Month: December 2015

A Humble Witness

By Ty Haguewood

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”  John 1:29-34

Greatness is not measured on some type of outward success but rather an inward faithfulness to God. It is vital for us to understand that the “Great Ones” are only great because of their faithfulness to God.

The world desires for us to believe that greatness is a characteristic of someone who has had outward success such as a certain income or social status like fame. The men that we will be discussing in the next several weeks are men who gave their life to following the Lord.

John the Baptist has such an incredible testimony. I am extremely challenged by the life of John for several reasons. I just want to give you two life changing truths that John the Baptist taught me.

John’s entire life was leading to the moment he would meet his Savior, Jesus.

I remember months ago reading the story of John the Baptist when the Lord revealed something HUGE to me. I have always been a person that thought purpose was an outward calling. After God saved me, I became obsessed with figuring out what my “purpose” in life would be. I stumbled across the testimony of John and was broken by the beautiful testament of John’s faith. I mean this dude’s purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus and before he could even see the ministry of Jesus completely fulfilled he is beheaded. Meditating on the simple, “Behold, the Lamb of God…” left be baffled to say the least. John’s entire life was fulfilled when he met Jesus, his hope had arrived.

Shouldn’t that be our response to the Lord? BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD! John saw the Lamb approaching and he was compelled to start shouting and crying out those bold words. Can I show you something special? The Lamb that approached John is the Lamb that ransomed you and I. John showed me that our purpose is Jesus.

John’s faithfulness was not dependent on whether he would receive a great reward. His faithfulness was dependent on the Savior that would soon be coming.

John was called to baptize with water and preach of the coming Messiah without having known when or who this Messiah would be. This is crazy to me!! The calling God placed on his life was good enough for him because of the God who called him rather than the outcome that would come of his life. Our obedience and faithfulness to God should never be dependent on an outcome. Faithfulness to God looks like following Him regardless of where that ends up and how crazy you may look in doing so.

John’s life does not end in the greatest of ways. After being imprisoned, John the Baptist is beheaded. The Lord used the life of John the Baptist to shape and mold who I am today. My earnest desire is to get to the end of my life having had faith like that of John. Let me leave you with some words from our Lord and Savior, Jesus about John.

When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Luke 7:24-28

Listen to The Humble One via podcast here.


What Child is This?

By Karen Polich

Everything hinges on the SAVIOR who has been given to us. – Michael M. Cook

 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:11-14

Why do we need a savior? What do we need to be saved from? Is it a life that hasn’t gone according to plan? Is it despair? Is a life that is “fine”, immune from the need? No. Christmas has one purpose and the Savior matters for one reason.

Jesus Christ, our Savior, was born for reconciliation to a Holy God. Christ reconciles our sin, returning us to God in full measure.

Christ, Messiah, Lord, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Anointed One

Pastor Michael Cook completed his Song and Savior sermon series by outlining three important parts of Christ’s identity. Listen to the podcast here.

  1. He is God’s King. He is the anointed one. Christ isn’t King of this world today, but He will be. Revelation 20
  2. He is the Great High Priest. Only one mediator can bridge the gap to God once and for all. Jesus. The only answer. He gives us final and glorious access to God. Jesus “ripped the veil” upon His ascension.
  3. He is the Great Prophet. All of God’s messengers were anointed by God. Jesus is the Lord (not the lord). Christ is divine and has the complete authority of Yahweh, the Great I Am.

There is no Christianity without trusting Jesus as Lord of your life. Believe in Him and find peace. Spiritual peace that surpasses understanding and the troubles of this world.

Our primary purpose as believers is to give glory to God. – Michael M. Cook

Christmas is about a child and you’ll know Him when you meet Him. The day you know Him is a glorious day!

What Child is this? Have you met Him? Do you know Him?

Song and Savior – Announcement

By Karen Polich

Pastor Michael Cook’s Song and Savior sermon message focused on the ultimate announcement. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:11 Listen to the podcast here.

Luke 2:11 sums up the concept of Christmas. It is the high point of all redemptive history.

Christ is born. Everything else is secondary in the story.

Major stories are shared. People of influence are usually the first to know. Yet, who did God choose to share the story? Shepherds were God’s messengers of choice. Though not a shameful position, it was a lowly position in society. These were not the men of importance in the area.

Isn’t it just like God to go to the outcasts and make them central in the message of Christ’s birth?

Just as Jesus is the way to reconciliation with God, shepherds were the gate keeping sheep in or out of the corral at night. The symbolism of the shepherd’s role in protecting and tending the sheep shouldn’t be missed. Jesus’ proclaimed that He is the Good Shepherd.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:8-11

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them”… God had been silent for almost five hundred years.

What is significant about this appearance is the Glory of God shone around them. It had been hundreds of years since anyone experienced this.

God’s plan was not only in place, but was there for everyone to see. Can you see it this Christmas?



God in the Midst of Pain

By Kristin Overman

Children make everything about Christmas more fun. Everything is so eventful and exciting for them, seeing lights, receiving gifts, doing advent activities, even opening the box of Christmas decorations. Christmas was always the hardest holiday for me before I had kids. Year after year would pass and I had not been able to get pregnant or keep a pregnancy. Even adoption had been one disappointment after another. We spent four years trying and went through three failed adoptions. In October of 2008 I lost a little boy two days after he was born. His birthmother changed her mind after I had held him and named him. That year Christmas was especially hard. Another year with just two stockings on the fireplace.

During this difficult time of infertility, health problems, and loss God showed me who He was. I had struggled with seeing God as good when I had so many hurts. I saw my trials as God’s hand of discipline. I felt like I was just not good enough for God. I believed He was teaching me to be a better person and have more character through trials. My idea of God was that He was only a strict disciplinarian who demands His followers to give all to Him. He was distant from me and I was scared of Him. If I cried to God it was either in anger or confusion.

God lead me to read through Psalms. He opened my eyes to who He is through David’s honest outpouring of his heart. I began to see that God wanted me to cry to Him. I learned to see God as a loving Father who wants us to run to Him for comfort as we would a friend. In my mind I saw this picture of God sitting on His throne. His lap was open for me to sit with Him and to be held by Him. He wanted to hold me and comfort me in the midst of my pain like any loving parent would their child. Even though there were lessons and character to be learned He was interested and cared about my pain.

As I saw how David cried to God in his pain I learned several things. God doesn’t always answer our whys. But He responds to our cries.

No matter how big the hurt, His arms are big enough to comfort. He does not keep pain way. But He is always near. He is the God who holds our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). He is the God who never sleeps or slumbers to watch over us (Psalm 121:3). He is the God who pulls us out of the pit (Psalm 40:2). He is the God who gives to His beloved in his sleep (Psalm 127:3).

My prayer for anyone in the midst of hard times would be that you would run to God, see Him as the ultimate Friend, the perfect Father, and the Wonderful Counselor. No person, no thing can comfort and heal as He can.

E.M. Bounds says it beautifully in his book about prayer,

“O thou who driest the mourner’s tear,

How dark this world would be,

If, when deceived and wounded here,

We could not fly to thee?

The friends who in our sunshine live,

When winter comes are flown,

And he who has but tears to give,

Must weep those tears alone.

But thou wilt heal the broken heart,

Which, like the plants that throw

Their fragrance from the wounded part,

Breathes sweetness out of woe.”

Kristin Overman is the overjoyed mother of four boys. Kristin and her husband Tim, know first hand how God answers prayers.

Bethlehem Birth

By Karen Polich

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2:4-7

Pastor Michael Cook’s deeper look at the birth of Jesus in his Song and Savior sermon series gives us much to think about. Read Luke 2:1-7 and listen to the podcast here.

Bethlehem was the birthplace of King David. Joseph was descended from the line of David. This is what brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. It was time for the first census. Rome wanted to know who could serve in the army and what taxes could be collected.

Did Mary really have to go on this journey? Married, Joseph and Mary were committed to one another and to God. Would others have understood this? Two teens in this situation may have endured their share of scandal concerning this pregnancy.

Bethlehem wasn’t a big place. Most likely it didn’t have a formal inn. Any nice place to stay would have already been taken by the Romans and affluent Jewish families. Travel was by animal, so an adjacent shelter for animals would have been common.

Wrapping baby Jesus in cloth was not extraordinary, but laying Him in a feed trough in the midst of the animals wasn’t what we would expect. Isn’t God like that in our lives? He comes to us in the stench and smell of this broken world and makes Himself known. No need for a grand entrance or loud announcement, He is there, loving us. His simple birth demonstrates this.

In the fullness of time, God sent forth His son.

The God of eternity, the God of immensity pushed His way into this world as the firstborn son of Mary. Mary would have other children, but Jesus was firstborn and the primary inheritor. (Matthew 13: 55-56) Through Joseph’s lineage Jesus would be next in line to be the king, lining up with prophecy.

Our God is mighty beyond our imagination, yet He came to us in humility, a King born without a royal procession. This Savior would walk this earth until giving Himself as the ultimate sacrifice.



You Are Loved

By Karen Polich

This time of year brings many things. For some it is the busiest time of year as preparations are made for Christmas. There are presents to buy, cookies to bake and parties to attend. The excitement of children as ornaments are hung on trees and lights are strung adds to the fun.

For others it can be a lonely time missing someone deeply loved and lost. It can open old wounds and magnify regret. Maybe there is a collision of joy and sorrow where we enjoy the hustle and bustle while our hearts ache with sadness.

Regardless of where you find yourself this Christmas, know this: YOU ARE LOVED.

You are loved in a way that nothing can change. Your greatest accomplishment or biggest failure doesn’t change this love. Having an amazing day? You are loved. Is it a bad day that keeps getting worse? You are loved.

God loves you beyond measure. He loved you yesterday. He will love you tomorrow. He loved you before you were born. He loves you in your strength and your weakness. God’s love for you is never failing. This love depends on nothing you do or don’t do. You can’t earn it or throw it away. God gives it freely and it has no limit.

This love for you is the greatest love story of all time. Jesus was born for you because of this amazing love. Jesus died for you because of this abounding love. The magnitude of God’s love is staggering. It cannot be contained. It is the perfect gift and you need only say yes to receive it.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but will have eternal life. John 3:16

Whatever it is you face today, YOU ARE LOVED. Have a Merry Christmas.




Song and Savior

By Karen Polich

God is intimately interested in you and every detail of your life.

Luke 2:1-10

Pastor Michael Cook took us into the Christmas story with a look at details. Listen to the podcast here.

There was so much going on in the lives of Mary and Joseph. Nothing was within the ordinary. Mary was expecting a baby and Joseph had made the choice to listen to God and not abandon her. They were on a 90-mile journey to Bethlehem.

Imagine the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus. What was so urgent about having to make this journey? It was time for the new Roman census. Joseph had to return to the place of his lineage. Mary traveled on the back of a burro for the long journey. Bethlehem was bustling with people. What a place and time to find yourself having a baby!

Where was God in all of this? He was there, in every detail, fulfilling the prophecy of the birth of the Savior. The lineage, the location and the manner of circumstances. Mary and Joseph were taken from everything they knew and God was in the midst of each moment.

God would continue to orchestrate things in His infinitely creative way even after Jesus was born, from taking Him to Egypt out of Herrod’s reach and then all the way to the cross.

How does the Christmas story relate to you and me? Besides the obvious of sending us a Savior, there is the understanding of the involvement of God in our lives. Despite anything we face, God is there. He is working in ways we cannot imagine.

He orchestrated events through Caesar Augustus related to the prophecy of Jesus’ birth. A Roman who was not focused on anything related to Jesus played a part in fulfilling God’s plan. God was there, making things happen. He does that for you and me. God isn’t just watching us live our lives; He is working in our lives.

God watches and works in the midst of your personal circumstances. – Michael Cook

As we enter into another Christmas season, stop and look around. God desires to be intimately involved in your circumstances. How is God working in your life right now?