Pastor’s Note

Season of Advent


Season of Advent Pt.1 – Promise of Hope

by Dan Behrens on November 29, 2020  |  Evergreen Foursquare Church

 

Today, November 29th, is the first day of the Advent Season, the annual commemoration of Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God on December 25th (Christmas Day).

Advent season is observed and celebrated as a time of expectancy, a time of anticipation, a time of intimate preparation. We look for a promise of hope in the birth of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Christ our King at his Second Coming. Advent is a season of tremendous hope. Though Messiah has come, though Jesus has died and been raised to life, though the Holy Spirit presently lives within us, still an overwhelming sense of expectancy, anticipation and hope compels us to lift our heads toward heaven during the darkest of seasons.

It’s no secret that if we delve deep into the history, tradition, ritual and practice that accompanies the celebration of Advent, we find a wealth of information and differing expression. Add to this, each one of us may have in our own history, particular memories of celebrating the Advent of Christ in one way or another, either as a family or a gathered church.

For us here at Evergreen, we’ve intended to keep things simple during the holiday season. Simple yet no less intentional. Simple yet no less meaningful. Simple yet no less powerful. In fact, its under the most simple of circumstances we come to know our Lord Jesus in the gospels. Jesus is born into humble (or what we might call “simple”) circumstances. Jesus’ death is preceded by his telling followers to go out into the world under humble (or what we might call “simple”) preparation. Simple, but again, no less intentional, meaningful or powerful. The hope-filled promise of Emmanuel—God With Us.

It is with this same spirit that we welcome the Advent season. We can and must open up our hearts to a hope that is intentional, meaningful and powerful; a promise that is not seasonal but everlasting. Hear the heralding rally of the prophet Isaiah:

 

Isaiah 9:1-7 — A Child Is Born
1)Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those in distress. In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future He will honor the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations:
2)The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.
3)You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people rejoice before You as they rejoice at harvest time, as men rejoice in dividing the plunder.
4)For as in the day of Midian, You have shattered the yoke of their burden, the bar across their shoulders, and the rod of their oppressor.
5)For every trampling boot of battle and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.
6)For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7)Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from that time and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will accomplish this.

 

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Fairly Spiritual


Lamenting Politics, Covid and Race

by Douglas Bursch on November 20, 2020, The Fairly Spiritual Show

A very personal show where Doug laments the current condition of American Christianity in regards to politics, Covid, and race. Pretty much a lament and nothing more. The hope is you don’t feel so alone or you gain a better understanding of those who don’t feel like you. Peace. (Listen Here)


 

Simple Prayers. Simple Words.


Simple Prayers. Simple Words.

by Dan Behrens on October 30, 2020  |  Evergreen Foursquare Church

 

Matthew 6:9-13
9.) In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10.) Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11.) Give us this day our daily bread.
12.) And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13.) And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

 

Very familiar scriptures here. Most of us recognize these scriptures as the Lord’s Prayer. I bet some of us can recite these words from memory, and have even leaned on them at times for needed comfort and solace. We might regard this particular prayer or even Jesus’ model of prayer as simple. Simple words. Simple prayer.

In a way, they are simple words. Simple and singular in focus—a singular focus that bonds us to our Christian ancestors who, like us, have daily prayed for divine authority to be expressed on earth, divine provision to ease our daily need, divine forgiveness to absolve our tremendous guilt, and divine protection to overshadow our obedient faith.

But simple does not necessarily mean powerless, less effective or less important. No one believes that. In fact, we simplify all sorts of things for the very reason of drawing out and seizing on what’s most important, powerful and effective. We simplify equations in order to grapple with manageable figures. We simplify scriptures in order to propose life principles. We simplify instructions in order to expedite workflow. We rightly simplify all of life’s enormities in order to take on more, make room for other, or to simply move on.

And here is the point (the point of contrast, that is). So often we simplify things in order to take on, make room for, or simply move on. But that is not what Jesus does here in teaching us how to pray. His words are simple, but his focus is central; his manner of prayer an everlasting process of abiding in God. Jesus does not teach us to ask for more, believe for more, hope for more. Rather he teaches us to seek, like himself, what is already ours in the Father and to enduringly abide in that reality.

As familiar as these scriptures are (and ritualistic in their recitation), we are no less indebted to their efficiency in bringing us back to the foundation of our faith. Willful, obedient, surrender. From here onward, we need not be frightened or discouraged in approaching our heavenly Father…  doesn’t “he know already know what we need?” Matthew 6. Indeed, he does. That is just how important a matter this is.

 

@danieljbehrens on twitter
@danieljbehrens on twitter

 

Make Peace When Others Won’t


Make Peace When Others Won’t

by Dan Behrens on October 10, 2020  |  Evergreen Foursquare Church

“It is one thing to view the land of peace from a wooded ridge; quite another to tread the road that leads there.” -St. Augustine [excerpt from Surprised By Joy by C.S. Lewis]

“I have dwelt too long with those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” -Psalm 120

The bible gives us many examples of either a command, a charge, even a plea for the people of God (i.e. the Christian) to pursue peace. Or, if peace is not readily found, to make peace. In fact, we are to make peace when others won’t. Jesus calls this endeavor blessed—“blessed are the peacemakers,” he says. Matthew 5

Having said this, there are also a great many examples in the bible of persons who made peace their genuine goal and suffered mightily for it. A sobering contrast. The one who makes for peace typically receives very little of it, typically receives the constant nag of scrutiny, cynicism, mischaracterization, and even insult. Yet again, Jesus calls you blessed. That is way of the Christ; what some might describe as foolishness. “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, for I have overcome the world.” John 16

There is nothing foolish about the miracles of God experienced most noticeably by others than when you make peace your true goal. They may not receive it. They may outright reject it. May even even harm you in return. But they will not deceived. Peace is that kind of offering that is unmistakably apparent. Much more shrewd are her preparations for an unshakeable bridge—forgiveness, acceptance, trust, compassion, pure affection. As for these, time will tell. But first comes peace, either readily present or something born of your great effort. “For the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.” -James 3

@danieljbehrens on twitter
@danieljbehrens on twitter