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Biblical Confession (1 John 1:9)

Biblical confession is one of those things grossly tainted by our TV and movie watching.  Most of us have a chair, directly under a bright light in mind.  It's an empty interrogation room!  If we confess, some gruffy guy is going to throw us in the slammer.  But by no means is that what Jesus says when he leads us to confession.  

Instead, I like to think of a nice quiet bench in a park.  Or maybe a bench overlooking the ocean, where few people are.  Confession is not the hot seat; it's a conversation place with the Lord.   

Biblical confession has two parts.  The first part is confessing God's Truth.  It's our opportunity to be wowed by God and proclaim this Truth back to God.  We are affirming that we see God for who he is, not for who we want him to be.   This part of confession is you, on the bench talking with God, saying,  "Wow! God, you are amazing for this reason and that reason."  

The second part of this confession is about confessing our sin and wicked works.  We see it as sin because the remarkable light of who God is shines into the darkness of our life.  The response to the reality of God becomes the confession of who we are--sinners.  As as we see who God is, we understand that he desires to transform us from sinners into redeemed children of the King!  

Confession is a spiritual discipline that brings us to a place of healing.  It's a practice that helps remove the awful wedge between God and us.  When we confess (both parts) we are moved so much closer to God.  God's Word says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).  

This Sunday, we'll be talking about both parts of confession.  I hope you'll consider joining us.  We meet at 11 am for worship. (Our worship service includes a time when I'll discuss this in greater detail.  We'll be looking at what the Bible has to say about confession.)   We also meet for prayer, and we take the Lord's Supper together at 10 am.  Join us.  2070 N. Redwood Road, Salt Lake City, Utah 84116.  See you Sunday. 

For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman

A Reaction to Racism?

Redeeming Life family, 

If you are on social media, I suspect you've seen or read a lot of talk about Charlottesville, racism, white supremacy, and a full boat-load of opinions.  Recent issues in our nation have sparked some strong reactions.  Late-night talkshow hosts seem to have become the nation's moral barometer.  But they are not alone.  Christians are fired up.  I received texts on Saturday night encouraging me to re-write my sermon and preach against racism.  Many Christians leaders, denominations, and church planting organizations called for the Church to take political action or address the issues of current events.  Some leaders were even saying that if your pastor didn't preach about Charlottesville, it was time to leave that local church and find another.  To that specific idea, I'd like to suggest that pastors should preach the Bible and how God speaks into these issues.  To the pressured urgency, I'd like to remind our church that this is not a new problem and in the scope of eternity, the Gospel is where the solution is found.  So while racism is wrong, I'm going to preach the gospel.

All that to say, it's not enough just to get angry and blast away on social media.  It's not enough just to say racism is wrong.  We need to know what God has to say about it and what God calls us to do about it. 

I recognize that problem of racism over the last year or more has been complex and challenging.  As your pastor, I have a duty to help you understand what the Bible says about these events.  I also have a responsibility to equip you to be able to talk about these developments through a biblical lens.  

Racism is wrong, but let's talk about why and what God has to say about racism.  Let's talk about what God would have us do about racism.  

I pray this 10-minute video help you understand why God says racism is wrong and gives you some steps to take biblical action.   

 

As Christians, we should have cool heads because God is much bigger than this and we have no reason for a freakout.  As Christians, we should point people to biblical Truth in these matters.  As Christians, we should have a message of hope for a world looking for the Love and Peace of Jesus Christ.  And as Christians, we should have Jesus' heart for all races, nations, and languages.  

Pastor Brett and I are here to help you if you would like to discuss this further or have questions.  Let's not contribute more crazy to this crazy time.  Let's be the salt and light Jesus has called us to be as Kingdom ambassadors.

For the Kingdom! 
Pastor Bryan   

Lament is Personal

Church, 

This week I am preaching on the spiritual discipline of lament.  Lament might be the most poorly practiced discipline among American Christians.  We just don't understand how to, "Count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds" (James 1:2).   

Lament is the ability to say, "God, this sucks; yet I will worship you." 

Lament is personal.  I don't often like to bring too much of myself into my sermons, so I thought I'd share some thoughts from but two times of trial in my life.  I could have selected from many different seasons, but these will do.  I am no stranger to lament. 

James, the author of the Scripture quoted above, went on to say, "For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:3-4). 

Some of you know that Lisa and I lost a baby.  Titus James.  To say it sucked is a gross understatement.  However, God showed us remarkable truths through that trial.  We learned that God was with us and still worth our praise and worship.  We learned that our faith-family loved and cared for us.  And we learned that with Jesus we can endure more than we ever imagined. (You can read our lament and thoughts shortly after Titus' birth and death day here.)  

Some of you were with us when Lydia's head hit the tile floor, and we had to rocket to the hospital, afraid.  Jay stayed with our boys, and the faith family raced to our side.  I will never forget Jim Harding hugging me as we both wept and praised the Jesus.  That same year Jim nearly lost his wife when she almost drank a cup of acid at a BBQ place.  He modeled the discipline of lament in such a way that carried us through the days and nights at the hospital.  

It's nuts.  It makes no sense.  It's completely counter to the world's ways.  Why worship God when all seems unwell?   

Because what seems to be is not reality.  God encourages us not to lose heart.  The Apostle Paul wrote, "Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen by to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 2:16-18).  

Lament is personal but you are in Christ, you do not lament alone. 

If you are reading this and you are hurting, let me encourage you that you will not only get through this, you will get a peculiar glory through what this trial is producing.  Jesus is with you.  If you are hurting, please, be courageous to let us know.  Let us pray with you.  Let us encourage you.  Preach the gospel into your soul until you know inside and out that God is worthy of praise.  Do not lose heart!  

We'll be praying through this during a time of prayer this Sunday at 10:00 am.  Then at 11:00 am, we'll worship the Lord, and I'll walk through what the Bible has to say about lament.  It doesn't have to be the way the world says it is.  We can say, "This sucks, yet I will still worship the Lord."  Join us.  

For the Kingdom! 
Pastor Bryan Catherman 

"Lament" (John 16:20)

We are talking about lament this week.  Lament means a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.  When we use the word as a verb, it typically refers to mourning the loss of a person or the loss of a great thing. There's a book in the Bible called Lamentations.  It's a book of poems--five of them--that express great grief and sorrow at the destruction of Jerusalem.

How in the world is lamenting a spiritual discipline? And why in the world would we talk about such things?  Lament sounds unpleasant.   

To lament biblically, is to say, "God, this is really, really bad, but I will still worship you!"  We see this in Job.  We see this in the book of Lamentations.  We see it in places in the Psalms.  And we see it in John 16:20.  Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice.  You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy."  He goes on to talk about the birth pains that a woman forgets after the child is born.  The context is about Jesus death and coming resurrection.   The same is the case of our sorrows and pain.  If we are in Christ, these are but momentary afflictions.  

Learning the spiritual discipline of lament means we can see how Paul said, "So we do now lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 

We'll be discussing lament this Sunday.  I want to encourage you to prepare your heart and mind for this important spiritual discipline.  This song (and John Piper's words) might help you understand what it means to lament rightly.  

"Those you slay me, still I will worship." 

I am praying for you, especially if you are in a season of lament.  But if you are not in that season, what an opportunity to learn and grow so when you are in such a season, you do not lose heart. 

For the Kingdom! 
Pastor Bryan Catherman

God's Opportunity to Join Him

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Most Christians desperately desire to be closer to God.  I do.  I suspect if you're a Christian, you do too.  When we finally go beyond only wishing and wanting to be close, we start working and striving to be close to God. In fact, we work hard.  Our actions become the thing, and we expect that doing the thing well will somehow earn God's love.  So we work harder. However, this is not the method God gave us to draw closer to him. 

The spiritual discipline of service is a discipline that helps us draw near to God.  But it is not that we labor and slave away.  Nope.  Just work harder.  No, that's not it.  Service is about joining God in his mission, with God.  Service is God's way of asking us to join him.  Service is God's way for us to be near the Lord.  When we serve well, in biblical service, we get God.  Sometimes it is hard work, but we are not working harder; we are with God as he works with and through us.  But when we serve out of worldly ideas of service, it goes badly. 

Ever said, "Why am I the only one serving?"  How about complaining about how 20% of the people do 80% of the work.  Do you ever serve and complain at the same time?  Ever feel like Martha, demanding that God makes Mary come and help you in your work rather than the both of you joining Jesus in his work?  Maybe these are signs that you are serving out of a non-biblical idea of service. 

I preached on the idea of biblical service last Sunday.  I'd like to encourage you to listen to the sermon here.  

Also, here's a great video from the Jesus Storybook Bible about service. (We watched this video during our children's sermon.) 

Finally, here's a couple more thoughts and some announcement items if you weren't with us on Sunday. 

Serve well.  For the Kingdom! 
Pastor Bryan 

Arin Needs Your Support!

Arin Harrison is our Women's Ministry Intern and a missionary serving with Redeeming Life Church in Salt Lake City. She's here for six months if she has the funds to eat and put gas in her car.  Please keep praying for her and her ministry, and if God is calling you to do so, we'd like you to support Arin financially. And we're raising money so she can host Redeeming Life's first women's retreat.

Watch this short video for more information: 

There are two ways give Arin financial support: 

  1. CHECKS: Make checks out to Redeeming Life Church and put "Intern Stipend" in the memo line (tax laws prohibit her name anywhere on the check, so please do not write anything except Intern Stipend in the memo line).  Send check to:                     
         Redeeming Life Church
         901 Nocturne Drive
         Salt Lake City, UT 84116
     
  2.  ONLINE GIVING: Click here and when you get to the site, select the "Intern Stipend" drop-down option). 

We know Arin is so grateful for your prayers and support, and we are too.  We love having Arin serving with us. (And we're praying she stays in Utah after her internship. Will you join us in that prayer too! 

Sign up for Arin's news letter here. (By following the link, you can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.)

Thank you so much for your support! 
Pastor Byan and Pastor Brett 

Simplicity (Ecclesiastes 7:29)

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Simplicity is a unique spiritual discipline.  Its idea is spread throughout the Bible, yet one would be hard-pressed to find a single command of God stating, "live a simple lifestyle."  However, we see that Jesus' lifestyle was one of a simple man. He spoke of avoiding the complicated life when we have two masters--money and God (Luke 16:13).  Greed and covertness, the desire for pleasure, is a dirty thief of the life God designed for us. We should only have God as our master  

Another time, Jesus said, "Let your yes be yes and your no be no, anything more is from the evil one" (Matthew 5:37).  Still, we over-complicate things when we let our yes actually be a soft maybe. . . unless something else comes up.  Our lack of simple commitment enslaves us to an over-complicated life, all the while tricking us into thinking we are easy going and simple. It's not true. It's twisting our souls up with the evil one. 

There's something to simplicity. 

Paul warned the church in Corinth not to overcomplicate the gospel by following specific teachers over following Jesus (1 Corinthians 3).  It was as if Paul was saying, "Don't over-complicate the Gospel with your favorite preachers and teachers."  Keep it simple because that's what Jesus did.  He also encouraged Timothy to pray for the kings and rulers so the believers could life quiet, dignified lives (1 Timmothy 2:1-3).  It's as if Paul was hopeful that the followers of The Way could live in simplicity, without the stress and complexity that the government might bring upon them. 

We complicate life and long for simplicity; yet, we continue to complicate everything and grow frustrated by the rapid pace of our own over-complication.  How is this so?  What's complicating life?

As I look the life of Solomon, I see some great encouragement in a conclusion he came to at the end of his life.  This is a man who accomplished many things as the king of the Israelites.  He built many structures and established may policies.  But he also had a lust for foreign women.  1 Kings 11 tells us that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.  That sounds complicated. These woman pulled his heart towards false gods and enticed him to sin against the Lord. He sought pleasures of all kinds. He did not seem to value simplicity.  Yet, toward the end of his life he went on a soul-searching journey of spiritual reflection to find meaning in it all.  Then he wrote a remarkable line in Ecclesiastes. 

"See, this alone I have found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes" (Ecclesiastes 7:29).  

In all of his life and all of his searching, Solomon finally concluded that God has a design for man but man's sinful schemes work against God's simple plan. 

God's plan is simple.  Follow him and his ways alone.  This is simple.  However, false gods, idolatry, and sin complicate our lives.  We love money and power.  So did Solomon.  Our identities are shaped by the things we want.  Experiences have become our gods and we over-complicate our lives to worship our experiences.  So did Solomon.  Many men (and women too) have had more than 700 partners and 300 concubines in the world of easy internet pornography.  We lust.  So did Solomon. We sin.  So did Solomon. We can't seem to see God's plan as enough, so we scheme and over-complicate everything.  So did Solomon.  But in the end, Solomon discovered that "God has a design for man but man's sinful schemes work against God's simple plan."  It's time we come to the same conclusion.  Simplify!  Trust and follow God's ways. 

This week we'll be looking at the spiritual discipline of simplicity.  Whether you are over-complicated, burdened, and exhausted or you're resting in the simple way of Jesus, come join us.  We have a time of prayer and communion Sundays at 10am and a corporate worship service at 11am.  See you there. 

For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman   

Solitude (Psalm 46:10)

If there was one spiritual discipline that ever seemed impossible, I’d venture to say it was solitude.

Have we ever lived in such a connected day and age? We now have cell phones that we use for live video with people around the world, sending high definition videos in a matter of seconds to anyone in the world, and using it to find information about any person, place or thing under the sun. Ironically, we seem to use our phones for everything but making phone calls. We now have social media that seems to suck us in to believing that we’re connected with hundreds or thousands of people at once...also conveniently accessible from our cell phones. We live in communities full of people. We work in places full of people. We have families with whom we are rarely separate from. If this is our reality, how could the spiritual discipline of solitude even be relevant to our lives today?

In Psalm 46:10, we see a simple yet profound truth of how solitude is relevant to our lives. While much more could be said of this powerful little verse, here are a few initial thoughts.

1.     “Be Still...” – this is a command to stop moving and probably stop speaking in order to...

2.     “...know that I am God” – this is an intentional effort to acknowledge, adore and praise who God is as well as reflecting on who we are in relation to Him.

This one verse seems to go against the very existence of mankind these days.

When was the last time you were silent and alone with God? When was the last time you intentionally got away from everyone and everything specifically to meditate on God, the gospel, and how good of a Father He is? This is what the discipline of solitude is all about.

As if practicing solitude wasn’t hard enough, I believe the Enemy is also working overtime to confuse the Truth of God’s Word in our lives. This pattern of the Enemy is not new; he is always seeking to add a question mark, or a comma, where God has put a “period”.

So, what does the Enemy want us to do and believe instead of the truth of Psalm 46:10?
- Be busy, and forget that He is God
- Be busy, and think that you are God
- Be busy, and never know that He is God

Can you relate to any of the above lies the Enemy has sown into the very DNA of our “busy culture”?

I’ll be the first to admit that solitude seems impossible and also is a discipline that I’m not great at. Yet, interestingly, this discipline is seen very clearly in the life of Jesus all throughout the gospels during His ministry and with the disciples (Matthew 4:1-11, Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16).

Join us Sunday morning at 11am as we look more at Jesus, our ultimate Example, and seek to apply the truth of God’s Word to our lives in the area of practicing the discipline of solitude.

 

For the Kingdom,
Pastor Brett

Meditation (Psalm 1:1-2)

This past Sunday, we opened the First Psalm and examined the first 6 verses, with special attention given to Psalm 1:1-2.  This is a great text to look at in order to better understand biblical meditation.  Meditation is a spiritual discipline and one we chose to include in our series, "The Disciplined Christ Life."  

You can listen to the sermon here.  

As I shared on Sunday, Christian meditation is not a physical posture where one crosses his or her legs and hums, it's a posture of life.  It's a lifestyle.  This lifestyle is actually a gift of God, a blessing.  Psalm 1:2 says the blessed man meditates on the Law day and night, but this is not where meditation ends.  That's only a small part.  To really get at the posture of biblical meditation, we would be wise to follow the model of the blessed man in Psalm 1.  

The blessed person separates him or herself from the council of the wicked, from sinful ways, and from the scoffers who mock God.  In addition, this blessed person delights in God's ways and thinks on God's Word day and night.  This is the picture of biblical meditation. 

If you are looking to draw closer to God, or maybe you are seeking God's blessing, I want to encourage you to live out Psalm 1:1-6.  If you'd like some guidance regarding how to do that, listening to the sermon is a good start.  You can also join us at Redeeming Life Church as we seek to live our lives in this posture.  We hope to see you there! 

For the Kingdom! 
Pastor Bryan

Worship and the Weekend (John 4:23-24)

With the weekend quickly approaching, you probably find yourself thinking about what you are going to do. Many of us have kids or local family, and we do our best to plan our weekends around these people. We go to pools, parks, dinners, BBQ’s, movies, or maybe we just sit home and relax. Whatever it is that we do, allow me to challenge your thinking for a minute.

Where does worship fit into your weekend? As I mentioned, many of us plan our weekends out and pack them full of fun activities or simple “leisurely nothingness.” But do we ever take the time to plan out how we will worship on the weekend? Because, catch this, we all worship throughout the weekend, and no I’m not just talking about our “Sunday morning worship."

Whatever has our “awe,” has our worship, and if we aren’t careful, we’ll give our worship to all kinds of crazy stuff. Often times we do it without even realizing we are doing it.

So, with all that said, I just want to encourage you guys to think deeply about your upcoming weekend (and even your upcoming weeks, months, years, etc.) and consider what you might be giving your worship to.

God, being the good and amazing God that He is, has created all kinds of ways for us to worship Him. So, don’t cancel your pool parties, BBQ’s, movies, or whatever it is you do on the weekend, and know that you can worship God in all of those things. Just ask yourself these questions:

“How can God get glory and praise out of what I’m doing?”

“What is good, beautiful, and true in this activity, and how can I worship God more because of it?”

“How amazing is it that God created and designed this (pool, BBQ, steak, art, etc.), that I might be able to recognize, enjoy, and worship Him more?!”

Worship well this weekend. See you Sunday!
Pastor Derek Earl