Alan Daws • February 25, 2021
In a recent sermon, we saw Jesus telling the crowd “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." Mark 8:34. There is a lot to unpack in that verse and we didn't cover all that we could have last week.
However, earlier this week I was reading Managing Leadership Anxiety by Steve Cuss. In it he says, "The point is that anxiety becomes a marker that something other than my identity in Christ is at play: a false self that leads to death, not life." When we rely on ourselves and our own effort and not die to self and let Jesus take over completely, we face anxiety when things get tough.
To overcome this problem, we must change our heart to experience the change that Jesus wants to make. Then we will walk the sinful path less because we will be hungry for life, not destruction. It is hard to make this change, but when we intentionally die to self daily we can see the abundant life that God has in store for us right now and not just in eternity.
Steve goes on to say "One effective tool that has helped drive this home for me is a simple prayer I frequently offer to God: Jesus died so I don't have to_________________ anymore." For example, "Jesus died so I don't have to please everybody anymore." So next time you are facing anxiety, seek to identify where it is coming from and then give to Jesus and say that prayer. Then you live in the peace that only Jesus can give us.
Alan Daws • February 18, 2021
As I write this, yesterday was Ash Wednesday. For most of us that have never been part of a liturgical church, you may not know what Ash Wednesday is all about. It is the beginning of Lent which ends on Easter, April 3, of this year.
Early Christians felt that the magnitude of the Easter celebration called for special preparation and fasting. Over time, perhaps in remembrance of Jesus’ fasting for 40 days in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1–2), 40 days became the accepted length of the Lenten season. From the earliest years of Christianity, it had been considered inappropriate to fast on the day of the resurrection, Sundays were not counted in the 40 days. Thus, the Wednesday 46 days before Easter came to be regarded as the beginning of Lent.
Lent was an intense time of preparation for those planning on getting baptized on Easter Sunday (the one day a year baptisms were held.) As well as a time of fasting, in recent times Lent has become a period of increased spiritual exercises and attention to the needs of the poor.
As we approach Easter, let me encourage you to read your favorite gospel and spend time meditating on what Easter means to you. You may use this time for an inward look at your life to assess your personal spirituality. You may want to give up something, like one hour of television, to spend more time in Bible study and prayer.
However you choose to prepare for Easter, may God richly bless your effort! In my opinion Easter is far more important than Christmas and it needs as much if not more preparation than Christmas.
Onward and Upward!
Alan Daws • February 11, 2021
Are you ready for snow? As I write this, snow is beginning to fall for the first time this winter. With anticipation and excitement, I look out the window watching it fall. My thoughts are mixed, however. It's fun and peaceful to watch the snow fall, go out and play in it, and just take in the beautiful scenes everywhere. On the other hand, I'm concerned about traveling in the snow (especially with a rear-wheel-drive empty pickup), wondering if it's a heavy snow will the power stay on, and should we hold church on Sunday. Yes, it's just Thursday and too early to begin to worry, but that's me.
Growing up in south Arkansas, snow was a rarity. If we had a half
of inch of snow, the schools closed, business all closed, and the whole town
stayed home. Since being in Washington, snow is still exciting for me.
Seeing the snow always reminds me of the Scripture verse, “Come, let’s settle
this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are scarlet, they
will be as white as snow; though they are crimson red, they will be
like wool." Imagine your sins staining your yard blood red. Then as Jesus
moves into your life, all that red turns to a blanket of white snow. Jesus'
sacrifice on the cross paid the price for your sins and made the way for your
forgiveness. To see all your sins wiped away and your life is now clean and
stain free. White as snow!
So, let it snow; let it snow!
Onward and Upward!