From Pastor Jon’s Desk: Change in the Church


When we gather together as a church this Sunday, Pastor Dave will preach a sermon and then many of us will go to our Growth Group either immediately following the service or later that evening. Eventually we will all go home, go to bed, and go on with the rest of our week as if nothing changed… Is this it? Is this the Christian life? Is this why Jesus came to this earth to die…just so that we can funnel through the doors of a building for three hours and then leave? Is this the life that Christ has to offer? The sad fact is that for many Christians (often times myself included) this is reality.

The past few weeks, I have had the new task of forming the Growth Group questions. The passages I have been studying and the passages Pastor Dave has been preaching on have truly been impacting my life. Since I started this task, there is one word that has been racing through my mind, beating in my heart, and pulsing through my veins. That word is CHANGE! Jesus did not come to this earth in order to save us just so that we can continue in a more comfortable, pleasant lifestyle. He SAVED us in order to CHANGE us.

When the word CHANGE is thrown around in Christianity, people tend to love the idea, but hate the reality. Change sounds so “amazing” and “uplifting”, but the reality of CHANGE is that it is often frustrating and difficult. We may start out so well when we try to CHANGE, but then we fail. So we try again, and then we fail again, and so on. It becomes a daunting and never-ending task. So we then do what comes natural to us, and we flip on our Christian Cruise Control and “enjoy” the ride. When this happens, that is when true failure occurs.

We must understand that CHANGE is not an event, but a process. True CHANGE takes faith in Christ, yielding to the Holy Spirit, and time. In order to succeed, we must make CHANGE a daily endeavor and not just a once-in-a-while event. Ephesians 4:22-24 says we must “renew our minds,” which means that we must CHANGE how we both view and live our lives. This is done by following James 1:21-22. In other words, we must not only hear the Word, but do what it says!

Cancer and Other Diseases


Our church has been remarkably hit with the pain of cancer. Three of our beloved church members (Jim Rosien, Arlena Tinnes, and Julie Zieser) have been recently diagnosed with cancer and are undergoing various treatments (i.e. infusion, chemotherapy, etc.) in response to this terrible illness. Each one of these dear saints has approached the news and difficulty of cancer with great joy and courage. Each serves as a living, breathing illustration of strong, genuine faith in God. I am proud to be their pastor.

But as a young church pastor, I am often at a loss as to what to say or do when staring into the face of cancer and various other diseases. Sure…it was easy to banter back forth in college, with other healthy classmates, concerning a particular case study of what we would do as a pastor in this or that situation…but real life is different. The truth of the matter is that sometimes I feel rather foolish offering the hope of the Gospel and reaffirming the goodness of God to people who are really hurting and in great pain. I mean…it’s easy for me to say those things…I’m so healthy and strong, but they’re the ones dealing with the reality of intense pain.

In fact, as I was recently walking the halls of a hospital, I remembered back to my Army days. It was in the military that I learned just how strong, resilient, and powerful the human body could be. However, en route to yet another church member struggling with their health, I was reminded of just how fragile and weak the human body could be. In just a moment in time, you can go from completely fine, walking around, living your life, to suddenly fighting for your life and unable to do all the things you once loved to do.

I mean…what is a young pastor to do in moments of crises in his congregation’s life? What counsel should he give? Where should he point them? In fact, pastor or not, what should you do when you encounter painful circumstances in the lives of your family and friends?

Well…I’m no expert, but I have learned to do the following four things when staring into the face of cancer and other various illnesses:

  1. Do believe the Gospel yourself and point them to the ultimate hope of the Gospel. In other words, it is never foolish to remind people of the goodness of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The very Gospel that saved you (and that has or can save them) has imbedded within its message the fact that one day all things wrong will be made right. There is coming a day when “this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality…” (1 Cor. 15:54a). Simply put, there is coming a day when even cancer and other terrible diseases will be no more.
  2. Pray. The Bible is so clear: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16b). We must earnestly pray for healing, comfort, and that our loved ones would be overwhelmed with thoughts of the goodness and grace of God in the midst of their pain. Prayer is not a magic rabbit’s foot that guarantees healing, but if healing is a part of God’s plan for them, He will certainly use prayer to bring that about…so pray!
  3. Recognize that your presence (devoid of any talk or counsel) is ministry enough. Job’s three friends kind of missed the memo on this one. They honestly thought that more talk and counsel was the answer. Indeed…most of the time when it comes to people who are hurting…less is more in terms of talk. I have found that simply being with people in crisis is ministry enough.
  4. Point them to God’s fierce love for them by means of loving them yourself. Growing up my father phrased it like this: “God is all we need, but each other is all we have.” Don’t take this pithy statement too far or rip it out of context, but simply put, we are to be the tangible expressions of God’s love toward all people, but especially towards those who are in great pain (cf. Matthew 25:31-40). Thus, be sure to end your phone calls, text messages, food drop offs, care packages, etc. with a note or line that simply says (using your own words and style)…I love you, but God loves you more.

Indeed…to all of my dear congregants struggling with cancer and other terrible illnesses…I say just that. Stay strong.


Pastor Dave

Sermon Series Schedule for James


This Sunday, January 17, we will launch our brand new teaching series that we’ve entitled, “Wisdom From Above: A Study in James”. This series will be 13 weeks long and will run through Sunday, April 17. Below is the sermon series schedule for your convenience.

In this series, we will discover what God wants us to know, understand, and experience in the midst of our…

PAIN – James 1:1-8 (Sunday, January 17, 2016)

  • A message on the purpose of pain…

TEMPTATIONS – James 1:9-18 (Sunday, January 24, 2016)

  • A message on the pull towards sin and the hope of the Gospel…

ANGER – James 1:19-27 (Sunday, January 31, 2016)

  • A message on the anatomy of anger and the remedy of Bible saturation…

CHURCH SERVICES – James 2:1-13 (Sunday, February 7, 2016)

  • A message on the foolishness of favoritism in the church…

FAITH – James 2:14-26 (Sunday, February 14, 2016)

  • A message on the biblical manifestation of faith and a response against antinomianism (i.e. hyper-grace)…

WORDS – James 3:1-12 (Sunday, February 21, 2016)

  • A message on the power of our words to bring about life or death…

RELATIONSHIPS – James 3:13-18 (Sunday, February 28, 2016)

  • The crown jewel of our time in this book…this message will focus our attention on the power of godly wisdom in our everyday relationships with people…

CONFLICT – James 4:1-12 (Sunday, March 6, 2016)

  • A message on the destructiveness of selfishness in our everyday relationships and the healing of humbleness…

PLANNING – James 4:13-17 (Sunday, March 13, 2016)

  • A message on the folly of strategizing and making plans without God in the picture…

POSSESSIONS – James 5:1-6 (Sunday, March 20, 2016)

  • A message on the uncertainty of riches and the counterintuitive nature of faith in God…

SUFFERING – James 5:7-12 (Sunday, April 3, 2016)

  • A message encouraging patience despite hardships…

PRAYER LIFE – James 5:13-18 (Sunday, April 10, 2016)

  • A message on the power of prayer in our individual and corporate lives…

RECONCILIATION – James 5:19-20 (Sunday, April 17, 2016)

  • A message on the need for the pursuit of reconciliation in our everyday relationships…