Friday, December 26, 2014


by Pastor Bob Lawrenz
   Todays, December 21st, is the day of the year with the shortest amount of daylight all year. Back in September, the path of the sun crossed over the Equator as the Earth’s southern hemisphere’s summer months were to begin. Today marks the midpoint of the sun’s summer down south, and begins its change to blaze brightly over the northern hemisphere for our summer months next year. March 20 will mark another Equatorial crossing for the sun, but our hours of daylight begin to increase again tomorrow. 

    This weekend (December 17-23) also marks the ancient pagan holiday of Saturnalia. It is a holiday of Pagan Rome when the deity Saturn was worshiped. (The ancient Greeks had a corresponding festival called “Kronia.” ) Saturnalia marked the dying age of Roman mythological greatness, and it was a day when even slaves would enjoy being served at tables. A variety of Saturnalia rituals took place, from the burning of Yule Logs, to bringing boughs of evergreens into the home, to celebrate long life in the midst of a dying age. Sacrifices were made at the Temple of Saturn, banquets were public affairs, and gift giving took place privately.  

    The similarities to our Christmas holiday seem uncanny. Yet, I cannot remember a single Christmas during my lifetime when I was mourning mythology, worshiping the God Saturn, and banqueting publicly. 

    Christians do not celebrate Saturn this time of year. Some practices on the surface seem to have been borrowed, but for Believers, it is a celebration of renewal and new life. And though our critics continue, let me assure you that we have not “borrowed” anything from Saturnalia. For as surely as the 9/11 hijackers commandeered airliners to use them for their own purposes Christians hijacked this pagan holiday to make it a festival of hope and new life; one of prophecies fulfilled! Quite literally, we have taken a negative holiday, and made it a positive one, dedicated to the birth of our New Born King! The stars were given to us for signs. We have re-interpreted the signs to glorify Jesus.
The Christ Child is not mythology, He is real.
“For unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given.”
- Isaiah 9:6 -

Sunday, November 16, 2014


by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

    A Bible Teacher taught his congregation one time that the gift of salvation was, in some ways, like a VISA Gold Gift Card. He meant that when we stand before the Father on Judgment Day, Jesus intervenes on our behalf and says to His Father, “This one’s sins are all paid for because he believed in me while he was on Earth. I have already paid his debt while I was on the cross.”

    It seems simplistic, yet it is entirely true. Our Lord’s death on the cross paid for all sin, for all time, for those that will believe on the name of Jesus. We are saved by grace through faith according to Ephesians 2:8. Faith is a gift of God to us, and we are forever grateful for it. His gift to us has been bought and paid for by His death on the cross, and new life ensues because of the Resurrection.

    If you have ever had a credit card stolen, or just the account number, how did that make you feel when you found out that someone else was taking advantage of you? In the past, I myself was angry about just such an event. I felt violated, like my privacy had been invaded. “My good name” and credit rating were under attack. It was like a thief went directly into my wallet and stole from me. Though the bank caught all the fraudulent charges in time, I still felt angry and violated at such boldness by another person.

    If you have had it happen to you, how did you first feel when you learned of it? There in a nutshell is the human heart. (Jeremiah 17:9)

    If our salvation then, is sort of like a VISA Gold Gift Card from God to us, then God is like the bank that is going to cover all the charges, and prosecute the thief. But our first instincts are not pretty. We are angry, insulted, hurt, and asking God, “Why me, Lord?” How then does God feel about it all?

    Regardless of the reason why God lets bad things happen to good people, it is still the response of the human heart that needs to be dealt with. It is therefore, no wonder that mankind needed a Savior to intervene with the Father, on our behalf. Our “heart condition” means that Jesus needs to heal us and by-pass all the natural, human responses of the heart.     

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on (Jesus) the iniquity of us all.”            - Isaiah 53:6

Sunday, November 9, 2014


by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

    History is repeating itself. As ancient Israel was given warnings regarding the coming Babylonian captivity, God’s word from the prophets were repeatedly rejected. The prophets warned of coming judgment because their nation had moved further and further away from God and His precepts. They were summarily   shouted down and persecuted for the words which God had given them to speak.

    In recent decades, the United States has consistently elected to leadership people who move us further and further from God. The “separation of church and state” is as strong as ever, and is strengthening daily. Christians voicing a need to return to Christ are shouted down and criticized for being out-of-touch with the mainstream, and even persecuted for their statements.  

    It was just seven years after 9/11, a President was elected who has strong Muslim leanings, the same faith proclaimed by those who attacked us. This past week, in a post-election statement, we heard our President say that there are bills coming from Congress that he will not sign; that he will do many things which the Congress will not like. The voice of the people will no longer be heard. Change has come, but not what we had hoped for.

    Israel was taken into bondage after ignoring the prophets’ warnings, and the United States has elected a spiritual follower of Muslim Iraq (modern Assyria). Though we are not taken away into bondage, modern Assyrians and many other foreigners are coming. Our nation is in the process of being invaded by foreign forces, all because we have left the Lord as surely as did Israel. We are being told we must support these foreign invaders and provide for them through social services, Social Security, and welfare programs. Over two billion dollars has been redistributed, and not even the poor have anything to show for it. 

    The Babylonian captivity lasted for a generation because they did not let the land rest every 7 years according to God’s word. While gone, the land rested, all because the people turned away from God. What shall WE do? What does God call us to do? Without a return to God, we can do nothing of our own strength.     

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”              - 2 Chronicles 7:14

Sunday, October 12, 2014


by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

    Jesus tells us that He is the way, the truth, and the life. “Study to show thyself approved unto God,” Paul says, “…a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  (2 Timothy 2:15). The word of truth is the word of Jesus. But to rightly divide His word,  we must understand that it needs to be taught with the entire Bible in mind. To do otherwise is to abuse it and teach it like a man with no understanding, or to teach it from man’s own human understanding. Peter teaches that holy men of old spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance. Paul tells us that all of scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    I learned of a man recently who denies the Rapture of the church, and willingly ignores some of the scriptures that teach it. He has degrees from several Theology Schools, matched with multiple degrees in Philosophy.

    With those two divergent backgrounds, all scripture for him is filtered through human Philosophy. This man has a great mind, and has earned the respect of many in Theological circles. His peers award him the title of “Theologian,” Yet Theology is the study of God’s wisdom, and Philospohy is the study of human wisdom. His chosen areas of expertise are like oil and water. No matter how much you mix them, they eventually separate.  (Isaiah 55:8 & 9)

    Scripture must be taught with the whole of scripture in mind, and not mixed with anything else. God is telling a story, and it’s the story of His faithful followers from Genesis to Revelation, AND how He leads them and protects them. For Jesus’ Church, even the gates of hell will not prevail against it. As He kept Noah, He will keep us. As He delivered Lot, He will deliver us. In the midst of the many sieges against Jerusalem, He preserves His Holy City. His faithfulness is to all generations. So how are we then to believe that God would not protect His Church, and keep us from the wrath of the Great Tribulation? It is contrary to His very nature.

“For God has not appointed us unto wrath, but to obtain
salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:9

Sunday, October 5, 2014


by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

   The story of the Hebrews begins with Abraham hearing from God, and then by faith, following God’s directions. While we see Abraham as being imperfect, we must also see that he obeyed God and packed up his family, moving away from familiar surroundings to a different land altogether. Abraham’s appointment with God led him to a new land, and to being the progenitor of a new people.

    Just this weekend, we have seen a young family pull up stakes, and move lock, stock, and barrel to a new region of the country; God wanted to bless them, and put everything together for their journey. They have had an appointment with Jesus, and He has directed them to a new life elsewhere.     

    We are also witness to a family that is watching a beloved member struggle with cancer, and being readied for hospice care, in apparent preparation to go home and meet the Lord. She has an appointment with Jesus.

    All of us are appointed by God for something. His desire is to change our course and alter our path. In Luke 12:46 an unfaithful servant is appointed his portion with unbelievers (This is NOT good news!). In Acts 6:3, seven men are to be appointed to serve in the church as deacons, taking on simple tasks. It should occur to us that everyone is appointed by God to something, regardless of their religious beliefs, or their lack of them.

    In God’s family of Believers, everyone has their place. Once in a great while, it’s a perfect fit from the start, but most times we are appointed and molded and shaped into a perfect fit. Our sister-in-the-Lord is being prepared for her appointment, for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. For the rest of us, our molding and shaping is less severe, but equally vital if we are to be used by God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

    God may have several appointments in our lifetimes, and always with a purpose, but it’s inevitably to draw us closer to Him in a relationship of loving trust, with each new appointment an adventure towards peace with Him.

But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou
our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.  ~Isaiah 64:8

Sunday, September 14, 2014


by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

    We are presented with yet another Psalm of David in today’s Psalm, and I am left wondering when he found time to write. From his humble beginnings as a shepherd boy tending his father’s flock, to the nation’s King (tending God’s flock), David should inspire us all.

    Within the titles of the Psalms, seventy-three (73) of them are ascribed to David. David was inspired to write. That inspiration is reflected in both the number of them, and the emotional intensity of each one. We know that David was gifted in many ways: with his sling, in music (and therefore in writing lyrics), and in fearless leadership of the nation of Israel.

    David most assuredly found time to learn and practice all his gifts while tending sheep. Along while the sheep grazed, he had plenty of time to mull over in his mind and heart the things he had learned at his father’s knee. And though the sheep would know his voice, they hardly conversed with him more than a BAA here or there.

    Conversing with our heavenly Father would have been a natural choice, but think about the prayer closet he used: a wide-open field with all of God’s Creation surrounding him! It’s with that image in mind that we might begin to understand from where David’s inspiration sprang! We have them collated for us in five sections of the Psalms. And, if Psalm 1 was the first one he wrote, what a spectacular introduction to his writings we have!

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law doth he meditate day and night.” Ps. 1 : 1,2  
 With these words, David reveals the priorities in his life. It is then, no wonder that David was as gifted as he was, for he truly had a heart after God!

Lord, help us to follow David’s example. Turn our hearts and minds toward
You and toward Your Word, and lead us to be inspired by what you reveal.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

    Skills and abilities are the tools that God instills in people to accomplish most anything. Those things should evoke a thankfulness within that gives glory to God. But then… then there is that less tangible portion of our successes that comes more from Godly wisdom, than it does from Godly knowledge.

    Timing; timing seems to be vital in so many facets of our lives. Without good timing, nothing goes as we planned.

    I was watching a rerun of “The Rifleman” this past week with Lukas McCane, and his young son, Mark. Integral to this episode was the subject of inventions. In his youthful exuberance, Mark got excited about the prospects of machines in the future, and at the end of the show, he said we might see a day when a machine might even replace the horse for work and transportation. His skeptical Dad, Lukas, gave him a grin, and said, “That would never happen.” The Skeptic vs. the Visionary…

    Inventors are usually visionaries who are ahead of their time, yet their ideas helped to forge dreams into future realities for the benefit of all mankind. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were these kinds of men. And though their invention does not bear their names, Chester Carlson and John Dessauer’s invention was furthered under the vision of Joseph C. Wilson, and the process of xerography came to the marketplace. Haloid Photographic Company became Haloid-Xerox Company in 1958, and Xerox Corporation was the result in 1961. Four years later, Xerox revenue was over 500 million dollars.  …Timing…

    The difference between a skeptic and a visionary is usually timing and hope. There is a practical application to both, and God is such a Visionary while mankind is often the skeptic. But there are men and women who are filled with the Holy Spirit who can see ahead, and make plans accordingly. The prophets were sent to give a message to Israel from God, and today there are men and women who retain a boldness to still speak God’s Word to us. God’s Word never changes, and as a consequence, His plans for us never veer off track.  
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace,
and not of evil, to give you a future, and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Sunday, August 31, 2014


by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

    Today’s Psalm 101 is yet another song of praise in this grouping of Psalms, but with a poignant difference. Though Psalm 101’s authorship is not listed, Dr. Henry Halley (Halley’s Bible Handbook) believes it is a Psalm of David, as he takes the throne of Israel. If that is the case, then the Psalm quite literally lays out some lofty goals for David’s administration over Israel.

    One might liken these to campaign promises of our government’s leaders. It isn’t long after reciting the Oath of Office that a “State Of The Union” address comes up and the President must explain away the reasons why he has been unable to fulfill the promises he made on the Campaign Trail.

    Taking over powerful government positions usually means that the newly elected politicians were clueless beforehand concerning the intricacies of the job they worked so hard to attain. The harsh reality is that everyone wants a piece of you, and many favors received during a campaign are now due for repayment.

    We are all aware that politics can be a dirty game, and whether it is our current state, or David’s newly installed government, Solomon reminds us that “There is nothing new under the sun.”      

    So, whether we are the man-on-the-street, or the politicos, we plod onward with new determination to do better. For the Christian, that means to live more Godly; to be more Christ-like; to live lives that are set apart for God. Here are those lofty goals again, but each time that we set them, we gain a little more knowledge of the pitfalls, and our live resemble Christ Jesus’ life just a little more closely.

    “Blessed be the name of the Lord!” can be sung more strongly and with greater confidence in His life-changing power. Never give up that hope. Never give up on these lofty goals. Never give up on Jesus!  

    And remember that the Devil is nothing more than a political “muckraker,” Jesus our Advocate has already experienced Satan’s worst, yet He lives. And because He lives, we shall live also!

- Hebrews 4:13 -

“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”

Sunday, August 24, 2014


by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

    It is easy to identify the pattern of trouble and despair being changed to joyful anticipation and trust in David’s Psalms. Our “present” circumstances can be daunting, and some may even fear for their lives, as David did so often.

    But to quiet our minds and look to the Lord God is an indication of a changing heart. Looking to God and waiting for His perfect will is often the only thing left for us to do. Alcoholics Anonymous adopted “The Serenity Prayer” and uses it regularly in their meetings.

    Written by Reinhold Niebahr (1892-1971) as a prayer to God, Niebahr is credited with the prayer in 1937, but he himself did not publish it until 1951.
A.A. adopted the following portion  of the prayer: 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.”

    After 1951, Niebuhr’s full prayer came to light and we find it to be unwaveringly a Christian Prayer, and not just a few words to be recited at a 12-Step Meeting:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next.    Amen.

    The bold words are my own emphasis. But as you read through the Serenity Prayer, you will identify the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22,23 : Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.

    The underlying message of the Serenity Prayer then is the encouragement for each to be Spirit-Filled, with the anticipation of Eternal Life with Christ! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The reading for today in Romans 1 establishes a truth (doctrine) for mankind to believe that God is who He says He is. There are dozens of other doctrines that God teaches us in His Word, but for Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Chapter 1, verses 18-21 are like Genesis chapter one.

Ancient Roman farmers were pantheistic, believing that gods and spirits inhabited everything in nature (much like the Baha’i Faith today). The practice of their faith was both private and public. “Lar Familiaris” was a guardian spirit/god that watched over individual families. Every family had a Lar Familiaris. For them, their Pantheism was central to daily life.

Later on, the Etruscans and Greeks influenced Roman religious culture as Rome became an Empire. Pantheism evolved into the worship of three major gods: Jupiter (Zeus), Juno (Hera), and Minerva (Athena).

Roman worship was done privately, and publicly. Public worship took place at a temple that became known as the “Capitoline Triad.” Already, within the dominant Triad belief system existing in Rome, Paul found a basis of common ground that he could build upon to explain the One True God as a Trinity. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit made up one single God, in three persons.

But Roman had many other, lesser gods too. And it doesn’t take much of a stretch to understand that Lar Familiaris might have been the basis for the Roman Church’s Guardian Angels, for Guardian Angels have endured through Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity.

As Paul had done with the Athenians, he found common ground upon which he could build a true and enduring faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. With Paul’s teachings, the Romans found themselves without an excuse for not believing in God and Jesus Christ.

Today, evangelists face the same thing: unbelieving people who hear the truth, and now have no excuse to not believe. Once their eyes have been opened by the Holy Spirit, a decision must be made. The only question is whether it will be the right decision.

“Harden not your heart, as in the day of provocation…” Psalm 95:8 

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz
“Each Sunday, Christians gather together to praise the Lord our God, Jesus Christ.” While this is not an earth-shaking statement, it is a sublime, and obvious truth. That all in attendance here today have come to worship the Lord and learn more about Him might be taken for granted, but it is a reality to be cherished and a freedom to be held dear. By reading, studying, and learning more about God at every opportunity, our freedoms (personally and nationally) become the tangible evidence of the faith that we exercise.

By their faith, the Founding Fathers understood that equality, life, liberty, and the persuit of happiness were self-evident.

> Equality, because: “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;” Acts 17 : 26

> Life, because: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10 : 10

> Liberty, because: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Gal. 5 : 13

> The persuit of happiness, because: “These things (the Gospel) have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. John 15 : 11

> And : “The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 29 : 19

In First John 1:1, John speaks of Jesus: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;” ...this tells us the John knew Jesus personally.

The Apostle John grasped that the Word of God was made flesh and dwelt among us. He understood all that that entailed, and that it was a work of the Spirit of God. Jesus had come to change mankind to life, from death. He came that we might find our hope in Him because of our great need (John 3:15-17). He also warned us of others who come with a similar message, but they are false prophets, false professors, and wolves in sheep’s clothing. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Worship Jesus with us today!

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

To announce that there is sickness, disease, death, and evil in this world would be a moot point. Those things are evident to all, except perhaps the most naïve of individuals.

To proclaim that there are absolute truths in the world would conversely insult the majority of contemporary students and adults who have adopted a post-modernist view of the world that are no absolute truths.

My computer printer might be in agreement with post-modernist thought: it prints in black and white, and in hundreds of shades of gray, not to mention color! The consideration of color or "gray-scale” is a personal preference when printing a page, and that indicates personal choice. In Biblical terms, that exemplifies free-will.

All of this points to the semantics or the Bible. While Psalm 23 speaks of the valley of the shadow of death, Psalm 91 introduces us to the refuge found in the shadow of the Almighty! It is in God’s shadow that we find refuge and safety in a world that brings us fear and shaking in the midst of death and dying.

It is here in Psalm 91 that we are introduced to variations in shadows, and in particular, how the Lord Jesus uses them in our lives. While some are dark and gloomy, others are light and comforting. I recall as a child playing hide’n’seek, that I would look for shadows to hide in, in order to not be found. Now as an adult, I look for shadows to cool off and avoid the heat of the sun.

God’s depiction of shadows in scripture to bring home a point: light dispels darkness. “This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5) Analogous throughout the stories of the Bible is that light represents life and freedom, and darkness represents bondage and sin. And in the physical realm of the Earth, light actually creates shadows. It is a free will choice how we use them. We can look for the darkest corners to hide from the light, or we can experience a shadow’s chill, and seek the warmth of God’s marvelous light.

Hide’n’seek is childhood game best played at dusk. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, there is nowhere we can hide from the One who brings us life and freedom. In spite of our attempts to avoid exposure, Jesus already knows where we are.

~ Psalm 17:8 ~

“Keep me as the apple of the eye (which requires light to see), hide me under the shadow of thy wings.” (a refuge from evil)

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

When fairly newly married, and my wife pregnant with our first-born, we wanted to purchase a house in which to raise our family.  My parents both became excited about the prospect and my father in particular jumped in with both feet to help find a suitable house.  And, find a house, he did.

The one Dad found was beyond our price range however, which simply frustrated us. But he toured the house; talked to the homeowner and their Realtor, and was convinced it was the right house for us.  He encouraged us to submit the best offer we could, and we did.

We learned that a full-price offer had also been submitted.  But a few days later, the Realtor called to say that our offer had been accepted! Dumb-founded, we bought the house, and stayed there for more than 20 years while we raised our sons.

How did Dad know? One might chalk this up to “Father Knows Best,” but the simple act of conversation gave him insight as to the house’s availability.  The owners were anxious to sell.  The full-price offer was based on the buyer selling home.  Our lower offer was not contingent because we had already sold our home.  The homeowner jumped at the chance to make sure the house would be sold in time for their scheduled move.

Some of what we celebrate on this Father’s Day is the loving guidance shown by our fathers.  Honor, ethics, fairness, and many other traits we learn as a result of their example to us.  That example, good or bad, has even brought many of us to Faith that we might be called the children of God.

God directed Abram out of his home town, and eventually directed him to a mountain “which I will tell thee of.”  The specific purpose was a sacrifice, but the land of Moriah was the place where God led Abram to, and there God established a Kingdom, and a throne for all of Abram’s descendants. The world now calls the place Mount Zion, which translates to “Sunny Mountain.” On that mountain, the City of Jerusalem remains to be home to God’s Children.

Jesus said, “In my Father’s House are many mansions,…I go to prepare a place for you.” - John 14:2

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Bobservations Column
by Bob Lawrenz

This weekend marks the beginning of summer for many. After our long winter, and wet spring, this weekend is the start of what we have all been waiting for: summer. Warmer weather, lighter weight clothes, sandals, shorts, outdoor sports, picnics, and travel for many. It means our lives change substantially in our daily routine, no longer dictated by cold weather and the heavy clothes we bundle ourselves into.

“Freedom” is a word that automatically comes to mind. Out from under the cruel and harsh conditions of the cold months, everyone is waiting to be out and about.

Monday’s Memorial Day celebration here in the USA is a reminder that our social and political freedoms have come at a great price. Memorialized are those that have fought in wars and battles, too awful to describe for the most part. In the midst of kicking off a season of enjoying our freedoms, we have the grim reminder of its cost: men and women have fought and died for it.

There are plenty of our nation’s residents for whom it’s just another reason to break out the lawn and patio chairs and pop the top of an adult beverage. But the thoughts for the weekend are a bit different for Christians, for we are reminded every time we open our Bibles of the cost of our freedom that was won for us by Jesus Christ.

While they might offer a moment of silence on Monday in respect for those that have given their lives for the nation, we a constantly reminded of our Savior, Jesus, every day because of the freedom from sin won for us by His sacrifice. Not that we are sinless, but because His death expanded our vocabulary. Instead of plunging headlong into temptations, the new word at our disposal is a simple two-letter word: no. Also added to our vocabulary is the phrase, “I’m sorry, forgive me.” Behind these words is an acknowledgment that we can do better, and be better people, to more closely reflect the life of our personal War Hero in the battle for our souls.

Our enemy is Jesus’ enemy. Can you imagine Satan giving his life for anyone? Therefore, even our nation’s history reveals that Jesus is the One to follow.

As Satan roams about seeking whom he may devour, Jesus gave His life for us.  Satan takes. Jesus has given.

“As the Father knoweth me, even so I know the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. …Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself…” –John 10:15,17,18

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz
Here in the month of May, we are familiar with the flowers that the April showers have brought.  The Lilac Festival has been declared a success.  Mother's day was a beautiful day.  Many are looking forward to next weekend with Memorial Day's recognition as the beginning of summertime.  And, with the rains we've had our grass is green, green, green.

But those same rains have had devastating effects throughout the northeast, and in particular, the local of Penn Yan area.  It was just a couple year ago that it was the Owego region.  The human race is resilient, if nothing else.  In the midst of joyful times, tragedies come up.  Life brings trials and blessings at the same time.

I usually am befuddled as to how people go through the tough times without God, and faith in Jesus Christ.  I am also confused about Who gets the praise when times are joyful for those same people.  For myself, I know that God gets the glory in All things.

A former neighbor came to mind this past week, and it occurred to me to pray for her since she lived her life waiting for the other shoe to drop; the next sickness in the family; the next illness she had to endure; the next bad news from the media; the next crisis she had to face.  She was a worrier, and with several children, she had plenty of material to worry about.  But the worry made her miserable.

The scriptures remind us not to worry about things over which we have no control.  If we cannot even add a cubit to our height, why do we think worry will accomplish anything except undermine our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Read the last part again.  Worry can undermine our faith, especially when we are taught to be independent and self-sufficient.  Being aware of something does not call for us to take on an additional burden of worry.

Placing our cares upon Jesus is what is called for.  Through prayer, we can become warriors instead of worriers.  It's only a single letter different, but it makes all the difference in the world.  You see, it ALL belongs to the Lord God anyway.

To place our trust in Christ, and know for certain that He has all under His control is freeing.  It does not mean we can ignore our responsibilities, but it means we are free to live the life He has designed for us.

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad."  Proverbs 12:25 RSV

Jesus is that GOOD WORD!

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Happy Mothers’ Day to all of our Moms represented here today. Each of us has memories of growing up, and our parents raising us… they are among the earliest of our memories. But those memories of our mothers stand out boldly just because of the sheer amount of time they spent with us as babies and toddlers.

There is a natural affection between mother and child, and when a woman grows up knowing that love from her own Mom, and then shares it with her children, the cycle is then complete as love is shared from one generation to the next, and the next, and the one after that.

In directing Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, it is clear that motherhood was included in His plan as much as using the earth’s resources and replenishing it and them, and having dominion over every living creature.

God holds mothers and fathers in great regard; they reflect the history of His interaction with His Creation, and it is the central theme of the entire text. The Jews were commanded to pass an oral history of themselves and events down to each generation. One can hardly miss the central theme of “family” in the Bible. We may read of the families of the faithful, or the families of the enemies of God, Christians understand that we have been grafted in to God’s family of His Chosen Ones. Bearing and raising the next generation of all those families is what defines motherhood, and it is God who provides us with the mothers we need.

At a critical point in Israel’s history as a 20th Century nation, former Prime Minister Golda Meir was asked when Peace will come to Israel? Her response was that of the Proverbs 31 woman: “There will be peace in Israel when Palestinian mothers love their children more than they hate the Jews. “

Without trying to politicize Mothers’ Day, her words may still echo today. Mothers, love your children, for peace is apparently rooted in love.

“Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.” Isaiah 38:17

Saturday, May 3, 2014


Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

God is a righteous judge. And, all judgment belongs to God, because all authority is His. During the night of Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane, He was taken to Pilate, and because Jesus was a Galilean, Pilate sent Him to Herod, for Herod ruled over the citizens of the Galilee region (Luke 23:8,9). After berating Jesus, Herod sent our Lord back to Pilate. It was a question of jurisdiction.

We often hear of court cases in which the lawyers argue for a determination about where a crime was committed, and therefore, what County, State, or agency may have jurisdiction to bring charges. This is why extradition proceedings take place, to get the accused person under the proper authority.

But as Jesus stood before Pilate for the second time that night, being silent before His questioners, Pilate finally asks Jesus to say something for Pilate had the power of life and death over Jesus (John 19:10). Jesus’ response was with wisdom and truth: “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.; therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.”

It is all the way back in Genesis 9 where we find that God authorized human governments to establish order and accountability in human society. While He did do that, in no way did God relinquish His own role as judge over all His creation. Proverbs declares to us that it is by God that kings, princes, and judges rule. So it is God who controls who it is that sits in our highest seats in the land (Proverbs 8:15,16).

God gave the Law to Moses, a written word. Kings, Princes, and judges rule by permission from Him, It is God’s Word that authorizes the Law and its judges. It is also God’s Word that became flesh and dwelled among us. It should not therefore surprise us at all when we read this:

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.”
- John 5:22 -

The Word came from the Father, through the Son, and then to us; suddenly it makes perfect sense that Jesus said, “…no man comes (approaches) to the Father but by me.” – John 14:6

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As parents train up their children, there comes the time to entrust them with a level of responsibility. It is the measure of the efficacy of our parental training and its effect on our children. Every generation does it for the next one following.

Without this relinquishment of parental control, we might never know what our children have learned, and how well they, in-turn, learn to adapt godly values to new situations they will inevitable encounter.

Today’s reading in Luke exemplifies Jesus’ training of the Apostles, and their taking the Gospel out into nearby towns and villages. They return and report back to Jesus of what they accomplished in their short travels. Jesus’ training of them had gone well. He empowered them, and sent them, and they returned after their first successful missionary journeys, as nearby as they were.

Much later on, in Acts 1:8, Jesus tells them that they will again be empowered to go out and be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth. Jesus completed the Apostles’ training in three and one-half years.

Our Psalm today, #81, is a Psalm of judgment. Specific to a Jewish Feast Day, it reminds us of how easily we can be distracted and not do the things God has given us to do, even as we celebrate His feasts! For the Jews, they would not hearken unto the Lord God. Asaph writes this song about God’s promises, and ultimately the rejection of them.

In grace, God let them go their own way, yet He did not forget His chosen people. Though they lost favor with the Lord, they did not lose His love. He taught them, trained them, and sent them out. They came back empty handed, and in worse shape than before, compounding their trials with their own iniquities.

Things have not changed in the 3,000 years since Asaph and David penned the Psalms. It is said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expect somehow a different result from our efforts. History will repeat itself until we learn God’s lessons, take His training to heart, and perform that which we have learned at His feet. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he shall not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6) God treats us as His children, with teaching and training, and with the encouragement to train others. The ball is in our court in this generation. But let’s not forget the most important thing: Empowerment from on High !

It was the Holy Spirit Who preceded Jonah going into that wicked city of Ninevah!

Let’s not forget this part of the lesson! Empowerment already given!

“But the Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit…He shall teach you all things, and remind you of all that the Lord has spoken.”
~ John 14:26 paraphrased

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Some fifteen years ago, my mother told me a story about my father: Just a few days after he had passed and gone home to the Lord, my mother experienced a vision of my father. It was early in the morning, she told me, and he appeared in the doorway to her bedroom as she was rising to begin her day. He lingered for a moment, and then the vision ceased and he was gone. While I cannot explain it, it did not surprise me either. My mother was a Believer.

Several years before, Doris, the mother of a childhood friend (now grown) told of a similar experience after her husband had passed away. Doris was also a Believer. Both visions were peaceful and calming, and it appeared that the two husbands wanted one final opportunity to check on their wives and be assured of their well-being.

The common thread was love from two long marriages. But the two husbands made their brief appearance, and then were gone in less than a minute, never to return from beyond again. I liken it to the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation, who was invited to “come and see” the things going on in the Earth after he had been called up to heaven in Chapter 4.

As word spread that Jesus had risen from the dead, it should not have surprised anyone either. He had told them He would return after three days. And when He did reveal Himself on the third day to Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome, and then the others, it was not just a vision; it was not a short visit either. Jesus appeared many times to the Apostles and Disciples.

The Gospels record that He sat with them and ate meals with them, He walked along beside them and conversed openly with them. Jesus continued to teach them and prepare them for evangelism, taking the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. And these things continued for 40 days, not just a few moments. Paul even records that Jesus had been seen by more than 500 brethren at one time.

If we take the word of two widows, then our Lord Jesus is more than just a man. If their reports are within in the human realm, then Jesus was more than human when He lived among mankind. Jesus remains and will always be more than “just a man.” Jesus retained His Divinity while on the Earth, and now sits at the right hand of the Father. He is the One the Jews are waiting for…

“…The high priest answered and said unto Him, ‘I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.’ Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou hast said; nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.’” - Mt. 26:63,64

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

We learn from John 1:1,2, that “In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” Later in verse 14, we find, “And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth.”

From these two simple verses, Christians have understood for centuries that Jesus is the Word of the Lord that was sent to live among us and teach us. No other “Word” has ever been reported to have been made flesh, and in doing so, fulfilled scripture.

The Prophet Isaiah, in 55:11 teaches us something about this Word of God. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth…”

Before I write the whole verse out though, let’s see how it reads with the Word’s name in the appropriate places in the Isaiah verse.

“So shall (Jesus) be that goeth forth (at my command): (He) shall not return unto me void, but (He) shall accomplish that which I please, and (He) shall proper in the thing whereto I sent (Him).”

The implication is clear: the Father sent Jesus to accomplish a work on Earth and to prosper in it. And Jesus was destined to return to the Father, and when He did, He would not return empty. The “work” Jesus was sent to complete is the referred to as the Gospel, the good news, and it continues today. The message of the Gospel is as timeless as God Himself. And following the message of the Gospel, God says we shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace, as recorded in Isaiah’s next verse! Is Isaiah alluding to the Rapture here?

If Christians are looking forward to that day when we will be with Jesus, then that is what Isaiah is talking about. To the Jews, Isaiah writes about going forth from the bondage of Babylon, but to Jesus’ church, Isaiah is writing of coming out from the bondage of sin, and to glory with Him.

This week we look at Jesus’ glorious entry into Jerusalem. A horrendous week lay ahead for Him, but it too ends in His glorious Resurrection!

“…It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”
In Glory! ~ 1 John 3:2 ~

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In the Finger Lakes Wine Country, the grape growers put their trust in the methodology of growing grapes to tap into the nutrients of the soil.  Bountiful crops are the desire of anyone that grows crops.  But this past week's news reminded me that all involved in farming are not doing it because of a love for God, or for His Earth.  They might not even believe in God!

Vintners in the area are now facing a diminished harvest from their vines this year because of the persistent sub-freezing temperatures we experienced during the winter months.  Their pocketbooks may not be as full this year because of freeze damage to their vines.  Consequently, they have appealed to the government to bail them out and offset the damages to their grapes.

Our hearts go out to anyone who relies on the weather for their sustenance and food.  But have not these same vintners found in the past that a low grape yield during harvest means higher prices for their bottled wine products in the market place?  The rarity of a grape inflates the price of its wine.  This is the self-correcting nature of a market fueled by supply and demand.

Maybe I'm being cold here, but it seems to me that little Peter is crying "Wolf" far too early in the growing season.  The Lord is good, above all things.  If the Lord tells the Earth to hold back a little, it must be with good reason.  (I tend to think He wants to reveal His power to all!)

Projecting our worst fears on a situation will always have us crying out in advance.  But if Jesus is in our hearts, then He must also be in our circumstances.  His desire is to be an integral part of our lives, and for us to grow, that means pruning us for more growth and more fruit to come from our lives.

For those in agriculture who depend on the weather for everything, we should pray that they know the Divine One who makes the weather.  Without God's favor, we can do nothing.

"Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? Or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail?  Which (God) has reserved against the time of trouble..."
  Job 38:22, 23.

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