“Heave It and Leave It!”

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Image of woman staring anxiously out a glass door.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  – 1 Peter 5:7

Can we ever get too much of this verse? I don’t think so, because I know that every time I read it, it brings me comfort. Every. Single. Time. Maybe it’s because there’s always something causing anxiety in life? And in this year of 2020 amidst the coronavirus, national political and racial struggles, and even natural disasters! … there is an unprecedented number of causes for anxiety around us all the time.

So where do you go with your anxiety? What is your outlet? The mistake that we often make is trying to placate our anxiety by some sort of distraction or medicate our anxiety by some kind of substance. But what the Apostle Peter tells us is the only true solution for our anxiety is to cast it upon the Lord.

And as I’ve mentioned before, this doesn’t mean we simply “slide” it over to Him – so that it’s within our reach where it can easily be picked back up. Because you know you will pick those anxieties back up! No, casting our anxiety on God means that we heave it and leave it!”

That means that worry is simply not on our heap of worries any more. It is on God’s. And no concern or worry is too big or too small for Him.  Whether it’s “Titanic” or trivial, if it is causing you to worry give it to Him!

What are you worrying about right now?  … Heave it and leave it in God’s hands!

The Lord bless and keep you,


Q&A: What does it mean, “Seek the Lord while he may be found?”

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Q: Can you please explain what Isaiah 55:6 means regarding “while he (God) may be found.” Is that related to when we die we can find him for salvation reasons?

A: As with much of Scripture, there are often different dimensions to a verse, depending on the angle or focus from which you are viewing it.

That said, I think the “plea” or “invitation” (even there you could see some variation – there’s a difference, right? Is this an impassioned, desperate plea, or simply an invitation? perhaps even a warning?) that is in view here indicates that there is a time, when someone won’t be able to find, call upon or turn to the Lord. I think that our wider understanding of Scripture and theology says that there are some times when this might occur:

  1. when a person is “lost” in sin, and cannot see their way out, or find their way to the Lord. (They’re just looking in the wrong direction and wrong places.)
  2. when a person’s heart is hardened.
  3. once our earthly life is over.
  4. when Jesus returns.

The idea is that if a person is hearing God call them now, and they are being drawn to Him, not to let that opportunity be lost. Thankfully we believe that we don’t need to find our way to God – Jesus says that He “seeks and saves” the lost. (c.f. Luke 19:10). But what this verse reminds us is that if Jesus comes to rescue you … don’t resist Him, or let Him “leave” without you.

You know the old joke – “I sent you two boats and a helicopter!” … they didn’t receive the rescue when it was to be found. That may be something like what’s in view here.



Q&A: What does “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated” mean?

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Q: How do you interpret the verse of Scripture, “Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'” – Romans 9:13

A: This  a much discussed and much contested verse of Scripture, Romans 9:13.

“Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'” – Romans 9:13, NIV

In brief, let me say that I think we make a mistake when we think of this as a personal/individual condemnation of Esau.  The context of this verse makes it most likely that Paul is talking about nations and people groups – much larger segments of society as determined by lineage.  In the previous verses he uses words like “people,” “children,” “descendants” and “offspring.”  In fact the Scripture he quotes appears to have come from Malachi 1:2-3 … but look at the larger context of that verse:

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.
“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’
“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”
Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.”
But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord.  – Malachi 1:2-4, NIV

The prophet Malachi is talking about how the descendants of Esau (the nation of Edom,) and even their property and land, will be outside of God’s favor.  One is being used by God, the other is not.  One is God’s chosen people, the other is His enemy.

Lutheran Pastor William Cwirla, makes a great analogy when he says (emphasis mine):

“It takes two points to make a line; two examples make a theme. The second serves the first. Gospel over Law, grace over works. Jacob I loved, Esau I hated, God says. That doesn’t mean that Jacob goes to heaven and Esau goes to hell by the arbitrary sovereignty of God. This isn’t about their election but about God’s selection of who gets to carry the promised Seed of salvation forward. And God’s choice is Jacob.” (You can read his whole article HERE.)

Likewise (non-Lutheran) apologist Spencer Gear concludes, after a lengthy analysis (emphasis mine):

“We can conclude that Romans 9:13 does not refer to double-predestination of the Calvinists (some predestined to salvation and the rest predestined to damnation). Rather, it refers to two nations, Israel (Jacob) and Edom (Esau) that were chosen when the individual men were in the womb. It is not referring to God’s unconditional election of some to salvation – those whom God loved – and the remainder, whom God hated, to damnation. With Charles Spurgeon we echo the theme that it is ‘the voice of error’, an instrument of Satan, to not tell all people (sinners) that it is their duty to repent of their sins.” (You can read his full article HERE)

As we always must do, we must let Scripture interpret Scripture.  It is clear from Scripture that God is Love (1 John 4:8) – so that means He is incapable of “hate” the way we think of it.  We also know that He desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4)- so we must deny that He sends some to Hell against their will.  So I’d much rather see this “hate” as a designation of nations – one in favor, one out of favor – than God indiscriminately choosing to send a person to Hell.

We pray that one day all of the things that we see “dimly” will one day be made perfectly clear to us! (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Wednesday AM Bible Study 7-22-20

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In this study we look at two of the readings for Sunday July 12, 2020: 

00:28 –  Matthew 13:44-52

20:35 –  Romans 8:28-39

Some highlighted verses:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” – Matthew 13:44

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

May you be blessed in knowing that God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  May you believe that you are a great treasure to our Lord Jesus Christ – so much so, that He gave His life for you.  And may you be comforted in knowing that nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen!

Living Hope – An Anchor for Our Soul

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Kids in Swingset

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” – 1 Peter 1:3

What makes you hopeful?  Is there anything more hope-filled than a brand-new baby?  Their whole life is in front of them filled with possibilities.

The Apostle Peter speaks of a hope that is born in us – actually, “new” birth.  We’ve already been born physically, but here he’s talking about a spiritual re-birth.  And he speaks of a “living” hope. It’s a hope that is active in the here and now – it’s not something that just engages at a point in the future – particularly, when you die.

This may be a new way of looking at this for you.  We often talk about our Christian hope as though it only offers hope to us for the afterlife.  It certainly does that, but that’s not all it does.

Because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, we know we’ll be raised from the dead. This knowledge provides us with an “anchor for our soul” (Hebrews 6:19). 

Just like a swing is anchored to the top bar of the swing-set, but it can provide hours of blissful enjoyment for a child swinging on it.  So too, our hope that is anchored in the truth of eternal life, can provide for us the freedom to explore, love and serve with much more freedom and effectiveness than if we were going through life untethered to hope!

May our lives and ministry be ones that are anchored in eternal life, but joyfully branching out and reaching others with a message of hope and life!

Your fellow servant in Christ,

Pastor Augie

Restoring Enthusiasm

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In a sermon entitled “Get Your Passion Back,” I talked about how we can lose, but also regain, our spiritual passion, or enthusiasm.  I used an example that you may be able to relate to, if because of Coronavirus you’ve been forced to have meetings on Zoom or other video-conferencing platform:

… chances are you are just not as enthusiastic about those meetings as you once were.  This is understandable.

Maybe it’s like that with your faith; you can think back to times when your spiritual enthusiasm seemed greater than at other times.  What’s that all about?  To get at that, we talked about the root of the word enthusiasm.  It comes from two Greek words, “en” and “theos” meaning “in” and “God.”  In a spiritual sense at least, our enthusiasm comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – God’s presence in the life of the believer.

Unfortunately the world, our flesh and the devil is always at war with the Spirit in us.  So how do we feed that Spirit in us, and regain our enthusiasm?  On Sunday we explored this by observing King David at various points in his life.  We saw that his enthusiasm for the things of God was strong at some seasons of his life and weak at others.   What we learned is that we maintain our spiritual fervor and enthusiasm best when we:

  • trust God daily
  • walk with God daily
  • worship God daily

but David allowed himself to become complacent, and he took his eyes off his calling and put them on his comfort.  This led him to sin.  But recognizing his failure, he returned to God in repentance saying:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me… Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” – Psalm 51:10,12 

Friends, all of this is to say that if you find yourself struggling with enthusiasm – there is hope!  Because our Lord Jesus never loses His enthusiasm for youHe is there to re-fresh, re-new, and re-store you.  Turn to Him.

You can learn more about this by viewing Sunday’s sermon HERE.

“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” – 1 Corinthians 15:57-58, NLT

Yours in Christ,
– Pastor Augie

Wednesday AM Bible Study 7-8-20

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In this study we look at the readings for Sunday July 12, 2020:

Some highlighted verses:

“so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11

“But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown” – Matthew 13:23 (from the Parable of the Sower)

May you be blessed in knowing that our Lord Jesus Christ never stops sowing the Word of God in our hearts and in the world.  We trust Him that the Word will always do the work that He intends it to do.  And we pray that His Word will bear abundant fruit in us as we continue to share the Good News with the world around us.  Amen!

Staying Encouraged with Word Power Statements

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed it or not, but …

just about everybody that you encounter is going through some sort of personal battle or struggle that you know nothing about.

I see it in pastoral ministry all the time. And we are fortunate if that person chooses to let us know about what they’re experiencing.  Because then, we can offer a word of encouragement. The truth is,

you have no idea what God might do through a single word of encouragement!

Perhaps one of the most well-known Bible stories about personal suffering is that of Job. He was a really good man, but he suffered great loss. In a very short time, he had all of his children, servants, livestock and crops taken from him! But when his friends tried to comfort him, they ended up blaming him for his own problems. To which Job responded,

“I have heard many things like these; you are miserable comforters, all of you! – Job 16:2

Do you have any friends like that? They mean well, but they aren’t helping you with their commentary – or their social media posts. That’s why you and I need to learn better how to use our words to encourage. Because …

Our words can build up or our words can tear down.

“The tongue has the power of life and death…” – Proverbs 18:21a

I’d like to give you two simple TOOLS TO ENCOURAGE. The first is kind of a baby-step, or a fundamental of encouragement. It is simply:

1. If you think of something good, say it!

So often we are too quick to share words of criticism. But what if we shared encouragement instead? What if we told our coworkers, our children or our spouse all of the good that we see in them?  As Philippians 4:8 suggests, we could simply tell them whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, excellent or praiseworthy that we see in them.  In the sharing of those few words we could lift their spirits – and maybe even change the course of their lives.

The second tool of encouragement is something that I learned more than a decade ago from my friend and mentor, Roy Comstock. He wrote about this in depth in Volume 3 of his Mentoring Series, “Lifestyle Characteristics of a Godly Life.” And that is:

2. Prepare & Memorize “Word Power” Statements!

What this means is that for every negative emotion, fear, anxiety, worry, guilt, failure or shortcoming that you experience, you find a corresponding Bible verse where God speaks a word of hope and promise.  Then you write that in the first-person in a way that speaks encouragement and hope to you personally. Here are a number of examples:

  • No weapon formed against me will ever prosper. (Isaiah 54:17)
  • I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • I am blessed coming in and going out. (Deuteronomy 28:6)
  • I am redeemed and forgiven. (Colossians 1:13-14)
  • I am a new creation in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • I’m a child of the living God. (Romans 9:26)
  • I am freed from the power of sin. (Romans 6:18)
  • I have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
  • I am the workmanship of God created In Christ Jesus to do good works which He prepared in advance for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
  • My name is in the Lamb’s book of life. (Luke 10:20)
  • Jesus is always with me. (Matthew 28:20)
  • Through Him I am more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37)
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

So when you find yourself like Job, or King David who wrote in the Psalms,

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” – Psalm 42:5

You will be able to stay positive and encouraged by recalling a statement of comfort, hope and power from God’s Word. In fact, I encourage you not to keep these Word Power statements to yourself, but share them liberally with others who need encouragement. Remember, they are going through struggles whether they reveal them to you or not. And never underestimate what God can do through a single word of encouragement that you share.

May God bless you as you fight against the negativity, uncertainty, and fear that the enemy would seek to use to steal your joy. And may you be filled with hope and a peace that passes all understanding as you guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord!

In Him,

Pastor Augie

Let’s Pray: Father, thank You for supporting us and upholding us in the battles we face. Help us to seek You when we’re in need of strength and may we use our mouths and our actions to encourage the people around us with words of promise and hope that are found in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You can listen to or watch this full message online by clicking here.

Staying Positive in Negative Times

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I really don’t want to sound negative, but I’m a bit tired of all the negative talk going on in the world today.  Are you?  No matter which way you look or which side of an issue you’re on, there’s always somebody saying something negative.

Admittedly there are a lot of negative and difficult things happening these days – everything from coronavirus deaths to unemployment statistics or from racial tensions to political differences.  It’s all around us and not easily avoided. All of this negativity can lead us to be emotionally on edge and more easily angered or discouraged.  That’s why it’s so important for us to look to God’s Word for encouragement and to choose faith instead of negativity. Because simply stated …

a negative outlook doesn’t lead to a positive life.

Would you agree with that?  If that’s true, then how can a person of faith be optimistic in the face of such negativity around us?  The outlook of our lives depends on it!  To get at the answer to that question, let’s start with a simple definition of optimism. Lexico.com states in part that …

Optimism is “hopefulness and confidence about the future…”

But that raises the question, confidence in what? I would like to propose a definition of optimism that completes the definition from a Christian standpoint.

“Optimism is the unwavering expectation that our loving God is working every situation for our good.”

Doesn’t that sound optimistic?  But what would allow us to say such a thing? While there are multiple verses in Scripture that would support such a definition, perhaps the most direct and relevant statement is made by the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 8 …

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

I’ve added an underline to emphasize that God is working in all things – in every situation. “All things” might mean something as seemingly insurmountable as the coronavirus pandemic or as mundane as your difficult boss. It might mean something as seemingly impossible to solve as the racial tensions in our country or as commonplace as paying the bills. The important thing for us to grasp is that …

whatever is causing negativity in your life – it is not beyond the reach of our God.

And the mistake that people of faith often make is reacting to difficult and negative situations as if there were no God and as though faith does not matter. The truth is, that things which seem completely impossible to us are possible for God and that no matter what challenges we face, we have a hope that goes beyond our present circumstances. The Apostle Paul says (emphasis mine),

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18

… and remember that he wrote that after being beaten many times, thrown out of town, arrested and imprisoned.  Talk about remaining optimistic in the face of negativity! The Apostle Paul can say this because he knows that …

what consumes your thoughts controls your life.

So he learned that rather than look at the present challenges, he would instead fix his eyes on Jesus and place his hope in the glory that one day will be revealed in Him, and also in us as He works through us. He learned to be content in every circumstance – even in the negativity and struggles of life.

So what are you struggling with today? Where are you hurting? What have you lost? What is grieving your spirit and stealing your joy? Might I suggest that you entrust that to an all-powerful and all-loving God who is working every situation toward your good?

Let’s Pray: Lord Jesus, help us to remain positive in the face of negativity. And help us to place our hope in you. Thank you that we can trust that you are at work in every situation – no matter how hard or how negative. And help us to have the confidence that you are working all things together for our good. May you be glorified in us, even in our struggles.  Amen.

You can listen to or watch this full message online by clicking here.

Fireside Chat – The Ascension and Maintaining Hope

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How do you maintain hope in a world that at times seems hopelessly broken? In this video, I talk about how we find hope in Christ’s Ascension. Ascension Thursday is a remarkable part of Christ’s resurrection narrative. I hope you’ll listen in.

Image of Pastor Augie with Bible by firepit

When life is uncertain, God is not. He’s still got the whole world in his hands. Our hope is found in God’s love for us.

Scriptures I reference in the video:

For more thoughts on Christ’s Ascension, see my other blog article: Ascension Thursday.

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky?
This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven,
will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

– Acts 1:11

May you find Hope in Christ, even in unsettling times!

– Pastor Augie

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