Thursday, April 18, 2013

Persevereing in Faith and Recalling Answered Prayers

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I hope this day finds you with a spirit of peace in your guarantee of eternal life.  You may know these things for certain when you are in Christ.  May you find yourself daily in a walk with God, rather than a walk with fleshly desire.  May you find yourself growing as a Christian! 

We all have a common goal here.  And we're all citizens of Earth, becoming citizens of heaven. 

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. -Philippians 3:20 NLT

This world is full of distractions, but as you proceed forward in a growing well of faith and trust in the Father you will find yourself less and less affected by these distractions.  They appeal to our flesh, but in Christ our fleshly desires lose their power. 

Please remember that any problem you have, that you can't seem to defeat on your own power is a problem that needs to be laid before the Father.  If something won't seem to get out of your head... if something won't go away... if the emotions of something happening are too powerful, please go for before your heavenly Father.  Declare your dependence on his love and support.  Declare your powerlessness over whats troubling you, and ask him to remove, repair or replace the trouble.  Our God is a loving God, and he will listen!

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. - 1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV

Remember we're in a struggle of life and death on this Earth.  We can expect suffering and trials.  We know that we can expect the things that happened to Jesus to happen to us, just as they happened to the disciples after Jesus rose from the cross.  

Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, b if the world hates you. 14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be that person? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. - 1 John 3:14-18

The world will hate us because we expose the truth and make it plain.  The wicked don't like the light shined on their deeds because all their evil is revealed.  Remember that!  

We may be assured of our eternal life when we begin to see our love for others increasing.  This was Jesus command to us.  We are to love each other as ourselves, and as he loves us.  

We are told to lay down our lives for fellow man.  We are told to share our material possessions with those in need.  

Most of us know these things, but are we practicing these things?  Does our faith stop at words or does it follow us in our daily lives?  

It's really not as complicated as we make it out to be.  There are ways to make it complicated, but it's fairly simple.  We place our trust, and we extend trust to our heavenly Father.  

I don't see the Father.  -- But I can offer my trust up that he is there, and everywhere
I don't feel his love -- But I can offer my trust to the Father, that he does in fact love me
I don't see the end of this trial -- But I can offer my trust to the Father, that it's end is close.
I don't see eternal life -- But I can offer my faith that I have it and it is coming.

These are not easy things to do.  But let's think about it.  I tend to have faith that my mother loves me.  But how do I know that?  Can I see that love?  No... I just accept that she loves me.  I trust that she loves me.  Will monday come again?  Well... I don't see monday.  But it's there, and I accept and trust that its coming soon.  And boom, it's Monday, and I'm not surprised by it.

How do we go about offering trust and faith in our lives? 

We tend to give it freely based on promises or assurances.  A lot of the time we don't know for sure if that faith and trust will be corrected placed.  Many times in romantic relationships this faith and trust can end up turning into hurt and resentments.  

But our Father is not human.  Our Father cannot lie.  We see great truth in the Bible, and great promises of love and eternal life.  Further on, as we mature as Christians we start to see little glimmers of God's presence.  Sometimes in a sunset, or the stars, or the perfectly timed words from a friend or song.  We start to remember the prayers we've made in the past, and then we look and see how they were answered in a perfect way and in perfect timing.

That can be places and ways that build that trust in God.  We know that God measures our righteousness not on our works, but on the level that we trust and wait on him.  So if we can find ways to build up that faith, until it's a total trust, then we'll be well on the way as Christians.

Let me encourage you to start to take notice of those little things God does for you throughout the day.  Start to look back over your prayers in the past years and recall how God has answered them.  Make a gratitude list.  Write down a list of ways God has been worthy of your trust in the past.  This process of faith is a long journey.  So let's persevere together!



Monday, April 8, 2013

2nd Sermon ULC

Listen to the Podcast [Click Here]

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I hope all is well on your various spiritual journeys.  It's not always easy is it?  In fact a lot of the time it's very very hard.  This journey as a good soldier of Christ requires a lot of perseverence.

I know it did during my journey.  Maybe this was true with a lot of you as well, but at a young age I was consistently aware that something just wasn't right in the world.

You remember the movie The Matrix?  With Keanu Reeves?  I remember the scene where Morpheus, this revolutionary, found Neo, this hacker who had been searching for him.  He said to Neo: "Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me."

For me, when I saw that scene in the movie, it really rung true.  That was something I'd noticed all my life.  Something wasn't quite right.  I had that feeling first when I was 8 or 9 years old.  Later on in life it got stronger and stronger as I read about corruption, disease, famine, and just all the problems of the world.

But back to Morpheus here, hes sitting before Neo and explaining this to Neo, this hacker, of this feeling thats been inside him his entire life.  Morpheus offers him a choice of taking a red pill or a blue pill, one will put him to sleep and he'll wake up and choose whatever he wants to believe.  The other is to go down "the rabbit hole" and see the truth.  Of course Neo chose to go down the rabbit hole and the movie went on from there.

But isn't that what brought a lot of us to Christianity?  We wanted answers!  We didn't care how ugly the truth was.  We were tired of the "bro" lifestyle or the bar scene or the endless pattern of everyday life.  And a lot of us felt that hole in the chest.  That feeling that something ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL was missing on the inside of us.

And many of us tried to fill that gaping hole with things that could never fill it.  Drugs, sex, alcohol, cheap thrills, or we just tried to switch off that hole by staring into the endless glare of television screens or computer screens.

But you know what?  None of that filled the hole.  We still woke up the next day, and there it was.  That yearning, for something more.  For something real.  For righteousness in a dark world!

We knew none of this was right.  Many of us, when the mention of a God governing the universe was brought up turned hard against it.  How could an all loving God allow this kind of destruction and disaster to befall his children?  We were angry at the world, angry at God, and just angry in general.

What really opened that door for me, was realizing that if there was an all powerful God, he didn't owe me anything.  If I was his creation, he didn't owe me a single thing.  I was his to do with as he would.  If only we didn't have the kind of anger we had toward God directed toward things like government, media, corruption, or world hunger?  Right?

But maybe I just needed to understand what was really going on, before casting all the problems of the world on my creator.  And now I do understand what's going on here, and I want to share that with you, as I understand it from scripture.

See our Father created the universe, he created the Earth and he put humanity on it.  This was at the beginning of time.  The Earth was created to be a paradise.  It was meant to be a place of peace, where this creator walked about the beautiful paradise in direct contact with his creations.  We know the first humans were Adam and Eve.  They lived with God in paradise.  And God loved them!  He watched happily as Adam named the animals.  He watched them go about their days in the beautiful garden.  And I can imagine, it was quite a wonderful thing.  Peaceful, serene, full of the happiness and joy that comes from being so close to the Father in a beautiful garden.  But then something happened.

There was one tree in this vast garden that the two humans were instructed to never eat from.  They were told if they ate from it, they would die.  Simple enough right?  Don't eat that fruit!

We know that God had two creations, one was humanity, and the other we know as angels.  Angels were the servants of God, doing his work behind the scenes around humanity, sometimes seen, very often not seen.

There was an angel named Lucifer, or Satan, and we know this angel was once God's favorite, probably because of the high amount of passion this particular angel had.

So you've got Adam and Eve, in the garden, you've got God walking about the garden in direct presence with the first humans.  Then you have the angels, who kind of work in the background for God.  Lucifer, this angel was jealous of God's great love for his new creation, humanity.  So Lucifer went into this perfect garden, and told the first humans they would be God-like if they ate from that tree.

We know that the first humans, Adam and Eve at that fruit which Lucifer offered to them.  They instantly died spiritually, as God had told them.  Instantly, they were cut off from the perfection that is direct contact with God.  The eating of this fruit is the origin of humanity's inherent disobedience to God.  God sent them out of the garden, into this place, the place we are now, which is the Earth, as it is now.

Something fundamental about Earth changed on that day.  It was once a great garden, but then with the first sin done by man kind the Earth changed.  It became a harsh place, difficult to live in.  God, this mysterious figure walking about the garden would no longer walk about this corrupted Earth.  He returned to heaven, which we might call by modern terms, an alternative reality, or different dimension that where we are now.

A lot of the details we don't know really know, but we know that after that moment God really pulled back on his dominion and direct interaction on Earth.  In fact, Lucifer, this rogue rebelling angel was the one who stayed with humanity here on Earth.  And Lucifer began to set up his dark kingdom here, full of misery, destruction, and death.  But our Father didn't leave us at that.  He definitely could have.  He could have written us off as a failed, dark creation that had turned against him.  But NO!  During the next few thousand years, as humanity tried to survive on this Earth he constantly reached out to humanity, protecting them, and and giving them encouragement, love, and eventually his laws.

So we've got humanity on the run, spreading out over this corrupted Earth gone wrong.  We've got Satan(or Lucifer) setting up a dark kingdom here of oppression and corruption.  Satan enlisted other angels his rebellion against God, and these we know as demons, who constantly work in the world to subvert humanity.  Then we've got God, working a plan to restore humanity to it's connection with him.  He begins to set up a nation, called Israel, in this dark world, that would be a light to it, and could spread God's love and God's word and laws about the entire world.  He watches over Israel, and rises it up into power, but Israel continues to fail God in almost every way possible.  God used many along in this journey that we read about in the old testament:  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and Joshua, just to name a few, to slowly build up this "nation of priests."  We know God gave Moses the law, which are the ten commandments.

God offered the ten commandments as a way for humanity to get right with him and return to their full connection with him.  They were ten rules for living, just basic rules about being a good person!  Don't steal, don't lie, don't cheat, don't kill, those kinds of things.  Fairly simple rules is you really look them over.  Sadly, humanity with it's constant propensity to make mistakes and cause problems, couldn't live up to these laws.

God needed someone who could come into the world, fulfill all the laws, without breaking them, and also teach the nation of Israel.  So he sent Jesus the Christ, his only son.  But what does that mean really?  His "only son" ?  We don't really know.  We know that Jesus in fact was God, yet somehow separate.  It's confusing, trying to figure out how Jesus and God are related.  Heres how I choose to look at it: God came to Earth in human form, as Jesus Christ, to personally save us.

That's arguable, and I don't want to argue it, that's just how I choose to see it, in light of scripture not being completely clear on the relationship between God, Jesus, and the holy spirit.

But imagine this.  God creates humanity.  The first humans choose to turn against God, because they would prefer to BE GOD.  A corrupt, tangent Earth is formed where the perfect garden of Eden had been.  Satan, this rogue angel is constantly trying to keep God and humanity separated, out of this deranged child-like anger and jealousy at God for loving humanity SO MUCH.

But God isn't done there.  He loves his humans.  HE WANTS THEM BACK WITH HIM.  So he comes down to Earth PERSONALLY as a human.  He teaches the people of Israel about their way back to him.  Jesus Christ is the BRIDGE God builds between humanity and himself.  He says look, I know your hearts are sinful, you can't seem to keep the ten commandments.  Well you know what, I love you SO MUCH, I'm here to fulfill that requirement PERSONALLY.  Then all you have to do is ACCEPT the sacrifice I'm going to make for you.  Just TRY to turn from your sins, and follow the ways I'm showing you as Jesus here.  YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO IT PERFECTLY!  I know you're going to continue sinning even after receiving my sacrifice for you.  But just.. try.

So Jesus Christ, called "Immanuel" or "God with us" lived a perfect life.  Didn't sin ONCE!  But but but, at the same time he was TEMPTED in every way we are as human beings.  Which means, at times he may have wanted to sin, but he never gave in to it.  God the Father needed the ten commandments, or "the law" to be kept.

And we don't know exactly why that is.  Maybe it was because it was an agreement he made with humanity, and it couldn't be broken.  Maybe it had something to do with morality, or universal order.  Maybe it had something to do with what was going on between God and the rebellious angels.  We don't know for sure, and we don't really need to know.

But God saw we couldn't fulfill the law, came to the Earth in human form as Christ Jesus, and fulfilled the requirement of the law.  Not only did he do that, he also took on the burden of ALL THE SINS of humanity from the beginning of time, til the end of time, and paid the debt for ALL THOSE SINS on the cross.

Do we know exactly what that means?  No, we don't.  I had a friend suggest that perhaps while Jesus Christ was on the cross he was wearing, and holding, and FEELING the weight of every sin ever committed by man kind, or would be committed by man kind.  That's the way he chooses to look at it, and I like that, because again we don't know exactly what that means.  It may have been the physical act of dying on the cross itself, or it might have been something more complex where Jesus was wearing the pain of all the sins of man kind.  It's debatable, and again, I don't want to debate it.  So there it is.

God came back to an Earth twisted by sin to offer COMPLETE FORGIVENESS and REDEMPTION to humanity.  God said look, I know its tough out there on this Earth of yours.  You cut yourself off from me, now you live on your own Earth, distanced from me.  I can see that's not working out for you, with all those wars, famines, diseases, death, and corruption.  But you know what?  I want you to be my child again.  I want you to be DIRECTLY CONNECTED to me again.

So how do we do that?  It's called The Bible.  And it tells you about God the Father, when he came to Earth in human form as Christ Jesus and recreated that connection with humanity.   But what exactly has to be done to get right with our creator?  Because we're upset, we're lost, we feel empty and nothing seems to make sense.  Well here it is: Accept the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, BELIEVE that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins PERSONALLY.  We must also turn from our sins, and try to live the way Jesus Christ did.  We must give our lives over to God, to Jesus Christ.  And yes, we still have a sinful nature within us.  So we'll continue to sin, but we'll try not to.  God won't base our salvation and reconnection to him on the good things we do, though we must try to do good things.  He sees us as righteous when we have that strong BELIEF in Christ Jesus and the good words of the Bible.  That BELIEF is how God judges our righteousness.

And that BELIEF grows as we study scripture, attend church, get into groups, Bible studies, support groups, and just WORK ON OURSELVES with God's tools and his guidebook, the Bible. 

Isaiah 40;31 says "Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength."  So when we offer our creator that TRUST or FAITH or BELIEF, whichever word you like, God gives us strength that we never had before.  I know on my own I could have never overcome the sins of the past.  And we all have those sins.  I work for the church here, but I'm not perfect, I sin, WE ALL SIN!  I drank a lot, I liked to party when I was a kid.  It doesn't matter anymore.  So if you've got things in your life that you just can't seem to overcome, well, maybe that's because you're trying to overcome those things alone.

God offers us great strength and power when we have the courage and wisdom to simply lean on him.  Trust in him.  Go before him, humbly, I beg of you, and tell him that you're powerless over whatever you're struggling with.  It can be anything, from drugs to lying, to scamming people out of money.  Tell God you can't get rid of that sin alone.  Say LORD I NEED YOU!  And I promise you, he will start working to help you out of that sin.  That's a fact.  So just get humble about it.  We need some help from our Father.  And hes generous in giving it, let me tell you.  

I speak from experience in sin, to know that I couldn't get out alone.  My Father had to step in, and clock that bully in the nose, send him runnin.  

After Christ died on the cross, he returned in 3 days and spoke to his followers.  He sent them out into the world to offer up the gospel, which means, the good news.  And as we see today, they succeeded, because Christianity is a world religion.  The Bible is most read book in the history of humanity.  

So here we are today, in the world, 2013, things are very messy still.  They seem to be getting continously worse.  The economies of the world are plummeting.  There are constant wars and threats of new wars.  There is constant greed and corruption in government and business.  Here humanity is today, WITH ALL THESE DISTRACTIONS, products of our enemy, the rogue angel, trying to keep us from the truth of God.  But humans, brave Christians, newly allied with God, are fighting back.  The television is a huge distraction, but Christians create things like the movie "The Gospel of John" and more recently the hit History Channel series "The Bible."  The internet and computers are a huge distraction, but Christians fight back with social networking God's word, creating podcast audio sermons, and social networks to spread the good news.  The fight continues everyday and our weapon is the word of God! 

So that disconnection from God, that splinter in the mind, the empty hole in the chest that we talked about earlier, that's the feeling of being disconnected from our creator.  But we can fill that hole.  When we accept Christ's sacrifice that hole is filled with that connection to God  we need SO MUCH.

Ephesians 3:17-19 says Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him.  Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.  Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Isn't that just wow?  That just amazes me.  Some religions want you to think you can't understand that piece of scripture without a Priest.  Well, I understand it, and I bet you understand it too.  When we have that it produces great fruit in our lives.  We receive the holy spirit.  Galatians 5:22-23 says "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  There is no law against these things."  You know what?  Those are things that I want in my life very badly.  I can't imagine someone who wouldn't want those things!  Love I want in my life.  I want to be joyful and full of peace!  I want to be patient in my trials.  I want to be kind to people.  I want to be a good person!  I want to be faithful and gentle, and I definitely want to be self controlled.  Well we can have those things, we really really can.  And how do all those things glue together in us?  Colossians 3:14 says "Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection."  Love holds it all together!

So let me close with a piece of scripture from 1st Peter, to remind you of WHO YOU ARE when you're a Christian.  1 Peter 2:9 says "You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 

Thank you for being part of my spiritual journey, God bless you, and have a great day

-Minister Justin Steckbauer, ULC

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Poem to my Father

I was thinking Father,
That this dream is like a nightmare
A wilderness of endless green trees
Reminders of what was meant to be
Tall sky scrapers, street lights and urban fortifications
Monuments to humanity, and it's vain attempts to survive with you
A planet gone wrong, hurdling toward destruction
One thing holding it up, that's you Father
Dead souls, with empty eyes then glowing bright
As the Titanic sinks around them
Diving off in trust that the cold waters won't touch them
Rising up into the night sky
Saved from destruction

I was thinking Father,
That you're always with me
Especially when I can't feel it completely
A creation you made, but then why aren't you more present to me?
I can imagine you with me
Through a glass, dimly
But it's not making sense to me
Reality of the moment is so imposing
You're out there aren't you?
There you are, I can see you
Through the words of your explanation
In the tree branches
In the net of stars hung over the fallen landscape
There to remind humanity
There's more to this puzzle
More to this corrupt planet of misery

I was thinking Father,
That you always have what I need
You've always got what I crave
You reach out
But make me do the walking
You humble my heart brutally
But give me peace later on
You speak to me in wisps of forgotten song lyrics
You speak to me through the computer
And car radio, you proclaim just enough for me to notice
But not enough to see

You demand intense loyalty
And demand that I trust what you do
That I trust completely in you
You forge faith in my corrupt heart and soul
To push me into your gift of eternal life
Hanging there before me, stubborn
Too foolish to simply receive it
You right my mind, drop it on me like a ton of bricks
And rise my spirit from the sinful dead ashes. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

2 Timothy 3:1-5 Marks of the Last Days

2 Timothy 3:1-5 
 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  

People will be lovers of themselves 

lovers of money, 

boastful, proud, abusive, 

disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, 


 without love, 



 without self-control, 


not lovers of the good,  

treacherous, rash, conceited, 

lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—  

having a form of godliness but denying its power. 

Have nothing to do with such people.

First Sermon - ULC

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ.  It's an honor to be able to come to you and share the good news of Christ.  I'm happy to be a part of the church and I'm looking forward to getting to know you all better.

I know many faiths are represented at ULC, but for my part I'll be discussing being a Christian!  And what does it mean to be a Christian?  Well, as Christians it's actually fairly simple.  Let's look to scripture:

Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

So if we simplify it even further, being a Christian is about faith and trust.  There was a man named Jesus, who died by crucifixion.  Beyond the belief of those of the church, that statement is a fact that is accepted by historians.  It is also a fact that his followers believed and testified to the fact that this man named Jesus died on the cross.  His followers also testified that he rose from the dead, and interacted with them.  So we have eye witness accounts from that time in history.  We also know that his followers were persecuted and killed for confessing that Jesus rose from the dead.  They were willing to die, and did die to testify to this.

So if some of you are skeptics, it's intriguing to note that history and fact tend to support at least some of the beliefs of the church!

Most of us have probably heard about faith since we were young kids.  Our parents really blew that one out of the water with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny didn't they?  That's no reason to reject God all together though.  The enemy out there, whom we call the devil, or Satan, has many little schemes to get us to reject and turn away from the Father's love. 

Faith isn't some vague uncertain term that doesn't really mean anything.  Though that's often where it ends up for some people. 

Faith is something we learn from God himself as we go through our spiritual journey.  For me I made a commitment to serve Christ early on in my journey of faith.  I had learned enough and seen enough changes that could only be the Father working in my life, that I was ready to commit my existence to serving him.

That's a step many of us here have taken, or will take at the proper time.  If you don't understand yet, or you need to learn more, thats absolutely fine.  This moment isn't the end all be all, though it is very important to stay on this path!  Keep asking questions, keep reaching out.  And very important: Keep persevering on that question.

There are many preachers and ministers out their who will tell you their way is the only way.  That's absolutely false.  The only way lays within the pages of the Bible and is uniquely perceived by a diverse planet of people.  There are basic truths in the Bible that must be seen, like the fact of Christ dying for our sins, and serving him, but the way someone receives that can be incredibly diverse.

You WILL get knocked back many many times if you're still searching for that meaning in life.  Preachers, teachers, and books (aside from the Bible) are fallible.  They can teach wrongly.  In fact many do.  We encounter judgemental Christians, hateful Christians, bigoted Christians, Christians teaching false doctrine, and we get knocked back.  The snap motion after this happens is to discount the entire diverse church and look elsewhere, but let me encourage you: Many will give you the wrong impression of Christianity.  MANY.  Many will make you want to give up, because you don't see it their way.  But I'm asking you to persevere on that journey.  And persevere honestly.  Hard truth is out there, sometimes we have to accept that.  But there is also falseness, and we need to immediately reject that.  Give this journey chance after chance.  God gives us enough chances.

The way of Christianity is not judging everyone.  The way of Christianity is not being a hypocrite and going through the motions.  The way of Christianity is not of hate and constant fear.  Many who practice this are FALSE and are not even Christians at all.  We meet so many that are judgemental and angry and hateful that we assume the entire church is false.  Don't let yourself get too far that you discount the true Christians out there.  There is only one perfect Christian, and that is Jesus Christ.  The rest WILL have many faults and failings.  And remember the Bible tells us the gates to eternal life are narrow, so few are truly saved.  Search out the Christians who act out of love, service, non-judgement, kindness, and faith.  They are out there, within the lost masses. 

And to those of you who are new or continuing Christians, we can easily be knocked back as well.  We find a situation where people at a church or group are treating us wrongly.  Well, try something else.  Many will find closed door after closed door, but theres an open door waiting for you out there.  And guess what's behind it?  God's POWERFUL truth, as it will make the most sense to you.  That's why there are many denominations out there.   Some people find great comfort in the ceremonies of the Catholic church.  Others want to focus on a direct walk with Christ, like certain Baptist churches will push.  I'm not qualified to say which is wrong and which is right, they may both be right, but we need to find that church or Pastor that speaks to us most clearly.

That DOESN'T mean shopping around for a preacher who only says what we want to hear.  It means finding a preacher who speaks in a way we can UNDERSTAND.

So let me encourage you to keep persevering and reaching out for that.

The Father is always with you.  Wherever you are, right now, hes in the room with you.  He's watching you, and he's feeling something for you.  For the biggest part he LOVES YOU DEARLY.  In a way we can never understand as humans, he loves us.  And hes constantly pointing out things to us, that will guide us to his love and protection.

I want to encourage you to watch for the Father's presence in your life.  Watch for little hints that hes with you.  You'll see them.  God can direct our attention within his will.  And let me encourage you to pray.  Ask God in prayer to show his truth to you.  God WILL answer that prayer, in his timing.

For the persevering Christians reading, I want to encourage you to constantly request God's presence in your life.  Make little prayers here and there, while driving, while walking, while sitting alone, and with friends.  He's always listening.  And he loves us in an INCREDIBLE way. 

So once again, I want to thank everyone at the church for reading through my first sermon.  I'm very happy to be with you all, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, on this powerful mission to serve God in the world today.  This is a powerful time when many are being lead astray, so let me encourage you to spread the good news wherever you go!  Talk to you family and friends.  Post Bible quotes on your facebook and twitter.  Let's see ourselves as good soldiers and shield maidens for Christ in this lost world.  Let's rise up and create a resurgence in the church.  Let's bring enthusiasm, love, and always live in God's grace!  Let's share a message of peace, love, repentance from sin, and the powerful message of forgiveness, the gift God offers us through Christ Jesus.

Praise the Father always, and God's grace be with you on your journey.

Until next week, have a blessed day and a blessed week in the protection and love of your heavenly Father!


-Minister Justin Steckbauer, ULC

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sermon for the first week of April - Being God's Children

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I hope this wonderful spring day finds you in peace with God's plan for your life.  We know that all things work out for good in the lives of those who serve God and do his good works.  This is a great blessing, and a sacred blessing.  We are the children of the heavenly Father.  But our bodies are still flesh and prone to desires of the flesh.  

Let's take a look at a few verses from Chapter 8 of Romans:

Romans 8:12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters,[e] you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature,[f] you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children[g] of God.

15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.[h] Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”[i] 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

I really like how it starts here.  You have NO OBLIGATION to do what your sinful nature urges.  That's really interesting, because don't we often feel obliged to the sins we commit?  Like theres some excuse that makes it ok, or that theres some pressing reason to go about that sin.  Well we learn from Romans Chapter 8 that we have no obligation to entertain those thoughts.  We have no requirement on us, but to serve our heavenly Father.    It says that if we live by our sin's dictates we will die.  It's important to remember that, but it's equally easy to forget.  

The rest of these two paragraphs talks about calling God "Father" and that if we are the children of the Father that we must also share in the suffering that Christ went through.  

These are very important things to remember!

It's very easy to go about the day and get entirely caught up in the routine, driving, talking, cleaning, working, and so on...  That's natural.  If that's happening to you, it's not something strange.  It's something we all go through in this busy world.  

We know we aught to be accessing the holy spirit which was given to us by Christ.  The holy spirit informs us all throughout the day on how exactly we must act.  It comforts us and guides us.  But how many times in a day do we fall out of it, and forget?  Often, right!?  

That's not something we should be surprised at, or something we should beat ourselves up about.  Don't let that inner voice become an accuser!  It's ok to let that voice convict you into action against sin and staying in the spirit.  But try to switch it off if it starts to overwhelm you, and starts accusing or going over past wrongs.  This can often be negative spirits, or the sinful nature itself negatively influencing us.  

God does NOT want us constantly putting ourselves on the whipping post for sins of the past.  We know when we honestly confess our sins to the Father in prayer, and repent, that they are forgiven.  A good technique for clearing out those self voices I found in a book by Neil Anderson called "The Bondage Breaker."  Very quickly one should answer the negative self talk with a simple statement:  "That is not of God."  

Often we can end up beating ourselves up over stupid things of the past and present, and in our mind we justify that it's a good thing because we need to receive that punishment.  We do NOT need to receive that.  Jesus didn't save us and make us perfect before the eyes of God so we could hold onto the past and punish ourselves for past wrongs!

So when that voice of negativity and accusation shows up, answer it in your mind with "That is not of God the Father."  Reinforce that statement in your mind with scripture, that you are testing your thoughts against what scripture says.  So that voice is commanded to be silent, by the power of scriptural truth!

And recall, as we were talking about earlier that we can often fall out of the full influence of the spirit.  As we go about our days, constantly be praying for this or praying for that inside your own mind.  God is not limited to only receiving prayers that are spoken aloud, or prayers that are done on your knees. (Though it is wise to go before the Father humbly on the knees when you can)  Your Father is always listening to you, and caring for you throughout the day.  If he is always with us, why not constantly try to maintain that dialogue with him?

This helps to keep me Christ centered during the day.  There are a million-and-one distractions, but I can always center myself and ask the Father to re-center me with his Holy Spirit.  Isn't that great?  We have someone all around us, who is walking with us and caring for us during the day.

We aught to always know that we are ok.  And more than ok, we are truly blessed and saved.  Eternal life is OURS!  That's powerful, and a reason to smile throughout the many days of our lives.  This life is passing my brothers and sisters.  This is not how the planet God created was to be.  This is a tangent planet, a planet doomed to destruction.  But we have our way off, and we are already seated there with Jesus the Christ.  We await patiently the coming of the right Earth.  The Father will remake it, as he intended it to be.  And we will live in a holy city where we will live in constant intimate contact with the Father! 

Wow, I mean, wow... How blessed are we today?  Remember that blessing.  Constantly tell yourself: I'm a child of God.  Brag on the Father's greatness, and brag on the greatness and love of Christ Jesus our savior!  Live in that positive mindset, because my friends we are truly blessed children of the creator of the universe.  That's really something very special.  Why don't we go to the Father in prayer:  
We thank you that you called us to be your chosen children,
And Father, 
We always will try to live as the Christ did, though we fall short,
We know that you love us dearly, and care for us with incredible power,
 We offer you our service on this Earth, to bring others to your love,
We know that we can do nothing without your power,
Let us constantly receive your love and power throughout our busy lives,
And receive that blessing, so that we may do all your good works,
Until the day you take us to the right and true city, 
To live with you in all peace and joy,
Thank you Father, In Christ's name,