Pastor’s Corner

John 15:1-8

Rev. Marty Gool

In this scripture, Jesus speaks with authority and conviction. He announces I am the vessel through which we maintain contact with God. Jesus is not a messenger or a conduit, but the vehicle we use to develop and grow our spiritual relationship with the Father. Jesus says if we abide in Him; if we embrace His teachings and allow His word to take root in our hearts; if we allow His word to live in us, He says our prayer life would be different because what we pray will be what He has willed for us. That’s “if you abide in Me and My words abide in you.” Then when you pray you will in fact be praying in the will of the Father. 

Understand,  just as a branch cannot survive without being attached to the vine, we as the branches, the children of God, cannot survive without being attached to Jesus and His words. We are dependent on Him for our strength, and spiritual growth. What do I mean by this? People do live without Jesus. We see people do it every day. What I am saying is, if you want a life that has peace while going through the storms of life, if you want to find strength when you are weak, if you want direction when you are lost,  if you want to be able to see your way through the darkness. Then embracing the words of Jesus is a necessity. Jesus doesn’t promise a life of ease. He promises a life that can transcend the storms and conflicts in our lives. Without Jesus, we are like withered, beat-up branches, unable to bear fruit or fulfill our divine purpose.

In this divine relationship, Jesus reveals the role of the Father as the vinedresser. It is God who is in charge of pruning and refining us, ensuring that we remain aligned with His will. Through the words of Jesus, God prunes us, shaping and molding us into vessels of His love and righteousness. It is through the words of the Gospel that we are cleansed and made fit for His service.

The power of the Gospel shines through in this scripture. The Gospel is not just a collection of words or stories; it is a transformative force that if embraced and trusted will change lives and bring about spiritual renewal. Through hearing and receiving the Gospel, we are pruned and cleansed. The Gospel prepares us for the work that God has called us to do. It is through the Gospel that we find true purpose and meaning in life, as we are connected to the source of all life and truth.

So let us embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ with an unwavering faith. Let us abide in Jesus, allowing his word to take root in our hearts. Let us allow the Gospel of the Savior to guide our every step. As we remain connected to him, we will multiply the fruit we bear. This fruit glorifies God and brings light into a dark world. Let us continue to seek the pruning of God’s word in our lives. It is through this process that we are made vessels for his divine purposes. In this way, we can truly experience the power and transformative impact of the Gospel in our lives.

Pastor Gool

John 5:19

Rev. Marty Gool

The focal point of this text is Jesus did what He saw the Father in heaven doing. Jesus of Nazareth demonstrated what it meant to live in the will of the Father. He showed by His actions that God was in charge of His life. His life was not his own; He did nothing of himself. He was an echo of a higher will, a reflection of the light of God. He only did what He saw His Father do. His actions were not dictated by personal ambitions or earthly desires. All His actions were instructions from God. The Son of God took the words of Proverbs 3:5-6 to heart. He followed them explicitly. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” says Proverbs 3:5-6, “and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” These were the verses that Jesus lived by, his guiding principles.

This scripture has importance in this 21st century. It carries a message for anyone who is struggling to manage their lives. This scripture leads those who find themselves lost to the source of all knowledge and wisdom.

This scripture tells those who find themselves adrift amid the twists and turns of life that there is someone who can and will guide them. There is someone who understands their circumstances and their trials. No one must walk through life alone. No one must figure life out alone. There is a Father who cares for you right now, right where you are.

As we travel through this life, we must maintain communication with God. For God is our compass in our times of confusion. God is our Rock when the world around us is crumbling. God is our friend when the world has turned its back on us. Our God has never failed to strengthen those who trust Him. Our prayers should not be our last resort but our first response. We should not pray occasionally but prayer should become a lifestyle.

Moreover, it is important that we immerse ourselves in God’s Word. Just as a lamp lights up a dark path, God’s Word illuminates our lives. It guides us in those times when finding our way is difficult. His Word provides hope in times of despair, and wisdom when we cannot think straight. God’s Word equips us with the spiritual armor we need to face the world. The Bible is not just a book. The Bible is the living, breathing Word of God.

In a world that changes with every tick of the clock, where truth is a lie, and where love is drowned by hate, we need the constant, unchanging presence of God. That can only come through an unbroken communication with Him. We should be guided by a deep relationship with the Father. This is a vital necessity for Christians traveling through this world.

Pastor Gool

Luke 24:13-35

Rev. Marty Gool

The shadow of Calvary left a devastating impact on the lives of the disciples. Calvary’s cross was the greatest act of redemption known to humanity. The cross, a symbol of suffering and sacrifice, became the altar on which humanity’s freedom was paid. What Jesus did on Calvary’s cross was far more than an act of redemption. It was an act of unconditional love and grace. His life and blood were the price paid. It was the ransom God demanded.

In Luke 24:13-35, we see the disciples in a state of despair following Jesus’ crucifixion. They were looking for a Redeemer, someone who would deliver them from the oppressive Roman rule. However, they did not fully understand the kind of Redeemer Jesus was. They were focusing on earthly liberation, while Jesus came to provide eternal salvation.

We too long for a savior who caters to our desires and wishes. We look for solutions to our problems and seek deliverance from our struggles.

We too like the people of Jerusalem are looking for a redeemer. We must remind ourselves that Jesus is more than a redeemer. Jesus is our savior. Jesus has redeemed us from bondage. Jesus has delivered us from the fear of death and the grave. Our savior has taught and shown us that these two imposters do not have the last word. This single act by Jesus on Calvary’s cross reveals the tremendous cost that had to be paid to free mankind from the bondage of sin and restore our relationship with God. It serves as a powerful reminder that we are not alone in our struggles and that there is always a path to redemption, no matter how lost or broken we may feel.

As we reflect on their story allow yourself to look into a mirror and see yourself in these men. How often do we walk our own Emmaus roads, blinded by our circumstances, unable to see the victory of the resurrection that is before us? We hear the news of national political conflict and international war.  We experience our own strife and personal trials. Like these disciples, we may feel that the one we hoped for has been defeated.

Remember, do not ever forget, the moment when their eyes were opened. The stranger was not a stranger at all. He was the Risen Christ. Imagine the strength of faith if we opened our eyes too. Imagine the changes that would take place in our lives if we would embrace His victory. If we allowed our eyes to be opened to the presence of the risen Lord in our midst, how would our walk change? We would see every trial as an opportunity for resurrection, every ending as a new beginning, and every moment of despair as a step closer to hope.

The road to Emmaus is not just a story of the past but our story today. We are invited to walk with Jesus and invite Him into our homes, hearts, and lives. In doing so, we will find that the resurrection is not a distant historical event; it is a present reality, a victory that can transform our every defeat into triumph.

Exactly what does walking humbling with God mean? Amos meant living a life that was in faithful submission to God. It means recognizing our limitations and the greatness of God’s wisdom and love. The cross represents a significant shift in values, in the things we believe are important. The cross introduces in a very tangible way the importance that others should have in our lives. This is reflected in the fact that Jesus gave His life for us. The cross does not call for the elimination of material wealth. It challenges believers to look at how they use their resources.

Pastor Gool

Isaiah 53; 1Peter 2:24

Rev. Marty Gool

We are embarking upon Holy Week when Jesus is making His way to the cross. Significantly, millions will recognize this time as a time when Jesus, our Savior suffered and died on a cross.

The cross was not just any form of punishment.  It was a method intent on sending a message to the unwanted and those who disturbed or threatened Roman dominance and control. America used the lynching tree, a method comparable to Roman. The lynching tree sent a message to all who would challenge, upset, or disturb the dominant culture in America.

Unlike the lynching tree, the cross is a symbol of triumph. It is a symbol that gives testimony to the faithful that God is on the side of those who suffer, those who are oppressed. The cross speaks volumes about racism and terror around the world. It stands as a symbol for those who suffer. For those who find themselves living in despair and fear. It lets them know that there is One who stands in solidarity with you. The one hanging on Calvary’s cross identifies with you. Jesus says, I understand your pain. I understand what you are going through.

The cross is not only a symbol of faith. The cross is a symbol of action. Action is to be taken by those who would follow Jesus. When we understand that the cross represents more than just individual salvation but parallels the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, our understanding of what it means to live out the Christian Gospel will become clear and focused more on service.

When Christians look at the cross they should see responsibility. Our responsibility that we said we assume when we chose to follow the “Bloodstained Banner.” We have a responsibility to become the hope the hopeless have lost living in a world determined to beat them down. We, Christians, are called to become agents of change. If the cross has any impact on us at all this is a message we must embrace.

The Cross compels us to stand against injustice not just with our hearts but with our actions. Our words should have the integrity of our actions behind them.

Solidarity with the cross means solidarity embodying the principles of justice, mercy, and walking humbly with our God.

Exactly what does walking humbling with God mean? Amos meant living a life that was in faithful submission to God. It means recognizing our limitations and the greatness of God’s wisdom and love. The cross represents a significant shift in values, in the things we believe are important. The cross introduces in a very tangible way the importance that others should have in our lives. This is reflected in the fact that Jesus gave His life for us. The cross does not call for the elimination of material wealth. It challenges believers to look at how they use their resources.

So, when Black people look at the cross. I hope they can see the threads of suffering and victory woven through our history and our faith.

I hope we can see that God is in control. The cross reveals the power of God and that He is involved in every phase of life.

I hope we can see the Savior’s strength as a reflection of our own. It is this strength that God gave to Jesus that God has given all who need His strength to overcome and sometimes endure the challenges of life.

Finally, I hope we can see Triumph over failure. The cross is not a symbol of failure but one of victory. For those who are oppressed and disenfranchised, the cross is a symbol of ongoing defeat. The victory march that began in Gethsemane can be seen with every step we take toward justice and equality. With every step that overcomes hate. With every step of courage, we triumph by the cross. The cross is God’s final statement and demonstration that He’s got the whole world in His hands. Which means God has us in His hands as well.

Pastor Gool

Psalm 42:5

Rev. Marty Gool

The “God Kind of Hope” is founded on the “God Kind of Trust”. Hope cannot exist without faith and trust being the foundation it stands on. Ordinary trust is based on human experience. It is the kind of trust we have in people and institutions. Ordinary trust is what we “believe” is reliable. We lend people money, and they tell us it will be paid on a certain day and they do not repay us on that day. They were not reliable. We trust chairs because they have held our bodies in the past—most of the time they do. But on rare occasions, there may be a defect and the chair collapses when we sit down on it. We thought the chair to be reliable, but it was not.

The “God Kind of Trust” takes us to another level, much higher than the trust we have for a chair. The “God Kind of Trust” transcends ordinary trust. The “God Kind of Trust” is rooted in biblical faith. I stress biblical faith because biblical faith is more than mere belief. Biblical faith is steadfastly trusting in God. Biblical faith is having an unwavering faith in God. Believing is accepting a statement is true or that something exists based upon information or evidence. We believe the earth rotates around the sun because we learned this in school.

Biblical faith is different. Biblical faith goes beyond mere belief. Biblical faith is the profound assurance and trust in someone or something without any tangible proof. Biblical faith is founded upon certain unfailing suppositions:

  1. Belief in God’s Existence: Faith starts with the belief that God exists and is active in the world.
  2. Trust in God’s Character: Faith involves trusting that God is good, loving, and just.
  3. Confidence in God’s Promises: Faith includes a confident expectation that God will fulfill His promises as revealed in the Bible.
  4. Reliance on God for Salvation: Faith trusts God’s provision of salvation through Jesus Christ.
  5. Commitment to God’s Will: Faith leads to a commitment to live according to God’s will and commands.

Biblical faith is not blind faith, it is based upon the historical evidence of God’s actions, the testimony of the Bible, and the personal experience of every believer. Biblical faith is not just believing God is real. It is living in a way that testifies that God is real.

Let me continue by saying biblical truth is not relative truth. Biblical truth is truth grounded in the absolute. Biblical truth is not dependent upon circumstances. Its only standard is the Word and will of God.

Relative truth varies from person to person. Relative truth is dependent upon the background of the individual. Relative truth is dependent upon someone’s perspective. Relative truth is not grounded in the Absolute. Christianity is based on the belief in Absolute truth. Absolute truth is unchanging and universal. Absolute truth is grounded in the Bible and the Character of God. Relative truth is a truth that can change based on someone’s perspective, culture, or upbringing.

Returning to “The God Kind of Hope”, it cannot be separated from the “God Kind of Trust”. The “God Kind of Hope” incorporates the following points:

  1. It begins with trust in God’s nature and God’s promises. This trust is rooted, and grounded in the belief that God is real, God is All-Powerful, God is good, and God is faithful.
  2. From this trust comes hope. Hope is born because we trust in God’s character, and we hope that God’s promises will be fulfilled. Character is who God is. When you talk about someone’s character you are describing who you think they are on the inside. Regardless of what they show on the outside.
  3. Hope feeds trust. Hope is always based on trust. We hope in God’s promises because we have placed our trust in God. There is no hope where trust is absent.
  4. Trust is the necessary and needed ingredient that sustains hope. Trust keeps hope alive. Even when circumstances are difficult it is the trust in God’s plan and His ultimate goodness that keeps hope alive.
  5. Both hope and trust manifest themselves in actions and decisions. Trusting in God influences how believers live their lives, and hoping in His promises guides our expectations for the future.
  6. The relationship between hope and trust is cyclical. As hope grows, so does trust, and as trust deepens, hope becomes more profound.

This is the foundation upon which “The God Kind of Hope” stands.

Pastor Gool

John 15:2

Rev. Marty Gool

When we read John 15:1-3 Jesus establishes Himself as the “Vine”, that is the source of our spiritual growth and development. Today I would like to focus on John 15:2b “Every branch that does produce fruit He prunes, that it may produce more fruit. This is part of the growth process that the vast majority of the Body of Christ neither like nor understands. 

The Pruning Process

“Every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes.” This single verse announces with a resounding voice the purpose of the pruning process in our lives. 

The Purpose of Pruning 

Removal of the deadwood: Sin, distractions, and material and worldly attachments. 

Pruning is Nurturing: Pruning is a form of nurturing. It is essential to the growth of the plant. By removing dead or diseased branches pruning helps prevent the spread of disease.  Pruning leads to greater fruitfulness.

Comfort in Trials: The pruning process is also a process of purification. We are God’s gold that He carries through the fire to purify us. It is this purification that leads us into a deeper dependence upon God. Pruning compels us to move closer to God so we can embrace His guidance and remain open to His support.

Hope and Assurance: There is comfort in knowing that God’s pruning process is only temporary and will lead to a better relationship with God. It is in the pruning process that our purpose and God’s good are made all the more clear. It is in this process that we discover that all things do work for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His (God’s) purpose.

There is a real growth component and intent behind pruning. It is not only about cutting away that which is dead, unnecessary, and unwanted. It is also about the promotion of growth and enhancing our productivity.  When the unproductive elements are trimmed from our lives we are in a better position to grow and flourish and bear greater fruit.

The Trials of Pruning

Pruning in the initial is not perceived by many as a pleasant or comforting process. However, as we go through the pruning process and come to the end of the trial. We will discover the depth of our relationship with God has deepened because we were compelled to seek a closer walk with God in these moments of severe challenge. 

Embrace the Pruning Process

To benefit from the pruning process. We must let go of the deadwood in our lives. We will have to relinquish habits, attitudes, or attachments that hinder our spiritual growth. When we can do this we open ourselves up to the transformative work of God.

The Time of Preparation: A pruned plant yields more fruit. Embracing the pruning process will enable us to yield more fruit for God. This happens because, during the pruning process, we are allowing God to shape us. We are allowing God to grow to bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness…Galatians 5:22-23.

Just as a skilled gardener prunes a fruitful vine for greater abundance, God prunes us and shapes us through pruning to be more productive.

Pastor Gool

Dan 6:1-25

Rev. Marty Gool

I want to ask the question today “What is the difference that makes the difference in your life. What is it that enables you to strive to overcome despite the situation or circumstances? What is it that separates Joseph and Daniel from the rest of the so-called faithful?

We all face situations and challenges that test our faith. These hardships we are often confronted with can make you question your ability to get through them. What is it that is in you that carries you over the finish line intact? There is something different about these people. There is something that separates people like Joseph and Daniel from the rest who collapse during the trial.

Joseph and Daniel were two biblical figures who faced immense adversity in their lives. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, yet he managed to rise to a position of power and influence in Egypt. Similarly, Daniel was taken captive and faced numerous trials, but he remained faithful to his beliefs and rose to prominence in Babylon. What set them apart was their unwavering faith, their willingness and ability to trust in God’s plan, and their willingness to continue to persevere no matter how long it took.

What made the difference was their faith and frame of mind, their mindset. Joseph and Daniel chose to focus on the bigger picture rather than getting caught up in the immediate struggles they found themselves in. Joseph could have allowed the fact that he was in jail turn his faith and trust in God into doubt because of how long it took for God to respond. Daniel could have given up when thrown into the lion’s den with no one there to intercede. But neither Daniel nor Joseph gave in to the immediate circumstances. What we who find ourselves in circumstances beyond our understanding must understand within every setback there is an opportunity for God to shine His light.

It is within the mindset of every Christian to trust in God with the help of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus departed God sent the comforter. God sent an Advocate, a divine Counselor to live in us and walk with us through the difficulties we all will face. The reason God sent the Comforter was so we would not allow fear to consume us. We would not allow doubt to separate us from His Omnipotence.

The difference that makes the difference has always been our faith in Jesus Christ. It is our trust that turns the tide. It is our letting go and letting God take over. God cannot take over until you let go. It is our trust in God that gives us the strength to let go.

Faith has always been the difference that makes the difference. Trust has always been the mechanism that grows our faith. What both Daniel and Joseph had was the ability to allow the most trying of hardships to teach them how to let go. They allowed their limitations to come full circle and realized they were unable to do a thing. Only God could turn this around. Only God could fix this situation. 

Do you find yourself in a situation beyond your abilities, beyond your control? Let go, let God. Allow the Difference Maker to enter into your situation. Turn everything over to God and He will make the difference you need someone to make in your life.

Pastor Gool

“Lift Every Voice and Sing”

Rev. Marty Gool

The poem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson, written in 1900, has transcended time to become a symbol of hope, resilience, and the enduring spirit of the African American community. It echoes as a testament to the struggle for equality and justice. It speaks to the journey and hardship of a people who pursuing a brighter future. 

The poem’s opening lines resonate with a call to action, urging individuals to raise their voices in unity and determination. The pictures of the earth and heaven ringing with the harmonies of liberty arouse a sense of collective empowerment and the unwavering pursuit of freedom. It embodies the unyielding spirit of a people who refuse to be silenced in the face of adversity. This poem serves as a rallying cry for those who would stand against injustice to come together to create a better America.

Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

The verses delve into the historical struggles faced by this community, acknowledging the bitterness of the past while embracing the faith and hope that has sustained us. The metaphor of the “rising sun of our new day begun” captures the enduring optimism and determination to forge ahead despite the challenges encountered along the way. By embracing both the darkness of the past and the hope of the present, this poem inspires resilience and determination to push forward into the future.

Acknowledging the Struggle

The poem does not shy away from acknowledging the hardships and sacrifices made.  It reflects on the tears and the blood that was shed by those who came before. It serves as a brutal reminder of the difficult path that has led to the present day. It also highlights the courage and stamina of a people who have overcome immense challenges. It invites individuals to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who fought for justice and equality, urging them to continue the fight for a more just and open-minded society.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?

The closing verses of the poem offer a prayer for guidance, seeking the strength to remain steadfast and true to our faith and heritage. This underscores the enduring commitment to our beliefs and the pursuit of a better future. This poem emphasizes the importance of faith and heritage in navigating life’s challenges, reminding individuals to draw strength from their roots and to remain true to their values and beliefs.

We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our God,
True to our native land.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” stands as a timeless testament to the indomitable spirit of the Black community. In a world where the pursuit of equality and justice remains ongoing. This poem remains a guiding light. It continues to remind us of the power of an enduring hope and the human spirit.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” has become an anthem of hope and resilience. It serves as a reminder of the strength found in unity, the importance of acknowledging the past, and the power of faith and heritage. As we continue to strive for a more just society, the poem will continue to light the way, inspiring us to lift our voices, embrace our history, acknowledge the struggle, and seek guidance and strength in our pursuit of better days.

Pastor Gool

Hosea 1:1-10

Rev. Marty Gool

The book of Hosea in the Bible presents a most unusual story. This makes many feel uncomfortable because it is about a man of God being in love and marrying a prostitute. However as we delve deeper into this text it unveils a most interesting living parable of God’s unwavering love for humanity, despite our unfaithfulness. Despite our choosing other gods over Him.

A Provocative Comparison: The text portrays the prophet Hosea as a man deeply in love with a prostitute, a depiction that challenges religious and societal norms and makes many uncomfortable.  It is a visual representation of God’s relationship with Israel. It also serves as a mirror reflecting the Christian’s tendency to view ourselves as morally superior and above chasing after the world like Israel chased after other gods.

The Uncomfortable Truth: The prostitute is a symbol of society and the world. The prostitute speaks to the emptiness and futility of our worldly pursuits. The uncomfortable reality is that while we may look down on the prostitute, many are drawn to her in the darkness of the night. This contradictory behavior highlights the allure and seduction that captivate people who live their lives amid the city lights of the night. The Night Lights and the life lived in their shadows are like magnets that pull us in and devour us as our desires transcend a different moral code we were taught in the light of day.  

A Mirror to Our Actions: The text indirectly confronts our own moral vulnerabilities, as it suggests that despite knowing it’s wrong, individuals are irresistibly drawn to the forbidden. This complex interplay of guilt, temptation, and desire strikes a chord with human nature. It is a reminder that we are not very different than Adam or Eve.

The Parable Unveiled: As we unravel the layers of this narrative, we uncover a story that transcends human vulnerabilities, revealing important insights into the divine relationship between God and humanity.

God’s Unconditional Love: The important truth lies in understanding that the story of Hosea mirrors God’s enduring love for humanity. It demonstrates and represents God’s unwavering love for a wayward people. A people who chase lust after their individual and collective desires. This is spelled out in the love Hosea has for Gomer. Nevertheless, Gomer continues to seek life in different human venues. 

Symbolism of Unfaithfulness: The act of Hosea marrying a prostitute serves as a vivid representation of God’s people being unfaithful to Him. This powerful image illustrates the spiritual adultery committed by the people of Israel through their pursuit of other gods, a betrayal of the divine covenant.

Parallel to God’s Love: The lyrics of Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” tell the story exceedingly well. The song addresses God’s love for Israel and us. There is an interesting parallel that emerges when we read the lyrics of this song. 

When a man loves a woman
can’t keep his mind on nothin’ else

He’d trade the world
For a good thing, he’s found
If she is bad, he can’t see it
She can do no wrong
Turn his back on his best friend
If he puts her down

When a man loves a woman
Spend his very last dime
Trying to hold on to what he needs
He’d give up all his comforts
And sleep out in the rain
If she said that’s the way
It ought to be

When a man loves a woman
I give you everything I’ve got (yeah)
Trying to hold on
To your precious love
Baby, please don’t treat me bad

When a man loves a woman
Deep down in his soul
She can bring him such misery
If she is playing him for a fool
He’s the last one to know
Loving eyes can never see

Divine Love PersonifiedThe lyrical portrayal of a man’s unyielding love and devotion resembles God’s profound love for humanity. The unconditional nature of love blinds us to faults, and the willingness to sacrifice all echo the depth of God’s love for His creation.

Sacrificial Love: Drawing parallels to the biblical narrative, the lyrics capture the sacrificial nature of love, exemplified through God’s ultimate sacrifice of His son for the redemption of humanity, as expressed in John 3:16.

Unveiling God’s Sacrificial Love: This account of Hosea leads us to consider the depth of God’s sacrificial love, demonstrated in His unrelenting pursuit of reconciliation with His unfaithful people.

Divine Sacrifice: The narrative culminates in highlighting God’s unconditional love, demonstrated through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the redemption of humanity. This act embodies the extent of God’s love, it transcends human understanding.

A Message of Redemption: Through the touching and distressful story of Hosea, we are reminded of God’s enduring love and His willingness to reconcile with those who continually stray, reminding all that there is a path that leads to redemption and spiritual renewal.

The story of Hosea serves as a unique story, revealing the complexities of human nature and the depth of God’s love. This story challenges us to reflect on our own spiritual journey. It encourages us to examine the twists and turns we have taken in our own lives that have gotten us to where we are today.  And we acknowledge the boundless love and grace extended to us by God despite our failings. We have come to discover that embracing this love offers us hope, redemption, and a profound sense of peace in our lives.

Pastor Gool

Psalm 139:14

Rev. Marty Gool

The impact of European beauty standards on Black people is a pervasive and profound issue that has been largely ignored for far too long. It is an insidious force that diminishes our inherent worth and beauty. This philosophy constantly bombards us with images and messages that push a single narrative – that our skin, our hair, and our features, are somehow less desirable, and less beautiful than the rest of the world. Yet, it is crucial to remember that these standards are not true, but rather a socially constructed idea that has been perpetuated over time.

Psalms 139:14 serves as a powerful reminder to all Black individuals – “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” This scripture underscores the fundamental truth that each of us has been crafted by the divine hand of God. God intricately and intimately created us in our mother’s womb. Our features are not mistakes or defects but the intentional creation of a loving God who saw fit to paint us with the most beautiful shades of Black.

The Bible does not shy away from affirming our beauty and worth. Indeed, it provides a roadmap for us to navigate societal pressures and biases, urging us to embrace our unique beauty and find strength in our identity. 

The story of Queen Esther stands as a testament to this. Esther was not just a woman of remarkable beauty; she was strong, intelligent, and brave. She used her unique beauty and position not for personal gain, but to save her people. We must follow in her footsteps, using our unique beauty and strength to lift ourselves and our communities. Likewise, the Song of Solomon celebrates the beauty of the Shulamite woman who is described as “dark but lovely.” The woman’s skin color is referenced repeatedly throughout the song, emphasizing its attraction and beauty. The Song of Solomon serves as a divine affirmation of Black beauty, challenging societal norms and biases. It serves to remind us that we are beautiful, not in spite of our blackness, but because of it. 

In a world that often seeks to make us feel inadequate, let us not forget these scriptures. Let them serve as reminders of our divine origin and inherent beauty. Let them inspire us to embrace our unique features and reject the narrow confines of societal beauty standards. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and our beauty is a testament to that. We must continue to affirm our worth, celebrate our unique beauty, and empower ourselves and others to do the same. For you are beautifully and wonderfully made.

Pastor Gool

Psalm 62:2

Rev. Marty Gool

In life, barriers are inevitable. We will always be confronted by challenges. They come in various forms and seek to impede our forward progress. Barriers hinder us from reaching our goals. This is why it is important that we develop the strength and determination to overcome the barriers that we face. It is through our God-given ability that we are able to overcome obstacles that seek to compromise our lives and prevent us from achieving our full potential. When we realize that barriers will always enter our lives at some point, we can begin to approach these adversities with a mindset of perseverance and tenacity.

One crucial and simultaneously difficult aspect of overcoming barriers is cultivating the ability to see ourselves as larger than the obstacles. This requires that we know who created us and begin to recognize our worth and potential. In addition, it means that we refuse to be defined or limited by the barriers that stand in our way. The world champion fighter Jack Johnson faced immense racism in the world of boxing during his time. However, he did not allow this barrier to define him or limit his aspirations. Instead, he saw himself as larger than racism and went on to become the heavyweight champion of the world. Johnson’s refusal to be defined by societal prejudices serves as a powerful example of how one can overcome barriers by believing in their abilities.

Similarly, Jackie Robinson faced numerous challenges in his journey to break down the barriers of racism in baseball. In a time when racial stereotypes were deeply ingrained in American society, Robinson saw himself larger than these stereotypes and refused to let them define him. His strength serves as an example of how in the process of enduring he allowed his talent to speak for him and became the first African American player in Major League Baseball. Jackie Robinson broke down racial barriers and paved the way for future generations of athletes. Robinson’s story is a testament to the power of seeing oneself beyond societal expectations and pushing through barriers that try to hold us back.

While it is true that not all barriers can be overcome, and some we cannot win alone. But we must at least try to overcome those that we can. By doing so, we open ourselves to new opportunities and possibilities that may have otherwise been out of reach. We will never know what can be achieved until we try to achieve it. Overcoming anything requires a belief in our abilities. It may not always be easy, but by refusing to let obstacles define us and by seeing ourselves larger than these barriers, we can navigate through life with a sense of purpose while trying to reach our goals.

In our life there are bound to be moments when doubt and fear creep in, threatening to consume us. It is in these moments that we must turn to the truth found in Psalm 62:2. This verse reminds us that knowing the truth is the key to escaping the quicksand of doubt and fear. When we firmly grasp this truth, worry and paralysis can no longer hold us hostage. Embracing the truth of Psalm 62:2 means understanding that God is our refuge and strength. He is our solid ground, the foundation upon which we can stand. 

We no longer have to be consumed by worry, for we know that God is with us every step of the way. We can trust that He will guide us through the storm and provide us with the strength to overcome in times of uncertainty.

It is this faith that gives us the courage to stand firm on His promises. As we do so, we will find ourselves emerging from the quicksand of doubt and fear, ready to triumph over any obstacle that comes our way.

Pastor Gool

John 15:1-8; Heb. 11:1

Rev. Marty Gool

Hebrews 11:1, a verse from the Bible, states that “faith is the substance of things hoped for.” This might seem a bit complex, so let’s break it down.

When the verse talks about “faith,” it refers to a strong belief or trust. In this context, it’s specifically about our trust in God. The term “substance of things hoped for” might seem a bit abstract, but it essentially means that faith gives a solid or real form to our hopes. It is faith that moves our ideas into something spiritually concrete. Something that we can visualize and trust God for. Remember, “the effort”, the faith, the exercise of trusting in God belongs to us. The “outcome” the results, how any and everything turns out belongs to God.

Now, let’s talk about “hope.” In the context of this verse, hope isn’t just about expecting something to happen. It’s about embracing an idea or belief so strongly in your mind that it becomes more than just a thought – it becomes a spiritual reality. This isn’t about hoping in the way we might hope for good weather, it’s a deeper, more profound kind of hope that’s directly connected to our faith in God. Our hope is not in our faith. Our hope and faith are in God’s ability to do what the world and society thinks impossible. So, when we say that “faith is the substance of things hoped for,” we’re saying that faith makes our deepest hopes feel real and tangible. It’s not just about trusting God, but also trusting in God’s plan for us. This trust, or faith, makes our hopes feel more real in our minds, which in turn strengthens our faith even more.

So, what do I mean by “trust?”  Trust refers to the firm belief that God is faithful, reliable, and true to His promises. It is the confidence that God will do what He says He will do, even when it seems impossible. When we say that “faith is the substance of things hoped for,” we’re saying that faith makes our deepest hopes feel real and tangible. It’s not just about trusting God, but also trusting in God’s plan for us. This means that we believe that God has a purpose for our lives and that He will guide us towards that purpose if we trust in Him. Trusting in God’s plan requires us to surrender our own desires and plans to Him and to have faith that He will lead us in the right direction. 

The Bible teaches that when we pray, we should believe that we will receive what we ask for. This is confusing because what is not said very often is this: Our prayers should be about what God wants for us. Our prayers should be the prayers that the Holy Spirit leads us to pray.

How is this done? John 15:4 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” This verse speaks volumes to the hearer of it. The branch is us. We cannot bear any fruit; we cannot bear any blessing unless it abides in the Vine. Jesus says and neither can we. We have to be spiritually in tune with God’s will not our own. Answered prayer is to and for the glory of God. John 15:8 says “By this my Father is glorified that you bear much fruit and prove that you are my disciples.” It is not only the fruit that is produced that brings glory to God. It is that you are praying the prayer the Holy Spirit is leading you to pray. That you are asking God, for the things that He desires you to long for.

However, it is important to remember that God’s will is not always the same as our own.  This is why Jesus says “If you abide in Me, and My words abide you. You can ask what you wish and it will be granted to you.” Jesus can say this because we will be praying for the will of God to manifest itself in our lives.

While we can ask for spiritual blessings and believe that we will receive them, we should also be open to the possibility that God’s plan for us may be different from what we expect. Romans 8:28 says that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” This means that even when things don’t go according to our plans, God is still working for our good and His glory. Our prayer should be to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives, not just our desires or agendas. This requires us to trust in God’s plan for us and to seek His will in all things.

Pastor Gool

Mark 11:22-23

Rev. Marty Gool

Mark 11:22 has been a controversial scripture because of a variety of incorrect translations. It is difficult to understand the text if it is not translated properly. When a text is translated incorrectly the interpretation is also incorrect and leads to misunderstanding of scripture. I want to give clarity to the way this text is to be translated. The interpretation of this text is dependent upon its translation. When understood properly we can begin to understand the role faith plays in our prayer life. 

The New International Version (NIV) and most (KJ V) of the Bible translate Mark 11:22 as “Have faith in God”. The phrase “have the God kind of faith” is not a direct translation of Mark 11:22 in any version of the Bible. It is a phrase that has been popularized by some preachers and teachers to describe the kind of faith that Jesus is talking about in this passage. It also creates anxiety in many Christians whose prayers go unanswered and who are accused of not having enough faith.

This verse does not suggest that we can ask for anything and God will grant it. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of having faith in God’s power to do the impossible. In Mark 11:22, the Greek word for faith is “pistis” which means “to have confidence or trust in someone or something”. The verse suggests that having faith in God, to be dependent upon God is essential to our prayer life.

In verse 23, Jesus uses figurative/symbolic language to explain the power of faith. He says, “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them”. This verse does not suggest that we can ask for anything and God will grant it. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of having faith in God’s power to do the impossible.

Having faith in God means trusting Him to do what is best for us, even if it is not what we pray for. It means believing that God’s plan for our lives is perfect and that He will work everything out for our good. This is in line with Romans 8:28 “All things work for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His (God’s) purpose. Therefore, we should pray with faith, trusting that God will answer our prayers in the way that is best for us.


Mark 11:22 says “Have faith in God” and not “the faith of God.” The verse emphasizes the importance of having faith in God’s power to do the impossible. It means that in our prayer life, we should be dependent upon faith. It means our faith is in what God can do. Our faith is not in our faith but in God. It does not suggest that we can ask for anything and God will grant it.  God is not a puppet that we can control with our thoughts. We cannot alter the program of God regardless of what we desire or how much we desire it. Instead, it encourages us to trust in God’s plan for our lives and to pray with faith, believing that God will answer our prayers in the way that is best for us.

Having faith in God means trusting Him to do what is best for us, even if it is not what we pray for. It means believing that God’s plan for our lives is perfect and that He will work everything out for our good. Therefore, we should pray with faith, trusting that God will answer our prayers in the way that is best for us. In Mark 11:22-23 Jesus emphasizes the importance of having faith in God’s power to do the impossible.

Pastor Gool

Hebrews 11:1

Rev. Marty Gool

In my message on the Audacity to Hope we discussed briefly the role of faith in moving forward into the future. The role of faith can never be underestimated or minimized in our effort to achieve the goals God has for us. There is a verse in the Bible that can turn doubt into unshakable faith. Hebrews 1:11 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.” This text places us in the center of God’s divine operations. It informs us from the very beginning how central the role of faith is.

The audacity to hope; the courage to hope is what gives spiritual power to faith that what is being hoped for can be accomplished or received. Hope is an optimistic state of mind based on a genuine expectation or intense desire for certain things to happen. In the context of faith, hope is tied to the promises of God.  When hope is tied to the promises of God it turns into Trust; which is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. In this context, trust is often placed in God. We trust that He is who He says He is and will do what He has promised. We hope these promises will be fulfilled. The audacity to hope comes from the believer and is maintained throughout the process of trusting in God. The audacity, the courage to hope comes from a relationship that has developed over time. The kind of relationship that assures the believer that the one who gives courage will not fail to appear. This kind of hope is not borne out of a casual relationship with God.

Faith enables us to believe in the reality of God and God’s promises. It is within this context that the Child of God engages in the “Audacity to Hope” in the worst of circumstances and the darkest of moments. It is this courage to trust in the knowledge of God that gives us the hope and faith that what I cannot see will come to pass. This verse tells that faith is having confidence and hope in the promises of God, even though they may not be visible or tangibleIt’s about trusting in God’s words, knowing that He is faithful and will never go back on His promises.

The “assurance” and “conviction” of faith is not blind belief, gullibility, or wishful thinking. The persons mentioned in chapter 11 of Hebrews all had good reasons to trust in God. Their “faith” was not naively accepting fairy tales; it was acting in full confidence that God would do as He promised, based on what had been done for them in the past. 

Our faith in God gives us hope in His promises. This hope, in turn, strengthened by God’s word, strengthens our faith. As our faith in God’s word grows, so does our trust in God. This trust then reinforces our hope and confidence in the promises of God.

So, while faith, hope, and trust are interconnected, they are not dependent. Instead, they reinforce and build upon each other, creating a strong foundation for a relationship with God.

It’s also important to note that faith, hope, and trust are nurtured and grown through personal experiences. They are not just abstract concepts but are lived and experienced in tangible ways.

I hope this explanation helps clarify the relationship between faith, hope, and trust. If you have further questions, feel free to ask!

Pastor Gool

Luke 4:18

Rev. Marty Gool

On January 1, 1863, a shift in policy occurred in the United States—this date marked the liberation of enslaved Black people. This event was supposed to shatter the chains of oppression and set in motion our journey toward equality and freedom. The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln, paved the way for progress and inspiring future generations. This gesture did not recognize the inherent rights and humanity of enslaved individuals as much as it aided the North in its fight against Southern insurrection.

As the nation grappled with the complexities of a divided society, January 1, 1863, brought a glimmer of hope and possibility that the North could win the war. The struggle for freedom was far from over, but this day symbolized a newfound determination to forge a path toward equality. By declaring that all enslaved people in Confederate territory were to be set free, it sent a powerful message that the institution of slavery was morally wrong and unacceptable.

The impact of the Emancipation Proclamation was significant. It gave hope to millions of enslaved individuals, promising them a future free from the shackles of bondage. It also had a significant effect on the course of the Civil War, as it sought to weaken the Confederacy by depriving them of their labor force. Furthermore, it shifted the narrative of the war, framing it as a battle for freedom and justice.

To fully understand the significance of the Emancipation Proclamation, it is essential to consider the historical context leading up to this moment. Slavery had been a deeply rooted institution in the United States for centuries, with millions of African Americans living in bondage and subjected to unimaginable cruelty and oppression.

The issue of slavery had been a controversial one since the country’s inception, with debates raging over its morality and legality. The Founding Fathers, while recognizing the contradiction between the principles of freedom and the existence of slavery, were unable to resolve this fundamental conflict during the drafting of the Constitution because of their close ties with the Southern states.

As the United States expanded westward, whether new territories should be free or enslaved territories became increasingly divisive. The country became polarized along regional lines, with the North advocating for the abolition of slavery and the South fighting to preserve its economic and social system. Money was at the heart of this unjust institution.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, played a crucial role in abolishing slavery. While he initially did not intend to end slavery outright, he believed firmly in the principles of freedom and equality. As the Civil War raged on, Lincoln recognized the need for a decisive action that would strike at the heart of the Confederacy and undermine their war effort.

The Emancipation Proclamation did not happen because of Lincoln’s evolving views on slavery, as much as it was his concern for maintaining the Union. It was a strategic move that sought to weaken the Confederacy by freeing their slaves and rallying African Americans to the Union cause. Lincoln understood that the war could not be won without addressing the institution of slavery and the inherent injustice it represented. By signing the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln displayed moral courage and political astuteness.

The Emancipation Proclamation was met with a range of reactions, reflecting the deeply divided nature of American society at the time. While many celebrated the proclamation as a long-overdue step towards justice and equality, some vehemently opposed it. In the South, where the institution of slavery was deeply ingrained, the Emancipation Proclamation was viewed with anger and defiance. Many slave owners refused to comply with the proclamation, and enforcement was a significant challenge, especially in areas still under Confederate control. The proclamation did not immediately free all slaves, as its jurisdiction was limited to Confederate territory, but it laid the groundwork for their eventual liberation.

In the North, abolitionists and supporters of the Union cause hailed the Emancipation Proclamation as a significant victory. It galvanized their efforts to end slavery and provided a renewed sense of purpose in the fight against the Confederacy. African Americans, who had long suffered under the yoke of slavery, saw the proclamation as a beacon of hope, a promise of a brighter future.

The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln, marked the beginning of the end of slavery and set in motion a journey toward equality and justice.

Pastor Gool

Phil. 2:5-11

Rev. Marty Gool

The entrance of Jesus into the world of men and women is remarkable. It is extraordinary that Jesus came, but the way He showed up was far more impressive. The world of the Jewish Messianic prophesy was looking for a warrior, a king. The vulnerability and humility Jesus displayed at His birth is a powerful example for all of us today. His birth, often depicted as a simple scene in a manger, symbolizes the level of vulnerability required of us in the act of surrender. Despite being the Son of God, Jesus did not demand his rights or cling to his divine privileges. Instead, he willingly chose to empty himself and take on the role of a servant.

This act of humility is a profound reminder for us to embrace humility in our own lives. In a world that often values power, status, and recognition, Jesus’ humility stands at the other end of the spectrum. It challenges us at the core of our baser instincts. Jesus teaches us that true greatness is seeing yourself in others and serving them because you understand them to be somebody. 

Jesus’ humility challenges our egos and calls us to cease making comparisons because that leads to us believing we are better than someone else. It encourages us to put aside our desires and agendas to meet the needs of those around us.

As we celebrate this Holiday season, it is essential to remember that it is not just about exchanging gifts or indulging in festive delights. It is a time to reflect on the significance of Jesus’ birth and the humility he displayed. It is an opportunity to pause and consider how we can embody that humility.

Embracing humility means recognizing our own limitations and weaknesses. It means acknowledging that we are not always right and that there is value in listening to others. Humility allows us to let go of our pride and ego, making room for growth and learning. It opens the door to empathy and understanding, enabling us to connect with others on a deeper level. Humility also involves serving others with a genuine heart. It means making the needs of others as significant as our own and using our talents and resources to impact the world positively. 

Just as Jesus took on the role of a servant, we, too, can find fulfillment in serving others by knowing we are serving Jesus.

Christmas reminds us of the immense love and grace that Jesus demonstrated through his humility. It challenges us to reevaluate our priorities and strive for a life marked by humility, love, and service. As we gather with family and friends during this festive season, let us not forget the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ and the humility he displayed. Let us be inspired by his example and strive to live lives of humility in service to others.

Pastor Gool

Matt. 25:45

Rev. Marty Gool

The Power of Encouragement

Jesus says what you have done to the least of these, my brothers, you have done so unto me. I don’t always need your money. Sometimes, all I need is some encouragement. There are times I just need you to smile at me. There will be times when I won’t need you to open the door for me. Just show me where the door is. Giving someone a helping hand is not always about money.

Support Me By Encouraging Me

It is easy to become blinded by our own desires. It is important that we remember what it means to be human and what it means to care for and be kind to each other. To lend helping hands when people need it most. So many believe lending a hand is about money. Sometimes, believe it or not, a word of encouragement or emotional support can go a lot further than money. Encouragement goes down into someone’s soul. Encouragement enters the marrow of your bones and energizes you from within. I’m sure you have been down and felt all alone. But someone you know came by and gave you that smile. Gave you the realization that you were not alone. I don’t always need a helping hand. Sometimes, all I need is a hand that is willing to help.

The Power of Acknowledgement

Sometimes, all I need from you is a smile. 

Don’t walk past me this time; smile at me.

Let me know when you see me.

Let me know that you know I’m somebody.

Don’t walk past me; speak to me.

I don’t always need a handout; I just don’t want to be ignored.

The Journey Toward Self Improvement

You can give me a helping hand by encouraging me to do better. Receiving a helping hand does not mean I can’t achieve. It simply means I’m not achieving now. It simply means I have allowed something to get in my way. I have allowed something to move me off the path. Helping means helping me see the light.

Helping me may mean helping me find my way. I know I’m lost; I know things are not right. Giving a helping hand means when you see me trying, really trying, don’t knock me down with criticism.

The Struggle to Achieve

Giving a helping hand means helping someone say yes to their life. Yes, I can make it if I just keep pushing, I know that things are rough, but if you believe in me, then I believe in me. I think I can make it. We live in a world that is chaotic and filled with a lot of despair.

The Power of Giving People Your Time and Attention

We live in an age when people do not really connect with each other. People can be right in front of you and not see you because they don’t care about you. It is hurtful to be ignored and overlooked. I do not know anyone who does not want to be validated or recognized. I can hear the lonely and the desperate say, “Don’t walk past me without saying a word. Speak to me, engage me.” Let me know that I matter and that you care. I know there are times in everyone’s life when they feel lost, stumbling in the darkness, unable to find their way. At that moment, I don’t need your money. I need you to give me your hand and lead me to the light. It’s not about doing everything for me; it’s about helping me navigate the terrain and finding my own path. 

We all have the power to impact lives. Think about whose life you can impact today and for the rest of your life. 

Pastor Gool

Amos 5:24; 1 John 4:7-8

Rev. Marty Gool

What does Advent mean to the Black community? What does Advent mean to those who are suffering? What does Advent mean to Israel and the Palestinians? What does Advent say to those who are struggling to stay alive today and tomorrow? What does Advent mean to the millions of people suffering the inhumanity and hatred of humanity gone mad?

Advent tells the world that God is with us. It tells of the Savior who is present to help in our most desperate moments. Hope stands as a balm that helps those who suffer get through their suffering. Hope helps those who have lost everything to hold on amid the heartache and fear of their futures. Their hope sometimes blows like a tattered flag in the wind, but it continues to blow. Advent reminds us that with Jesus, there is always hope. This is the kind of hope only the faithful can embrace. Because the faithful believe in the things they cannot see. The faithful hold on to that which has come into manifestation. Paul says in Romans 4:17, “God whom you have believed, who gives life to the dead (this means God gives life to those things we have lost hope in. God gives life to that we have given up on. God Gives hope to those things the world says are impossible (Pastor Gool)), calls things which are not, as though they are.” Hope believes, Hope trusts, even when it remains unseen.

Advent tells us we have a savior who will see us through our troubled times. Advent is a reminder that with faith and hope, there is no loss in Christ. Advent serves as a reminder that God “Emmanuel” is always with you. Advent is a time that we remember the promises of God amid the troubles of the world and realize that trouble does not have the last word. In these uncertain times, it is easy to let fear and anxiety take control. It is important that amid the world’s turmoil, we trust in God, and know God is in control. When the foundations of life have given way, God, “Emmanuel” speaks these words to us, “Fear not, I am with you, be not dismayed, For I am your God: I will strengthen you, Yea, I will help you; Yea, I will uphold you with My right hand of My righteousness.” Isa. 41:10 God is saying do not fear, even in the worst of circumstances; do not allow fear and doubt to hold you hostage. Do not allow the terror of the moment to defeat you. I am your God; I will give you the strength that you need to get through whatever you are going through. I will hold you up when you no longer have the strength to stand, and I will be your rock when earth begins to crumble beneath you, I will be there to help you stand with the right hand of My righteousness. 

The Psalmist says, “The young lions do go lacking and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want for any good thing.” This text tells us that the strongest and the most powerful can experience loss and deprivation. But those who seek God shall not want for any good thing. Advent should remind the Black community, like Israel, we too have a history of strength and resilience. Like Israel, we too have been an example for people around the world of how to persevere and prosper in the periods of historic tragedy. We should remember all we have come through as people. God has brought us through years of injustice, segregation and Jim Crow. Advent reminds us that God is still moving and acting on our behalf. 

Advent carries a message of reconciliation and peace for Israel and the Palestinians. Advent should remind everyone that Jesus came as the peacemaker. The coming of Jesus breaks down the barriers of hostility and division. Jesus challenges both sides to become more than they have been and work toward a lasting peace—a peace where both Israel and Palestinians can live in security and dignity. 

Advent offers a vision of peace for those who choose to embrace it. It is a hard peace. It is a peace where the love and forgiveness of Jesus lie at the center. It is not an easy peace. But it is the only kind of peace that Jesus offers. 

Even amidst the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the words of the Savior bring peace and comfort to those who are hurting. They remind us that there is hope beyond the chaos. Advent tells us God’s justice will ultimately prevail. The message of Advent speaks to the resilience of the human spirit and encourages the faithful to hold onto faith even in the face of the most discouraging and adverse circumstances. 

Advent offers comfort to those who are struggling and reminds them that they are not alone in their pain. Advent tells us that Jesus knows our pain. Jesus understands what it means to be misused and abused. Jesus understands what it means to be a lamb led to the slaughter. In these tumultuous times, celebrating Advent requires a commitment to love, to peace, and promoting justice. It involves standing up against oppression and advocating for those who cannot speak for themselves. Advent calls us to be agents of change, working towards a world where love triumphs over hate and where all people can live in harmony. We cannot celebrate Advent without understanding that Jesus came as a savior, as a servant, as the lamb of God. Jesus came to give Himself so others might be saved. Advent is about giving ourselves, in the service of God, to save the lost in every aspect of what it might mean to be lost to Jesus Christ. Let us thank God for Advent and all it reminds us to do and become. 

Pastor Gool

Colossians 2:14-15

Rev. Marty Gool

So much is talked about regarding the spiritual facets of the Gospel that little time is spent on its social dimensions. The Gospel of Jesus is concerned and tells us to reach the spiritually lost. However, our spiritual rebirth is not at the exclusion of addressing the suffering and the physical needs of those who sought Jesus. Advent tells us that God is concerned about those who suffer spiritually, physically, and socially. 

The season of Advent introduces both the birth and the death of Jesus Christ. The cross of Jesus comes with the birth of Jesus. One cannot be separated from the other. Advent speaks to Jesus coming to save the world from sin, death, and suffering. The resurrection is a declaration from God that the victory over sin and death has been achieved. 

In the season of Advent, God tells us that He will confront the forces of evil and corruption that led to the death of His Son, Jesus. These same forces of evil and corruption continue to destroy and oppress lives all over the world.


At the heart of this corruption and the death of Jesus lies the Temple power structure. The priests and scribes orchestrated the plot to kill Jesus, with the high priest Caiaphas playing a significant role. For Jesus it was part of his mission to confront the greedy priests and scribes and prevent them from defiling the Temple. This is the same attitude of greed and corruption that plagues the world today. The moment Jesus confronted the greed and corruption within the Temple, He put His life in jeopardy, much like Martin Luther King Jr. did when he spoke out against the injustice, hypocrisy, and oppression of the Vietnam War, challenging the religious and political authorities of his time. Jesus’ teachings and actions threatened the status quo and exposed the darkness that resided in the hearts of men. Despite this, Jesus did not run away from His mission. He willingly faced persecution, betrayal, and, ultimately death, on the cross.


The story of Advent reminds us that even in the face of evil and corruption, God’s truth and justice will prevail. Jesus’ coming placed Him on a collision course with the forces of darkness. His coming showed us that evil will be confronted, even at the cost of life itself. His resurrection shouts the victory over good and evil; life over death has been won. By rising from the dead, Jesus demonstrated that death does not have the final word. Jesus triumphed over sin and death, offering hope and redemption to all who believe in Him.


Advent announces to the world that the lost and the lonely are comforted by Jesus. Advent is a testament that the have-nots and the marginal are not forgotten. Advent declares with a loud voice the abused have a champion who will fight their battles in the person of Jesus. Jesus’ coming reminds us that God is actively engaged in this world, working to bring about justice and righteousness. It serves as a reminder that evil will never write the final chapter of God’s story. The resurrection of Jesus is a powerful proclamation that evil may seem to triumph in the short term, but ultimately it will be overcome.


Furthermore, Advent challenges us to confront evil and corruption in our own lives and in society. Just as Jesus fearlessly confronted these forces during His earthly ministry, we are called to do the same. Advent beckons us to stand up against injustice, to speak out against corruption, and to work towards a world where love, compassion, and righteousness prevail. Ultimately, Advent reminds us that no matter how dark or hopeless the world may seem, there is always hope.


The coming of Jesus is a beacon of light in a world shrouded in darkness. It speaks to the resilience of the human spirit and our ability to overcome even the most challenging circumstances. In Advent, we are reminded that God is with us, guiding us through the darkness toward a future filled with hope, justice, and peace.


So, as we journey through Advent, let us take the time to reflect on the significance of Jesus’s coming and His ultimate triumph. Let us prepare our hearts and minds to receive Him anew, allowing His love and truth to transform us from within. And let us go forth into the world, empowered by the hope and light of Advent, ready to confront evil and corruption with unwavering faith and determination.

Pastor Gool

Rev. 5:9

Rev. Marty Gool

The Advent of Jesus is about God’s divine intervention into the affairs of humanity. It is a moment when the horizontal is intersected by the vertical, humanity meets the divine, the creature meets the Creator, and the impotent encounters Omnipotence. Advent is when humanity is introduced to God, and humanity is spiritually undone.

Life does not begin until a man or woman has an encounter with God. The living of life requires a meeting with the divine. The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber said, “Real living is Meeting.” When we can see people, look at them, and see God’s potential in them, we are placing ourselves in a position to be used by God.

Advent is God introducing the world to a love we have never known before Jesus. Have we ever stopped to think how superficial our lives are? For the most part, we go through the motions, pretending that we are interested in the lives of others. When we are not. The Advent season serves as an example of the kind of love God expects of and from us. God did not intend for men and women to be distant from Him. God intended a personal relationship with men and women. The Book of Revelations tells us of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.

Advent and the Lamb of God speak to the hope and promise that Jesus brings to a lost world. Jesus inspires us to live with gratitude and anticipation that God will do what He promised and come to our rescue. We often want to say that the sacrifice of Jesus was a selfless act. I want to suggest that it was an act full of self. A divine self. A self that sees the fullness of God in everyone. A self that sees the best and the most in everyone. A self that Jesus wanted to live in of us. This spiritual self comes within our spiritual reach when we allow the Holy Spirit to live through us and influence our behavior.

Advent introduces God’s initial act of spiritual and physical redemption. Redemption means to buy back someone who was in bondage or captivity. Redemption is the liberation of humanity from the power of sin. Sin is placing “ourselves” first, placing “ourselves” before, in front of God. Sin is making our desires more important than God. The “coming” of Jesus is what the word “advent” infers; “the coming of an important person” is what the word “redemption means. Redemption becomes reality on the cross when Jesus dies, and we are restored to a right relationship with God. Advent should remind us that Jesus came to die on Calvary’s cross for our spiritual and physical salvation.

The Advent season points back to the Passover lamb in the Old Testament. Just as the blood of the Passover lamb protected the Israelites from the judgment of God, so Jesus’ blood protects believers from the consequences of sin. The blood of Jesus saves us from the powers that seek to destroy us in this world. Jesus’ blood sacrifice brings liberation and deliverance from the power of sin, death, and illness. This is not to suggest we cannot and do not become ill. I am suggesting it was not God’s original plan, and the ministry of Jesus showed us this very truth.

It is Jesus who is our substitute. Jesus becomes our scapegoat. Jesus takes our place, willingly bearing the penalty, a punishment that is rightfully ours to bear. Jesus’ death on the cross satisfies God’s demand for justice, which allows the believer to be reconciled and reconnected to God like we were in the Garden of Eden.

Rev. 5:9 conveys two messages. 1) The lamb’s response affirms Jesus’ kingship and authority. The lamb’s ability to open the scrolls speaks to His power to fulfill God’s plan for redemption. 2) This scripture demonstrates the worship and praise due to the “Lamb/Jesus.” Our worship and praise are because of the sacrifice for our salvation and deliverance. This is a model for us to always worship and honor Jesus/Lamb.

The Advent is a source of hope that should be embraced. It reflects the love that God has for us. Exodus 3:7-8a “Then the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians.

Finally, Advent is a time that reinforces God’s love, borne out of hope, for those who live in fear and doubt that God is concerned about them. Advent addresses that concern directly. God sent His “Son Jesus” to deliver us, to rescue us, to love us, to encourage us. So, we will not be like those who lose hope in the power of God’s salvation. But will trust in the redemptive power of the Lamb of God. It is the power of the “Blood of the Lamb” that reduces the powers of this world and those of the enemy to nothing. To God be the glory.

Pastor Gool

Matt. 1:23

Rev. Marty Gool

When we place too much emphasis on things, the material, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that Jesus is the reason for the season. Through His life, teachings, and sacrifice, we find meaning and purpose during this festive time of year. Christmas is the time of year we see overt acts of kindness. Unfortunately, materialism and consumerism often overshadow the true meaning of Christmas. 

Nevertheless, at its core, Christmas is a celebration of love. It is a reminder of God’s immense love for humanity, demonstrated through the gift of His Son. Jesus’s birth represents the embodiment of that love, as He came to Earth to show us the way to salvation and eternal life.

The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn’t been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn’t hate Christmas, just couldn’t find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.

Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up.

 “Thank you, but I don’t mean to intrude,” said the stranger. “I see you’re busy, I’ll just go.” “Not without something hot in your belly.” George said.

He turned and opened a wide-mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. “It ain’t much, but it’s hot and tasty, “Stew …  made it myself. When you’re done, there’s coffee and it’s fresh.”

Just at that moment he heard the “ding” of the driveway bell. “Excuse me, be right back,” George said. There in the driveway was an old ’53 Chevy.  Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. “Mister can you help me!” said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. “My wife is with child and my car is broken.”

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. “Glad I gave ’em the truck, their tires were shot too. That ‘ol truck has brand new ………” George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. “Well, at least he got something in his belly,” George thought.

He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. “Here, take my truck,” he said. “She ain’t the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good.

“But Mister, please help …” The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. 

George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead. “You ain’t going in this thing,” George said as he turned away.

George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do.

Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered that the block hadn’t cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. “Well, shoot, I can fix this,” he said to himself. So he put a new one on.

“Those tires ain’t gonna get ’em through the winter either.” He took the snow treads off of his wife’s old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn’t going to drive the car anyway.

As he was working, he heard shots being fired.  He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground.  Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, “Please help me.”

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. “Pressure to stop the bleeding,” he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. “Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin’,” he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.

He went back in to find the policeman sitting up.  “Thanks,” said the officer. “You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area.”

George sat down beside him, “I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain’t gonna leave you.” George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. “Looks worse than what it is.  Bullet passed right through ‘ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time you’re gonna be right as rain.”

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. “How do you take it?” he asked. “None for me,” said the officer. “Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain’t got no donuts.” The officer laughed and winced at the same time.

“That’s the guy that shot me!” exclaimed the officer.

“Son, why are you doing this?” asked George,  “You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt.”

The cop was reaching for his gun. “Put that thing away,” George said to the cop, “we got one too many in here now.”

He turned his attention to the young man. “Son, it’s Christmas Eve.  If you need money, well then, here. It ain’t much but it’s all I got. Now put that pee shooter away.”

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time.  The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry.  “I’m not very good at this am I?  All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son,” he went on. “I’ve lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week …”

George handed the gun to the cop.  Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then.  The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can.”

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. “Sometimes we do stupid things.” George handed the young man a cup of coffee. “Bein’ stupid is one of the things that makes us human.  Comin’ in here with a gun ain’t the answer.  Now sit there and get warm and we’ll sort this thing out.”

The young man had stopped crying.  He looked over to the cop. “Sorry I shot you. It just went off.  I’m sorry officer.”

“Shut up and drink your coffee.” the cop said.

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside.  A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn.

“Chuck! You ok?” one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

“Not bad for a guy who took a bullet.  How did you find me?”

“GPS locator in the car.  Best thing since sliced bread.  Who did this?” the other cop asked as he approached the young man.

Chuck answered him, “I don’t know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran.”

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other. 

“That guy work here?,” the wounded cop continued.  “Yep,” George said, “just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job.”

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, “Why?”

Chuck just said, “Merry Christmas boy … and you too, George, and thanks for everything.”

“Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems.”

George went into the back room and came out with a box.  He pulled out a ring box. “Here you go, something for the little woman. I don’t think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day.”

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. “I can’t take this,” said the young man. “It means something to you.”

“And now it means something to you,” replied George. “I got my memories.  That’s all I need.” 

George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell.  “Here’s something for that little man of yours.”

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.

“And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too,” George said, “Now git home to your family.”

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. “I’ll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good.”

“Nope. I’m closed Christmas day,” George said.  “See ya the day after.”

George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. “Where’d you come from? I thought you left?”

“I have been here. I have always been here,” said the stranger. “You say you don’t celebrate Christmas. Why?”

“Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn’t see what all the bother was. Puttin’ up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin’ cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn’t the same by myself and besides I was gettin’ a little chubby.”

The stranger put his hand on George’s shoulder.  “But you do celebrate the holiday, George.  You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry.  The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor. The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists.  The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. “That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man.”

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. “And how do you know all this?” asked the old man.

“Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again.”

The stranger moved toward the door. “If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned.”

The stranger moved toward the door. “If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned.”

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe.  A golden light began to fill the room.

“You see, George … it’s My birthday. Merry Christmas.”

George fell to his knees and replied, “Happy Birthday, Lord.”

He is with us always.

Pastor Gool

Daniel 1:1-21

Rev. Marty Gool

The Book of Daniel serves as a guidepost for facing and navigating life in a climate that is uncomfortable or unfamiliar. We live in a time when everything around us seems to be unraveling. This is not the first time America has had to face and confront the worst of humanity’s impulses. It is the first time that our children have had to face it. It is the first time that many Baby Boomers have had to face times such as these.

People like Donald Trump and his MAGA cult have always existed. There have always been voices that had devoted followers. Their voices have reached a crescendo and are amplified by the forces of social media. Although they were small and have had little impact, their voice has always been around. 

I believe the Book of Daniel can provide guidance in times such as these. When the winds seem to be moving so strongly in a disturbing direction.

The narrative of Daniel and his companions being uprooted from their homeland and thrust into a foreign, hostile environment draws parallels to the experiences of many Black individuals throughout history. The pressure to conform to societal norms and abandon one’s cultural identity is a recurring theme.  Many in America must address this on a daily basis. However, Dan. 1:1-21 teaches us the power of embracing one’s faith and identity even in the face of adversity. 

This lesson holds true for all people today, and African Americans in particular are called to hold steadfast to their faith, heritage, and cultural roots echoes loudly through these verses. The story of Daniel refusing to relinquish his identity despite the oppressive demands of the Babylonian society serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of our religious heritage and the strength of unwavering self-worth. This addresses the struggle that every minority in America experiences living in a land like Babylon, that seeks to impose its will and capitalistic culture upon all who live here.  

As Christians we must remember we live in a land that seeks to assimilate all who live into its way of living. The rich and the power are no different today than they were during Daniel’s time.

Pastor Gool

Nehemiah 6:3 KJV

Rev. Marty Gool

The story of Nehemiah is a story of a man who put it all on the line for what he believed in. It is the story of a man who stepped into an uncertain quest to restore life and hope to his community. When we read the story of Nehemiah going to the king and requesting permission to return to Jerusalem, we learn that even the request demanded courage. This is a story of faith and courage. It is a story of a man who understood his city was in ruins and needed someone to step up. This is a story of a man who heard the call of God and embraced it as his own. The call was rebuilding Jerusalem. It was a spiritual burden that God had placed upon his heart to return to unify and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 

Nehemiah is not just a story of overcoming adversity. It is a story of unification and rebuilding. It is a story of how people made up their minds to do something. It is a story of how people came together and overcame the oppression of the prevailing social order and rebuilt their city and their lives.

This story is the story of the Black community. This is the same spirit the Black community has displayed throughout the years of living in this country. The Black community has faced overwhelming odds, and we did not succumb to the pressures that sought to tear us down. This spirit of rebuilding, standing tall in the face of opposition, and confronting the obstacles that oppose us as a people has been handed from one generation to the next. When we feel too weak to stand, remember how far, with God’s help, we have come. Remember how little we had to work with and how God blessed us with the power to overcome. Remember those moments when we believed it could not be done? Then, remember the strength and courage God gave each of us to press forward and get it done.

Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem is merely a symbol for rebuilding our communities and our lives. There are lessons to be learned from this story. The first lesson is the importance of unity in the face of adversity. When the enemies learned the people’s desire to rebuild the wall. The Jews faced constant threats and intimidation from their oppressors. Threats from those who did not want to see them advance. Despite these threats, they stood together, each contributing to rebuilding.

This lesson speaks to our history. We have faced pressure from those who sought to oppose us in every way they could. But like Nehemiah and his fellow Jews, we stood together. We have had a history of standing together. We stood together during the Civil Rights Movement. We stood together in the fight against Jim Crow. We must stand together in this period of uncertainty. We must do what we can to unite our communities as we move toward this nation’s uncertain future.

The second lesson is our ability to adapt and bounce back. In every moment when all seemed hopeless, by the grace and strength of God, we did not lose hope. We rose from the ashes and created something better. We continued to work. There may have only been a few in the beginning. But our numbers grew. It grew into something that was able to make a difference in people’s lives. Yes, we have had countless confrontations we thought were setbacks. That was only God’s way of preparing us for the future. Those setbacks were moments God used to prepare us for something better. In those moments, we never gave up. In those moments of challenge, we never quit.

To truly understand the story of Nehemiah, we must realize there were those who did not want them to rebuild the wall. There were those who did not believe it could be done. The Jews were ridiculed and attacked, but they did not stop. Remember, there will always be those who do not think it can be done. There will always be those who will tell you that you cannot do it. When the naysayers show up, this is the time to persevere. This is the time to have and maintain a unified front.

The importance of this story goes beyond our resilience. It is about faith in the face of struggle. Faith in the face of adversity. Faith when the light of hope begins to flicker. Faith in the reason God placed you here. Faith and trust that God did not put you in this situation to fail. Faith to know that God will supply whatever and whoever you need to reach the goal He has set for your life.

Unity is a powerful weapon against the forces of systemic oppression. Like the Jews of Nehemiah’s time, we can stand together in the face of adversity. We can support each other, we can lift each other up, and we can work together to achieve God’s goal.

What the people of God must remember:  

Our unity is our shield; it protects us from the blows of oppression. Our unity is our sword, cutting through the barriers that seek to divide us. Unity is our spear, piercing the heart of injustice and inequality. It is because God has given us the strength to come together and the ability to be resilient, firm, and persevering that we can march into battle with the confidence that God has equipped us with what we need to achieve His Goals.

Pastor Gool

Mark 1:9-10

Rev. Marty Gool

In Mark 1:9-10 the spiritual powers opposed to God’s rule try to prevent the Holy Spirit from entering the world. Satan is what the enemy is called, which means adversary, accuser. The adversary of God seeks to prevent the Kingdom of God from having any kind of supremacy in the world and the life of men and women. So, from the very beginning, the spiritual war was conducted and fought on a spiritual level.

It was necessary from the beginning of the ministry of Jesus that the power of the Holy Spirit be established and demonstrated. This exhibition of God’s power told Jesus that God was not only watching over Him but was involved in Jesus’ ministry from its very genesis. 

The actions of the Holy Spirit were profoundly consequential in that the Holy Spirit made a statement about the Spirit’s power and authority in the world. This act on the part of the Holy Spirit announced the sovereign rule of God in the world and the ministry of Jesus.

In the eyes of Jesus, this gave divine sanction to His presence in the world. When the Holy Spirit ripped open the heavens, the Holy Spirit announced His omnipotence and the Spirit’s determination and commitment to God’s plan of salvation. 

This act by the Holy Spirit should bring comfort to our lives. It should tell us that the Spirit’s involvement in our lives is just as real and important. This display of power in the life and ministry of Jesus reflects the commitment and love that God has for our lives, both spiritually and physically. 

It is this kind of scripture that can bring comfort and give us the faith to pray with the expectation that God can and will act in the power of the Holy Spirit on our behalf. This act of the Holy Spirit serves notice that there is always a supernatural agent of God acting on our behalf to intervene in those times of doubt and moments of questioning that life so often brings about. This power of God displayed at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus was given to ensure Jesus’ ministerial success. This same power is available to us to guarantee our success as well. 

What I find so powerful is the action of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit announced to Jesus, and He, in turn to us. Nothing can prevent God’s purpose for any life from being manifested. That God’s purpose will unfold. In tearing the heavens open, the Holy Spirit announced that the Spirit would shatter any limitations the adversary would attempt to impose upon. The Spirit would break down and destroy any barrier that impedes God’s plan for your life and redemption. 

Can you imagine Jesus looking up into the heavens and watching the Holy Spirit unleash the Spirit’s power in a display of love and commitment to the mission He was on?

What kind of faith would we develop and ultimately have if we could trust and believe that the same power that the Holy Spirit unleashed into the life of Jesus is available to us and for us? If we are the sons and daughters of God, why wouldn’t God do the same thing for us? Why would God, upon seeing a yielding and surrendered son or daughter, say, “This is my beloved son or daughter in whom I am well pleased?”

This profound act of intervention by the Holy Spirit merely serves as an example of what God will do for those who love and serve Him. We are His creation, and we are loved by the Creator of this universe. As a result, Mark 1:9-10 is a statement of what God is willing to do for those who love Him.

I would be remiss if I did not uncover the parallel between the Holy Spirit entering the world, which was symbolic of God ushering into the world of men and women a new era of looking at life and living. When we accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we too, were ushered into a new era. An age where the world was no longer viewed from the same natural lens of a broken and fallen humanity. But from a set of eyes guided by a spirit that has been reborn, recalibrated, and renewed. We no longer look at things as we used to because the Holy Spirit has made us new.

When the Holy Spirit broke into the world and lives of men and women, the Spirit announced there would be nothing that could prevent the Spirit of God from bringing about the redemption of men and women both spiritually and physically. May the Holy Spirit continue to strengthen you.

Pastor Gool

Ephesians 6:10-20

Rev. Marty Gool

Even though verse 10 is not a part of the Armor of God it is the verse that tells us we do not enter any battle on our own but with the power and strength of God. God will fight our battles, all of them if we allow God to do so.

A Verse-by-Verse Breakdown of Ephesians 6:11-20

As we move through these verses we must understand that the Armor of God is not only for our spiritual development. It is for life application as well. 

The Armor of God – What Does it represent?

The Armor of God represents a symbolic picture of God’s protection. It is a pictorial display of how and what God uses to protect each Christian. Each piece of armor serves a particular purpose as well as reflects certain aspects of the Christian faith. 

The Belt of Truth

The belt of truth represents the truth of God. The truth that God brings to every situation not just the spiritual. The truth about who we are as human beings. The truth regarding all that God has blessed us with. This is the foundation upon which everything else stands. Without the truth of God, nothing else matters. 

The Breastplate of Righteousness

The breastplate guarded the heart of the soldier. It protected the soldier from blows to the heart that would take their life. This breastplate represents the moral righteousness that is borne out of a heartfelt faith in God. It is a faith that trusts God will keep them in the most difficult encounters in life. 

The Readiness of the Gospel of Peace

This represents the shoes we wear that carry us to places where the truth of Jesus’ Gospel is needed. In the streets, the courtrooms, the hospital, and homes. Wherever the Gospel of Jesus can be raised. It is the truth that Jesus will keep you no matter what that brings the peace that the Christian needs. It is more than a Gospel of salvation; it is a Gospel of liberation, emancipation, of deliverance. We are called to put on the shoes of the Gospel of Peace. 

The Shield of Faith

This is the tool the warrior uses to block the arrows and the blows that are directed at them. It did not matter how large the enemy the proper use of the shield would do its job. The shield gave the warrior peace of mind, and our faith should be the shield that gives us peace of mind. It gives us the courage to face any challenge with the confidence that God has equipped us with what we need to conquer any foe.

The Helmet of Salvation

This helmet is the confidence we have in Christ that He will protect us no matter what the cause or situation. The helmet protects our thoughts and minds from the negativity that seeks to invade our minds and hearts and forces us to shrink and retreat in doubt. By wearing the helmet of Salvation, we are reminded of who we belong to and that we are forever safe in His arms.

The Sword of the Spirit

This is the most offensive weapon in our arsenal. It is God’s word. It can be used to counter any attack by any enemy with the power and truth that comes from God’s word. It is important that the Word of God is planted in you and is embraced by you. When you wield this sword, you overcome the lies, temptation, and strongholds of the enemy.

The Power of Prayer in Ephesians 6:18-20

Paul emphasizes that we pray continually in every kind of situation and circumstance. Remember, prayer strengthens our relationship with Jesus as well as strengthens our commitment to God’s will.

Utilize the Armor in Your Life

The belt of truth calls us to live with integrity and authenticity. The breastplate of righteousness urges us to pursue a life of moral uprightness. The readiness of the gospel of peace challenges us to actively share the hope found in Christ. The shield of faith encourages us to trust in God’s promises. The helmet of salvation reminds us of our secure identity in Christ. The sword of the Spirit empowers us to combat falsehood with the truth of God’s Word. As we engage the enemy in our ministry. Let us move forward in the Armor of God. 

Pastor Gool

Corinthians 12:8-10

Rev. Marty Gool

The significance of spiritual gifts cannot be overstated. These divine gifts are given to us by a benevolent God. These gifts from God lead to a life of purpose and fulfillment. They are the keys to unlocking our potential and the tools we need to lift ourselves from the depths of despair. We often forget these gifts, not realizing the power they hold. But they can become our greatest strength once we rediscover and nurture them.

Spiritual gifts are unique qualities and talents that, when used to their fullest potential, can profoundly impact our lives and those around us. These gifts are not just about our spiritual growth; they are about the physical healing, economic, and judicial uplift of others as well. And in a world rife with suffering and pain, these gifts, when used to their fullest, are more crucial than ever.

Understanding Spiritual Gifts

Understanding spiritual gifts is the first step toward unleashing their power in our lives. These gifts are not tangible or materialistic; they are the spiritual gifts we receive at conversion. These spiritual gifts can be anything from the ability to inspire and motivate to the capacity to empathize and to be kind-hearted. This God-given power pushes us to make a difference in our communities and the world. These spiritual gifts give us the capacity to love and serve in ways we would not.

But how do we recognize these gifts? These gifts are subtle at first. They often lay hidden beneath tiers of doubt and insecurity. It requires introspection and prayer, seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance to uncover them. It requires us to look within and listen to the Holy Spirit as He whispers our true calling.

Recognizing your spiritual gifts is a lifelong journey of spiritual development. It is about not conforming to society’s norms and expectations and embracing your spiritual self. It is surrendering to the Holy Spirit so you can see the treasure God placed in earthen vessels.

How Spiritual Gifts Can Reveal Your Purpose

Your spiritual gifts are your compass, guiding you towards your purpose. They are the lights that show you the way. Your gift reveals that God wants you to travel on. Much like the Holy Spirit showed Elijah and Elisha the path they were to follow. It was the Holy Spirit that empowered and directed them. The more we allow the gifts from God to lead us, the more we realize this is what you were called to do in this vast, complex world. These gifts do not call everyone to be a minister or a teacher. These gifts give every Child of God the desire to serve in this world.

Your spiritual gifts guide you to your purpose. They are what you were born to do, your life’s mission. When you understand and embrace your gifts, you step into your power. You become a force of change, a tower of hope, a catalyst for growth.

The Role of Spiritual Gifts in Lifting the Lost and Downtrodden

When we use our spiritual gifts, they can lift the lost and transform the lives of the oppressed. Our spiritual gifts are not just about our self-improvement; the Holy Spirit’s gifts are to be used to make other lives better as well. These gifts from the Holy Spirit are not to be confined to the walls of the church. These gifts are not to reside in a monastery while the world is suffering and struggling to survive. When we use our gifts to their fullest potential, we change the world around us.

When the gift of empathy is employed, this gift enables us to understand and share the feelings of others. It allows us to connect with those in pain, providing comfort and hope. When used effectively, this gift can lift the spirits of those who feel lost and forgotten.

Likewise, the gift of inspiration can lift the spirits of the lost and the lonely as well as empower them to continue to move forward. It can give hope to those who despair and strength to those who feel weak. These spiritual gifts are a powerful tool for change, a catalyst for justice.

How to Unlock and Utilize Your Spiritual Gifts

The first step in unlocking your spiritual gifts is acknowledging their existence, and understand it is a journey of faith, self-discovery, and growth. It requires self-examination, self-awareness, and a willingness to step out of your comfort zone. It requires you to acknowledge the truth that you are blessed with a gift from the Holy Spirit. It requires that you acknowledge that the Holy Spirit has a purpose for you to fulfill and live out.  It requires that you become still and receptive to the Holy Spirit as you pursue Him and seek His voice.

The next step is nurturing your gifts. This involves practicing and continually yielding to the Holy Spirit as you continue to step out of your comfort zone. The more you step out of your comfort zone, the more you allow the Holy Spirit to use you, and then you discover that your gifts are not just for your personal growth but for the uplifting and healing of the world.

The final step is utilizing your gifts. This involves stepping into your power and using your gifts to make a difference. It involves being a beacon of hope, a catalyst for change, and a force that seeks to change things into the image of God’s kingdom.

Spiritual Gifts: A Tool for Empowerment and Change

Spiritual gifts are a powerful tool for empowerment and change. They give us the ability to uplift ourselves and others and to make a difference in the world around us. They are the keys to unlocking our potential and realizing our purpose.

But harnessing the power of our spiritual gifts requires effort and dedication. It requires us to step out of our comfort zone and embrace our power. It requires us to use our gifts not just for our personal growth but also for the betterment of others.

So, let’s embrace our spiritual gifts. Let’s unlock our potential and step into our power. Let’s use these divine endowments to lift the lost and forgotten, make a difference, and change the world.

The Power of Spiritual Gifts

The power of spiritual gifts is immense. They have the potential to transform lives, uplift the downtrodden, and empower the weak. They are a beacon of hope in a world rife with suffering and pain.

But the power of spiritual gifts is not just about transforming others; it’s about transforming ourselves as well. They give us the ability to step into our power, to realize our God-given potential. They give us the strength, will and patience to overcome systemic and societal obstacles that persistently get in the way of God’s kingdom being seen in the world. Our spiritual gifts give us the strength to rise above challenges and to succeed in the face of adversity.

The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

The purpose of spiritual gifts is to uplift, empower, to transform. The spiritual gifts tell us what God intends for us to do in His name and glory. These spirituals were meant to take the world by storm. It is important that the Body of Christ not allow the cultures of the world to put out the fire of God’s spiritual gifts. Let us all pray that God will give each of us the courage and will to seek the gift the Holy Spirit has blessed us with and use it.

Pastor Gool

Open the Door and Let Jesus In

Revelations 3:20

Rev. Marty Gool

We experience lasting strength and resilience when we bring Jesus into our lives. When we allow Jesus to become a part of what we do and how we live, we gain an advantage over life and living. The challenges that used to take us down no longer have the power to do that. It is not that we will not have problems in our lives; it is the problems no longer have us. Imagine, if you will, that the Savior of the world is knocking on your door. He is coming to you. You are not searching for Him; He is at your door knocking: “I am standing at the door and knocking! If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into his home and share a meal with him and He with Me.”

This is the image that John wants us to have in our minds. Jesus, in this particular verse, is telling us, “I am not far away,” I am at the door, knocking with a desire to get in.

It is difficult to understand that Jesus is always present, given the difficulties we often encounter. That is why having a special time to study the Word of God or read a devotional peace and study and reflect on it is so important.

What makes Revelations 3:20 important is that you can picture Jesus knocking at the door. You can actually visualize Jesus standing there. I want you to take it a step further. I want you to see this scripture as Jesus’s divine invitation being extended to each of us to commune with Him. It is a statement in word and imagery of Jesus’s desire to be welcomed into our lives. This scripture, in a subtle way, tells us that Jesus will not force Himself into our lives. We must let Him in. We must open the door; Jesus will not break it down. Jesus will not intrude upon us. Jesus wants us to want Him. This is a personal invitation coming from Jesus.

I am standing at the door and knockingIf anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his home and share a meal with himand he with me.” Opening the door to Jesus and dining with Him is symbolic of revealing the details of your life. It is at the dinner that most people discuss the things that are happening in their lives. This is when we talk about the things we are most concerned about. These are the details Jesus wants to hear from us. Jesus wants us to share those issues that we worry about the most. It is in His capacity as Savior that He will come to our rescue. It is in His capacity as Lord that He will fight the battle for us. It is in His capacity as Lord and Savior that He will protect us. He will protect us even from ourselves.

When we commune with Jesus, there is a peace that enters our lives. Communing means letting down our defenses. Communing means surrendering and letting go of the controls. Communing means listening to wisdom that is being imparted through His word and the Holy Spirit. 

So, the real question is how we commune with Jesus. Let me assure you it is not a one-stop encounter. It is a daily encounter. A lifelong encounter and exchange. You tell Him your troubles, and He carries them for you.

  1. Set aside time for prayer and spiritual reflection, sometimes called meditation.
  2. Read and study the scriptures. This is so important and often neglected. We know Jesus through the Word of God.
  3. Practice being grateful. Practice gratitude. Be thankful for what God has done. Be thankful for the blessings in your life. They may not seem significant always, but God is preparing you for something else.
  4. Don’t be afraid to seek prayer partners or persons to study the Word of God with. 
  5. Worship is so important. In-person worship is critical to strengthening our relationship with Jesus Christ. Streaming is good when there is no other alternative. If God has blessed you with health and strength, thank Him by being present in worship to give someone else the encouragement to stay in the spiritual fight. 

There is nothing more encouraging and calming than knowing that you can depend on Jesus to be there for you in your time of trouble. So do not hesitate to open the door. It is impolite to keep the Savior waiting. 

Pastor Gool

“Why are you in despair, my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for once again I will praise Him since His presence saves me.

Psalm 42:5

Rev. Marty Gool

The Psalmist finds himself burdened by the overwhelming pressures of life, causing him to sink into the depths of despair. He feels as though the weight of the world has collapsed upon his shoulders, pulling him down into some unknown darkness.

Everything around him appears to be crumbling, and he is unable to find any stability amidst the chaos. The once-strong faith that held him together now seems to be waning, and it feels feeble and ineffective. He is unable to provide the support he desperately needs in this moment of anxious anxiety. In this state of desperation, he finds himself feeling utterly alone, with no one to turn to and nowhere to seek solace. 

He longs for a guiding hand to lead him out of this desperate situation. Yet, he remains trapped in his thoughts and emotions, unable to break free from the suffocating grip of despair.

The Psalmist searches for a way to rise above the emotions he finds himself embedded in. He seeks a flicker of light in the darkness but finds none. Until then, he tries to push through the heavy weight of despair he finds himself in.

In a divided and disconnected nation, many have lost the vibrant spirit that once defined this nation. The hope that once lived within their hearts has been extinguished. In the era of Trump, doubt has replaced the hope that once held the country afloat. The optimism that once filled the air has vanished, leaving behind a syrupy emptiness thick with uncertainty. There is a collective feeling of unease as the future of the republic hangs in the balance; uncertain of what lies ahead, the people sit in a melancholy stupor. It is difficult to say whether this republic will continue to function as it has in the past. This is not to say that there aren’t aspects that require reform and improvement, but it is the deep sadness that engulfs the minds of introspective Americans, who can envision a potential tragedy on the horizon yet feel powerless to enact any meaningful change or find solace in their efforts.

America and Americans are feeling this national tragedy. It is not unlike what the Psalmist is feeling in his personal life. There is very little for anyone to hold on to on a national level. Many are desperate, not having the very necessities of life. We see migrants living in tents and wonder if that will happen to us in the very near future. We know people who have been living in this country longer than the immigrants have been living here, yet have courtesies extended to them we wish were ours. The Psalmist speaks to a despair that seeps down into his bones. And his final gesture and simultaneous response is, “Hope thou in God.” Our strength, peace, and solace come from our hope in God.

The emotions conveyed in this verse resonate with many individuals who have experienced moments of uncertainty and turmoil. It is in these challenging times that the words of hope become even more significant. Despite the circumstances, the speaker’s plea reminds us of the power of placing our trust in God is most important, finding comfort and reassurance in the belief that there is a God who brings stability and renewal.

This verse serves as a reminder that it is possible to find hope even amid the chaos. It encourages us to lean on our faith and trust in God, knowing that God will bring about a change. That hope will emerge in God and give us renewed purpose.

The words “hope thou in God” carry a timeless message that can resonate with people from all walks of life. They serve as a reminder of the enduring power of hope and the strength that can be found in placing our trust in God. In moments of uncertainty, these words can provide comfort, reminding us that even when everything seems to be falling apart, there is a God who will give us solace and a way forward.

Pastor Gool

Matthew 14:22-33

Rev. Marty Gool

After Jesus had placed the disciples in the boat, He went to a mountain to pray. He sought communion with His Father. Meanwhile, the disciples found themselves in a difficult situation. They were far from the safety of land and struggling to make progress against the raging storm. The waves crashed against their boat, testing the strength of the boat as well as their resolve and pushing their faith to its limits.

Where they were directed, the text does not tell us. They were caught in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, battling against the elements.

This is a part of the story that is often overlooked. Their predicament was not a result of any wrongdoing or disobedience on their part. On the contrary, they were facing these challenges precisely because they were doing what Jesus had directed them to do. This serves as a reminder that every challenge in our lives and every hardship is not a consequence of poor choices or actions. The Christian journey is not always characterized by smooth sailing. Difficulties and hardships can arise even when we faithfully follow the path set before us.

As the waves crash against the boat and threaten their lives, even though they are uncertain of their destination, the disciples press on. As they grapple with the elements, their faith is tested. Doubts may have started to creep in, wondering whether Jesus will truly meet them on the other side of the lake. However, their commitment to following Him remains steadfast, even In the face of adversity. Their unwavering resolve serves as an inspiration to all believers, reminding them that obedience and trust in God’s plan can lead to significant challenges but also to remarkable victories.

In the midst of the wind’s fierce resistance, the disciples continue to navigate the treacherous waters, knowing that their destination lies ahead. For now, the exact location of their intended landing remains unknown, adding an air of uncertainty to their journey. However, their determination pushes them forward, propelled by the hope that Jesus will indeed meet them on the other side.   

The disciples’ current situation serves as a powerful metaphor for the trials and tribulations that believers may encounter in their own lives. Just as the wind opposes the disciples, the challenges we face may seem insurmountable at times. But it is during these moments of struggle that our faith is refined and strengthened. It is in the face of adversity that we are given the opportunity to grow closer to God and deepen our reliance on Him.

In conclusion, the disciples find themselves in the middle of the lake, battling against the wind. Their obedience to Jesus has led them into a challenging situation, but their unwavering faith and determination propel them forward. Their story serves as a reminder that following Christ does not guarantee a life free from hardships, but it does offer the promise of His presence and guidance through every storm.  

It is crucial to emphasize that the struggle these men are currently enduring is not a consequence of their disobedience. On the contrary, they are encountering resistance precisely because they dutifully followed Christ’s explicit command. It must be understood that not every juncture in a Christian’s existence is devoid of challenges, and not all trials stem from misguided decisions.   

It is crucial to acknowledge and understand that the challenges and struggles faced by these men are not a result of their disobedience. Quite the opposite, they find themselves encountering resistance precisely because they have faithfully followed Christ’s direct command. It is important to remember that not every moment in a Christian’s life is characterized by smooth sailing, and not all hardships can be attributed to poor choices.

In Matthew 14:24, we find a passage that sheds light on the disciples’ predicament. After Jesus placed the disciples in the boat, He climbed onto a mountain to pray in solitude. His prayers extended late into the evening, leaving the disciples to navigate their way across the lake on their own. However, their progress was hindered by a fierce and unrelenting wind, causing the waves to crash against their vessel.

As we delve deeper into the narrative, it becomes evident that the disciples’ expectations of meeting Jesus on the other side of the lake were somewhat unclear. The specific landing location remained uncertain, and they found themselves in the midst of the lake, engaged in a strenuous battle against the relentless wind.                                            

This passage serves as a poignant reminder that even when we faithfully follow Christ’s commands, we may still encounter obstacles and challenges along our journey. It is a testament to the fact that the Christian life is not immune to difficulties and hardships. However, it is crucial to remember that these trials do not necessarily stem from our missteps but rather serve as opportunities for growth and reliance on God’s strength.                                   

In conclusion, the struggles faced by these men are not a consequence of their disobedience. On the contrary, they arose from their unwavering obedience to Christ’s command. Understanding that not every aspect of a Christian’s life will be characterized by ease and smooth sailing is essential. It is through these challenges that our faith is strengthened, and we learn to trust in God’s guidance and provision.

Pastor Gool

“So then, faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God.”
Romans 10:17

Rev. Marty Gool

Faith is an essential aspect of Christianity. It is the belief in God’s existence, His promises, and His love for us. Without faith, it is impossible to please God or experience His blessings. As Christians, our faith is what sets us apart and allows us to experience a deep, personal relationship with our Creator.

Understanding Romans 10:17

Romans 10:17 states, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” This verse emphasizes the significance of hearing the Word of God, as it is through hearing that faith is sparked and nurtured. By understanding the true meaning behind this verse, we can begin our journey towards growing our faith.

Understanding the Context of Romans 10:17

Understanding the context of Romans 10:17 is crucial for grasping its depth and significance. The Book of Romans is one of the most influential letters written by Paul, addressing the Roman church’s issues and offering wisdom on faith, salvation, and the righteousness of God.

Romans 10:17 is nestled within a portion of the letter where Paul discusses the importance of faith for salvation. He emphasizes that anyone, Jew or Gentile, can attain righteousness through faith. This faith, according to Paul, is born out of hearing the word of God.

The concept of ‘hearing’ is not merely physical but includes understanding and accepting the message. This verse, therefore, underscores the importance of engaging with God’s word, not just superficially, but with a heart and mind open to understanding and acceptance.                      

How Faith Comes Alive for Believers

For believers, faith is a deeply ingrained part of their identity. It shapes their worldview, guides their decisions, and provides a sense of purpose and direction. However, it is important to understand that faith is not a static element; it is dynamic, growing, and evolving. Romans 10:17 explains how this evolution occurs.           

At the heart of this process is the concept of ‘hearing.’ According to Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” This implies that the growth of faith is stimulated by continuous exposure to God’s word. The more we engage with the scriptures, the teachings of Christ, and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, the more our faith blossoms. This growth is not just an intellectual exercise but a deeply emotional and spiritual experience. It is comparable to a seed planted in fertile soil, nurtured by the word of God, and blossoming into a beautiful plant with robust faith. The transformation is both subtle and profound, opening our hearts and minds to a deeper understanding of God’s nature and His plan for us.       

How Faith Comes Alive for Non-Believers

The people of God cannot afford to neglect its role in the spreading of the Gospel. The church’s primary responsibility is to reach the lost. Those who have not heard the Word of God. For non-believers, the journey toward faith often begins with curiosity, skepticism, or a desire for understanding. They may question the existence of God, the relevance of faith, or the truth of the scriptures. However, Romans 10:17 provides a roadmap for these individuals, showing them how faith can come alive even in the hearts of skeptics.       

Again, the key lies in ‘hearing.’ The verse suggests that faith emerges from hearing the word of God. This doesn’t necessarily mean reading the bible cover to cover or attending church services. It could mean engaging in spiritual conversations, seeking answers to existential questions, exploring the teachings of Christ, or even observing the faith of others. As non-believers embark on this journey of hearing, they may begin to perceive a new perspective. They may start to see the world through the lens of spirituality and gradually become open to the possibility of a higher power. This process is not a leap into blind belief but a gradual awakening to the presence of God, facilitated by continuous exposure to His word. 

Embracing the Power of Romans 10:17

Romans 10:17 is an empowering scripture, offering wisdom and guidance to both believers and non-believers. It unveils the transformative power of faith and reveals how it comes alive through the act of hearing. 

For believers, it provides a pathway to deepen their faith, encouraging continuous engagement with God’s word. For non-believers, it offers a roadmap toward faith, inviting them to explore and engage with spirituality.                                                     

In essence, Romans 10:17 is a testament to the transformative power of faith and the role of hearing in this transformation. By embracing this power, we can experience a profound spiritual awakening, regardless of where we are on our faith journey.                                            

The Importance of Faith in Christianity

Faith is a cornerstone of Christianity. It is the foundation upon which our relationship with God is built. It is the fuel that drives our spiritual journey and the compass that guides us towards God’s will.                                         

Romans 10:17 illuminates the importance of faith, revealing how it comes alive and grows. It emphasizes that faith is not a passive element but a dynamic force that evolves and deepens with our engagement with God’s word.                                                        

In essence, faith is not just a belief; it is a transformative power that shapes our worldview, guides our actions, and infuses our lives with purpose and meaning. By understanding and embracing this power, we can experience a profound spiritual awakening and a deeper connection with God.    

It is my hope that Romans 10:17 will seen in a new light and serve as a catalyst for an outreach that is blended with evangelism.                                   

Pastor Gool

Romans 12:2; Philippians 4:8

Rev. Marty Gool

We live in a world where negative thoughts and negative influences impact our attitudes and emotions. Maintaining a positive mindset for any length of time is challenging, with all the negativity floating through the air. I believe incorporating Romans 12:2 and Philippians 4:8 into our lives would help us combat the negativity that intrudes our minds and, eventually, our lives through our behavior.

These two scriptures make it very clear that Paul was concerned about what we think.  Society can be a positive or a negative influence on someone’s life. People are susceptible to what goes out over the airwaves. In the era of Trump, we see age is not a factor when it comes to embracing and identifying with negativity.

Philippians 4:8 further expands on this concept by providing a blueprint for the thoughts we should focus on. It urges individuals to think about true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy things. By directing our minds towards these positive and uplifting thoughts, we can replace negativity with that which is positive.

We must not underestimate the power our thoughts can have on and over us. When we begin to identify with our thoughts, our behavior can harm ourselves and others. By identity, I mean when we believe our thoughts are true or we cannot separate our thoughts from ourselves. We have become our thoughts. You become the anger, and you become the pain and suffering. When we think, our thoughts are facts. When we believe they are the truth and there is no other alternative or way to view something. We have become the thought; we have internalized the thought.  

We must not fail to realize how our emotions profoundly impact our thoughts. They color our perception; they color the way we look at something. Our emotions influence our judgment and shape our decision-making. When we are in a heightened emotional state, our thoughts can become distorted, leading us to make impulsive or irrational choices. 

When we are angry, our thoughts are dominated by feelings of revenge or hostility. This emotion can cloud our judgment and lead us to do things we may regret later. Similarly, when we are afraid, our thoughts may be dominated by worst-case scenarios, causing unnecessary worry and anxiety.

Recognizing the influence of emotions on our thoughts is crucial for maintaining a clear and rational mindset. Acknowledging and managing our feelings can prevent them from hijacking our thinking process and distorting our perception of reality.

In Romans 12:2, Paul says to be careful what you listen to on the airwaves. Be careful what you listen to on television. Be careful that you don’t fall for the lie. Be careful what you read on the internet. Be careful. Do not be conformed by this world. Don’t let this world shape your mind. The world we live in wants us to live in fear. To be frightened and afraid of everything. We allow the news to influence our thinking. The news makes us fearful of what could happen to us. We watch movies and become angry because they bring back certain memories.

Renewing our minds is essential for combating thoughts of fear and doubt, and we cannot afford to allow thoughts filled with negativity to shape or control our thoughts. 

The combination of Romans 12:2 and Philippians 4:8 provides a practical framework for applying these powerful verses daily. We can counteract the negativity surrounding us by consciously focusing on what is true, what is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy thoughts. One way to apply these verses is by rewiring our minds and replacing negative thoughts with uplifting ones.

Destroying negative thoughts and influences requires consistent effort and intentional action. Here are some practical steps to help you combat negativity and renew your mind:

  1. Identify negative thought patterns: Become aware of the negative thoughts that frequently enter your mind. Become conscious of situations or the people you are around that trigger negative thoughts or behavior.  
  2. Challenge negative thoughts: When negative thoughts arise, question their validity. Ask yourself if there is evidence to support these thoughts or if they are merely assumptions or distortions. Ex. You just broke up with someone you love. Is the thought “You can’t live without them” true? No, it isn’t. Then, if the thought is not true, change your thinking; start thinking about what you will do next. Is it easy, no? But it is necessary. 
  3. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones: Once you have identified negative thoughts, actively replace them with positive and uplifting thoughts. Force yourself to look at this situation not as a problem but as an opportunity to do and be something different and better. Refer to the principles outlined in Philippians 4:8 as a guide.
  4. Surround yourself with positive influences: Evaluate the things that affect your life and make intentional choices to surround yourself with positive people and things. Seek out supportive relationships, uplifting media content, and inspiring resources.
  5. Practice gratitude: Cultivate a grateful mindset by regularly expressing gratitude for the blessings in your life. A thankful attitude can help shift your focus from negativity to appreciation and abundance.
  6.  Don’t be afraid to reach out for support when needed: Surround yourself with a community of like-minded individuals who can provide encouragement and accountability.

The combination of Romans 12:2 and Philippians 4:8 offers a powerful strategy for combating negative thoughts and influences. Renew your minds with Romans 12:2 and Philippians 4:8.

Pastor Gool

2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Rev. Marty Gool

When sadness spreads itself like a blanket over our mind, heart, and soul, it’s not easy to just shake it off and carry on. Sometimes, despite the encouragement offered by those who care about us, our inner suffering persists. If you have felt this way, it’s crucial to understand that you are not alone. Countless others have battled, or are currently battling, through similar valleys of despair. Life can often feel like an endless, uphill battle. We all feel tired and hurt and want to stop and hang it up. But remember, you are not in this alone. There are countless others who have traveled this same path and emerged stronger. Illnesses that seem to persist. The doctor’s visits week after week after week. Children need new, but the money is not there. What is a person to do?

There are individuals in the Bible who have experienced depression, emotional anguish, and periods of despair:

  • Moses, overwhelmed by his responsibilities, pleaded with God to end his life (Numbers 11:10-15).
  • Job expressed his despair by cursing the day of his birth (Job 3:1-26).
  • Jonah, displeased with God’s mercy towards Nineveh, expressed his desire to die (Jonah 4:3-9).
  • Hannah mourned her barrenness for many years (1 Samuel 1:1-16).
  • Tamar, after being violated by her brother, lived a life of desolation (2 Samuel 13:1-21).
  • Naomi was filled with bitterness and pain after suffering multiple hardships (Ruth 1:1-20).
  • Hagar, abandoned in the desert, wept as her son was on the brink of death (Genesis 21:15-16).

All of these individuals wrestled with feelings of despair for various reasons. Yet, they all trusted in God, who loved and helped each one.

The Bible assures us that God is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those crushed in spirit. When Moses was overwhelmed, God appointed Aaron as his help. Job, despite losing everything, was blessed by God in his later years. When Hannah poured out her grief to the Lord, He blessed her with a son. As Hagar wept in the wilderness, God provided for her and her child’s needs.

If you find yourself feeling down, remember that God is with you. He understands your struggles and doesn’t want you to remain crushed in spirit. It is important that God hears the voices of those who seek His face. God hears the voice of those open to His counsel.

Are Christians to be Broken or Triumphant?

The Christian life is characterized by both brokenness and triumph, depending on what we mean by these terms. If by broken we mean repentant, low before the Lord (and only before God), aware of personal weakness, self-divesting of our arrogance and privilege, able to laugh at ourselves, of sober judgment, sensitive to the depths of sin within us, then yes, Christians are to be broken.

On the other hand, if by triumphant we mean confident of God’s unconquerable purposes in the world through fractured and faltering disciples, bold in trusting the promises of God, surrendering ourselves to God in service to Him, and risk-taking fueled by faith in God, then yes, Christians are to be triumphant.

Brokenness without triumph tells us the enemy has won. It is lifting the crucifixion to the neglect of resurrection. Triumph without being aware of our brokenness emphasizes redemption to the neglect of our sin. While only seeing the resurrection, that is a human triumph to the neglect of the crucifixion. The gospel provides us with the only resource to face our brokenness honestly while reminding us of our unspeakable victory, Jesus Christ.

In the gospel, we are liberated to simultaneously experience failure and redemption, crucifixion and resurrection, brokenness and triumph. Jesus tells us to take up our cross daily (Matt. 16:24), while Paul tells us we have been raised and are seated in heaven (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1). How can both be true? Because Jesus is the only person who was ever triumphant without brokenness.

But brokenness is never a conclusion, only a method that points us toward Jesus. For those who are unaware, there is no brokenness in the first two chapters of the Bible and none in the final two chapters. To God be the glory.

A sound mind is essential in overcoming fear. It allows us to differentiate between thoughts and facts. Too often, we believe our thoughts without questioning their validity. We allow our minds to turn thoughts into truths, even when they are not based on reality. But a sound mind, guided by the truth of God’s Word, helps us discern between what is true and what is merely a product of our imagination. As Paul writes in Philippians 4:8, we are to focus on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

Pastor Gool

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7

Rev. Marty Gool

Fear is a natural human emotion that can manifest itself in various forms. Fear has a way of gripping our minds and holding us hostage. It creeps into our thoughts and convinces us that what we think is fact. But what if those thoughts are not facts? What if the fear that consumes us is based on nothing more than our imagination? What if what we fear is a projection of our thoughts into our future? The apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 1:7 that “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind.” It is this sound mind that can help us break free from the chains of fear and embrace the truth that God has for us.

Understanding the Spirit of Fear

In order to overcome fear, it is important to understand what the “spirit of fear” entails. The Greek word used in 2 Timothy 1:7 refers to a cowardly or timid spirit, not the reverential fear we have for God. This spirit of fear can manifest in various ways in our lives, causing us to shrink back from our responsibilities and hinder our ability to make wise decisions. Just like the servant in the parable of the talents who buried his gold out of fear, we too can let fear paralyze us and prevent us from fully living out our calling.

Paul did not wish for fear to overcome Timothy. Understanding fear can overwhelm anyone at any time. No one is immune.

Timothy, to whom this letter is being sent, has a timid personality. He is going through some extremely difficult times and has become fearful. In writing this letter, Paul sought to encourage Timothy by reminding him of his heritage of faith, passed down through his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice. They instilled in him a sincere faith and taught him the ways of God. Paul wanted to restore Timothy’s courage and exhort him to fan into flame the God-given gift of faith within him.

The Spirit of Power, Love, and a Sound Mind

Paul tells Timothy that God has given us a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. These three components work together to help us overcome fear and live boldly for God’s glory.

1. Power: Courage to Face the Difficult

The spirit of power empowers us to face and endure the challenges and hardships that come our way. It gives us the courage to step out in faith, knowing that God is with us. This power is not our power; it is power that comes from the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Just as the Spirit played a role in the creation of the world, it also empowers believers to live bold and courageous lives.

2. Love: Fuel for Sacrificial Service

The spirit of love fuels our hearts with compassion for others. It prompts us to share the gospel and serve those around us selflessly. When we focus on God’s love for us and for others, fear takes a backseat. Love motivates us to put aside our own fears and anxieties and instead reach out to those who need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

3. God Gave Us a Sound Mind: Reject False Thoughts and Embrace the Truth

God did not give us the spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind. Our minds are the center of most of our fears. It is the mind that holds on to the fear that holds many of us hostage. It is the iron grip of the mind that has on the thought we are thinking that makes us fear. It is the mind that makes us believe our thoughts are facts. Our mind turns a thought into a truth. The news report is that the economy is in a downturn. Our thoughts tell us because the economy is in a downturn, we are going to lose our jobs. We believe that thought. We give psychic energy to that thought. We never ask ourselves if the thought is true. No, we embrace it as a fact, as something that is true. We believe it. We make ourselves miserable in the process; we become fearful because we believe something that is not true. We project ourselves into a future that has not come to pass, and we believe in that future with all of our hearts. So, we worry, become apprehensive, become filled with anxiety, develop ulcers, stress, and heart disease. Why? Because we believe in a thought that is not true. We took a thought and turned it into a fact. A thought is not a fact. A thought is never a fact. A thought is just a thought. A thought is something passing through your mind until you attach yourself to it.

A sound mind is essential in overcoming fear. It allows us to differentiate between thoughts and facts. Too often, we believe our thoughts without questioning their validity. We allow our minds to turn thoughts into truths, even when they are not based on reality. But a sound mind, guided by the truth of God’s Word, helps us discern between what is true and what is merely a product of our imagination. As Paul writes in Philippians 4:8, we are to focus on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

Pastor Gool

Mark 4:35-41

Rev. Marty Gool

Life is always a difficult journey, filled with challenges and trials that test our faith and resilience. We may have been led to believe that following Jesus would shield us from the storms of life, but the reality is that storms are an inevitable part of our human experience. Even Jesus’ disciples faced a terrifying storm on the Sea of Galilee. This powerful story from the book of Mark serves as a reminder that we are not exempt from the storms of life, but we have a source of strength and deliverance – Jesus.

In Mark 4:35-41, we find Jesus and His disciples embarking on a journey across the sea of Galilee. As they sailed, a great storm arose, causing the waves to crash violently against their boat. The disciples, who were experienced fishermen and were no strangers to the sea, were filled with fear and panic. They cried out to Jesus, who was asleep in the stern of the boat, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Their faith was tested as they faced the very real possibility of being swallowed by the raging sea.

In their moment of desperation, the disciples turned to Jesus, knowing that He alone had the power to save them. Jesus, awakened by their cries, stood up and rebuked the wind and the waves, saying, “Peace, be still!” Instantly, the storm ceased, and there was a great calm. Jesus then turned to His disciples and asked, “Where is your faith?”

This story highlights the incredible power of Jesus to calm the storms in our lives. Just as He calmed the physical storm on the Sea of Galilee, He can bring peace to the storms within our hearts and minds. When we call upon Him in our distress, He is there to provide strength, comfort, and deliverance.

Life’s storms come in many forms – the loss of a loved one, financial difficulties, health challenges, relationship struggles, and more. These storms can leave us feeling overwhelmed, fearful, and uncertain. It is in these moments that our faith is tested, and our true beliefs are revealed. Will we cower in fear and doubt, or will we call on Jesus, knowing that He is near and able to calm the raging seas?

The storms we face are not a sign of God’s absence or lack of care. Rather, they are opportunities for us to grow in faith and dependence on Him. Just as a crucible purifies gold, the storms of life expose the strength or weakness of our faith. When we face trials, we have a choice – to focus on the storm or to fix our eyes on Jesus.

When the storms of life threaten to overwhelm us, we must remember to call on Jesus. He may appear to be asleep, seemingly unaware of our struggles, but He is there. Sometimes He just needs to be awakened by our cries for help, our desperate pleas for His intervention. We must not lose sight of His nearness, even when the waves crash around us and threaten to engulf us.

Just as Jesus was present with His disciples in the boat during that treacherous storm, He is with us in the midst of our storms. He is our anchor, our refuge, and our source of strength. When we call upon Him, He calms the storms within us, giving us peace and assurance that He is in control.

Trusting in Jesus’ Power to Save

It’s important to remember that Jesus does not promise a life free from challenges and trials. He explicitly tells us in John 16:33, “In this world, you will have trouble.” However, He also assures us, “Take heart! I have overcome the world.”

When we call on Jesus in our distress, we are not guaranteed an immediate end to our storms. But we can trust in His power to save us. Just as He calmed the storm for His disciples, He is more than able to calm the storms in our lives as well. He may choose to calm the external circumstances or to calm the storm within us, giving us the strength and peace to endure.

Finding Peace in the Midst of the Storm

The storms we face can be overwhelming and disorienting, but we must not lose hope. Even in the midst of the storm, Jesus walks beside us. He is our guiding light, our anchor of hope. When we keep our eyes fixed on Him, we find peace that surpasses all understanding.

The Promise of Jesus’ Presence

Jesus’ promise to His disciples in Matthew 28:20 rings true for us today: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” He is present with us in every storm, every trial, every moment of our lives. We are never alone.

As we go through life, let us remember to call on Jesus. Let us trust in His power to calm the storms and bring us peace. Let us fix our eyes on Him, knowing that He is near and able to deliver us. With Jesus by our side, we can navigate the seas of life with courage, faith, and unwavering hope.

Pastor Gool

Jeremiah 29:11-14

Rev. Marty Gool

Jeremiah raises a question that produces uncertainty in the life of the listener. Jeremiah suggests that if we are unable to handle the little problems in our lives. How will we be able to handle the big ones? We often find ourselves pitted against the footmen of life. Racing, striving to outdo them as we pursue our dreams. We push ourselves to the limits, hoping to outshine our competitors and claim victory for ourselves. But what happens when these footmen become too much for us to handle? What happens when we find ourselves weary and exhausted just trying to make ends meet? It is at this moment that the question posed by the prophet Jeremiah becomes relevant: “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?”

These words strike a chord deep within our souls, for they remind us that life is not a simple sprint but a grueling marathon. If we struggle to keep up with the footmen, how can we possibly hope to endure the fierce competition of horses? Horses, with their strength and power, represent the challenges and obstacles that lie ahead of us. They are the trials, and that will test our resolve and push us to our limits. They are the fierce opponents that we must face head-on if we are to achieve greatness.

So how do we prepare ourselves for this monumental task? How do we find the strength and stamina to run with horses? The answer lies in our ability to persevere. We must learn from our experiences with the footmen, allowing their weariness to ignite a fire within us. We must use their challenges as stepping stones, propelling us forward toward even greater feats. We must embrace the pain and exhaustion as signs of growth and transformation. Running with horses requires a shift in mindset. It demands that we rise above the weariness of footmen and embrace the challenges that lie ahead. It calls for a relentless pursuit of excellence and an unwavering commitment to our goals. So let us not be discouraged by the weariness of footmen but rather let it serve as a reminder of the strength that lies within us. For if we can persevere through the challenges of today, we will surely find ourselves racing alongside horses tomorrow.

In the depths of uncertainty, as Christians, we are summoned to rise above the chaos and embrace the challenges that life hurls at us. We are not meant to surrender to the whims of fate but rather to seek the unwavering strength that emanates from God Himself. For it is in His divine power that we find the courage to press on, to navigate through the treacherous storms that threaten to engulf us. When the weight of existence becomes overwhelming, when exhaustion seeps into our bones and threatens to shatter our resolve, it is God alone who sustains us. His love, His grace, and His unwavering presence fortify our spirits, rejuvenating us with a renewed energy to persevere. In this tumultuous journey called life, we encounter obstacles that test the limits of our resolve. But even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, we are called to summon forth a courage that defies reason and logic. It is a courage that stems from a deep-rooted faith in God’s guidance and provision. With each step we take, we must remember that it is not our own strength that propels us forward but rather the strength that is infused within us by our Creator. It is through this divine strength that we can face the difficult, the overwhelming, and, yes, even the seemingly impossible. For it is during these moments of adversity that our faith is truly tested. When the world tells us to surrender, to give up on our dreams and aspirations, we are called to stand firm in our convictions and persevere. We must remember that we are not alone in this journey; God walks beside us, guiding our every step and instilling within us the courage to face whatever challenges lie ahead. Our exhaustion may be real, but His strength is limitless. And with His unwavering support, there is no storm too fierce, no obstacle too daunting for us to overcome. So let us embrace the uncertainties of life with unwavering faith and trust in God’s providence, knowing that He is the source of our courage and the anchor of our perseverance.

Pastor Gool

“Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ”
Romans 8:1

Rev. Marty Gool

I want to briefly go over some thoughts that were lifted up in Sunday’s message. Self-forgiveness is incredibly important. It is something we can all afford to practice and incorporate into our lives.

If there is no condemnation in Christ, then forgiving ourselves is an absolute necessity in the Kingdom of God. For one cannot be in God’s kingdom, one cannot live in God’s kingdom without accepting and living in the righteousness of God. The living part is in the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. The Holy Spirit leads in the living of a righteous life.

Let us first begin with understanding what forgiving yourself means. Forgiving yourself is not about pardoning your actions; it is about acknowledging your faults, taking responsibility, and finding a path toward personal growth and self-improvement. Embrace your humanity and imperfections and allow self-forgiveness to be an act of self-love that sets you free.

As you embark on this journey of self-forgiveness, remember that you are not alone. We are all imperfect beings, learning and growing together. Embrace the power of self-forgiveness and unlock the door to a life filled with joy, freedom, and genuine self-acceptance.

Admitting Our Mistakes and Taking Responsibility

One of the first steps in the journey of self-forgiveness is admitting to ourselves that we have done things that are wrong. It requires us to confront our actions and take responsibility for the pain we may have caused ourselves or others. This admission is not about pardoning ourselves for our actions but rather about acknowledging our faults and saying, “Yes, I did this; I am responsible.”

Embracing Our Imperfections

Forgiving ourselves means embracing as well as appreciating the fact that we have faults. It involves recognizing our imperfections and understanding that, at our core, in our essence, we are still good people. It is about acknowledging that we have done something wrong but knowing that we have the capacity to grow, learn, and become better versions of ourselves.

Self-forgiveness is not about dwelling on past mistakes or wallowing in guilt and shame. It is about finding a way to move forward into a better version of ourselves. It doesn’t matter whether our mistakes were large or small; what matters is that we acknowledge our humanity and our imperfections. We are all
imperfect human beings we often struggle to accept this fact.

Self-Forgiveness And Christianity

Within the Christian faith, the concept of self-forgiveness is deeply rooted in the scripture of “loving your neighbor as yourself.” However, often the emphasis is placed on forgiving others while neglecting ourselves entirely. We tend to prioritize forgiving others and placing their needs above our own, which can lead to neglecting our own healing and growth.

When we neglect to forgive ourselves, we demonstrate a fundamental flaw in our understanding of this scripture. We must remember that forgiving ourselves is a crucial part of the journey of faith. It requires us to recognize our own worth and importance, just as we recognize the worth and importance of others. Learning to forgive ourselves cannot be done if we constantly view others as more important than ourselves.

Embracing Self-Forgiveness as an Act of Self-Love

Self-forgiveness is an act of self-love. It is about extending the same compassion, empathy, and forgiveness to ourselves that we would offer to others. By embracing self-forgiveness, we free ourselves from the burden of guilt and shame, allowing us to experience true healing and growth.

The Process of Self-Forgiveness

Self-forgiveness has the power to liberate us from the shackles of guilt, shame, and self-blame. It allows us to embrace our imperfections, learn from our mistakes, and grow into the best version of ourselves. By extending compassion and forgiveness to ourselves, we create space for healing, growth, and genuine self-love.

The Liberating Power of Self-Forgiveness

  1. Reflect on Your Actions and Their Impact
    Take time to reflect on the actions or choices that have caused you pain or regret. Acknowledge the impact they have had on yourself and others. Understand that you are not defined by these actions, but they are opportunities for growth and learning.
  2. Practice Self-Compassion and Understanding
    Extend compassion and understanding to yourself as you would to a close friend or loved one. Recognize that you are human and capable of making mistakes. Treat yourself with kindness and empathy, knowing that self-forgiveness is a process.
  3. Take Responsibility and Make Amends
    Take responsibility for your actions and the consequences they may have had. If possible, sometimes it is not possible to make amends to those you have hurt or affected. This step is not always feasible, but it is important to acknowledge the impact of your actions and strive to make things right when possible.
  4. Learn from Your Mistakes
    Use the experience as an opportunity for growth and learning. Reflect on what led to the mistake and how you can avoid similar situations in the future. Embrace the lessons learned and commit to personal growth and self-improvement.
  5. Release Guilt and Shame
    Let go of guilt and shame by forgiving yourself. Recognize that holding onto these negative emotions only hinders your progress and prevents you from fully embracing self-forgiveness. Release the burden and allow yourself to move forward with a renewed sense of freedom.
  6. Practice Self-Love and Self-Care
    Nurture yourself through self-love and self-care practices. Engage in activities that bring you joy, peace, and fulfillment. Prioritize your well-being and make self-care a regular part of your routine.
  7. Seek Support and Guidance
    If the journey of self-forgiveness feels overwhelming, seek support and guidance from trusted friends, family members, or professionals. Consider engaging in therapy or counseling to help you navigate the process and gain additional insights and tools for self-forgiveness.

Self-forgiveness is a transformative process that requires self-reflection, self-compassion, and self-acceptance. It is not a one-time event but a journey of self-discovery and growth. Here are some steps to guide you on this journey of self-forgiveness.

Pastor Gool

The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. In other words, those who are fully committed to God, He will be committed to them. He will be committed to strengthening them.

2 Chronicles 16:9

Rev. Marty Gool

In other words, those who are fully committed to God, He will be committed to them. He will be committed to strengthening them. There is a heartfelt connection between our commitment to God and spiritual strength. Our commitment to God gives us a foundation in our faith that enables us to stand in the face of trials and other difficulties we encounter. Our commitment to God reinforces the understanding that we are not alone in life’s journey.

There Has Always Been A Link Between Faith and Commitment

Our faith journey is inseparably tied to our commitment to God. Try as you will, without a commitment to God, our faith would be diminished. In times of extreme conflict, we would experience a profound alone in the battle we are waging. With our commitment to God, we feel God’s presence and experience His peace when we let go and surrender it all to Him. The reason why commitment grows our faith is because in our commitment, we grow in our understanding of who God is, and as a result, we deepen our relationship with Him.

Without a commitment to God and God’s constant involvement in our lives, we would be unable to remain on track to do His will. There can be no denying that the decision to follow God, to seek His will, and to live according to God’s teaching is what keeps us moving forward in the kingdom of God. When we are committed to God, our perception of life changes because of the deepened relationship we have with God. This commitment has deepened our relationship because it has deepened our faith and trust in God. Thereby enabling us to see life the way others without faith cannot.

Practical Ways to Commit and Honor God Daily

What are some of the things we can do that will reflect our love and gratitude for God? It includes prayer, Bible Study, both devotion and group, worship, and serving God.

Prayer is vital. We must incorporate more prayer time into our lives. We must make time to communicate with God. We must take time to tell God how much we care and how much we love and are grateful for all He has done. We can also seek His guidance as we pray. It is in prayer, in time given to God, that our relationship can deepen in a different kind of way. In prayer, a relationship with God establishes trust within you with God, who has always been there for you. Prayer cultivates and deepens that understanding that you can depend upon God.

Take time to open your Bible and study scripture. Learn about and how to use it for your personal Bible study and devotion. It is through Bible study that our faith and commitment to God increases, and the knowledge of God begins to boggle our minds. Because you become aware that His ways are above our ways, His thoughts are above our thoughts.

Service expands our understanding of how God touches the world through you. It opens our hearts and minds to the needs of people. It expands our understanding of our dependency upon God and other people as well. We discover that regardless of what we think, we are not an island unto ourselves.

Benefits of Committing to God

Committing to God brings peace into our lives. This commitment also gives us a purpose because we now allow God to lead us. This purpose is coupled with the joy that comes from serving others and seeing them in very different ways. Our lives become less judgmental. Commitment to God gives us strength and guidance in situations and circumstances we were void of strength and struggling with how to deal with the situation.

Commitment provides direction, purpose, and strength. It empowers us to live a life of fulfillment. It promotes spiritual growth and makes our relationship with God stronger.

Commitment to God is a daily decision that will be challenged and tested. It requires seeking God daily. We must remember the journey we are on; we do not travel alone. You are part of a community of the faithful. All striving to live for and serve God’s kingdom. Do not forget that God is with us every step of the way.

Pastor Gool

The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. In other words, those who are fully committed to God, He will be committed to them. He will be committed to strengthening them.

2 Chronicles 16:9

Rev. Marty Gool

As we closed Vacation Bible Study this past Friday, we left with a charge to commit ourselves to being a more loving and better member. This happens when we commit to the Lord. I want to suggest that this decision is profound in its intent. It is saying to God that I surrender my entire life to God. It is more than an ambiguous notion of faith. It is more than casual church attendance. Committing to God is a life-altering decision. This is a decision to seek the guidance and will of God in all that we attempt to do.

This Commitment is Ongoing

This is not a one-time event; it is an ongoing process of decision-making on a daily basis. It is choosing God on a daily basis. It is loving the will of God for your life on a daily basis. It is seeking the wisdom of God and to live according to God’s will. It is a journey with God, full of challenges but filled with profound spiritual growth and transformation.

Committing to God does not mean we must abandon our individuality or personal aspirations. What it does mean is aligning our aspirations with God’s will. It means pursuing our aspirations for God’s glory and not our own. It means allowing the Holy Spirit to empower and guide us in our daily walk.

Commitment Involves Honoring and Loving God

One begins honoring God by acknowledging God’s dominion in all the world. It is expressing our gratitude for His blessings in our life. Honoring God is not about the appearance of honor. It is about the state of hearts and the authenticity of our faith. When we honor God, we recognize His power, His wisdom, and unfailing love. We honor God when we express our reverence and devotion not out of fear or obligation but out of love and gratitude.

Honoring and loving the Lord is closely connected to the way we honor and love ourselves. This kind of love comes from the Holy Spirit, which empowers us with the ability to love God in a new way. This kind and level of God that is God-given and God-sustained influences the way we interact with others.  It is a commitment borne out of love and honor toward God that motivates us to serve others in a way that shows a genuine love for their well-being. When our love for ourselves is bound in the love we have for God, we are able to give others our very best because it comes directly from the strength that God gives us to love and serve others. When we are able to serve others with respect and the love that comes from God, the kind of love that does not permit me to look down upon someone just because they have less, then I become a promoter of peace. I become a promoter of justice. It is then that I truly promote God’s kingdom on earth.   

Spiritual Strength Comes Through Our Commitment to God

Commitment to God is a source of strength because we know that when we are committed to God, God is committed to us. This commitment provides a solid foundation for our faith can stand on. It is this faith that enables us to withstand the trials and challenges without losing our grip on life. Commitment to God gives us the will to live with a sense of purpose and conviction for God. It is important that we know when we commit to God that we are not alone in our spiritual journey. God’s Spirit dwells within us to guide and comfort us, to strengthen us with the spiritual ability to overcome obstacles. Commitment to God deepens our understanding of who God is. When we commit to God, we grow spiritually because we grow closer to God. When we are committed to God, a sense of peace becomes a part of who God grows us into because we know who is in charge, and we trust the sovereignty of God completely. When we are able to rest in the assurances of God’s unfailing love and care, we are able to trust in God’s guidance and God’s ability to provide for our needs. We can face uncertainty with courage and faith. Again, knowing God is in control, and His plans are for our good. We can face each day with a new confidence that is undergirded by our faith and commitment to God.

Pastor Gool

Isaiah 41:10

Rev. Marty Gool

Why is it that we feel most vulnerable at night? Because darkness amplifies fear because it symbolizes the unknown and uncertainty. Faith in God can be powerful for overcoming these fears. Nighttime is a time of reflection and introspection. We can’t help but think about our lives, relationships, successes and failures, and all the unknowns of the future. We are vulnerable because we believe we are left with ourselves to confront those fears and doubts. Ignoring the darkness that creeps in when we’re alone with our thoughts is hard. At that moment, we need to reach out and ask for help from God to help us get through the night.

What is it about the night that makes us feel so alone? The night seems to be the time when our strength to fight, to hold on, seem to disappear. The night seems to bring a different level and degree of abandonment. The feeling of being lost and alone is the most challenging of all feelings. Lying in the dark alone, our fears feel like they are closing in on us. It is then that we begin to hopeless and despair. During the day, we are able to fight the good fight, to hold on to a semblance of hope. The night seems to bring into existence a strange manifestation of loneliness that the wisest of us cannot understand. In one of his songs, Bobby Womack sings, “If you think you’re lonely now, wait until tonight, girl.” Why does she have to wait until the night to feel the loneliness he predicts? What is it about the night that precipitates and magnifies loneliness? I know we have all felt alone during the day. I know tears of sorrow and loneliness have been shed in the daytime. But no one can explain the power of darkness that brings loneliness to a new level. Gladys Knight cries for help in the dark of night in her song “Help Me Make it Through the Night.” In this song, she sings of the pitfall of being lonely and vulnerable at night. It is in the night that we feel the weakest. Jesus was at His weakest moment in the night. What is it about the night, the darkness, that causes us to dissolve emotionally? Fears in the night are real and life-absorbing.

It is said that nighttime is when we are most vulnerable because our thoughts are more amplified and intense. We become aware of our fears and doubts as well as the uncertainties of the future. This can cause us to feel overwhelmed and helpless, which should make us seek refuge in God.

The night brings with it a special kind of loneliness that can be hard to put into words but is experienced by many. It is a feeling that seems to intensify when nightfall begins and becomes full-blown when we feel lost, and the light of hope fades with the onset of the dark.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus felt His weakest and experienced His fears of the impending cross, proving that darkness can bring out the weakest moments in humanity. It is in these times that the strength of God’s presence is needed in our lives. It is our trust in God that will get us through those moments of doubt and insecurity. God was present with Jesus on the darkest night of His life. The darkness did not prevail in that moment that Jesus experienced. It will prevail in your moment of faltering. If God was present for Jesus, God will be present for you. If God rescued Jesus from the jaws of despair and the crushing power of fear. God will rescue you. If God sent angels to minister to Jesus. God will send ministering angels to you. God has promised never to leave or forsake us. This includes the darkest of nights. It includes the loneliest of moments. It includes every moment we believe our hope is gone. God will not be there; God is there. We have God’s word to trust in.

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

 “The Lord is my light (in the midst of the darkness) and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom (or what) shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

“When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” (Proverbs 3:24)

Pastor Gool

Job 19:25

Rev. Marty Gool

I know that my redeemer[a] lives,  and that in the end he will stand on the earth.  Job 19:25

This scripture is read at funerals with the understanding that we all shall see God for ourselves. As much as this is true regarding our seeing God, this is not the message of the scripture. Let us first address the purpose of the Book of Job.

Job’s Purpose:

The suffering that Job suffered is not understood. How could a man who had done absolutely nothing suffer to the extent and degree Job suffered? Job was a man of great wealth and prosperity. He had a loving family, good health, and everything one could desire. However, his life took a drastic turn when he lost everything. His children died, his livestock perished, and he was afflicted with painful sores all over his body. Job’s suffering was immense and seemed unjust. It is in this context that we witness the depth of his faith.

Despite his overwhelming suffering, Job never wavered in his faith. He questioned the reasons behind his suffering, but he never lost his trust in God. He became angry with God but never lost his faith. He became angry and grew disappointed with his friends, but never lost faith in God. Job’s friends tried to convince him that his suffering was a result of his sins, but he remained steadfast. He refused to curse God and maintained his belief in divine justice. We too, in the midst of the difficulties we face in our lives, must not lose faith in God. Job’s faith is a testament to the human spirit and the power of unwavering trust in God in the face of adversity.

Job’s famous words rang out in the midst of his pain and confusion. Job said regardless of what I am going through: “I Know My Redeemer Lives.” These words capture the essence of Job’s faith. Despite his pain and loss, Job clings to the belief that there is a redeemer who will ultimately vindicate him; his redeemer will clear his tarnished reputation. This declaration, this bold statement, is a profound testament to the power of hope and the assurance that God’s justice will prevail.

To truly understand the significance of Job’s declaration, we must delve into the meaning of redemption. Redemption is the act of being saved or delivered from harm or evil. In Job’s case, he believed that his redeemer would deliver him from his suffering and restore his life. This concept of redemption is deeply rooted in the Christian faith and serves as a reminder that no matter how dire our circumstances may be, there is always hope for redemption. It tells those who suffer that God will take care of them. God will come to your rescue. That God will shine His light in the midst of the darkness you are walking through and guide your every step. Job’s redeemer is our redeemer. The same God that rescued and delivered Job will rescue and deliver you this day.

The Book of Job offers us a message of hope and salvation. It reminds us that even in the darkest moments of our lives, there is always a glimmer of light. Job’s story teaches us that suffering is not a punishment but rather an opportunity for growth and transformation. Through his unwavering faith, Job finds solace in knowing that his redeemer lives and will bring about his ultimate deliverance.

Lessons We Can Learn from Job’s Faith

Job’s faith provides us with valuable lessons that we can apply to our own lives. Firstly, it teaches us the importance of trust and perseverance in the face of adversity. Job’s unwavering faith serves as a reminder that even when everything seems to be falling apart, we must hold on to our belief and trust in God. Secondly, Job teaches us the power of humility and surrender. Despite his righteous life, Job humbles himself before God and acknowledges that he cannot fully comprehend the ways of the divine. Finally, Job’s story emphasizes the need for community and support during times of suffering. His friends may have provided misguided advice, but their presence and willingness to stand by Job were crucial.

Applying Job’s Faith to Our Own Lives

Job’s faith is not limited to the pages of Scripture; it is a timeless example that we can apply to our own lives. When we face trials and tribulations, we can draw strength from Job’s unwavering trust in God. We can find solace in the knowledge that our suffering is not in vain and that there is a greater purpose behind it. Job’s story reminds us that our faith can sustain us even in the darkest moments and that our redeemer lives ready to bring about our deliverance.

The Enduring Relevance of “I Know My Redeemer Lives”

The declaration “I know my redeemer lives” continues to resonate with believers around the world. It serves as a reminder that our faith is not in vain and that there is hope even in the most challenging circumstances. Job’s words have withstood the test of time because they speak to the universal human experience of suffering and the power of faith to overcome it. No matter where we are in life, we can find comfort and strength in knowing that our redeemer lives.

Conclusion: Embracing the Power of Faith in the Face of Adversity

The story of Job is a timeless tale of faith, suffering, and redemption. It teaches us that even in the darkest moments, we can find solace in our faith. Job’s unwavering trust in God and his declaration that “I know my redeemer lives” inspire us to embrace the power of faith in the face of adversity. Let us hold on to this powerful message and find hope and salvation in the knowledge that our redeemer lives.

Pastor Gool

Philippians 4:6-7

Rev. Marty Gool

1.  The Power of Acceptance

In a world searching for peace, two essential concepts emerge as cornerstones necessary to achieve this end: acceptance and surrender. They hold the key to inner harmony and serenity. Acceptance is the first step towards finding peace. It is the act of acknowledging and embracing the reality of our circumstances, both external and internal. When we accept what is, we release resistance and open ourselves to God’s will and the flow of life. When we accept “what is,” our bodies cease to fight. The anxiety that seems to follow us all day begins to dissipate.

Acceptance begins with embracing our imperfections and limitations. Acceptance means we begin to see our vulnerabilities and become comfortable with them. Only then will we be able to do something about some of the vulnerabilities that plague us. When we begin to accept the fact that we are not perfect, nor were we meant to be perfect, when we accept the fact that we are human beings with flaws and other weaknesses, we will become more comfortable with ourselves. By accepting our humanity, we free ourselves from the burden of unrealistic expectations and self-judgment. Williams James said, “Acceptance of what has happened is the first step in overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.”

One of the most significant challenges in acceptance is relinquishing the need for control. We all have this inexhaustible need to control. As a result, we often try to control every aspect of our lives, fearing uncertainty and change. However, true peace comes when we surrender our desire for control and trust in God, who is at work. Acceptance does not mean resignation or passivity; it is a conscious choice to let go and allow life to unfold as it will. It is an acknowledgment that we cannot control everything but can control our response to life’s challenges. In addition, it is a statement of faith and trust in God. A profound trust that is not swayed by the circumstances that are in front of us. It is the will of God that we trust in. Acceptance embraced by faith, Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” Called according to His purpose is the part of the text that escapes us all. It does not fit into our controlling nature. It compromises who we believe we are in our thoughts. However, because of this position, we miss the power and peace that God is trying to activate in our lives. We miss it because we are operating in our power and might and not by God’s Spirit.

When we fully accept ourselves and our circumstances, we experience a profound sense of freedom. Acceptance allows us to let go of resistance and find peace in the present moment. It diminishes the ill feelings that are brought about because of our resistance to the will of God, because of our resistance to the reality that is in front of us. Fighting that which we cannot control is never helpful. It produces suffering on a level we all have experienced. It is in our surrender that we grow and find a deeper relationship with God. Acceptance opens the door to new possibilities and opportunities. It enables us to see beyond our limitations and embrace the fact of life’s uncertainties. By accepting what is, we create space for growth, healing, and transformation.

2.   The Transformative Power of Surrender

Surrender is the next step on the path to inner peace. It is the act of releasing our attachment to outcomes and trusting in the wisdom of God. Surrender requires humility, vulnerability, and a willingness to let go of our need to control. Surrender is embracing the unknown. Surrendering is about embracing the unknown and relinquishing our illusions of certainty. We think that when we are in control, we have certainty in our lives. There is no such thing as human control. There is only the illusion of control. But God and life show us that we do not control the outcome. It is acknowledged that we cannot always predict or control the outcomes of our actions that we grow. Surrender invites us to trust in God’s timing and God’s inherent wisdom.

When we surrender, we release resistance and create space for miracles to occur. Resistance is like a dam blocking the flow of God’s Holy Spirit. By surrendering, we dismantle that dam and allow the natural flow of God’s love and joy to enter our lives. Surrender requires us to let go of our attachment to specific outcomes and trust that what God intends for us will come in due time. “If God is for you, who or what can be against you.

Surrendering to the divine plan and recognizing that God is at work in our lives should cause us to surrender. Surrender implies you care about yourself. It means you are practicing self-compassion. It means letting go of self-judgment, self-criticism, and the need to be perfect. When we surrender to self-compassion, we acknowledge our worthiness and embrace our inherent value as human beings. Surrendering allows us to cultivate a deep sense of self-acceptance and love. It is a powerful act of kindness towards ourselves, reminding us that we are deserving of love and forgiveness.

Acceptance and surrender are intertwined, each relying on the other for true inner harmony. Acceptance paves the way for surrender, and surrender enables more profound levels of acceptance. They work in harmony to create a solid foundation for peace in our lives.

Acceptance and surrender dance together in a beautiful symphony. When we accept what is, we create space for surrender. And when we surrender, we deepen our acceptance of the present moment. This dance allows us to find peace and contentment, even in the face of challenges. Peace cannot be found until these two, acceptance and surrender, come together.

Both acceptance and surrender require vulnerability and trust in God. It takes strength to acknowledge our limitations and surrender control. It takes courage to accept our imperfections and embrace the unknown. But in that vulnerability lies immense power—the power to transcend our limitations and discover our true essence. It is in our surrender that we discover who God has called us to be in truth.

3.   Acceptance and Surrender brings Peace

When we fully embrace acceptance and surrender, we unlock the gift of inner peace. This peace is not dependent on external circumstances or the actions of others. It comes from within as a result of aligning with the flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives and trusting in God’s wisdom to guide us.

It is this peace that comes from God that allows us to navigate life’s challenges with grace and the God-given ability to rebound and recover. It enables us to respond rather than react, to choose love over fear, and to cultivate deep connections with ourselves and others.

Peace comes with acceptance and surrender. It is through acceptance that we find the courage to surrender, and it is through surrender that we discover true peace. The journey towards peace begins with embracing our imperfections, letting go of control, and accepting the present moment God has allowed to enter our lives. It continues with surrendering to the wisdom of God and trusting in God’s will.

Let us remember that peace is not the absence of challenges but the presence of acceptance and surrender in the face of those challenges. May we find solace in the wisdom of acceptance and surrender, and may they guide us toward a life filled with peace, love, and fulfillment. A life God intends for all who practice the surrendered life.

Pastor Gool

continued from Sunday, June 25th
Zechariah 4:6 & Luke 18:18-23 & 1 Cor. 2:9-12

Rev. Marty Gool

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

Zechariah 4:6

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]

21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.

Luke 18:18-23

However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,

what no ear has heard,

and what no human mind has conceived”[a]

the things God has prepared for those who love him—

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

1Corinthians 2:9-12

If we want to understand what God has done for us, our spirit needs to be developed through the feeding of God’s word. It is spelled out fully in 1Corinthians 2:10, which tells us why and it says it very clearly: “God hath revealed those things (things beyond our imagination) to us by His Spirit (your mind can’t tell you the things of God, the world cannot tell you the things of God.). For the Spirit (the Holy Spirit) searches everything (for those who love God), all things, even the deep things of God.” (Even the deepest things of God. Look at what the Holy Spirit revealed to John on the Island of Patmos).

The average Christian cannot know the deep things of God without developing a spiritual relationship with the Holy Spirit. Plants that flourish are plants that are loved. Plants that are not fed, nourished, or cared for do not do well. People who love their plants talk to them. They make sure they get enough sun, and nutrients so the plants will grow. They take good care of their plants. The plants know they are cared for and respond in turn. This is what happens to your spirit when it is nurtured. The nurtured spirit, the cultivated spirit, the spirit that loves Jesus, continues to grow their relationship with the Holy Spirit. For that person, faith is no longer shaky, or uncertain. You will have moments of uncertainty sometimes, but your spirit, because of your faith, shakes that uncertainty off and enters in, and enables you to stand firm. The Holy Spirit can then grow your spirit because your spirit is being nurtured and developed.

The reason this can happen is found in 1 Corinthians 2:12: “Now we have not received the spirit of the world but the spirit that comes from God.” The second part of this verse 12b tells us why we have received the spirit from God: “So we can understand the things that were freely given to us by God.” Now let’s look at this carefully. We were given the spirit of God so we can understand the things that God gives freely. Grace is free; mercy is free; forgiveness is free to us, paid for by Jesus. Peace is free, joy, wisdom, and faith is free, and necessary to fight the battles we find ourselves in. Our spiritual holiness and sanctification are free. All of this is free. For this, we should be grateful that our worship of God is more complete because of what God has done in Jesus Christ.

When our spirit grows, we will desire more of Jesus. Our spirit will long for the Holy Spirit. This spiritual growth and transformation takes place in total opposition to the systems of the world. This spiritual transformation will cause you to love unconditionally. This will place you in total opposition to the world and the way its systems function. You will love those the world and the system tell you not to love. You will love those who are not like you. You will love the homeless; you will love the racist, not his/her behavior but him or her. You will love unconditionally and will see things in people that the systems in this world refuse to see. You will see potential in the gang member. You will see potential in the poor. You will see potential in the thief. It’s not that you can change them; that’s God’s job. Our job is to see the potential in others as God’s children. Our job is to touch lives; God’s job is to change them. Our job is to help prepare the way. God’s job is to get them to get on the path. The rich ruler did not come to Jesus for conversion. The rich ruler came to Jesus for confirmation. The rich ruler came as a truly impoverished soul. Jesus wanted to make him truly rich. Jesus tells the rich man in Mark 10:21, “One thing you lack.” In Greek, it says, that one thing “is” lacking. You lack this right now. You are not in control of your life. The things you have, and your possessions are in control of you. Riches, things that are in this world, cause addiction, and because the rich ruler was addicted to the world of things, the rich ruler walked away sad.

It’s hard to follow Jesus when you are weighed down by your desires, by the things you are addicted to in this world. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Having so vast a cloud of witnesses surrounding us and throwing off everything that hinders us and especially the sin that so easily entangles us, let us keep running with endurance the race set before us.” When we make ourselves, when we make what we want to do, what we want to possess, a priority over Jesus, we become the sin that so easily entangles us. The definition of sin is missing the mark, not being on track, and not being centered. The only time we sin is when we make ourselves the priority over Jesus in anything we do. When what we want to do becomes the priority over Jesus, we sin. The things we want, the things we want to do, are at the center of every sin we commit.

The rich ruler could not remove himself from the center. The rich ruler was controlled by the system he was living in. How much are we controlled by this system, this world culture? The world and its systems are selling drugs called power, fame, and status. How much have we purchased? How addicted are you? How hooked are we? Will our addiction cause us to walk away from Jesus? If we are addicted, Jesus has a rehab program. The rich ruler would not sign himself in. However, we can. The center is S.U.R.R.E.N.D.E.R. TO JESUS REHAB CENTER. It is guaranteed to help anyone recover from the addictions of this world. All we need to do is put Jesus first. All we need to do is let go and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. Take your hand off your life and allow the Holy Spirit to become your guide.

We don’t have to walk away. God specializes in second chances. God specializes in one more time. God specializes in do-overs. God specializes in people like you and me who can never get it right the first time. “It is written, ye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians. 2:9) When you grow your spirit, you grow your faith. When you grow your faith, you grow your ability to believe and trust in God’s word. I pray you begin to grow your spirit today. Examine who you are in Christ, not what you are in this world. We can only do this when we surrender fully and completely to Jesus.

Pastor Gool

John 1:4

Rev. Marty Gool

In Jesus was life, and that life was the light of all men. The light that men and women need to live in this world can only be found in Jesus. “Light” is used in this text to mean knowledge, wisdom, understanding, the ability to make the right decisions, and to have the mindset to live in the will of God. The spiritual life that Jesus gives each individual that embraces His life, and the mindset, gives that individual the ability to resist the challenges that confront each of us daily to move in opposition to God’s will.

Jesus and everything Jesus represents is in opposition to what the deceptive and oppressive systems of the world are using to capture the lives and desires of men and women everywhere. We live in a world system that seeks to elevate the privileged and diminish the impoverished. Jesus, throughout the Gospel, is in opposition to this. The poor are used to support and maintain the lifestyles of the rich and the affluent. In this one verse, Jesus is saying to everyone, “If you want to live through the struggles of this world, you need the life and the mindset of Jesus in your life.” This life that Jesus brings into the world is the light the world needs and is looking for.  This is the light that the world and all its power, all its money, and all of its influence cannot put out.

In Jesus was life, and this life was the light of all men. This light cannot be put out. Imagine, if you will, there is a source of light. A source of power that we can go to no matter the situation, no matter the circumstances, and this light cannot be put out, cannot be destroyed. You can go to this light. You can go to this fountain of strength and power in your moment(s) of need. The light of men can be put out. The light of men can be suspect. The light of men can grow dim. The light of men can fade. The words of men can be silenced. But the light that comes from God will never fade, and the Word of God can never be silenced. The will and word of God cannot be delayed. God’s light comes on in the life of men and women when that individual surrenders to the authority that light brings into their life.

Before anything of significance takes place in the kingdom of God, a light should shine that allows us to see the path we are taking. Knowledge must be given; a vision must come to mind. Nothing is created without light, without knowledge. Before God formed the world, God first created the light. This light overcame the darkness that attempted to prevent the light from shining. But God said, “Let there be light,” and the light shone in spite of the darkness. Light is a metaphor in John 1:4 for us to use as guidance in every aspect of our lives. Light allows us to see what is in front of us. Light allows us to see what we are doing. Light prevents us from stumbling when we follow the light.

We are always in need of illumination to guide the way. God is subtly telling us in Genesis 1:4 that we need a light to guide our steps, to direct our goings and comings. The Psalmist tells us, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” This one verse in Psalms 119:105 encapsulates all of John 1:1-4: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet. Jesus, the Word made flesh is light. The light and life that God sent into the world is the light that guides our every step if we pay attention to it. The word of God is a light that guides my path.

The Gospel of John, especially these first four verses, speaks of a Jesus that we will not experience until after the resurrection. These verses speak of the presence of Jesus as an ongoing reality in the life of the Christian. This light that is being alluded to and talked about is none other than the Holy Spirit is that light. The Holy Spirit is the deliverer of truth we all seek. The Holy Spirit is that power and strength in the world today we all need. The Holy Spirit is the light that will never fade and never be put out. Jesus says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world: he that follows Me shall never walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.” The songwriter’s chorus said it well: “Walk in the light, beautiful light, come where the dewdrops of mercy shine bright. Oh, shine all around us by day and by night. Jesus, the light of the world.”

Pastor Gool

Matthew 17:20-21

Rev. Marty Gool

A little is a lot in God’s hands. These are words that seem to fall on deaf ears because we are so accustomed to having large responses made to our requests. We sometimes forget that it is the Holy Spirit’s power in the back of our giving and our participation that grows whatever it is the church is attempting to accomplish.

Paul tells us that God’s grace is sufficient to meet every situation we find ourselves in. 2nd Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Grace is God’s power to strengthen us in the midst of the things that are going on in our lives. Grace is the power of the Holy Spirit acting in and, on our behalf, to get us through whatever the trial and circumstances may, in fact, be. God uses us even when it appears that we do not have a lot. When our strength is low, grace can give us strength. When our faith is low, grace can give us strength. When our courage is low, grace can give us courage. Grace, however, is always coupled with faith.

1 Corinthians 3:6 reminds us when Paul says, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” Our job is to plant. Our job is to plant the seed. Our job is to have faith. Our job is to trust in God. It is God’s job to give the increase. We must learn to trust God with little things. Trust God to believe that God will take the little things and grow to honor Him. A little girl did just that, and God blessed her efforts beyond anyone’s imagination.

A sobbing little girl stood near a small church from which she had been turned away because it ‘was too crowded.’

“I can’t go to Sunday School,” she sobbed to the pastor as he walked by.

Seeing her shabby, unkempt appearance, the pastor guessed the reason and taking her by the hand, took her inside and found a place for her in the Sunday School class.

The child was so touched that she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to worship Jesus.

Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings, and the parents called for the kind-hearted pastor, who had befriended their daughter, to handle the final arrangements. As her poor little body was being moved, a worn and crumpled purse was found, which seemed to have been rummaged from some trash dump. Inside was 57 cents, and a note scribbled in childish handwriting that read, “This is to help build the little church bigger so more children can go to Sunday school.”

For two years, she had saved for this offering of love.

When the pastor tearfully read that note, he knew instantly what he would do. Carrying this note and the cracked, red pocketbook to the pulpit, he told the story of her unselfish love and devotion. He challenged his deacons to get busy and raise enough money for the larger building.

But the story does not end there! A newspaper learned of the story and published it.

It was read by a realtor who offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands. When told that the church could not pay so much, he offered it for a 57-cent payment. Church members made large subscriptions. Checks came from far and wide, and within five years the little girl’s gift had increased to $250,000.00 – a huge sum for that time (near the turn of the century).

Her unselfish love had paid large dividends.

When you are in the city of Philadelphia, look up Temple Baptist Church, with a seating capacity of 3,300, and Temple University, where hundreds of students are trained. Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at a Sunday School building that houses hundreds of Sunday schoolers, so that no child in the area will ever need to be left outside at Sunday school time.

In one of the rooms of this building may be seen the picture of the sweet face of the little girl whose 57 cents, so sacrificially saved, made such remarkable history. Alongside it is a portrait of her kind pastor, Dr. Russell H. Conwell, author of the book, “Acres of Diamonds.”~

Let us learn to trust God with our efforts. It does not matter how meager; if it is our best, God will and can use it. We must learn to trust with our lives. It does not matter how we perceive ourselves. God will qualify the unqualified and restore hope to the hopeless. Remember, ours is the effort, and to God belongs the outcome.

Pastor Gool

Jonah 1:1-10

Rev. Marty Gool

Unfinished business does not go away. The thing you run from always comes back. It always does. It returns again and again and again. Ignoring the leaky kitchen faucet doesn’t make the leak go away. The ostrich that sticks its head in the sand doesn’t avoid the lion that is in the brush. Things that should be confronted, things that must be taken care of eventually must be taken care of. If your account is overdrawn, money must be put into that account. It cannot be avoided if you wish to keep the account.

Unfinished business with God is the same. It doesn’t matter who you are or the things you must do; the lessons God would have us learn will be learned, now or later. It is our choice, and it is always our choice when we choose to learn the lesson. What would our lives be like if God were not a God of second chances?

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So, he paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep.

Jonah, like us, thought he could get out of doing what God instructed him to do. He wanted to avoid the instructions of God, the calling of God. Like Jonah, sometimes we think if we just ignore something serious in our lives, it will go away. Jonah thought if he went to sleep, he could avoid God. “I’m sleeping, Lord, I don’t know what’s going on” The same thing that was going on before you laid down. The lights that were off when you laid down are still off. Jonah is playing dumb. You can’t run away from problems. You can’t avoid conflicts, and you can’t avoid them forever. They fester. They poison the body, the family, and the organization; they poison you. What Jonah was doing was affecting the entire ship, the entire crew. Sometimes those who are infected have to find out what the problem is or where it is coming from. 6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.” And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So, they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 

So, they interrogated him: “Tell us, why has this trouble come upon us? What’s your occupation? Where’d you come from? What’s your home country? What’s your nationality?” 9 “I’m a Hebrew,” he replied, “and I’m afraid of the LORD God of heaven, who made the sea—along with the dry land! 10 In mounting terror, the men asked him, “What have you done?” The men were aware that he was fleeing from the LORD because he had admitted this to them.” Sometimes people must act on their own behalf and do what is in their best interest. When people are running from something, when people are trying to avoid something, the only person they are thinking about is themselves. Jonah was no exception. Jonah did not accept responsibility until he was called out and singled out. Jonah immediately knew the problem was him. Jonah was now backed into a corner. Jonah was being forced to realize you cannot run from God. You can ignore God, but sooner or later, you must, and you will deal with God.

Those who know the story of Jonah know that they threw Jonah overboard, and the sea became calm. The sailors on the ship were spared. Jonah was swallowed by a whale and rescued by God.

Jonah is a story about unfinished business that gets finished because God gives second chances upon our repentance. In the final analysis, repentance is all about second chances. Repentance is all about a change of mind and a change of heart. It is about God watching a wayward soul go astray, and the lessons of life and living bring them back again. It is a man or woman, boy or girl accepting the second chance and finishing the unfinished business.

The God we serve is the God of second chances. The God who welcomes the discarded and the lost. The God who says yes when everything in our life has said no. The God who saves and restores to the uttermost.

Pastor Gool

John 5:26

Rev. Marty Gool

John 5:26 says, “When the Counselor comes, the One I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father – He will testify about Me.”  John 5:26 tells us quite emphatically that the Holy Spirit is a person. When Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit, Jesus tells us not only who the Holy Spirit is but what the Holy Spirit does. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father. It is important in our prayer life, or rather it can be important if you are able to see the Holy Spirit as a person. The Holy Spirit is an ever-present reality that is always available to those who will acknowledge Him in their prayer life. The Holy Spirit is the presence of Jesus Christ in the world today. If we are to experience Jesus in the world today, it is first and foremost through the presence of the Holy Spirit who testifies to the present reality of Jesus Christ’s presence.

It is helpful to see the Holy Spirit as God. Not the Spirit of God, but God. Not the power of God, but God. The Holy Spirit is God, and because the Holy Spirit is God, the Holy Spirit can act and perform like God. Like Jesus, the Holy Spirit only does what He sees the Father doing. The Holy Spirit only does what Jesus did. John 16:13-15 says, “(13) When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. (14) He will glorify Me  because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. (15) Everything the father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you.” In verse 13, Jesus is telling us that the Holy Spirit will do what it hears from God. This tells us that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are working, operating in concert, together. The Holy Spirit will not do anything that Jesus has not done and will not do anything that God, the Father, has not ordained or planned. The Holy Spirit is given a masculine pronoun not out of a patriarchal or ancient male tradition. It is done to demonstrate and affirm the personal nature of the Holy Spirit. The Trinity does not attempt in any way to hide its deep and personal concern for the Child of God in every aspect of our existence. The mission, and assignment of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus. This is done by meeting the needs and concerns of the Children of God. John 7:18 says, The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him, there is no falsehood.” The only purpose of the Holy Spirit is to bring glory and to glorify Jesus. So, the Holy Spirit receives what Jesus communicates to Him and performs it.

Let us be very clear the theology of the Gospel of John is Theocentric, God-centered, not Christ-centered. Meaning God, the Father, is the director of this entire plan of salvation, and the Son, in the person of Jesus Christ, is the instrument of that salvation. The Holy Spirit is sent to have and maintain the presence of God in the world. The Holy Spirit is God acting in the world through the Child of God.  Again, it is the Holy Spirit’s mission, and task to communicate what comes from Jesus to the disciples. The Holy Spirit serves the mission of Jesus, just as Jesus served the will of the Father. The Godhead, Trinity, is united in purpose and mission.

As disciples, we are called to follow in communicating the saving mission of Jesus to the hostile world that killed Jesus. We will not escape the hostility of the world. We will not escape the persecution that comes with our testimony that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. However, through it all, we will have (1) another Paraclete, (2) one who will teach us, (3) one who will witness with us, (4) one who will serve as our attorney and judge in the world, and (5) one who will guide us authentically in truth.

Pastor Gool

Ephesians 1:19-23

Rev. Marty Gool

I pray that you will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to you through faith. Then your life will be an advertisement of this immense power as it works through you! This is the mighty power that was released when God raised Christ from the dead and exalted Him to the place of highest honor and supreme authority in the heavenly realm!  And now He is exalted as first above every ruler, authority, government, and realm of power in existence! He is gloriously enthroned over every name that is ever praised, not only in this age but in the age that is coming!  And he alone is the leader and source of everything needed in the church. God has put everything beneath the authority of Jesus Christ and has given him the highest rank above all others. And now we, his church, are his body on the earth and that which fills him who is being filled by it. ~Ephesians 1:19-23

The day of Pentecost ushered the Holy Spirit into the world. The Holy Spirit’s presence was promised by Jesus before He ascended. We marvel at the Holy Spirit’s coming and presence and, as significant as it was, the exaltation of Jesus. The ascension of Jesus was the catalyst that made possible the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit could not come until Jesus had ascended. The glorification of Jesus brought the Holy Spirit. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” The Holy Spirit is given to the Child of God only. The Holy Spirit was given for a specific purpose.

The Holy Spirit was given as a guarantee of our redemption and salvation. Ephesians 1:13-14 says, “13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. The seal was the personal sign of the owner of the sender of that, which was important in that it was authentic and not suspicious. What is equally important is that it was a guarantee that the thing seal was carried intact. So, the Christian has the seal of the Holy Spirit, which serves as a guarantee of his or her salvation. There is more.

The Holy Spirit was sent so that Christians would be able to do the work of Jesus Christ in the world. The text in Ephesians lays out clearly that the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to empower the church to minister to the world. The Passion Bible version of Ephesians 1:22 says this “22 And he alone is the leader and source of everything needed in the church. God has put everything beneath the authority of Jesus Christ and has given him the highest rank above all others. Verse 19 “19 I pray that you will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to you through faith.” This verse addresses the power that is available to us to do ministry in the name of Jesus and thereby become an advertisement of Jesus working through us. All of this became possible upon the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Christ.

Before I close, I want to be clear: It is the Holy Spirit that is the seal. The Holy Spirit Himself is the seal. The Holy Spirit is not doing the sealing. The Holy Spirit is the indwelling presence of God’s redemption purpose in the individual. The seal indicates security, safety, ownership, and authority. The seal says this is a finished transaction. The purpose of the Holy Spirit is for the world to have every opportunity to receive the salvation that Jesus offers. We all can be thankful we have such a loving Father.

Pastor Gool

Matthew 5:3; Matthew 16:24-26

Rev. Marty Gool

When the world consumes and controls us, we truly lose sight of Jesus Christ. I have often reflected upon the idea that the acquisition of stuff is one of the greatest obstacles to our serving and being committed to Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke these words that haunt every person who truly wants to serve Jesus Christ with a greater commitment. In Matthew 16:24-26 Jesus said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

There lies within each of us two enemies that we contend with on a daily basis. They are called “Life” and “Self,” and both desires to be fed. Both are fed on a consistent basis. Both seem to control our relationship with Jesus Christ. We don’t intend it to happen; it just does. In order for this not to happen, we must become more vigilant in our walk with Jesus and His word. These two enemies push us into the arena of possessiveness. We want to possess things; we want to control things. We live in a society that promotes gain and profit. Paul tells us, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” It pushes us to embrace a value system that is perverted in the eyes of God. Money is not evil; it is the love of it that compels the world to become savage and vicious toward each other. It is when money and its by-products of a life of selfish desire. As well as the pursuit of a life that impresses others but leaves them empty and unaware on the inside. It controls our lives and our desires. The by-products of money are power, position, and riches. These seem to guide the choices of many who desire to serve Jesus. However, these imposters of peace and happiness seem to rule the day. I want to share a story of two men who discovered that most people around us are pursuing things that have no lasting value. That pursuit is ably treated by Anton Chekhov in his classic short story The Bet. This story gives us great insight into the value system of most people:

The plot involves a wager between two educated men regarding solitary confinement. A wealthy, middle-aged banker believed the death penalty was a more humane penalty than solitary confinement because “an executioner kills at once, solitary confinement kills gradually.” One of his guests at a party, a young lawyer of twenty-five, disagreed, saying, “To live under any conditions is better than not to live at all.”

Angered, the banker impulsively responded with a bet of two million rubles that the younger man could not last five years in solitary confinement. The lawyer was so convinced of his endurance that he announced he would stay fifteen years alone instead of only five.

The arrangements were made, and the young man moved into a separate building on the grounds of the banker’s large estate. He was allowed no visitors or newspapers. He could write letters but receive none. There were guards watching to make sure he never violated the agreement, but they were placed so that he could never see another human being from his windows. He received his food in silence through a small opening where he could not see those who served him. Everything else he wanted—books, certain foods, musical instruments, etc.—was granted by special written request.

During the first year, the piano could be heard at almost any hour, and he asked for many books, mostly novels and other light reading. The next year the music ceased, and the works of various classical authors were requested. In the sixth year of his isolation, he began to study languages and soon had mastered six. After the tenth year of his confinement, the prisoner sat motionless at the table and read the New Testament. After more than a year’s saturation of the Bible, he began to study the history of religion and works on theology.

The second half of the story focuses on the night before the noon deadline when the lawyer would win the bet. The banker was now at the end of his career. His risky speculations and impetuosity had gradually undermined his business. The once self-confident millionaire was now a second-rate banker, and it would destroy him to pay off the wager. Angry at his foolishness and jealous of the soon-to-be-wealthy lawyer who was now only forty, the old banker determined to kill his opponent and frame the guard with the murder. Slipping into the man’s room, he found him asleep at the table and noticed a letter the lawyer had written to him. He picked it up and read the following:

Tomorrow at twelve o’clock, I shall be free … but before leaving this room … I find it necessary to say a few words to you. With a clear conscience, and before God, who sees me, I declare to you that I despise freedom and life and health and all that your books call the joys of this world … I know I am wiser than you all … And I despise all your books. I despise all earthly blessings and wisdom. All are worthless and false, hollow and deceiving like the mirage. You may be proud, wise, and beautiful, but death will wipe you away from the face of the earth, as it does the mice that live beneath your floor; and your heirs, your history, your immortal geniuses will freeze or burn with the destruction of the earth. You have gone mad and are not following the right path. You take falsehood for truth and deformity for beauty. To prove to you how I despise all that you value, I renounce the two million on which I looked, at one time, as the opening of paradise for me, and which I now scorn. To deprive myself of the right to receive them, I will leave my prison five hours before the appointed time, and by so doing, break the terms of our compact.

The banker read the lines, replaced the paper on the table, kissed the strange, sleeping man, and with tears in his eyes, quietly left the house. Chekhov writes, “Never before, not even after sustaining serious losses on change, had he despised himself as he did at that moment.” His tears kept him awake for the rest of the night. And at seven the next morning, he was informed by the watchmen that they had seen the man crawl through a window, go to the gate, and then disappear.

Some people must learn the hard way what is of value, and there are some who never learn. What are the material things that get in the way of knowing Jesus Christ?

Pastor Gool

Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy, love does not boast, love is not conceited.
1 Corinthians 13:4

Rev. Marty Gool

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13

Have we seriously given thought to the kind of impact the practice of love would have upon our lives?  What kind of change loving people would have on society? What would our history look like if we had practiced love instead of all the other emotions, we did, in fact, exhibit? Love is more than an emotion. Love is an action. It is an action that is to be delivered intentionally. Love is supposed to be purposeful, without recourse.

The scripture speaks to the potential of love if lived out in a variety of situations. Its audience is the church in Corinth. The congregation seems to be full of itself because it has gifts that other congregations do not have. I find it interesting that Paul must address the church on how to treat each other with the Holy Spirit in its midst. But therein lies the issue. The Holy Spirit is present, but no one is paying attention to God’s Spirit. Love is present, but no one is paying attention to love. Love is present; the people just need to be detained, restrained and held captive. Made to stand still long enough so the power of God’s love can be experienced. This is the point of this message.

What does love look like when practiced? What does it look like anywhere it is practiced? Love can hurt. Because true love means you allow yourself to become vulnerable. True love means you have opened yourself up to the potential of disappointment. The disappointment that comes when we place our expectations upon those we love. When we expect behavior from them, we know they are unable to perform or exhibit in the hope they will change.  Love accepts the person; it accepts the situation that is in front of us. Love sacrifices itself for the benefit of the other. We sacrifice our expectations by swallowing our disappointment; by practicing love in that painful moment when what we wanted or expected is not realized. It is not that people disappoint us as much as it is we do not realize the expectations we place upon people are our expectations and not theirs.

Verse 5 says Love, “It does not insist upon its own way.” Love is a disturber. Love moves us out of those comfort zones we have bathed our emotions in for years. Love will make us examine and reflect upon those things we thought were important but when all is said and done are not. When we begin to examine that which is important in our lives, I mean those things that really matter, we discover that forgiveness matters. It matters because it restores relationships. It matters because it heals the mind and the heart. Forgiveness matters because it heals the one doing the forgiving. However, before forgiveness can happen, we must become disturbed, unsettled, and uncomfortable in our stubborn emotional position. It is then that your life enters a place that was at one time believed unreachable.

Verse 7 says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Love compels us to choose. Choose what we are going to practice moving forward. When people love, they see things differently. They try to respond to things with compassion and understanding. When people love, they give people the benefit of the doubt. Understand, love is not gullible. Love is not blind. Nevertheless, love tries to see the best if that is all possible. Because love does not give up on hope, love is the single ingredient that can implement change in us without destroying the one that is changing. Love covers what is unpleasant in the other person. So, we can see them, the ones we love.  Love does not drag blemishes on and on into eternity. Love will endure what others who do not love, cannot and will not endure.

Love is the ultimate solution to the problems we all face. Love can solve any problem there is. Love does not reject. Love accepts. Love accepts those we do not choose to be around. Love finds a way to care for them. Love looks beyond the theft or the broken heart or the indiscretion suffered by another. Love does these things because love moves us all beyond our limits of acceptance. It does not mean I like it, but it does mean that I am aware that whatever happened, happened and there is nothing I can do about it now. Love gets to the place where we can accept the things we cannot change and change the things we can. Love gives us the wisdom to know the difference. Love looks beyond our faults and sees and understands what we need.

Paul is not suggesting we choose between faith, hope, and love. But in the Corinthian church, Paul is saying tongues don’t matter. All the other gifts they were trying to lift up, they don’t matter if you do not coat them with the love of God.

Whatever God has blessed us with; whatever gifts we may possess; whatever the riches; if any possess wisdom beyond that of mere mortals; if we fail to utilize love in the practice of those gifts, we will corrupt them.

What would our lives be like if we had practiced love? What would this country be like if we had practiced love? What would human history have been like if love had been practiced? I can only believe it would have been much different. However, we cannot change the past. Let us all practice love moving forward. Let us see what kind of future that will bring.

Pastor Gool

24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Matthew 16:24

Rev. Marty Gool

If any man will come after Me let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for My sake shall find it.”

These words of Jesus take on a meaning for the Child of God that reaches to the very foundation of willingness to commit to God. It zeros in on our priorities as nothing else does. This speaks to the heart and soul of the modern-day Christian’s difficulty committing to Jesus Christ. So much of what we consider living gets in the way of our choosing Jesus that living has complicated our relationship with Jesus.

When we were first created, it was very clear who was the focal point of Adam and Eve’s existence. God was at the very center of their lives. Before God created Adam and Eve, God prepared for them a world they could use. A world filled with the necessities as well as the desires of their hearts. What God created for Adam and Eve could be called “things.” In fact, that is what we call them today. We use other words to describe them, like “stuff.” We assign stuff certain value designations and they gain a level of importance and “things” that were not important suddenly are. Things that did not have priority now have priority. Let us be clear these things that were created were meant to be used by man. However, they were always meant to be external to man. They were not meant to control men and women and reshape the heart or soul of their relationship with God. The heart of man, the heart of Adam and Eve is to belong to God. God was to be the center of man’s life. God was to be enshrined in the heart of men and women.

This scripture raises the singular requirement needed to follow Jesus. This scripture sets before us the most daunting of obstacles we as Christians have when it comes to following Jesus. “If any man or woman will come after Me let him deny himself.” Jesus is saying if anyone has a desire to follow Me; if anyone makes up in their minds that they want to follow me, “They must deny themselves and take up their cross.” In this one text Jesus unfolds for those who choose to follow Him what following Him means.

Following Jesus does not simply mean walking with Him, learning from Him. It involves a relationship, a spiritual relationship that reshaped and transformed your life. Taking up the cross was entering your own Garden of Gethsemane where the heart and the mind is tested by God’s Holy Spirit to determine if you are really willing to offer yourself up to God as a living sacrifice. A walking sacrifice that surrenders to the will of God. The Garden of Gethsemane was a symbol of the cross for Jesus in that it cleared His heart and mind of any doubt that may have attempted to enter in. Likewise, today if we would commit to Jesus, if we would serve Jesus we must make the cause of Jesus first.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, we see “things” get in the way of Jesus for a moment. We see the pain of the cross, the suffering of the cross get in the way of Jesus. Today the “things” of the world give us as much pain and suffering as the cross gave to Jesus. Our cross is not the Roman government. Our cross are the “things” in our lives that get in the way of serving Jesus Christ and would cause us much pain and suffering if we were deny ourselves access to them. Everyone has their individual cross that must be born if we would truly commit to Jesus. There is a war that we fight and the Holy Spirit fights with and for us every day against what is in opposition to God being on the throne of our lives. How often have we – you and me – allowed our appetites and desires to take over our lives? How often have we entered into commitments that bind us to “things” that eventually destroyed our lives or severely disrupted them. How many people have we seen buy homes and work their hands to the bone just to have a bigger house. This “thing” became the center of our lives. It is this “thing” we are forced to make a commitment with that wreaks havoc in and over our lives.

There remains within human nature the fallen crest of Adam and Eve that still desires to eat and possess the apple. The things we consume with our eyes, ears, touch, smell and taste are still believed to be good. They continue to seduce us and order the level of our commitment to God. Commitment cannot take place without surrender. Surrender cannot take place without accepting the fact that we cannot overcome the appetites of life that consume and drive us away from God without the help of God’s Holy Spirit.

If we would serve God, if we desire to commit to God, the cost is the appetite of the self. The desires of the human heart. The life that is lived outside of the light of God’s truth.

There is so much more to this scripture. Let us deny our appetites and allow God’s will to become priority in your life.

Pastor Gool

 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
John 14:1-6

Rev. Marty Gool

Let us begin by saying that Chapter 14 of the Gospel of John is about giving comfort to those who are suffering. The beginning of this chapter is used often during funerals to give assurance to those who are suffering that God is with them. Chapter 14 is necessary because in Chapter 13:33 Jesus is telling His disciples that He is going to leave them. This created a great deal of disturbance and confusion in the life of the disciples. Who would lead them? Who would guide and teach them when He is gone?

This is a very important question in every life. When the foundation that holds us together is gone, who will lead us? Who will take care of us? Who will be the glue that holds us together? They could not conceive of Jesus leaving. Their understanding of who Jesus was supposed to be was quite different from His. They thought, they hoped, that He would become the Warrior King that would turn back the oppression of the Roman government. Jesus would restore the kingdom of God on earth in their lifetime.

This is why Chapter 14 begins with the assurance that the disciples needed to sustain them during the rest of their training. “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me.” Let us stop there. Jesus is saying to the disciples then and to those who for whatever reason cannot feel the presence of Jesus in their midst right now: “Don’t fret, do not allow yourself to be troubled. If you believe in God, believe in Me.” Verse 2 is very important because it gives the foundation for trusting in Jesus. Verse 2 “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you that, I am going there to prepare a place for you.” Jesus says, My leaving has a purpose. It is not to abandon you. It is to go and prepare a place so you can be with Me. If there were any other way, I would have told you. I have no secrets from you regarding the kingdom of God and your comfort. Jesus hopes to ease their minds and calm their fears in Verse 3. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.” Jesus is teaching them in Verse 4. “You know the way to the place where I am going.” They really didn’t know, and Thomas made it clear they did not know. Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way.” Thomas thought Jesus was talking about a journey and Jesus was talking about a destination. A destination that would require a spiritual map. Jesus is talking about a relationship with God the Father. This relationship begins with a path to be followed and concludes in a destination where the only currency that can open the gates of heaven is faith.

Jesus says to Thomas and the rest of the disciples. “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Me.” When we read this the text is saying there is only way one way to gain entrance. Jesus is saying “I am the way.” Jesus is saying I am the path. My life reflects the road that must be traveled. My life is the life that must be emulated, duplicated, and imitated. I am who you should imitate, pattern your life, pattern your ways after Me. This is what the way means. Jesus goes on to say, “I am the way the truth, and the life.” Jesus uses the word life. Jesus is saying look at My life and pattern yourself after My life. The second part of that scripture “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” This has two meanings, both are applicable. One, no one can see God without having the same kind of faith in God that Jesus has. Jesus is telling us the starting point of any relationship with God the Father. Believing in Me, Jesus jumps starts our relationship with God. Any faith, peace, strength, empowerment, and wisdom, begins with our relationship with Jesus. If you want to have peace in the midst of your trouble it begins with believing in and trusting in Me. Believing the way I believe. Trusting the way I trust. Loving the Father the way I love God the Father. Jesus is saying to His disciples and to us: I will not abandon you in your time of need. Even when I left, I sent the Holy Spirit to strengthen you, empower you, and give you peace in the midst of all your conflicts.

Pastor Gool