Overcoming Temptation

Pastor David Salinas

3/5/17

Description:A story came out in the NY Times of a young stock broker who was falling to the temptation to envy and discontent, despite making millions. He said, "In my eighth year on Wall Street, my bonus was $3.6 million, and I was angry because it wasn’t enough." There’s a story about an aged professor at Princeton Theological Seminary counseling a young seminarian who was struggling with pornography. At one point, the seminarian asked the wise old professor, “At what age will lust no longer be a problem?” The professor replied, “I can’t say exactly, but it must be sometime after 82!” (Which, of course, was how old the professor was!) We, of course, could go on and one with endless examples of people struggling with and imprisoned in any number of other sins. My point is—and we all know it by experience—temptation is a problem, a real, dangerous, deadly problem. Precisely, because it is, this week our Savior comes to us in the section of his word where we see him face Satan's temptations to give us victory over temptation. Join me, then, a fellow sinner, who struggles with temptation, to overcome it!

See How Super Our Savior Is!

Pastor David Salinas

2/26/17

Description:With yet another Marvel Comic superhero movie coming out in ‘Logan,’ otherwise known as the X-man, Wolverine, and a seemingly endless string of Marvel and DC comic book superhero sequels and reboots still on the horizon - if art imitates life - it's safe to say this is the epoch of the superhero. Why is that? Why this cultural fascination with suped-up, super-charged humans and humanoids? Maybe, it's just this: superheroes are a manifestation of our innate need and desire to be saved. We live in a scary world, a world where every day we are reminded of the umpteen things that can hurt us and those we love, and we long for someone to swoop in and rescue us from it all. Perhaps, our own childhood desire to wear a cape and be a superhero may well be the byproduct of our intuitive sense that we are not what we should be. We’re broken. We’re powerless and weak, and we don’t want to be; we long to be whole, to be what God originally made us to be: his holy, deathless people for his praise and glory. In that longing, oh, how we long for that hero to swoop in and make us all that we were meant to be! Well, let's all cheer like the crowds at the end of the superhero flick when the hero saves the day. We have just such a hero in Jesus, the God-man! This week, where he takes us up a mountain, briefly removes his “Clark Kent” glasses, and peels open his humble exterior to reveal the glorious ’S’ for Savior beneath, he would have us know all the more what an amazing Savior he is. He would have us see this in the superpowers he gives us that we might run to our hero every day and walk away more super ourselves. Join me, then, and see how super our Savior is!

Practice Radical Love

Pastor David Salinas

2/19/17

Description:One of the most important truths about our Christian lives that Jesus brings out in his Sermon on the Mount is that they often involve radical action. Our attitude toward sin, for instance, involves a radical response and reaction to it. "If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out!" Our Christian love also calls for some radical, extreme, counter-intuitive measures. “Do not repay evil for evil (as makes sense and as we are naturally inclined to do) but with good. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.” As we hear Jesus' call to take radical action with our love this week, it's a good time to reflect on and evaluate our love. Ask yourself: Is my love that radical? Or is it often simply the natural, sensible, easy love of the unbeliever—love for those who love me first or in return? This call to radical love of our Savior, however, isn't just the perfect opportunity to reflect on the current level or status of our love. It's the perfect opportunity to sit at our Savior's feet in his word, and let love wash over us, so that we grow in our ability to love as radically as he calls us, yes, as he loved us. Ready, dear child of God? Let's get radical!

Make the world a better place!

Pastor David Salinas

2/5/17

Description:The teaching of God’s grace - the biblical teaching that God loves us because we don’t deserve his love, forgives us our sins in Jesus no strings attached, and gives us heaven through Christ as a free gift - gives people a license to sin, because why be good if God forgives all the bad stuff anyway. That's the accusation, anyway. Is the accusation true? Nothing could be further from the truth! Paul couldn’t be more emphatic about that in Romans 6. “Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? By no means...We were buried with Christ through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead we too may live a new life” (Ro 6:1-4). Now, can Christians abuse God’s grace? Can those who profess to follow Jesus twist his undeserved love into a license to sin and gratify self? Sadly, that also is true. Since every Christian is still a sinner and since the sinful self loves nothing better than to abuse God’s good gifts for the purposes of self-gratification and self-destruction, Christian people can end up living in ways that follow the pattern of the world. Christian people have been known, for example, to have sex and live together before marriage, to prioritize worldly activities ahead of Sunday morning worship, to use foul language and behave like the unbelieving world around them. To ensure you and I remain grace-loving Christians that use God’s grace to please him and be a blessing to the world this week Jesus comes to us in his Sermon on the Mount and says, “Dear follower of mine, make this world a better place!”

Don't Go Back to the Dark Ages

Pastor David Salinas

1/22/17

Description:In 476 A.D. the Western Roman Empire breathed its last. From that point to about 1500 A.D. began the period of in Western civilization that the Italian poet Petrarch coined the “Dark Ages," an almost 1000 year period of a relative lack of cultural achievements in areas like literature, music, and art. From a Lutheran perspective it was the spiritually dark time where the truth of salvation by God’s grace alone through faith in Christ alone was getting buried beneath piles of errors. Western Europe was pulled out of the “Dark Ages,” through a series of military campaigns to win back Jerusalem from the Muslims, known as The Crusades. As crusaders traveled to Israel, they rediscovered the classical art and music of Greece. The crusaders even played their part in the spiritual Renaissance of Europe, as they discovered and brought back manuscripts of the Bible in its original languages of Hebrew and Greek. You and I once languished in the Dark Ages in the ultimate sense—the dark age of unbelief. We were pulled out of that dark age when God launched his successful campaign to win us back from sin, Satan, and unbelief—the crusade of his Son to conquer the dark forces of evil that reigned over us and the crusade of his Holy Spirit to give us Jesus’ victory by giving us the faith to believe in his victory for us. Praise God, you and I, Christian, are not living in that dark age now! Nevertheless, please realize this: as sinful human beings we all run the risk of slipping back down into the dark age of unbelief. So, this week, Paul walks up next to us, throws his arm around our shoulder, and makes an appeal to give us a counter-balance, so that we not slip and fall - Don’t Go Back To The Dark Ages!

Why Is Baptism So Important?

Pastor David Salinas

1/15/17

Description:When we look at baptisms in the early church, one thing is clear: our brothers and sisters in Christ of times past sure made a big deal of baptism. Baptisms were done on Easter Sunday morning. The rituals were often ornate and the Easter morning worship with the newly baptized was rich and joyful. The Lord, of course, makes no rules in his word as to the rituals and ceremonies surrounding baptism beyond the application of water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Still, the Christians of times past tended to employ rich symbolism and a good measure of festivity to go along with the simple Sacrament of water and the Word. Why? They knew how important baptism was not just for that special day and occasion but for their entire life. They understood that baptism and its promises was a key to living each day in peace and living not for themselves but for Him who died for them and rose again.Honest question, now: before this moment, when was the last time you thought seriously about your baptism? That’s what I want us all to do this week. I want us all to ponder, remember, and celebrate the significance and importance of our baptisms for our life—who we are, what can we do. And so, this week, on the basis of our dear Savior’s baptism, ponder my simple question, “ Why Is Baptism So Important?” *The preacher is indebted to Prof. Charles Cortright for the opening illustration of a baptism in the early church from his paper Ego Te Baptizo.

Go Nuts for Your Father's Gift

Pastor David Salinas

12/24/16

Description:Well, another Christmas has come and gone. The world was done celebrating Christmas on only its second day! At this hour all thoughts are on preparing to ring in the New Year. As Christians, we can certainly celebrate the passage of time with thanksgiving and joy, especially, as we ponder that our past and future is lived under the lavish grace of God. Still, at the posting of this we're just half way through the 12 days of Christmas. For us the Christmas party is just getting good! As we prepare, then, to enter the new year let our thoughts turn once more to Christmas, to what God has given us when the virgin gave birth! At this midpoint of the Christmas season recall the great gift that is yours in the Christ-child and continue going nuts for your Father's gift, welcoming him with great joy, even as you welcome 2017! A very blessed Christmas and happy New Year to you and yours! (*Note: The opening video is the Walmart Christmas commercial "Freak Out" showing kids going crazy as they open their Christmas gifts.)

The Grinch Who Couldn't Steal Christmas

Pastor David Salinas

12/18/16

Description:"Every Who Down in Who-ville Liked Christmas a lot...But the Grinch,Who lived just North of Who-ville, Did NOT..." And, well, you know the story. In his jealousy and hatred of the Whos and in his utter distaste for the peace, joy, hope and love filling the air of Whoville, the Grinch straps reindeer antlers on his little dog, then straps his little dog to a sleigh, flies down “Mount Crumpet,” and goes on a burglary spree to try to steal the Whos’ Christmas. So…Has the Grinch, the old evil foe, or the Grinch, this rushed, selfish, tempting world, or the Grinch, your dark natural heart swooped down “Mount Crumpet” and stolen a bit of your Christmas? Has your joy at any point in this holiday season been dampened? As you replay 2016 in your mind, what regrets cause you sadness and eat away at you, robbing you of inner peace when you think about them? As you look at the days ahead, what fears loom on the horizon? What has tried your patience? As we think about these questions, each of us sees, how at times those three nasty Grinches—Satan, the world, and our instinctively God-hating natures, have sped down the mountain into the Whoville of our heart and stolen our Christmas joy, peace, hope, and love. This week is about getting it all back, so that come Christmas Eve and Day, and our whole lives through, our hearts would be filled and refilled with the joy, peace, hope, and love that are the defining blessings of the birth of our Savior! Listen now to the story of the Grinch who couldn't steal Christmas. *(Please note, there was a glitch in the YouTube editing feature. For the sermon fast-forward to the 32:10 mark).

Avoiding the Axe

Pastor David Salinas

12/4/16

Description:Change or die...What if you were given that choice? What if a well-informed, trusted authority figure said you had to make difficult and enduring changes in the way you think and act? If you didn't, your time would end soon—a lot sooner than it had to. Could you change when change…mattered most? Such were the sobering words in a business article. The article went on to say that odds are nine to one we wouldn’t change—even in the face of certain death. The author based that statistic on a study by a dean of the medical school at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Edward Miller. Dr. Miller studied patients whose heart disease was so bad they needed bypass surgeries and angioplasties. The sad fact is that these major procedures rarely prevent heart future attacks or prolong lives for very long. Dr. Miller stated what the main problem was:If you look at people after coronary-artery bypass grafting two years later, 90 percent of them have not changed their lifestyle. And that's been studied over and over and over again. And so we're missing some link in there. Even though they know they have a very bad disease (that will kill them) and they know they should change their lifestyle (or die), for whatever reason, they can’t (or won’t). We’ve now entered the second week of Advent. Advent means and Advent says—Christ, the King, is coming! The main spiritual reaction to that reality is hope and excitement, but another key spiritual reaction is repent! Change your heart and mind! Change…or die. John the Baptist said: “every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” Change or die. Will you and I make and keep making the change of repentance when it matters most—before our Savior rends the heavens wide and comes down with mighty stride? Listen and be empowered to change and live!

Expect the Unexpected

Pastor David Salinas

11/27/16

Description:The old proverb says that ignorance is bliss. Well, a Renton, WA woman named Amanda Brisendine would be the first to tell you otherwise. About a decade ago, she went to the hospital with sudden severe abdominal pains, only to find out that her bad stomachache was labor contractions! Yes, like right out of Enquirer magazine, she gave birth to a son, not realizing the whole time she was pregnant! When asked how she didn’t know, she claimed that she hadn’t experienced any of the common symptoms of pregnancy, but, finally, said, "I don't know how I didn't know. I just didn't.” Blessedly, her ignorance only resulted in an unexpected addition to her family. It could have been much worse, however. Her doctors told her that ultrasounds showed her baby was distressed. This strange episode reminds us of the counter-proverb to ignorance is bliss—what we don’t know can hurt us! Never is that more true than when it comes to the return of Christ to judge the living and the dead. Jesus pictures his return as a pregnancy, a labor and delivery. This sin-fallen world is pregnant with judgment. In fact, it’s experiencing labor contractions, as we speak. While being ignorant of the pregnancy of a child would certainly throw an unexpected curve-ball to life, being ignorant of the world’s pregnancy of Judgment Day, which includes living as if you are, can end up with that ignorant person being thrown into hell. What we don’t know can really hurt us! To make sure not a one of us echos Brisendine's words on the day Christ returns and Judgment is born—“I don’t know how I didn’t know. I just didn’t.”—our coming King comes to us on this first week of Advent and prepares us for the birth of his 2nd coming, even as we prepare to celebrate the birth of his first coming. “Expect the unexpected!”

Psalm 90, Add Life to Your Years!

Pastor David Salinas

11/6/16

Description:Hardly a day, certainly not a week, goes by when we aren't reminded of a truth of life we all know but don't often think about, and don't really want to—life is fragile, fleeting, uncertain. It can end so suddenly, so unexpectedly—so, before we imagine it will. The great tragedy of life, however, isn’t it’s frailty, it’s brevity, it’s sudden and unexpected ending; it’s that such a brief yet precious gift can be wasted. Youth, for instance, does get wasted on the young. We can fritter away precious days, months, and years of our youth to rebellion and waywardness. We can fritter away our middle years by mixing up our priorities, which often results in a further wasting of precious time to ingratitude for and discontentment with what God has given us. We can waste the precious last days of our time on earth, the golden years, to bitterness, impatience, grumpiness, and resentment. All I have to say as I think about this is…Praise the Lord! He isn’t about to let you and me waste one second of the time he has given us! In a world where far too many are preoccupied with counting the hours and simply adding years to their lives, the Lord in Psalm 90 enables us to squeeze the absolute most of our brief time here, as he gives us hours that count and adds life to our years. Join me, then, to ponder Psalm 90 and Add Life to Your Years!

What are we going to do when our world falls apart?

Pastor David Salinas

10/30/16

Description:I think it’s safe to say our nation is in an uproar. We’re in a major election year, and this particular election with its—shall we say—interesting choices of presidential candidates is creating an even more unsettling drama than usual. In a survey by the New York Times 52 percent of Americans feel stressed about November 8. The earth gives way. Or as the penmen of Psalm 46, the sons of Korah, literally put it: the earth changes—and not for the better. In a recent article from Outreach magazine, Pastor John Mark Comer, serving a large evangelical congregation on the west side of Portland cites evidence of what we all know: America is following Europe in becoming more and more secular, and secular culture is corrosive to faith. The mountains fall into the heart of the sea. Into the life of us all will and must come those earth-shaking, life-changing moments—moments that I refer to as the traumas and dramas of life—when all sense of normality, stability, and predictability is shaken to the core, and you feel like the ground beneath you is shaking, and you’re being swept away into a swirling sea of maddening emotions of all kinds. What are we going to when the the world around us and our own little worlds fall apart? The Reformation has much to teach us in this regard. Martin Luther knew a thing or two about what it was like to have the world around him falling apart on both a social and personal level. Listen to the key comforts he drew from Psalm 46 that became the basis for his great Reformation hymn, “A Mighty Fortress" and know just what to do when our world falls apart.

Break Through the Plateau

Pastor David Salinas

10/23/16

Description:Aside from starting a workout regimen, probably, the most difficult thing about getting in the best shape of our lives are the those last stubborn 20 lbs. When you first hit the gym, you can make some pretty dramatic improvements rather quickly. However, soon comes the point where the progress halts. You hit a will. You reach a plateau. Something like that can happen to us spiritually. We start off on fire, wanting to give ourselves and all we have wholly over to the Lord, desirous and yearning to fear, love, and trust in God above all things, and serve him only. At various stages and points in life, we hit a wall, reach a plateau. We come to those last unwanted "20 lbs. of self" and our things that we are not willing to give to God and let go and let God—whether it’s fully trusting God’s plans for our lives when they don’t jibe with ours, loving others as he loved us, or viewing our money and resources and managing them in a way that reflects our complete love, trust, and devotion to the Lord. How do we break through this spiritual plateau, so that we fear, love, and trust in God more and more to our greater happiness, peace, contentment, and satisfaction in life? Listen to Jesus' conversation with a rich young ruler who has hit a spiritual plateau and this break through your own plateau!

Praise to the Lord

Grace School

10/23/16

Description:Enjoy our Grace Lutheran School children lead us to break through our spiritual plateaus as they sing the praise of the Lord into our hearts.

What To Do When the Going Gets Tough

Pastor David Salinas

10/2/16

Description:In a classic Calvin and Hobbes cartoon Calvin is swinging on a swing in the school playground. A bully, who is twice is big as Calvin, comes up to Calvin and demands he get off the swing. “Get off the swing, Twinky,” he tells him. But Calvin stands up to the bully. “Forget it, Mo,” he tells him. “Wait your turn.” The next frame has no words. It just shows a punch that sends Calvin spinning. The last frame shows Calvin on the ground with a black eye, musing, “Sometimes it’s hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning.” Calvin and Hobbes captures with humor what theologians have termed “The Problem of Evil.” The problem of evil - i.e., how can a good and all-powerful God sit on his hands and do nothing about the evil rampant in the world? - brings us believers to a fork in the road and leaves us feeling pulled in two opposite directions. On the one hand, we hear God’s promises and his call to believe them, and with every fiber of our Holy Spirit created new selves we want to do just that. On the other hand, a part of us can’t help but have its doubts. Which path will you finally go down? This week, we want to ensure that all of us keep walking down the road of faith in Christ. This week is about growing in our capacity to trust God’s promises even when we can’t grasp his plans! Listen to the words of the prophet Habbakuk as he confronts the problem of evil head on, and receive strength for the tough times.

Devotions & Song Service

Pastor David Salinas & Stephen Bautista

9/18/16

Description:The natural consequence of a sin-broken life is that often our hearts are bogged down with sorrow instead of bounding with song. Even when we are not brokenhearted over something, I think we often live our lives sighing ho-hum more than we live them shouting Hallelujah! Ah, but, breaking through the clouds of the mourning and the mundane of life are the bright song-inspiring rays of the love of God - his love that chose us in Christ from eternity, his love that sent his Son to acquit us of all guilt and throw open heaven's gates for us, his love that sought and found us when we were lost and beaten down by sin and Satan. Listen once more to the amazing love of God for you. May it fill your heart with a new song, and may you spend your days cheerfully returning and requiting his love!We want to, once again, thank Mr. Stephen Bautista for so wonderfully singing the love of God into our hearts and filling them up with a glad new song.

What a Love Story!

Pastor David Salinas

9/11/16

Description:Ralph Waldo Emerson once observed that the world loves a lover. If he was right, then one of the most beloved books in literature, let alone the Bible, should be the book of Hosea. In some ways the story of Hosea is the all too common story of marriage between sinners that plays out over and over again throughout our world. It’s the sad story of a broken vow, a broken home, a broken heart, and a broken life. And yet, in other ways the story of Hosea is so unique that it ranks among the most amazing in all of literature. Because of the theme it presents, we’ve largely skipped over it in our Sunday School lessons and even in our pulpits. But this sad, sorted story of a betrayed and brokenhearted pastor is one that God himself authored from the life of this talented preacher and used to reveal the nature of his astonishing grace for the likes of you and me. It is my sincere prayer this week that with the blessing of the Holy Spirit the story of Hosea will serve to deepen our understanding and appreciation for God's lavish grace like never before. Listen to this amazing love story.

Be Finely Tuned Praying Machines

Pastor David Salinas

7/24/16

Description:Last week we gathered around Genesis 18 and learned one important reason why God forgives us and gives us eternal life exclusively by his undeserved favor through faith in his Son, completely apart from any good deeds of ours. What was that reason? Why did God forgive and save us in Christ without one good work of ours? He did it that we might be finely-tuned good works machines! As Paul tells us in Ephesians and as we witnessed in the hustle and bustle of father Abraham preparing the fresh veal with all the trimmings for the Lord and the two angels, God created us in Christ Jesus to do good works. Well, one of the greatest good works that can be done, yes, one of the prime and necessary good works that we are to be continually doing is praying. Our Savior urges us, “Ask…seek…knock.” Literally, keep asking…keep seeking...keep knocking. In other words, don’t stop praying! Yet, as is true of our life of good works, in general, for any number of reasons, our prayer life, in particular, is often not what it should be. Sometimes, our prayer life is shallow; sometimes, it's inconsistent; often it's imbalanced—focused more on earthly needs than spiritual ones—and, perhaps, worst of all, sometimes, our prayer life can be timid, lacking confidence and riddled with doubts. Thankfully, Jesus, who is both our Savior and Teacher, comes to us this week to improve our prayer life, especially, in this regard: to make us shamelessly bold and persistent in prayer. The one who opened access to our Father’s room through the curtain that is his body and taught us to pray urges us this week through Abraham’s fine example—Be a finely-tuned praying machine! Listen, and be just such a machine! Barge into your Father's room with many prayers

Finely Tuned Good-Works Machine

Pastor David Salinas

7/17/16

Description: “Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.” “Practice what you preach!” Throughout history Lutherans have been accused of not following through with that sage advice. More than one person has said, "You conservative Lutherans are good at talking the talk—when it comes to your doctrine, your teaching, you make sure every ‘T’ is crossed and ‘I’ is dotted. But when it comes to walking the walk in putting that teaching into practice with a life of purity, goodness, and loving service, well...not so much. Now, sometimes, this accusation is a cross we bear for being sticklers—as God calls us to be—about making sure that we remain focused on the good news of Christ and that every gem of his word remains free of any error. Sometimes, however, our accusers have a point. For any number of reasons, we, sometimes, don’t walk the walk of Christian love and service as we ought. And yet, this is most certainly true: we need to take our life of service and good works seriously, because the Lord does! How does he say all people will know we are his disciples? Amazingly, not through our doctrine but through our love. “By this all men will know you are my disciples... By what? If you love one another.” In Ephesians 2 one of the key reasons Paul cites for God saving us by grace through faith in Jesus completely apart from our good works is...so that we be a good works machine! “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." So, the simple but big question before us this week is, How will we be a more finely tuned good works machine, a Christian machine that kicks out many of the good works God has given us each day to do? Listen, and walk away a good works machine that just hums!

Count Your Chickens Before They Are Hatched!

Pastor David Salinas

7/10/16

Description:In the story of The Milkmaid and the Pail Patty, the milkmaid, is having all kinds of happy daydreams about the money she is going to be making from the sale of her milk. She plans on buying some chickens to lay some eggs, that she will, in turn, sell for a nice profit to buy a fancy dress and hat to make Polly Shaw jealous. As Patty lives out her fantasy, she spills the milk on the ground. Her mom tells her the famous moral of the story - "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched!"It's a lesson we learn often in life: Win first. Celebrate later. Whether you're the sports' team that is up by a bunch with a bunch of time still left on the clock or the child who thinks the allowance is in his pocket, and slacks off doing his chores, we all learn not to celebrate too soon for fear of ending up with egg on our face instead of chickens. So, it's just so interesting to hear the prophet Isaiah tell us this week to rejoice, rejoice greatly! While the call is surely an inviting one, on any given day or week, we get hit with sad and shocking news. Daily, we struggle and travail in some way beneath the weight of our sin and its consequences. Could Isaiah's call be a case of counting our chickens before they're hatched? Oh no! Listen and believe this: When it comes to joy, go ahead and count your chickens! No matter what, there is simply no better time to celebrate in the Lord!

Get Your 'Buts' Out of the Way (Part 1)

Pastor David Salinas

6/26/16

Description:Serious question for you: Is your ‘But’ getting in the way? No, not from fitting into that favorite swimsuit or pair of jeans! From living your life to the fullest. In an internet article on Psychology Today titled “Rebut the ‘Buts,' Dr. Jeffrey Nevid writes the following:Many people say they would like to make changes in their behavior, but are held back by all the “buts” that seem to get in the way. Their thinking follows this pattern of “Yes. . . . but:"“Yes, I’d like to start dating. . . But I’ll be rejected.”“Yes, I’d like to look for another job. . . But it’s not the time of year to find one.“Yes, I’d like to get in touch with an old friend. . . But I wouldn’t know what to say.” Pun very much intended, so go ahead and smile - We all can have really big ‘buts’ that get in the way! And not just to courageously stepping out in life but to living our Christian lives to the fullest, that is, to being as faithful and excellent disciples of the Lord Jesus as he called us to be and as we truly want to be. Over these next two weeks our aim from this portion of God's word in Luke chapter 9 is to overcome more and more our sinful selves and all the obstacles they put in the way toward our discipleship of Christ Jesus. Listen to the following message. Move your 'Buts' out of the way, and this week receive this special gift - the pleasure of sharing in God's greatest pleasure!

Will There Really Be a Church When Steeples are Falling

Pastor David Salinas

6/19/16

Description:In 2008 church officials of the Orthodox church in Russia came upon a shocking discovery. A church building in Moscow that they had planned on reopening after ten years of being unused had disappeared. Poof! Gone! What could have happened to a two-story church building? Could it have been abducted by aliens? No, it wasn’t ET. It was something nearly as amazing, however. The church had disappeared one brick a time. Villagers from a nearby town came in and chiseled out brick after brick over the ten years of the church’s disuse to sell them to a local businessman at about 4 cents a pop. Just as that two-story church made of bricks didn’t disappear by one swift stroke of a wrecking ball, but slowly, one brick at a time, sometimes churches—built not of bricks but of "living stones," believers in Christ—are reduced to rubble not by a quick, fatal stroke, but rather by Christians, who have gone through Bible instruction and Confirmation, one at a time, choosing not to come to church as often, but do other things on Sunday morning; or by confirmed Christians coming to church regularly but letting themselves be easily distracted by not praying in preparation for worship and by not thinking about the words they hear, speak, and sing, so that worship digresses into a parrot-like mindless repetition. Christ’s church can be reduced to rubble by its living stones taking his word for granted, so that they don't meditate on it outside of worship or live lives godly according to it. As I think about some of the disturbing signs and trends of Christian churches in our nation and in our own circles, I can’t help it. I have to ask and I invite you to ask and seriously contemplate with me: Will there really be a church even when steeples are falling? Will Jesus find faith in you and me when he returns? See the Lord's fatherly love in giving you a perfect Savior and architect of your soul, and firm may you ever stand!

Fall In Love With Jesus More Each Day

Pastor David Salinas

6/12/16

Description:We often talk about falling in love as a mystery. The truth is developing romantic feelings for someone is not so much a mystery as it is a mathematical formula. All other things being equal—relative proximity in ages, getting along and clicking as friends, thinking, Yeah, you’re not too hard on the eyes—all those things being equal, falling in love with someone is as simple as spending time with them. How much time? Willard Harley Jr. in his book Draw Close says about 15 hours a week. Where all this becomes meaningful for us as Christian people, whether we’re in a relationship or not, is that the exact same principle is true of our relationship with Jesus! In our spiritual union with Christ, the Church’s Groom and Husband, we are to grow in our romance for Jesus, if you will, we are to grow in the spirit of repentance and faith in him that demonstrates he has our whole heart. As with a human marriage, the only way for that romance to develop is to spend undivided quality time with him in his word, above all, hearing the two main messages of the Bible—the law and the gospel. Where this is not done the romance will fizzle. So, let’s spend some time this week hearing pointed law that condemns us and beautiful gospel that ignites our passion for Christ; and let’s all take home this encouragement on the basis of 2 Samuel 11 & 12: Fall in love with Jesus more and more each day, and enjoy the romance of your life!

A Christian Education Enables Us to Live an Amazing Life!

Pastor David Salinas

6/5/16

Description:Last week hundreds of cap and gown robed teenagers packed the floor of a local auditorium with thousands of family members and friends cheering loudly, as they received their diplomas. I imagine one commencement speech after another waxing poetic about how their education taught prepared them well for the next stage in life. Still, as I think about the blessing of the three ‘Rs,’ Writing, Reading, and Arithmatic, I know one thing - a purely secular education, not even an Ivy League one, can prepare you for the moment I faced two and a half months ago when the ER doctor called me in at 1:30 am and said to me, “I’m sorry your mom’s brain is swelling. She’s not going to make it.” A purely secular, academic education can’t even prepare you for life in one of the most important ways—it can’t make you better. It can’t transform your inner being and make you a better human. This is what makes the Christian education we receive at our churches and Christian day schools so priceless. Through the message of Christ and God’s word, we and our children are enabled to face, yes, to conquer death; not only that, we are enabled to live an amazing life. Join me to see how a Christian education enables us to live an amazing life, and cherish your education in Christ, continue to support it, and, go out and live the amazing life to which you have been called and destined.

Can Even Church-Goers Be Saved?

Pastor David Salinas

5/29/16

Description:In his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, author, John Gottman, tells the story of a pediatrician named Dr. Rory, who was a severe workaholic. As a result, this man who had dedicated his life to saving others was killing his own marriage. In an attempt to save the marriage Dr. Rory and his wife went in for counseling. In one of the most telling parts of the counseling session, this top-notch Dr. couldn’t recall the name of the family dog, and when he was asked which room led to the back door of his house, he had to turn to ask his wife. Absurd as it sounds, it happened: a man as intellectually gifted as Dr. Rory was ignorant and clueless about the most basic facts of his family life! It just goes to show—the very ones who should be the most knowledgeable and aware of something are often the very ones who remain the most clueless about it! This, unfortunately, holds true of church-goers, yes, even the ones who have the truth! They should be the most knowledgeable and aware of the truth of their sin and of their Savior, and their faith most fine-tuned to it. Often, however, they remain inexcusably clueless. This leads us to ask what might sound like a strange but is actually a very serious question: Can Even Church-Goers Be Saved? Listen and continue to be wise unto salvation.

It's Worth Coming to Church Just to Hear the Benediction

Pastor David Salinas

5/22/16

Description:In a couple of weeks, as schools let out for the summer, knees will be bouncing like jackhammers beneath desks. Teachers will be fighting a losing battle trying to get the chatter to stop and regain control of their classrooms. Kids’ heads will be whipping back every few seconds to look at the clock on the wall, and sigh, “Oh, come on. This is taking forever.” Admit it. At one time or another, for one reason or another, we've all felt the same about church. For a variety of reasons, the benediction, like the final bell before summer break, can’t come soon enough. “Come on, Pastor. Say, ‘Amen.’!”Trust me, no pastor is going to have his feelings hurt by this. All of us have also sat in the pews. Here’s the thing: in looking at the benediction as the final bell signaling the end of worship, so that we can get outta’ here, we can unintentionally lose out on countless incomparable blessings the Lord wants to lavish on us. So, this week, please let's explore together the beauty of the Aaronic blessing and live sighing, It’s worth coming to church just to hear the benediction!

Testify

Pastor David Salinas

5/15/16

Description:Please state your name for the record. Raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give in the matter now pending before this court will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?That moment where I was looking at actually being called to a witness stand and testify to the truth was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. When I was a teenager, I went along with a lie about what I had witnessed at the scene of an accident, in order to fit in with the crowd. The lie came back to bite me. A couple months after the accident, an investigator called me to ask if I was prepared to take the witness stand and testify in court. He, not so subtly, warned me of the penalty of perjury. The thought of taking the witness stand in those circumstances terrified me. “You also must testify,” Jesus told his disciples on. In a variety of ways and circumstances Jesus calls us to take the stand and testify to the truth of him and his word. Will that moment give us a panic attack or will that moment fill us with the thrilling joy of witnessing to the world all we know of Jesus? Listen and be empowered and encouraged to joyfully take the witness and testify!

Parting Is Such Sweet Joy

Pastor David Salinas

5/8/16

Description:Jesus is in heaven now. How do you feel about that? As with the departure of a dear loved one who dies in the Lord, the ascension of our Lord to God's right hand in heaven can strike us bitter-sweet. On the one hand, we're happy for our dear Lord and Savior, that he has triumphed in both his human and divine nature over sin, death, and hell, and has in both natures entered once and for all into the sublime and unimaginably great glory he shared with the Father and the Holy Spirit from all eternity. On the other hand, I think to myself, “Dear Savior, you’ve left us in a world that is really no place for us. What kind of a place for sheep is a den of wolves? Lord, life here, at every stage, can be so hard, so full of temptation and turmoil inside and out. And yet, Luke reports to us that after Jesus ascended, the disciples returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” Can it really be—can the Ascension, the removing of our Savior's visible presence on earth until Judgment Day, be joy, pure joy, for us? Yes! Listen, and let the truths of our Lord's ascension lead us to sigh, "Jesus, parting is such sweet joy!"

It is Well With My Soul

Pastor David Salinas

5/1/16

Description:When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll;Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,It is well, it is well with my soul. Those are the words of one of the most well-known Christian hymns of peace and trust. What make the words of It Is Well With My Soul all the more remarkable and breathtaking is that they were written by a man who had just lost his four daughters in the tragic sinking of the SS Ville du Havre in 1873. The father composed those words, in fact, very near the place his four daughters perished. What an amazing faith! Who wouldn't long for the supernatural strength to live at peace in the most turbulent times in life? Who of us doesn’t need and wouldn’t make ample use of the ability to live untroubled and unafraid every week of our life? Each week we experience, to some extent, what our Savior promised in this world—trouble. Come with me to the upper room with Jesus on Maundy Thursday, and receive the other-worldly power to sing, “It is well with my soul,” even when it is not well with my life.

Love As Advertised

Pastor David Salinas

4/24/16

Description:A tried and true marketing technique is to take an old product change its appearance slightly, add a gizmo here, an application there, and have an advertising firm cleverly market it as “new and improved!" We all get the selling point: newer means better, so you’ll be better off with iPhone 8. The truth behind that marketing technique is that newer doesn’t automatically mean better. The prime example that sticks in my mind is the fiasco that was "New Coke" back in 1985. On the night Jesus was betrayed he gave us the "tried and true" oldest command in the Good Book - Love. "Love one another," Jesus said. But look how he advertised that command. "A new command I give you: love one another.”— Wow! So, a new and improved love! The question is: Will you turn out as advertised? Will our love as disciples of the risen Christ be the new and improved love that he commands of us, so that we have the privilege of being known as his disciples and making him known to the world? Listen and let our love be everything it's advertised to be:

Praise God Your Shepherd is a Lamb

Pastor David Salinas

4/17/16

Description:This year's Republican presidential campaign is especially intriguing. The drama, as most of you know, is that the surprise front-runner, Donald Trump, is finding it difficult to garner universal support from his own party. Why? Simply put, many within his own flock have their serious reservations about him being truly qualified to hold the office of leader of the free world. Far more surprising - and, in this case, alarming - however, than a political party having major doubts about its leading presidential candidate being fit for the task, is that a large segment of the Christian church has similar doubts about Jesus. To be specific, a significant portion of the visible church has serious reservations about a Lamb being a fit and qualified candidate to be the shepherd of God's flock. Why? Our natural-born mindset and desire is to have our best life here and now, a paradise on earth, if you will. A lamb of sacrifice doesn't seem like the right "man" for that job, not like say an earthly prince. So, our deceptive human heart innately longs for something other than a Lamb of sacrifice to be our shepherd. And yet, this is most certainly true: there is no better candidate to hold the office of our good Shepherd like the Lamb.

Finding Jesus

Pastor David Salinas

4/10/16

Description:As Christians living on this side of Christ's ascension and Pentecost, we live beneath the special blessing the Lord pronounced over us to his disciples a week after he had risen from the dead - "Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed." Blessed are we who have not seen with our own two eyes the nail marks in Jesus' hands and the spear hole in his side. Still, there are plenty of moments on this side of paradise when we yearn for our Savior's presence, like we might for a departed loved one's physical presence. There are and will be times when our hearts cry out with the psalmist, "Where can I go and meet with my God?" Where will you find Jesus and meet with him, especially, when you absolutely must? Listen and walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.

Easter Sunday

Pastor David Salinas

3/28/16

Description:Off the western coast of Indonesia grows a flower named the "corpse flower." It's aptly named. It produces the same chemicals as dead bodies, and so it stinks like a rotting corpse. This flower could also well be named "the empty promise" flower. You see, its stench is the promise of a delicious meal to flies and carrion beetles, but it's all an empty promise. The flower has no real nectar, and so while the flies and beetles think they're going to get a delicious meal, the joke's on them; there's nothing really there for them; it's like a mirage. When we think about it, the world is one huge "corpse" or "empty promise" flower. It offers us a bunch of promises for a full and happy life in its offerings and sinful pursuits, but it's all empty promises. The world cannot give us the peace and life with God for which we were made. In fact, in and of itself, it can only give us rotting, stinking death. The world offers us promises full of emptiness. But rejoice greatly, Christian! It's Easter! And Easter offers us emptiness full of promises! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! His tomb is empty! Let your heart be filled with all the good and lasting things that promises! Note: We were privileged to proclaim the greatest news the world has ever known in the two main languages that make up our community - English and Spanish. We had a bilingual Easter worship. Along with the sermon here are snippets of that service. Tuvimos el privilegio de proclamar las mejores noticias que el mundo ha recibido en las dos idiomas principales de nuestra comunidad - Inglés y Español. Tuvimos un servicio bilingüe. Aquí tienen unos fragmentos de ese servicio.

Keep Preaching Foolishness Part 2

Pastor David Salinas

3/13/16

Description:We thank our Grace Lutheran School children for singing into our hearts the great good news that is the center of our faith and the special focus of Holy Week - Nothing but the blood of Jesus is our salvation and life. Thank you, kids, for such a beautiful message sung so beautifully! Thank you, Grace parents, for braving the cold, rainy weather and loss of an hour's sleep to bring the kids! What a blessing! In our sermon thoughts we explore one of life's biggest quandaries - the seemingly irreconcilable reality of the existence of pain and suffering with the existence of a good and all-powerful God. For human beings who have been gifted by God with a reasoning ability to understand the relationship of cause and effect, to ponder ideals like justice and fairness and ask the philosophical question of purpose Why? having a real, meaningful, helpful answer for the problem of pain is an important need. Not having it or not understanding the answer God gives, adds to the grief we feel when it's our turn to suffer or when we're trying to console a loved one in their pain. Thankfully, we’ve once again gathered around…foolishness. God’s foolishness in the old rugged cross. Even as we were encouraged last week to keep preaching this foolishness because it was God’s power to give saving faith in Jesus; this week we are encouraged to keep preaching foolishness because God’s foolishness is his wisdom that answers the problem of pain! Listen to this pastor's foolish preaching and may we all be equipped with a wise and helpful answer for every hurt in life.

Keep Preaching Foolishness Part 1

Pastor David Salinas

3/6/16

Description:Martin Luther called reason God's greatest gift to man; he also called it the greatest and most invincible enemy of God. Hearing that, we may wonder if Luther was not overworked and having problems thinking clearly. He wasn't losing it, however. He was speaking of our reasoning powers from the two major ways they relate to our Creator. On the one hand, our reason is a good gift because the Creator is good. Furthermore, reason is the human medium through which our souls make sense of, meditate, ponder, apply, and proclaim God's life saving word. On the other hand, because our reason is corrupted by sin, it doesn't intuitively and naturally receive God's word with faith and appreciation but with disbelief and disdain. Here's where this discussion becomes so pertinent for us. We are now more than half way through Lent. We will soon have the opportunity to ponder and to proclaim the message of Christ crucified in that most focused and dramatic way during Holy Week. To do so well, because of our well-ordered but fallen minds, we seek the Holy Spirit's illumination and influence. That's the aim of our sermons these next two weeks. This week see how God's foolishness is his power to give faith in Jesus, and may we keep preaching that wise and powerful foolishness!