From Pastor Karl

From Pastor Karl (48)

You Too Tell Luke 2

Our Advent Season has hit its stride. We’re examining the intersection of our story and God’s – in the telling and retelling of the Luke 2 Christmas story!

There’s no question about the power of story in our lives. It’s our stories that connect us and touch us at the deepest of human places. How much more incredible is it when our life stories are woven into God’s. It provides the substance of eternal life and the Light of Hope that permeates and transforms our stories to have lasting purpose and significance!

And so, we’ve taken a deep dive into Luke 2.1-21 by watching others tell it through their eyes and lives, and unpacking the Bible’s riches found in the account of Jesus’ birth into humanity. In that unpacking we’ve discovered how God grounds the story in real time real history. We’ve identified with Mary how following God put you at odds with culture and occasionally can put life at risk. Discipleship is counter-cultural living.

This Sunday we’ll hear the stories of two men, David Opland and Chuck Hall and listen as we hear how the Luke 2 story sounds through the filter of their souls. We’ll inspect the Luke 2 text about God’s angels as his primary messengers at historic turning points. We’ll note how God regularly gives a message of power to the powerless (like shepherds) in order to empower them.

And…all of this is in encouragement and preparation for you to tell the Luke 2 story through your eyes. Imagine sitting around the Christmas tree with wrapped presents…and before the gift giving begins, you ask everyone to listen to the first ever Gift Giving…

You could begin, “In those days, Caesar Augustus….

Peace,

Pastor Karl 
Thursday, 30 November 2017 20:56

Advent Christmas Invitations

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Fellow Saints in Light, 

As the last thing I'm doing on the last day of November, here's some invitations and preparations for the month of Decemeber! 


Advent Christmas Decorations at 12:30p tomorrow, December 1
A all hands on deck for decorating the sanctuary is hereby issued! You and I know this stuff doesn't just happen, it happens when we step up and help out! Marilouise and I look forward to seeing you there then to make ready for Advent1  and following on Sundays. 

Advent1 is Sunday December 3rd
The three Sundays and the three Wednesdays of the Advent Season will be led by the theme, "You Too Tell Luke 2." It is designed to equip us to tell the Christmas story, based on Luke 2. Imagine yourself around the Christmas tree on Christmas morning (or Christmas Eve if that's your tradition) and prior to the (the frenzy of) opening of presents, you set the context of gift giving in the Luke 2 story. Imagine telling it with clarity and passion - as your own story! We'll be prepping all Advent for that moment learning of the history, context and theology of this incredible story! 

Advent Midweek1 Wednesday December 6th
The prepartions will be continuous from Sunday to Wednesday to Sunday. Familiar Advent hymns and an in-depth look at the story of Luke 2 will continue. 

Advent2 Sunday 10
The Lord's Supper will add to our spiritual preparations and provide the Spirit's insights for our Luke 2 examination and preparations. 

Advent Midweek2 Wednesday 13
The next portion of Luke 2 as well as familiar Advent lessons will inspire depth and passion to our Christmas preparations. 

Advent3 Sunday 17th One Worship Service at 10a for the annual choir cantata! 
Although there will be a baptism and a short message to continue our Luke 2 preparations, our choir will lead us with their annual cantata, this year entitled, "All Is Well." And...there's a Christmas cookie bake to follow! It's a Sunday with treats for body, mind and soul, for sure! :-) 

Christmas Eve on Sunday Evening 5p and 7p: "Do You Recognize God (When He Arrives)?" 
It's one of those awkward years when Chrismtas eve is on a Sunday. So...we'll skip Advent4 and morning worship, celebrating Chrismtas eve in the evening. The Christmas worship theme will, of course, focus on the miraculous nature of the incarnation - Jesus becoming human (while remaining Divine). 

Christmas Day (Family Worship at Home) 
Having celebrated the Incarnation the night before, you're encouraged to celebrate with family - and tell the Luke 2 story as a part of your morning. I'll prepare a (sample) devotional to be utilized prior to the opening of presents to give Biblical context to the gift exchanges! 

Christmas2 Sunday December 31st (New Year's Eve) 
Our morning schedule will return and the Christmas theme we'll turn to God's Word about the power of the Jesus incarnation with part 2 of "Do You Recognize God (When He Arrives)?" We'll have the Lord's Supper, to give thanks to God for the year gone and to commit to his will for the upcoming year. 

Soli Deo Gloria 
Tuesday, 28 November 2017 08:46

#GivingTuesday Thoughts

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#GivingTuesday Thoughts

I like it.

Although it is completely secular, and, frankly, can be somewhat overwhelming to navigate, I like the growing cultural trend called, “Giving Tuesday.”

Turning Attention Away From Self

Giving Tuesday gives us practice at looking outside ourselves to the needs of others. The commercial Christmas markets toward selfishness and consumerism while Giving Tuesday has the effect of reducing the vacuum of selfishness to review those in need.

Giving Us Criteria to Evaluate Giving

The largest giving web site gofundme.com has raised over $470M. Although it can be a little overwhelming to review, it can train you in evaluating when, where and how to give. Here’s some of the criteria I use for personal giving and build into giving at Peace.

1.       Kingdom Impact. Talk about long term ROI, look toward funding that brings the Word of God into people’s lives and you’ve got eternal returns!

2.       Transparent Accountability. Like our books at Peace, you should be able to have clear assurance your contribution is going where you intended it to go.

3.       Transformation. Is there a vision for transforming lives? Are people changed? Better? Encouraged?

Next, Moving Giving Tuesday Up a Week?

At the end of the day, “Giving Tuesday” still occurs after “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” i.e., after we’ve consumed till full and then turn to the leftovers. As much as I appreciate the day, it is clear it falls incredibly short of the disciple’s call and practice to first give, then spend.

The Bible’s Call? Set aside the first fruits and trust God the remainder will be the abundance you’re hoping for! Give yourself first the Lord, then to his cause and the rest will be added to you as well!

Open your Bible and read Luke 6.38; Malachi 3, 8-12 to see the clear difference between the pleasant and helpful thoughts of Giving Tuesday and powerful and trust-building giving of the follower of Jesus! 
Monday, 27 November 2017 12:13

Thanksliving: Epilogue

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Thankslivilng: Epilogue

The Thanksgiving weekend transformed into the “Thankliving” theme with bookends illustrating God’s Call to generous living as our way to say “Thank you” to our Generous God!

Wednesday’s Call from God focused on being generous from our abundance… practicing generosity from God’s grace upon grace and trusting it will continue to flow through us from God to others (instead of getting over focused on our “abundance.”) Open your Bible to Luke 12.13 and read Jesus’ story of bigger barns for God’s insight.

Sunday’s bookend addressed being generous from our want, from our little, from our lack. St Paul used the Christians in Macedonia who, although poor and persecuted for their faith, begged for an opportunity to participate in the offering for the suffering disciples in Jerusalem. Open your Bible to 2 Cor 8.1-15 for the full inspired story of the powerful witness of giving from want.

Both dynamics of generosity, giving from abundance or want, are called into focus this time of year! My mailbox and my inbox are full of “asks” – many for very worthy causes. It’s easy to easily and readily recycle or press delete.

My encouragement is to begin with an open spirit of generosity…filter the many requests, for sure, but do so in full acceptance of God’s outpouring of love for you in the Christ, in creation and in your many relationships. Be quick to be generous while exercising wisdom in your generosity!

The Thanksgiving weekend is behind us but the “Thanksliving” lifestyle is in front of us! Be generous… 
Wednesday, 22 November 2017 13:23

Thanksgiving Eve Worship & Prayer

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Thanksliving Worship on Thanksgiving Eve at 7p & Thanksgiving Meal Prayer

You’re welcome and invited to

Worship tonight at 7p entitled, “”Thanksliving’: Thanking God Through Generous Living!”

Worship at 9a or 11a Sunday with part 2 of 2 of Thanksliving.

Tonight, we’ll focus on God’s calling to give thanks from our abundance (it’s trickier than you might think)

Sunday, we’ll focus on the nature of giving thanks from our want (it’s typically easier than you think)

We’ll be book-ended by the power of the Gospel to inspire us to generous living!

See you soon, Good Lord willing.

Thankfully yours,

Karl


Thanksgiving Day Meal Devotion/Prayer

Read Psalm 9.1

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

[Ask everyone to hold hands bow their heads.]

Almighty and Generous God,

We thank you for the outpouring of your grace as seen in the seasons, the stars and the wonder of creation! We thank you for the generous outpouring of your love in the gift of your Son, crucified and resurrected for us. He has set us free! We thank you for the generous outpouring of your Holy Spirit who inspires us in the faith passed down from our forefathers. And today, we thank you for our nation and the wealth of abundant resources which supplies our needs and wants. Please accept our thanksgiving and stir in us a lifestyle of generous response to your grace. In Jesus Name, Amen..

Happy Thanksgiving! 
Tuesday, 21 November 2017 09:16

Giving Thanks from Abundance

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Thanksgiving in Abundance (It’s Harder Than You Think) You are invited to set aside time to give thanks – from your abundance! Tomorrow evening at 7p, our Thanksgiving Eve worship, entitled, “Thanksliving” will begin with President Lincoln’s declaration declaring it a national holiday – and get bigger and bigger from there! What I find interesting is Thanksgiving as a national holiday was born during the Civil War. While our country was deeply divided President Lincoln and William Seward, Secretary of State, found opportunity to recognize the amazing grace of abundance that continued to shower down…uninterrupted. From a patriotic perspective, we’ll go global – all the way to being grateful for the abundance of harvest and creation. From taking for granted the air you breathe to the bread you break at your table, all of it was begun and sustained by our Loving Heavenly Father. From there, yes, it gets bigger and more lavish because we’ll conclude our time together in gratitude for Jesus – the Christ and the New Creation designed for us, once again! The problem with abundance is it can all too easily become its own end. Just as powerful people can get addicted to just a little more power, so people of abundance can end up focusing on getting just a little more… The antidote is "Thanksliving" - practicing gratitude to God through a generous lifestyle! Open your Bible and pre-read Psalm 104 and marvel at the expanse of gratitude for creation! Then turn to the New Testament and find Philippians 2.3-11 to re-discover the Absolute Abundance of our Lord and Savior! Pause from the pursuit of abundance to practice a lifestyle of worship and praise and “Thankliving” for the God who is Abundance personified. See you in the sanctuary at 7p on Wednesday evening!
Monday, 20 November 2017 09:50

Open Your Bible & Give God the Glory

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Yesterday concluded our 5 part celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. We celebrated 5 "Solas" Sola Scriptural, The Scriptures Alone! Sola Gratia, God's Grace Alone Saves Sola Fide, God's Gift of Faith Alone blesses us with His righteousness Solus Christus - It's ALL about Jesus Soli Deo Gloria - To God alone be all the glory! Before we move on to our Thanksgiving theme entitled, "Thanksliving," I'm encouraging you to open your Bible and (re)visit Psalm 145! Open your Bible and read it through once - then read it as your Psalm; your glorifying words to our glory-worthy Lord and God! As addressed in worship, this places the focus out there, on God, and ipso facto, off of ourselves. The busy holiday season has begun and it's all too easy for our souls to implode with all the "small stuff" that accompanies our plans. Soli Deo Gloria - the practice of giving God the glory - provides a grounding and perspective that can get lost in the hubbub. Open your Bible, read it through, breathe it in, make it yours and allow God's perspective to permeate. Soli Deo Gloria, indeed!
New Starts Tomorrow: The Reformation Is Alive & Well @Peace

9a and 11a worship: Although Irma delayed us a little, we’re back to a two worship schedule!

5 Solas: Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. This powerful and transformational Biblical focus will go for 5 weeks, starting tomorrow with Sola Scriptura. Who is your final authority?

Bring Your Bible to Church To my chagrin, after 35 years of ministry, I’ve never done this before, so, let’s see what happens together when we bring our Bibles to church! By the way, you can go digital or hardcopy.

Guest Instructor, Jim Sturgeon on “Luther As Pastor” 10:20-10:40 We’re going to ramp up our Fellowship Time with “Ted Talk” style presentations in-between worship. The timing is designed to allow for fellowship and a learning experience. Jim’s knowledge of the Reformation era will astound you!

Announcing the Peace App. Luther zealously utilized the Gutenberg Press, and I’m sure Luther would download the Peace App today! It will be officially launched on Reformation Sunday, 10/29, but is available in either IOS now!

Peace Home Church is what we’re calling our new small group ministry! You can partner up with any one of eight groups with facilitators that are ready, or start your own. It will go for a short three weeks through our Reformation worship series and start-up again in the New Year!

It’s Still About Jesus! If you ask, “Why?” about any of the above, you’ll find your answer immediately before this sentence! :-) 

See you tomorrow, Good Lord willing,
Karl   
Friday, 20 October 2017 13:05

Sola Scriptura The Bible as Final Authority

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Solas. It’s Still About Jesus!

Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

Sola Scriptura. The first of our 5 Solas of the Protestant Reformation is “By Scripture Alone.”

It’s really a question on authority. Prior to the Reformation authority over one’s life and salvation was taught to be split between the Bible AND what church authorities declared. Martin Luther and other Reformers took a bold stand to say, in effect, nop, God’s Word alone is the Authority.

Interestingly enough, the debate over the Bible’s authority is as divided as it ever. Science is probably viewed by most as the 21st century authority. However, as David Berlinski illustrates in, “The Devil’s Delusion,” empirical processes are often flawed by human political activities.

Different religious books vie for equal authoritative standing in a “Coexist” kind of way; usually reducing the Bible to nice teachings, and Jesus to a “golden rule” pervader.  Yet when you place the Buddhist “Tripitaka,” the Moslem, “Qu’ran” the Hindu “Vedas” together, the total sales pales to that of the Bible. The Ladder Day Saints go through extraordinary lengths to market “The Book of Mormon” as additional Biblical testament to latch on the Bible’s authoritative claims in a persuasive deception.

Yet…the Bible stands as the most published book in history and today. It also makes the most substantive claims! It calls itself, “God-Breathed” (2 Tim 3.16); written by “men who spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1.21); that it “cannot be annulled/broken” as spoken by Jesus (John 10.35). And, the Bible’s purpose is clear, “these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20.31)

So… sola Scriptura seems to be a good launching pad for inviting you to bring you Bible with you to church! It can be hard copy or on your phone. You can download “YouVersion” or (better yet) download the new Peace App,  (found in Apple Store and Google Play) which provides a Bible. The sermon will walk us through sola scriptura references allowing you to mark up your Bible for future reference!

Lastly, introducing a Peace Guest Instructor, Mr. Jim Sturgeon, a retired attorney, CPA and Reformation scholar who will present, “Luther As Pastor” in a 20 minute “Ted Talk” style presentation in the sanctuary from 10:20-10:40! This gifted scholar and Reformation story-teller will hold your attention fast this Sunday and for the next two Sundays giving us interesting insights into the Luther and the incredible dynamics of the reformation that changed the world!

Remember, we’re back to two worship times at 9a and 11a!

See you then, Good Lord willing,

Pastor Karl 
Tuesday, 17 October 2017 11:34

Introducing the "5 Solas"

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5 Solas. It’s Still About Jesus!
Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation


I’m looking forward to our next 5 weeks of worship together – praying and asking you to pray that we allow God to work his own reformation in us – like he did then, in the 1500’s.  

I’ve always been frustrated by Protestant Reformation celebrations that only celebrate the historical Reformation. I think it’s at least as important – if not more important – to ask God to continue the constant Reformation of the heart to trust in:

·         Scripture Alone as our final authority

·         Grace Alone as God’s Unconditional Love for us all

·         Faith Alone as the only thing that saves

·         Christ Alone as the ultimate focus of all people everywhere

·         To God Alone be the Glory!

As such, we’ll be celebrating the amazing history of the Protestant Reformation that literally changed the face of the world at the time AND asking God to lead us through “Reformational Activities” such as:

·         Bring Your Bible to Church (starting this Sunday, Oct 22nd)

·         Participate in a Peace Home Church, our new, small group ministry launching

·         Download the Peace App designed to integrate our vision and mission on your smartphone

·         Celebrate the launch of our first (partially online) Youth Confirmation Class

·         Celebrate the launch of our first “Discipleship > Membership” designed to invite visitors, and all of us, to become growing disciples

First, will you join me in prayer? Pray thanksgiving for the Protestant Reformation of the 1500’s and the “solas” it launched. Pray that the same Holy Spirit create in us “Reformational Activities” designed to make sure, it’s still all about Jesus!

More details to come… I wanted to get out a quick note and ask you to pray, pray, pray and then look forward to see what God is doing among us, today!

Pastor Karl 
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