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530 Slide -1 Year Later

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Father Tim Sauer & Pastor Jim Jacobson (photo by Stephen Brashear)

Recently, I was invited to attend the Long Term Recovery Group for the Carleton Complex Fires of 2014.* That meeting was very difficult, as our friends on the East side have not had a fraction of the media exposure or financial assistance that poured into the Stilly Valley after the March 22nd tragedy. The main difference of course was that there was not the overwhelming loss of life.

One of the things that I shared at that meeting, was that as a man of faith, I looked at the 530 slide through that lens, and have always sought to see what good thing God was going to do in our community. I think it’s always good to view even the worst of circumstances that way. We need to believe that God is at work in every situation. It’s my belief that He is especially active in times of brokenness.

As we remember those in our community who have suffered, and continue to mourn the loss of friends and family, I’d like to point out some good things that are happening, and continue to happen.

At the top of my list would be the outpouring of support from around the world. Volunteers and donations poured in from all over the world as people were moved by the heartache and loss of others. This truly was, and continues to be, a great source of encouragement.
Our small church gave, and also received donations from other churches near and far. That money was all spent to assist those in need.
It was a great privilege to be the conduit of assistance. If you gave, thank you!
As co-chair of the 530 Slide Long Term Recovery Group, we are continuing to provide assistance as needs are brought to us… that difficult and important work is ongoing.

Next, and perhaps in a more personally moving way, I have seen the community come together like no other time that I have experienced.
The faith community, in spite of differences in theology and praxis, has enjoyed a wonderful year of cooperation, to love the community -from Arlington to Darrington. While we generally held no malice of one another prior to the community disaster, the relief effort has brought many individuals and groups together, who prior, simply had no occasion to work together. In this last year, I have often considered Jesus’ prayer for unity (John 17:11-23) and Paul’s repeated admonition of the same (Ephesians 4:3).

As a Christian of nearly 30 years, and over two decades of pastoral practice, I believe that I have grown more in love and tolerance in the last year, than the previous 20. I have seen personal prejudice and spiritual pride give way to love and true christian unity in my own heart.
I have learned, and am continuing to learn, that the church of Jesus is made up of many tribes, as it were, and that my own is not necessarily His only, or best intention.

Though there remain non-negotiable theological beliefs and practices, there is unity in our belief in Jesus as Lord, and salvation by faith alone in Him alone. My personal relationships with those of Catholic, Free Methodist, Foursquare, and other individuals has been a great blessing over the last year. In particular, my relationship with Father Tim Sauer, who pastors the Catholic churches in both Arlington and Darrington has been a remarkable surprise… to him as well. Recently, he and I were featured in an article for NW Catholic Magazine. (see page 20)

There remains much opportunity for the gospel to impact our community. In the days, weeks, and months, ahead, I look forward to continuing to look for ways to bring the good news, and the transformative love of Christ to the community, -and at times doing that arm in arm with my brothers and sisters from different groups!

This Friday, March 20th, many pastors and churches will be coming together to worship the Lord and pray for our community. Please consider joining us. The Gathering Together In Hope event will be at 7PM at the Darrington Community Center Gymnasium (570 Sauk Ave)

God is at work in the Stilly Valley. Come and see.

* The financial need of those impacted in Eastern Washington State remains overwhelming, with nearly 250 primary residences destroyed and little resource and infrastructure to rebuild. Please consider making a donation to those in need. Call (509) 433-7260 for more information.

 

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Christian Myths: Who Is And Who Is Not A Christian

One of the common misconceptions regarding the identity of “who is a Christian” is the belief that being Christian is about what you do.
Many people believe that select good works outweigh bad behavior, and that God is looking for those good works to consider one worthy for heaven, or His favor.

It’s true that the bible is full of instructions about behavior. There are hundreds of rules in Old Testament law relating to Israel specifically and many more in the New Testament, relating to Christian behavior. However, none of these prescribed behaviors was intended to bring an individual into a right relationship with God. Rather, they were given as a model of behavior for those already in a right relationship with God.

Here is what Jesus said about the subject, and mind you, He spoke this to one of the nations top religious leaders… someone we might consider a very “good” man:

Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” -John 3:3
This was part of a conversation with Nicodemus, it would be good to read the entire conversation in John 3 to get an idea of all that Jesus said. Repeatedly in the conversation Jesus pointed to this concept of having a spiritual transformation from within, which He referred to as being “born again.” He actually made it clear that short of that, one could not “see the kingdom of God” nor could they “enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Since Jesus is the Christ, the source of our Christian faith, it is important to understand what He Himself said on the matter of who is and is not Christian. He went on, in John chapter 3, to direct Nicodemus to the one thing he needed to do, to unlock, as it were, this idea of rebirth:
“…so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” -John 3:15-16*
The Apostle Paul confirmed this teaching, explaining that salvation is by faith in Jesus: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  -Romans 5:1*

To be a Christian, one must believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ, relying on Him and Him alone for salvation. Good works are just that, good works, but they cannot cause you to be born again.
Billy Graham has a great video out that clarifies some of these points. You can watch it online here: https://myhopewithbillygraham.org/program/heaven/

* all scripture is NASB and emphasis is mine

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2015 in Doctrine, Evangelism

 

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2014 Retrospective

I watched the movie “Live, Die, Repeat” recently, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It’s kind a like a military, sci-fi version of “Groundhogs Day” but with a lot fewer laughs and a lot more action.
It got me thinking… in light of the New Year, about all the events of the last year. Many great things happened in 2014, but there were also some missteps along the way. Probably a lot like you, I said things I wished I hadn’t, and held back things I should’ve said. I was blessed to be involved in many good works, yet I’m nagged by the good things I failed to do. I’m not living with regret, I trust the Lord and his ability to make good out of even the worst of circumstances. Nevertheless, it’s important for all of us to learn from our mistakes, and to apply those lessons as we grow and move forward in our lives.

I would suggest the following retrospective questions as you consider the new year…

1. What things did I say, that didn’t need to be said?

2. Where was I dishonest, either lying, or withholding accuracy in my statements?

3. What things that I engage in that were a waste of time and energy?

4. What things did I fail to do, that would’ve been a blessing to others?

5. In what ways did my life honor the Lord, and in what ways did I dishonor Him or his name?

6. Could it be said that I loved too much, or too little?

7. Does my checkbook register accurately reflect what I believe about the Kingdom of God and His work on earth?

8. If my coworkers, or neighbors, were tasked with writing a summary of what they see in me, what would that look like?

9. Did I spend too much time in 2014 praying?

10. Do I plan on applying new lessons in 2015, or simply repeating the same old patterns?

May God bless you with His own richness in the coming year. May you know His grace, love, and peace.
– Jim

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Meditation, Real Life

 

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On Faith.

This week as we looked at Romans 4 and the faith of Abraham, I thought this quote from Pastor Chuck was a good reminder of the blessings of that faith that God supplies…

Faith believes the promises of God. Unbelief doubts God’s promises.

Faith believes the Word of God because it is true. Unbelief doubts the truth of the Word.

Faith sees that God’s help is greater than any force that can come against you. Unbelief looks at the problems and declares it just can’t be done.

Faith sees Christ’s love when He is reproving you. Unbelief imagines anger in Christ’s loving words.

Faith helps the soul to wait when God delays. Unbelief gives up if there is any tarrying at all.

Faith gives you comfort in the midst of fear. Unbelief brings you fear in the midst of comfort.

Faith makes heavy burdens light. Unbelief makes light burdens heavy.

Faith helps us when we are down. Unbelief brings us down when we are up.

Faith brings us near to God when we are far from Him. Unbelief puts us far from God when He is near.

Faith sets men and women free. Unbelief holds them in bondage.

Faith purifies our hearts. Unbelief pollutes our hearts.

Faith makes our most feeble works acceptable to God through Christ. Unbelief makes even our greatest works unacceptable, for whatsoever is not of faith is sin, and without faith it is impossible to please God.

Faith brings peace to our soul. Unbelief brings strife and trouble, like the tossing waves of the sea.

Faith causes us to see the preciousness of Christ. Unbelief sees no beauty that we should desire Him.

Faith helps us experience fullness in Christ. Unbelief leads to leanness of soul.

Faith gives us victory. Unbelief leads to defeat.

Faith causes us to see glory in the things of the unseen world. Unbelief sees only the misery and the things of the present, material world.

By faith Abraham was given the Land of Promise. By unbelief Moses was not allowed to enter the land.

By faith the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea. By unbelief they perished in the wilderness.

By faith Peter walked on the water. By unbelief he began to sink.

Through faith our cup runs over. Through unbelief the cup is always empty.

-Chuck Smith / “Faith”

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

DeHaan on criticizing the Pastor…

If the pastor is young, they say he lacks experience. If his hair is gray, he is too old for the young people. If he has five or six children, he is irresponsible; if he has no children, he is setting a bad example. If he uses a lot of illustrations, he neglects the Bible; if he does not use enough, he is not relevant. If he condemns wrong deeds, he’s cranky; if he does not, he’s compromising. If he drives an old car, he shames his congregation; if he drives a new one, he’s setting his affection on earthly things. -Richard DeHann / Men Sent From God

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in Just For Fun

 

The Life Saving Station

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur stood a lifesaving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Many of those who were rescued and also others from the surrounding area wished to become associated with the station and to give their time, money, and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The lifesaving station grew.
In time some of the crew became concerned that the station was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more commodious place should be provided as the first refuge of those snatched from the sea. The emergency cots were replaced with beds, and better furniture was purchased for the enlarged building. The station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely. Fewer members were now interested in leaving the plush station to go to sea on lifesaving missions. So they hired surrogates to do that work. However, they retained the lifesaving motif in the club’s decorations, and a ceremonial lifeboat lay in the room where club initiations were held.
One dark stormy night a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick and obviously from distant shores. The station was in chaos. The event was so traumatic that the people contracted for outbuildings to be constructed so future shipwrecks could be processed with less disruption.
Eventually a rift developed in the station. Most of the members wanted to discontinue the station’s lifesaving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to their normal social life. Some insisted, however, that rescue was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. But the latter were ignored and told that if they wanted to keep lifesaving as their primary purpose, they could begin their own station down the coast, which they did. Over time those individuals fell prey to the same temptations as the first group, coming to care more about comforting one another than rescuing the perishing. After a while a few, remembering their real purpose, split off to establish yet another lifesaving station. And on and on it went. Today if you visit that seacoast, you will find a number of impressive lifesaving stations along the shore. Sadly, shipwrecks still occur in those waters, but most people are lost.

-R. Kent Hughes (Adapted from “The Life Saving Station by Theodore Wedel)

 

Future Unsatisfiable Lust…

There is only one longing of the heart of man that will be satisfied in the future: that of the Christian’s longing for Jesus and the revelation of His righteous kingdom. For the sinner, who rejects Jesus and the offer of salvation, there will remain the lust of the flesh, possibly intensifying, yet without the physical ability to satisfy that same longing. Gone will be the myth of the “party in hell”, replaced by the eternal reality apart from the goodness of God.

“…Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION” -2 Corinthians 6:2

 

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2014 in Meditation

 

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