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The worship style St. John is known for with biblically-sound real life messages, band and vocal music that enhance worship and the message while maintaining a focus on the sacred and encouraging you on your LIFEjourney with Christ.

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Showing items filed under “May 2014”

The Dark Side

I grew up with guns. Like a hammer or a shovel they were just another tool that had a purpose. No one considered them dangerous.

I raised my sons the same way. Guns in our house were not leaning in the corner, but they were always accessible. When the boys were old enough, I took them to a requisite two-day “Hunters Safety Course” required for any person in Missouri born after January 1, 1967. (If you were born before ’67 they must assume you either grew up shooting your dinner, or you’re too old to be considered dangerous!)

A few years ago, Joshua began insisting the two of us spend some time in mountain country hunting elk and mule deer. Knowing we would be in big cat and bear country, far from civilization, we were encouraged to carry side-arms for personal protection. The only pistol I owned was of the .22 caliber variety, only capable of aggravating an animal intent on eating you, so I began to inquire about more powerful weapons. I was raised to borrow something you planned to use infrequently, but evidently the government looks down on “loaning” powerful handguns to people without the proper permits. Who knew?

One thing led to another. I discovered I needed to acquire a Conceal & Carry permit just to strap a Glock on my belt, even if I intended only to use it while walking in the Rocky Mountains. Evidently just transporting a powerful handgun in your car or on an airplane can get you arrested and jailed if you don’t do it properly.

I soon found myself in another class. I had not even purchased my handgun yet, thinking the class would help me better understand what gun would best fit my needs. I’m not sure if I or the instructor was more surprised to discover that nearly everyone in the class was already carrying a loaded weapon in their waistband or purse before even opening their books! Crazy stuff.

I came to appreciate the value of my training more and more as we studied the pertinent laws and the proper and improper ways to handle a handgun. The value of instruction and range-time became more obvious when one of the ladies in our class fired her weapon into the concrete inches from the instructor’s left foot. If it had been me it would have been grounds for dismissal, but he took it in stride, made sure she was alright, and went on with the session. Wow. Can you say, “subculture?”

Training and practice have made all the difference. You don’t have to own a gun to appreciate its power. Nearly every news cast contains at least one story of gun violence—many of them only a few miles from my home. Handguns have no mind of their own. They are just as powerful in the hands of an idiot as they are in the hands of an expert. If you a going to spend any time around guns, it pays to know what is safe and what is not.

The same can be said for the devil and demons. They are powerful spiritual beings on a mission to reek as much havoc as God will allow. If you are going to be around them, it pays to know what is safe and what is not.

In Acts 19, Luke tells the somewhat humorous story of some Jewish exorcists who were using Jesus’ name like some kind of magic potion. They did not believe in Jesus as God’s Son, or their Savior, but they had heard of the success Paul was having doing miracles in Jesus’ name. Unfortunately for them, they came upon a shrewd demon who was not easily deceived. When they attempted to work their “magic,” the demon said, “I recognize Jesus and I know about Paul, but who are you?” Then he caused the man whose body he was using to beat the exorcists, strip them naked and send them packing.

As Christian followers of Jesus, we acknowledge the power of the devil and his fallen angels. (See Revelation 12:7-12) And we know the two mistakes people make about demons is to 1.) dismiss them as a figment of someone’s imagination, or 2.) take them too seriously. They have power but they have no power over baptized Christians who believe in Jesus and wield the sword of the Spirit (God’s Word) against them. If you would like to know more about the defensive and offensive weapons that you can use against the devil and his demons, take a moment and read Ephesians 6:10-17.

The formula for success is not difficult but the sequence is important. The Bible says,
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

To the best of my knowledge you don’t need a Conceal & Carry license to engage in spiritual warfare, but some basic training would be helpful. It’s preferred to getting beaten and running naked through the streets.


The Scripture

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” Acts 19:13-16

  • Have you ever felt you were the object of spiritual warfare? Is so, explain.
  • Read Ephesians 6:10-17. What is the only offensive weapon described there? What’s the implication?
  • What did John means when he wrote, “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world?”

Survey

When it comes to Demons:

A. Popular movies have convinced most people of their actually existence.
B. Popular movies have caused people to think it is an absurd concept made up to sell tickets.
C. I believe the devil and his ilk prefer anonymity.

Click here to take the survey and take a moment to leave a thought or opinion.


Online

If you were unable to attend services last weekend and would like to listen to the message, it is available on our website. Growing Deeper, a Bible study written to accompany the message series, is also available to download.


Live Stream

St. John Church live streams Sunday services at 9:00am and 10:45am. Join us!


A Prayer

(Luther's Evening Prayer)

My Heavenly Father, I thank You, through Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, that You have protected me, by Your grace. Forgive, I pray, all my sins and the evil I have done. Protect me, by Your grace, tonight. I put myself in your care, body and soul and all that I have. Let Your holy angels be with me, so that the evil enemy will not gain power over me. Amen.


Brief Notes

  • Our Spring Congregation Meeting is May 27 at 7pm. We’ll be approving our budget for the next fiscal year and sharing other information about our ministries with you. Join us in the Next Generation Center, Lower Level.
  • Early bird registration for Weird Animal and Extreme VBS ends on Sunday, June 1. Don’t wait any longer! Register for Weird Animal Vacation Bible School (3 years old-5th grade, fall 2014) June 16-20, 9am-12noon.
  • Register for Extreme Vacation Bible School (6th-12th grade, fall 2014)
    June 16-19, 12:15pm-4:30pm (6th-12th grade, fall 2014).
  • Volunteer for Weird Animals Vacation Bible School.
  • Volunteer for Extreme Vacation Bible School.

Stephen Hower, Pastor

Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14
(and to lower my golf score)

   

To subscribe to E-dify, a periodic e-mail to encourage and inform, please click here and type, “Subscribe” in the Subject line. To unsubscribe to E-dify, please click here  and type, “Unsubscribe” in the Subject line.  Or better yet, forward E-dify to a friend who needs God’s encouragement

Posted by Stephen Hower with

Angels

Do you have an angel story?

Most adult Christians I know have lived through an experience that caused them to wonder, “Was that an angel?” After teaching on the subject last weekend, a worshipper came forward to share an experience she’s convinced involved an angel sent by God.

She was with her husband driving a dangerous and unfamiliar road along the rugged coastline of Northern California, headed to Eureka. They were in a rental car, running late into the night through fog and pouring rain. Visibility was zero. The winding road and deep canyons had them both terrified. With no place to stop or turn around, they were fearful of a tragic outcome.

Nearly frantic, they were quickly calmed by the appearance of a white van. It came out of nowhere to lead them through the twists and turns of the nearly invisible road. The driver of the van, with its bright tail lights and white tailgate, seemed extremely familiar with the road, slowing at just the right places, touching his brakes when it was needed, providing the perfect escort all the way to their destination. Just as the road straightened and the rain lightened, the van exited one stop before their own.

When returning their rental car a few days later, my friends noticed the tires on their car were heavily worn with little tread still evident. In their opinion, the entire incident was evidence of God’s protection by means of an angelic visit when they needed it most. Was it truly and angelic answer to prayer, or just a fortunate coincidence? Christians should never form their beliefs on the basis of personal experience, but personal experiences often confirm Christian beliefs.

The Bible is filled cover-to-cover with descriptions of angelic visitations.

  • In Genesis an angel barred Adam and Eve from the Tree of Life to keep them from suffering the consequence of sin for all eternity.
  • In the last chapter of the Bible an angel demanded John stop bowing and told him, “Worship only God."
  • An angel announced to Mary she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.
  • A host of angels filled the skies outside Bethlehem the night the Savior was born.
  • An angel was dispatched to carry the soul of Lazarus to heaven on the day of his death.
  • Angels announced Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morning.
  • An angel sent the apostles away after the ascension of Jesus.
  • And we are told that the angels in heaven rejoice over every sinner who repents.

Angels are a common occurrence in the Bible. Just because our modern culture refuses to acknowledge their presence, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Angels don’t always show up in wings and white robes. Not then. Not now. The Bible says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Sometimes they look like normal people. Sometimes they drive big white vans on winding roads in the middle of the night during blinding rain storms.

Angels are powerful spiritual beings. Only two angels were needed to rescue Lot and his family from Sodom and Gomorrah. When they were attacked by a mob, they blinded their attackers, then destroyed the city for its wickedness. The Bible says man was “…made a little lower than the angels, but God crowned man with glory and honor and appointed him over the works of His hands, putting all things in subjection under his control.” (Hebrews 2:7,8) All things – even angels.

While angels are more powerful than humans, their purpose was established by God to serve mankind. Hebrews chapter 1 defines their purpose by saying, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”

Mr. Trazncka was my third and fourth grade teacher in St. Peter’s Lutheran School. Those were different times. Corporal punishment was not only allowed, it was encouraged. And by corporal punishment I mean razor straps. Mr. Trazncka extracted tears from us on a regular basis, but there was only one time I saw him cry. It was after the death of his beloved wife.

I remember it like yesterday. We were in music class learning the Christian hymn, “Behold A Host Arrayed In White.” At some point Mr. Trazncka could not go on. He stopped and told a bunch of stunned children about the day his wife died. Her last words to him were, “The angels. The angels.” I have experienced similar situations several times in the course of my ministry. As I said before, “Christians should never form their beliefs on the basis of personal experience, but personal experiences often confirm Christian beliefs.”

“Angels are sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” … perhaps in white vans, on dark, winding roads in the middle of a rain storm.


The Scripture

“If you say, ‘The LORD is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Psalm 91:9-12

  • Have you ever had a close encounter with an angel?
  • This passage was quoted by the devil to Jesus when Satan urged him to throw himself off the temple wall. How did Jesus answer him?
  • Obviously Christians suffer and even die. How do you understand the truth of this Scripture?

Survey

When it comes to angels I think:

A. They were more active in Biblical times.
B. They are as active now as then but people don’t recognize them for what they are.
C. Angels are friends and family who have died and gone to heaven.

Click here to take the survey and take a moment to leave a thought or opinion.


Online

If you were unable to attend services last weekend and would like to listen to the message, it is available on our website. Growing Deeper, a Bible study written to accompany the message series, is also available to download.


Live Stream

St. John Church live streams Sunday services at 9:00am and 10:45am. Join us!


A Prayer

(In memory of Mr. Trazncka)

Behold a host, arrayed in white,
Like thousand snow-clad mountains bright,
With palms they stand. Who is this band
Before the throne of light?
Lo, these are they of glorious fame
Who from the great affliction came
And in the flood of Jesus’ blood
Are cleansed from guilt and blame.
Now gathered in the holy place,
Their voices they in worship raise,
Their anthems swell where God doth dwell,
Mid angels’ songs of praise.


Brief Notes

  • Our Spring Congregation Meeting is May 27 at 7pm. We’ll be approving our budget for the next fiscal year and sharing other information about our ministries with you. Join us in the Next Generation Center, Lower Level.
  • It’s our Friday Frenzie Move-Up Event. If you’re currently in 3rd or 4th grade, we want you here with us on May 16 from 7-8:30pm.
  • 5th–7th graders come get soaked at the Splashapalooza event just for you! May 18 from 3-5pm.

Stephen Hower, Pastor

Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14
(and to lower my golf score)

   

To subscribe to E-dify, a periodic e-mail to encourage and inform, please click here and type, “Subscribe” in the Subject line. To unsubscribe to E-dify, please click here  and type, “Unsubscribe” in the Subject line.  Or better yet, forward E-dify to a friend who needs God’s encouragement

Posted by Stephen Hower with

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