God’s Creation

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By Jim DeAngelo

Sandra and I enjoyed a mini getaway for three days. We had a beautiful drive from home to Packwood along the foothills of Mount Rainier. The day was sunny, warm, and clear. We discussed how awesome God’s creation is.

In Colossians 1:15-16, Paul talks about Christ being the firstborn over all creation. “For by Him all things were created: Things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.”

I find God’s creation profound and will always wonder how people can dismiss the Creator and still see the wonders that surround us. As I take time to meditate on these wonders, I am awed by the magnificence of Christ. It is good to think on these things daily and be overcome by all we see.

This realization encourages me to actively participate in sharing my experiences and learnings with others. It encourages me to share the gospel, the profound blessings from knowing the Creator, not just the creation, as well as the greatness of Christ to any and all who will listen. Matthew 28:19 — “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

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Five Minutes on Hell

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by Dan Amos

Before Pastor Martin’s latest sermon, he mentioned to me that he’d be preaching on my “favorite subject.” That could have meant all kinds of things, so I hesitatingly asked him what that would be. His answer was, “Hell.” I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be known as the guy whose favorite sermon topic is Hell. It’s definitely not my favorite topic, but it is one I’ve been known to say we need to hear about more often.

Hell is one of those uncomfortable topics. The reality is we will exist eternally and we will do so in one of two places. You can think of it as a carrot and a stick. Heaven should motivate us in a positive way, and Hell should be a negative motivator. Once we die, our opportunity to repent and be saved ends and our eternal fate will ultimately be judged.

For those who have received Christ, Heaven will be a place of indescribable beauty and constant wonder. It will be a place of absolute fulfillment, intimate communion with our Creator, and productive activity. It won’t be sitting on clouds, dressed like a cherub and strumming a harp. Who would want that?

The other option, as well as the antithesis to Heaven, is Hell and the lake of fire. It won’t be a party. It won’t be a place of torment by Satan and his demons; it was created as a place of torment for them. In our rebellion, we chose that as our default destination, too. It will be a place of unending, infinite torment, loneliness, separation, unquenchable desires, and pain.

Those are the two options. None other exists. It is a difficult reality, but it is the reality Jesus repeatedly and fervently told us about. He died to save us from one and adopt us into the other. And we believe that God commands everyone everywhere to believe the gospel by turning to Him in repentance and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. And for salvation, there is no other choice.

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AN OLD PRAYER MADE NEW

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by Nate Champneys

I remember a time this past winter when I was brutally honest with God. I let Him have it. I called the Complaint Department and I laid into Him. Giving had been down, and I was lacking people to serve in different ministry positions. I remember sitting in my car, having this fierce conversation with Him: “God, why don’t You give us more money so we can accomplish all the things we want to as a church?! God, why haven’t You given me the people that I need to fill all my ministry positions?! I feel like You are intentionally making my life difficult here, Jesus!”

The strangest, oddest thing happened. The end of the Lord’s Prayer popped into my head. “For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.” Now let me tell you why this is strange. Will you allow me to be completely transparent with you for a moment? I have hated the Lord’s Prayer for many years. Yes, I said, “hated.” You’re thinking, “What?! Nate, you’re a pastor. You can’t say that!” Let me explain.

When I was a child we recited the Lord’s Prayer very often at the church we attended, and really, it was kind of creepy sounding as everyone recited it as a sort of mantra. But, more than that, I have always valued the fact that, because of Jesus’ work on the cross, we are now made to be His children. I can talk to Him like a son talks to a father. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer almost irritated me because saying a bunch of prewritten words is not how I talk to my real-life father. Why would I want to talk to my heavenly Father that way?

Now you can see why these words popping into my head was almost funny. But let me tell you, that day those words had more meaning to me than they ever had in my entire life. I understood them in that moment with perfect clarity. Jesus prayed that prayer as an example to us of complete surrender and dependence. “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.” Jesus was saying, “Father, this is YOUR kingdom that YOU are building, with YOUR power, for YOUR glory.” I sat there in silence. I thought to myself, “Wow, my name isn’t even in there …”

God was saying to me, “Nate, will you quit trying to build your kingdom? This is My kingdom that we’re building here, not yours. It is by My power that it is accomplished, too. You have no power to do anything in this spiritual kingdom I am building. And don’t worry, it’s all for My glory, so even if you did fail it wouldn’t be on you. It would be on Me. (Which, by the way, I don’t think I need to remind you, Nate, I don’t fail at anything.) I really do know what I am doing.” What do you say to something like that?

It is amazing the pressure we put on ourselves to accomplish things that are not even in our control to accomplish, isn’t it? You may be thinking, “Well Nate, that’s great for you. You are a pastor, but how does that apply to me?” Here’s the reality: We all are invited to be a part of building God’s kingdom here on earth, not just pastors. Now I am not talking about church programs and positions. Do you have a friend that you know needs Jesus, but you are afraid to talk to them? Do you have a neighbor that you would love to invite to church, but you are afraid they will say no? Jesus has invited each of us to share in His joy in the building of His kingdom. Many of us miss out altogether by simply refusing to be a part of the process because of fear. Many also set out to be a part of building God’s kingdom, but we take control and want it done our way. That’s a lot of pressure that none of us needs on our shoulders.

In Matthew 28, Jesus told us from his own mouth, to, “Go and make disciples.” Left by ourselves, that is a lot of pressure. But he also said, “I am with you always.” The reality is that you and I have no power to create change in the hearts of others. None. When we acknowledge that truth, we let go of the reins and allow Him to build His kingdom in us and through us.

Jesus, you truly are our Daddy in heaven, but You are also a Holy God, I AM. We desire Your will as You build Your spiritual kingdom in each of us. You hold all things, including us, in Your hands. Just as You have forgiven us far beyond what we deserve, help us to forgive all others. Protect us from ourselves and from the Evil One. This is Your world, Your church, and my life is Yours. It is built by Your power, not mine, and for Your glory and fame, not mine. Your name be lifted high!

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