The Church Challenge

We celebrate Ash Wednesday March 6th 2019. Lent begins the following Sunday March 10th. We’ve all seen the ice bucket challenge, and we’ve heard of the unthinkable challenges on the internet that cause our young people great harm. I want to do a challenge that will change your lives forever. It will literally mean an eternity of blessings.

It’s called The Church Challenge,

The  challenge is simple; you and your family go to church on Ash Wednesday, then you get up and go again on the following Sunday. Then you go again on Wednesday and then on Sunday. See how many times you can go to church before Easter.

Listen to the message, feel the love of those around you, let God into your hearts. Give the Holy Spirit the chance to help you find peace for a couple hours each week.  Watch how Easter and the meaning of Jesus Christ become so much more exciting. Believe me in no time at all it will not be a challenge.

The best part is, everyone who tries this is an absolute champion for the rest of their lives. Keep track of your victories, for each time you go to worship will be a win. Talk to God about how great it felt, give your families the coaching they need to continue. Congratulations early on taking the challenge, may you find God’s peace and love.

 

Pastor Scott Krohn

Living Word Lutheran Church

Seward NE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

True Faith

Are you a follower?

But of course I am, I go to church on Sunday, I wear a cross around my neck. I tell others all about Christ, when the subject comes up. I mean just look at me I have” Christ follower” all over my house, on my car, and on my phone case.  How could you ask that question? “Don’t I look like a Christ Follower?”

Fact is; it isn’t what you LOOK LIKE that counts, it is what is in your heart that matters. God sees thru all the fake costumes and all the human distractions. If you are truly a follower and want to wear things that display your faith that’s great, but don’t think that will help get you to heaven.  Too many times we try to impress the pastor or our neighbors on how religious we are but it isn’t the pastor you have to answer to. He just asks the questions here on earth so you will be ready when you are met by the one who really has power over your soul.

If I ask; “Will you go to heaven?” what are the most common answers; “I don’t know for sure”, “I really hope so” and simply “No”. The worst part is the last one is the most honest; that person is sure they aren’t worthy and they don’t trust God for any salvation, it is a sad place but probably a true answer. So what about the other answers and where is “yes I will”.

That’s our dilemma; we as God’s children are taught so many rules and reasons and different religious patterns we forget to trust what Jesus tells us. We get ourselves so mixed up listening to human rules we lose the joy of being a child of God. Jesus tells us His thoughts; you know those red letters in the Bible, the true words of Jesus Christ. He never tries to fool anyone into a false hope, He never gave two ways about anything, and He never left the question unanswered. Jesus said if we believe and obey His words we will go to heaven.

John 14 (NIV) 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

 

So what about our original question? “Will you go to heaven?” Well if you believe God’s words and obey His commands you can trust Him when He says He will make a home for you. Don’t get too caught up in all the religious hype and the so-called rules. Let your faith show you the way to Heaven and follow that guidance.

 

Then when someone asks “Will you go to Heaven?” you can say “I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I am sure I will for He told me so.”

 

 

Safety Check or Faith Check

Have you ever been through a “Safety Check Point” on the highway? My wife and I had the pleasure a few nights ago; it was a pleasure for me as I was sitting in the passenger seat. My wife was much more concerned with the drill as she was in the driver’s seat of the car. She was the one in control of the vehicle which meant any infractions or broken laws would fall onto her shoulders. She was the one who would take the punishment for the crime. Thankfully the officer found nothing wrong.  I must say it wasn’t by luck or by coincidence that everything was ok; it was the fact that being a licensed driver my wife keeps all the correct paperwork in order, she keeps her vehicle in good working condition, and she obeys the laws set before her to operate that vehicle on public streets. She takes her responsibility seriously.

It made me wonder what Jesus would find if He stopped me for a “Faith Check”? Would it be a nerve racking experience? Am I taking my responsibility seriously? What would He ask; would I know the right answers? Would I have all my issues in order? I’m not saying we have to be perfect, for God tells us He will give us another chance in places we are going wrong. He tells us we are forgiven as long as we; are faithful and believe in His Son, repent of our sin, and change our sinful ways. But would I pass the test?

How about you, would you have trouble if Jesus stopped you on the street and checked your faith life? Are you confident you are saved and know the reason why?

If there is any doubt in your mind maybe you need to look closely at what is causing the confusion. Then if you are still questioning why, you may want to get some free instructions. They are available on Sunday morning at a variety of places called “Church”. Be careful though, there are some instructors that don’t follow the true manual and will steer you wrong. They will not prepare you for that the check point in accordance to the true laws of God.

Bottom line is when you are stopped; you are responsible for your own life, Jesus paid the price for the sins you can’t cover; but it’s up to you to take care of the ones you can. It is like that check point my wife went through, she had to be prepared. It was better to hear “Go ahead, everything looks good. Have a nice day and enjoy the ride” than to hear “Sorry we can’t let you continue the way you are going”.

A “Safety Check” or a “Faith Check” we all need to be ready;   Are You?

Why Drugs

I was listening to a News cast the other night and they said addiction to “Opiates” was at an all time high. Records are being broken for the number of overdoses causing deaths in this country. It hurt my heart to think that so many people are looking for an escape from this life and that they are losing their lives to a cruel end.
What is happening that so many people hate their lives? We are one of the most educated countries in the world, so ignorance on the effects of drug addiction is not the issue. We actually have one of the highest standards of living of any country in the world. Sure there are poverty stricken areas in our country, but need is almost non-existent compared to many third world countries. Unfortunately statistics show that most drug addiction is in middle class America. The money is more available; so having money is not a cure but a symptom. In fact the majority of middle class drug abusers end up in poverty before they quit.
So WHY do we do it? Have lost our reason for living? Ask someone why they are alive sometime and what will be the answer. “I don’t know “is common or “To have as much fun as possible” is another great myth. “To live and die” is one of my favorites. We are floundering in frustration and a lost sense of values; people don’t know who they are anymore.
Time goes by either too fast or we are bored to death. Our ability to manage our daily existence has somehow been lost. We seem to search for a reason for living but can’t find it. Life is so much more than having fun or just being alive to die. The art of just being alive to enjoy God’s world has been put so far back in our minds we no longer understand the simplicity. Drugs have become a way to leave this existence and not think about who we are and who we could be.
The problem with drugs is they are a FAKE answer to any problem. The few moments that a person “gets away” don’t begin to cover the miserable hours of terrible existence that follow; the hours that person tries to get money to support the monster they have to feed.
The person that introduces another person to drugs is a selfish fool. They are demon possessed as bad as any rapist or murderer on death row. The issue is after the initial dose the new person’s mind is forever flawed also.
So what is the answer? Well God has given us an answer in His Spirit if we listen.
Jesus went through everything we have ever dreamed of and more. Did He do drugs? “No!” He showed us the tool we have to make it through the torment and trials. Prayer is that tool. God has given us the power to overcome anything in this world. We can talk to Him any time of day.
We may be bombarded by the world’s hate and lies and foolish theories as “man” tries to show his authority. But with God’s guidance we can overcome all our problems.
With true love and help from each other there wouldn’t be need or a want to leave this world by doing any kind of drug. We would be too busy showing others how to live life in a way that was satisfying; in a way that would fulfill all desires for joy and happiness, in a way that at the end of the day we could be proud of.
So where do we go to find this life style? Well if you look real close it already exists in a building called the church. It is God’s house and He makes the rules there. No drugs allowed, no Satan allowed, only prayer and healing. Think about how fulfilling it could be, to be part of a place that is known for helping during the disaster not coaxing you to become part of the heartache.
Drugs; Man’s way of coping for a moment. Faith; God’s way of curing for eternity.
Just My Thoughts
Pastor Scott

Cause or Effect?

From the Pastor’s Desk:

Cause or Effect?

What is the cause and what is the effect? I often wonder why we put so much time and effort into working on the effects of our problems, and so little into the cure of the cause. Even as children we are told “Don’t do this or that because you could get hurt” or “I wouldn’t do that if I were you” Somewhere in the course of life we decided it doesn’t mean us and we do it anyway. When do we reach that point in our existence that we decide we are invincible and get to do it our way?

Take car accidents; according to the site drivers.com, Distracted driving, speed, and drunk driving are the three leading causes of fatal car crashes. How heartbreaking is that? The times in our lives when we are in control of the biggest, fastest, heaviest piece of equipment that any of us will ever use and we don’t care enough to watch what we are doing. Then we speed, so we can get into an accident sooner. Let alone being impaired by alcohol or drugs. Now honestly when you take down the shield of excuses of why you just had to do what you did, it looks pretty simple to solve. Watch the road, slow down, and don’t drink and drive. Wow we just solved the cause. Now we just have to do that every time we get behind the wheel and car wrecks could be almost avoided, thus changing the effects.

Life gives us choices; God gives us free-will to choose our destiny. When we choose not to follow the laws of the land we will get hurt. When we choose not to follow God’s commands we will get hurt. Adam and Eve started the fall and it has only gotten worse. So how do we change our view of the causes so we can stop trying to clean up the effects?

First we must understand it is going to take a lot of time. Second we have to choose to change. Our laws tell us “we have to follow the law or pay the fine”, God tells us “we have to believe in His Son or we will surely die”, and our sinful nature tells us “they can’t tell us what to do.” I think I have just found the solution to the cause.

Our sinful nature must be taken under control. Our hearts and minds must change. The Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ are the only way this will happen; without the Holy Spirit we can’t gain control, and Jesus Christ has the only true answer. We must choose to accept His help even when our sinful nature says it’s not needed. Change the cause and the effects will follow. God has the answer but only if we will follow the teaching. It’s up to us to change.

 

 

Easter is About Jesus! (Not a Bunny)

Do we live like people of Easter? Did you know the dictionary doesn’t mention the Easter bunny in its definition? Now don’t worry I’m not protesting the Easter bunny but I am protesting our first priority. When Easter is (sold) on TV and in stores, it is all about eggs and a magic bunny that brings kids candy etc., (Jesus is in the back isle by the religious stuff)

Our religious holidays were started and remembered for a much more important reason than to make them into a sales plan. Easter is honored as the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead and fulfilled His promise of eternal life for all who are baptized and believe in Him.

As with all things we need to be careful of the origin. The egg was pagan tradition before it was used as any part of Christianity. The egg was the symbol of new life and the coming of spring. The Easter egg is not a holy symbol but a “Scramble of pagan and Christian tradition”.

The Easter bunny is another pagan tradition that has made it to main stream through the art of salesmanship and desire. Desire? , wow pastor that is quite a word to use. I use it because the Easter bunny is known for bringing baskets of goodies and treats; it fulfills our desire of stuff. There is a huge line between our celebration of an animal bringing us what we want and our Savior dying on the cross and giving us what we need; the Forgiveness of our sin.

So why am I talking so negative about some simple, good, wholesome traditions. Well it’s my job; not to talk negative but it’s my job to remind people that there is more to faith in Jesus Christ than following the traditions of a culture. See many of those traditions can lead us away from our faith in Jesus Christ without us ever noticing. It’s when we combine secular and Holy ideas together that we end up with a watered down, weak Faith that is “Luke Warm”;

Revelation 3:15-17

15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 

We have a Holy holiday of Easter to reflect on; we have a Holy holiday of Christmas at the other end of the year. Let’s keep them Holy; about the God who they are meant for. Let’s be People of Easter, worshipping our “Risen Lord” all the time, every day, every minute.

Be “Hot” for Jesus others will see your “Reason for the Season”.

Just My Thoughts

Compassion

Compassion; just another person not being held to the hard truth, after all if we have compassion on everyone they are not getting what they deserve. They may need to be taught a lesson. Sounds familiar right? The problem is if we take the act of compassion and make it a judgment call we have just hurt ourselves as well. The Bible uses the word compassion or compassionate over 80 times. Most were referring to Jesus Himself.

Matthew 9:36 (NIV)
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 14:14 (NIV)
14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
So if Jesus has that much compassion on people and even went to the cross for them, what’s our hang up with having compassion?
It’s simple we have made compassion an earned right. Those people in prison; they get too much compassion. The victims don’t get any revenge for what happened. Or the illegal aliens; those people need to go home, who wants to give them any compassion. Or the kids caught up in gangs on the street; they need to be locked up and taught a lesson. Or the drug addicts, and drunks, etc.
I can go on for hours but the point is compassion should have started long before the illegal stuff happened. The kids shooting up schools; how can you have compassion on them!!? Well they weren’t born killers. They were kids just like any other and the world said “let the strong survive”. Maybe if someone would have had compassion and noticed the hurt in that child’s life when they were growing up, and helped them get better we wouldn’t be cleaning up the mess now.
As we read in; Matthew 22:37-39(NIV)
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
Loving our God as well as our neighbor requires compassion. It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. It takes a stronger man to hold someone up than it does to knock someone down. What if it were you that had the problem in your life? Should we knock you down or hold you up? Compassion is not a choice, it is a command. Let’s get the definition correct, and remember it starts with us.

What is Important to Me?

From the Pastor’s Desk   

What is Important to Me?

 What is important to me is such a huge question. It has really changed in the last year. I think of all the things I have going on and the list seems endless. Then I see friends with children having health troubles and friends losing loved ones and friends passing at young ages and it makes me realize that endless list really needs to be stopped.

When did we get so busy with stuff? When did we trade our lives for work and meetings and all the other stuff we tend to run for? As I watch my kids grow up and live their lives I can’t help but think of the classic tune from Harry Chapin in 1974 “The Cat’s in the Cradle”. Now you may have to “You Tube” this to get the true meaning of my blog but it really hits home for me.

The things we tend to make the most important in our lives are things that normally don’t last. It is why we never seem to get ahead. Each new thing has a different set of issues, so we never find the end. Or we are so busy taking care of things that mean nothing to our lives that we get exhausted doing it over and over again. The balance is a tough thing to accomplish.

Jesus saw the haste and waste in the lives of Mary and Martha. Martha was just like many of us, doing the everyday things that take all of our time but really account for nothing in the end. She was so busy doing life that she didn’t take time to just be part of life.

Luke 10 (NIV)

40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42  but few things are needed—or indeed only one.    Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Worried and upset about many things. Sound familiar? Let’s get our priorities in order, Jesus Christ first and family next, the rest of the stuff will wait. Let’s all start a new course, may we show our youth a new way of living where we all have time for family again. It’s not too late.

The song says; “But we’ll get together then Dad, you know we’ll have a good time then.”

“Then” is not a promise in this world, we best do it now.

Just My thoughts,

Pastor Scott

 

I’m trying to be a Christian

I had an instructor tell me once there is no such thing as trying to be a Christian. You either are or you aren’t. It really upset me at the time. I told him it was surely a human trait to try to be a Christian.

His answer was if you are just trying, you haven’t made the commitment to be a Christian. Being a Christian is who you are, not what you are trying to do. We struggle with our young people not going to church and not grasping what we talk about as “Being a Christian”. It takes a strong heart to look at one’s self and say “What about me sets me apart from anyone else? What in my life says I am a Christian?” It is sometimes hard to figure out who is a true follower of Jesus and His preaching and who isn’t when we are just talking the talk and not walking the walk. We know we don’t get to heaven by what we do, but we do influence people by what they see.

We want a middle ground where we can do the things of the world yet say we are following our faith. A part of me wants to say there is a middle ground that would make me more in step with the world yet I know in my heart there is only one way into heaven. As a new preacher I remember the advice of a contemporary preacher friend who told me “Don’t get too strict or you will chase people away. Our job is to draw the people in and let God do the rest. Like a bear with some honey. Don’t upset them or they will not give and then you will surely be out of a job.”

I struggle with that more now than ever. Isn’t that the absolute wrong way to treat people? It comes back to the part about trying to be a Christian. Are we here to help people try to be Christians or are we here to show them how to be Christians. The decision has to be made one way or the other. There really isn’t a place of either-or. God was very plain in His words;

Revelation 3:15, 16 New International Version

15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

You are or you aren’t, it’s a pretty tough thought to swallow. That’s what my instructor was trying to tell me. In God’s eyes you are a Christian and you live your life to the glory of what God wants or you are not and you live your life to the glory of yourself. Sounds like the pastor has gone law crazy right? After all Jesus came to save us no matter what we do.

Well the truth is; Jesus came to save those who die to their old life, repent of their sin and believe in His saving grace. The only catch is if you don’t do those things before it is too late you will be left behind trying to be a Christian. Just as He says “I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Please note the last phrase “I am about to spit” He hasn’t done it yet. There is still time as long as you can read this.

It is like when the doctor told me I might have throat cancer from smoking. He said there still may be time if you change your habits. You have to quit smoking not just try to quit. You have to make the decision to be different in your ways; otherwise things will not change. You are either a smoker or you are not a smoker, there is no middle ground.

Well I guess that’s what I realized with my faith.  I was either a Christian or I was not. I was either going to be healthy and live or I was going to continue to kill myself with my sins and say “I was trying to be a Christian really I was.”

The part that gets confusing in this world is the fact we think we are all ok as we are. Our young people see the difference between “being” and “trying”. They need a solid place to start from or they will never make a decision either. What a scary, heart breaking thought to have our kids spit out for being “lukewarm” in their faith. Make that decision in your life to be “Hot” for God, take the step to be a Christian and not just trying to be, teach your children the same ideas. Let’s get this country back into motion, kicking our old habits that are killing us and starting to live again;      “Being Christians

Just my thoughts,

Pastor Scott

 

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

The Lord’s Prayer is the main example of prayer that Jesus Himself gave us. It is used as a prayer in itself but also to show us how to pray. I want to examine the line; “lead us not into temptation”. What exactly is Jesus saying?

 Well it is simple; we are asking God not to give us too much. To limit us to the amount we can handle.

“Give us too much?” What’s that supposed to mean?

First we must realize God tempts no one, but sin turns blessings into temptation. We are sinful by nature; we unfortunately lack self control in many areas. If the Lord gives us His bounty in His loving way we can be overwhelmed. See we all need things in life to survive; water, food, shelter just to name a few. God loves to give us these things and the Bible tells us some will be given more. Does that mean they should consider themselves rich? By no means; that is the danger of temptation. When we receive more than we can use we are tempted to store it away and claim ownership of the blessing. God provides what we need and the rest is to be used for the blessing of others. It is not for us to hide away, it is to be used wisely. He will show you how if you let Him.

 Luke 12  (NIV Bible)

The Parable of the Rich Fool

16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

 The blessings that God gives are not ours alone; he expects us to manage those blessings wisely. Trust God to guide your steps in all you do. He will not “lead you into temptation” “but deliver you from evil”

Pastor Scott