How Big is Your God?

Have you ever thought about just how big God is?  If not, then I want to encourage you to do something.  Go out tonight and stand in the middle of a big field.  Look up at all the stars and as far as you can see.  Then think about how big God must be to create something that is so big that we can’t even comprehend how big it is.  And then think about this: that God is the same God that we pray to everyday.

That is a pretty awesome thought isn’t it?  It is easy for us to forget just how big God is.  It is easy for us to bring God down to our level and to get a very limited view of what God can do.  That is one of the reasons I love Bible stories so much.  The stories of David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, Noah’s Ark, and so many others remind us how big God is and that He is capable of doing more than we could ever imagine.

This Sunday, we are going to take a look at another amazing story from Scripture.  The story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel from I Kings 18.  And in this story we will see that Elijah understands that God is really big, and that he wants others to understand that too.  I invite you to come on out to The River this Sunday and be reminded of how big God is and what that means for how we live our lives.

Sin City

Several years ago, when my wife and I were first married, I surprised her with a trip for Valentine’s Day.  I wanted to take her away for a long weekend vacation and found that I could book a trip to Las Vegas for very cheap.  The airfare was only about $75/person round trip.  I booked us in a great room at a large hotel on the Vegas Strip for less than the regular cost of a Holiday Inn.  Meals were cheap and a lot of the entertainment was either low cost or free.

The reason everything was so affordable was because the casino owners were doing everything they could to get you to come to their casino.  That was where they made their money.  Fortunately, Julie and I are not gamblers, so we were not enticed by the fancy slot machines, card tables, and roulette wheels.  Instead we hung out at the pool, took walks on the strip, and enjoyed the sites and sounds of Las Vegas.

Overall, it was a good vacation, but by the end of our time I was tired of the constant bombardment of temptation.  Wherever we went we were accosted by people who were trying to tempt us to gamble away our money, drink away our problems, or give into our lustful desires.  The streets are literally littered with smut peddlers who hand out pamphlets for escort services and other adult entertainment.

Las Vegas has sometimes been referred to as Sin City, or even as a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah.  I have to admit, I can understand the comparison.  For those who wish to fulfill their whims and desires, just about everything is available in Las Vegas.  But while it is a city that provides a lot of opportunity for carnal pleasure, when I compare it to the Biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah, I think Las Vegas doesn’t look so bad.

Genesis 13:13 says that the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.  And later on in Genesis 19 we see that God wipes the city off the face of the map with burning sulfur.  The fact that God would actually destroy the cities because of their wickedness must cause us to take notice.  There have been some pretty bad places throughout the course of history and yet, for some reason God chose to make an example out of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Kind of makes you wonder just how bad Sodom must have been, doesn’t it?

If you have never read the account of Sodom and Gomorrah, you may want to check it out in Scripture.  You will find it in Genesis 18 and 19.  However, if you have never read it, I will warn you that it is a bit of a disturbing story. It gives us a glimpse into the depravity of man and provides a powerful warning of judgment for sin.  But what can we learn from this tale of 2 cities?  What can we apply to our lives from what we read in those pages?  Those are good questions.  And that is exactly what Pastor Rob will be addressing this Sunday at The River.  Come on out and join us as we ask the question, “so what can I learn from this amazing story?”

Fairy Tale Land

I used to coach basketball in Fairy Tale Land, but it was way too stressful so I had to give it up.  Here are the problems I had to deal with:

  • Cinderella was our point guard, but I couldn’t get her to stop running away from the ball.
  • Little Red Riding Hood would get so distracted by the other team’s big ears, and big eyes, that they would steal the ball from her with their big hands.
  • Basketball just wasn’t the Little Mermaid’s game.  She was like a fish out of water.
  • Snow White wasn’t bad, but she kept getting her shot blocked.  I can’t really blame her, after all, the 7 guys she used to play with were a little “vertically challenged.”
  • Sleeping beauty kept falling asleep on defense.
  • And Goldilocks was the most annoying of all.  Whenever she wasn’t in the game she would constantly be complaining about the bench being too hard or too soft.  It was never just right.

Okay, so maybe I really wasn’t the coach of the Fairy Tale Land basketball team, but you can kind of picture the problems that would come up can’t you?  You know that those cute little quirky details from the storybook would get mighty tiresome if you had to live with them day in and day out.  Like imagine how long it must take Rapunzel to get ready in the morning?  Or imagine having to wear glass slippers all the time.  And while I am sure that Cinderella’s voice is beautiful, it would sure get annoying to hear her singing all the time.  And that’s just one princess.  It seems like singing is a pre-requisite for most of the princesses, so imagine all of them singing constantly, not to mention all the birds and mice and other animals getting in the way.

Of course, Fairy Tale Land doesn’t really exist.  Life isn’t a fairy tale is it?  At least it doesn’t feel like it most of the time.  We may have some fairy-tale kind of moments in our lives from time to time, but we also have a bunch of unfairy-tale kind of moments too.  The question is, are we headed for a happily ever after ending?

Well, this Sunday we are going to be talking about our sometimes unfairy-tale like lives as we take a look at the book of Esther.  I invite you to come and join us.

Are You Too Busy To Read This Blog?

Life is busy isn’t it?  We all have so many different responsibilities and different things that are vying for our attention.  We find ourselves often running from one thing to the next.  But while life is busy, ultimately we really all have time for things that we consider to be important.

For instance, if we place a high value on physical fitness, then we are going to find the time to exercise.  It may mean that something else has to go, but we will find the time to run, or bike, or swim or whatever else we do. Each of us make choices every day about what to spend our time doing.

This blog is even an example.  For some reason you chose to take the time to read this blog.  You didn’t need to do it.  Maybe right now you are wishing you didn’t.  Anyway, it was a choice, and at least to some extent you put reading this blog as a priority over other things you could have done with this time.

In the same way, I make the choice to put a priority on writing this blog.  Unfortunately the blog has not made it to the top of the priority list the last couple of weeks.  Things have been a little extra busy around here.  But regardless of how busy I feel, basically it means that I put a higher priority on the other things I had to do over the last couple of weeks, and this blog was a casualty of those choices.

Anyway, that leads me to my point.  We all have the time for the things we choose to put a priority on.  And the question is, are we making the right choices?  Are we putting the right priorities on the right things?  This Sunday, I will be talking about putting a priority on our relationship with God.  Of course, in order to hear the sermon, you are going to have to put a priority on coming to The River, 9:30 Sunday morning at 2510 Chaska Blvd.  Hope to see you there!

This Sunday!

Just a reminder that this Sunday, October 2, we will be meeting for the first time at our new location, 2510 Chaska Blvd., next to O’Reilly Auto Parts.  We will be sharing space with Ebenezer Church.  We will meet at our regular time of 9:30 a.m. and they will meet at 11:30.  Come join us for this first Sunday in the new facility.

We’re Moving!

For the last 2 years we have been meeting on Sunday mornings at The Rex Cinema in downtown Chaska.  That is about to change.  Sunday, September 25 will be our final Sunday morning at that location.  Beginning Sunday, October 2, we will be meeting at 2510 Chaska Blvd.

We have enjoyed our time at The Rex Cinema, but we are looking forward to this new opportunity as we will be sharing space with an Hispanic congregation from our community.  A couple of months ago Noe Lara, the pastor of Ebenezer Christian Church approached The River about the possibility of sharing space with them on Sunday mornings.  We will have use of the facility on Sunday mornings for our worship service at 9:30 and then they will meet at 11:30.  That will enable us to have a little overlap in between our two services, so that our two congregations can connect together.

We are still committed to being a church without walls.  Our midweek events and meetings will still take place in people’s homes and in the community, and Pastor Rob will still be using Dunn Bros. as an office location.  But this new location will give us more flexibility and the opportunity to have more of a presence in the community.  It is a space where we can put up a sign; and where we can meet during the week when needed.

The best advantage to this new space, is the opportunity to partner with Ebenezer.  In John 17 we find Jesus, a little while before his crucifixion, praying for us.  He was praying for all those who would eventually believe in Him down through the ages.  In other words, He was praying for those of us who would eventually make up the Church.  And He prayed specifically that we would all be one.  His desire is to see us come together in unity, and I believe that this connection with Ebenezer would be pleasing in His sight.

We will be in the new facility at 2510 Chaska Blvd., beginning on Sunday, October 2.  Feel free to come and join us!


Tonight I will be doing a funeral for an 18 year old girl who died tragically last week.  Her name was Bridgette and she worked at the local Dunn Bros. coffee shop.  Since we don’t have an office, I spend most of my afternoons over at Dunn Bros. working from one of the comfortable chairs near the roaster.  And it was there that I got to know Bridgette.  She often would come and talk with me in between customers.  She had been through many struggles, but was really putting her life back together.  She was getting ready to leave the following morning for college.  Her car was already packed with all of her belongings.  She had goals, dreams, and plans that she was about to pursue.

My reaction to her death has been all over the place.  From shock, to sadness, to a refusal to accept it, with maybe even a little bit of anger thrown in for good measure.  I will miss Bridgette.  And it doesn’t seem fair.  Why her?  Why now?

Actually, it is only natural for a tragedy like this to bring up all sorts of questions.  At a time like this, many people question the meaning of life, or what happens to us when we die, or what in the world God is doing?  And that is understandable.  Right now many people are hurting, or confused, or angry, or frustrated, or depressed over what happened to Bridgette.

And it is at times like this that I am reminded how nice it is that I believe in a God who is bigger than all my questions.  I believe in a God who can handle my anger and frustration, and who understands my confusion and depression.  He is a God of Hope.  A God of Truth.  A God of Love.  He is faithful, even when I am struggling with making sense of what is going on.

For those of you who may also be struggling with questions, I encourage you to find your answer in God.  Check out some of the other blogs in this website to find out more about this God that I am talking about.  I particularly recommend the blog, called “A Glimmer of Hope.”  It talks about a man who was able to have hope in the midst of a terrible time.

I also want to invite you to share your questions and thoughts with me.  You can typically find me on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday afternoons over at Dunn Bros. (corner of 2nd street and HWY 41, downtown Chaska) sitting in one of the big comfy chairs by the window and the roaster.  Feel free to come over and join me.  I would love to talk with you more about hope.  You can also feel free to send an email or give me a call, or even consider stopping by some Sunday for church.  The River is a great place to come if you have some questions about who God is.

A Glimmer of Hope in the Shadows of Despair

Today for my devotions I was reading in the book of Lamentations.  This is a powerful book, written by the prophet Jeremiah, over the destruction of Jerusalem.  The book as a whole is really a downer.  It is verse after verse of hopelessness, helplessness, despair and anguish.  The prophet is lamenting what has become of this amazing city, the kingdom, and the people.

But while most of the verses in this book are sad and discouraging, in reality the book contains a message of hope.  Actually, because most of the book is so bleak, the verses that are not become like brilliant little lighthouses of hope.  Nestled in the middle of the book, among all the despair, we find this phrase, “Yet, I still dare to hope when I remember this:” (Lamentations 3:21, NLT)

What a powerful statement.  Jeremiah gives us a glimmer of hope in the shadows of despair.  This is a profound statement for those who are living in dark places right now.  In the midst of such darkness, when a glimmer of light shows up, like this verse, it acts as a beacon of hope, beckoning all who are in despair to come and bask in the light.

Jeremiah is calling out to all who are hopeless, discouraged, anxious, and lost.  He says, I have found hope!  Even when the world is falling down around me, I still have hope.  Actually, it is because Jeremiah says these words while in the midst of such lamenting that the words take on such power and shine so brightly.  Jeremiah has hope, and then he tells us why…

“The unfailing love of the Lord never ends!  By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day.  I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

What powerful, hopeful, encouraging words!  Jeremiah reminds us that even in the darkest of times, still we can hope in God.  I want to encourage you with those words today.  If you want to find out more about this hope, then please feel free to gives us a call, or send an email, or even come on out and visit us some Sunday.  We would love to talk more about this hope!

Am I Going Backward?

Today in my devotions I was reading in the book of Jeremiah and came across a very powerful rebuke from God to His people.  He said, “But my people would not listen to me.  They kept on doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward.”  (Jeremiah 7:24, NLT)

I know that God was talking about the people of Judah, but it also sounds so much like us.  We have a terrible tendency to follow our own desires instead of God’s plans for our lives.  We forget that God’s ways are so much better than our own and we run off chasing after things that just don’t matter.

We should be like David who said in Psalm 17, “My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you.”  (Psalm 17:5, NLT)  But instead we are like those mentioned in Isaiah 53, “All of us have strayed away like sheep.  We have left God’s paths to follow our own…”  (Isaiah53:6a, NLT)

What we don’t realize is that when we go our own way instead of God’s way, we are moving backward instead of forward.  We are heading in the wrong direction.  We don’t realize it, because our eyes are focused on the wrong things.  We are like a hiker who finds himself lost, because he was focused on the wrong landmark.  We get so focused on what we think we want and when we finally arrive at it we realize that things are really not quite what we had hoped for.  But worse, we find ourselves alone and lost, looking around to figure out where God is.  But God didn’t leave us.  We left Him.  We thought we were walking forward and all along we were walking backward.

I challenge you to stop and ask yourself, “am I going backward?”  Are we chasing after our own desires instead of listening to God and following Him?  We need to learn from that rebuke that we find in Jeremiah.  It’s time for us to move forward!

The Meaning of Life

Ecclesiastes is an interesting book.  It is the ruminations of one of the wisest men to ever walk the earth.  We find King Solomon sharing some very profound statements as he philosophizes over the meaning of life.  If you have never given this book much time, I encourage you to give it a chance and examine this thought-provoking essay for yourself.

In Ecclesiastes we find verses that have been the inspiration for songs, “There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven.”  (Ecc. 3:1)  We find one of my favorite verses of all time, “When the clouds are heavy, the rains come down.  When a tree falls, whether south or north, there it lies.” (Ecc. 11:3)  We find practical warnings,such as, “Laziness lets the roof leak, and soon the rafters begin to rot.”  (Ecc. 10:18)  And we find a scathing rebuke of greed, “Those who love money will never have enough.  How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness!”  (Ecc. 5:10)

At the end of the book we find a powerful conclusion, “Here is my final conclusion.  Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person.”  (Ecc. 12:13) That is a fitting ending that brings the book full circle and provides meaning in the midst of a bunch of meaninglessness.  But one of my favorite portions of this book actually comes a little before the end as the author seems to put his wisdom into place.  In chapter 9 he writes this, “This reminded me that no one can discover everything God has created in our world, no matter how hard they work at it.  Not even the wisest people know everything, even if they say they do.”  (Ecc. 9:17)

Throughout this book we see Solomon wrestling with the meaning of life and it seems that even with all of his wisdom, power, and money that he still finds life meaningless from an earthly perspective.  It is only when he sets his eyes Heavenward that life begins to take on meaning as we see in his conclusion.  But along the way Solomon needed to put his own wisdom and powers of observation in place.  He needed to realize that he does not have all the answers, even though he was one of the wisest men to walk the earth.  Ultimately wisdom must begin with the fear of the Lord.  We need to start with God if we are to find any purpose or meaning to life.

I do encourage you to give Ecclesiastes some time.  And if you are interested in talking more about this subject, please feel free to send me an email or give me a call.  Or better yet, stop by Dunn Bros. in downtown Chaska some afternoon and let’s have a chat.