Preparing for Easter

As I write this; today is a day celebrated by much of the church as Ash Wednesday. That is not part of our tradition or practice at Lockport Church, nor do we observe Lent as many do. Those practices may seem strange to us, but we can learn from them. I have no desire to change our practice, but would recommend that we seriously consider the need to prepare ourselves for Easter. It is certainly the most significant day on the calendar for the Christian.

We live in a world with many concerns and many distractions. Every day we get mail from Christian organizations sharing significant needs and opportunities to minister to those needs. We also are constantly bombarded with the many luxuries available to us in this country. We have an abundance of things to watch, read, or to attend. We have many opportunities to do much good, and to do much evil. But, there is also great opportunity to do nothing at all! (At least nothing that is significant one way or the other). We can easily be busy about nothing.

That tendency exists within the church as much as it does without. We can get caught up in our programs and our activities, being very active, and do little of value. It happens when we loose our focus – when we go through the motions of religion having forgotten their significance. This is a great time of the year to refocus on what is most important.

The Apostle Paul clearly gave us that focus in 1Corinthians 15 when he said, For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. There is nothing more important in the world than that statement! Our hope, our life, our salvation are all wrapped up in the simple yet profound statement of the gospel.

Use this season as a time to re-prioritize your life. There is nothing else as significant as that great truth – God became man and died for us, being resurrected as victor over sin and death! Once you wrap your mind and heart around that truth and spend time in considering the reality of it. Everything takes on a different perspective.

In Him,

Pastor Nord

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I’m Blind!

I’ve been thinking a lot about blindness recently – not the physical kind, but spiritual blindness. There are so many things that we can not see, but no blindness is more pervasive than the blindness we have to our own sin. It’s always easy to see the sins of others, but so hard to see our own. I was reminded of that earlier today when I read a quote from impeached Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich who said “I’m not the first person this has happened to. All you got to do is read the Bible and parts of the Bible are filled with stories like this, and about how human beings treat each other and how circumstances can change and what people do.” He has continued to deny that he has done anything wrong at all, even though the evidence against him is great. Rather than seeing himself as a person who has committed criminal acts he sees himself as a hero. Comparing himself to the hero of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” he said “That’s what my story is. It’s a Frank Capra movie.”

I am disgusted by what appears to be such a clear misuse of power, and am amazed at his view of himself as one who has been persecuted, and yet I am also aware that my heart is in some ways not so different from his. Whenever any of us our confronted with our sins and failures we tend to do the exact same thing that Blagojevich is doing – we become defensive and feel that we are being unfairly attacked. The Bible warns us of that tendency and prescribes the means of avoiding it.

The first step in overcoming this blindness we have to our own sin is to simply recognize the truthfulness of the word. John wrote “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1John 1:10 NIV) The choice is simple, either we are lying or God is lying. We either believe the Word of God or we don’t.

We should use the awareness of others’ sin to focus on our own. In Matthew seven the Lord says; “”Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” We need to help other believers with their sin, but first must always deal with our own.

We may need to ask God’s help in even becoming aware of our sin. The psalmist David requested that when he said; “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV) God does know our heart and will aid us in self-awareness if we but ask.

Fortunately when we do become aware of the sin in our heart the remedy is simple. John also has written; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9 NIV) When we become honest with ourselves and with our Lord concerning our sin, His character is such that he will always forgive and restore us.

It is not wrong to be outraged by the sin of others (particularly those who have been placed in positions of public trust). Their sin needs to be recognized and dealt with, but let us also use those events as opportunities to examine our own heart. With God’s help, we will grow in holiness as we turn our thoughts to our own blindness and ask him to open our eyes.

In Him,

Pastor Nord