Celebrate Like He's Saved You!

Easter is one of my favorite times of the year.  For some it is a wonderful time to spend with family; for others it is a time to over-indulge in candy; and still for others it is just another Sunday, one day closer to Monday and another work week.  But for those who are followers of Christ, it is a time to remember the central reality of our lives - that we were lost in our sin, bound by our selfish nature, and at war with the God who created us and loves us. 

But in the midst of our sin, selfishness, and rebellion a just and loving God took matters into His own hands and sent his son Jesus to pay the price for our sin. He was beaten in our place, cursed in our place, and, ultimately, died in our place, even though He was blameless.  If you are a follower of Jesus this should be a time for gratitude, celebration, worship, and a deeper devotion to the one who set us free.  So join with other believers and CELEBRATE what Christ has done in your life. You owe him everything.

But remember, you celebrate the Lord’s resurrection every day as you live a life devoted to the glory of God and the benefit of others.  Enjoy this Easter season, and remember to celebrate like He has actually saved you…because He has!

God Bless,

Mac Dwyer

Choosing to Worship

Many of us face difficult situations in our lives, moments when we are overwhelmed by the problems and cares of this life.  And while it is easy for us to say, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials,” it is difficult to be obedient to that important passage in scripture.  It is hard to “turn on” our joy when we have just spent 15 minutes trying to calm a 4-year-old down because they are angry that they have to wear clothes to school. Or when you find out that you forgot to put that bill in the mail. Or when you've just fought with your spouse.  It may seem as if everything is falling in around you and you feel like you are failing in life.  Problems are real, and the anxiety of it all is real, and you can’t help but echo the words of John Mayer…“Stop this train, I want to get off and go home again.  I can’t take the speed it’s moving in.  I know I can’t.  But honestly, won’t someone stop this train”.  Can you relate?  I know I can.  King David could as well.  There were moments in his life where he couldn’t see God working; he couldn’t see the promise that God had made to him when he was young.  I’m sure he thought, “Hey wait, aren’t I supposed to be the king? Aren’t I supposed to be blessed by God? And now I’m running for my life and I haven’t done anything wrong.  How did I get here?” In fact, listen to how David perceives his circumstance. “I am surrounded by fierce lions who greedily devour human prey— whose teeth pierce like spears and arrows, and whose tongues cut like swords.” (Psalm 57:4).  Can you relate to the stress and anxiety that David is going through?  But David has an interesting response to his circumstance, and I think it might give you some hope in your own moments of anxiety and stress.  This verse, which very honestly discloses David’s fears and complaints, occurs in the middle of a song of praise! David continues with this declaration: “Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens! May your glory shine over all the earth” (Psalm 57:5). David’s response to the immensity of his circumstance was to worship God and declare His glory. 

Something happens when we worship God.  There is a spiritual transaction that takes place.  It isn’t that we forget about our problems; instead we are reminded that God is bigger than them. When we focus on the greatness of God our problems don’t necessarily go away, but God grants us peace in the midst of them.  We see evidence of this in Philippians 4, when God promises that peace that transcends all human understanding “will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  David’s struggles didn’t just go away when He penned Psalm 57, but his hope and confidence in the strength of God was reawakened.  

You might be walking through a difficult time in your life.  I would like to encourage you to take a moment and remember God faithfulness and, even if you don’t feel like it right now, take a step of faith and echo the words of David, “Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens!”  In fact, take a look at the whole psalm, and declare it in your moment of need.

“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! 

I look to you for protection. 

I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings

    until the danger passes by. 

I cry out to God Most High, 

To God who will fulfill his purpose for me. 

He will send help from heaven to rescue me, 

Disgracing those who hound me. 

My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness. 

I am surrounded by fierce lions

Who greedily devour human prey— 

Whose teeth pierce like spears and arrows, 

And whose tongues cut like swords. 

Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens! 

May your glory shine over all the earth. 

My enemies have set a trap for me. 

I am weary from distress. 

They have dug a deep pit in my path, 

But they themselves have fallen into it. 

My heart is confident in you, O God; 

My heart is confident. 

No wonder I can sing your praises! 

Wake up, my heart! 

Wake up, O lyre and harp! 

I will wake the dawn with my song. 

I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. 

I will sing your praises among the nations. 

For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. 

Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. 

Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. 

May your glory shine over all the earth.”

 

Building a Legacy

A quarter of a century ago twelve families set out with a vision to start a new church in Hermantown, Minnesota. We all had a desire for people to have the best gift ever offered; Jesus the heavenly gift, to all those who decide to receive Him.

We found the right property to build a church at the corner of Maple Grove and Stebner roads.  Mrs. Westberg, the owner at the time, was very gracious as we offered her the full asking price. We didn't have a dime in a bank account, but we stepped out in faith. A few days later the entire amount was donated to purchase the property.

We wanted to build right away, but unfortunately the banks didn't think we had enough people to invest in a loan for our small congregation. However, Cinema Five Theaters invested in us and let us use their facility free for our first year as a church.  What a unique experience seeing families devote their lives to Jesus in the theater as the aroma of popcorn began to permeate the theater.  They left with the fragrance of Jesus permeating from their lives.

Our first service was the third weekend of October 1991.  Remember the Mega Storm?  It started to snow and didn't stop for days.  That's the year that Hermantown Community Church started to share the Good News of Jesus with our Community.  Since that opening service thousands of lives have been changed for eternity!  All praise to Jesus our wonderful Lord and Savior.  That's the year we started building our legacy, and we are still building the legacy with the same vision - "Reconciling people back to God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit."

We outgrew the little white church on the corner and consequently had to move across the road to our present location.  We have a beautiful facility that God has blessed us with, and it's all because of the faithfulness of God and all his faithful servants that have been part of our church throughout the years!

Twenty five years has gone by fast, but we are looking forward to serving our community until Jesus returns.  Thank you for helping us continue to build the legacy. A special thank you to our amazing staff and all the faithful parishioners that have helped us and are helping us to fulfill our vision.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Thor and Karen Sorenson

The Importance of Community

Over the past couple of weeks we have been talking about the importance of being in community.  It isn’t just enough to come to church and sit in the pew as if coming to church was a part of a weekly checklist.  We are called to a deeper life, one that exemplifies what it means to be a Christ follower.  Each one of us needs to understand that our faith was always mean’t to be lived out in the context of community.  In John Chapter 13 Jesus introduces a new command to His followers.  The command is to love one another.  The love that they have for one another will be proof to the world that they are disciples of Christ.  This is true for us as disciples of Christ as it was for the Apostles.  But there can be no evidence if we are not in community, actively participating in loving one another.  The proof of our faith in Christ must be demonstrated in community, serving one another in love and compassion.  Remember Christ also said that there was no greater love than to give one’s life up for one’s friend.  That sacrificial love is lived out in our relationships.  How we live life together serving one another is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Christ-centered community is essential for every believer.  We must not believe that we are an island unto ourselves.  We cannot live out our faith on our own, it was never meant to be that way.  God, in His infinite wisdom and grace, planned it that way.  We need one another.  

One way that we, as a church, provide that opportunity is through the many connect groups that are available to our community.  If you are not involved in a connect group, we cannot encourage you enough to join one.  They can provide you a safe place to work out your salvation and live out your life in Christ-centered community.  Don’t walk your journey of faith alone.  Check out all of our Connect Groups here.

Faith in His Faithfulness

4Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.6Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Phillippians 4:4-7 NLT)

 

Let’s face it, life can be hard.  Just because a person makes Christ the center of their life doesn’t mean things will be easy.  In fact, many times things get harder.  But many people look at this passage of scripture and think that all they have to do is pray and God will magically remove and problems that they face.  While God has the ability to interject His will into our circumstances through His miraculous power, that doesn’t always happen.  That is where this scripture becomes so relevant.  Paul is speaking less about God’s intervention on our problem and more about our hearts and attitudes while we deal with the issue at hand.  He’s dealing with our hearts and minds.  He’s reminding us that no matter what the circumstance, we shouldn’t worry.  If we believe that God will take care of us, then we can find comfort that we have the ability to ask Him for help and we can be confident that He will answer.  It doesn’t say how He will take care of the situation or that the situation will change at all.  It may work itself out, God my give us the wisdom and favor the work out the solution, or He may be causing us to make some hard but necessary decisions to ultimately see His desired outcome.  In any case, it is through our trust in Him where He can begin to work out the peace that we experience through those difficult times.  And the great thing about that peace is that it will strengthen your faith in His faithfulness and it will keep your thoughts focused on God, who ultimately has control of the situation anyway.  So if you are going through difficult circumstances prayer isn’t the only thing or the last thing that you can do, it is the first thing you should do because it is the best thing you can do.  Seek God for help, thank Him for His goodness and actually listen to what He will say to your heart, you may be surprised at His answer.

- Pastor Mac