College-Age Sunday School

July 06, 2018
David Thomas
The college-age Sunday school class has spent the summer studying the wonderful book of Hebrews, a book with no dull moments! We've looked at the many features of this book that make it unique in the New Testament. It's not exactly a letter, not exactly a sermon, the author and audience are never identified, and yet it unpacks the Old Testament in a way that no other New Testament book attempts, showing one unified story: Jesus of Nazareth is superior to angels, Moses, Joshua, the high priests, the covenant sacrifices, and everything else! In ...

Anthony Bourdain Brought Me Closer to Jesus

June 15, 2018
Pete Manni
This blog entry is from a Facebook post written on 6/8/2018... It’s taken me a while to put into words how I’m feeling after hearing the news that Anthony Bourdain took his life this morning. My initial reaction was to throw my phone across the room as I saw the headline. I actually cried out so loud that my family came running into my room! My heart broke and tears began to form (and still are). Why would he do this?! Suicide?! Really??!! WHY???!!! Anthony Bourdain had a deep impact on my life. He was a catalyst for my love of food and ...

Written So That You May Believe

June 07, 2018
Peter Nelson
As John wraps up his Gospel, twice he mentions that he could have written more about the life of Jesus: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:30-31).  “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did.  Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (21:25)....

Children's Sunday School Summary June 3, 2018

June 06, 2018
Lori Herson
This unit we will be talking about God’s plan for Paul, who had devoted his life to preaching the gospel and planting churches, in a frightening and dangerous position. As Paul’s third missionary journey came to an end, a prophet named Agabus warned him that the Jews would seize him in Jerusalem and hand him over to the Gentiles. (See Acts 21:10-11.) But Paul did not hesitate, knowing Jerusalem was exactly where God wanted Paul to go. Paul returned to Jerusalem and was seized by a group of Jews who wanted to kill him because of the go ...

Further Up and Further In

June 01, 2018
Peter Nelson
The seventh and final novel in C. S. Lewis’s classic “Chronicles of Narnia” is The Last Battle. In this story, the children from our world who’d been magically whisked off to Narnia finally enter “Aslan’s Country”—the endlessly glorious world of the new creation (i.e., heaven!).  And once there, the great lion Aslan, “the Lord of that place,” joyously urges everyone to come “further up and further in.”  The children and the fantastic creatures who join them run through fields, up mountain slopes, even up waterfalls.  All is vast and radiant.  ...

Love Is the Way

May 25, 2018
Peter Nelson
Ever since the Royal Wedding last week, I’ve been mulling over that exuberant sermon from Rev. Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church.  It’s been the talk of town—along with Meghan’s dress, celebrity sightings, and all those hats.  Curry jolted the formal pomp-and-ceremony atmosphere.  He said: There’s power in love.  God is love.  Love is the way.  Love will change the world. That’s about it.  Now there’s some truth in those words, of course.  So what’s not to like about two billion viewers hearing a church ...

Children's Sunday School Summary May 20, 2018

May 21, 2018
Lori Herson
Paul had written a letter (1 Corinthians) addressing several sins that were being tolerated in the church at Corinth. The letter had been a risk. The Corinthians may have rejected Paul, but they did not. Paul wrote 2 Corinthians to celebrate what God had done in the church and to call on them for help. The church in Jerusalem was in desperate need of help, so Paul was collecting money from the other churches on their behalf. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to be generous. He told them about the churches in Macedonia. Macedonia was an area ...

Dual Citizenship

May 18, 2018
Peter Nelson
Belonging to Jesus means living in two worlds.  On the one hand, we settle into 21st century North America.  We work and go to school and do business in our local communities, rubbing shoulders with people of various backgrounds and beliefs.  What’s more, we obey the law of the land, pay our taxes, and strive to make a positive con­tribution for “the greater good” of humanity here and now. On the other hand, all who follow Christ make their true home in another world—under the eternal reign of God today and in the new heavens and new earth ...

Children's Sunday School Summary May 13, 2018

May 16, 2018
Lori Herson
Paul knew that following Jesus is difficult. After Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, his life was turned upside down and he was never the same. Paul spent the rest of his life struggling and suffering to advance the very gospel that he had denied and fought against before his conversion. Paul was in prison when he wrote his letter to the believers at the church in Ephesus. Paul knew firsthand that the life of a believer is a battle—an ongoing fight. But Paul didn’t see life as a fight against the Romans, those who had thrown him in ...

Urgent or Important?

May 11, 2018
Peter Nelson
Long before the iPhone and “push notifications” and pathological multitasking and the addictive flitting of our eyes from one screen to another, back in the day when you went to the local library to learn a thing or two about Ebola or cholesterol or eschatology, all the way back in 1967 Charles Hummel wrote a booklet called Tyranny of the Urgent. It was timely then.  And it’s really timely now. Frenzied busyness results not from having too much to do, but from confusing the urgent with the important.  When we fail to set and keep ...

The Gospel for Life

May 04, 2018
Peter Nelson
When you hear the word “gospel,” do you think of the good news of Jesus that people who don’t know God can be saved?  If so, that’s great, it’s true—and yet, the gospel still applies after conversion. Much harm has come upon the church through the careless assump­tion that the gospel is only relevant to the non-believer:  Once you get saved, the gospel is behind you; now it’s time to get on with growing and serving and working for God—except, of course, as you look to share the gospel invitation with others who are lost. But, in fact, ...

Children's Sunday School Summary April 29, 2018

May 02, 2018
Lori Herson
All of the letters Paul wrote follow the same basic outline. The first part of each letter focuses on important doctrines: the gospel. The second part of each letter then explains how those doctrines can and should shape how we live every day: gospel transformation. When it comes to Romans, the first eleven chapters are Paul’s explanation of the gospel, while the final five chapters center on how that gospel changes us. Romans 12:1-2 is the hinge linking these two sections together. Paul urges believers to keep in mind the mercies of God....

Assisted Living

April 27, 2018
Peter Nelson
Last week I was in Minnesota to visit my dad, Ken Nelson—he’s 98 and “home” now is an assisted living apartment.  I stayed in the guest suite in his building, accompanied him for meals and activities, took him to dentist and doctor appointments, and drove him to visit his sister Grace 100 miles away in Wisconsin.  We had a good time. Dad snoozes a lot; if he sits down for very long at all, he’ll nod off.  And sometimes he gets mixed up—seems like his dreams linger into the awake moments.  He moves very slowly and he’s virtually blind. As ...

Children's Sunday School Summary April 22, 2018

April 25, 2018
Lori Herson
Rome was one of the most important cities in Paul’s day. Paul understood that it was essential that the church in the capital of the Roman Empire be anchored in the gospel. Unlike many of the other churches we read about in the New Testament, Paul didn’t help plant the church in Rome; in fact, he hadn’t even visited yet. Paul was planning his first visit to this important church when he wrote a letter to make sure the believers there properly understood the gospel. The Book of Romans contains one of the clearest explanations of the gospel ...

A Charge to Church Leaders

April 20, 2018
Peter Nelson
Last week I had the chance to share a “word from the Word” with our area pastors group, and I decided to comment on Acts 20:17-38. About the text—Paul is traveling from Greece to Jerusalem, and his ship stops for a few days at Miletus, a port city near Ephesus.  This gives the Apostle a chance to share a “farewell address” with a team of church leaders he’s lovingly discipled for some three years. The tone of the speech is serious and weighty.  Paul doesn’t expect to see these “loved ones” ever again in this world.  So he gets right to ...

Take up the Towel

April 13, 2018
Peter Nelson
To all in our Goshen family:  Based on last week’s passage from John 13 and Jesus’ charge to “take up the towel,” let’s commit to serve one another with self-giving, preference-dropping, Jesus-imitating love. When he had washed their feet…, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to ...

Children's Sunday School Summary April 8, 2018

April 11, 2018
Peter Nelson
The apostle John had been one of Jesus’ closest friends. Along with Peter and James, John was part of the innermost core of Jesus’ disciples. John even referred to himself in his Gospel as “the one whom Jesus loved.” It is not surprising that 50 years after Jesus returned to heaven, John wrote a letter to help believers understand who Jesus is. At the center of John’s message was one key theme: love. John wrote that God is love, and if believers truly love God, then we will love one another. Our love for one another should be so deep that ...

Rescue Operation

April 06, 2018
Peter Nelson
As we move past Holy Week on the church calendar, the stun­ning, self-giving love of Jesus on the cross reverberates in my heart.  “What wondrous love is this?”  The New Testament repeatedly points to Jesus’ suffering as “substitutionary”—Christ bore our guilt, he died in our place—for us, for you. Hear the Word of God—let it pour over you; bask in the wonder of the Savior’s substitutionary atonement: >>Romans 5:8, But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. >>Romans 8:32, He who did not spare his ...

Two Days in One

March 29, 2018
Peter Nelson
What a jarring juxtaposition:  this Sunday will be both Easter and April Fool’s Day.  Talk about two celebrations moving in different directions!  What are we supposed to do with that kind of overlap? I like the story of a BBC news radio report on April 1, 1976, explain­ing that the alignment of two planets would, at 9:47 a.m. that day, produce a gravitational effect such that, if you jumped up at just that moment, you’d begin to float.  I can picture the public trying it out! There are so many prank stories.  And why not have a moment on ...

What's in a Word?

March 28, 2018
Peter Nelson
Nancy Guthrie has assembled a wonderful collection of essays about “experiencing the passion and power of Easter,” Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross.  I was especially encouraged this week when I revisited chapter 20, “The Most Important Word in the Universe,” by Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr.  A title like that grabs the reader’s curiosity.  So, what is the word? Propitiation. Of course, some may object—what about, say, “God”?  Fair enough—one can surely make a case.  But take a moment to hear Ray Ortlund out. To “propitiate” is “to render ...

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