Connecting Points

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Today’s Topic: Rejoice!!!

Today’s Text:  Luke 10:17-20 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven”

Man’s joy does not come from results but from relationships. The greatest joy comes from the greatest relationship possible –personal friendship with Jesus Christ.

After doing miracles under the authority of and in the power of Jesus’ name, the disciples were reminded that the results they experienced were not the real reason for rejoicing, but rather that their names were written in heaven in the Lamb’s Book of Life. No matter what our circumstances, good or bad, there is reason to rejoice because we have been redeemed.

Let me remind you of the reasons we have to rejoice in our redemption.

Redemption is Eternal

  • Hebrews 9:11-12, 15    11But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,  then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation)   12he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. ..    15Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.  

Redemption delivers us from judgment

  • Revelation 20:11-15  Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Redemption grants us access to the heavenly city

  • Revelation 21:22-27(ESV) 22And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.  23And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.  24By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it,  25and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.  26They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.  27But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Redemption Sets us free from sin

  •  Galatians 3:10-13  10For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written,  “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”   11Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for  “The righteous shall live by faith.”    12But the law is not of faith, rather  “The one who does them shall live by them.”   13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written,  “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—  

Redemption  secures the Holy Spirit  

  • Galatians 3:14   14so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Redemption protects us from false religion and deception

  • Revelation 13:5-8 5And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. Authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. 

Redemption qualifies us as Sons and heirs

  • Galatians 4:4-7  4But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,   5to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.   6And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”   7So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Redemption changes our lives

  • Titus 2:11-14  For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,   12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,   13waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,   14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.


Pastor John



What’s At Your Center?

Connecting Points

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Today’s Topic: What is at the Center?

Today’s Text:  2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

I don’t do this often, but truth and busyness have come together this morning to make it possible and necessary. On Sunday one of my dear friends from years of church ministry went to be with Jesus. Then less than twenty-four hours later a more recent friend did the same. Two graduations resulting in two celebrations of eternal life this week. I needed the reminder I got this morning from Ron Hutchcraft that Truth is still the immovable center around which all life revolves.Here’s what he said:

When I visited the Gulf Coast of Florida, I got to see a couple of glorious earth turns. The sky was ablaze with color and the sun disappeared on the horizon. You say, “Excuse me, Ron, that’s a sunset.” Hey, wait a minute. Are you from the 14th century or something? The sun doesn’t set; it doesn’t move! The earth moves! As it makes its revolution, your point on earth turns away from the sun every 24 hours. So that would be an earth turn, right? And we say the sun sets. Well, the earth is turning and you can see how mankind got it wrong for so many centuries. I mean, it looks as if the sun is revolving around the earth. It revolutionized a lot of thinking when people finally understood what was revolving around what.

I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Putting the Planets Where They Belong.”

Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Timothy 3:16 . It says this: “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Verse 17: “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Now, what this is really saying is the Bible [can be compared to] the sun; God’s unchanging, unmoving truth. Everything else has to revolve around what God’s Word says. God’s Word on any subject is the final word.

If you read this passage, it’s written in the context of a time when Paul is predicting that moral values will be in total confusion, when wrong’s going to seem right, when what’s right will seem wrong. Doesn’t that sound familiar? It’s a time when imposters and false ideas will be deceiving many people. And so God’s instructions to Timothy are, “You continue in what you’ve learned and become convinced of what you’ve learned from infancy – the Holy Scriptures.”

In other words, you’ve got to stay where you are. Don’t let anything make you compromise on what God’s Word says. It’s unsettling to see that some research indicates that only about a fourth of America’s Christians are sure there’s absolute truth. We’re shaky on this authority issue; especially when it comes to areas that cramp our style or require us to change or go against what our group or our culture says is true today. We sometimes try to make our idea the sun, and then we try to make the Bible a planet that revolves around it. We put more weight on what is politically correct or culturally correct than what is biblically correct.

In academic circles, for example, there’s this subtle temptation to submit the Bible to whatever your discipline is; whether that’s the current trend in sociology, or literature, or the arts, or science. Well, you’ve got to submit your discipline to the Bible. God’s Word is the final word of origin of the universe and the origin of man. And any explanation that says God did anything other than instantly creating a fully developed adult is wrong. God’s Word is the final word on divorce, on re-marriage, on sexuality, whether it’s hetero or homosexuality. Or what it means to be a woman; what it means to be a man. It’s the final word on justice, on wealth, on sex, on the value of an unborn life.

No mental contortions can neutralize God’s authoritative Word on the subject. You do no one a favor by trying to make God’s Word more acceptable by diluting what it says. We stand on this book, and I hope every day as we’re together this book becomes more practical and more living in your life.

The planets in our world are in chaos as human wisdoms are confusing; they’re colliding. But God gave us this brilliant sun; one settled, unmoving, always true authority to keep the planets in the orbits they belong in – the Word of Almighty God, the Bible. People came out of the dark ages when they realized that the sun did not revolve around them.

We come out of the darkness when we realize and we never compromise the final centrality of the Bible in our personal universe, and when we put the planets of all those other ideas where they belong – in orbit around the sun of the Word of God.

May God’s Truth always be the center around which our lives revolve.

Pastor John

Is It Really Disobedience?

Connecting Points

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Today’s Topic: Are We Living In Disobedience?

Today’s Text:  Acts 16:31-34 (ESV)   And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

On Tuesday morning I had breakfast with a post-graduate student who is a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Brought up in a works and sacraments based religious system, she had discovered the truth of faith in Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation from sin through a connection with fellow students involved in a faith-based campus ministry.

The reason we were meeting was to discuss baptism – true biblical baptism by immersion as a public testimony to one’s saving faith in Jesus Christ. As I listened intently to her testimony of faith, I interrupted her as I wiped tears of joy from my eyes. I asked her why she had not been baptized sooner. Her simple reply revealed something to me that I want to address today. She said, “Because it was never taught as a part of my discipleship training.”

As we talked more the joy of what God was doing in her life now overcame my initial reaction to what she said. But as the hours went by after the meeting, it began to weigh on my heart. Why would we in the so-called “modern” church age de-emphasize the fundamental command of Jesus for all disciples to be baptized? What do we believe He meant when He said, “Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all things that I have commanded you?” How can we teach them to observe all the commands of Jesus when we ignore the first command of discipleship that He gave?

Throughout the New Testament, without any confusion of the truth of salvation by faith alone without any works of man or any sacrament of the church, people who were saved were baptized, and it happened as soon after their salvation as possible. Let’s be very clear – baptism does not and cannot save anyone from their sin, at any age. But let’s also be clear about this truth – baptism is a command of God to be celebrated and experienced as a part of the salvation experience, and disobedience limits the potential for the Holy Spirit to fill our lives, just as any disobedience to God will do.

I believe that the church has de-emphasized the importance of baptism as a result of cultural pressure to be more accepting of everyone’s personally selected belief system. Someone, in some religious system eons ago, decided that baptism wasn’t important, or that it was erroneously granted the status of being a means of receiving the grace of forgiveness. As well-intentioned people continued to live public lives of faith, personal experience was elevated to a place of priority over the command of Jesus. The church began to accept disobedience as “normal” because other areas of people’s lives didn’t appear to be all that bad of an attempt to be Godly. I’ve known dozens of people – maybe hundreds – who I will see in heaven who have never been baptized by immersion as a testimony of their personal faith in Jesus Christ . But the truth is that every one of those people, whether living in ignorance of the truth or not, has been living in disobedience. (Keep reading please before you get angry…)

Again, to clarify, I have been baptized and I live in disobedience at times as well. I do not always obey everything Jesus said. The point is not to condemn one area of disobedience as more significant than any other, but to be sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. When I sin through willful disobedience, I hear the Holy Spirit convicting me. I know I must repent and turn from that disobedience. Only then will the fullness of the Holy Spirit be restored to my life. Only in obedience can we have intimate fellowship with our one and only Holy Father in heaven.

The same is true about baptism. It is only in obedience and in accordance with God’s truth in Jesus Christ that we can have a complete and full relationship with God. Can we be saved without baptism? ABSOLUTELY. Can we be all that God intends us to be without obedience? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

On Sunday, September 29th, right after church, no matter how cold it is, I will be baptizing this young woman in the Chippewa River. She is excited. I am thrilled. She is in obedience to Christ by being publicly baptized by immersion as a testimony of her saving faith in Jesus Christ. I am in obedience by baptizing her as a part of her discipleship. Maybe you want to join us and be obedient to Christ as well.

Pastor John

Is It What We Really Want?

Connecting Points

Monday, September 09, 2013

Today’s Topic: Is It What We Really Want?

Today’s Text:  Revelation 22:7 (ESV)   “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”               

Revelation 22:12 (ESV)
 “Behold, I am coming soon…”

Revelation 22:17 (ESV)
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Revelation 22:20 (ESV)
 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!


I hope it was just a fluke. I’m going to assume that it was because people were so deep in thought about what they were hearing that they just forgot to respond outwardly. If not, then we may have a problem.

Yesterday during the sermon there was a clear statement made about the joyous and glorious return of Jesus Christ to gather His true church to their eternal reward. Silence ensued.

Really? Silence from the very people  Jesus is coming to get? I was a little shocked. I think it showed. I said it again, and the response was enthusiastic, but it made me wonder how many times in my own life I need to be reminded to keep my eyes, my heart, and my desires on the return of Jesus Christ rather than on the things of this world.

Earlier in the service we had sung a couple of songs, one of which was the chorus of “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” In that song we sang these words – Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” I wondered what happened in the 15 minutes between singing that and hearing it preached.

I know that there are many – too many – days that I have my eyes, my heart, and my desires firmly fixed on the things of earth. It happens so much that I must ask myself the question “Is the return of Jesus what I really want?”

Let’s see –

  • More sin versus no sin. That’s one for His return.
  • More financial stress versus streets of crystal clear gold and a mansion made by the hands of God just for me. That’s two for Jesus.
  • More emotional stress from loneliness, rejection, and the pursuit of self-worth versus seeing the face of Jesus while His arms of love wrap around me and the only tears ever will be tears of joy. So far the return of Jesus is pitching a shut-out.
  • More issues with health versus an eternally perfect body. This is getting embarrassing. Earthly things are growing strangely dim.

I could go on, but we all get the point. The Spirit of God says “Come.” The Bride of Christ – His church – is supposed to say “Come.” Everyone who is longing for satisfaction in this life is to realize that earthly things cannot satisfy and invite Jesus to come. I am to consider the coming of Jesus to be more important to me that any other upcoming event in my life.

Is it what we really want? Well as for me, YES!!!

Pastor John



Connecting Points

Friday, September 6, 2013

Today’s Topic: Oops!

Today’s Text:  Daniel 5:27 (ESV)  You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting;

Don’t use a screwdriver as a hammer.

Don’t use a knife as a screwdriver.

These are just two of the lessons I’ve learned the hard way. To be honest, there were many times that both substitutes worked, which only fueled my pride. It was that pride that eventually led to a time when the substitutes failed and the project ended badly. I’ve said “OOPS!” too many times.

Everything that has been made has an intended purpose. Granted, some things are multi-functional, but that was intended by the designer. When we use things for purposes that were not built into the original design, we can get into serious trouble.

That’s what happened to King Belshazzar in Daniel chapter five. Belshazzar was the son of King Nebuchadnezzar, whom God had humbled. His son knew what had happened. Yet Belshazzar rejected the work of God in His life and became proud – so proud that during a showy celebration he ordered that all of the vessels of gold and silver from the temple in Jerusalem be brought out and used as common serving and drinking utensils at the banquet.  In his pride and desire to show off his wealth and power, the king chose to take things that were designed solely for the Lord’s work and use them for personal gain.

Immediately God responded. His hand wrote something on the wall that no one could read except Daniel. Here’s Daniel’s perspective on what happened.

22 And you [King Nebuchadnezzar’s] son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. 24 “Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. 25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN. 26 This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; 28 PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” Daniel 5:22-28 (ESV)


That night Belshazzar died, and Cryus became King. All because of pride, which always precedes a fall.

“OOPS!” I’ve used some of the Lord’s things for personal gain.

“OOPS!” I’ve taken money from my tithes and offerings to pay bills or buy new things.

“OOPS!” I’ve not followed through on pledges and commitments because my pride saw ways to use those resources for myself.

“OOPS!” I’ve lost the use of some things because God has immediately responded and taken them away to get my attention fixed back on Him alone.

“OOPS!” My heart has been weighed in the balances and been found wanting.  What a horrible condition. Oh how I never want that statement to be true of me again.

Today, dear Lord, I commit myself again to your Holy Spirit’s correction to create in me a humble heart, so that all you have given me will be used for its intended purpose to serve you and not me!

Pastor John

Enduring Love

Connecting Points

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Today’s Topic: Enduring Love

Today’s Text:  Psalm 107:1 (ESV) Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

This morning I stopped at the hospital to visit a man God brought into my two years ago. He has become a good friend. He is succumbing to the ravages of cancer.

I met with the family on Tuesday after they had heard the options from the doctor. After careful thought and prayer, this is what my friend wrote this morning on Facebook…

I am having a hard time trying to figure out when or how to make a final announcement to all my friends and family. I guess now is as good as it gets. As most of you know I have been fighting stage IV prostate cancer for almost 3 years now. Last Monday the 25th I was admitted for respiratory distress. My cancer has taken a serious turn and involved my liver and lungs. I am now experiencing liver failure and told I have 1 to 4 weeks left. I will be going into hospice care and letting the Lord Jesus take the wheel from here. I Love you all and just want to thank you for being part of my life and having impacted my life by being there. Everyone of you are special to me. I will monitor FB as long as possible but probably will not have a lot interaction from now on. Again I Love you and thank you for your love and friendship. God bless you all!

As I parked the car at the hospital the Holy Spirit led me to the one-hundred seventh Psalm. After some wonderful conversation around the bed with him and his wife, I read the first nine verses to him.

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble 3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. 4 Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; 5 hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. 6 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 7 He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. 8 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

When I was done reading, we talked about how the longing of the soul is completely satisfied by the love of God. God’s love is not a response to our actions or attitudes. God’s love is not a response to our work to earn it. God’s love is not limited by circumstances. God’s love endures forever.

God loves us while we have cancer. God loves us while we suffer for any reason. God loves us no matter what the condition of the world or the economy. God’s love endures forever, and it satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with good things. God doesn’t promise to remove physical problems, but He promises to satisfy the longings of our hearts during the problems we face.

While everything around us may appear harmful, hurtful, and hateful, God’s love endures forever. God’s love is not delivered through any external event. Solutions to problems is not the means of receiving or recognizing God’s love. Fixing issues is not the means of experiencing God’s love. His love is delivered through the life-occupying Presence of the Holy Spirit. Love comes from the heart of God into the soul of man to flow out of man. God’s love endures forever, not matter what is going on around us, because His love is within us.

What a joy to know that my friend understands this. What a blessing it is to watch his life influence so many others to discover the truth of God’s love. What hope it gives us all to know the truth of God’s enduring love as expressed by the Apostle Paul when he wrote in Romans chapter 8 –  

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death… 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you…35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God’s love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!

Pastor John


Connecting Points

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Today’s Topic: Fresh Start

Today’s Text:  Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)  but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

They say that Spring is the season of new beginnings. Well, for me, Fall is the time of starting over. After a long summer of excessive distractions, it is now time to get back on track.

Don’t get me wrong, I was not distracted from the Lord; but I was distracted from the normal routine of early morning writing of these Connecting Points. Much was accomplished for the Lord’s work in those distractions as most were designed by Him, yet there was always something missing. I have come to realize that the time I spend in writing is extremely important to my spiritual health.

As I return to the office this morning from my latest adventure across the Midwest, I come with the determination to invest the first hour of my day in hearing from God and sharing with you what He is teaching me.

WAIT! What a horrible word. When used as a suggestion it seems impossible to do. When issued as a command we rise up in rebellion against it and demand an explanation of why. The mere sight of a construction sign on the highway that says “Flagman Ahead” sends sighs of frustration through the car.

We don’t like to wait. We don’t like to wait at stoplights. We don’t like long lines at the store, and in reality any line with more than us in it is long. We check all the open registers before choosing what we think will be the quickest line. If you ever see me in a store, don’t get behind me in line because I always choose the wrong one.

Yet waiting is a fact of life. We’ve tried to make it bearable. We now have countdown timers at intersections that let us know when the light is going to change. They are controlled by pedestrians who have pushed the crosswalk button. Now we get made when we see pedestrians at the corner.

We have created waiting rooms, and we have quickly learned that the time we will spend in them is directly proportional to the number of magazines available. And then there are those that have a children’s play area. Stay away from those or bring a lunch.

How many of us will admit that we are tired of waiting? My hand is raised, or at least it was prior to this morning when God revealed again to me the simple truth of a favorite verse of many of us. They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength. There’s that word – WAIT! Yet today the Lord showed me one simple point that will help me to connect to Him more intimately – Waiting doesn’t make us tired but actually strengthens us.

We waste energy by not waiting. We grow weary by not waiting. We create more problems by rushing in when God has not prepared us or the circumstance for our involvement. The energy spent is not only wasted, but not replenished, making us even more tired than before. God only promises strength to those who wait on Him. He only gives energy to those who are walking and running and working according to His purpose and in His timeframe. God only lifts us higher and higher to soar with Him when we spread our wings in the wind of the Holy Spirit.

WAIT! Before you make any plans today; before you step up in your own strength and wisdom to address any problem; before you insert yourself into any issue; WAIT! Wait for God’s wisdom. Wait for God’s timing. Wait for God’s permission. When He says go, then He will give sufficient grace to go all the way without weariness. When we are tired, it may very well be that we are working in our own strength only.

It is time to wait on the Lord! Enjoy it, and be renewed.

Pastor John