The Reformation: Luther’s Two Struggles

MartinLuther-workshopCranachElderOn Sunday, October 29th, Bethel Grace will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. I pray it will be a day of heart lifting worship and joy as we celebrate salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

As we look forward to the celebration of Reformation Day, I want to recognize that this recovery of the Gospel was born out of a deep sense of struggle within a particular man’s heart.       Martin Luther carried two heavy burdens, the second perhaps more weighty than the first.  The Reformation took flight as the Lord helped Luther resolve these struggles. On the Lord’s Day, we will learn about these two matters, one during a combined 9 a.m. Sunday school gathering, the second during our 10:30 a.m. worship service.

Continue reading

Advertisements
Posted in Jeff Saltzmann | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Light of the World

 

Solar Eclipse

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. John 3:19-21

I totally forgot about the recent solar eclipse until like 3:00 p.m. on August 21st. I was busy at work and it just didn’t come to mind. It was great that so many people got to see it and recorded it, so I did get to see video and pictures after the fact. Lord willing, I’ll be around for the next one in North America in the year 2024, wear those fun glasses and see it! One thing that was interesting after the eclipse was the radio interviews that I heard from people who had seen it. They talked about the awe and feeling very small in comparison to the magnificence of what they saw.

The eclipse made me think about the verse above in John Chapter 3, particularly in verse 19 about people loving the darkness rather than the light. I was 25 when God saved me from the darkness I had been in. I lived my teen and young adult years knee deep in profanity, immorality, excessive spending, and frequent intoxication of various kinds.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17

Although both these passages state serious things about the sinfulness of mankind, there is also such hope! Who doesn’t need hope? If we come into the Light of Christ we will be saved through the work of God in our lives. We don’t have to stay in the dark!

Several years ago on a family vacation we visited Marvel Cave in Branson, Missouri. It’s a magnificent National Landmark with vast rooms and waterfalls. The lowest room is 505 feet underground. (50 stories down!) It took me several trips to the Silver Dollar City amusement park, where the cave is located, to be brave enough to go into the cave. It was amazing and I’m so very glad that I did! During the tour the guide turned off the lights for a minute. It was incredible how total the darkness is when you’re that far underground. When the lights were turned back on, it was so wonderful to have light again! God’s light through Jesus is just like that and is the ONLY thing that can take away the darkness of my sin. I am thankful to Him for taking it away!

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 9:9-13

 

 

Posted in Lisa Smeaton, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Craving Control

Unraveling and prayer

I recently finished a book that was so practical and inspiring that I wanted to blog about it! It’s entitled Control Girl- Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible by Shannon Popkin. The author shares both her personal struggle with being controlling and gives examples and lessons from several Old Testament women for us to learn from.

The book really lends itself to being studied together in a small group so I contacted a friend who suggested some others and our book group was formed. The book, along with the Bible verses and discussion questions made it an easy format to lead the group. More than that though was the deep personal application that all of us were able to come away with through studying it. I thought I’d share some of it with you in hopes that there are a few other “control girls” out there that may benefit from it.

What is a “Control Girl” anyway?  Well, instead of trusting in and surrendering to God, control girls respond with anger or anxiety along with controlling behaviors and words. The author asks these questions for us to consider: “What do I crave having control over? What do I fear losing control of?” (Anxiety) and “What am I trying to control? Am I angry because I’ve lost control of something?” (Anger)

For me, my response is mostly that of anxiety. I crave control over circumstances that feel out of control and I also tend to care WAY too much what others think of me. I’m the queen of “What if…?” What if I fail? What if they get mad at me? What if I don’t get the job? What if I make a mistake? What if I get cancer? What if they reject me? I crave control over people’s opinions of me, perfection in myself, and a life filled with ease and happiness.

Continue reading

Posted in Lisa Smeaton | Leave a comment

The Five Emotional Stages of a VBS Worker

https://fightoffaithblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/the-five-emotional-stages-of-a-vbs-worker/

As I am swimming in our upcoming “Ocean Commotion” VBS prep right now, Pastor Jeff recommended reposting Doug Eaton’s excellent blog post. Enjoy!!
Lisa Smeaton
Children’s Director

Posted in Lisa Smeaton, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Perspective of Peace

(1) O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. (2) But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. (3) O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.  — Psalm 131

Have you ever felt as ‘helpless as a baby’? Is your life completely under your control? Or, have you found that this world will throw all kinds of trials, trouble, and tribulations at you, sometimes all at once! And yet, as Christians, we are called to weather the troubles and consider them all joy. How is this? How are we supposed to attain this perspective of peace in the midst of the hardships of this life?

Continue reading

Posted in Joe Jacobson | Leave a comment

Are You Bearing Fruit?

Pineapple

Any fruit lovers out there?  I am a fruit lover.  I eat all kinds of fruit all the time. Whenever I eat fruit, there is something that rises up in me and says, “God. is. awesome.”   Pineapple is my favorite.  In the Saltzmann house, we have chopping pineapple down to an art.  But typically we eat the thing as fast as we chop it.   Then there are blueberries. Then apples. Then mangos.  What about kiwi?  I’ll eat just about any fruit you send my way.

The Lord is very much interested in fruit as well.  It’s a metaphor used all through the Bible for the productivity of God’s people.  In the New Testament, we read that the Lord is concerned to produce the fruit of Christlikeness in our lives.  He knows we cannot produce it on our own.  So it comes by the power of the Holy Spirit.

According to Galatians 5, as we keep in step with the Holy Spirit, He will help us overcome sin.  Then He will produce His fruit in our lives. This fruit will come in the form of nine attractive, healthy, life-giving character qualities.

I’d like to provide a reminder of these 9 different qualities spoken of as the fruit of the Spirit.  I’ll give a few works of explanation for each one.  Along the way, be asking yourself if this fruit is evident in your life. I pray you’ll have a longing for it and the Spirit will bring it!

Continue reading

Posted in Jeff Saltzmann, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

sheep

 

 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.  As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God.  I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak.”                                                                                Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-16a

I recently heard a story about “bummer lambs.” These lambs are those who, for a variety of reasons, are rejected by their mothers. It can be due to the mother being old or ill. Sometimes she has twins and is unable to feed all of her babies. In any case, these lambs will die without care from their shepherd. The shepherd takes the lamb into his home and bottle feeds and cares for it until it’s strong enough to return to the flock. Once it returns, whenever the shepherd calls the sheep, the bummer lambs run first to their shepherd. The story that was shared talked about how we are all “bummer lambs” and that Jesus, our Good Shepherd, saves, feeds and cares for us just like a shepherd does with his sheep.

Continue reading

Posted in Lisa Smeaton | Leave a comment