From the Pastor

Following Jesus Together - January 14

Dear Friends,

Please continue to pray for the Mailloux family. There will be lots of opportunities to continue to love this family in the days to come. Until then, it is good to reflect on these paraphrased words by John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, “Love in Christ never decays, nor can it be tempted to lessen by anything that happens now or in the future.”

It is a great comfort in suffering, that nothing in all creation can separate us from Gods’ love, neither life or death (Romans 8:31-38). This assurance comes as John tells us, because of Jesus’ faithful love:

“Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end.”

So he comforted in the chaos – You are loved by our Savior and King to the end. We love till we get hurt or offended. Jesus loves us despite our faithlessness. He’s at work teaching us to love even when it hurts.

The Capitol Riots
We continue to pray for peace in our country! It’s good to remember that God put us here for such a time as this, to use gracious speech seasoned with salt, sent out as peacemakers. Many gospel-centered things have been written in response.  Here’s one by Kevin DeYoung, on how to disagree.

Come, Let Us Reason Together - Kevin DeYoung: Race, Covid, Election (thegospelcoalition.org)

Gospelling Amidst the Chaos –
What is gospelling? - The practice of telling God’s good news to one another and to our neighbors. It’s active persuasion, telling others that Jesus is King. We are Christ’s ambassadors sent to work and pray for the peace of our neighbors. I personally can’t wait until the return of normalcy and the ability to show hospitality in person again.

Until that day, how do we reason together with those who see the world differently?

While we wait, we can prepare to persuade others to take Jesus seriously. To take Jesus seriously, we have to take our need for the gospel seriously. We are very real sinners. Thus we are armed with God’s power for our weakness. In our divided age, we don’t split the world into heroes and villains. We lead with repentance. 

One theologian put it like this, (Herman Bavinck)

“The sharpest weapons must in the first place be turned against ourselves…to be really able to convict anyone else of sin, a person must know himself and the hidden corners of their heart very well. There is no more humbling work in the world than to engage in [gospel-persuasion]…the Holy Spirit first convicts us, and then through us He convicts the world.”

As Jesus reminds us, it’s hard to persuade others of sin when the log in our eye keeps us from seeing their speck.

Sunday – Pastor Jim is continuing through Romans 1. Vs. 18-32 contain the bad news of the gospel. Yet, this reality leads us to God’s good news. We get to see the depths to which Jesus went to justify sinners like us. Just another friendly reminder that Sunday School and Worship will be virtual only this week.

See you Sunday!

Grace and peace,
Nate

Following Jesus Together - January 6

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! For a brief gospel meditation this week, I want to share some well-written words by a former student I had the privilege of knowing and discipling in youth group. She writes,

“I refuse to put my hope in 2021.

How could I place all my hope for a better year in some far off, superficial feeling or figment of time?

What if things don’t get better?

What if the vaccine doesn’t work the way they are hoping?

What if this new president elect makes mistakes?

What if, God forbid, things get even worse?

Where would we be then if 2021 isn’t kinder?

These “what ifs” are not meant to alarm or stir up anxiety, but I mean to point you to Christ - the same One on the throne in 2020 - the only comfort, solace, hope, peace, and joy in the midst of suffering can come to us through Him alone. In Him all things hold together. So I continue to place my trust in the God who knows the beginning from the end and rescues us not because we are good, but because He is good.

So you won’t see me asking 2021 to be kinder to us. But I pray God draws you near in His peace that He is good and in control. I ask God for healing and relief from the suffering of 2020, knowing His holy and perfect will cannot bring me to despair or the end of myself like the things of this world. They say, “when you reach the end of your rope, just tie a knot and hang on.” That’s absurd. We are too weak. His strength and power alone pulls us from the depths.”

Those beautiful words apply what the prophet Habakkuk wrote in the midst of chaotic times, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) Here’s what that faith sounds like (3:17-18), again in Habakkuk’s words, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”

May the Lord be our strength in 2021 – as Habakkuk reminds us – God gives us what we need to navigate through uncertain times and places: faith.

Thompson Update
Uncertainty sums up our holidays. I am being tested again for Covid today. I thought I was improving and then got hit again yesterday with tightness in the chest – fatigue and shortness of breath. So they are making sure I didn’t have a false negative last week. I will keep you all updated.

I greatly appreciate your kind words, texts and prayers! By God’s grace everyone else in the house is healthy.

Sunday – Pastor Jim is in the pulpit Sunday continuing through Romans – “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Martin Luther, the famous Reformer, wrote long ago that when he finally understood these words, it was like the gates of heaven opened wide and he stepped into paradise. He was changed by the grace of God. May Jesus do the same for us today!

It’s communion Sunday this week. So please take time to prepare your hearts and minds to feed on Christ by faith and be strengthened by the grace of our good God!

Grace and peace,
Nate