The Road to Resurrection // The Grumbling Group

By Pastor Nate Powell

As we head toward the Easter season, Pastor Nate is writing a series of articles that lead us to the season in which we celebrate the cross and the empty tomb. This is article 4 of 5.

This past Sunday, we noted the old truth: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” This is especially true of our human nature and frailty. We like to think that we are getting more holy, more sanctified, more perfected as a church. But in the end, we are still people; and even in our best moments as a church, we fall short of God’s standard.

Case in point, go to the upper room with Jesus and look at what takes place there. It’s especially glaring when you synchronize the accounts of the gospels just how great the sins and shortcomings of the disciples were. When you read John 13, you understand that the first thing that happened that night before the meal was that Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. In doing so, John notes that Jesus uses the moment to speak to the servant attitude he has that his followers are to have as well: “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:12-15)

Not only that, but Jesus immediately engages in a meal with his followers that is of deepest significance: the institution of communion. From this point forward, his believers will always remember what he has done by drinking his blood (the cup) and eating his body (the bread). We read this account of his sharing in Luke 22:14-19.

It is the most intimate moments with Jesus, their teacher, their leader, their savior. But what happens around the table as the disciples discuss amongst themselves? Luke 22:24 records it: “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.” This is not the first time this discussion had arisen among the disciples, but it had to be especially hurtful to Jesus at this point, as HE HAD JUST SHOWN THEM what life as a disciple of Jesus was to be. It was to be a life of service and placing others first. They had missed the point and went on fighting with one another.

I will say that I am grateful to serve in a church currently where there is not much of this type of infighting and arguing, jockeying for position as to who will be the greatest church member. But the church is never far from this type of mistake: losing sight of the savior, jockeying for position, and arguing over petty and temporary things. What is the solution to such attitudes among believers? Jesus speaks the truth to those gathered in that upper room: “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” (Luke 22:25-27)

Jesus is the greatest good and is our great savior. Let’s be a church who lives daily and weekly in sight of that truth, and let us love and serve one another with humility. When we do, we follow directly in the footsteps of the Savior.

The Road to Resurrection // The Poorly Dressed Guest

By Pastor Nate Powell

As we head toward the Easter season, Pastor Nate is writing a series of articles that lead us to the season in which we celebrate the cross and the empty tomb. This is article 3 of 5.

Even when he knew it was the last week of his life, Jesus still had a thing for telling stories. Of course, you know that they are called parables and Jesus used them not only to connect with his followers but to tell earthly stories that shared deep spiritual truths. One of those stories he told is found in Matthew 22:1-14, the parable of the Wedding Feast.

The first portion of the story is told about a king who was giving a wedding feast for his son. He invited the guests, but they would not come. He even went so far as to send out his servants with in-person invitations: “Come to the feast! We will have the best food and drink! Please come!” But many of the citizens went away and paid no attention. The few who remained seized the servants and killed them. The king was so angered at his citizens when he found this out, that he sent his troops to destroy the murdering citizens and burn their city. He then rounds up his servants that remain up, and sends them out saying “The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.” So he sends out the servants to invite and gather anyone who will come to the feast.

This first portion of the story is straightforward to us, because it is a reminder of how the Jews would reject Jesus, and so the invitation to be God’s chosen people would go out to all … both the Jews and the Gentiles. This is the intention of God’s invitation into the Kingdom and the eventual wedding feast of the Lamb.

But the second portion of the story should give us each pause. From verse 11, Jesus tells it: ““But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

We are not expecting the King to be so picky or so narrow-minded as some might call him. Why would he reject a guest that was not properly dressed? The king rejects this man, because he has not made the proper preparation to attend such an occasion. He has dishonored the king because he could not be troubled to change his clothes for the banquet. He showed up in his beat up T-shirt and cutoff Jeans. He couldn’t be bothered to get cleaned up. He just did his own thing.

This is what happens when we think we can get to heaven by other means than Jesus. We keep on the rags of an old way of life. We keep on the habits of sinful patterns or addictions in our lives. We presume upon his grace when we stay dressed in the clothes of the old man. But the promises of Revelation are that all who are in Jesus receive a cleansing of white garments by which we may be clothed in God’s presence. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.” (Rev 22:14)

The call of Jesus on the way to the cross, the grave and the sky is a call to be prepared for the feast with the lamb. It is the preparation we sing of in the Hymn “The Solid Rock”: “When he shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in him be found: dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.” Dressed in his righteousness alone. A beautiful phrase to remind us of where our hope is for this life and the next. Dressed in his righteousness, we are ready for the feast. We are clean.

So may the scripture be true of you and of me: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isa 61:10)

The Road to Resurrection // The Biggest Small Gift

By Pastor Nate Powell

As we head toward the Easter season, Pastor Nate is writing a series of articles that lead us to the season in which we celebrate the cross and the empty tomb. This is article 2 of 5.

Lost in the great shuffle of the hustle and bustle of the Passion week is a story that shows Jesus’ eyes for the hearts of mankind and his awareness that what is happening outwardly often is not what it seems on the surface. Only God can see the heart.

The story is found in Luke 21:1-4. Jesus is at the temple during the time of the offering. The offering was taken in a box, and the box was in a position where people could see who was giving and certainly to an extent how much they gave. Judging off of other instances where the pharisees had done things to display their personal piety, it seems pretty obvious that many people had included their giving as part of a religious show or spectacle.

But Jesus sees past their show and sees a more beautiful display of worship to the Lord. A widow who is poor comes and places in two small copper coins. In essence, this is a very small amount of money, but Jesus knows that all she has is that very small amount of money, and she offers it as her worship to the Lord. Jesus notes her generosity, and notes that she has put in the most, even though she has put in the smallest amount.

Isn’t it amazing that during all the big events of his final week before his crucifixion, Jesus pauses to note something so small. It’s as if big sacrifices are a big deal to God. He is the one who sees the heart. And when he sees sacrificial giving, sacrificial prayer, sacrificial praise … he loves it.

I am grateful that in the midst of all of our talk about giving in the past couple of years, we have worked to not honor ourselves, but to honor the Lord. That is why any time we talk about giving at our church, we will remind you that we will not coerce you to give or making giving into a show. The Lord wants gifts that come from a grace-filled heart. As Jesus reminded us in Matthew 10:8: “Freely you have received, Freely Give.” This is what we are to do, not just with our money, but with all the goodness and grace that God has shown to us.

That woman’s faith was shown to be fully in God, because she gave up all that she had for all that He is and was trusting him to provide for her daily bread that day. Are you trusting him for your provision today? If so, how will that be expressed in your walk with Him?

The Road to Resurrection // Cheers of the Crowd

By Pastor Nate Powell

As we head toward the Easter season, Pastor Nate is writing a series of articles that lead us to the season in which we celebrate the cross and the empty tomb. This is article 1 of 5.

 The crowd was loud. Cheering. Dancing. Waving branches. The rumored king was coming to Jerusalem and he was riding on a donkey. It was a direct fulfillment of prophecy, and the people were overjoyed. Now this king would arrive who would throw off the Roman rule and establish the Jewish throne forever. Matthew 21 records the joyous events of that day, and the resounding word of worship that day was “Hosanna! Hosanna!”

Little did the people know that within the next 48 hours, the cries of joy would turn to confusion. Why? Because Jesus came and defied the expectations of the people. He did not go and sit on a throne. Instead he did the work of challenging the powers and authorities that misrepresented the Lord.

  • He drove the moneychangers from the temple, calling for prayer over economic interests. (Matt 21:12-17)
  • He cursed a fig tree to prophesy what was found in Jerusalem was a fruitless tree. (Matt 21:18-22)
  • He directly challenged the Jewish leaders in the temple to their faces because they were (in his words) “blind guides” and “hypocrites”. (Matt 23:1-36)
  • He spoke of the end of Jerusalem and of the Temple, and that when people saw the warning signs of his prophecy, they were to flee from the coming violence. (Matt 24:1-28)
  • He spoke of the end of the ages, when the judgement of God would come and when those who follow Jesus would need to be found to be ready. (Matt 24:29-25:46)

If Jesus was looking to keep the popularity going, to win friends and influence people, then he was doing a terrible job at it. But that is not what Jesus was doing. He was on a specific mission, and a central theme of that mission was to speak and preach the truth, even if that truth would not tickle ears or delight the crowds.

Understand that Jesus, as great and beautiful and wonderful of a Savior that he is, does not win followers by false or pretending means. He speaks the truth. He speaks of right and wrong. He speaks of a coming judgement and a new home with him that he is making for all who believe in him. Those who could not bear the weight of the truth would walk away.

We, as his followers, should expect that when we hear the voice of Jesus, for him to speak truth to us, and that his truth would change us rather than us changing his truth. There is much pressure on Christians and on the church today to change the truth rather than convict by defining sin and holding out the remedy to sin that is offered in Jesus. If we yield to our culture, then we are not following in the steps of the savior. Faced with death, he did not yield on the truth. Neither should we. Even if it means losing the cheers of the crowd.

The Book is Better

by Pastor Nate Powell

It’s been a bit since our church has sponsored or hosted a movie night at the Auburn State Theater. That’s not because there has been a lack of faith-related movies that have been shown. There have actually been plenty of those, and there is certainly a niche market in the Christian community for such entertainment. Occasionally, I have people ask me for my take on such things, and so I give my thoughts when I have the opportunity. Here are just a few films that have been thru Auburn (or are coming thru Auburn soon):

Left Behind: The Rise of the Antichrist: Many are familiar with the Left Behind movies and books by Jenkins and LaHaye which came out in the 90’s. I remember when I was growing up and there were many books and movies in the Christian Community that promoted a specific view of the end times and return of Christ, known as premillennial pretribulationism. (Books like Late Great Planet Earth or movies like Thief in the Night) To read an even handed writeup on the pros and cons of the premil/pretrib view, check out this article. While I know and am friends with many Christians who love these books and movies, I do not hold to these views on the end times (based on my own studies and ministry training). If you are not aware that there are more than one historic view on the return of Christ in terms of amillennialism or postmillennialism, then it might be good for you to do a bit more reading before swallowing all that the end-times author tries to pedal regarding the return of Jesus. As a church, we are openhanded on these views, but we do affirm together: Jesus will return and we must be ready. Next year (2024), I will be preaching thru the book of Revelation, and we will have more time and space to explore all of these issues then.

The Chosen: I’ve had several people ask me about the Chosen, the retelling of the life of Jesus which is being directed by Dallas Jenkins. I have really good friends that have enjoyed this show and commended it to others, as a show that has helped them see Jesus in some ways that they didn’t before. Much of the aim of the show is not simply to retell the Gospel stories, but to fill the gaps between, to help people understand what daily life alongside Jesus was like. I have no doubt there is some good here, but a couple things give me caution, and I would simply caution you with as well if you choose to watch. First, you should understand that this show has been made with the help of and is being marketed to BOTH Christian and Mormon audiences. If you don’t see a problem with that, then you don’t understand the differences between the Mormon Jesus and the Christian Jesus, because they are two different people. Secondly, you should understand that what is happening here is in one sense an adding to the scripture. It is a writing of something that is not “God-breathed” by people who were not there and who have lived 2000 years after Jesus. It is very likely that there are things they are reading into the text that are not there, or are adding their own cultural interpretations. For more critique on the show, click here. For both of these reasons, I urge caution in watching. Note what scripture says. Note how the visuals of the show might differ. Know the difference, and don’t simply follow Jesus because you got to know him better thru a film. Know the Jesus of the Bible.

Come Out in Jesus’ Name: This film is coming to Auburn soon, and though the title bears the name of Jesus, the film is really more about its controversial pastor and his ministry. The pastor’s name is Greg Locke, and he has built his name as a pastor on controversy. He has made this film as something of a rebuttal to the “American Gospel” film of a few years back (a film I love and highly recommend) and this film is fully about driving demons out of believers. If you believe idea of demon-possessed Christians is an issue, then you do not understand what the Bible says about demons and demon possession. For a good summary of the Bible’s thoughts on the subject, check out this video. Satan would love for believers to live in fear of the devil, and there is great money to be made by sowing this kind of fear. Locke knows that as his ministry’s influence continues to grow. I would strongly urge you to not give him or his church your money by going to this movie.

I don’t know when or if we will be sponsoring another movie night, but I do know this: THE BOOK IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN THE MOVIE. Don’t be a Christian who lives according to the movies or the latest whim of the popular culture, even the “Christian” popular culture. Live according to the word of James: “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:21-22) Read your Bible, and may it be implanted in you that you may live according to it. The book is always better than the movie.

What’s a FLC?

by Pastor Nate Powell
In last week’s email, I took you on a tour of the new Family Life Center (FLC) of the Auburn Christian Church. If you didn’t get to see that video tour, click here: In that tour, I gave you an inside view of what most people have only been seeing on the outside. I’m sure that you, like me, have had people asking you questions about the building as it’s been going up, because most people don’t see the plans and simply have an outside view. They’ve had many ponderings as to what we are up to. “Boy, that’s a big building.” “What are you all going to be fitting in there?” “Is your old building going away?” “I’m not sure how I feel about what those Christian Church people are up to.”

To be sure, in a small rural town, most new things (whether that’s outside businesses, ideas, or people) can be met with a good deal of skepticism. Also to be sure, there are some who would be skeptical about a church moving forward with something like this in our day and age. After all, aren’t churches supposed to be dying and simply trying to preserve themselves and save what has been, rather than dreaming together about what the church will be in her community long into the future? What we are working on flies in the face of the modern narrative, and that is a good thing because it reminds us that with God all things are possible … including a church advancing the cause of Christ far into the future.

All that said, the church talks and community talks. What do we mean when we say we are for Jesus & for Auburn? What do we mean when we say we are building this building both for the good of our church family and the good of our community? We should be clear on that, knowing what the FLC is and what it isn’t, and putting a few rumors to rest in the process.

What the FLC is //

It is a Tool to Glorify God: The purpose of mankind, the only one in which is we will find true and eternal fulfillment, is that we would glorify God and enjoy him forever. That is our focus with the FLC. When we dedicate this building, we dedicate it to the Lord and toward his purposes first and foremost. All things that we do and purposes we use it toward will be to display (first) our love for Jesus and (second) our love for the people of Auburn. Plain and simple. We are here to point people to Him. And it will stand as a testimony of the forward-thinking church toward the glorifying of God and the good of the city where the church exists.

What the FLC Isn’t //

It is not a Rec Complex: While we are putting a gym in this facility, its primary function is not as a gym. In some ways, we are certainly building one of the nicest gyms in town. It has a 30-foot ceiling up the sidewall, with tons of clearance overhead for both volleyball and basketball. It will have a full-size High School regulation basketball court, and it will have the ability to have two practice courts for basketball running north to south in the room. It will offer plenty of space for all kinds of games and activities. But we are not building it either to replace or put out of business the other rec facilities in town. We will be working, thru our ministry teams to come up with equitable policies that will expand on the already existing facilities in town and make our town overall a greater attraction for youth and church activity in sports that benefit all of us.

It is not One-Stop Event Venue: While we are putting a new large kitchen and dining space/foyer in this space, we are not looking at this as the one-size fits all event or wedding venue. This will not be that venue. For instance, many large parties which serve alcohol will not be allowed on our property. There are other venues locally for those purposes. As well, our building team is drawing up policies currently that will ensure that the events hosted in this facility are activities that align with the beliefs and values of our church. We will not be the right space for every activity, and that is OK because that is not the sole purpose of this building. Again, we are not seeking to replace or do harm to other local businesses or spaces, but to exist as another option for the good of the community.

It is not our Permanent New Worship Center: Some people have asked if we are replacing our old building in this process of building a new facility. That is not the intention of the Family Life Center. The new building is to be the home of our youth ministry, the center of our fellowship activities, and the spot where we (on occasion) bring everyone in the church together for one large service. It is not equipped with offices, kids ministry space, and other needed spaces if it were to be our permanent church home. Our buildings will continue to both exist and be used. We will worship on Sundays and have all sorts of kids activity in our current “legacy” facility at 15th and Courthouse, and we will augment it with all kinds of activity during the week at the Family Life Center. The FLC is going to be a great “partner” building to our current facility; a hub for all kinds of activity and part of further plans for ACC long into the future.

This coming Sunday we will start engaging our ministry teams to define the policies and uses we intend to put in place to help guide our community toward salvation in Jesus Christ.  This is a journey that will require engagement and unity from our entire church body to put this purpose the FLC in motion and maintain it. (See announcement below regarding our teams meeting Sunday Night.)

I’m looking forward to the adventures of the next four months, as we see drywall hung, lighting installed, gym floor laid, and sound system connected. As we build this building, let’s continue living lives that are testimonies to the Love of the Lord and the Love of our fellow man in Auburn, Nebraska.

Excited and anticipating with you,

Pastor Nate

Practicing Sabbath

By Pastor Nate Powell

There are occasions when I look back on a given Sunday and go “Man, I wish I could have landed that differently.” This past Sunday was one of those Sundays. As many of you who were there know, I was preaching on the Sabbath day of creation, found in Genesis 2:1-3. In that sermon, I shared that I tend to struggle with practicing what I am preaching. I’m a guy that is too busy at points, and of late I have certainly been in one of the busiest seasons of my life. (If you want to hear what I shared in that sermon, you can listen to it here:

For me, it was a very personal and confessional sermon, and I pointed out the many problems and pressures that we face in our society to be busy, rather than take a day for rest and reflection as God designed for us. When we aren’t taking Sabbath, we are sinning against him and rebelling against his design.

If I had one piece to finish or do over again from Sunday, it would be making a true application toward all of this. I diagnosed the problem, I presented forgiveness in Jesus, but we ought not continue to walk in violation of his commands if we know what we are doing goes against his design. So how should we live in light of the design of the creator and practice abiding in the New Testament era by the 4th commandement? Here are a few ideas that I would propose, based off of the commands and principles of Sabbath found in scripture:

  • Do: Place the Lord at the center of your Sabbath rest. The original command to practice Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11) was based in a reflection on God’s goodness in creation. The repetition of that Sabbath command (Deut 5:12-16) was rooted in reflection on God’s deliverance in the Exodus from Egypt. Any time this day of rest is mentioned, it is a day that belongs to rest and reflection on God’s goodness. It’s not just a day of vain pleasure and self-centered enjoyment. Isaiah 58:13 notes that we do not honor the Sabbath if we “go our own ways, seek our own pleasure, or talk idly.”
  • Do: Prioritize gathering with God’s people to worship on your Sabbath rest. Jesus sets this pattern for us in his Sabbath observing. He didn’t just say to himself, “Well, I’m God, so I don’t really need to go meet with any other God-followers. I’ll do my own thing at the lake.” Luke 4:16 reminds us that Jesus went to the Synagogue on the Sabbath, “as was his custom.” This one verse reminds us that Jesus made a regular habit of meeting, singing, reading and praying with God’s people. Just as he set a pattern for us in his baptism, Jesus set a pattern for us in his manner of living. He could have said easily thought himself to be better than everyone at the Synagogue, but he didn’t. He prioritized rest and reflection with God’s people on a Sabbath day. In the New Testament/Church era, we celebrate that day on a Sunday (e.g. Acts 20:7). Church and worship ought not be an afterthought to the believer. Gathering with God’s people ought to be of first priority to us.
  • Do: Organize/Prioritize the six days of your work week. This is one of the difficult tricks and more easily said than done when it come to your work and career. The overall pattern that is given by the Lord in Genesis 1-2 is that he is able to rest on the 7th day because he completed all of his intended work on the first six. Of course, he is the Lord. He is perfect at these things and we are not. But his intention is that our work is to be properly apportioned so that we can have that period of rest for our refreshment, because we are finite creatures. This is my own most difficult area, and organization of tasks is a constant challenge toward maintaining Sabbath space and rest in my life. We must each learn to navigate this by God’s wisdom and grace.
  • Do: Make your sabbath a day of Grace and Mercy. As Jesus said in Mark 2:27: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” The Sabbath pattern & command was not given to be a club with which to beat God’s people. It is a staff with which to guide and keep the sheep within God’s fold. If we do not have weekly patterns and reminders about following the Good Shepherd, we will lose our way. Jesus constantly reminded those Sabbath legalists that the Sabbath was for rest, restoration and doing what is right. (Luke 14:1-6) When you have your Sabbath, seek and promote the rest and restoration that is available to all in Jesus Christ.

I am grateful to have a church that walks alongside me, gives me grace, and urges me to take a break when I’m weary. By His grace and by resting in God’s sabbath, my hope is to serve you for many more years to come. And I hope that I can be an encouragement toward your practice of Sabbath in your own life as well.

(Not quite) Rested, but always ready to serve,

Pastor Nate

God’s Image, God’s Children

by Pastor Nate Powell
It’s been an adventure already exploring the book of Genesis with out church this month. One of my favorite things we’ve covered so far is mankind being created, and made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27) As with most things we’ve talked about, people get confused and sometimes even well intended Christians confuse this scripture with other things that people generally say in public about the value of human life. Sometimes you might hear people say something “Everybody matters, because we are all God’s children.” While well intended, it doesn’t represent what the Bible says. Our value as humans is rooted in this initial verse, and when we speak of the value of a person’s life, we would do well to speak of all being made of the image of the creator. Our status as God’s children is, according to scripture, another matter.

The best place to begin to understand the difference is to look at Ephesians 2. Look at who Paul says we were apart from Christ (v 1-3): “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Paul here states that our status as children, by default, is not that we are children of God, but we are children of wrath. What does that mean? It means that we are sinners by nature and that the wrath of God rests upon those children of wrath. Unless something changes, that IS our childhood status. All of mankind is not the children of God, by default we are children of wrath. We deserve death. We deserve hell.

But if that was all there was, all we have is bad news. But there is GOOD NEWS. We have a way for our status as children to be changed, not longer known as children of wrath. Paul goes on in verse 4: “But God, being rich in mercy … when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ … For by Grace you have been saved thru faith.” It is your faith, rooted in your repentance and confession of Jesus, that changes your status. Jesus said we must be born again, and to receive this new birth, we must respond to Jesus Christ.

The dividing line and the difference between being a child of wrath and a child of God is Jesus Christ, and our faith placed in Him. Look at all the places where the Lord bestows upon us this title:

  • But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:14)
  • See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)
  • And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor 6:18)
  • For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. (Gal 3:26)
  • No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:9-10)

The Bible is clear and this is the Good News of the Gospel, that we are not God’s children by default, but this title of honor is given to us by faith in Jesus Christ. Do you want to know where you stand with God? Then respond to Jesus! We are all made in God’s Image, but only those who experience this second birth of faith will be known as the children of God. Many responded last week at the Todd Becker Foundation event to the Good News of Jesus, and our prayer is for them to come to know that they are valuable to God, made in his image; but also to know that they can become God’s children, a honor given to them by faith in Jesus.

This can be you today. If you don’t know where you stand with God, respond to Jesus. Tell him you’re a sinner. Tell him you need him to live in your heart and be your Lord. And let your pastor or church know of your desire to be known as a Christian, and as God’s child.

I am a child of God. And I hope that you will follow him too, so that I can truly call you brother or sister.

One in the family of God,

Pastor Nate

Founded Families

By Pastor Nate Powell

Many what a busy and awesome weekend! I don’t know if yours felt like the whirlwind mine did, but I was VERY grateful to crash on the couch Sunday afternoon, both for a nap and some chats with my family. While chatting with my college-age daughters for our weekly Sunday afternoon/evening chat, I was looking back thru nearly 20 years of family photos, and was overwhelmed by the blessings of family and life lived within a family. What a blessing we have been given by God to be Humans and to be made as Male & Female! We sit in a privileged position, and that is why I preached what I preached yesterday … to speak of the basics of life.

But as I also noted yesterday, we are constantly under pressure to cave to the new values of the world with regard to humanity, male & female, and the family. That is why I said first and foremost that we must pray for one another: for our families and for our kids. I do not think that there has ever been a time that it has not be challenging to be a parent, but these days are especially challenging, given the culture of confusion we live in, the media bombardment aimed at steering the hearts and minds of our kids, and the conversations that students are daily surrounded with in their local school, peer group, and activity contexts. The pressure to devalue humans, to become confused with regard to gender, and to fold on upholding the family is increasingly plied against our kids. Their minds and hearts are the battleground. As I say, every parent is in my prayers in navigating these waters.

But we must stand guard for our children. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 19:14) He also noted this promise for those who seek to entice children into lies and sin: “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matt 18:6) So how will we guard and protect them?

  • Pray for them: Our children are not our own. They are blessings entrusted to us by God. We have them for a time, and then they will leave. The one thing we can do to support them as parents in all of their lives is to pray for them. This is the most essential thing that will both keep them grounded in, and will beckon them to return to the truth when they stray is that we lift them up in prayer.
  • Engage with them: We need this reminder. Put down your phone when your kids are ready for conversation. Really work to disconnect yourself from your work and your social media so that you are a parent that is actively involved, interested in and communicating with your child. This requires effort and maintenance on your part. And it is the way that you will call and encourage your children to turn in faith to and follow Jesus.
  • Read the Bible with them: In general, as your kids are young it is great to read with them. But in specific as a Christian, your kids youngest years is when you lay these biblical foundations in their hearts. Setting a pattern for reading thru a Kids Bible (we have taken our kids thru several) or other great Christian literature (the Narnia books have been a favorite at our house)
  • Get them to church: If you are concerned about the moral slide of the nation, then perhaps it is time to stop taking the one place where moral teaching IS the focus for granted. The church, with kids activities, youth ministry, and family focus are a strong and steady bulwark against the cultural slide and decay you see around us. If you’re not invested in the church with your time and resources, then you are indirectly contributing to the cultural decay you may be complaining about. The church is not a replacement of the spiritual influence of parents, but we are a key partner with parents and families to guide your kids in walking with Christ. Step up, be present and get involved with your church.
  • Stand as a guard against media/influencing predators: Parents, many of you know this … but it bears repeating: there is no trusted media. Not Disney, not Pixar, not PBS Kids, not Nickelodeon. There is no major media company that has not been infiltrated by those who seek to steer the hearts of your kids astray. And of course, the internet is the internet, which can be used for great good or unspeakable evil. You are the most key factor in guarding the eyes and ears of your children when they are in your care. So, a few helpful tips:
    • Watch what your kids are watching: Don’t simply trust ANY media company. Watch what your kids watch. Take an interest. Discuss it with them at times when the TV is off.
    • Monitor Devices: Do not allow your kids to keep or take devices to private places. Make it known that you get to know their passcode and see what’s on their device at any time. Help give guidance to times that are to be spent on devices versus being off devices.
    • Use parental guards and filters: There are many parental controls and helps on devices and routers. They do take a bit of time to learn or set up, but you will thank yourself later. Many internet routers come with filters like Circle built in. Learn to use it.
    • Be vigilant: The Devil is prowling, looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) But resolve to yourself this day that it will not be you and it will not be your children. Be on your guard at all times against the attacks of the evil one, preying on the most vulnerable among us. The Lord will win, and His people must stand strong.

I won’t every claim to have everything figured out as a parent (or as a pastor), but I do my best. And I know that as a parent, you want to do your best too. Zach and I are here (along with all the other members of our church) to support you in seeking to raise your family right. Please let us know how we can best help, serve or pray for you!

Loving our families,

Pastor Nate

Big God, Blessed Me

By Pastor Nate Powell

In reflecting in the afterglow of preaching on the creation story of Genesis, I didn’t want a small detail to get left in the mix. That detail is this: You are blessed.

Some people might call it lucky. But if there is a God, and we know that he has tipped the insane odds of our existence in our favor, it means that we are not simply lucky; we are infinitely blessed. A couple items that reminded me of that fact this past week:

  • One was a YouTube video I saw. It is a video about the actual size and scale of just our solar system. (I’m linking to it here, so you should go watch it, and then come back to this article.) Wasn’t that incredible? That is the size of the planet that you are on in just one solar system, based around one star, in just one galaxy, in just one galaxy cluster of the universe. WE ARE TINY. Yet it has all been perfectly balanced and hung so that we might walk, talk, live and breathe. A video like that humbles me to know that I’m just a very small creature, and my God is a very big God! And he has given life, spoken, and acted so that we might be with him for all eternity, because of Jesus. If you know that, my friend, then you are blessed!
  • The other was a stat came across again in reflecting on the insane odds that life could come to exist from non-life. The stat comes from Lee Strobel’s book “A Case for Faith”. Within the book, he is interviewing Dr. Walter Bradley of Texas A&M University. Dr. Bradley explains the odds of the simplest of amino acids (or life building blocks) coming from nothing: “If you took all the carbon and put it on the face of earth, allowed it to chemically react at the fastest rate possible, and left it for a billion years, the odds of creating just one functional protein molecule would be one chance in a 10 with 60 zeroes after it.” But that’s not all … he goes further. “[Michael] Behe has said the probability of linking together just 100 amino acids to create one protein molecule by chance would be the same as a blindfolded man finding one marked grain of sand somewhere in the vastness of the Sahara Desert—and doing it not just once, but three different times. Sir Frederick Hoyle put it colorfully when he said that this scenario is about as likely as a tornado whirling through a junkyard and accidentally assembling a fully functional Boeing 747.” Wow! What an incredible stat. Life is no accident.

We are not here by accident. We are here by design. We are not lucky. We are blessed. I hope that each time you see videos or hear stats like these, you will pause to remind yourself that you are blessed. There is a God, and he has shown himself to you in His word and in Jesus Christ.

Thanking the maker with you,

Pastor Nate