Sunday, December 29, 2019

Egypt To Nazareth

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

History and the Bible tell us much about King Herod’s reign. Placed on Israel’s Throne by the Roman occupiers of the Land, Herod was a cruel, domineering King. Last week, we talked about the threat that Jesus (the newborn King) posed to Herod. With “King Makers” (The Wise men of the East) poised within Judea, Herod was likely outraged that a military coup could well take place, and he would lose the Throne of Palestine. 

Herod’s family, AKA the Herodians, were filled with conspiracy, petty jealousies, murders, and intermarriages between brothers and their sisters-in-law; they were a rather distasteful lot! Distrust seemed to rule their lives. 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The King Is Born

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Merry Christmas everyone! 

As the world readies itself to celebrate our Savior’s birth, we are caught up easily in the festivities, the lights, the giving of gifts, and all the rest that comes with this holiday. Though God never would have underwritten such a celebration, we find ourselves overjoyed about His faithful fulfillment of His promise, to send a Redeemer to a world that barely recognizes its need to be saved. 

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Ancient Paths, New Vessels

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the Earth.” This simple and straight-forward verse carries with it much to consider. The reader is immediately introduced to God and time. In the beginning of what? Apparently, it was the beginning of everything on Earth that we are already familiar with, including “time”. 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

"And A Partridge In A..."

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Our teaching today speaks of accepting and following God’s plan for life on Earth. The Ten Commandments are an easy way to remember the things of His plan. More than mere guidelines, God commands these things. And for those that ignore them and go their own way, God will judge and not honor their choice to replace His plan with their own. Our human plans will always be self-serving rather than serving God and ministering to others. 

Our teaching today tells us of the foolish partridge bird, sitting on his nest but not hatching the eggs. Is that not the purpose of sitting on the nest? Hatch the next generation, feed and nurture them to leave the nest, and repeat this Godly cycle.

Sunday, November 17, 2019


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Happy Thanksgiving Week! Though it is a non-religious holiday, it’s a day when God’s grace was and is evident. From Google we learn that “The event that Americans commonly call the ‘First Thanksgiving’ was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. This feast lasted three days, and—as accounted by attendee Edward Winslow—it was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims.” 

As in the Book of Esther, nowhere is God mentioned, but the work of God is evident everywhere in the story of that first Thanksgiving feast. People came together to work and grow a harvest that would sustain them. Pilgrims and Native Americans combined their efforts for the sake of life in the New World. 

Sins Of The Fathers

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Among my initial assignments in ministry was to reach out to one local Jail Inmate who was to be transferred into a State Prison. Word of mouth spread, and within two years, I received referrals to about 500 State Prison Inmates. My electric typewriter and copy machine were busy printing up newsletters with Bible Studies and words of comfort and encouragement to for both male and female Inmates. Teaching tapes from my Senior Pastor followed.

What I learned was that most all were incarcerated for the bad choices they had made, not for their “criminal minds.” Educated, or lacking in education was not the issue. More often than not, they had (sometimes inadvertently) surrounded themselves with others that seemed to lack direction and discipline. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Tough Love

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Many State and Local Prisons had a program known as “Scared Straight.” It combined the efforts of Social Services, Faith-based Ministries, and each State’s Department of Corrections. Young men and women who had several low level arrests were “recruited” into a prison, where Inmates and Corrections Officers would present a very real experience of what it’s like to live behind bars. 

The testimonies of inmates in particular were frightening as they related their own experiences of mental, physical, and sexual abuse from different prison factions to the “recruits.” Scared Straight was a program designed to deter individuals from a life of crime. 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Take A Stand!

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The headlines in the media affirm scripture:  from 2 Timothy 3:13 - "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."  The proof of this verse is in the fruit of the lives of many of our elected officials, and those that put their stamp of approval on ungodly acts.

It seems that more leaders of various organizations than not, government officials, and yes, even members of the clergy are being brought up short, and being directly charged with criminal offenses.  It comes as no surprise that the public has become disenchanted on so many levels with corruption running rampant in every echelon of our culture.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Signs From God

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In Genesis 9:11, we find God’s Covenant promise to never again destroy the Earth with a flood. This is part of the Noahic Covenant, promises God made to Noah. As with all God’s Covenants, His promises will hold throughout the existence of the earth: “...neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.” Protected from world-wide flood, we are not protected from drought!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

God's Roadmap

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

You have heard before that we have four seasons in upstate New York:  Fall, Winter, Spring and Construction.  Detours are mild inconveniences.  But if you are already unfamiliar with the region around a detour, one could easily think, "I can't get there from here."  Happily though, the detour signs will direct us if we follow them.  They might not give us the shortest route, but the route will be the easiest one to follow, and it will be on better roads.  Just follow the big orange arrows posted at the side of the road.

That's what God had in mind when He gave mankind His Word.  The Jews were a stiff-necked and stubborn people though.  We can see the difficulty already.  Some will think they have a better idea than God.  If God's directions are true, then all other directions are heresy.  After a long period of not following God's directions, mankind had become unfamiliar with His voice, and with His Word.

The human race was "lost" and like Moses was sent to lead the people out of Egypt, Jesus was sent to seek and to save those that were lost.  The directions God gave had been compromised so God sent His only begotten Son to lead us back to His heavenly home.
No longer are we lost, we are found.  
No longer do we follow orange arrows, we have Jesus to lead us!  
No longer do we have a series of signs to follow, God sent His only begotten Son to guide us onto the right path to eternal life.
Humanistic shortcuts are dead-ends, wrong turns, and most certainly, tours with an altered destination.  The dangers on the short cuts are unknown to us as we proceed carelessly, even to our own hurt.  Jesus alone give us the most direct and safest route.  Following Jesus, we know that we'll get there.  It is even easier than operating your car's GPS unit.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life:  
No man cometh unto the Father, but by me."  - John 14:6

Seventeen times in the  Gospels, Jesus is recorded to have given really easy directions:  "Follow Me."  Selah!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Idolatry's Results

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Jeremiah 13 - God instructs the Prophet to do something unusual, as a practical example of what God’s people have done, and its outcome. 

The application for us is simple, for it answers the question of “Why must I go through this, Lord?”: a question that many have asked at one time or another. God’s response to His people is just one of the judgments He can send our way for disobedience, but it is designed to get our attention, and to motivate us to righteousness, avoiding God’s judgments in the future. 

Christians are reminded that Halloween comes this week. And, just like the Jews of old, we will be tempted to celebrate falsehoods, idolatry, glorify evil, and honor Satan and his evil works on Thursday, October 31st. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Pray Always And Pray About Everything

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

"The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished" 2 Peter 2:9

Perhaps you have experienced the protection of the Lord when you have prayed for it, or maybe, when you weren't even looking for it.  We occasionally enter into circumstances that appear quite innocent outwardly, but once we enter in, we begin to get uncomfortable and look for ways to graciously extricate ourselves from them.  The innocence of being obedient to the Lord is frequently an offense to the unrighteous world around us.

When God says to "FLEE," doing so with grace and aplomb is usually impossible.  Things can get messy and unsavory at the drop of a hat.  Fleeing is the only obedient thing to do in such cases, whether gracious or not.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Pride of Life

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz The ancient Jews knew that they were God’s Chosen People. Aside from being receivers of God’s blessings and protection, we have to wonder if they knew what God had in mind, and for what “task” He had chosen them.
To protect the bloodline should have been at the forefront of their collective minds, but compromise was in their blood, just as it is in ours. It is easy to lose sight of God’s priorities for us when the world screams of alternative opportunities (temptations) for us.
Believing they would always enjoy God’s provision and protection, the Jews overlooked God’s Laws, and His Covenants, and took for granted His unchangeable character. In truth, God does not change. But neither does God alter His requirements for staying in His good graces. “If you love me, keep my commandments,” Jesus said. Conversely, if we don’t keep His commandments, will Jesus see that as a love that’s just lip-service, and not real?

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Sacrifice of Praise

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In the old Testament, God made seven covenants with His people, Israel. Each one offered provision, protection, and precious promises to the Israelites. The covenants covered everything from their offspring, to their land, and even to their future as a nation. No less than seven times we find these words in the Jewish texts: "...they shall be my people; and I will be their God" almost verbatim.  Curious to me is the verb tense used: they shall be my people; I will be their God.  It indicates a yet future time when the relation between the Israelites and God will be finalized and complete.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Broken Covenant

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Early in my Christian walk, I learned that the New Testament is hidden in the Old, and the Old Testament is revealed in the New. Today’s study is one of many examples of the truth of this statement. 

Reading the Book of Revelation comes with its own blessings. And in the final chapter, there are warnings: 

1. Anyone adding to God’s words would result in the plagues of Egypt being added to that person’s life. 
2. Anyone taking away (deleting) the words of this prophecy, will have their name removed out of the Lamb’s Book of Life

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The God Who Saves

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The false gods of the Israelites in ancient Judea are the same gods that their neighboring nations worshiped. In fact, the entire Mediterranean region mostly worshiped the same gods, though they were called by different names according to each culture. From Egypt to the Middle East, from southern Europe to Asia minor, their false gods were just the same pagan gods that every non-Jewish culture followed and to which sacrifices were made. Ashtoroth, for example, was the goddess of fertility. She was also known as Astarte, Ishtar, Dianah and was called by several other names throughout the inhabited world. These gods ranged from the absolute paganism of ancient Egypt and Canaan, to the mythological gods of Greece and Rome. Each deity had their own counterpart in different cultures. 

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Father’s Heart

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

If we believe that Jesus was God-in-the-flesh, then He shows a depth of emotion as He wept at the death of Lazarus. It was His personal sorrow. Perhaps even more is revealed as Jesus says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem...” He spoke of the Jews as a whole, because they killed the prophets, and rejected their words; even God’s words. This then, is the heart of the Father. He has emotions! John 6:63 says this: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Middle East Update

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

This week's Bobservations is taken from "BEHOLD ISRAEL" NEWSLETTER - Amir Tsarfati, week of 9/15/19

"The Middle East is once again on the brink of war, and once again, Iran is in the center of the saga.  The 19 cruise missiles and drones that Iran sent towards the largest Saudi refineries in eastern Saudi Arabia managed to paralyze half of its daily oil production and cause some major tremors in the global energy markets.  Both the Americans and the Israelis can confirm that low-altitude cruise missiles were used in the Saudi oil attack and they were flown in from the north.  The missiles and drones were launched from an Iranian base near the border with Iraq.  US officials said that intelligence indicates that Iran was the staging ground for a debilitating attack on Saudi Arabia's oil industry and have shared the information with Saudi Arabia.  Both countries are weighing retaliatory strikes.  Iran, as always denied involvement." 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

I will be your God

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

There are numerous verses in the Bible that tell us of God’s plan for His people here on Earth. While God’s love for mankind is never ending, and freely given, God offers us a conditional promise that accompanies His unconditional love. Namely, if we obey His word, He will be our God, and we shall be His people. As testimony to His grace and mercy, the Old Testament records this promise several times as God speaks through His Prophets to a rebellious and “stiff-necked” people.

A promise like this sounds to me like an exercise in frustration, but for our God, who forgives upon asking, and whose mercies are new every morning, it appears to be do-able. In addition to the promise itself, it’s His Word throughout all generations, and not applicable to the Jews only. Heaven is open to all who will return His love, and honor Him in all His mighty works by praising Him and living in righteousness.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Guard Your Heart

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

We learn growing up about friendships. In our youth it happens without noticing, and in our adult years, it’s often more deliberate. We meet someone and enjoy their company. We learn of common interests, and find ourselves spending a little extra time with that other person. Ideas are exchanged, and experiences shared. A friend can become a close friend, and then even distance cannot divide the friendship. A distant friend may come to visit, and all the time of separation disappears.

But if there’s a rift between friends, there’s also a tearing of the fabric of the friendship. Then the friendship is in danger of being lost unless reparations are made and the disagreement is resolved. Frankly, the same is true in our relationship with God, and His Son Jesus the Christ. With Him, it’s His love that is the fabric of the relationship, and that’s not something to take for granted. 

Today in Jeremiah 6, we learn more of God’s Holy land, His Holy City, His Chosen People, and the Chosen Tribe of Judah living in that Holy City. They have corrupted themselves, and departed from God’s Holy Ordinances and His Word. And there’s the rift in a relationship with the Lord. God’s Chosen have done what Cain did in Genesis 4. Judah lived the way they wanted to live, not even perceiving to Whom it was that they were turning their backs. Genesis 4:16 says, “Cain went out from the presence of the Lord...” Deliberately ! 

We’ve heard of this before; a Christian friend may say they don’t feel close to the Lord any more. Well? Guess who moved in the relationship? God is not given to change. It is their own declaration that exposes their turn from our Lord. The loss of His favor is felt lightly at first, but it will increase and increase until our hearts are humbled and our repentance flows freely. 

Check in with Jesus regularly. Keep the friendship open and above boards. Allow yourself to be “transparent” (modern lingo) with the Lord. Ask Him to examine your heart and “see if there be any wicked way in (yourself.)” And then listen for His response.

“Search me O God, and know my heart:
try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any
wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 139:23, 24

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Before Romans Chapter 1

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Growing up in the 1950’s, there were many temptations around the neighborhood. We learned who it was OK to play with, and who it was not a good idea to play with, and where we could ride our bikes, and how far we could go. Sometimes those limitations were based in common sense, and sometimes they were established “Because I said so,” to quote our parents. 

Behind the houses across the street from me was a small wooded glen with a shallow creek that ran through it. The glen ran up to a steep embankment, so in the heat of the summer, the glen was a cool place to play, or to fish, or just to catch crayfish from the water. And in the winter, the embankment made a great hill to ride our sleds down to the frozen creek. Of course, every ride down we’d be dodging trees, rocks, and maneuvering at the bottom to avoid the creek. 

The glen, and the corner lot where there was always a baseball game going on in the summer were places where all the neighborhood kids played together. But there was an underlying bigotry when it came to being real friends with anyone. Catholics had Catholic friends, Protestants had Protestant friends. It became really pointed when a Jewish family moved into the neighborhood. They had just one daughter. She dutifully rode the school bus with everyone else, but never had a playmate, and never invited anyone to her house. Socially, there was a separation that was never breeched. I didn’t understand it, but then, there was a lot I didn’t understand in the 1950’s. We had been taught in school that the USA was a “melting pot” where all could find a home and cultures would be blended. 

But 30 years later, in the 1980’s, I began to understand some of the limitations. God does not want His children to live in a melting pot where everything was mingled with everything else. He calls for us to be uniquely His among all mankind. It is a provision from God to protect our faith in Him, and guard us from false gods and the doctrines of men. 

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what
fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what
communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

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