Thursday, April 30, 2020

As Unto The Lord

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Paul Writes at the end of 1 Corinthians 14 that all things are to be done decently and in order when it comes to the gifts of the Spirit.  Paul warns the Church there that if everyone is speaking in various tongues, a visitor might think they are all gone mad (14:23).  Jesus teaches of a Roman Centurion in Luke 7 who exhibited an understanding of the "chain of command" within the Holy Trinity.  In Matthew 19 and again in Mark 10, Jesus is quoted as saying that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first when it comes time to inherit everlasting life.  All these and more in scriptures tell us that God loves order.

Do you remember the Fire Drills that we all practiced in school when we were young?  It was to provide for an orderly exit from the building, so the most number of students could be saved in case of a fire.  Confusion and chaos breed pushing and shoving, and no one is saved when it's every man-for-himself.  An orderly exit provided for a steady stream of children safely coming out of the building.

God provides for order, and decency in all things, and He honors those that listen to Him.  Ephesians 6 takes us from the order of Chapter 5 within marriage, to an orderly and decent life in the broader household.  This is still part of our walk as the "new man in Christ."  It begins internally within, then to our most intimate relationships, and finally outward to the rest of the house.  Dare I say that it should then extend to the world around us as well?  Is the world in chaos?  The Gospel brings a central focus for all, and an orderly society in its wake.

Order tends to slow us down and cause us to think about priorities, about the greater good, about selfless acts and accomplishing the most with the least amount of effort, and all with impeccable timing.

Like our Fire Drills when young, we had them frequently to condition us to order, and to train us to accomodate one another.

"...For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of christ."  Ephesians 4:12

Saturday, April 25, 2020

The Horsemen

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

During the days of the Corona Virus shut-down, we’ve all seen and heard media coverage of long lines for free food supplies for those that have been furloughed from their jobs and are without an income. Indeed whole parking lots are lined with row after row of vehicles awaiting their turn at the food pick-up stations, as we view the media’s video clips. 

It is interesting to note, however, that the images are identical day after day, and it’s rather appalling to watch volunteers load bags and boxes of free groceries into the back of a late model Cadillac SUV. The mainstream media is playing us for fools. They don’t play those video clips daily, for many might just catch on, so they play them only a couple times each week, but it’s always the same clips.

I am not suggesting that the threat presented by the Corona virus is not real, for it surely is a serious health problem around the globe! Corona/COVID-19 is a deadly virus and the numbers of infected in just 6 weeks is staggering. 

But the mainstream media is doing its part to hype the virus and instill fear in the hearts of every viewer. This is the same media that has accused our President of impeachable crimes, and has relentlessly harangued his every move and decision since before he even took the oath of office. Yet no impeachable crimes or offenses could be proven after 3½ years of government investigation, and now, we are to believe their reporting?

In our days of the Wild West, there were snake oil salesmen and inventors of Health Elixirs that were unscrupulous; in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, it was used car salesmen from small independent sales lots whose ethics were questionable. Every decade there is someone to fill the gap of “shylock” as new inventions are introduced, or new social issues arise. This is the apparent decade for the news media, and it is evident by listening to the quality and substance of the questions they pose at Press Conferences. Trust is a commodity to be earned, and cherished. Breaking that trust breaks the relationship.
~ 1Thessalonians 5:21:
“Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.”
 ~ Psalm 118:8, 9
 “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.”

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Days Of Noah

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

We watch the News Broadcasts, and it’s like the rest of the world ceased to exist. Prior to the Corona virus, we heard only of continual attacks and charges against the US President by his political enemies. Whether one supports him or not, one thing has become clear: none of the accusations, not a single charge or allegation against the man was provable, and neither did any of his supposed crimes amount to an impeachable offense. I’m not here to defend the President, nor am I here to denigrate him. I’m only writing this as an observation: never before in the history of the United States have I ever heard of such a continual fusillade of criticisms, allegations, and character assassinations as the media has covered, and in many opinions, even furthered against a sitting President of the USA.

Even now in the midst of the Corona virus as a public health threat, some continue to criticize his handling of this crisis. Some have even called it “the Trump virus.”

If we listen only to the mainstream media outlets, everything is the President’s fault. If we stop to pay attention to other lesser known media outlets, we hear Paul Harvey’s voice echo, “And now, the other side of the story,” something that former broadcaster Harvey did regularly. After Harvey retired, and certainly after his death, no one picked up the banner to tell the other side of any story. ABC, CBS, NBC CNBC, CNN, The New York Times, Washington Post… all the major sources of public information have adopted and report the left-wing position, and when the right seeks to defend, it’s labeled propaganda.

These are the wealthiest and most powerful men and women in the world. Between politicians and the media, these are the people that mold western culture and shape the minds of our society’s youth. 

Who are we to believe?

Whom are they to follow? Continual debate just breeds confusion. Our nation and every nation are in turmoil, and unrest. Have Syria and Russia and Turkey ceased to be issues in the Middle East? Has North Korea ceased it’s aggression towards the US and the peace of the world? Have the drug cartels of Columbia stopped their drug shipments? Have physicians stopped prescribing opioids? Did Iran come to peaceful terms with Israel? Of course not. All things continue as they were, now though, hidden behind the Corona headlines.

Who are we to believe?

Many of the rich and powerful both in the headlines and behind them were acquaintances of Jeffery Epstein. Quite a few from the entertainment industry and from politics were invited to Epstein’s private island. They’ve been named, and their pictures have been shown broadcast in the media.
2 Timothy 3:13 says, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

Genesis 6:5 says, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” 
Matthew 24:38 says, “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,…”

Who shall we believe? Whom shall we follow?

Opinion contradicts opinion. Liberal? Conservative? Who is right? And who is left to believe?

The first quote above are Paul’s words to a young minister who was easily intimidated and doubted his own ability to teach others. His stomach was often in knots. Confusion reigned in him in spite of the teachings he’d received. Timothy was moving from being a babe in Christ to being a leader for the Ephesian Church.

Paul’s next words to Timothy give us hope and determination to let the confusion slip aside and see the real problem: a lack of the truth. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me”

2 Timothy 3:13-14 says this:
“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Governors and Health “experts” are giving us conflicting statements. Conspiracy theories abound. Yes, the virus is real, and it’s deadly for some. Let Godly wisdom prevail in you instead of conflict.

In such confusing days as we are living through today, set the opinions and reports of mere men aside, and look to Jesus to reveal truth to you. Exercise the gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit. The fog will lift, and your mind will clear. Stay close to Jesus and know for sure that He will never leave us, nor forsake us.

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever;…” John 14:16

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Fishers Of Men

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As a youngster, a favorite place to play among the neighborhood boys was on the banks of a creek that flowed through the back yards across the street from my family’s house. On a summer day, we would often roll up our pant legs and take our shoes off and go wading into the shallows of the creek and look for crayfish, tiny crab-like critters with pinchers. They looked like tiny lobsters. Some of the older boys would use them as bait for fishing in the Erie Canal. Back then, few would dare eat anything out of the Canal, but the fishing was something to do on a warm day.

When Jesus began to minister to people, it was near the town of Capernaum, along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Fishing there was not a child’s pastime, but a career for men. The Sea itself was roughly 5 miles wide, and 8 miles long, and with the surrounding hills, it would remind you of our nearby Finger Lakes Region, except without cottages and homes occupying every inch of shoreline.

Catching crayfish, or digging worms to go fishing are the things of children. Fishing to put food on the family table is a man’s job, but it can start in little creek beds, or with worms from your backyard. I wonder what Peter and Andrew did while growing up along the shores of the Galilee. More than likely, they were scooped up by their Dad and taken on the boats to help keep the nets ready for the net casting of their Dad, or learning to mend nets at an early age. I can’t imagine they had time to simply play as we did. But their fathers were teaching them to fish all along the way. Casting a net, mending a net, gathering it back in the boat in a way that few fish would escaped the catch. Sons learn by watching their fathers do what they did.

Jesus knew how to fish, but His “catch-of-the-day” was people like you and me. He took us out from the sea of humanity, and set us upon a rock. He’d love us and grow us into the people He designed us to be. And, He is still doing that work in us.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good
work in you, will perform it until the Day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Eight Days, The Number Of New Beginnings

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

It is the week immediately following Easter 2020. On Easter morning, John 20 was the Resurrection Sunday passage that I chose. In verse 24, the Apostles had been gathered together as Jesus appeared to the ten Apostles, but Thomas was not with them, and of course, neither was Judas. A few verses later, eight days had passed and Thomas was with them.

What strikes me about these verses is a simple question: What was Jesus doing during those eight days? Matthew’s Gospel doesn’t mention those eight days. Mark doesn’t either, and Luke 24 does not address the question directly either. But on that first evening after Passover when Jesus appeared to the ten Apostles, Luke tells us of two Disciples traveling on the road to Emmaus on that same day. Emmaus was about six and one-half miles from Jerusalem. (Later, Emmaus would become known as Nicopolis, from 300 AD to the 600’s when it was overrun by Muslim invaders. Imwas, as it was known during modern times was destroyed in 1967 likely during that war.* The City is shown on maps, but the current ruins are in “Canada Park,” a National Park in Israel.) But I digress.

The two travelers were known to Jesus, but they did not recognized Him, in much the same way that Mary Magdalene did not recognize Him early that same morning at the tomb. One of the travelers is identified as Cleopas in Luke 24:18. Notations and cross references point to Cleopas’ identity: “Cleopas” likely a shortened form of the name Cleopatros, OR a Greek form of the name Alphaeus.

Cleophas is identified as the husband to Mary’s sister, Mary. Alphaeus (Meaning “successor”) is also identified in Matthew 10:3 as the father of James the Apostle (a.k.a. James the less, as opposed to James the great, the son of Zebedi. “James the great” and his brother John the Apostle were the sons of thunder, according to Matthew’s Gospel.

In short, this Cleopas on the road to Emmaus was not only a Disciple, but was also married to Jesus’ mother’s sister. He did not recognize Jesus, even though He was most likely Jesus’ earthly uncle!

Risen to life again, Jesus’ body had been perfected with the exception of five identifying marks: the wounds in His hands and feet, and the wound to his side from the Centurion’s sword.

Cleopas and the other traveler did not recognize Him until they had spent time walking and talking with Him, and finally when they sat down and He broke bread with them. This is when the wounds in Jesus’ hands would have been obvious and visible to them.

Then eight days later, the Disciples were again gathered together, and Thomas was there this time. The other Disciples said, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas refused to believe it. It was too incredible, too outlandish! Then Jesus is there among them. He invited Thomas to put his fingers into the nail holes, and his hand in His side (John 20:26—28.) giving Thomas the proof he said he would need to believe.

Imagine for a moment that you are Thomas. Jesus looks you in the eyes, and shows you his hands; your eyes are drawn to His hands. Jesus then invites you to “thrust your hand in my side,” and you look at the wound there.

Then your eyes raise to meet His, and you say, “My Lord and my God.”

Jesus says in verse 29, “Thomas because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Jesus says that WE are blessed because of the faith He gave us!

We still do not know what Jesus was doing in the eight days between His meetings with the Disciples, but it’s safe to say He was busy teaching, and proving He was indeed raised from the dead, in fulfillment of Psalm 16:9 & 10 –
“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my souls in the (grave); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”

Saturday, April 11, 2020

After I Am Risen

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Happy Resurrection Day to All ! 

The Easter Season is rife with renewal; new growth, flowers piercing the soils as they shoot upward to bloom and color our gardens and landscapes. It’s a wonderful time of year to watch and witness all kinds of things sprout and grow. The Easter Season is truly a time of new growth.

Personally, I have difficulty referring to the day of Jesus’ Resurrection as “Easter”, and it simply is due to the questionable origins of the name “Easter” itself, and no amount of debate will resolve the issue. 

It has been said by many naysayers that Easter was “stolen” or “hijacked” from the ancient pagans. It was a day of remembrance for the Assyrian goddess “Ishtar” they say. She was the goddess of love, war and sex. ... Clearly our Easter celebrations have nothing to do with her! 

But many scholars believe that the name “Easter” gets its name from Eostre or Ostara, a Germanic pagan goddess of growth and light. But there is scant evidence that any Germanic people actually worshipped her! And Eostre wasn’t just a day, but a whole month, celebrating longer days and springtime growth. 

According to the Bible, it is indeed Jesus our Creator that provides light and growth, both physically and Spiritually. As a Christian, I am convinced of this because that’s what is stated in His Word.

Genesis 1:3- “And God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light.’”

John 9:5 – “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 

Revelation 21:23 – “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

John 15:18-25 says:
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

There has always been a call to separation for God's people. Such is the concept of election and predestination in the scriptures. God has elected His people out of the sea of humanity for a specific purpose.

It reminds me of growing up with my brother. Parental admonishments that I remember were often, "If you two can't behave, we're going to separate you from each other."

Fortunately, it would only be at a distance of one room to another, but the effect was the same. I couldn't cause him to stray from obedience, and he couldn't get me into trouble either.

The intermingling of two sin natures will ALWAYS result in SIN. Likewise, interaction with other Believers, will have the lasting effects of obedience, sanctification, and edification of one another. But what happens to one good apple when thrown into a bushel of bad ones? There is no hope for that apple, unless he is washed and sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ, and preserved by the Holy Spirit.

We live in a world where the practices of the Canaanites are evident all around us. Idol worship abounds, and our culture has lost its moral underpinnings. Liberal ideologies pervade our schools, campuses, and work places, ...BUT...JESUS HAS PRAYED FOR US!

"Neither pray I for these alone (the apostles) but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." John 17:20

Friday, April 10, 2020

Holy Thursday: Passover Begins

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The trek southward from the Galilee is finished. Jesus’ group has settled in at Bethany, and Jesus’ teachings to them during the days just prior to Thursday are among the most important among Christian doctrines. There is excitement in the air as Passover approaches. It is the grandest holiday of their faith, celebrating their freedom from slavery in Egypt, and following Moses to the Promised Land. The entire population of Jerusalem has prepared for this annual celebration. Like New Year’s Eve in Times Square, or Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Jerusalem is THE place to be for Passover.

Jesus has two Disciples find “the” man who has an upper room available for a Passover Seder. (On one day’s notice? At the height of Jerusalem’s Tourist season? This would be one of those holidays in Judea when “There was no room for them at the Inn.”). Nonetheless, finding the man was not difficult, for Jesus knew ahead of time who it was and where the room would be; He IS God-in-the-flesh, after all!

We can imagine the Apostles and Disciple’s excitement at being with Jesus at this time. Was this the weekend when Jesus would free the nation from their Roman oppressors? Would Jesus take the Throne of His Ancestor, King David? Their hearts were nearly set upon this happening!

In the Upper Room, there is happy conversation, great fellowship, and joy for living in God’s Holy Land as Seder is about to begin. Then, the mood suddenly changes. Luke records Jesus’ words as they all sat for dinner (Beginning at Luke 22:14~)

“And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve Apostles with Him. And He said unto them, ‘With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.’ And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.’ Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.'”

We can only imagine the Disciples’ thinking about this curious new teaching! Wonder? Confusion? But then, Jesus literally lowers the boom!

“But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goeth, as it was determined, but woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed!” (Psalm 55:11-17)

I suspect that one could have heard a pin drop for a moment…

“And then they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.” *

The fellowship of earlier was broken. Personal responsibility became wonder and worry. Other Gospel accounts have the Apostles asking, “Is it I, Lord?”

The young Apostle John asks more directly, as He is leaning (reclined) against the Lord’s breast. “Who it is, Lord?” And to John, Jesus says, “It is he that dippeth his hand with me in the sop.”

Setting the scene:

For a moment, forget about Leonardo Da Vinci’s Masterpiece painting “THE LAST SUPPER.” Leonardo was not there to capture the scene. Social Customs of the time place Jesus second from the end of the table, in the Seat of Honor. To Jesus’ right is John. And at the end to His left, is the gathering’s “host,” Judas, for it was Judas that held the purse of the group, and he would be responsible to pay for the use of the room. At that precise moment, the hand of Judas was dipping bread in the sop with Jesus. John now knows the identity of the betrayer.

The tables would be set up in a “U” pattern, extending from Jesus’ left and around to His right. An open space would be between the tables from which servers would serve the food. The rest of the Apostles would be seated around the perimeter of the table. Peter had taken the “lowest spot,” placing him across from Judas at the other end of the table. “James the greater” would likely have been to the right of his brother John, for he is never mentioned in the Gospels without John being there too.

Now, back to the story line:

*Did you notice? When fellowship with the Lord is broken? Our focus becomes “me” and whomever else is with us. We and others become the topic of our conversations and inquiries. Our eyes are off from Jesus, and onto ourselves. This is exemplified in Matthew 7:21-23. Even in the church, “Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them I never knew you: Depart from me ye that work iniquity.” 
Good works apart from true faith in Jesus Christ are meaningless. Filthy rags they are, until Jesus makes all things beautiful. 

Christian song writer and recording artist, Terry Clark wrote a single years ago, and had an album, both entitled:


You’ve got to know the One Who made you.

We simply must have a relationship with the true and living God.

Salvation by association, or by proxy, is no salvation at all.

Be born again, knowing Jesus
(See Titus 3:3-5 for a definition)

N.B. ~ My personal descriptions above are conjecture on my part. For these, I apologize if they create confusion. But the Social Customs of the time are borne out by studies of ancient Roman Culture, and archaeological digs in Jerusalem and Israel from the period of Rome’s occupation of Palestine. The Israeli Government’s “Ministry of Antiquities” sponsors and oversees archaeological digs throughout the nation, and the digs are protected by Israeli Law. – Pastor Bob

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The First Night of Passover

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As we enter a critical time commemorating the life of Christ, we should recall His Earthly background while He lived among His Creation. Born in Bethlehem (the City of David) to a Jewish woman and her Jewish husband, Jesus was raised as an observant Jew. Taught in the scriptures, and at age twelve, was found in the Temple of Jerusalem debating and teaching the tenets of Judaism.

His birth fulfilled the Jewish prophecies of His role in God’s plan: Born in Bethlehem of Judah, and destined to be Ruler in Israel, He would occupy an everlasting Throne (Micah 5:2). As a direct descendant of King David on both Mary’s and Joseph’s sides of the family, He was in line for the Throne.

Following the Gospel chronology of His final months and weeks, Jesus had been traveling south from the Galilee region in order to get to Jerusalem in time for the Passover celebration, It is a poignant holiday for every Jew, and it has been celebrated every year since the Jewish Exodus out of Egypt.

Writing this on Wednesday evening, April 8th, 2020, Passover began a few hours ago at sundown. My Jewish neighbors across the street are home instead of celebrating the holiday in the traditional manner with family and friends, all sharing a Seder meal. A virus has kept them home, breaking their life-long tradition. But then, the same virus has every house of worship shut down and will keep every family from gathering together during what Christians call Holy Week.

Sad, yes, but it has made me a bit introspective, missing the gatherings of the week when congregations meet at church and follow the Lord’s direction, to “do this in memory of me.”

Spoken at the Last Supper, the Eucharist was established. It should not be lost on Christian believers that that meal was the traditional Seder

of Judaism, from the lamb and bitter herbs, to the matzos dipped in olive oil.

Jesus was in Jerusalem for Passover, and His final meal commemorated the freedom from a life of slavery in fleshy, sinful Egypt, and moving to the Promised Land. For believers, Jesus’ death pays for our sins, and grants us entrance in God’s heavenly Kingdom. Victory over sin; victory over death.

Matthew 26:17 ~ “Now on the first day of the feast of unleaven bread the Disciples came to Jesus, saying unto Him, ‘Where wilt thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover?’”

This year, a tradition is broken, but hope is still alive for Resurrection morning, as the Passover holiday ends at sun-up, as Mary Magdalene finds Jesus’ tomb empty, and a Man she assumed was the gardener walking about, alive, just as He had promised.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Corona Virus Shutdown Week #3

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Many have told us this week that they finally went out shopping to pick up food, or supplies; “It’s so good to get out of the house” or “I’m bored out of my mind, there’s only so many times a person can clean out their closets.”

We are all feeling it: Housebound, chores are done, we’ve done all the puzzles we have, we’ve done Spring Cleaning from top to bottom, vacuuming under all the furniture, and on
& on.

Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8,9 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16,17 – “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

It is by grace that we are saved through faith, but to what end, for what purpose? Salvation comes first for the purpose of us being perfected and prepared unto every good work.

But Pastor Bob, how can good works be accomplished when the State and the Federal Governments limit our movements with Social Distancing, and staying home?

Under the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul answers this question in 1 Thessalonians 5:11-23:

“Wherefore brethren, comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their works sake. And to be at peace among yourselves.”

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man, but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and unto all men.”

“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the God of peace sanctify you wholly;

And I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body
1 be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We should not be bored; there is plenty yet to do!
11 Genesis 1:26,27 / Deuteronomy 6:4,5 / Matthew 22:37,38

We are made in His Triune image!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Made In His Image

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeing thing that creepeth upon the earth.  So God creaded man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."  Genesis 1:26-27

We read and studied not long ago in John 14:10-11, that the things which Jesus spoke were the words of the Father. We learned that the works that he did were the works of the Father. We can assume no less that the places where Jesus traveled were the places to which the Father led Him. This was an extension of the teaching from John 10:30 that says, "I and my Father are one."
One Purpose, One Heart, One Being, One Relationship. That Jesus was able to speak and do all that He did "from the Father" is more than indicative of the relationship He enjoys with the Father. There is an abiding and meaningful depth to their relationship. They are united in all that They and the Holy Spirit do. The three are One in all things.

Similarly, when another person tells us they love us, there is a heart attachment that is made, and a sense of relationship begins, followed by a sense of belonging and unity. Yet when we read of Jesus' love for us in the Bible, it is far too easy to skim over it and miss the depth of the words and of the relationship.

We take His love for us as a stated "fact" and file it away as with other tidbits of knowledge that we have, and then sadly get on with our day.

Did you ever wonder why so many of our days don't go well? We are missing that oneness of heart, purpose, and Being. We separate ourselves from the supremacy of God and go about working on our own agendas. Oh my! We've got things backwards! When so many around us tell us to follow our heart, reconsider following His instead.

Jesus prayed that WE might be one with Him as He is one with the Father. Don't let your plans obstruct His objective for you.

John 17:20-26: (read it slowly; grasp it's depth, take us all deeper, Lord)

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Prophecy Fulfilled

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As we temporarily leave the Book of Jeremiah behind for a few weeks to celebrate the holiest weeks of Christianity, there is a nagging correlation between the situation that Israel found itself in during Jeremiah’s time, and the holiday that we are about to celebrate.

In recently covered chapters of Jeremiah, God had spoken to Judah through the lips of Jeremiah the Prophet: Essentially God told Judah that if they fought the powerful Babylonian Army to hold onto Jerusalem, they would die by disease, famine, or the sword. If Mt. Zion is God’s Holy Hill, then why do they fight for something that is not theirs but God’s? Considering especially that they had defiled the City of Jerusalem, and the Temple of their God, their zeal to fight was based more in hubris and false pride.

God encouraged them to submit to the Babylonians, and live for a day in the future when He would bless them with a return to their homeland. Many did just that, and 70 years later, they came back.

Palm Sunday marks the day that Jesus enters into Jerusalem, received by the people as a King, knowing full well that by the end of the week, He would be tortured, crucified, and buried. He also knew that taking the loss now, and resurrecting from the dead three days later, would provide for many to join Him in His Heavenly Kingdom.

Why do we fight for things we cannot keep? If the life of every Believer is hid in Christ, then our lives are no longer our own. Dying to self means adopting Jesus’ purposes for living. As the old saying goes, “I’ve never seen a funeral procession with a trailer full of money towed by a hearse.”

Live your life building for yourself treasures that are in heaven.
Take the losses now, and receive much greater rewards!

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Lord's Prayer . . . digging in!

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In the last few Bobservations, the underlying encouragement has been to pray; “pray without ceasing.” And many do pray the traditional prayers of their denomination. Among Christians, the most commonly held prayer is The Lord’s Prayer. It is given to us in Matthew 6:9 and in Luke 11:2. These days I will recite this traditional prayer if it’s included in whatever rite of the church I am attending. It is a beautiful prayer, for sure.

In my opinion however, this prayer that the Lord left with us was not meant to be memorized and recited. With all due respect to the broad Christian beliefs that might be reading this, I urge our gentle, sincere readers to compare the two versions of the prayer as recorded in the two Gospels. The two versions are unquestionably similar, but they definitely are not exact. This begs the question, “Which did Jesus teach?”

They are both true, but not necessarily in the way we may have been led to think and believe. If both Matthew and Luke heard Jesus teach them these words, then why the discrepancy in wording? Even a cursory review of the passages will lead you to the same question I am posing today.

Jesus spoke the words that we now call “The Lord’s Prayer” in response to a request from the Apostles: “Lord, teach us to pray.” Their request was “how,” not “what.” Recorded in the Gospels are two versions of the same thing. What do I mean by that? I’ll compare it to two people who hear the same thing, but understand it in slightly different ways. Though the words are not precisely exact between the two Gospel accounts, the intent is!

Jesus’ intent was to teach them to pray. Clearly then, between Matthew and Luke, their own words come forward, their own speech patterns, and their own dialects, perhaps. We therefore a have a single “pattern” for prayer, taught to us all by Jesus. The first line of the prayer, begins the pattern “Our Father, who art in heaven.” It is an acknowledgement of the Father of us all, sitting in His glorious kingdom, watching over all things on Earth. “Hallowed be Thy name.” God’s name is to be glorified* and acknowledged in our lives, as we offer praise from our hearts and lips. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.” This is a statement of faith, relinquishing our will and adopting His for all the world, and ourselves as well. I encourage every reader to continue through “The Lord’s Prayer,” and let the Holy Spirit reveal to you personally how we are to pray.

The analysis of the written passages clearly identify a specific pattern and order for prayer. This is what the Lord wanted to teach the Apostle, and by their words, teach all of us! It is a beautiful pattern revealing humility in the heart of the pray-er, sincerity of heart, empathy for a situation, and compassion towards others. These are a few of the several components of any legitimate prayer. Now before you label me a heretic, I am going to encourage every reader to look at one more prayer given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is found in John 17. In fact, it is the entire 17th chapter of John’s Gospel. There we find Jesus praying to His Father in heaven; we find Jesus’ humility, and recognition of His own submission to His Father Jehovah, as the Old Testament refers to Him. In this “Lord’s Prayer,” you will find all the facets of Jesus’ teaching the Apostles to pray, but in Jesus’ own words (translated though they may be). Our beloved Christ Jesus has not only taught how to pray, but given us an example, by letting us eavesdrop on His very words as He prays to His Father, interceding for the Apostle, and if you read verse 20 accurately, you will find that Jesus prayed for you and for me, and every Believer!

The intimacy of this prayer is unquestionable. And, it reveals the intimacy that the Father and the Son together want to have with us through the Holy Spirit; that we all may be as one with Him, as He is one with the Father. I encourage all in these days of work shut-downs, school closings, and fretting about the Corona virus, to put prayer’s components together in your own words, not just memorized recitations. The above is a wonderful study to undertake: approach it prayerfully, openly, and in humility as God’s Word speaks to your heart. Come away from it with a sense of awe, and peace, because God wants to hear from us!

 “And he spake a parable unto them to the end, 
that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” 
- Luke 18:1

*Compare this with Psalm 138:1,2

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