How Do I Love Thee, Let Me Count the Ways

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

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The Word vs. Fables-04/30/2012

Hello everyone. It has been two weeks now since my last post. One week I was not feeling well, and I was on vacation the other week. Hopefully I am back on track with my original goal of posting every Monday.

Yesterday I preached from 2 Peter 1:16-21. Peter started out in verse 16 by stating that his message was not a fairy tale or some fable that was cunningly crafted by man. He did not come to them bearing a philosophical approach to life. But he had a message that stemmed from his own personal eyewitness account of Christ when He was transfigured before him, along with James and John. They witnessed Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah along with being clothed in apparel so white that Mark said no fuller could match it. What they had seen was Christ in all of His glory. Then they heard the voice of God come out of the cloud saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” What they had experienced was truly a mountain top experience. I am sure that they felt an emotional high second to none. Who wouldn’t like to experience something this awesome? I know I would. But Peter did not want his readers to believe him simply based upon his personal testimony or his personal experience. He said that there was a more sure way to live their lives, and that was to put their trust in the word of God. Mountain top encounters with God are good, and we need to cherish them when they come. But to live our lives pursuing them as opposed to living “by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God,” (Matt. 4:4) will only produce shallow Christians with a selfish agenda. Many Christians today are praying for God to “bless ME, fill ME, give ME, help ME, heal ME.” There is nothing wrong with praying like this if our intent is to take what He gives us and use it for the glory of God. For instance we need to bring the lost around us face to face with the reality that the wrath of God is presently abiding on them (John 3:36), and that they will stand one day before God in judgment. We should also help those around us with whatever we are able to help them with. But much if the church today is spending so much of their time in church services that they have little or no time to serve in the world. Let Christ be our example. He spent much more time out in the world reaching the lost than He did in the synagogue. He would seek out the lost to save them, He would heal the sick and cleanse the leper. He spent His life helping people in every way possible. Then, just before He ascended to Heaven, He passed the mantle of His ministry on to the church. It is referred to as the Great Commandment. Yes, it is a command of God, not a suggestion. We need to examine our lives through the eyes of God. Are we seeking to do His will, or are we simply doing our own will. If you think about it, we are doing one or the other. We are either doing His will, or ours. May God give us a determination to advance His kingdom according to His written word, and not according to a cleverly crafted fable. May we turn away from the prosperity teaching that has brought nothing but deceit into the kingdom of God, and a multitude of Christians that care only for what they can get from God. May we instead, ask God to empower us to obey His command in Luke 9:22, “…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” This is the message that Peter and the other apostles lived. Doing the will of Christ was more important to them than money, possessions, notoriety, and even their only lives. May God cultivate in us a love so deep for Him, that we too will be willing to give up our lives for the sake of the gospel. You see, Peter did not write a fairy tale to excite us. He wrote a letter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to correct our way of thinking, and bring it into alignment with God’s thinking.

Hope to hear from you soon, and have a prosperous week in the Lord, according to His idea of prosperity, not man’s idea.

Pastor Gary L Protenic

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Reaching The Lost-04/09/12

Greetings everyone. Due to a bout with shingles and the accompanying effects of the medication, I was unable to blog last Monday. But with the prayer that has gone up for me, I am beginning to see some relief. It was only by the grace of God that I was able to deliver a message at all yesterday. Our Easter service brought us about sixteen visitors. It’s always good to see new faces in the church, not that I don’t appreciate the faithful ones that attend every Sunday. A few of the visitors my wife and I have known for a number of years and some were there for their first time.

Today I would like to share some things that have been on my heart for many years, and that is how can we as a church effectively reach the lost in our community. When I was in my early thirties, I was involved in the Teen Challenge ministry at 1108 McGee in downtown Kansas City, Mo. We had a coffee house there and witnessed to people we met on the streets. As I look back on that time, I see it as probably one of the most meaningful times in my ministry as I was endeavoring to obey the Great Commission. But the frustration in all of this is that I did not see much fruit, though we planted a lot of seeds. That was the main problem with my efforts. I was result oriented, instead of trying to see the big picture. The big picture is that we are to simply plant seed, and leave the harvesting to God. We will see the results when we get to heaven. And this is the mindset that we as the church need to have when we reach out to the lost. The Great Commission is to GO and preach to all peoples. If the motive for reaching out to people is to build our church’s, we are missing the point. Let our motive be to warn the lost of the impending judgment that awaits them in their sinful condition. Let Jude 23….”and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire,” be that which emblazons our hearts to diligently be about the Father’s business. Our significance as a church does not depend on its size, but rather whether we are exercising obedience from a heart of love for God. We need to be faithful in planting and watering, and leave the harvesting to God. If we are not concerned for the lost, then we need ask God to give us a passion for them. Then we need to deny ourselves, and take our cross, and follow Jesus. And if we follow Jesus, we will be in the world as He was preaching a message of repentance.

We have a young couple (Doug and Amanda with their two children) that has started attending the church. Doug, just a few weeks ago was talking about a man named Ray Comfort, and how he uses the 10 commandments in witnessing to people. In the weeks following that, I got on the web and found his site. As I have been studying this method it has become quite clear that there was something missing in my approach to witnessing. People need to know that they are under the wrath of God, and that He is angry with the sinner every day, before they can fully comprehend their need for Christ as their savior. They need to know that if they die in their sin, that they will be judged by God, found guilty, and cast into the lake of fire for all eternity. Only when they see how sinful they are when exposed to God’s righteousness, (and what the penalty is for their sin) will they be brought under conviction and turn to God. This is what we as a body of believers, and we as individual Christians, should be focusing on. If we don’t, the bible tells us that their blood will be on our hands. Thanks Doug for the heads up.

Pastor Gary L Protenic

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The Pursuit Of Character-03/26/12

Hello everyone. We had a good day yesterday on the Lord’s day. Our adult bible class was filled with discussion and questions regarding King David’s love for the word of God. I didn’t have to teach much, just kind of guide the discussion. When people are eager to discuss and ask questions, it shows me that there is a love in this day and age where people love the word of God also.

My text in the morning service was taken out of 2 Peter 1:5-9. Peter teaches that because of what God had given us (exceeding great and precious promises) that we need to make every effort to develop the Christian graces in our lives. Virtue means that we should develop good character. The only one according to Jesus that is good, is God. Therefore, we should put ourselves in the place with God where He can impart His character to us. We’ve already been made partakers of His divine nature (V.4), which basically means that His Spirit is living in us. But, for His character to continue to grow in us, we need to learn to practice His presence. As we are constantly aware of His presence we will be better able to respond to Him in a way that brings honor and glory to Him. Virtue also carries the meaning of excellence with it. That means that we are not to just settle for mediocre, or superior, but we are to strive, with Him, to be the best that we can possibly be. To do this, we need to continuously examine our motives, our spirit, our deeds, our attitudes, etc. As Christians, we are to carefully look to Jesus and follow (mimic) Him and His ways. This is not an overnight thing. We grow into His likeness by staying in Him through prayer, the study of His word, and by applying His word to our everyday circumstances. Integrity is also another word that can be used to define virtue. I heard another minister explain integrity like this: “It is being the same person when no one is looking, as when you are in the public eye.” With this in mind, let us work to build character that is consistent in every department of our lives, so that we can always be assured that we reflect the nature of Jesus at all times. Our character will be tested when people or circumstances press against us. In times like these, we should turn to Jesus to aid and strengthen us in our pursuit to bring honor to Him. To strive for character without relying on Jesus would be sure failure. It is only by His grace and power that we will ever be successful in our pursuit of holiness.

Have a great week.

Pastor Gary L Protenic

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To Blog or not to Blog-03/19/2012

Greetings everyone. I have been debating with myself as whether “to blog or not to blog.” I had told the church about 8 or 9 weeks ago that I would, but have never made it to this point. I guess the hold up has to do with whether I have the time to put into it and the fact that it would include another thing to prepare for. But as I was talking to my brother Gregg (who is also the one that set this site up), he come up with a pretty good idea, and that was to expound upon or discuss the content of a Sunday’s sermon. It would still be fresh in my mind, and I wouldn’t have exhausted it’s full meaning, and as far as the time I would spend blogging, it would be entirely up to me. There may be someone who would want to ask questions or make comments which would bring further insights into it’s meaning. So to begin with, I will post at least once every Monday, and will attempt to answer any posts by the following Monday. I may post more often, but I will, by the grace of God, post at least once a week on Monday. Thanks Gregg for the idea.

As a pastor, I teach that we as Christians are to view life through the lens of God’s word. I mentioned in my sermon that many people use the name of Jesus in very positive and meaningful ways, and give Him credit for the good in their lives, which is a good thing. They may even share some of their favorite scripture verses and make mention of how much they love Him. They may speak of the marvelous grace of God that we are saved and kept by. Again, all of this is good. I had a man tell me one time many years ago that he could live any way he wanted and be saved because of the grace of God. I’ve never had anyone ever tell me this since, but I have seen it in the way that people live their lives in open and willful sin. In Titus 2:11-12 we read “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;”. The grace of God does not give us a license to sin, but rather teaches us that we are to live a life of righteousness and deny ourselves of anything that is of an ungodly nature. Jesus did truly teach a lot of positive things such as ” The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John10:10). He tells us in John 3:16-17 ” For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” But the same Jesus who said these things, hunted the man down of which he had previously healed to tell him to “sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” He told the woman taken in adultery to “go and sin no more.” He spoke of obedience as being the true test of our love to Him and the Father in John 14:21 “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” And this may come as a surprise to some, but Jesus taught more about hell than He did heaven. The beginning of Christ’s teaching began with “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repentance means to turn away from sin unto God. Jesus came to save us from our sins. Therefore, we need to hate our sin, no matter how insignificant it may seem to us, and turn away from it. People who believe that they can continuously live in their sin and take a light attitude toward it and still be ready for heaven are going to be terribly disappointed in eternity. Don’t justify your sin, confess it and turn from it. People are living in sexual immorality, living in drunkenness and drugs, slandering and hurting people, taking advantage of people, deceiving and hating, and still think they are right with God. I’m not sitting here judging people, because I am far from perfect myself. I am just trying to get people to look to the scriptures (all the scriptures) and take instruction from them. They will get you to heaven. If our thinking is not in line with what the scriptures teach, then we need to change our thinking.

Have a nice week.

Pastor Gary L Protenic

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