Monday, April 28, 2014

The Church’s Frightful Kodak Moment

“I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:10

An Interesting Read

The Church’s Frightful Kodak Moment by Thom Schultz

Kodak dominated the photographic scene for over 100 years. It commanded an 89 percent market share of photographic film sales in the United States. Almost everyone used the brand. And the company’s advertising language of a “Kodak moment” became part of the common lexicon.  To read more use the link below.
 Praise Report
 God continues to move in mighty ways through our congregation. Along me just to show you his blessings by the numbers.  In 2013: our worship attendance averaged 1287 on a weekend; at least 501 different people were involved in Bible classes; 199 children were served in our Lutheran Elementary School K-8th grade; 47 adults were confirmed in the Christian faith and 61 children were brought into Jesus’ family through baptism.  Some people have said to me, “John, you are a numbers person.”  My answer is, “You’re right!  Every number represents a soul Jesus died for.  You bet numbers matter!”

Did You Ever Wonder??? 

Q:  When were angels created?
A:  The Bible tells us that only God is eternal and uncreated (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-2).  The Bible also teaches that God created everything in six days (Genesis 1; Exodus 20:11).  This includes the angels (Colossians 1:16).  What the Bible does not tell us is on what day of creation week God created the angels, although some believe Job 38:6-8 points to the beginning of creation week.

While the time of the angels' creation is a mystery for us, their existence is not.  How wonderful it is to know that they carry out the will of God in serving God's children on earth (Psalm 91:11; 103:20; Hebrews 1:14)!

The Next Sermon Series

Tough Questions Christians Hope No One Asks Them

May 4, 2014                       Why do you think Jesus was God?

May 11, 2014                     Why should I believe God sends people to hell?

ACTS:  Be Part of the Movement

May 18, 2014                     Confirmation Weekend

May 25, 2014                     ACTS – Acts 5:12-16       Supernatural Attraction

June 1, 2014                       ACTS – Acts 5:17-42       No Lock Strong Enough

June 8, 2014                       ACTS – 6:1-7   Time To Grow

June 15, 2014                    ACTS – 6:8-15   Stephen’s Stand

I look forward to seeing you this weekend!

          Pastor John Parlow

Sunday, April 20, 2014

It's THE Day!

If there was a single day that they marked on the calendar, it was this one. Christmas was important, and Pentecost marked the birth of what would become known as Christianity, but for the 1st century believers, this day was THE day - Easter. The resurrection was the central theme of Peter and Paul’s sermon and the event that catapulted Christianity out of the 1st century. It’s likely if there was no Easter we would not have heard of Jesus today.

You see, Christianity, unlike other world religions, is not held together by the teachings of one person. This shocks a lot of people who sit in rows on a Sunday morning. If all we had were the teachings of Jesus, it’s very likely Christianity would not have made it out of the 1st century. When you think about it, Jesus taught some very “strange” truths. Here’s just one example: Jesus said, “Love your enemy.” Now that will draw a crowd! Jesus taught, “Pray for those who persecute you.” What kind of message is that? If we think that is strange today, imagine what his 1st century audience must have thought! They were Jewish people who were occupied and controlled by the Roman government. The Romans were ruthless in their control of Jerusalem. The Jews knew who their enemies were; their enemies were those people standing around in armor and with swords. Now, Jesus comes along and says, “Pray for those who persecute you. Love your enemy.” That’s the guy I want to follow? Probably not!

If all we had were the claims of Jesus, we probably would have never heard of Jesus after he died. For example, Jesus went throughout his ministry claiming that he was the Son of God in the flesh. As strange as that claim was for many of his 1st century audience, it was not uncommon. There were several who claimed to be the Messiah before Jesus. Theudas had claimed to be the Messiah and tried to prove it by promising to split the waters of the Jordan River with a word. The waters continued to flow! The famous Egyptian pretender (Acts 21:38) had promised that with a word he would lay flat the walls of Jerusalem to prove he was the Messiah. One is still standing today! Simon Magus had promised to fly through the air. He did not stick the landing and died in the attempt. If all we had were the claims of Jesus, it is likely we wouldn’t be talking about him today.

It wasn’t Jesus’ teachings and it wasn’t Jesus’ claims that got his name out of the 1st century. It is something that he did. It was one single event in history that took cowardly disciples, who hid during Jesus’ trial and denied who he was, and turned them around, heading them right back into the same neighborhood saying, “We believe he is who he claimed to be, not because of something he taught, not because of something he claimed and not because we saw him die on a cross; but because of something he did. We saw him arrested, crucified, buried and three days later we had a meal with him. He is alive, he is alive, he is alive!” It was Jesus’ resurrection that catapulted him out of the 1st century. It is the resurrection that makes Easter THE day.

I am, by nature, a very skeptical person. But do you know why I believe the origin of life cannot be explained by a theory that says “nobody times nothing equals everything”; do you know why I believe that when I pray someone hears and answers my prayers (not always in the way I like); do you know why I believe the Bible’s definition of marriage and the family is best; do you know why I believe hell is for real; do you know why I believe there is only one way to heaven? It’s because Jesus said so and he is the only person who ever predicted his own death and resurrection … and three days later pulled it off in front of countless witnesses.

And one day when you are sitting at the bedside of a loved one, when his strength is failing, the end draws near and his time has come, it is comforting to know that because THE historic day we celebrate today occurred another is scheduled for the future – the time you’ll meet your believing loved one again. And, believe me, that will be a great event all because of this one day, THE day called Easter.

Happy Easter!

-Dr. John Parlow, Lead Pastor

Friday, April 18, 2014

What is so good about Good Friday?

When I was a little boy, I used to be very afraid of the dark.  Out at my grandparents’ farm one of the worst jobs my grandma gave to me was to feed the cats in the barn before bed.  It was dark.  It was scary.  And I’d always end up stepping on a cat, which scared me even more.  The only comfort I had was the flashlight in my hand.
I’ve got a confession to make.  I’m still afraid of the dark.  It’s not what you think though.  I’m not afraid of the darkness outside of me, like when I was a kid.  Now, I’m afraid of the darkness inside of me.  The darkness of sin within me is the place where fear, guilt, and shame reside.
Have you ever stopped to think about why we struggle with being real with others?  Why do we struggle sharing the temptations with which we struggle?  Why do we struggle with confessing our sins?  It’s fear.  It’s guilt.  It’s shame.  Isn’t it?
Do you realize the significance of what took place on that Friday we call good?  Here’s why it’s good.  In those three hours of darkness when the sun stopped shining because the Son of God was forsaken by the Father, Jesus suffered the pain of hell: all of the fear, all of the guilt, all of the shame in our place.  That’s why he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46).  In those three hours of darkness, God the Father turned his back on God the Son.  He took the fall for an undeserving world.
In those three hours of darkness, Jesus erased the power of darkness by paying the price in full for our forgiveness.  He cried out “Tetelesthai” which we have translated, “It is finished.  That word was a market place term in those days.  If you took out a three year loan on a new those days it would have been a new donkey, on the day you paid back the full amount they would stamp "Tetelesthai" on your bank note.  It means “Paid in full.”  Do you recognize the significance of Jesus saying that from the cross?  It means he paid in full the price for our every sinner who has ever lived to enter into heaven.  That's what makes Good Friday good.
If you think that's too good to be true, that it's a myth.  Guess again.  Not only does the Bible say it's true.  Even the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus says it's true.  “At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous.  Many people among the Jews and other nations became his disciples.  Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die.  But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship.  It was reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive.  Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders. And the tribe of the Christians named after him, has not disappeared to this day” (Jewish Antiquities; xviii, 65).  It's a historical fact.  Jesus died and rose again and really said, "It is finished."
We don't need to live in fear and shame and guilt any longer.  He paid the price.  Let’s not hide in the darkness any longer.  Every sin has already been paid for.  No fear.  No guilt.  No shame.  Only love, forgiveness and a home in heaven waiting for us.  It is finished.  Jesus wins.  Believe it. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why Didn't Jesus Jump?

“I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:10

Praise Report  

God continues to move in mighty ways through our congregation. Allow me just to show you his blessings by the numbers.  In 2013: our worship attendance averaged 1287 on a weekend; at least 501 different people were involved in Bible classes; 47 adults were confirmed in the Christian faith and 61 children were brought into Jesus’ family through baptism.  Some people have said to me, “John, you are a numbers person.”  My answer is, “You’re right!  Every number represents a soul Jesus died for.  You bet numbers matter!”

Did You Ever Wonder???

Q:  Did you ever wonder why the devil took Jesus up to the top of the Temple in Jerusalem and told him to jump? (Matthew 4:5-6)

A:  The Temple was built on the top of Mount Zion. The top of the mountain was leveled out into a plateau, and on that plateau the whole area of the Temple buildings stood. There was one corner at which Solomon's Porch and the Royal Porch met, and at that corner there was a sheer drop of four hundred and fifty feet into the valley of the Kedron below. Why shouldn’t Jesus stand on that pinnacle, and jump down, and land unharmed in the valley below?  People would surely take notice and would follow a man who could do that!  

On the top of the roof of the Temple itself there was a place where every morning a priest stood with a trumpet in his hands, waiting for the first flush of the dawn across the hills of Hebron. At the first dawn light he sounded the trumpet to tell people that the hour of morning sacrifice had come. Why shouldn’t Jesus stand there, and jump down right into the Temple court, and amaze people? Had not Malachi said, "The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his Temple"? (Malachi 3:1). Was there not a promise that the angels would carry God's Son with their hands making sure no harm comes to him? (Psalms 91:11-12).

This was the very method that the false Messiahs who were continually arising promised. Theudas had led the people out, and had promised with a word to split the waters of Jordan in two. The famous Egyptian pretender (Acts 21:38) had promised that with a word he would lay flat the walls of Jerusalem. Simon Magus, so it is said, had promised to fly through the air and had died in the attempt. These pretenders had offered miracles which they could not perform. Jesus could perform anything he promised. Why shouldn’t he do it?

There were two good reasons why Jesus did not adopt that course of action. First, he who seeks to attract people to him by providing them with “a show” has adopted a way in which there is literally no future. The reason is simple. To retain his power he must produce ever greater and greater “shows”.  This year's sensation is next year's Netflix feature. A gospel founded on miracle-mongering is doomed to failure. Second, that is not the way to use the power of God. "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test," said Jesus (Deuteronomy 6:16). He meant this; there is no good seeing how far you can go with God; there is no good in putting yourself deliberately into harms way, and doing it quite recklessly and needlessly, and then expecting God to rescue you from it. (Barclay commentary used)

The Next Sermon Series

Tough Questions Christians Hope No One Asks Them

April 20, 2014
Isn’t believing in an empty tomb the same as the Easter bunny?

April 27, 2014                  
Why rely on religion in an age of science?

May 4, 2014                      
One Asks – Why do you think Jesus was God?

May 11, 2014                    
Why should I believe God sends people to hell?

       I look forward to seeing you this weekend!

                                 Dr. John Parlow

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"Lord have mercy!"

"Lord have mercy!" 
Your birth, summer in the pool, muscles at the beach, singing, graduating, dating, marriage, honeymoon, new baby, first steps, playing in the snow and hearing daddy for the first time – what is the most important moment of your life so far? Are they the happy times like these, the tower moments of your life? Although it sounds a bit crazy I think the most important moments of your life are more than the happy times. The most powerful moments of life are the ones not often found on Facebook or talked about on the ride home. The bad grade you received back in school, the person that broke up with you, the complications at birth, the scary diagnosis at the hospital, or the news you get over the phone that causes you to melt down into a chair, may be so much more valuable than we recognize and even a gift from a loving God. Check out these passages to find out what I mean.

“As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” (Matthew 9:27)

“A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” (Matthew 15:22)

“When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water.” (Matthew 17:14)

“Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matthew 20:30-31)

If you went back and read the context of each of those stories you would find out how Jesus answered their prayers. Each of them was healed in a miraculous way. Jesus brought those men sight. Jesus drove out the demon. Jesus stopped the boy’s seizures. Amazing! If they had a Facebook timeline you better believe there would’ve been pictures, posts, invites to parties. Every year they could look back on the anniversary of Jesus showing up and showing off. I get emotional just thinking about what that would mean for me if I were in their shoes and it was my eyes, my daughter, my son… Yet the miracles were not the powerful moments that changed their lives forever. Those powerful moments came earlier, when their issue first surfaced – when they realized they needed help and when they were brought to the realization that Jesus was the only one who could. They were in the position where they deeply needed grace and mercy – they were on their knees. Their life’s situation leading up to this one simple plea, “God have Mercy!”
As painful and crushing as some of the things we live through are, as we study Scripture we realize those moments bring us to our knees so that we would recognize we can’t do it, or we’ve failed, or we’re weak and then we suddenly look for someone who could help and save. It is at that moment when these words can come to our lips. “God have mercy on me! Have mercy on me!” Mercy is pleading that God would not give us what we deserve. It is a setting aside of my ego and clinging to God. This is a position that is uncomfortable, embarrassing, and means that I don’t have everything under control. I am weak – God have mercy on me!
Jesus was and still is greatly concerned about those in need and he shows it with compassion and pity. He does so by going to the heart of the matter. For the first two blind men, they had their faith confirmed. The Canaanite woman whose daughter was sick had her faith tested and then confirmed. The man with a son with seizures was used to test and strengthen the faith of the people watching (the disciples). The other two blind men were used as a testimony to a whole crowd. Jesus’ use of mercy or compassion in healing their physical illnesses brought their attention to something a lot more important – their need for forgiveness and the love and power of a faithful true God, their Savior. Jesus saved them from even more than the pains of sickness and loss but from sin and eternal death. So praise God even for difficult moments and trust in him to see you through them.

Consider this: The worst moments of your life can also be transformed by a loving God to be the most significant and echo into eternity when you know and trust Jesus in the middle of it.

Where would you specifically ask for God’s mercy in your life this month?