Fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Romans 12:2 MSG

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Resolutions

This time of year we hear a whole lot about New Year’s resolutions. What changes will we make? How will we be better? What do we hope to accomplish? Resolutions aren’t bad.  However, they are rarely accomplished. I remember my health club in Colorado. Eleven months out of the year there was a good flow of folks in and out of the club. But come January the place was packed. New running shoes, new workout outfits, and new members with ambition to get healthy. That lasted about 30 days. After January it was back to the regulars with just a few more new commits. Those who were staying after it were doing so because they had partners, a community, others around them cheer-leading them on. 

This week we read from Matthew the story of the wise men who brought their gifts to Jesus. They too had resolve. They brought those gifts on behalf of Herod. After meeting Jesus they went home by the way of another road. Why? They had resolved to follow Jesus. They had a new king. They could not go back to Herod and his henchmen and pledge their loyalty to him. They had been changed. They were made new. They would no longer be ruled by fear but instead they would live by faith. 

What resolutions do you have when it comes to following Jesus in 2018? What gifts will you bring? How will your life be different, better, more whole, because of this new born king? 

When we live in the Jesus community, sharing our hurts and hopes, offering love and support, we are able to stand in there together with resolve and accomplish whatever it is that God has put before us. We are not made to do life alone, but together. The three wise men had each other. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus had each other. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have each other. We the church have each other. 

May 2018 be more than we could ask for or imagine!

Happy New Year Church.
Pastor Chad

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Come and Build!

This week a servant team from Our Savior’s will join together with a team from Colorado and build hope with Amor Ministries. This hope will rise up from the ground on a new solid foundation of poured concrete. This hope will rise up when we partner with two families who will have a new home in just four days. This new hope will live on long after we have departed. Hope in us. Hope in our families. Hope in our friendships. Hope in our partnerships that bring life to the world. 

Lift your prayers for Amor and their work that takes place in Tijuana, but also throughout the world. It all started when a husband and wife felt the call to “Come and Build.” For over thirty five years they have poured out their lives on behalf of the poorest of the poor on planet earth. They called and invited thousands of people to join them on the journey. Thousands of lives transformed - the recipients of the homes, the pastoral networks that hold it all together, the travelers and servants who provide the resources and hearts and muscles to build. Be sure to give high fives to Sherry Chesak, Ava Chesak, Deb Goodew, and Lucas Goodew. Their YES! is an affirmation of God’s ongoing work in the world.

Consider this: The Christmas story tells us that Mary and Joseph were turned away because there was no room in the inn.  Thus, Jesus was born in a manger. The two new homes that will be built this week are mangers for Jesus. These homes will be where families gather to celebrate life. These homes will tell a story of God’s activity in the world. These homes will ring out with joy of the new thing that God is doing. These homes…….mangers of God’s love and hope for all.

May we always make room for Jesus. May we always make room for the work that God most needs done in this world. May we, God’s church, serve as mangers for Jesus!

Goodbye 2017. Hello 2018.

Amor! Come Build Hope!

Pastor Chad

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Merry Christmas from the Johnsons!

God’s greatest dream accomplished in Jesus...
   A life lived with us…..for us.
A God ever present…..A God alongside us on the journey. 
We sing with family and friends…..The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight….

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

We thank God this Christmas for the gift of faith born in you!
Jesus has a story to tell the world and that story is found in you!
Merry Christmas from our hearts to yours……
Pastor Chad, Susan, Koko, Norah, Merritt, Holland, and Jewel

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Ready or not here He comes 12-12-17

Every Advent Season, we hear from the voice of John the Baptist. He is a voice crying out in the darkness of a divided world. His voice directed people to the everlasting God. Isaiah – and like so many prophets before him, they were voices crying out in the dark. They pointed to the life and hope that is found in this One called God - God as deliverer - God as redeemer - God as the new day that will dawn for all humankind.
 
We desperately need the prophetic voices of God with and for us - and God needs our voices to be prophetic today. We the church are called to be those voices in the darkness!
 
Isaiah 40:1-11 is very important in understanding John the Baptist. This passage announces God's intention to dwell among God's people. God gives directions for the way to be prepared. By who?  By the people God wants to visit?  No! By God's own servants.  God does not say, "Tell the people to get ready and when they have done so, I will come to them.” God says, "Prepare the way! I am coming to my people (whether they are ready or not)." You see there is nothing from John the Baptist or Isaiah in the scripture accounts that say, “Prepare our way…make our roads for life.” They both say, “Prepare the way of the Lord!” Because God is coming!
 
The voice of God in the Isaiah text has the character of a wounded lover.   God is desperate: "I will come to my people, and nothing will keep me from them. Mountains will be torn down, valleys will be filled in, rough places made smooth - whatever it takes!"  It is hard not to think of the old Diana Ross song, "Ain't no mountain high enough,” when we hear these words.
 
The announcement is gracious, with only the dimmest echo of warning. Neither Isaiah, nor John, nor Mark intended to say, "God will come to those who are ready; those who are not, will be left out."  The accent is simply on God's imminent and certain advent, though such an announcement obviously calls for response. God is coming to us! This is fantastic news!  So, what can we do to get ready?   Confess your sins, John suggests. Get baptized. Repent.   Later, Jesus will add, "believe in the good news!" (Mark 1:15).
 
God will come and fulfill all of God's promises whether or not we do any of these things. But knowing God is on the way, why wouldn't we want to do them? To take a somewhat silly analogy, children play a game called "Hide-and-Seek" in which everyone hides and tries not to get caught, but eventually, when the game goes as it should, everyone gets found. The game is interesting from a psychological point of view because "hiding" is not really very much fun. If you ask most children, "Do you want to sit somewhere all by yourself and keep very quiet for a long time?" you will not get many takers. What's fun about "Hide-and-Seek” is not hiding, but getting found! Everybody likes to be found.
 
So, when Advent comes around every year, we are reminded that God is coming to find us.  We have our ways of hiding.  But today when John the Baptist shouts, "Prepare the way of the Lord!" it is as though God has just called, "Ready or not, here I come!"  And we remember: this is the God who always finds us. That is the voice the world needs. That is the prophetic voice that we all need. God will always find us!
 
Which means we are free to live, free to love, and free to serve with reckless abandon. There is urgency in this life to prepare the way for God. How do we do that?
 
A story…Sir Nicholas Winton…..saved 669 children from Nazis death camps. When he was 105 over 100 folks gathered for his birthday party. Most who were there were the actual people, or children of those, whom he had saved in 1939. He had never met them face to face. He did not know they would be at this party. To see the short inspirational clip of that moment go to this link….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_nFuJAF5F0. There are over 6000 living today who owe their life to this man. Were it not for his passionate voice in the midst of darkness none of them would be here.
 
It was late in December 1938 when the stockbroker from Hampstead cancelled a holiday to go to Prague to see what was happening to refugees there.  Winton spent only three weeks in the city - the most leave he could get from his job at home - but it was enough time for him to recognise the impending threat facing the refugees in October 1938. He immediately set about organising eight evacuations of the children on the Czech Kindertransport train. He advertised in newspapers for foster homes, got the necessary permits from the immigration office in the UK, and persuaded the Germans to let the children leave the country.  When Winton returned to his job in London on 21 January 1939 he continued the rescue mission, working in the evenings until the last train was cancelled when war broke out in September 1939. He told very few about this work. It was only uncovered when his scrapbook was discovered by his daughter who shared it with others. One of Sir Nicholas Winton’s core values was this: "If it's not impossible, then it can be done."
 
Our Savior’s….we proclaim….”With God all things are possible!” We don’t say that as some nicety or even false hope. We say that with a bold passion because we know it to be true. We know it because of the voices surrounding us that cry out in the darkness and for the voices that answer back in that same darkness.
 
We are not alone…God is with us. God comes to us…where we are….as we are…whether we are ready or not! The gift we can give to our God is to prepare the way. Where there ain’t no mountain to high, no valley to low, no river to wide! The church on earth…..saving lives…just like Sir Winton.
 
Just imagine with me for a moment….a few John the Baptists types shouting out in the crowd today reminding us of who we are and whose we are. And then imagine you sitting in a chair in the midst of that gathered crowd at 105 years old. People have come to celebrate your life. And at some point…the person sitting next to you leans over to give a hug. Saying… “You Our Savior’s…you a disciple of Jesus….saved my life…I am here because of you!” Imagine standing up and turning around to see hundreds if not thousands standing up when a person says…stand up if Elizabeth, Mark, Sarah, Jack…saved your life. Oh the stories that could be told. Oh the faces that would be smiling and staring back at you. 
 
You see….we the church are in the saving business….saving our very own lives….saving all those we come into contact…..saving our brothers and sisters the world over….that’s the voice of the church….that’s the heart, hands, and feet movement of the church….that is why we exist!
 
Our Savior’s….Prepare The Way Of Our Lord! Ready or Not, Here He Comes!
 
Peace and Hope,
Pastor Chad

FACEBOOK with Jesus in community 12-5-17

In 2017 I can say with all faith enthusiasm that we as Our Savior’s have been Facebooked with Jesus in Community. Jesus is written on our pages, our hearts, our faces, our very lives. Jesus has been seen in countless ways. Jesus has been unleashed throughout our body. We have been Facebooked!
Now I know that all of us are not on the major social networking sites of the internet. But surely we have all heard of facebook. This networking site has gained in popularity since its inception in 2004, and today garners most folk’s attention. By logging on, setting up your page, posting photos, a descriptive profile of who you are, etc., you are set to navigate the social circles of today. After setting up your page, before long you will have invited or been invited to be friends with people throughout space and time. Childhood friends, work contacts, distant relatives, you name it – you will find them and be ‘accepted’ or ‘accept’ them as friends. And then, you find yourself touching base with these friends throughout your weeks and days – with simple thoughts, birthday notes, prayer requests, and invitations to events. It’s all there. More and more folks are getting Facebooked.
So why do I share notes about this internet sensation with you? Well it’s not to market what is already popular. It’s not to endorse the great things about it or caution against the ills of it. It’s simply to use the metaphor facebook and remind us as the church that Jesus has been facebookingwith the world all along. Our call as the church is to facebook with Him and all people.
Facebook reminds me of the human desire for connection with other people. I can log onto facebook and post a note and within minutes someone will reply to that note. The folks I know who use it will rise a bit early to check their page and before going to bed spend a few minutes posting and reading their notes found there. Most are checking it several times throughout the day on their phones. We desire connection with other people…and facebook is one tool that gives that desire opportunity.
Well imagine with me facebooking with Jesus throughout our day. Rising early to check in with Him, ending our day by spending a few additional moments with Him, and pausing throughout the day to simply log into Him. What would He have posted to our page? What would the notes be that we find there from Him? How would we be changed by the time spent communicating back and forth in that relationship?      
Our Savior’s, Jesus has been facebooking with the world all along. Our call as the church is to facebook with Him and all people.
The Scriptures that we have been immersed in through our worship in the past month and the ones we continue to reflect on this month all have a common overarching theme: “Jesus reaches – connects – befriends – loves – communicates – travels to where folks are – unleashes the Spirit – facebooks – with the people. And more and more people begin to reach – search – desire – love – facebook – this Jesus.” They – the world – are being changed by Him!
And that is what Jesus does! When He facebooks with us – we are changed. I have been an eyewitness along with many of you to His life change in our lives over this past year here at Our Savior’s. 
I have seen Jesus facebooked with us in community through:
Our young people as they learn, grow, and serve in their faith. 
Our small group ministries and the connections of life that are fostered there.
Our worship life where we grow in passionate faith.
Our outreach ministries that raise people here and around the globe.
Our Anyuak worship service where resurrection hope rings true.
Our Wednesday evening meals where we gather around table in sharing life together.
Our Staff that pours out their lives into the whole church in making a difference in our world.
Our leadership teams that are discerning and prayerful in fostering a relevant church for the future.
Our thirty-nine new families who joined the church in October, a true sign and symbol that God is alive in them and in this place.
Our children’s ministries that equip even our littlest ones to be the heart, hands, and feet of Jesus.
Our forty committed youth and adults who will attend the National Youth Gathering this summer.
And the countless daily acts of service that often go unnoticed, but would be incredibly missed if they were not accomplished. 
Jesus is facebooking with us and we are facebooking with Him and all people as we live and serve with our gifts and passions. 
As we have celebrated throughout this article so much of what Jesus has been doing in and through us, let us also not forget the missional challenges that also lay before us. There is so much yet to be done. There is so much need and burden to be shared. Even in challenge, we can facebook with Jesus.
There are many hurting folks in this community – facebook them with your touch. There are many who do not yet know the great love and grace of Jesus –facebook them with your faith. Our children of all ages still watch and wonder if God really does care – facebook them with the story of Jesus. There are souls thirsty and hungry for real life – facebookthem through an invite to worship together.
This much is sure Church…..Jesus has been facebooking with us all along! May we facebook with him throughout all of our days!
Peace and Hope,
Pastor Chad 

Love with your whole heart. 11-28-17

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but a state of thankfulness can be experienced each and every day of our lives. The Psalmist reminds, “I will give thanks to the Lord God with my whole heart.” What a beautiful vision for each of our lives.

What does it look and feel like for you to “love with your whole heart?” 

As you spend some time in devotions and prayer this week, consider the following quotes:

“The best things in life aren’t things.” Peggy Anderson

“Never look down on somebody, unless you’re helping them up.” Jesse Jackson Sr.

“No one has ever become poor by loving and giving.” Anne Frank

“You will rise by lifting others.” Robert Ingersoll

“Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning.” Paul Coelho

“What God cares most about is creation and humanity fully alive!” Pastor Chad

Jesus followers are called to live deep and meaningful lives. Deep in the Spirit. Deep in the Faith. Deep in love. Deep in our shared work together. Empty tomb deep where we embrace resurrection hope. May it be so as we journey and transform this world together. 

Pastor Chad   

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty! 11-21-17

This hymn, published in 1680, has been an age old favorite for so many. The words are timeless.  

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him!

During this Thanksgiving week, this will be a tune that is on my heart and lips. How about you? What song is God leading you to sing? For what are you most thankful? 

May our Thanks and Praise of all that God has done and is doing in this world, lead us forward in faith.

A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Pastor Chad