A NEW IDENTITY

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Thursday, March 7, 2019 @ 9:37 AM

God says in Isaiah 43:18-19, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing."  God loves to do new things.  Often his people like the old (former) things.  We dwell on the past and reminisce about "the good old days."  The good old days are past, God is concerned about the growth of his kingdom in the here and now.

At First Baptist Riverside we have had a rich heritage of serving Christ in our community for 145 years.  We can take pride in our heritage and our legacy.  But if we want to survive and thrive as a church, we need to ask, "What's next?"  How can we serve God in the coming years to advance the cause of his kingdom?  If we just do what we've always done, the church will eventually die.

A sign that God is doing a new thing in our church is that he has given us a new name.  This Sunday we will celebrate the internal launch and be known from this day forward among our members as "Church on The Hill."  As soon as we get the name changed on all of our printed and promotional materials and our members are used to using the new name, we'll have the external launch to the larger community.  

When we read the Bible we discover God often gives new names.  A new name represented a new identity.  If all we do is change our name, nothing really changes.  So you will see a new emphasis in our church of reaching young adults and families and children and youth.  Young families (adults ages 25-40) is the demographic that is mostly missing in our congregation.  So we'll have special family friendly outreach events and start new groups for younger adults and parents as well as strengthen our ministry among children and youth.  

A new name and a new emphasis doesn't mean that we will change our theology  or the values of our congregation.  We will still be a church that teaches the Bible.  We want our church to continue to be a multi-generational and multi-cultural congregation.  We still want to evangelize and reach the people of all ages that God places in our oikos.  We want to retain the love for one another and fellowship that this church has always exhibited.

This Sunday in worship we'll learn about the church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13).  Jesus tells that church, "I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut."  I believe God has placed before Church on The Hill an open door filled with possibilities and potential for the future.  Come learn about our new identity this Sunday as we worship at 9:00 a.m. (traditional worship) or 10:45 a.m. (contemporary worship).  Expect some surprises and an exciting time of worship.  Be sure you're here for halftime at 10:15 a.m. for special refreshments and to celebrate with the whole church family.  Wear your new church t-shirt (if you didn't get one, there will be one here for you) because we'll take a group photo to mark a new beginning with a new name.  I hope to see you this Sunday at Church on The Hill!

GOD BUILDS ON THE ROCK

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 @ 7:58 PM

This Sunday we begin a new sermon series for March called "God's Power to Transform Us."  Throughout the Bible there are numerous examples of people whose lives were transformed by God.  Today, as people who have sinned and fallen short of being the person God wants us to be - we need to have our lives transformed.  The good news is the God who transformed people's lives is Bible times is still transforming people's lives all around the world today.

This Sunday we'll meet Simon who became one of Jesus' disciples.  Jesus transformed Simon's life, and his transformation is signified by a name change.  He becomes "Peter," meaning "Rock," and on that rock Jesus would build his church.  Jesus is still looking for "rocks" upon whom he can build his church today.  Do you have the character qualities and commitment to Christ that would make you a candidate to be a "rock?"

God is at work today bringing transformation to the First Baptist Church of Riverside.  God has given us a new vision for what he wants us to do to serve him in Riverside.  God not only wants us to keep doing the things we do well and provide spiritual growth and serving opportunities for our current members, he's calling us to reach the next generation, the Millennial generation, the younger families that are missing in our congregation. God is working to transform our church and preparing us for a vibrant future.  

Like Simon becoming Peter, First Baptist's transformation will result in a name change.  This series of sermons happens during March when First Baptist Riverside gets a new name, "Church on The Hill."  On March 10th we will mark the "internal launch" of our new name, to get our people used to using the name while allowing time for staff and lay leaders to make the changes (improvements) necessary to launch the new name to the larger community of Riverside.  If you want to know why we're changing our name and what God's plan is for our future, you'll want to come worship with us every Sunday in March (or listen online if to have to be away).

Join us this Sunday for what will certainly be an exciting time of worship as we learn how "God Builds on the Rock."  You can be the "rock" God can build on.  And First Baptist Riverside / Church on The Hill" is built on a rock too!  God has a plan for us.  Is God's plan for you to invest your life and ministry and be part of the transformation he is doing at First Baptist Riverside?  Join us this Sunday for worship at 9:00 (traditional worship) or 10:45 a.m. (contemporary worship) and find out.

PRINCIPLES FOR HEALTHY FAMILIES

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 @ 4:25 PM

All of us with families want our families to be healthy.  But healthy families are not the norm in our society.  We hear so much about dysfunctional families, children who are rebelling, husbands and wives in conflict and single parents at their wits ends trying to balance family and career and still have their own life too.  Few couples receive premarital counseling or training for how to have healthy families.  No one teaches new parent how to raise their family, so they learn from the school of hard knocks and make a lot of mistakes along the way.  There's got to be a better way!

I have good news for you: God wants your family to be healthy.  God's word, the Bible, contains "Principles for Healthy Families."  This Sunday, the day after our church hosts the "Confident Parenting" Conference, I'll lay out four of the most important principles for having a healthy and happy family.  Come and join us as we learn about "Principles for Healthy Families" when we worship this Sunday at First Baptist Riverside.  Our worship services are at 9:00 a.m. (Traditional Worship) and 10:45 a.m. (Contemporary Worship).  I hope to see you here!

SETTING BOUNDARIES

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 @ 3:08 PM

During February we've been learning "Relationship Lessons from Jacob."  This Sunday we transition our study to our relationships with others.  Jacob is a poster child of dysfunctional relationships.  Sometimes we can learn more from the mistakes others have made than from people who are good role models.  With that being the case, there is much we can learn from Jacob.

This Sunday our topic is "Setting Boundaries."  If you want to have healthy relationship with others, you have to set appropriate boundaries.  When boundaries become blurred, relationships suffer.  Relationship are like football, if someone steps across the boundary, the game stops and you bring the ball back in bounds before play can continue.  This is true for all kinds of relationships: marriage, family, friends, neighbors and work relationships.

Join us for worship and learn about "Setting Boundaries" this Sunday at First Baptist Riverside.  Our worship services are at 9:00 a.m. (traditional) and 10:45 a.m. (contemporary).  See you there!

WRESTLING WITH GOD

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 @ 5:56 PM

As we continue our study of "Relationship Lessons from Jacob" we'll look at the story in Genesis 32 where Jacob wrestles with God.  In that story, Jacob is at a crossroads in his life.  He has yet to fully commit himself to the Lord, even though God has promised Jacob that the covenant he made with Abraham and Isaac will now go through him to his descendants.  Jacob in this story is on his way back to the Promised Land, from which he fled after stealing his brother Esau's birthright and blessing.  As he returns he fears his brother will still want revenge.  Jacob must decide if he trusts God to protect him and trusts God to keep his promises to him.  Jacob sends his family across the Jabbok River and stays alone to wrestle with God.  Does Jacob trust God?  Will Jacob overcome his doubts?  How much control over his life is Jacob willing to give God?  

There are times in our lives when we will wrestle with God, and one of the lessons in Genesis 32 is that it's okay to wrestle with God.  God wrestles with Jacob all night long.  If God wasn't willing to wrestle with his people, he could have put an end to that match before it ever started.  We may wrestle with the basic concepts of our faith.  We may wrestle with our doubts.  We may wrestle with whether or not we will follow God's will for our lives or answer his call to serve him.  How much control of our lives are we willing to surrender to God?

This Saturday and Sunday we are asking our members to fast and pray, to give up food for part or most of a day and talk to God about their commitment to him.  Are there sins we need to confess?  Will we accept God's will for our lives?  Are there commitments we need to make to God?  We're also asking our people to devote time to praying for our church as we go through a name change, as we start new outreach ministries to invite people to follow Christ and become part of our church family.  Do we need to wrestle with surrendering control of our church to God?  Do we want to be comfortable in the church as we always have been, or are we willing to make changes to serve God and reach the lost in Riverside?

We would be happy to have you join us for a combined service this Sunday - just one worship service at 9:00 a.m.  There will be some time in worship to pray and wrestle with God and to learn some lessons from Jacob's relationship with God.  After church we'll break our fast with a free brunch, sponsored by our Boy Scout Troop 2.  Is God challenging you to trust in him if you're not a believer?  Is God calling you to take your faith to the next level or to do something new to serve him?  Don't ignore God.  Engage him.  Wrestle with God until you're ready to accept what he wants for you.

A WAKE UP CALL

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 @ 9:45 AM

This Sunday we'll begin a February sermon series called "Lessons from Jacob."  We'll take a look at Jacob's relationship with God and the relationships he has with his family.  What we'll find out is that Jacob's relationships were all very dysfunctional.  The truth is all of our relationships are to some extent dysfunctional because we're all sinners.  None of us are perfect.  Jacob was far from perfect.  Each week of this series we'll see the mistakes Jacob makes in his relationships and learn how to avoid making the same mistakes.  If we've made some of the same mistakes Jacob made, we'll learn how to correct them.

This Sunday we'll focus on Jacob's relationship with God.  In Genesis 28 God sends Jacob "A Wake Up Call."  Jacob hasn't been trusting God up to this point in his life, instead relying on his cunning to stay one step ahead of all of the enemies he made over the years.  God made a covenant with Abraham and Isaac that they would become a great nation and have more descendants than the stars in the sky.  That covenant will now be carried on through Jacob and his descendants.  God has to get Jacob's attention so that he'll have faith and trust in the Lord.  God gives Jacob a dream of a stairway resting on earth and ascending into heaven with the angels of God ascending and descending on it.  Jacob recognizes the power of God and realizes he's in a holy place.

There are times in all of our lives when we need a spiritual "A Wake Up Call."  God may have sent us a wake up call when we were still unbelievers, to make us realize that we should put our faith in him.  There may be other times in our lives when we drift away from the Lord, our faith is flagging, our commitment is not what it should be, and God sends a wake up call for us to get right with the Lord.  The wake up call may be a crisis in our lives, an awareness of sin, a friend who speaks truth, or the realization that something is not right between us and God.

Join us for worship this Sunday as we learn about Jacob's wake up call.  You may discover God is sending you "A Wake Up Call."  He may want you to renew your faith or deal with a sin in your life.  There may be something he wants you to do and he needs to make you aware of what his plan is.  We worship Sundays at 9:00 a.m. (traditional) and 10:45 a.m. (contemporary).  Come see what God's wake up call may be for you!

PRAYING FOR GOD'S WILL TO BE DONE

Posted by Connie Senturier on Wednesday, January 23, 2019 @ 5:15 PM

This week we continue our series of sermons on "Prayers God Answers."  We will learn from Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane to pray for God's will to be done.  Every promise in the Bible about answered prayer assumes that we are praying for God's will to be done.  God is sovereign and his answers to our prayers will fit in the context of his plan for our lives, the lives of others and what he desires to accomplish on this earth.  So how do we know what God's will is, so that we can pray in alignment with it?

Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane will help us to pray according to God's will.  Jesus didn't get the answer from God he was looking for in the first part of his prayer.  But Jesus knew that God's will takes priority, so he concluded his prayer, "...yet not my will, but yours be done."

I hope you'll join us for worship at First Baptist Riverside this Sunday.  We'll learn how we can discover God's will for us and how to pray while truly desiring that God's will be done in our lives and in our church.  Praying for God's will to be done is essential if we want to pray prayers God answers.  Our worship times at 9:00 a.m. (traditional worship) and 10:45 a.m. (contemporary worship).  Come and join us!

PRAYERS GOD ANSWERS - PRAYING FOR WHAT WE REALLY WANT

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Thursday, January 17, 2019 @ 7:52 AM

God love us and he want us to be happy.  God gives us many good things.  He's already given us the best thing ever, his love and his Son Jesus Christ.  If God would do all that for us, why would he withhold things that would make us happy?  This Sunday we'll learn about Hannah's Prayer in 1 Samuel 1:9-20.  Hannah was married, but was unable to have a child.  She prayed to conceive and have a child and God granted her request. 

What is it you really want in life?  God wants you to pray about those things - and in many cases he'll give you what you ask for.  However, I've said many times, God is not our celestial genie who gives us three wishes every day.  God is sovereign, and though he wants to make us happy and give us good things, he answers every prayer according to his will.  There will be some times when we ask God for something, and his answer is "No."  When we pray and don't get what we ask for, it should cause us to seek the heart of God, to try to understand his will and commit ourselves to whatever is God's purpose for our lives. 

In our story, Hannah has a son, a very special son named Samuel, a judge of Israel and a prophet, but she will have to give him to the Lord.  That had to be hard, but God gave Hannah what she wanted and she did what she had committed in her heart to do.  Will you accept the sovereignty of God, pray and do what God asks you to do, and put him first in every area of your life?  It is when we put God first in our lives that we will receive great things from him.

Our January Prayer Challenge is for each member of our congregation to spend five minutes a day praying for his church.  Here are this week's prayer concerns:

Sunday 1/20: Pray for faith to know God hears and answers all our prayers.

Monday 1/21: Pray that we will love our brothers and sisters of all races and cultural backgrounds on this Martin Luther King Day.

Tuesday 1/22: Pray “Confident Parenting” will bless families and reach unbelievers.

Wednesday 1/23: Pray that our church’s name change will attract people to Church on The Hill.

Thursday 1/24: Pray for our church staff, may they be strengthened for the work they do.

Friday 1/25: Pray for our children and youth – may our kids come to know and love the Lord.

Saturday 1/26: Ask God to provide for our church’s ministries and property improvements.

PRAYERS GOD ANSWERS - A DESPERATE PRAYER

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 @ 9:44 AM

There are times in our lives when we pray desperate prayers.  When we get a bad diagnosis from the doctor, we may pray a desperate prayer for God to spare our life.  When our spouse or a child is sick, we pray desperate prayers for healing.  The loss of a job or financial crisis is often accompanied by desperate prayers.  God hears our desperate prayers and answers them.  He may not always answer them the way we would like, but the more we pray, our faith increases and we begin to understand how God may be working through our desperate times.

This Sunday in worship we'll meet King Hezekiah whose story is found in 2 Kings 18-19.  King Hezekiah was one of the good kings of Judah, but he reigned during desperate times.  The Assyrian Empire was at the peak of it's might.  They attacked Judah, overran and destroyed most of it's cities.  Hezekiah's army was decimated.  All that's left is the people crowded inside the walls of Jerusalem.  The city is surrounded by an army of over 180,000 Assyrian soldiers.  If Hezekiah surrenders, the people will be sold into slavery and resettled to other parts of the Empire.  The city of Jerusalem will be destroyed.  If he doesn't surrender, the city will be destroyed and most of the people killed.  

So Hezekiah prays a desperate prayer for deliverance and God hears him and answers.  God miraculously defeats the Assyrians, wipes out most of their army, and they go back home in defeat.  No one in Jerusalem has to take up a weapon, no one from Judah is injured or killed, God saves them from their enemy.  It's a wonderful story and you'll hear about it from King Hezekiah's perspective when we worship God this Sunday.

Most of us face times in our lives when we pray desperate prayers.  But we shouldn't wait to develop a healthy prayer life until we're facing desperate times.  How can we develop our relationship with God and prepare ourselves for desperate times, so that we know God will hear and answer our prayers?  Join us for worship this Sunday at 9:00 (Traditional Worship) and 10:45 a.m. (Contemporary Worship) to discover how to trust God and pray in desperate times.

Also, join our January Prayer Challenge.  We are asking members of our congregation to set aside five minutes a day to pray for the First Baptist Church, it's ministries and it;s leaders.  This week's prayer concerns are:

Sunday 1/13: Pray desperate prayers for your needs and our church and trust God to answer.

Monday 1/14: Pray for our Deacon Board as they meet tonight – may God guide their plans.

Tuesday 1/15: Pray for Mount Rubidoux Manor Annual Meeting – expansion of services to low income seniors in need of assisted living.

Wednesday 1/16: Pray for Wednesday Prayer Meeting, for our church and one another.

Thursday 1/17: Pray for musicians and Holy Spirit inspired worship on Sundays.  Rehearsal tonight.

Friday 1/18: Pray for our children and youth ministries – winter camp coming up in a couple of weeks.

 Saturday 1/19: Pray for Sunday worship services.

PRAYERS GOD ANSWERS - PRAY BOLDLY

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 @ 3:21 PM

This Sunday we start a new series of sermons: "Prayers God Answers."  Would you like to pray bold, audacious prayers and know that God is going to answer them?  What kinds of things might you ask God to do if you prayed audacious prayers?  Would you ask him to change your heart and help you overcome bad habits so you'd be more like Jesus?  Would you pray for the healing of a friend and believe that he can do it?  Would you pray bold prayers for God to do great things in our church?  Would you pray for the lost?  Would you ask God to bless America?

One thing I know is that God wants us to pray audacious prayers.  He's tired of hearing our safe prayers that we don't really expect to be answered.  God is tired of listening to the same prayers prayed habitually day after day.  He wants us to pray fresh, new prayers with a mustard seed sized faith that is powerful enough to move mountains.

During January I'm asking everyone who calls First Baptist Riverside their church to join me in praying just five minutes a day for our church, our ministries, and for us to become the people God wants us to be.  Think of the power of a couple hundred people praying for the same thing during the same 24-hour period.  God might think we're praying for something we really want to see him do in our lives and in our church.  If God answered our prayers, what difference would that make?  It would make a huge difference in the future trajectory of our church.

This winter and spring exciting things are going on at First Baptist.  On Saturday, February 23rd, we will host a Parent Summit for parents and grandparents who want to have greater influence in the lives of their kids.  At the end of February we'll officially change the name of our church from the "First Baptist Church of Riverside" to "Church on the Hill" or "The Hill."  This will be accompanied by a major promotional campaign to make the community aware of our new name and our ministries and invite our neighbors to come and worship with us.  These events have the potential to do great things for God and for our church.  We need to be united in prayer to see what God will do.

I hope you'll come worship with us this Sunday at First Baptist Riverside and find out how to pray "Prayers God Answers."  This Sunday we'll learn to "Pray Boldly."  Our services are at 9:00 a.m. (Traditional) and 10:45 a.m. (Contemporary).  Each Sunday you will receive prayer concerns for the week ahead.  In case you miss worship, I'll print the prayer concerns in my blog each week.  Won't you join with us in prayer!

Daily Prayer Concerns for the week of January 6th:

Sunday 1/6: pray for a spiritual revival in my life and my church.

Monday 1/7: pray for our preschool, preschool families, students and teachers.

Tuesday 1/8: pray for wisdom for our leaders: Deacons, pastors and office staff.

Wednesday 1/9: pray for the start of Wednesday adult and youth ministries.

Thursday 1/10: pray for our property and mission teams as they meet tonight.

Friday 1/11: pray for my oikos, the courage to talk about spiritual things, and invite family and friends to church.

Saturday 1/12: pray for Sunday worship services, classes and small groups.

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