The Right Stuff - Pressing On

Posted by Joseph Lutz on OA10er @ 10:57 AM

I work hard to stay in shape.  With a family history of heart disease I want to keep my heart strong.  So I go to the gym three mornings a week and run five miles on the elliptical machine.  And it's working.  My blood pressure is down where it should be.  My pulse rate is that of a distance runner.  But I have to tell you that there are some days when it is hard to get motivated.  I may be tired from a long day the day before or distracted because I have an important meeting coming up.  Sometimes I've got to grit my teeth and just keep on going, knowing that the goal is worthwhile.

When Paul writes his letter to the Philippians, he's in a Roman prison.  Following Jesus is turning out to be a challenging endeavor.  So, in the last half of chapter 3, Paul talks about his commitment to Christ.  He says in verses 13 and 14, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." 

Sometimes living the Christian life is a struggle.  We don't want to get up on Sunday morning to go to church.  We don't want to devote the time to attend a small group or Bible class.  We don't want to serve Jesus because there are other things we'd rather be doing.  We don't want to share our faith because the person we're talking with may want to argue with us.  But worship, spiritual growth, service and witnessing are all important aspects of living for Jesus.  So Paul uses the imagery of a runner to describe the Christian life, there are times when we will need to strain toward what is ahead and press on toward the goal God has set for us.

I'm committed to the goal of a healthy heart and that motivates me to get up early in the  morning and go to the gym before work to exercise.  I am committed to living the Christian life and pleasing Jesus my Savior, so I discipline myself to follow Jesus and serve him every day.  How are you doing in the marathon called the Christian life?  Are you in the race?  Are you running toward the goal?  Or have you gotten sidetracked?  This Sunday at First Baptist Riverside we'll learn how to get into the race and press on toward the goal of living for Jesus and receiving the prize that is given to all who persevere.  Join us for Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.

The Right Stuff - Faith

Posted by Joseph Lutz on OA11er @ 11:18 AM

This Sunday we'll continue our summer study of Paul's Letter to the Philippians.  In Philippians 3, Paul addresses the issue of salvation.  Are we saved by faith in Jesus Christ?  Are we saved by obedience to the law and good works?  Or are we saved by a combination of faith and law?  The teaching of the New Testament is clear.  We are saved by God's grace (his gift) through faith and not by works or obedience to the law.  However, we humans have a hard time accepting that salvation is free.  We think we should have to do something to "earn" it.  If we're not careful, we can add a lot of "should's" and "ought's" to what is required for someone to be saved.

In  Paul's day some Jewish Christians taught that salvation comes by a combination of faith in Jesus and obedience to Jewish law and customs.  They sought to impose Jewish customs on Gentile believers, causing them to doubt their salvation.  We do the same thing today, with certain moral rules or political opinions we expect people to follow before they can become Christians. This Sunday we'll reflect on Paul's affirmation of salvation by faith alone and receive the assurance of salvation for all who believe in Jesus.

This Sunday we'll also hear from a special guest, Kit Ripley, a missionary our church supports in Thailand.  Kit works at the New Life Center that rescues girls from human trafficking and the sex trade in Thailand.  They provide counseling, education, and the hope of getting a good job to women who have been horribly mistreated.  The New Life Center is a ministry of God's love in action.  We hope you'll join us for worship at our Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. or at our Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.

The Right Stuff - Conduct

Posted by Joseph Lutz on OA11er @ 11:12 AM

Many people think of Christianity as believing in Jesus so that they can go to heaven when they die.  The Bible teaches us that we are saved by grace (it's God's free gift), that we receive by having faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8).  But Jesus knows our heart when we put our faith in him.  Believing in Jesus means being committed to Christ and having an ongoing relationship with him.  If we just pray the salvation prayer and nothing changes in our lives, then it will be up to Jesus to judge whether we were serious about it or not.

This summer at First Baptist Riverside we're studying Paul's Letter to the Philippians in a sermon series called "The Right Stuff."  Philippians tells us about having "The Right Stuff" to be a follower of Jesus.  Following Jesus involves a life of spiritual growth - living for Jesus and serving him as we use our spiritual gifts for his glory.

This Sunday we'll talk about the importance of conducting our lives in a way that honors Jesus and serves as a witness to others that we have had a life-transforming relationship with him.  Though we're saved by grace and not obedience to the law, our conduct matters to Jesus.  If we don't change our sinful ways, then we'll be a bad witness to others and turn people off from the Christian faith.  If we don't exhibit conduct that honors Christ we can turn people off to the church.

As an example of Christian conduct Paul tell the Philippians that they are to do everything without grumbling and arguing (Philippians 2:14).  If someone comes to our church and the members are grumbling and complaining about things or if they're arguing or bickering with one another, why would anyone want to return to a church like that?  Rick Warren once said that our lives are a "walking billboard" for Jesus.  Are you living your life in such a way that people are attracted to Jesus?

If you want to find out more about conduct that allows us to be Jesus' witnesses and serve him effectively, I hope you'll join us for worship this Sunday.  We have Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.  Hopefully you'll find our conduct will attract you to come back and worship with us again and again.

The Right Stuff - Leadership

Posted by Joseph Lutz on OP3er @ 3:01 PM

As we celebrate America's 241st birthday next week, we need to remember pray for our nation.  At this critical juncture in our nation's history we need leaders who will put the needs of the American people ahead of their own political future and the desires of the special interests who support them.  John Kennedy wrote a book called "Profiles in Courage" in which he told the story of great leaders in our nation's history who did the right thing instead of what was popular.  Where have all the courageous leaders gone?

In Matthew 20:20-28 Jesus taught his disciples an important lesson in leadership - one we would do well to consider.  The mother of the Zebedee boys came to Jesus, asking him to put her sons in the places of highest honor in his coming kingdom.  She had her sons' interests at heart, but Jesus was concerned about the character of those in leadership in his kingdom.  In the verses that follow Jesus gives the criteria for godly leaders - criteria that we should hold spiritual leaders and our nation's leaders accountable too.

I would urge you to come to worship on July 2nd and gather with other believers to pray for our nation, to pray for our leaders, to pray for peace and to pray for God's blessing.  It will be a good time to think about if the leaders you helped elect meet the criteria of leadership Jesus gives.  If our leaders continue to play politics instead of seeking solutions to our nation's problems America's future will never be great.

While you're in church, think about if God may be calling you to exercise leadership.  Maybe God is calling you to be a leader at some level of government or elected office.  God may be calling you to be a leader in his kingdom, the church, and if so, the Scripture says you should lead diligently.  He may be calling you to be a leader in your business or place of work, in your family or in the community.  God needs leaders to step up and fulfill their role and do their duty for the benefit of the people they lead.

This Sunday we'll celebrate America's birthday and learn a lot about leadership.  We invite you to join us at our Traditional Service at 9:00 a.m. or our Contemporary Service at 10:45 a.m.  May God bless you and God bless the U.S.A.

The Right Stuff

Posted by Joseph Lutz on OA11er @ 11:06 AM

On Sunday mornings this summer we're learning about "The Right Stuff" to be followers of Jesus.  There are groups in our church that are giving evidence that they have the right stuff right now.  This week we've sent eleven people on a Youth Mission Trip to Rainbow Acres in Arizona.  Rainbow Acres consists of group homes for mentally challenged adults (ranchers).  Our mission team is doing physical labor in one of the houses, leading devotional times for the ranchers, and teaching art.  They're doing all of this in the midst of a heat wave in Arizona.  People who are willing to give of their time, energy and resources to do mission have the right stuff to follow Jesus.  Pray for our youth mission team as they return home on Saturday, June 24.

Next week dozens of people in our church family will volunteer to lead at our Vacation Bible School - Passport to Peru.  This will be a great ministry to more than 100 children who will be introduced to a new culture, learn some of the great Bible stories about Jesus, and have fun snacks and activities.  People who are willing to give up five evenings in a week to work with children have the right stuff to follow Jesus.  On Tuesday night at the VBS opening, we'll commission Mark and Lenore Davison who will leave in July for three weeks to serve Christ in Papua New Guinea, where Lenore was a Bible translator for 19 years - Mark and Lenore are modeling the right stuff to follow Jesus.

This Sunday's sermon will take us to one of the great Bible passages that describes who Jesus is and what he did to save us.  Our text will be Philippians 2:1-11.  The message is "The Right Stuff - Christian Attitudes."  I hope you'll come to worship and learn about the attitudes that are necessary if we want to have the right stuff to follow Jesus.  Traditional Worship is at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship is at 10:45 a.m. every Sunday.  Hope to see you there!!!

The Right Stuff - Right Values

Posted by Joseph Lutz on OP4er @ 4:54 PM

The Apostle Paul's Letter to the Philippians is about having "The Right Stuff" to follow Jesus.  This Sunday we'll discover that the right stuff requires us to live by the right values.  When we become Christians our values change.  Life is no longer about us but living for Jesus and accomplishing the purpose he put us on this earth for.  That's a radical change from the "me first" "get what I want" values by which most people live.  We'll have an eternity of blessing with God in heaven, this life is meant to live for Jesus, to be his witnesses and to serve him.

When we live with faith in Christ we no longer worry about ourselves, we trust God take care of us.  We live with courage because we don't fear death.  We know that to be absent from the body is to be present with  the Lord.  Our lives have a purpose beyond ourselves as we live for God and make an eternal difference in people's lives.  Whatever happens, our goal is to live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ.  Does that sound like your life?  Do you have the right stuff?  If you have the right stuff, God needs people like you!  If you're not there yet. God will help you get there.

Living by the right values is important on  this Father's Day.  One of the most important things fathers do is teach their children values to live by.  What values are you teaching your children?  Are you teaching them the values of this world: to get ahead, to take care of #1, to put themselves first and make themselves happy?  Those values lead to a life of selfishness and separate us from God.  A Christian parent teaches their children that there's a better way.  The best way to teach values is to talk to our kids about them and then model those values for your children as you make choices and decisions.

One of the things my parents did was devote 3-4 years of their life when I was in elementary school and Junior High to lead a mission to underprivileged kids in a poverty-stricken section of south Stockton.  I didn't go with them every weekend, but I went enough to see what they were doing and to get to know many of the children.  From those experiences I learned a lot about compassion and serving others.  I learned about racial justice and saw some attitudes in me that I didn't like that needed to change.  There were lessons from those years that transformed my life - and children today need those same kinds of experiences.

I hope you'll join us for worship; and learn about "The Right Stuff" and the right values to be a follower of Jesus.  We have Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.  We'll celebrate Father's Day and honor our fathers.  We'll have gifts for all the dads and special halftime refreshments between our services in honor of dads.  We'd love to have you join us.

Overcoming Fear

Posted by Joseph Lutz on OP2er @ 2:30 PM

We have many things that we fear.  Every week there is news about terrorist attacks, we wonder when one will happen where we live.  There are old diseases that were thought to be eradicated that are coming back and new diseases like Zika, with no known vaccine or cure.  We worry about losing our jobs, financial security, and with turmoil in Washington, will I be able to afford health insurance?  Most people are afraid of death.  As Christians we're afraid to share our faith because we worry about how others might respond to us or what they'll say. 

Fear has the power to paralyze us.  We're afraid, so we don't do anything.  As Christians, we can't afford to be paralyzed into inaction.  Jesus has called us to be his witnesses and serve him.  We must learn to overcome our fears.  The good news is that God provides resources for us to overcome our fears. 

This Sunday in worship I'll continue my sermon series based on the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Philippians called "The Right Stuff."  Do you have the right stuff to follow Jesus?  Philippians teaches us about the "right stuff" God gives us to follow Jesus.  One of the "right things" is the ability to overcome our fears.

I hope you'll join us for worship this Sunday to learn more about how to overcome fear.  We offer Traditional Worship (singing hymns and using our pipe organ) at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship (led by our worship band) at 10:45 a.m.  The sermon is the same both hours so come to the service that fits your schedule or your preference.  We would love to meet you and introduce you to our ministry in Riverside.

The Right Stuff

Posted by Joseph Lutz on OA7er @ 7:55 AM

One of the best movies about America's space program is "The Right Stuff."  The movie follows the story of the training and adventures of America's earliest astronauts.  They possessed the "right stuff," the courage and qualities to lead America into outer space.

On Sunday, June 4th, I'm starting a new summer sermon series on the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Philippians.  As I read this letter again and again it becomes clear to me that Paul's intent in writing Philippians is to teach us about "The Right Stuff" for being a follower of Jesus.  The question is, "Do you have the right stuff to follow of Jesus?"  If you want to find out, I hope you'll join us for worship on Sundays in June and July or you can listen to the messages on our website.

This Sunday, from Philippians 1:1-11, we'll learn that "The Right Stuff" is a commitment to partnership.  We don't follow Jesus in a vacuum.  We learn about Jesus, grow in our faith, and serve God in partnership with other believers who love us, encourage us and build us up.  The New Testament makes it clear that there are no Lone Ranger Christians.  We are stronger together, have accountability to one another, and can accomplish far more together than alone.

If you'd like to learn more about having "The Right Stuff," join us for worship on Sundays at 9:00 a.m. (Traditional Worship) or at 10:45 a.m. (Contemporary Worship).

Our Eternal Home in Heaven

Posted by Joseph Lutz on OP2er @ 2:59 PM

The Memorial Day holiday was established to remember the men and women of our armed forces who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy today.  Over the years, Memorial Day has grow into a day when families remember all their loved ones who have died and gone before them.  As Christians we believe that death is not the end for us.  We don't go to a grave when we die, we have an eternal home in heaven.

What must we do to go to our eternal home in heaven?  Some people think everyone eventually gets to heaven.  Other's think anyone who is a good person, lives a good life or does good works will go to heaven.  That's not true and a lot of frustrated people will miss out on where they want to go.  None of us is worthy to live in God's eternal home.  We need a Savior to take away our sins - only Jesus can do that through his death on the cross.  We are saved by believing in him. 

What is heaven like?  Heaven is awesome, far beyond anything we are capable of imagining.  Our finite minds cannot comprehend a perfect world without limits.  Life in heaven will be exciting, challenging, wonderful, and joyful.  We'll live there for ever and never be bored a single day.  Heaven is about relationships with our Heavenly Father, Jesus His Son, the Holy Spirit and all our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Does the hope of heaven affect how we live on this earth.  Absolutely!  Everything changes when we know the goal of life is not what we get and experience in this world, but what will be ours in the next world.  We love this world because we can serve the Lord and be with our family and friends.  But we look forward to being with Jesus in our eternal home.  As Paul said, "We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8).

If you want to know more about our eternal home in heaven, how to get there, and how the hope of heaven affects our lives today, come worship with us at First Baptist Riverside this Sunday, on Memorial Day weekend.  We have Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.  Find out how you can be confident of eternal life in heaven.  You won't want to miss it!

Mother's Day - Essential Qualities of Every Family

Posted by Joseph Lutz on OP3er @ 3:29 PM

This Mother's Day we celebrate mothers!  There would be no families without mothers.  It's been said that the family is the foundation of our culture.  I think that's true.  The breakdown of the family over the last 50 years with an increasing divorce rate and increases in the number of children born to single women corresponds to many of the social problems our country faces.  It's time for us to identify what is necessary for families to thrive and equip our people to develop that kind of family.

This Sunday, on Mother's Day, I'll be preaching on the "Essential Qualities in Every Family."  There are certain qualities that must be present for people to be able to love one another and for children to thrive.  Find out what those essential qualities are and how you can develop them in your family.  If your children are grown and out of the house, you can still let these qualities be guiding principles in your ongoing family relationships.  If you're looking forward to marriage or to having children in the future, make sure these essential qualities exist in your family from the very beginning.

The Bible says the church is like a family.  We all are children and God and brothers and sisters with Christ and with one another.  The "Essential Qualities in Every Family" I'll be talking about this Sunday are essential for us to have healthy relationships in the church.  As Christians, we need to be part of a local church family for our own spiritual health and well-being.  Together, this Sunday, lets learn how to develop these essential qualities in our church as well as in our homes!  Join us for Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. or Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m. with quality childcare and children's ministries provided both hours.

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