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May 2015



Fabulous Faith!


“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace

with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Also through Him, we have obtained

access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of

the glory of God. And, not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions,

because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces

proven character, and proven character produces hope.” Romans 5:1-4, HCSB

Oftentimes, when we think about faith, we think of Jesus’ parable about the mustard seed. If we would have just that tiny, miniscule amount of faith, we can release tremendous power – power to move mountains. But, I’d like us to just take a minute to think about the power of hope and faith’s central role in giving the kind of life-changing hope that God offers through salvation.

Paul didn’t waste too much ink on the topic, getting right to the point, as was his usual approach. In his letter to the church in Rome, he explained how faith is the root of very good thing. Look at the passage above to see all that little faith can do: first, it can declare us righteous. It can give us “right-standing” before God. This is a gift from Jesus to us at the moment we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. Without this righteousness, we cannot approach God’s throne. We’re lost, without hope. But, since the end goal is hope, we press on, through faith, which opened us to righteousness.

Second, and since we have obtained the righteousness of Christ through faith, we have peace. And, not just any kind of peace. We have the peace that surpasses all comprehension – peace with God through Christ. By faith, we have the kind of peace that those without Christ can only dream of, and hope for. There’s that word again – hope. But, let’s keep going. Third, by faith we have righteousness, and by righteousness we have peace, and, by faith, we have access to grace – that all-consuming, never ending, grace that gives our new lives meaning and purpose, and enables us to live freely a life of service in the name of Christ. Grace is freely given to us, and it should be freely shared by us to those who need it – it’s what drives us to love, and serve and reach.

Fourth, faith produces joy. We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God – that God is exactly who He says He is, and that our worship, service, and very lives bring Him honor and glory. It’s the joy that cannot be created, or replicated, by the human mind or heart. It can only come from the overflowing reserves of a loving God. It also means that we can continue to have joy in the tough times as well – Paul calls these times “our afflictions.” It’s the power behind the lyrics, “I will praise You in this storm, and I will raise my hands’ that You are who You are, no matter where I am.” The true test of the maturity of our faith is the degree to which we can praise God when our circumstances call for us to retreat into doubt and darkness.

And, we have to endure afflictions, because they open up a whole new world of experiences: endurance, which produces character, which produces hope. Finally, we get to hope. How? Because it all began with faith – tiny little faith that defines the character of the believer. And, how does the faith come about? Well, Paul tells us that, too, a few pages over in Romans 10:8-10, “On the contrary, what does it say? The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the message of faith that we proclaim: if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation.” Allbecause of faith. Try it out for yourself!

In His Love, Bro. Heath


April 2015

Is Our Picture Clear?

Matthew 26: 36-46; Luke 22:41-46

As we look closely at that last week of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry, so many things stand out vital for us to see and know. Jesus spent a great deal of these last few days alone with His disciples – spending time with them, teaching them, preparing them for the ministry they will have after He returns to the Father.
But, there came a crucial moment when Jesus needed to be alone with God. He took Peter, James and John with him to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Jesus tells them in Matthew 26:38, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow – to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.” Here was the Savior, the Son of God – Jesus – so overwhelmed with what was about to happen to him that he needed to spend one more night in prayer with his Father, but he didn’t want to be alone. He knew what was about to happen. He knew that Judas was already bringing the mob to find Him, that he was going to betray Him, and that this would set into motion the horrible events leading to His death.
Can you imagine the loneliness that must have consumed Him? I cannot. So, He went to be alone with God one last time. Matthew’s account says that Jesus, “fell facedown and prayed, ‘My Father! If it is possible let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” Luke records that Jesus went only a stone’s throw away from them to pray, pleading the more familiar, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me – nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” I won’t even go into the complete inability of those with Him to do what He asked, to stay awake while He was praying. The Bible tells us that on two separate occasions, he left them only to return and find them sleeping. He had spent the last few days of His life trying to get it to sink into these disciples that He would soon be leaving them, that He would soon become the sacrifice.

Maybe they just didn’t get it. Jesus said,“You couldn’t even stay awake with Me for one hour?” He charged them to pray for themselves, and left to continue his lonely, wearing, conversation with His Father. As He prayed, however, something incredible happened. Luke continues, “Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Have you ever prayed so hard that you bled? Probably not. Me neither. But, then again, we have never been called upon by God to take the sin of all mankind on our shoulders, to pay humanity’s sin debt with our own life.

But, the Jesus I want us to see is, not necessarily the man who pled with God to find some other way. It was the Son of God who, understanding that what was about to happen was the only way, walked out of that prayer time with God recharged, refocused, re-strengthened and prepared to accomplish the will of God for our salvation. Look at what Matthew says here in verse 46, “Get up; let’s go! See – my betrayer is near.”

We no longer see a weary, worried, distressed and sorrowful Jesus. We see Jesus as powerful, in command, and ready to bear the cup that God had placed upon Him – the cup that bears within it the sin of all mankind and God’s righteous judgment. The cup that will separate Him from His Father in a personal, spiritual, intimate way. Can you imagine the deafening silence of God? Probably not – because Jesus accepted that price on our behalf, so we would never have to.

“Get up – let’s go!” He said.

Do we really understand the magnitude of that sacrifice? Is our picture clear of what exactly happened after Jesus left that garden? His was. If we, too, fully comprehend the depth and breadth of what was accomplished on our behalf on the cross, and through the empty tomb three days later, our sense of utter unworthiness should force us to come crashing to our knees. But, Jesus’s words call us to rise and take the gifts of joy, peace and eternal life which we have been given to a dark, lonely world – “Get up – let’s go!”


In His Love,
Bro. Heath

February 2015

Are You Pursuing God?

“My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.” Philippians 3:10 (HCSB)
All of us have a decision to make – are we going to be content, satisfied, with going through the motions at church, or are we going to be on fire for the Living God? It’s a simple question, with only one right answer, but your decision will impact every single aspect of your life, starting with your relationship with the Father.
 A.W. Tozer, in his book, “The Pursuit of God,” deals at length and with a great deal of candor about the thing that should be first in our lives – an unquenchable, insatiable, burning desire to know God. And, I’m not talking about knowing Him in the academic sense, but knowing Him relationally – gaining an intimacy with our Savior that can only come from conforming your life to His, your will to His, and working hard to experience Him in every corner of your being. To be, as Tozer says, “a thirst for God, and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water.” I wish people still wrote like this!
Tozer lays considerable responsibility for the lack of fire in the church at the pulpits. He says, “But this hunger must be recognized by our religious leaders. Current evangelicalism has (to change the figure) laid the altar and divided the sacrifice into parts, but now seems satisfied to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel.” He continues, “It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table.” Wow. Translation: too many leaders in today’s church have an incredible knowledge of Christ – they know all about Him, in fact – but they don’t know Him. And, that lack of intimacy in knowing Christ can and will only result in shepherding generations of Christians who lack that intimacy as well. Clearly, as leaders, we must do better – for our own sakes, and those to whom we have been called to minister.
But, we also, as individuals, have a sacred obligation to strive to know the Creator more. We were created to grow spiritually, to burn with a desire to love deeper and learn more – to never stop pursuing the God who saved us. That’s what Paul was talking about in Philippians 3:10. He had everything the world would offer him – he was a recognized leader in the Jewish church. He knew his stuff, but that’s all it was – stuff. He never really understood what “surpassing value” (v. 8) was until he had an intimate encounter with the risen Lord. From that point forward, Paul wanted “to know Him;” not just intellectually, but to have a deep, abiding, personal relationship with Him. It was the singular focus of his life, and guided everything he did. This is our example – we need to pay attention.


God has called us to know Him better, by giving Christ His fullness. We only have one question to answer: will we be on fire for Him?

In His love,

Bro Heath

December 2014

Grace Happened Here


For the past few weeks, we’ve been having a conversation on Sunday mornings about grace. One of the phrases that kind of serves as our point of focus during these discussions has been “Grace happened here.” We use it when we talk about our salvation experience – that time when we give our lives to Christ and we hear God say, “I know who you are, and what you’ve done, and where you’ve been in your life, and I love you anyway.” That’s the powerful, transformational grace that forgives our sins, even though we are completely unforgiveable. We also use this little phrase to describe the times in our lives when we’ve been too weak to continue, and God reaches down into our lives and lifts us up – whether it’s to give us additional strength, or an extra measure of peace, or an answer to prayer when we need it most. God knows what we need, every time, and His love for us compels Him to rescue us, time and again, in ways that are rarely expected, and always miraculous. It’s during those times we can look back and say, “Grace happened here.” I have to believe that this phrase was on Paul’s mind when he wrote to the Ephesian church about what happens when you are saved, when your life is changed, when your whole outlook is made new and different, when God enables you to totally reimagine your relationships, when you were dead in sin, and Christ, through His death and resurrection gave you a new birth. The entire book of Ephesians is a testimony to grace – over and over again, Paul talks about salvation by grace through faith, gifts made possible because of grace, unity demanded by grace, and protection provided by grace – marvelous grace! Surely, he had to be saying, “Look, church! Grace happened here!” There’s one other place I want us to think about these three little words, particularly at this time of year. It’s in a filthy stable in Bethlehem – barely a shelter from the elements. In that lowly, miserable place one night, grace happened. Jesus Christ, in that instant, left heaven’s halls and His Father’s side, to come to earth as a baby, to be born to die. He knew the price required of God in judgment of our sin, knew we were totally unable to pay that price, and offered Himself up as the only acceptable sacrifice. In that instant, when God became man, when infant Jesus cried for the first time on that lonely night – Grace happened here. Let us always remember the significance of that moment –that first Christmas. God entered history and, in His indescribable mercy, said, “My grace is sufficient for your sin. Come back to Me, and I will give you rest.” Merry Christmas!


In His Love,




November 2014

But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”   Romans 5:20, HCSB 
Grace – it’s a word thrown around a lot in Bible Study and Worship.  We read about it.  We talk about it.  We sing about it.  And, we pray for it.  But, do we really appreciate what “it” is?  Max Lucado says, “Grace is God’s best idea.  His decision to ravage a people by love, to rescue passionately, and to restore justly – what rivals it?”   
Preachers everywhere tell their congregations of the “unmerited favor” which is completely and totally a free gift of a loving God to his rebellious children.  An old hymn that we don’t sing nearly enough tells us about,  
“Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt, Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured, There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.  Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that will pardon and cleanse with- in; Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.”

Do you have this grace?  This wonderful, transforming, reviving, revitalizing passion that is the direct result of Jesus Christ’s living in you?  Just let that sink in for a minute:  if you trust Him as your Savior, Jesus Christ lives in you!!  You are a repository of the greatest gift ever conceived by the mind of God.  Each one of us carries within us the antidote for sin, guilt, shame, heartbreak, loneliness, brokenness, and defeat.  It’s the “marvelous grace of our loving Lord”!  Luther said, “Should anyone knock at my heart and say, ‘Who lives here?’  I should reply, ‘Not Martin Luther, but the Lord Jesus Christ.’”  Is this the grace you have? 

Starting this month in our Worship time together, we will begin looking at this most exciting and precious of gift – the grace that enables our salvation.  If you have it, and you’re like me, you need to learn more about it – what it really is, what it cost, and what it can do.  If you don’t have it, you need to hear about the God that loved you so much that, before the world was created, He knew about your sin and arrogance and disobedience – and He loved you anyway.  You need to know that His decision to sacrifice His Son on the cross at Calvary was for no reason other than to cover you with this grace, forgive you of your sin, and bring you back to Him.  And, you need to know that grace was what caused Jesus Christ to pick up your sin, and mine, and say, “You cannot possibly pay the debt for this – but, I can.  And, I will, because I love you.” 
So, please plan to be here on Sunday mornings at 11:00, when we’ll take a deeper, closer look at the indescribable love of our Father, as evidenced through grace:  “Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, Freely bestowed on all who believe; All who are longing to see His face, Will you this moment His grace receive?  Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that will par- don and cleanse with-in; Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.” 
In His Love, 
Bro. Heath

October Newsletter

Happy October!
I just can’t believe that its Fall already! It’s a great time for outside activities as we take advantage of low(er) temps and low(er) humidity to enjoy some quality time outdoors. It can also be a great time for some quality indoor activities. Now that school is back in session and things are returning to normal from the hectic summer pace, why don’t you commit to really,- I mean really,- diving into a Bible Study? Ok, “Fall” into it if you have to! Scripture teaches us that it’s not simply enough to be a church member- we’re expected to grow and mature in our faith, and there’s no other way to do that than to spend time studying God’s Word alone and in a small group or class, and learning to apply what you’re learning to your life. To go back to the question we’ve been dealing with on Sunday morning, “Do you want to just go to church, or do you want to belong to a church?” I’ll tell you, God expects – in fact, He commands- that you belong! And, belonging involves something more than just a passive trip to the sanctuary once a week – It’s a lifelong process of learning and growing. We have a lot of really great Bible studies going on right now here at Emmanuel, starting with out Bible Fellowship Classes on Sunday mornings. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re 5 months or 105 year old (I hope I didn’t leave anyone out!) No matter where you are in your spiritual understanding, we have a class to meet your comfort level and needs. It’s all about learning and being able to apply what you’ve learned, so questions are encouraged and expected. I can’t urge you enough to come an hour learning than the Worship Service and join one of these groups, I know that you’ll wish you had earlier. It’s how we learn, and how we grow, and how we find that wonderful time of fellowship. So, make this the time that you decide to give us a try. This is where you learn what it really means to be a part of the church and where you can make great friends. Also, on Sunday evenings at 5pm, we are currently studying the book Forgotten God by pastor and author Francis Chan. In this study, we are taking a deeper look at the third person of the Trinity – God, the Holy Spirit. We spend time learning and talking about God the Father, our Creator, and we also give considerable treatment to God the Son, our Savior, but do we really have a personal knowledge of the Holy Spirit who teaches, convicts, guides, and prays for s as Christians, and without whom we would never be able to understand Scriptures and God’s plan for our lives? He seems like a pretty important person, huh! He is and we’re opening ourselves even more to his ministry every Sunday night at 5pm- Be there!


In His love,

Bro. Heath.