God’s Grace

Titus 2:11

Because the Christmas story is somewhat familiar for many of us, I sometimes wonder if we are vulnerable to glossing over the gravity of what really happened so many years ago in Bethlehem.  We remember the shepherds and the angels and the manger, and in fact all of these details of the story contribute in one sense to the wonder of the Christmas story.  Though the details of the story provoke respectful thought, the question that stirs “awe” is the question, “Why?”  Christmas is an occasion for us to ask again the question, “Why did Jesus come?”  As we honestly ask that question, we inevitably find ourselves colliding with a theme that runs like a river throughout the biblical story.  It is a characteristic of God that confounds reason and natural expectation.  This beautiful theme and this amazing attribute of God is grace.  God’s grace shouts from the Christmas story to those with ears to hear!  Grace is not merely an abstract idea. It is a beautiful expression of God’s love that came to earth embodied in the One who was laid in the manger.  Join us on Christmas Eve at 4 PM as celebrate “Christmas grace”, and as we unpack a powerful statement found in Titus 2:11.

Pastor Tim Haugen

Immanuel Impact: Hope for Ragged Lives

Genesis 28:10-17

This Christmas season we have focused some teaching on the stunning and practical implications of “God being with us.”  Jesus was called Immanuel, “God with us.”  While Jesus was indeed God wrapped in humanity (John 1:14), the biblical story throughout makes reference to God’s desire to be with us.  It impacts the way we respond to fear, and “God with us” impacts the degree to which we courageously step out in faith.  Interestingly, God’s desire to be with us is not necessarily conditioned by our readiness.  In a passage that beautifully illustrates God’s amazing grace and His loving initiative, God came to a guy named Jacob at a time when Jacob’s life was a mess.  At a critical time in Jacob’s life when he was facing into the consequences of his pattern of deception, God comes and ministers to Jacob through a dream.  And God tells Jacob that He would be with him wherever Jacob went (Genesis 28:15).  It was an announcement of hope to a guy who was bracing for the possibility of impending crisis.  At Christmas, we are reminded that Jesus entered a world that was “walking in darkness” (Isaiah 9:2).  God wants to meet us where we are.  He takes initiative to come to us and “be with us” – not necessarily in response to our pursuit of Him, but because He loves us right where we are. There is grace, and there is hope. For those with ragged lives who are willing to pause and look in God’s direction, there is the possibility of some glorious surprise.

Immanuel Impact: Courage

Joshua 1:1-9

One of the astounding realities in all of history is that Jesus came as Immanuel – “God with us.”  Interestingly, the whole of the Bible reveals a God who promises to be near believers, and who desires to be with us. He is a relational God.  This Christmas season we are looking at some Old Testament passages where God ties a particular challenge to the promise of His presence. God challenged a young leader named Joshua to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:1-9), and then He reminded Joshua that He would be with him wherever he went.  People of faith take risks. God is honored when we courageously trust Him.  Rather than playing it safe, courageous believers take God at His Word, they lean on His promises, and they dare to trust God for unexplainable advance. Followers of Jesus can live with the assurance that the Savior we follow is indeed “God with us.” Join us this Sunday as we are reminded that courage can be one more practical implication of personally knowing the LORD as “Immanuel.”

Pastor Tim Haugen

Life Songs: Master Builder

Psalm 127

When one builds a house, the selection of a builder is a vitally important decision. Usually you want to know something of the track record of a builder in order to come to conclusions about reputation.  Choosing your builder when it comes to a house is important.  It’s even more critical to wisely select your builder when it comes to a life.  In Psalm 127, we have a song that was written by Solomon.  It’s a wisdom song.  While we normally think of the Proverbs when we think of Solomon’s writings, there is this Psalm that was penned by Solomon.  It seems that Solomon is warning against foolishly building your life in a way that ignores God and His leadership in life.  Ultimately that is futile.  So if God is to be the builder where your life is concerned, how can you meaningfully partner with Him in the ‘building project?’  What might that look like?  You can lead a life that God builds and directs, or one that you build and direct.  Whatever you decide, it’s important to know that the final outcomes are going to vastly different.

Pastor Tim Haugen

Life Songs: A Litany of Love

Psalm 103

On this Sunday before Thanksgiving, we want to pause and intentionally remember the many ways God has expressed His lovingkindness toward us. In the collection of songs we have in the Old Testament book of Psalms, there is a song written by David where he urged his own soul to “not forget the benefits” of knowing God and living in relationship with Him.  Though Thanksgiving is a national holiday, it would be wonderful if this season of thanks could actually catalyze “a posture of thanks” in us throughout the year.  This song is a wonderful reminder of the myriad of ways God has poured out His blessing on us. Because our hearts can be fickle and our memory can be short, we do well to deliberately recall the “litany of love expressions” that God has poured out on us.

Pastor Tim Haugen

Life Songs: After the Trainwreck

After the Trainwreck
Psalm 51

When you’ve made a series foolish choices and life comes crashing down on you, where do you turn?  The story of King David provides us with some counsel.  It is sobering to honestly face the gravity of our own offense against God.  In David’s case, he had known the joy of trusting God and savoring a close and meaningful fellowship with God.  Yet during mid-life, he made a series of self-indulgent, sinful, and perplexing decisions.  Though David had tried for a time to ignore and cover up the ugliness of what he had chosen, and though for a number of months his heart became hard and distant from God, God never let go of David.   Psalm 51 was a song that David wrote after finally surrendering and turning back to God.  It is a beautiful song of surrender and confession.  For those of us who may wonder if some past sin is so heinous it could never be forgiven, this song is a helpful reminder that there is a way back to God.  Long after David’s life was over, the New Testament book of Acts remembered David as “a man after God’s heart.” It seems David’s repentance was more beautiful than his fall was ugly. The mercy of God is stunning in its reach, and hope-igniting for people willing to honestly surrender to God.

Pastor Tim Haugen

Life Songs: Hope When You’re Against a Wall

Psalm 77

Life can be hard.  In the shadows, light is obscured.  Nevertheless, the shadow is not all there is.  There is light, and there is hope.  Psalm 77 is really a wonderful song of hope.  It is an honest song.  Asaph writes with honest lament during a season of trouble.  There is value for all of us to learn something of the biblical practice of lament.  In this song we learn that the expression of honest lament can meaningfully precede a reaffirmation of hope.  The middle verse of Psalm 77 is like a pivot point, moving the song from lament to hope.  Healthy lament moves toward revitalizing hope.  In this song we see how the two go together, and how we can move from despair to new resolve through intentionally remembering what God has already done.  We intentionally remember what God has done in the past so that we can look to the future with hope.

Pastor Tim Haugen

Life Songs: God Is Not Silent

Psalm 19:1-11

Many years ago the late Francis Schaefer wrote a book that he simply titled, “He is there, and He is not silent.” In other words, God is present – and He speaks. God communicates. He has spoken and He is speaking. Someone might fairly ask, “How is He speaking?” That brings us to Psalm 19. In this “life song” we’re going to see that God communicates in various ways, but there are two primary categories in which He speaks. He speaks through what is referred to as general revelation, and secondly, through special revelation. While general revelation points us to the reality of God, it is through His special revelation that we discover that we can relate to God and be loved by Him and content in Him. In this teaching we are going to be confronted with the truth that God is there, and He is not silent. He communicates with those who have “ears to hear,” and who pause long enough to look in His direction.

Pastor Tim Haugen

Life Songs: Satisfied in God

Psalm 23

In a world of uncertainty, contentment can be elusive.  Sadly, we can be vulnerable to supposing that the managing of our circumstances can ensure contentment.  However, both life experience and the story of the Bible remind us that people can have desirable circumstances and still be discontent.  Perhaps one of the most arresting pictures of contentment is a song that was recorded in the Bible.  It is referred to as the 23rd Psalm.  While it is a Psalm that is often read at funerals, in reality it is a song that actually provides wise counsel for life.  It is provocative in its assertion that contentment is not grounded in our circumstance, but in something, or rather someone, far more enduring and foundational.  Join us as we hear from God about a gift of durable contentment that transcends circumstance.

Pastor, Tim Haugen

Stories of Impact: The Parable of the Soils

“How Many Apples Are in the Seed?”
Luke 8:4-15

Jesus told a sobering story about a farmer who scattered seed on different types of soil. He made it clear that he measure of the harvest is related to the soil where the seed lands. In this provocative story Jesus told, we discover that the various soils refer to various types of hearts. The yield, or the fruitfulness of the seed, is related to the readiness of the soil. How can we be increasingly fruitful, and how can our lives have greater impact? It all depends on where the seed lands. In this message we are going to think together about how the soil of our hearts can become soil that results in the seed bearing MUCH fruit.

Pastor Tim Haugen