The Door

The Door

By Pastor Ben Hill (reproduced with permission)

Doors, doors, doors. How many doors do we go through every single day? Just stop and think how many you’ve gone through today! If we consciously consider every single one in our homes, at work, in our cars, at the stores and doctors’ offices it really would be amazing just how many there are. 

Some doors lead to new rooms or buildings. Some are a pathway to a never before seen place. To enter, you may have to turn a knob, push a lever, or pull a handle, and yet some open automatically. Others open by pushing a button, like your garage door.

Doors come in all sizes, heights, widths, and depths. Some are strictly utilitarian, others quite ornate. They all lead somewhere, and we are continually walking through them.

The point is that doors are everywhere. They’re so prevalent that we hardly even notice them. Many of these doors we can take or leave, use or not use with very little consequence. An example would be when visiting the hospital — do I go through the standard door or the revolving door?

BUT there is another door, it’s THE Door. We must be conscious of this door every day, and aware of what it means. IT is the door that no man constructs; it is the door that God puts before us. The door to an abundant life, a life of meaning and purpose, a door to what is right and true. It’s THE door to life everlasting! AND… this door is ALWAYS open! We just have to walk through it.

Jesus has opened the lock and torn it off with His own sacrifice! IT is open, have you walked through by faith? As His child, recognize the door to abundant living He puts before you. Step through the door every day. This door leads to greater joy and meaning in life than we could ever imagine. He knows the way, so trust Him and step through!

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

By Pastor Ben Hill

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

By what name are you called? What’s in a name? The one indispensable name in all of eternity is the Name of Jesus! Of this we are certain. But beyond that, what is in a name?

Juliet (of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare) is said to have opined: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

What’s in a name? I am Benjamin, Son of Reginal and Mary Ellen, Father of Brittany and Daniel, Husband of Debbie. But my name means more than that as well; I am Benjamin, Pastor, Counselor, and Teacher.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”

So collectively, what name have we been given? And how important is it? We are called Christian, “little Christ”, “Christ-follower”. What’s in THAT name? Well, a whole lot! It defines us, it separates us, it should motivate and direct us! To live as “Christian” is to love as Christ loved, to serve as Christ served, to warn the lost as Christ did. To “live as Christ” is to care deeply and passionately about the souls of man.

So embrace the Name… live the Name… wear the Name with humble purpose… Christian! No matter “who” you are, remember “whose” you are, and BE like Christ!

Wait

Wait

By Pastor Ben Hill (reproduced with permission)

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. Isaiah 40:31

In today’s fast paced and frenetic society, “wait” is certainly not a concept that is welcomed, much less appreciated! I remember as a kid there were certainly different kinds of “waiting.” Christmas Eve brought excited anticipation which then turned to excited anguish. On Christmas morning we had early breakfast, then hustled off to Christmas Sunrise Church service, then back home to FINALLY see and open presents! There was also the kind of “waiting” that came with knowing I had to show my parents a report card that was somewhere between less than good and awful!!

Today we wait for all kinds of things. We wait at red lights, on hold with the utility companies, in the doctor’s office, for a table at a restaurant on a busy weekend night, and in line at the DMV. We wait for the next blockbuster movie to come out, for the pizza delivery guy, we even have to inconveniently “wait” for the water to boil to make spaghetti! (A watched pot never boils). We spend a lot of time waiting.

Even in our walk with Jesus, the waiting sometimes becomes bothersome. We wait for when He will come back again and clean up this mess! We wait for “peace on earth,” which incidentally won’t come until the former happens. We wait for the time when we will finally stop making the same silly spiritual mistakes, and we often wait impatiently for OTHERS to just ‘see that we are right.’ Yes, sometimes we wait unrealistically! We wait for eternal rest, so we wait… and wait… and wait.

But this waiting shouldn’t get us anxious, or upset, or impatient, or depressed, or frustrated. This waiting should make us soar! Those who wait upon the Lord will have our strength renewed, and we will soar like eagles. We will run and not be tired. We will walk and not grow weary. How, you may ask? Because we are His children, heirs of His grace and mercy, and we will wait…. but oh, the joy that is to come!!

So, wait…just a little bit longer.

What Does Church Have To Do With It

What Does Church Have To Do With It

By Sydney Fowler

Every kid dreams of one very special day: the day they go off to college. As much as that may hurt parents, it’s understandable. Who wouldn’t be excited at the thought of finally moving out of your parents’ house? It’s a rite of passage in a sense. It means that you’ve grown up. You now have more freedom than you’ve ever had in your life. All that’s asked in return is that you attend classes. Pretty good deal, right? From this perspective, yes. But closely examining college life reveals another side that most newly graduated high schoolers don’t think about. College is not just a place meant to teach you skills for a career or how to live on your own. It is also a place that will present you with unexpected challenges. This was one of the struggles I faced during my first year of college.

Unexpected Challenges

One would think that attending a Christian school would not present a challenge to my religious worldview, but I found out that this is not true. Thankfully, the main problems I faced were not regarding the validity of the Christian faith on a general level. Instead, the challenges I encountered were more focused on the denominational level. Growing up I have always attended a Baptist church. Most of my friends have been Baptists as well. College was a completely different story. For the first time in my life, I was outnumbered. Most of the people I met were either Non-denominational or Presbyterian. Although I did have some Baptist friends, most of them were not interested in the “traditional church setting” that I was looking for and found local non-denominational churches to attend. This made it difficult to find a church that I wanted to join.

Now, I do not dislike non-denominational churches. I usually enjoy the services when I go to one. However, as someone who has grown up liking a more traditional style, the modern style that I typically associate with Sunday evening services and youth retreats is not exactly what I am looking for on a Sunday morning. But when the only options were to visit the churches my friends were going to or to stay in my dorm, I wound up picking my friends. After all, a different style of service is better than not going at all.

After visiting a few churches, I was able to find a traditional church that I wanted to attend with my roommate. While I was fortunate enough to find a church that fit what I was looking for, God used the whole process to teach me something valuable. He showed me that whether you attend a traditional or modern service isn’t nearly as important as whether or not you attend church. God does not exist merely in one style of service. Matthew 18:20 says “For where two or three have gathered in My name, I am there in their midst.” God does not relegate Himself to one denomination, so why should we? And while it is ok to have preferences for worship style, at the end of the day, the most important part of the search is finding a church that stays true to Biblical teachings and preaches what the Word says.

 Take Away

This has been something incredibly valuable for me to learn at this stage of my life. I am about to enter the world on my own in a few years. And I have a feeling that finding a church that checks all the boxes is going to become increasingly harder. Even though that thought somewhat saddens me, it’s comforting to know that even if a church does not seem like a complete match, that doesn’t mean that God is not there. And as I go into my sophomore year, I am excited to see what else God has in store for me.

 

Freedom in Worship

Freedom in Worship

By Sena Hagedorn

When I was in Junior High, my mom switched churches. Growing up, the normal was for mom to take her five kids to church every Sunday. My Father was a farmer and would attend on holidays. You could say he was a “creaster” (someone who only attends Christmas and Easter services). Oh, and potlucks, he loved a good church potluck!

Our church loved the Lord. We had some members in this congregation who would raise their hands while worshiping and singing to the LORD. It was here at this church, where I saw and experienced this kind of worship for the first time. I can remember my mom leaning over and saying to me as she gestured, “I wish I could worship like that”.
It saddens me greatly that she didn’t feel like she could raise her hands in worship, even though it was the desire of her heart. It’s sad that she didn’t feel free enough to be able to worship God by raising her hands.

Now, when I worship the LORD, I raise my hands. I do it in joy as I feel led by the Holy Spirit. I raise my hands in honor and memory of my mom, but also in my deep love, praise and gratitude to Jesus for his death on the cross.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:1-3

I like to think that my mom is in heaven with her hands raised high, freely worshiping Jesus. No more discomfort, no more bondage, no more yokes, no more brokenness, no more abuse, no more poverty. I’m not saying everyone needs to raise their hands in worship, but if it is the desire of your heart to worship the LORD with your hands raised, what is holding you back?

Christ has come to set the captives free and we are free indeed!

Who Do You Say He Is?

Who Do You Say He Is?

By Pastor Ben Hill (Reproduced with permission)

The woman at the well is a beautiful story of Christ’s compassion and grace.  He intentionally engaged in conversation with a woman who would be considered by all in that day an outcast. Yet He brought to her forgiveness and mercy and He gave her the greatest gift imaginable!

The day after their encounter, were you to have asked her the question: “Who do you say Jesus is?”  I’m quite certain she would have exclaimed: “He is THE Christ, The Messiah, He is Lord!” How would she have known? Because Jesus was (and is) a “Barrier Breaker”.

In this encounter we see Jesus first broke the barrier of race and gender… He made contact with her. Second, He broke the barrier of her need… He challenged her to look for something more. Third, He broke the barrier of her sinfulness… He confronted her sinful past. Fourth, He broke the barrier of her lostness… He revealed Himself to her and she saw the conversion of her soul available to her. Then, marvelously, we see her changed in that she left her water pot behind and ran to the very people who might have judged her in the past and brought to them the “good news” she had just been given!! She had found the Messiah!

Who do YOU say Jesus IS?