JONAH, SON OF AMITTAI

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Monday, November 19, 2018 @ 9:12 PM

Jonah and the Whale is one of the great stories in the Bible.  It's the only part of Jonah's story most people know.  But it's not the most important part of the story.  The rest of the story tells us how God changed Jonah's life and saved a nation.  It's a story of hope.  

This Sunday, to conclude our sermon series "Find Hope on the Hill," we'll hear from Jonah about how he survived three days in the whale's stomach and how God miraculously saved him.  We'll find out that Jonah finally did what God wanted him to do in the first place and how Jonah's ministry saved many people.  Finally Jonah will explain how God changed his mind, changed his prejudices, changed his attitudes and helped him to understand the miracle of grace.

I hope you'll join us for worship at First Baptist Riverside this Sunday as we learn the lessons Jonah learned about God and his love.  When you understand the message behind the book of Jonah it will change the way you think about God and others.  We worship every Sunday at 9:00 a.m. (Traditional) and 10:45 a.m. (Contemporary).  Hope to see you on The Hill.

STONES OF REMEMBRANCE

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Thursday, November 15, 2018 @ 7:53 AM

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite religious holidays.  I endeavor to thank God daily for the good things he does for me, but I know I overlook many things.  For me, thanksgiving is the one time a year when I can reflect on my life and realize God's goodness, how he meets my needs, answers my prayers, forgives my sins and saves me from disaster.  In the busyness of life, I don't always take time to think about all the spiritual blessings that are mine because God is in my life.  How can I remember all that God does and give thanks throughout the year?

God taught Joshua and the people of Israel a great way to remember his goodness.  As Israel was ready to cross from the Wilderness into the Promised Land, God stopped the waters of the Jordan River from flowing so the people could walk over on dry ground.  God instructed Joshua to have a leader from each of the twelve tribes to pick up a stone from the middle of the Jordan River.  When they reached the other side, Joshua would pile those stones up on the bank of the river.  This pile of stones would serve as a memorial to remind Israel what God had done for them in that place.  When their children asked, "Why are those stones here?" their parents could tell them the story of how God stopped the waters of the Jordan River (during the spring floods) and helped the people enter the land he had promised to give them.

We need to gather some stones and build memorials in our lives.  We need memorials to trigger our memories and remind us of the goodness of God.  What can we set up to remind us of the significant things God has done for us so that we can give thanks and build up our faith?  We have some observances like Christmas, Easter, the Lord's Supper that help us remember the goodness of God.  But what other reminders can we set up in our lives, in our homes, to remember God's goodness on a daily basis?

This Sunday our congregation at First Baptist Riverside will celebrate Thanksgiving and remember the goodness of God.  We'll build a pile of stones to remind us of the good things God done for us.  Each person will receive their own stone, and on that stone, write one thing of particular importance that they want to give thanks to God for.  They'll take that stone home, to keep on their dining room table (or in some other prominent place) as a "memorial" while they celebrate Thanksgiving.

I hope you'll join us for this meaningful worship service.  This Sunday will be a celebration for our whole church family and guests at 9:00 a.m. (one combined worship service for everyone).  I hope you'll join us and give God the glory for the good things he has done!

LET'S TALK!

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 @ 5:25 PM

Church leaders strive to achieve transparency and integrity.  There's a lot going on at First Baptist Riverside right now with plans to change the church's name, make improvements to our property in the next few months, and changes resulting from a strategic planning (StratOps) that is challenging us to proclaim the good news to a new generation.  I'm sure this has left some of you a little confused, wondering what the future will look like.

This Sunday, I've titled my sermon "Let's Talk."  I'll talk to you about what you can expect to experience at First Baptist Riverside (DBA - doing business as) "Church on the Hill," in the months ahead.  I'll explain the choices we face and the consequences of those choices.  I'll also lead a panel discussion with our StratOps team leaders as they describe some of our future plans.  If you care about First Baptist (THE HILL), you will want to be here at our worship services at 9:00 a.m. (traditional) or 10:45 a.m. (contemporary).

One of the Scripture texts I'll use Sunday is Psalm 71:17-18.  The psalmist writes, "I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.  Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.  Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come."  The Christian faith is always one generation away form extinction.  If we fail to proclaim the good news of Jesus to the next generation, the Christian faith will become a relic of the past.

First Baptist Riverside has been serving God in Riverside for 144 years because we've always made it a priority to proclaim God's mighty acts to the next generation.  Now we're faced with the next challenge.  Will we declare God's power to the millennials and Generation Z (the generation after the millennials)?  If we don't, our church will cease to exist in the not too distant future.  It's our choice.  This Sunday find out what the options are and choose to be part of the solution God has set before us.

OUR MESSAGE OF HOPE

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 @ 7:08 PM

“Our Message of Hope” is one many people today are longing to hear.  We’re living through a time of renewed hate and intolerance in America.  Our economy is volatile, causing anxiety about the future.  Natural disasters, global warming and reports of new diseases stoke fear.  On top of that we have all the normal problems life brings with it.

“Our Message of Hope” is the good news of God who created us for a purpose, he values us, calling us to be his children.  God so loves us, he gave his one and only Son to forgive our sins, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).  You matter to God.  He wants you to spend eternity with him in heaven.  He calls you to be part of his work and to make an eternal difference in the lives of the people you know.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

We want others to hear “Our Message of Hope.”  The hope we have in the Lord needs to be at the heart of every ministry of our church.  When people come to worship, attend a class or group, go through youth or children ministry, they should leave with their hope renewed and an increased faith in God.

Jesus tells us to share “Our Message of Hope” with the people in our lives.  We call these people our “oikos,” family, friends, neighbors, and people we know at work, school or in our community.  God has placed us into the lives of these people, so they’ll have someone to tell them about God’s love and what Jesus did to save them.  The question is, are you sharing the message of hope with the people who are depending on you, so they can hear it?

This Sunday we’ll learn more about “Our Message of Hope” and how to share the good news.  Lives hang in the balance of us doing what Jesus has called us to do.  Those lives belong to the people most important to us: parents, children, siblings, friends…  I hope you understand the importance of our message.  Join us for worship Sunday at 9:00 a.m. (traditional) or 10:45 a.m. (contemporary) and let’s figure out how to change our world with the hope that is ours in Jesus Christ!

LIGHT THE NIGHT

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Friday, October 26, 2018 @ 9:55 AM

Halloween has become a major cultural event in America.  "Day of the Dead" is a similarly important event for many Latino's.  Both events occur at the end of October and focus on death and the spirit world.  As Christians we don't have to worry about any of that.  We have the assurance of salvation and our future is secure because of our faith in Jesus Christ.  When we die, our spirit will leave our body, not to haunt anyone, but to immediately go to be with Jesus and experience the joy of heaven and a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Our theme in worship this Sunday is "Light the Night."  We'll take the darkness out of Halloween and celebrate the light of Jesus Christ and the hope we have for the future.  If you want to know more about our Christian hope of eternal life, join us Sunday at First Baptist at 9:00 a.m. (traditional) or 10:45 a.m. (contemporary).

WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? (Part 2)

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 @ 11:19 AM

When you read 1 John, you can't help but notice that love has everything to do with our Christian faith.  In 1 John 4:16 we find the ultimate definition of God, "God is love."  In verse 9 John tells us how God shows his love for us, "He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him."  Verse 10, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."  He goes on in verse 11 and 12, "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

God loves you more than you will ever know.  It is impossible to measure the infinite love of God.  His love is unlike any other love we will ever experience.  If you're married you know the love you have for your spouse.  If you're a parent you know the love you have for your children.  But God's love is greater.  God's love is sacrificial.  To save us from our sins, God had to send his only begotten Son to earth to die on a cross.  Jesus is God and he endured the ultimate cruelty for the people he loved.  God's love is generous.  He blesses his people with life, health, provides the things we want and need, he answers our prayers.

What God wants from us is our love, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  God wants our worship and devotion.  God wants us to serve him.  And God wants us to love one another.  One of the ways we show our love for God is to love the other people he has created and loves.

This Sunday we want to invite you to join us for worship and a celebration of God's love for us.  If you haven't put your faith in Jesus and experienced his love, you'll find out all about it this Sunday at First Baptist Riverside.  Join us for worship at 9:00 a.m. (traditional) or 10:45 a.m. (contemporary).  We hope to see you here!

WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 @ 3:30 PM

In Tina Turner's version of the song, "What's Love Got to Do With It?" the answer is nothing.  Love is just a second hand emotion.  When it comes to our Christians faith, "What's Love God to Do With It?" the answer is everything.  1 John 3 tells us that love is the central tenet of our Christian faith.  Jesus taught us how to love by laying his life down for us.  Jesus' death on the cross is the ultimate example of what love is.  John later tells us that "God is love" in 1 John 4.  Love defines the character of God and should define our character if we believe in him.

Love has everything to do with our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  John says that If anyone does not love, they remain in death.  A person who doesn't love their fellow believers is lost in sin and does not have a relationship with God.  Love is not just some ethereal idea, it must be put into action.  John says in verse 17, "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?"  We must put our love into action.

John is writing about love in the context of our church family.  "Do we love one another in our church family?"  The North African theologian Tertullian, in the second century, imagined pagans looking at Christians and saying, “Look . . .  how they love one another... and how they are ready to die for each other.”  Love is what set the Christian church apart from every other religious group.  Is that true of us today?

Join us for worship this Sunday and learn "What's Love God to Do With It?"  What does love for your brothers and sisters in Christ got to do with living the Christian faith?  How do we put such love into action?  Our services are at 9:00 a.m. (traditional) and 10:45 a.m. (contemporary).  Hope to see you there.

STAY THE COURSE

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, October 3, 2018 @ 12:35 PM

We live in difficult times.  Weekly we hear news of the next natural disaster: Hurricane Florence in the Carolina's, typhoons in Japan, an earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia.  Politics in America has become a zero sum game, one side can win only if the other side loses, so there is no willingness to compromise, no working together for the common good.  Terrorism continues to spread throughout the third world and often overflows into the first world.  Here at home we have conflict spawned "Black Lives Matter" and the "#Me Too" movements.  In the midst of this confusion the church is called to proclaim the good news of Jesus and offer hope to a world where people are fearful.

In 1 John 2:18 the author tells us we're living in the "last hour."  He wrote that over 1900 years ago.  We've been living in the "last hour" since Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension into heaven.  Jesus can return to earth to establish his kingdom at anytime.  John says that in the "last hour" there will be hardship and tribulation for the church.  Our job as Christians is to "Stay the Course," follow Jesus and be faithful to the calling Jesus has given to his church.

John says that in the "last hour" there will be "antichrists" (in fact many antichrists), people who will not accept both the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ as the one and only Son of God.  There are many who are opposed to Christ.  One example is Mormons who do not accept the pre-existence of Jesus as divine Son of God.  Another example are the many people who have a fuzzy view of "God" (example: the new TV series "God Friended Me") who have no strong theology of Christ who is the only one able to lead us to a relationship with God.

In worship this Sunday we'll talk about what it means to be Christians in the "last hour" in a world filled with many "antichrists."  How can we have a deep and resilient faith in troubling times?  How can we be a witness for Christ and a light to the world?  How can we be a force for good and for God surrounded by the  evil of this day?

We would love for you to join us in worship as we grapple with these issues of faith and devotion to Christ.  We have Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. on Sundays and Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.

New Church Name: “Church on THE HILL”

Posted by Connie Senturier on Sunday, September 30, 2018 @ 12:34 PM

Six months ago, on March 11, our congregation voted 90-7 to consider a new name for our church. Over 50 suggestions of names were given by the congregation to the Board of Deacons. Deacons and Staff have had numerous discussions about the new name and spent considerable time in prayer as a group and individuals seeking God’s guidance. When we decided to participate in the StratOps Strategic Planning process, we decided to wait to see if that process would help us identify a name.

 The consultant who helped with StratOps also helped us with the new name. He taught us two maxims for choosing a church name:

#1 “Choose a name you can define, not a name that defines you.”

#2 “Maximize opportunities and minimize obstacles.”

He taught us our existing name is a huge obstacle for many people to overcome before ever considering if they will come to our church. There are too many “Baptists” in the news that do not represent us but define us in the eyes of others. We need a name we can define.

The name “Church on the Hill” identifies our location in the city, we are on a hill. When I tell people about our church they’ll often say, “Oh, that’s the church on the hill on Alessandro.” Yep. In our publicity and outreach materials we will be known as “The Hill.” Come find hope on “The Hill.” Meet Jesus on “The Hill.”

We will use a DBA for the new name, “The First Baptist Church of Riverside doing business as ‘Church on the Hill.’” So, think about it, pray about it. See if God leads you as he led us in this process. We’ll have a Q and A time next Sunday at 12:10 in the Legacy Room for anyone who wants to talk about it.

There will be a Special Congregational Business Meeting on Sunday, October 14 at 12:10 in the Legacy Room for congregational approval. After that, it will be a three-month process of changing our name, signs, website, letterhead, email, etc., etc., etc. and then roll out the new name around the first of the year.

Thank you for your prayers, support and encouragement through this process.

Pastor Joe                                                                                                       

 

THE MEASURE OF A CHRISTIAN

Posted by Connie Senturier on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 @ 4:46 PM

We have different ways to measuring ourselves to know if we're growing or healthy.  We can measure our height, stand on a scale to measure our weight, we measure our blood pressure, and various blood tests to measure a whole array of things.  But how do we measure ourselves to know if we're healthy or growing in our faith in Christ?  In 1 John 1 the author gives us several ways to measure how we're doing in our relationship with Jesus.

"The Measure of a Christian" is something every believer should be concerned about.  We're quite obsessed about measures of our height, weight and health factors that tell us how our physical body is doing.  But all of us will eventually have a heart rate that falls to zero and what's left is our relationship with Jesus.   That relationship determines our spiritual health now and our eternal destiny.

I hope you'll worship with us at First Baptist Riverside this Sunday and learn about "The Measure of a Christian" and the spiritual measurements that will determine your spiritual health and future.  We have Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. and Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m.  REMEMBER, THIS SUNDAY OUR BOARD WILL REVEAL THE NEW NAME FOR OUR CHURCH!  Find out what the new name is and what the approval process will be.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ...20
Email A Friend
From Name
From Email
To Name
To Email
Note