My Mouth Will Speak Your Praise

I was recently visiting with one of our farmers and he was telling me about how good some of the yields are in his fields. He said it’s amazing what kind of crop God can produce with so little rain during the most critical growing stage this summer.

And then I’ve had at last three conversations in the past ten days with people who are facing significant health issues; each of them shared with me about how they were experiencing the power and presence of God.

Add to it, my cousin’s daughter and her husband recently buried their 12 day old baby girl who died from significant birth defects. And yet she spoke of how she experienced the comfort and grace of God in those 12 days.

On top of that, yesterday a gal shared with me how God had done an amazing work of reconciliation in the midst of some conflicted relationships.

Oh and then I mustn’t forget the testimony of a couple from Woodstock that I will be marrying in a few weeks. In doing their homework the future husband shared with me how God clearly warned him about being harsh with his fiancée while doing his homework. He was overwhelmed with how much God loved him.

When spending some time reflecting on where I’ve seen God at work lately, the Spirit reminded me of Psalm 145. Let me encourage you to spend a few minutes meditating on each verse of this Psalm.

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.  Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.  Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.  One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.  They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works.  They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds.  They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.  The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.  The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.  10 All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you.  11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.  13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.  14 The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.  15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.  16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.  17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.  18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.  19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.  20 The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.  21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.  Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.

OK after meditating for just a few minutes on the verses above, what praise is on your lips in regards to how the Lord has been revealing himself to you. What attribute of God do you celebrate today? What wonderful work of God could you tell your kids or grandkids about?

Feeling overwhelmed by my God the King,

Mike Altena

 


Habitual Disobedience

Last week I had a chance to visit for about half an hour with a person who identifies as transvestite, but that isn’t the main point of this article.  We’ll get to that later.  I was filling in at the office for Cornerstone Prison church inside the South Dakota State Prison, because Pastor Rick Van Ravenswaay’s brother recently had an aneurysm, and Rick was with his family most of the week. (prayers needed)  Requests were piling up to visit with a pastor, so I went in and met with a few people to ease some of the workload.

The man I met with had recently accused another inmate of a very serious crime against him, and we talked through the hurt feelings involved in that experience.  That was when he explained his identity to me and his plans for his future.  At this point he identifies as male, and he goes by his given name, but he feels he will be happier if he can undergo the treatments necessary to become a woman.  He shared with me the name he has picked out given the opportunity to become female.

It was a challenging conversation, but one moment really stood out.  This individual recently accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord at a Faith Fellowship retreat, so I asked him how he was reconciling his faith to his plan to become a woman.  I asked if he had prayed to God about this decision.  He simply said, “I know God will love me either way.  If I go through with the change, God will still love me.”  No profound response came to mind at the time, but God later used his words to give me a glimpse into my own heart.

Remember after David stole Bathsheba from her husband, Uriah, and tried to cover over his sin with deceit and murder?  It took being confronted by the prophet Nathan to come to his senses.  Nathan shared a parable of a rich man stealing a poor man’s prized lamb and then this happened:

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die!  He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”  Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”  (2 Sam. 12:5-7)

In the same way I was convicted by the inmate’s words and my own reaction.  After he justified his plan by saying that God would love him no matter what he does, part of me wanted to pass judgment on him and say, “With that reasoning, anybody could do anything they want, right?  Your decision makes me question your faith.”  However, the point of this article is that even though I can easily see the holes in his argument, I am often blinded to the ways I use the same argument in my own life.  How many times do I willingly make a bad decision and either consciously or unconsciously let myself off the hook by appealing to God’s grace?

Mike introduced the term “areas of habitual disobedience” last week.  In a sense these are the behaviors or decisions in our lives where we miss the mark yet justify it by thinking, “God will love me anyway.”  God’s grace is boundless, and yet “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left…”  (Heb. 10:26)  The question is not whether or not you have areas of habitual disobedience in your life.  You do…and so do I.  The question is what we are doing to address them and bring our lives in line with the obedience God desires and demands.  As the story above illustrates, we see faults in others, yet sadly we remain oblivious to our own.  May it not be so with us!  May each of us have a prophet Nathan in our lives, and may we also lovingly play that role for someone else.

Cory Grimm

 


Following the Rules

I have been working through a study book on the life of Paul. As I have been studying, I have found the way Paul – then Saul – was raised to be very interesting and also pretty convicting. Saul was raised in a culture that seemed to have a law and a way of doing tasks for everything. Some of the practices of his youth seem very strange to me. For instance, each morning he had to put on his tefillin (phylacteries) “at the first moment in the morning when enough daylight was present to recognize a neighbor at a distance of four cubits.” Say what? At our house we are lucky to get up in the morning without hitting the snooze button more than once!

As a young man, Saul set out to obey the scriptures and show his deep devotion to God on a daily basis. He lived a life of following the law and seeking that of what pleased his Creator. Saul was sent off to rabbinic school to learn and upon graduation set out for a place to serve. However, somewhere on his life’s journey, something changed within him and his obedience of serving God became more about obeying the law and religious practices of his day. His love was removed from his obedience, and his love of following the law and his religion quickly became his god.

I have been reflecting on my reading wondering what God wants me to learn from Saul’s young life. What areas of my life have I allowed to become more about law-abiding rather than serving my Father out of love? After all, without love as my motivation to serve, I am just trying to be good. Where have I crossed the line and made how I raise my children and practice my daily life more about religious actions rather than humbly serving our great King?

In Matthew 23 we see Jesus addressing the religious leaders and Pharisees, “13Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” Those are some powerful statements. There are others in Matthew 23, but verse 13 grabbed me and caused me to stop. Do my actions ever shut the door to the kingdom of heaven for those I encounter? What about us as a church? Do we have empty religious practices we are passing down to our own children? Are we rule followers for the sake of following rules or are we acting in love as we seek to be obedient?

I have often wondered what God thinks about how we do certain traditions both in our lives and in our church. What motivates me to teach my children about their Savior? Is it because of my love for God, or because it is the right thing to do according to my religion? When we commune as the body, do we come with a humble heart remembering all Jesus did for us, or do we concern ourselves more with how the bread and cup are prepared and to whom they are served?

Beth Moore says, “Godly people are valiant people. They are people with the courage to ask God to spotlight areas of weakness, sin, and failure. Then God can strengthen, heal, and complete what is lacking.” May those words be so of each of us as we seek to open the doors to the kingdom for all we encounter. I encourage you to ask your Father in Heaven to reveal your weakness, to highlight your failures, and perhaps examine the influences in this world that may be keeping you from showing others the door to the kingdom of heaven.

Becky Ossefoort

 


My Pleasure

Several weeks ago part of our family had the opportunity to attend the Great Minnesota Get-Together.  We were among the almost 2 million people who poured through the gates of the MN State Fair.  The trip was planned so our daughter could participate in the 4-H judging of her Grand Champion pretzels.  But, truth be told, we were there for the food. J  Yes, we enjoyed seeing all the 4-H exhibits, picking up freebies, inspecting trucks and tractors and motorcycles and boats, perusing the booths of many organizations, and riding the SkyGlider, but a State Fair trip would not be complete without foot long corn dogs, cheese curds, and Sweet Martha’s cookies.  However, by the end of the afternoon, the crowds were getting thicker than the mosquitoes and we decided to head for home.  Our daughter and her friend announced their desire to stop at Chick-fil-A for supper before leaving the cities and thanks to smartphone technology, we were able to find one along our homeward route.

We have frequented Chick-fil-A restaurants in the past and have always been very pleased with their food, service, cleanliness, and atmosphere.  So maybe it was the calorie hangover from Fair food, or the feeling of getting herded like cattle through the cheese curd pick-up line, or the rubbing of shoulders with thousands of impatient strangers for the past 6 hours, but I was particularly impressed during this visit.  While we were there, every time we said “thank you” to a staff member, their response was “my pleasure”.  “Thank you for our drinks… my pleasure; thank you for bringing our order to us… my pleasure; thank you for the refill… my pleasure.”  Clearly this was part of their employee training program, but it still seemed sincere.

The more common response to a word of thanks is usually “you’re welcome”.  This reply is definitely polite and indicates an acceptance of your thankfulness, but “my pleasure” goes beyond the familiar reaction.  It seems to say that I was not only obligated to do the task for which you are thanking me, but it was my privilege and has also been a blessing to me and I enjoyed doing it.

As we left the restaurant, I began to think about all the times we say “thank you” in our prayers and I pondered what God’s response might be.  I could imagine an obligated response from the Father, mostly because sometimes my appreciation seems perfunctory as well.  But the Bible paints a much different picture for us.  Ephesians 1 tells us about the grace which God has lavished on us through the giving of the One he loves, Jesus Christ.  Hebrews 12 continues with telling us that because of the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross and all our sin and shame.  That doesn’t sound like an obligated response to me.  When I say “thank you” for God’s gift of salvation, I imagine he is saying, “My pleasure!  It has been my privilege!  I love you so much that I would have done it all—just for you!  You are worth it!”

Jesus expects the same response from us.  He commands his followers to serve one another and to love each other just as he loves us.  As you go about your week, I pray that serving others, loving others, and helping others, would be your pleasure and privilege for the glory of God.

Erin Jacobsma

By the way, it is my sincere pleasure to serve as office administrator at ARC!

 


Golden Years

Please hear me, I’m by no means complaining, but a yearly check-up this week revealed that my glaucoma is progressing and a visit to the doctor due to intensifying pain in one shoulder and in one knee resulted in a diagnosis of tendinitis in both. In fact, I have a bag of ice on my knee as I’m writing this article.

As I was reflecting on the fact that my body seems to be falling apart, several things came to mind.  First, on the southwest side of our parking lot, there is a beautiful silver maple in the boulevard loaded with bright green leaves. However there is one section that is turning a beautiful shade of crimson red. I feel like that tree. Lord willing, I will have so many more days ahead of me where the leaves are green and don’t wither and fall off, and yet there are days when I feel like the leaves are beginning to turn color.

A second thought in regards to my increasingly “fragile and impotent matchstick body,” I thought of the truth written in Ecclesiastes 12:1-5, “Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young, before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes, before your vision dims and the world blurs and the winter years keep you close to the fire. In old age, your body no longer serves you so well. Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen. The shades are pulled down on the world. You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt. The hum of the household fades away. You are wakened now by bird-song. Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past. Even a stroll down the road has its terrors. Your hair turns apple-blossom white, adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body. Yes, you’re well on your way to eternal rest,
while your friends make plans for your funeral.”

Now before you think I’m ready to order my six-sided pine coffin from Amazon for $30.95 plus shipping (oh yes, check it out J), I don’t want you to think I’m getting ready to tap out. But rather, as Paul would write in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, day by day I am growing in living my life as if Jesus were living my life.

16-18 “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”

Regardless of what season of life you’re in—regardless of how old you feel—regardless of how well your body is functioning, may it be so of you and me that each day we live, love, and lead like Jesus.

And finally, let me also remind you to pray for the elderly of our congregation as they experience the effects of growing older; as many of them say to me, “The Golden Years aren’t so golden.”

Grace to you and peace! Mike Altena

 


Little Life Lessons

“Little Life Lessons to Share Christ’s Light”   by Cory Grimm

The bad news:  All around us culture is deteriorating and in many ways becoming more self-centered, narcissistic, and disrespectful to basic human dignity.

The good news:  As the world heads in that direction, followers of Jesus can stand out by offering common courtesy.  This article includes some simple examples.

  1. Don’t have a wheelchair? Don’t use the accessible bathroom stall    This should be obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times Lynn has entered a public bathroom only to wait for an able-bodied woman in the larger stall while the smaller stalls all remained open.  Think of it this way…would you take a handicap parking spot if you didn’t need it?
  2. Answer texts, voicemails, and emails   If you give out your information to people, answer their messages.  This act alone will set you apart as a good friend in our current society!
  3. The blinker on your car is not for you   I mean this literally and figuratively.  In a literal sense, you should use your blinker so that guy at the next corner (usually me) doesn’t have to wait to pull out until after you turn.  In a figurative sense, be cordial to strangers you meet along the way, communicate openly, and unexpected opportunities will arise.
  4. Don’t take the closest parking spot   This simple discipline has led to more blessings in my life than I can count.  Why?  Because it gets you in the mindset of putting others first before you walk in to wherever it is you are visiting.  Plus if you are like me, you probably need the extra exercise anyway.  Speaking of exercise…
  5. Country strong muscles trump six packs   They call athletes “country strong” when their physique comes from actual work, not just lifting weights.  If you personally spend oodles of hours each week working out, have you ever considered that a lot of that exercise could be accomplished by helping others with work they can’t do on their own?
  6. Like the Boy Scouts, be prepared   I will never forgot coming upon a domestic dispute in a parking lot in Philadelphia and freezing up as the man threw the woman to the ground and began trying to stomp on her head.  Although she survived, I will always regret the three or four seconds I stood there before acting.  Expect to encounter the unexpected in public and know ahead of time what you will do, and you will rise to any occasion.
  7. For the love of everything holy and good, put down your cell phone, look someone in the eyes, take time to listen, and enjoy a real conversation!   Enough said about that!

Okay, as you probably figured out, most of this list is just some of my own personal pet peeves, but take these ideas and add your own ways we can be different from the world.  As Christ followers we are called to consistently treat all people with dignity, respect, and love.  As the world becomes more self-absorbed and detached, may it not be so with us!

 


Challenges

Would you agree our life comes with challenges?  Some challenges we encounter are hardly noticed and we are quick to take care of it without much thought.  Other challenges cause us to stop and address the situation and maybe even carefully assess before moving to a solution.

Part of the Ridder Church Renewal (RCR) team’s homework the last several months has been to identify our Current Reality. Our Current Reality is a “You Are Here” dot on the map of ARC’s ministry, so to speak. The team discovered many wonderful truths about our church and community and celebrated where we are. Yet, we also discovered there are a few areas we could be even more effective at reaching others and caring for one another if they were to be intentionally addressed. This led the team to identifying what our Technical and Adaptive Challenges are.

For example, I was recently made aware of a Technical Challenge during a conversation with a couple ladies from our church. One of the moms has only been attending ARC about a year and commented that she didn’t know who her child’s Sunday School teacher was for months. I was shocked when she said that, but quickly recalled what it was like 13 years ago when my family started attending here – we knew almost no one! This challenge is technical in nature due to the fact that it can be remedied by simply tweaking something within what we are already doing. The solution can be taught from the experience of other similar challenges encountered in the past.

I knew my opportunity to begin remedying this challenge could be a simple fix that would work best at the beginning of the Sunday School year. So, next Sunday as part of our kickoff, there will be a Meet & Greet opportunity for parents, students, and teachers. It should be a great way to meet new people in our church family and be able to put faces and names together. More details will be given next week.

I find the Adaptive Challenges to be a bit more…well, challenging. Adaptive Challenges are situations we have never encountered before. The church has never been the church in the 21st Century and as we reflect on how the things of this world have changed around us in the last fifty years, will the church continue to operate as we always have, or will we need to think outside of the box as we live into God’s Preferred Future? While our mission will always remain the same, our methods may need to change and adapt to those they are intended to teach. Adaptive Challenges will require a change of heart in some areas and a little experimenting along the way, because we simply have never done it before. There will be tension as we journey together, but in the tension I pray we all feel compelled to march forward to an even greater fruitful and effective way of missional living, both personally and corporately.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

Becky Ossefoort

 


Game Changer

“This is one of the most important invitations you have ever received. We need you (and your friends, family, employees and associates) to make Luverne “better than before.” Mike, we hope you consider coming. This will be a game changer for Luverne!”

Those were the opening sentences of an invitation I received prior to June 9, 2017 when the “internationally acclaimed planning consultant,” Roger Brooks, would be in town to present his analysis and suggestions to help Luverne become “an even greater place to live.” (Although I think the bottom line was to offer suggestions on how to improve on marketing Luverne in order to attract more tourists who would spend more money which would boost our local economy).

Well, after receiving such an urgent and passionate invitation, I certainly did not want to miss this game-changing event, and so I joined with the other 200 members of our community who couldn’t wait to hear the analysis of this highly influential change agent. During his presentation Mr. Brooks offered his insights into the uniqueness of what makes Luverne a great place to live which included the “beauty of the land,” the hard working people, the schools, and the places to work and play. He gave special kudos to the leaders of the community for the landscaping and the “Welcome to Luverne” sign on the corner of Highway 75 and Main which resulted in a vigorous celebration of hand-clapping.

In addition to all the areas our community could celebrate, Mr. Brooks also kindly and jokingly highlighted, and in some cases, sternly addressed several reasons why Luverne would not attract tourists, new residents or businesses. He identified several places of attraction and eating establishments that our community must promote as places to visit.  Many of his tips had to do with attracting people to our community and then making sure there is sufficient signage and information to help guide them. In addition he gave tips on what he believed would attract people to hang out and do business downtown.

Although I had to leave before Mr. Brook’s two and half hour presentation was over, I sensed an overwhelming excitement among those who had gathered. Many people were taking notes. Many heads nodded in agreement with Mr. Brooks insights and suggestions, and when I look around town some of his simpler suggestions are already being adopted.

That being said, I also sensed some resistance and doubt when Mr. Brooks suggested what kinds of businesses we need to bring to downtown and that the businesses should stay open later at night. (I wondered if some of them were thinking, well if we have to make the sacrifice to keep our businesses open later, then when will we have the time to go to Sioux Falls to dine and do our shopping J).

As I was observing the events of that morning, I was also thinking about the community of Jesus followers at American Reformed Church; especially in regards to the work the Ridder Church Renewal team has been doing over the past year of identifying our “current reality” in regards to our understanding of living on mission.

Our team is also excited to share our analysis with you and therefore we are inviting you to join us on Sunday morning, September 10, as we continue to pursue our exciting journey of how God is leading us to his emerging and preferred future. In addition to celebrating God’s good work in and through us, we will also consider the challenges that are holding us back from even more faithful and fruitful missional living.

In the mean time I also encourage you to accept God’s invitation to pray as found in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

I wonder, is God about to begin a “game changer” work in and through us?

Mike Altena

 


The River

Have you ever discovered a place filled with so much beauty and tranquility it made you feel like you could never leave? Toward the end of the trip to Rocky Mountain High, our group went on an adventure to an area a few kids had discovered on a hike. For something a little different, we planned to spend our youth group time there instead of the assigned room the Rocky staff had given us. It was a bit of a jaunt and I began to wonder if the boys who were leading us had another plan for their gullible followers. Just as they had promised, after rounding a corner deep within a ravine, I spotted a brook with a lovely little bridge extending over it to the path on the other side. It was a beautiful and breathtaking spot for us to stop as a group, and a place I would venture back to, given the chance.

Our group spent some time there together, and concluded that time in silence listening to praise music. As I sat perched on a log by the brook within God’s tranquil creation, I took notice of the smooth boulders below the surface of the shallow, chilly water. I questioned if the large stones began as huge chunks of jagged mountain that had fallen to the stream below years before. Over time the water has carved those rough boulders into smooth, rounded formations, now making up the bottom of the brook. When I looked up from the water, I noticed the trees plunging their roots deep into the bank of the brook for the life giving water to keep their leaves lush and green. A little higher on the bank was a small, old, abandoned shack falling in on itself and, I’ll admit, it seemed a bit out of place. I quickly forgot about the shack as I looked up the trail a bit further to see a stairway of rock and tree roots only to lose sight of the path as it disappeared up the mountain.

As my mind was taking it all in, I realized how much of a metaphor the scene was of my life and made me think of how God has been at work in me throughout the years. The cold, jagged edges of my sinful heart have become more smooth and gentle as I have experienced my Father in Heaven. I know I can now travel through the rushing waters of this life, and trust God is with me; and when I pass through the rivers they will not sweep over me. (Isaiah 43:2) My Savior has let me drink of His living water and as the life giving water flows through me, it has washed my sins down the stream where they are remembered no more. (Hebrews 8:12) And the old shack on the edge of the bank? Well, that’s the ugly place I abandoned when my Savior’s hand clasped mine and called me to walk with Him as we co-labor together in His beautiful creation.

May this be so of you also, that you cannot escape the beauty and tranquility of our Father in Heaven, the gift of His Son and may the river of living water flow freely through you and into the lives of others.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Do You Hear the Alarm?

It is a wonderful feeling to go to bed at night and not have to set an alarm for tomorrow morning.  It doesn’t happen often at our house, but occasionally we release ourselves from the dreaded morning beep.  Alarm clocks are unusual things.  We program them to ring at a specific time, but often hit the snooze button to delay the inevitable again and again.

The alarm clock is not the only signal that we pay attention to.  We are surrounded by many different alarms.  There are alarms in our vehicles reminding us to buckle up.  We set alarms on our cell phones so we don’t forget important meetings.  Alarms at the checkout counter remind us to remove our credit card.  Alarms can be annoying, but they are also important.  They alert us to what is going on; they grab our attention.  In some instances it is sad that we have become so forgetful or oblivious to our surroundings that we need to have an alarm, but think of how many people would be late for work every day without one.

A fire alarm is another important signal.  Our facility is wired with a device that will sound a loud alarm and notify the local fire department if it detects smoke or extreme heat.  A technician from Midwest Alarm came to the church this week to service our alarm system and make sure it was working properly.  He performs numerous tests, checks the sensors, and replaces any failing parts, but before he signs off on the inspection, he must complete one final assessment.  He must sound the alarm.  Thankfully he does not do this without warning.  The technician came to the office and asked if there were other people in the building and how many sets of ear plugs we would need.  I declined the ear plugs, but his question got me thinking.

Are there other alarms in my life that have been going off, but rather than get too rattled by them or pay attention, have I used a set of ear plugs to make the signal less offensive?  Are there alarms in my life that I perpetually hit the snooze button on?  YES!  When I hear the tornado sirens at 1:00 on the first Wednesday of the month, I “put my ear plugs in” and keep right on working.  When I see the number rising on the scale, I “hit the snooze button” and scoop myself another bowl of ice cream.  When I realize my blood pressure is on the rise, I commit to start exercising… next month.  When I plan to get up early the next morning to spend time with Jesus, the spirit is willing but the flesh is week.

How about you?  Are there alarms that are sounding in your life?  Are you acting on them?  When the diagnosis comes, do you commit to drawing closer to God only to set the Bible aside when the treatments are done?  When a loved one dies, do you think about your own mortality during the funeral service but then whoop it up at the bar that night because you only live once?  When you hear a message about the 10 Commandments, do you think about what a good sermon that was rather than committing to make a change?  When the Holy Spirit convicts you, do you brush it off and seek approval somewhere else?

What about American Reformed Church, or the Church in general?  Are there alarms sounding that we would prefer to ignore or hit the snooze?  When good leaders are needed, do we ignore God’s call and prefer to let someone else do it?  When expectations aren’t met, do we lower the bar a bit more rather than confronting a problem?  When someone draws our attention to problems in our midst, do we chastise them for being too negative.

God gives us some good advice in the book of Revelations about heeding warnings.  To the seven churches, He says, “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  For more specifics, read Revelations 2 and 3.

May it not be said of God’s Church or God’s People that we ignored the alarms in our own souls, our families, and our Church.  Take out the ear plugs and stop hitting the snooze!  Do you hear the alarm?

Erin Jacobsma