Pastor’s Blog

Cedarcreek Daily
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Psalm 98

We’ve been experimenting with podcasts for a while.  One of our experiments was Justin and me having a conversation about the current Covid-19 responses.  Not the actual health crisis as much as the ‘shelter at home’ responses.  The initial thought was that we would just do it, share it with a couple folks, learn from it, and keep experimenting.  After we listened to it, though, we thought it might be interesting or helpful for others to hear.

Here’s the link.  As you listen, remember that we aren’t trying to answer every question.  Rather, we are having a candid conversation about our thoughts and questions.  We might do another of these ‘Covid Conversations’ in the near future.

PSALM 98

This is another Psalm that we used to sing a lot at Cedarcreek.  It was one of my favorites!  Ask me someday and I’ll sing it for you 😉

When I read it today I was struck with a couple of things, both from the last stanza.

 “Let the sea roar, all that fills it;

     the world and those who dwell in it!

       Let the floods clap their hands;

   let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord

        For He comes to judge the earth

    He will judge the world with righteousness,

         and the peoples with equity.”  vs. 7-9

When Christ returns, the entire creation will rise up to greet Him.  The sea and the hills will sing for joy at the presence of their creator.  Even the ground and the water is blessed by God’s presence!

But according to this Psalm, one of the things that will make the sea and the hills rejoice is that Christ is coming to judge.  We probably don’t think of judgment as a joyful thing.  But when the perfect Judge returns, justice and love will meet and we will join the sea in shouting our thanks and praise!

Rob

 


Cedarcreek Daily
Monday, April 6, 2020
Psalm 97

In this time of uncertainty, I think we have a great opportunity to be witnesses for Christ.  People are often afraid or confused these days.  In that place, they are often more willing to look to God.  You know God – introduce Him to people who are recognizing, maybe for the first time, that they really do need Him.

PSALM 97

We are in a group of Psalms that we used to sing at Cedarcreek.  The Psalms were originally set to music.  For much of the early years, we sang these Psalms on Sunday mornings.  Psalm 97 actually had two Cedarcreek songs come from it.

I’ll just comment on the first line:

“The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice;

       let the many coastlands be glad!”  v. 1

I read an article in the paper today about how the current Covid-19 restrictions will affect the economies of many poor African nations.  But God is God there as much as He is here.  He sees those people and loves them.  He is the strong King of the whole earth.  The NIV says, ‘Let the distant shores rejoice!’  Amen!

Rob

 

 


Monday, April 6th, 2020
Daniel Chapter 5

Good Morning Folks,

Yesterday my family and I sat in front of our computer and watched Mark’s message in the Holy Week series.  Changing our Sunday routine has been weird and we miss seeing all of you but it’s also given us more opportunities to do things as a family.  I hope and pray that you have started to settle into some new routines as we all work to figure out a different way of life.

This morning the a 10 Minute Devotional on Daniel Chapter 5 was posted on the church website.

These devotionals are available on the Cedarcreek website [here] and are roughly 10 minutes in length.  In each devotional I’ll:

  • Read a portion of scripture for you to listen to or read along with
  • Make a few comments on the scripture we read together
  • And ask a question at the end for you to think about or even journal about.

The sixth ‘10 Minute Devotional’ on the book of Daniel is available [here].

Thanks!

Justin

 


Cedarcreek Daily
Saturday, April 4, 2020
Psalm 95

If you can, set aside next Sunday morning to celebrate Easter with the church family.  Justin will finish the Holy Week series with a message on the crucifixion and resurrection.  We will have video of a small band doing worship music.  Afterward, we will all join together live via Zoom to take communion together.

PSALM 95

I wrote out the first seven verses.  This is the Revised Standard Version, which I am reading this year.

It’s a joyful, satisfying call to worship our great Creator and King.

“O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it;
for his hands formed the dry land.

O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.” vs. 1-7

Rob

 

 


Cedarcreek Daily
Friday, April 3, 2020
Psalm 94

Cedarcreek Family

On Easter, we will all join together (online) to break bread as a church family.  We’ll send out a link to a Zoom meeting.  Anyone who wants to can join.  We’ll spend a little time hearing from families, then we’ll share communion together.  If you’re around and able, please plan to join your church family after the online service.  More info to come!

PSALM 94:

I suppose we all do this, but these days I filter things through the lens of Covid-19 and the effects of it that we are all living through.

I will admit that I have questions about the current medical/political/social responses.  I’ve been trying hard to make sense of all of this.  It’s left me uneasy.  I don’t claim to understand all of the information; nor do I claim to know exactly and perfectly what to do.  Part of what makes me uneasy is that other people seem to claim much more clarity and understanding than I think they should.

“The Lord knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile.  Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law; you grant him relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked.”  vs. 11-13

The reality is that no one knows exactly what’s going on or exactly what to do.  Only God does.  In fact, left to ourselves, our thoughts are futile.  Only by letting God discipline and teach us, can we escape the day of trouble.

I pray that we as God’s people and as a nation will look to God for answers, rather than first to our own understanding.

Rob

 

 


Friday, April 3rd, 2020
Daniel Chapter 4

Good Morning Folks,

Today is the first rainy day in quite a few.  As I’ve been working on my yard I’ve been seeing the snow melt and the lilies beginning to pop up from beneath the ground that was frozen not long ago.  It’s amazing how quickly our world can change!  Seasons change every year and it’s easy for me to miss the beauty in it when I’m wrapped up in what I’m doing.  This change of pace has been difficult but in many ways it can also be good.

This morning the next 10 Minute Devotional on Daniel Chapter 4 was posted on the church website.

These devotionals are available on the Cedarcreek website [here] and are roughly 10 minutes in length.  In each devotional I’ll:

  • Read a portion of scripture for you to listen to or read along with
  • Make a few comments on the scripture we read together
  • And ask a question at the end for you to think about or even journal about.

The fifth ‘10 Minute Devotional’ on the book of Daniel is available [here].

Thanks!

Justin

 

 


Cedarcreek Daily
Thursday, April 2, 2020
Psalm 93

I am feeling more drained as the restrictions go on.  I suppose all of us are.  I don’t like this much.  I don’t know quite what to do about it.  This afternoon I’m going to go fishing.  I’m going to enjoy the warm weather and God’s cool creation.  I’m also going to go on a walk and do some praying.  Being close to God gives me peace.

“When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God”  Psalm 73:16-17

Tonight we have our first virtual Life Group.  Our group spends an hour chatting and snacking, then an hour studying Romans.  Gonna do that tonight, except that we’ll all have our own snack.

PSALM 93

A short Psalm.  The writer uses the earth to paint of picture of God’s kingdom.

“The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.’  v. 1; 

compared to:

“Your statues stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O Lord.”  v. 5

As lasting and as firm as the world seems, God and His words are more lasting and more firm.  As majestic and mighty as the sea and waves seem, God and His ways are more majestic and mighty.

Rob

 

 


Cedarcreek Daily
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Psalm 92

Howdy Folks

I’ve been meeting via Zoom on Wednesdays with other Pastors in town.  We used to meet monthly in person, but lately we’ve been getting together weekly.  It’s sweet to talk to other men who love the Lord and are trying to shepherd churches.  This town has many great congregations, shepherded by many great guys.

Hopefully you are working hard at staying connected with the Cedarcreek family through this.  It’s harder, but we need each other.  Make an effort to touch base with your friends and Life Group members.  Use the phone or Skype or whatever, but make contact.  If you haven’t had close relationships with people in the church up to now, make the effort to begin building a couple.  We need each other – that’s how God made us.  We need the social contact; we need to spiritual charge that only comes from another believer; we need proximity.  Basically, we need friends.  Cultivate and lean in to your friends now.

PSALM 91:

This Psalm, like many, makes a distinction between God’s people and those who reject God.

“For surely your enemies, O Lord, surely your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered.  You have exalted my horn (strength) like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured upon me.”  vs. 9-10

We sometimes feel wrong in making a distinction between Christians and non-Christians.  It seems ‘us vs. them’.  But God definitely makes the distinction.  The trajectory of a Christian’s life is different than the trajectory of a non-Christian’s life.  God wants that for everyone, but people need to accept Christ to enter into the place where they can receive it.

Rob

 

 


10 Minute Devotional
Wednesday, April 1st, 2020
Daniel Chapter 3-4:3

Good Morning Folks,

The last few days have just been beautiful.  It’s been the perfect time to get out and do some yard-work around here.  I’ve been cutting up a number of downed trees at my house and with the help of my kids we’ve hauled most of the brush into a pile and stacked up the logs.  I hope that you’ve been able to get out and enjoy this beautiful weather too!

This morning I posted the next 10 Minute Devotional on Daniel Chapter 3-4:3.

These devotionals are available on the Cedarcreek website [here] and are roughly 10 minutes in length.  In each devotional I’ll:

  • Read a portion of scripture for you to listen to or read along with
  • Make a few comments on the scripture we read together
  • And ask a question at the end for you to think about or even journal about.

The recording on the book of Daniel is available [here].

Thanks!
Justin

 

 


Cedarcreek Daily
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Psalm 91

Howdy Folks

Beginning Week 3 of the Covid-19 restrictions.  Lots to say about it, but right now I just miss you folks.  Can’t wait to see all of your smiling faces.  Those of us who like physical touch are struggling a bit with social distancing.  When I see you next, I might give you a big hug.  Feel free to shove me away 😉

PSALM 91:

I read much of this Psalm two weeks ago when Justin, Mark and I did the Sunday message together.  Rather than go over it again, I would encourage you just to read it.  As you do, talk to God about the current state of affairs in our world.  Tell Him what you feel about it.  Ask Him questions about how you should perceive all of this.

And above all, be thankful.  In the midst of all of our internal and external turmoil, God is good to you.

’Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him;  I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.’”  vs.14-16

Do you believe that God is powerful enough to do this, or do events just happen and God is unable to do anything about it?  Do you believe God sees and loves and cares for you, or is He looking somewhere else?

Rob

 

 


Cedarcreek Daily
Monday, March 30, 2020
Psalm 90

Hello Cedarcreek Family

PSALM 90:
The current situation can stir many different feelings in us.  Many of us likely feel frustrated or afraid.  This Psalm helped me ease both of those feelings.

I think we can get frustrated because we want to fix this – make it go away.  We at least want to understand it.  Both of those are really us wanting control.  We want to know what’s going on, we want to know what to do, and we want the chance to make it right.

But in this world, we are very limited.  All of us have been on the earth only a short time.  In that time, we are confused and hampered by our own sins.  The reality is that we control or understand very little.

“You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning – though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered.”  vs. 5-6

“The length of our days is seventy years – or eighty, if we have the strength;  yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”  v. 10

I think we can get afraid because we see that something bad could happen to us.  We might get sick.  Someone we love might get sick.  The thought of death is  terrifying.  We hope that we don’t deserve anything like that.  But in our most honest moments, we know that God owes us nothing.

“You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.  All of our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan.”  vs. 8-9

But though difficult times come, the eternal, powerful, wonderful God will watch over us.

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.  Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”  vs. 1-2

“Relent, O Lord!  How long will it be?  Have compassion on your servants”  v. 13

When we give up the illusion of control and remember that God, who is in control, loves us, then we are living in wisdom, and so much better able to be content in the midst of these troubled times.

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  v. 12

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”  v. 14

Rob

 

 


Cedarcreek Daily
Monday, March 30th, 2020
Daniel Chapter 2:31-49

Good Morning Folks,

Today it’s looking to be a warm and pretty sunny day.  My family and I are really looking forward to getting outside and going for a bike ride today.  I hope you’re able to make use of this beautiful weather!  Today we’re continuing Daniel Chapter 2 and finishing off the second half of the chapter.

These devotionals are available on the Cedarcreek website [here] and are roughly 10 minutes in length.  In each devotional I’ll:

  • Read a portion of scripture for you to listen to or read along with
  • Make a few comments on the scripture we read together
  • And ask a question at the end for you to think about or even journal about.

The third 10 Minute Devotional is available [here].

Have a good Monday!

Justin

 


Cedarcreek Daily
Saturday, March 28, 2020
Psalm 88

Hi Cedarcreek Folks

In the first 57 years of my life, I think I’d been on less than 3 video conferences.  In the past 2 weeks I’ve been on a dozen.  Life takes strange turns 😉

The crocuses bloomed in my yard this week.  Two shades of purple.  The rhubarb is coming up, as well as the lilies and hosta.  The robins, red-wing blackbirds and marsh hawks are all back.  Spring is creeping in.

PSALM 88:

I think this is the darkest Psalm of them all.  Many Psalms have cries of anguish, expressions of deep sorrow, pleas for help in desperate times.  But every other Psalm also has statements of faith, expressions of hope, confident assertions of God’s goodness and salvation.  This one has only sorrow and anguish.  After a brief cry to God, it begins with, ‘For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave’ and ends with, ‘You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.’

Strangely I find great comfort in this Psalm.  In many of the hard times of life, we are able to see the good; we are able to find hope in God; we are able to find comfort.  But I think all of us will experience what San Juan de la Cruz called ‘the dark night of our soul’ – a time of sorrow that seems unending, unrelenting and unbearable.  I think this Psalm is the cry of our heart during the dark night of our soul.

What I find encouraging is that in the midst of it, we are still in God’s presence.  We can still call out to him.   Too often I have gone to God with my pain, but tried to mitigate it or solve my own problem.  My conversation with God can be about what I think I should be.  This writer had no ability or strength or desire to do that.  Instead his conversation with God was about what he was in that moment.

In the past few years I have experienced some of those dark nights of the soul.  I have learned that in my hardest, darkest most hopeless time, I can let God hear my heart; not as I think it should be, but as it is.  He hears, he weeps with me.   And even though I can’t see it at the time, He also prepares the dawn.

‘Weeping may remain for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.’  Psalm 30:5

Rob

 


Cedarcreek Daily
Saturday, March 28th, 2020
Daniel Chapter 2:1-30

Good Morning Folks,

It’s a wet, spring Saturday morning as I look out my dining room windows and watch the sunlight begin to peak through the tree line overlooking Otter Creek.  I’m enjoying this peaceful way to watch the world wake up.  This morning’s 10 Minute Devotional is on Daniel Chapter 2:1-30.  This chapter just had too much good stuff in it, so I broke it into two parts (the second part will be available on Monday).

These devotionals are available on the Cedarcreek website [here] and are roughly 10 minutes in length.  In each devotional I’ll:

  • Read a portion of scripture for you to listen to or read along with
  • Make a few comments on the scripture we read together
  • And ask a question at the end for you to think about or even journal about.

The second recording on the book of Daniel is available [here].

I hope and pray that you have a great Saturday.

Thanks!
Justin

 


Cedarcreek Daily
Friday, March 27, 2020
Psalm 87

Good Morning Cedarcreek,

This morning Mark and Justin and I will have our weekly Pastors Meeting.  Even though life is very different in some ways right now, in other ways nothing has changed.  We are planning for the future, knowing that we’ll get back to normal at some point.

In the meantime, the goal is to stay connected with each other.  That means finding ways to communicate with our church brothers and sisters.  Take the time to make phone calls, facetime, snap, whatever you do to interact.  Look for ways to serve each other.  Yesterday Sue was going to the grocery store, so she took a couple of minutes and asked a few people who might not want to go out if she could get something for them.

PSALM 87:
A short Psalm.  In the Old Testament times, God’s chosen people were the Jews.  God has chosen Jerusalem out of all of Israel to be His resting place.  This Psalm sings the praises of God and His choice.

When I read Psalms like this, my mind quickly replaces the Church with Jerusalem, and replaces Christians for the nation of Israel.

Either way you read it, I see here that wherever God is working, it is beautiful!

Rob


Cedarcreek Daily
Thursday, March 26, 2020
Psalm 86

Hi Cedarcreek Folks

We are learning how to operate in a virtual world!  Some of us like this, others not so much.  But at least for the time being it’s our reality.
The church purchased a Zoom subscription.  We used it last night for the Trustee meeting.  It is available for your Life Groups if you would like it.

PSALM 86:

This Psalm was written by David.  David was great at pouring out his heart to the Lord, then letting God flood back in.

In this Psalm, David seems to do three things, that he repeats several times:

  1. Recognize/acknowledge that there is danger and pain
    ‘The arrogant are attacking me, a band of ruthless men seeks my life’ v. 14
  1. Remember/acknowledge God’s goodness and closeness
    ‘But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God.’  v. 15
  1. Ask for help in both areas
               ‘Teach me you way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;
                  give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.’  v.  11

Rob

 


Cedarcreek Daily
Thursday, March 26, 2020
Daniel Chapter 1

Hi Cedarcreek Folks,

As Rob mentioned in a daily email we are both working to send out daily emails (though my emails will look a little bit different and be a little less frequent).  I plan to record a few short audio clips each week called “10 Minute Devotionals”.

Those devotionals will be available on the Cedarcreek website [here] and will be roughly 10 minutes in length.  In each devotional I’ll:

  • Read a portion of scripture for you to listen to or read along with
  • Make a few comments on the scripture we read together
  • And ask a question at the end for you to think about or even journal about.

In the first series of 10 Minute Devotionals we will work through the first six chapters of the book of Daniel.  I hope and pray that these short devotionals are encouraging, challenging and uplifting to us as a body of believers.

The first recording on Daniel Chapter 1 is available [here].

Thanks!
Justin

 


Cedarcreek Daily
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Psalm 85

Hi Cedarcreek Folks

Yesterday the Governor issued Emergency Order #12 – Safer At Home.  It basically closes all businesses that aren’t deemed an ‘Essential Business’.  The order lists ‘religious entities’ as an Essential Business (Paragraph 13(h)).  What that means is that Cedarcreek will continue to function as we did this past week.  All gatherings are cancelled, but the staff will be here during the weekday, 9-5.  Feel free to call or email us at the church.

This morning Luke and I recorded the second message in the Holy Week series.  It covers Mark 12-13 and is entitled ‘Teaching and Confrontation.’  That message will be online in audio version in the next 24 hours.

This coming Sunday we will again video the message and provide links for worship songs.  Our Sunday plan going forward is to include video of a smaller band doing live worship which would be included with the video teaching.

It’s strange not seeing all of you.  I’m looking forward to gathering together again!

PSALM 85:

This Psalm was written by the Sons of Korah.  This is in a series of Psalms which are part of Book III (Psalms 73-89).  While King David get credit for many of the Psalms, these Psalms in Book III are mostly written by others.  The Sons of Korah and Asaph are the ones with the most Psalms in this section.

Many of these Psalms follow a consistent pattern.  There is a recounting and remembering what God did in the past, followed by an acknowledgment that God doesn’t seem to be doing those things now, and ending with a confident plea for God to intervene again for His people.

Most of these Psalms were written many years after David reigned.  The nation of Israel had gotten increasingly apostate, and God has brought discipline to them in many forms, including foreign nations invading and taking territory away from Israel.

This Psalm follows that basic pattern.  As you read it, think about your own life:  What has God done in the past; What is He doing now; What do you long for in the future.  As you contemplate that, remember verses 8-9:

“I will listen to what God the Lord will say;
he promises peace to his people, his saints –
but let them not return to folly.
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
that His glory may dwell in our land.”

Rob

 


Cedarcreek Daily
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Psalm 84

Hi Cedarcreek Folks

As we move through the Covid – 19 pandemic and all of the attending restrictions, Justin and I will be sending out daily emails.

My emails will include a brief thought about the Psalm I read that day, along with some pertinent information of what’s happening at church. If you would rather not receive these emails, just let us know.  If you don’t get and would like to, let us know that.  Feel free to forward these to anyone you think might want them.

This coming Sunday, March 29, we will do basically what we did last week.  We’ll have a link to a video of the Holy Week teaching, along with links to worship songs.  We will also have a Discussion Guide online.  As time goes on, we are exploring a live feed Sunday morning service.

PSALM 84:

I love this one.  Here are a few thoughts on it:

‘How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!  My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.’ vs. 1-2
Our greatest desire really is to be with God – to see him face to face.  Whatever this world and these days bring, they are only a prelude until we go home.

‘Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.’
‘As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.’  vs.  3,6
God’s natural world is a picture to me of His strength and goodness.  In the midst of our uncertainty, spring has returned.  The buds are forming, the robins have come back, the sap is running.  I find comfort in God’s consistent power.  He rules the world – I can trust Him.

 ‘For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.  O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.’  vs.  11-12
God loves you and me.  No good thing does he withhold.  I can walk with Him because of Christ.  I can trust in Him because of His great strength and goodness.

 Rob