Jeremiah’s story reveals a very personal struggle between a prophet and God. A nation is involved. In order to be equipped to be what God calls us to be—prophet person—and not be crippled all our lives by inadequacy, we need to know supremely these two subjects: God and the world, and to be trained in them thoroughly. In both subjects, first impressions and surface appearances are deceiving. We underestimate God and overestimate evil. We don’t see what God is doing and conclude he is doing nothing.* Despondency set in for Jeremiah. Despondency develops with wrong expectations. He plummeted to the depths of despair after receiving a great call and visions from God. It’s very tough to slug through chapter after chapter of disaster it’s like eavesdropping on a heartbreaking disastrous relationship argument. Read chapters 1-11 for yourself. It’s a great Lenten exercise. Finally, in chapter 12, Jeremiah complained and loudly. God responded in an unexpected way. 

Join us Sunday for worship. I challenge you to put aside your expectations about the world and God. A major break through can happen in an unexpected way when we disconnect from our diminutive,   narrow, restricted points of view to allow the holy, sanctified, God-sized expansion of our heart, soul, mind and strength. This is the invigorating life God longs for us to lead, friends. Let’s get out there and get it!

“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’ I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head.” Job 42:1 The Message

*Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at its Best. Eugene Peterson.

Pastor Jen


But I said, “Hold it, Master God! Look at me.I don’t know anything. I’m only a boy!” Jeremiah 1:6          The Message

Hold it, Master God, I am.....(.you fill in the blank.)

Excuses. My list is long and often punctuated with exclamation points. I have done my very best to try to avoid God’s direction in my life on numerous occasions. On second thought, I ignore God pretty much on a daily basis. I attempt to do my own thing and continue to struggle. I’m honestly amazed by God’s patience with me. I tend to lose my patience easily and slide into blaming others for most of my blunders when I could easily accept God’s help and the outcomes would be dramatically different.

I find it comforting the ‘Bible Giants’ struggled with God too. I’ve really enjoyed the research and preparation we’ve done for this next series ‘Run with the Horses.’ Jeremiah is my kind of guy. Even though God had previously made plans for him, Jeremiah had some ideas of his own about life, leadership and his faith in God. Don’t we all.

So, this weekend, we meet Jeremiah. Read chapter one. Familiarize yourself with the scriptures. The book is filled with prose and poetry. You will not find a linear story line or dramatic character developments. What you will find is something like journal entries—the internal workings of a man’s struggle with God. You will read authentic grievances from Jeremiah and from God.  I find this book refreshing! I think you will too!

Pastor Jen

Run with the Horses

Things have changed a lot for the church. 

The American Church seems to have lost our savvy with regards to what we have to offer. Many leading strategists are stepping up to provide directives for renewal and reform. But, if the sociologists are right, more and more people are becoming more and more disappointed and disaffected with the church. Some might say, “we’ve lost our market share.”

Serious attempts have been taken to rebrand or repackage church. Since Americans are world class champion consumers, the gospel has to be repackaged and reinterpreted for each generation in order to satisfy their addiction for the new and improved—the bigger and better.

There is a great irony at work which I believe is God’s handiwork. I mean his finger prints are all over this! The more we try to offer the gospel in slick new consumeristic terminology the more disappointed consumers become. The gospel is not a product designed to be consumed. I can’t hold onto it. The gospel doesn’t satisfy what we determine as our need. It is something completely other. It is holy. It is life altering. It belongs to God.

We’re all starved for authenticity. 

There is a reason we scrunch our noses when we sense someone is being inauthentic. We are designed with an internal authenticity meter of sorts. It’s an unquenchable desire for wholeness and for righteousness. It’s like we’ve always known what is good and right and authentic but we’ve lost our way when we wandered out of the Garden. So we search for something—anything—to satisfy our deep need. It’s like we all suffer from an addiction but we don’t quite know what we’re addicted to.

The anti-hero has emerged as someone we look up to. Maybe he knows the way. It’s way easier to identify with him. The film industry has certainly capitalized on him and introduced us to Tony Stark, Bruce Wayne or the weird character Deadpool who all inspire the sarcastically inclined. So, for the next series we will explore this anti-hero phenomenon. We will meet and get to know an authentic anti-hero: Jeremiah.

Dr. Baruch Korman is a biblical scholar par excellence. He’s kind of a big deal and he’s a new Wheatland partner in ministry. He will introduce those of us who worship at the Naperville campus to Jeremiah Sunday. Pastor Roger Jenks will deliver the Fit finale at our Oswego Campus. Either place will offer you an amazing experience. I’d like for you to consider what you truly believe about the gospel, about authenticity and what you require for becoming a fully connected, devoted and generous follower of Jesus. Maybe you’re a lot like Jeremiah. Let’s find out together.

“So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this foot race with men, what makes you think you can race against horses? And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm, what’s going to happen when trouble breaks loose like the Jordan in flood?” Jeremiah 12:5

Pastor Jen

God Has Uniquely Created You

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you… We have different gifts, according to the grace given each of us.”  (Romans 12:3, 6a)

God has uniquely created you.  Yes, you.  Not only that but God has uniquely gifted you.  Yes, YOU!  

In Romans 12, Paul is urging us to come to a reckoning with who we are and what it is we are called to do.  Be self-aware, he effectively says.  Do some self-assessment.  Discern from the Spirit.  Discover your identity in Christ and your gifts from God.  Then live into them!

The way John Ortberg puts it in his little book Overcoming Your Shadow Mission is: “You and I were created to have a mission in life.  We were made to make a difference.  But if we do not pursue the mission for which God designed and gifted us, we will find a substitute.  We cannot live in the absence of purpose.  Without an authentic mission, we will be tempted to drift on autopilot, to let our lives center around something that is unworthy, something selfish, something dark—a shadow mission.”

Are you living with purpose?  Do you know the authentic mission God has designed specifically for you?

When I was in high school and college, I was wrestling with what I was going to do with my life.  All throughout my academic career I had excelled in the areas of math and science, but I also loved writing and had a keen interest in history.  I believe I could have literally done anything with my life.  I envisioned careers in medicine and engineering.  But something just didn’t feel right.  So I got a second opinion.  I asked God.

And when I turned to God—or as it says in Romans 12:1 when I “offered myself to God as a living sacrifice”—I got a very different answer as to what my unique combination of personality and gifts were for.  I was convinced that I felt God calling me to ordained ministry.  It’s something I hadn’t considered.  It didn’t seem right at first.  But the more and more I questioned it, the more and more I felt affirmation.

As I look back on it now, I still think I could have done anything.  But if I had, I believe my life would have been exactly as Ortberg describes in that quote, my life would have centered around “something that is unworthy, something selfish, something dark.”

Even now I realize that I must continually return to Romans 12:1, and re-“offer myself to God as a living sacrifice.”  Otherwise, I get off track.

It’s never too late.  Offer yourself to God.  God has uniquely created and gifted you.  God has a purpose for you.  Find your fit today.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)

Pastor Derek

Transformation is Possible

Best-selling Christian author Donald Miller said that for the longest time in his life he believed this lie that “life is something that happens to you, not something you can steer and alter.”  “It’s a crazy lie to believe,” he admits, “but one that is so pervasive.”  

Often when I look at my life, complete with my habits, attitudes, perceptions, and routines I start believing the lie too.  Maybe you’re the same way.  Like me, maybe you’re set in your ways, always tripping over the same obstacles.  No matter how hard you try, you’re always the same.  Life just keeps on coming, and it’s never any different.

The truth of the matter is, that is not the way we were made.  “Every healthy thing God created changes,” writes Miller.  “God designed the world so that it is in constant motion, never sitting still, always dying and being reborn.  Everything is changing, all the time.”

Just think about it for a minute… day and night the world is always in motion, always changing.  Winter to spring to summer to fall, a constant cycle of dying and being reborn.  The flowers and trees bloom and then they die off only to be reborn again.  It’s the circle of life.

Then why is it that we convince ourselves we can’t be changed or transformed?  Why is it that we convince ourselves we can’t get out of the same old ruts?

In Romans 12, Paul makes it clear transformation is possible.  “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)

Transformation starts with offering ourselves to God by letting go, surrendering, committing totally.

Transformation continues through the renewing of the mind.

Spend some time leading up to Sunday considering what it might mean to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  

Spend some time reviewing the prompts/questions from the back of the bulletin this past week:

T-think about what spoke to you?

R-reflect and write down one sentence: what keeps you from total commitment?

U-understand your view of God and how that may impact your ability to entrust your life to Him. Do you understand God to be kind or demanding?

S-strategy is a choice. Start with small steps. God gets you and understands you. Intellectually we know what we need to do but we just cannot seem to do it. Pray the prayer: ‘O, God, help me develop a strategy that I can truly use!’ Ask Jesus for help.

T-take action by writing Romans 12:1-2 on a 3x5 card or on a blank page of your bible. Look at it daily. 

M-motivation is key to sustained changes in our life. Pray for a rooted sense of who God is as a partner for true change. 

E-encourage someone by sharing one thing you discovered God did especially for you in the past few weeks with a friend. Ask your friend what God has done for them.

Pastor Derek

Discover Your Own Trail

I remember it well. I was seated with some of the brightest and best seminarians. I admired many of them like any freshman girl admires the senior class cool people. The discussion was always heated. Differing points of theology tend to rub together to create sparks. During the height of the discussion, one of the more outspoken handsome cool guys disengaged, slid back in his chair in a relaxed position and said, “Look, we don’t need to argue like this—we’re not brain surgeons. What we do isn’t life or death.”

I blew up. “If you don’t think what we do is ‘life or death’ then maybe you should find a different vocation.”

Everything went silent. I was the Freshman. They were the Seniors. Awkward moment #211.

If I had any hopes of being included with the cool people at seminary, those hopes were over. I later heard through the grapevine the same cool people thought I took class too seriously and that maybe I needed to lighten up. I was crushed. I wanted to hang out and be included with them but my zealous nature for the gospel and the local church conflicted with their core value. I stayed true to my convictions. I had few friends in seminary. A reputation was pinned to me after that event I’m not sure I deserved. The loneliness I felt during my seminary years prompted me to develop a less adversarial approach. I sometimes wonder if that really helped me. Reflecting on it now, I think I lost my clarity and voice. I still want to be included with the cool people but the cool people seem to go in a direction I won’t go.

Disciples come in every size and shape. Every disciple follows a discipline. Each disciple takes certain things seriously. We can tell what is important to them by the way they live their lives and on what they spend their energy, time and resources. The Winter Olympics are right around the corner. Consider for a moment what it takes for an athlete to compete at that level and type of discipline required. Here is a great article about an American hopeful Mikaela Shiffin. You can read more about her here: https://www.outsideonline.com/2263506/dont-worry-about-it-and-youll-be-great-said-nobodyan American hopeful

So what does this have to do with being a follower of Jesus? I find some amazing similarities with faith and fitness. Both require discipline and training for the big events. I think we sometimes lose the vision of why we practice the spiritual disciplines. Yes, they are good onto themselves, but our spiritual strength, endurance and perseverance must develop over time. We will face greater threats, more nuanced temptations and we will be called to overcome greater obstacles as we mature in faith.

There is a clear outline in the bible for a Christian disciple in Romans 12. We will study this chapter for the January series titled Fit. My sincere prayer is the Holy Spirit inspires to practice your spiritual disciplines a little more robustly and you take responsibility for your physical health. Small changes over time reap great rewards. Sometimes the very best this life has to offer you is only a few adjustments away. Transformation is possible—if not for you, consider your influence on the next generation.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2 The Message

Pastor Jen

What direction are you headed?

As the new year approaches, what direction are you headed?

Of all the birth narrative characters, the Magi are the most interesting candidates to be included in the redemption story. They were outsiders and unrelated to the nucleus of God’s plan of salvation. They were scientists. They made their way by observation. They discovered insights about life from the natural world. Some scholars believe the Magi were actually educated by the Jews during the Exile years so they understood the magnitude of God’s intervention in the created order by providing a sign the new king arrived for the Israelites.

God intervened in a number of ways in the lives of the Magi but they made the choice to follow the star. The Magi initiated the quest to find what God had done. They travelled a very long way and as they arrived in Jerusalem, they did the righteous thing by delivering the news about the new king born to God’s people. Sometimes confirmation of God’s presence is shocking and terrifying especially when we discover God affirms his directives and plan for our personal lives. His plan is often contrary to our way of doing things. Tension, stress, disappointment even depression can accompany us on our travel away from God. Freedom, faith, confidence and assurance will come alongside us as we walk in the Light of God’s presence.

Herod was a slippery character. He arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Pretending doesn’t get people very far with God. We may kid ourselves and we can even convince others that we are devout and faithful but God knows the real deal. He knows what’s going on beneath the surface. We cannot pull the wool over the Lamb of God. Be sure to read Matthew 2. Herod’s whole world crashed in around him and his fury affected many innocent lives. The Magi made a crucial decision to not follow the direction of Herod and go the way God told them.

Take some time to reflect about the choices you made during 2017. Consciously consider the direction and pathway you decided to go. When did things go well and why? Were there hidden agendas or did you honestly wait on God to reveal his path for you? Following God isn’t easy. It is sometimes the hardest thing we ever do. However, God is a rewarder of those who follow him. Consider the outcomes of the decisions you made and how those decisions impacted others. Be assured that sometimes God’s very best for you is a camel ride in the opposite direction.

And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. Matthew 2:12 NIV

Pastor Jen

Are You Talking To Me?

I want to ask you a personal question: what way do you prefer to receive information?

It may not seem like an important question to ponder at Christmas but most people complain they don’t get enough communication from their loved ones.  Often, people complain about being out of the loop or in the dark about things. Then, the others involved complain they communicate too much!

We all have preferences whether it’s giving information or receiving information. When we know what our preferred way is, it is up to us to let others know.

For example, my preference is texting. I know what you may be thinking. Here is my rationale. I am often with people all day and into the evening. I can respond almost instantly via text. I can let others know a quick answer or let them know I can follow up with them later. I can send emojis and punctuation that is encouraging or funny and it is brief. I won’t counsel or give advice via text but I will let you know that I valued your communication and will get back to you.

Think about the uniqueness God used as He communicated with all the different characters of Jesus’ birth story. They didn’t all get the angel or the angel choir!

God’s message was given in unique ways to the hearer in a way they would understand. Scripture confirms this by saying faith comes by hearing-hearing the Word of God.

1. Herod received a message he didn’t want to hear—the throne and kingdom he was in charge of was now threatened by a new king. This one would be the king of your heart.

2. Wisemen witnessed something in the natural world that was unnatural. They set out to discover something supernatural.

3. Mary had a one on one interaction with an angel named Gabriel who was a Messenger from God.

4. Joseph received a message from an angel in a dream.

5. Shepherds received a message while they were together working as a community.

Again, I ask you: what’s your preferred way to receiving information? If God communicated with these individuals in unique ways, could he also communicate his message with you in a way you understand and accept?

Merry Christmas. I hope to see you at one of our amazing Christmas experiences.

Pastor Jen

Jesus Emmanuel

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 

Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. Perhaps he was willing to take on the community scrutiny himself. After all, Mary could relocate and would have his dowry to live on with the baby. He would live as a single man and take it all on himself. As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 

 Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet Isaiah would be fulfilled: Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, And they will call him, Emmanuel. (which means “God with us.”)

When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he didn’t have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. Joseph called him Jesus.

The scripture from Matthew's gospel moves from the mundane list of family names to the sacred, mysterious and holy event of the birth of the Messiah. He received two names: Jesus, given to Joseph in a dream, and Emmanuel which had been God's promise through the prophet Isaiah years ago. 

God promised his people that his saving presence would be with them where ever they went and especially whenever they were threatened. Over time, sin threatened more than the People of Israel. Sin threatened all creation including each and every one of us. And so, a heavenly messenger stated Jesus' life purpose: to save people from their sins. I believe it is God's greatest desire for each and every one of us to know Jesus not only as the Messiah who saves people from their sin but a Savior who saves us from our own sin. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus, save us from our sin.

See you Sunday,
Pastor Jen

A Fresh Start is Possible

We’re two weeks in to Our Great, Big, Family Story and we’ve covered 28 generations of descendants of Jesus from Abraham forward.  Where last we left off in the lineage we weren’t in a very great spot.  “Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers.  This was at the time of the exile to Babylon.”  

Yep, you heard that right.  Exile.  Babylon.  Things are in shambles.  The people have ignored God and his desires.  The kings did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord.  The law was forgotten.  The covenant seemingly abandoned.  The kingdom is divided and conquered.  The Temple is destroyed.  They’re all carted off to a foreign land where they’ll live out the rest of their days.

I wonder what was going through their mind?

I know what I’d be thinking: “God… um, I know I screwed up, but can I have a second chance?  Pretty please?”  

We fail.  We fall.  We falter.  We make mistakes, and do things we regret.  If only we could get another shot.  A mulligan, a do-over.  A second chance to make things right.

Here’s the good news.  The very next line in the lineage of Jesus goes like this: “After the exile to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel.”

After the exile.  Life goes on.  There is a second chance!  It’s easy to miss the significance if you just skim past it like I usually do.  And yet there it is, a perfect encapsulation of the Gospel message two thirds of the way through a long list of unpronounceable names.

Our God is a God of second chances.

We don’t know much about the last fourteen generations immediately preceding the birth of Jesus.  But what we do know shows us just how good this good news is.  The people of Israel return to their land.  The Temple is rebuilt under Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel.  They all give it their best effort to follow the commandments, observe the Sabbath, and love God and neighbor.  They get their do-over.

Were they perfect?  No.  Are we perfect?  Hardly.  And that’s why Jesus is born.  Because God is a God of second chances.  And third, and fourth, and seventy-eighth chances too.  That’s the Good News of Advent.  We can begin again.  We can start over.  

Is it time for you to ask God for a do-over?  There’s no better time than right now.

“The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah:  ‘Look I am sending my messenger before you.  He will prepare your way, a voice shouting in the wilderness: prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.’  John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins.” (Mark 1:1-4)

See you Sunday,
Pastor Derek

Our Great Big Family Story

I’m sure you’ve had those moments in your life when everything is going great, but then out of nowhere the tides turn.  It’s crazy how one instant you can be on top of the world, and then the next you’re plunged into the depths.  

It can happen with the littlest things, an offhand comment from a friend or a co-worker can blindside you and change everything.   Suddenly your day goes from good to bad.  A tiny mistake you make can have the affect of a snow ball barreling down hill and just get bigger and bigger with every passing moment.  Maybe one minute you’re enjoying a lovely family dinner but the next you’re overwhelmed by sadness thinking about the one who isn’t there anymore.  Or perhaps it’s that subtle temptation that draws you in and completely derails all the progress you had made.

And those are just the little things!  That’s not even mentioning the big things that can transpire in life that have the same impact but to the nth degree.  A diagnosis.  An accident.  A death.  The loss of a job.  The betrayal of trust.

In the worst of these moments it can be easy to wonder, “Where are you God?”  “How long will this go on?”

And yet during this season of Advent we are reminded of a great promise.  The promise that God remains faithful in his covenant to us no matter what.  That’s right: No. Matter. What.  

What better news is there for us to hear?  What more could we possible need?

This Sunday we’ll continue Our Great Big Family Story and pick up where we left off in the lineage of Jesus with King David and the line of his successors to the throne.  No story more easily exemplifies the sudden shift that can happen in a storyline than this one.  Yet, this story is also a story of incredible, unconditional, miraculous faithfulness on the part of God in spite of all that goes wrong.

“Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.”  (2 Samuel 7:16)

See you Sunday,
Pastor Derek