Recent: Pastor’s Journal Posts

Loved to Life

Originaly Posted on April 4, 2014

By Andrew Froemming

“…we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he commanded,” 1 John 3:23.

This week I titled the journal “Loved to Life” because I want to take a few minutes to reflect on the idea of spiritually and emotionally loving someone back to life. I don’t believe that this concept is really new to us here in Hollywood but to others this idea can be scandalous—even causing them to make all kinds of claims about those that practice this principle. However, the Bible has a lot to say about love. So let’s see what insight we can gather from our guide book.

Loving people back to life is never an easy process; it calls for commitment to the long haul and can require deep sacrifice on the part of the lover. The Bible says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). In this verse Paul makes sure to point out the scandal that God’s love for us is by saying while we were still sinners Christ died for us. By the time Jesus came to this earth the religious community thought that they were better then everyone because of how meticulously they kept all the laws that they had developed. Then Jesus in came to this earth and showed us a scandalous way to live. Jesus said, “Listen, adding more laws and restrictions to your life and meticulously keeping them does not make you more pious than anyone else. In fact, let me make it really simple for you: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22:37–40).

God’s message to us is all about love but because of sin we have lost the knowledge of how to love. Matthew 24 says, “Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”

What is the good news of the Kingdom that the Bible talks about? It’s explained in the verse we read in Romans. The Good News of the kingdom is that while we were “still dead in our sins” Christ came to this earth to love us back to life. We didn’t deserve Christ’s love but He came and loved on us anyway. After God melts the ice on our undeserving hearts, Christ says, “Now go and do for others as I have done for you.” This next week let’s look for opportunities to love on people without expecting anything in return.

Peace,

Andrew

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The MIA Christian

Originaly Posted on March 28, 2014

By Andrew Froemming

“All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on himself the sins of us all,” Isaiah 53:6. 

What happens when, like this passage from Isaiah says, you go spiritually missing in action? When you follow your own path? This week let’s take a few minutes to explore the nature of God’s unfathomable love for us.

Throughout the Bible we see that if we trust anyone other than God in the same way we would trust God, we are going to be let down and hurt. However when we put our trust in God He is the only one that will not let us down, leave us or hurt us. When we trust God things may not go the way we would have liked or planned but that does not mean that God has left us. In fact God says in Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or terrified because of them [your adversary], for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

So what will Jesus do when you go missing in action? To find the answer to that question let’s look at a story Jesus told in Luke 15:

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

This story illustrates so beautify the tender and caring heart of God. Many people have an idea of a god that is waiting for them to do something wrong so that he can strike them down and put them in hell. In contrast with a vengeful god, Jesus shared with us the true heart of God: that while we are still lost, wandering without God, He seeks us out. When He finds us, God picks us up and caries us home on His shoulders.

God loves me deeper than anything I have ever experienced. Jesus loves me so much that He was pierced through for my transgressions, He was crushed for my iniquities; the chastening for my well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging I was healed (Isaiah 53:5).  Friends, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you have done, or where you’re at. Jesus is out calling your name, looking for you. When you answer Him, He will pick you up and carry you home and have a party because you are home. This next week let’s be intentional about sharing the love that God has bestowed on us.

Peace,

Andrew

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Claim the Word

Originaly Posted on March 21, 2014

By Rockne Dahl, Interim Pastor

“Claim the Word,” Rockne Dahl

“No weapon formed against you will prevail.” Isaiah 54:17. 

Every day, it seems, there is something new to contend with. You get plagued with gnats of misfortune all day long. Read your email and jumping into your face is some really annoying news. Turn your key and the car won’t start. The neighbor gets her jumper cables but the engine refuses to budge—must be the alternator is out. And your roommate has splattered up the bathroom mirror again! How many times have you told that person? If you are like me, when everything that can go wrong does go wrong your mood won’t be mellow. My spiritual move is to claim the promise of Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon formed against me will prevail!” I predict that when you claim the Word of Isaiah 54:17 your mood will change towards the upside because you will enter a God reality. No problem, big or small, will prevail over you if you receive, or claim, the Word.

What do I mean by “claim the Word”? Jesus told us to “Ask, believe and receive.” I usually ask for the same things every day: “Lord, please bless my plans, my grandchildren, bless all the sick people I know, and help me get my exercise in because I need to be fit.”  Of course I believe that God will bless—that is, send good things to me and the people I pray for. But “receiving those blessings” is where the bafflement usually comes in because so often I ask and seem to receive not. Claiming the Word means that I believe that I have received the hoped for blessing whether or not I actually see it, whether or not I can empirically say, “I have received it.” And this is the most significant part of receiving the Word—I must act as if I have received the promised blessing and act on it.

Jesus told the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda, “Rise, take up Thy bed and walk.” The man was not healed until he started to get up in response to Jesus command. He believed first. Then, he claimed the Word by acting in response to the Word and he was made whole. Ten lepers came to Jesus for healing. He told them all to go and show themselves to the priests. As they went, says the scripture, they were healed. By starting towards their hometown priests, even though they did not feel healed, they were healed in the very act of beginning a journey of faith.

If we truly believe that “no weapon formed against us will prevail,” then appearances to the contrary, we can claim a God reality. A God reality is knowing that God’s will shall prevail and nothing any enemy or weapon can do will defeat His purpose.  Our hopes may be realized or not. But God’s purpose will stand.

Last year I was invited by a wonderful church friend to anoint her mother who was at the very door of death due to the enemy’s attacking her with a weapon called “stroke”. A huge crowd of family and friends crowded the hospital hallways. Her mother lay quiet and still, non-responsive. Three pastors were present. We prayed and anointed. We believed. We claimed God’s Word on her behalf. And she did pass. But the enemy’s weapon did not prevail because we entered into a God reality where the only thing that matters is that God’s will might be done. Yes, she took a blow from the enemy’s weapon but that weapon shall not prevail because she will rise again. That is the reality that we claimed for her and for ourselves.

Peace,

Rockne

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The Unfair God

Originaly Posted on March 14, 2014

By Andrew Froemming

I hope that the title of this journal caught your attention. This week I want to play with the concept of “God’s nature of fairness.” Now before you get concerned that I am sacrilegious take a moment to hear me out. I believe that the Bible shows that God is both Fair and Unfair. Let’s take a few minutes to dig into Scripture and reflect on the nature of God.

The Bible has lots to say about God’s fairness and justice. Romans 6:20–21 says, “For when you were slaves of sin, you lived without regard for righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.” The Bible is very clear that God allows us the freedom to choose who we will serve and what we will believe. He is also very clear that our sinful life earns us an inheritance of death.

In Genesis we find the story of Eve and the serpent. The serpent told Eve if she ate the fruit of the tree that God said not to go near her eyes would open and she would be like God knowing good and evil. Prior to eating the fruit we were programmed to have free choice with our default nature drawing us to a relationship with God. We are told that God personally meet with Adam and Eve each day. After eating the fruit the couple became aware that they were no longer clothed with God and were reprogramed to be gods themselves with the awareness of right and wrong.

The Bible talks about the unfair part of God in Genesis 2:17, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” A fair God would have said, “Okay, you knew the rules—ZAP!” He could have killed Adam and Eve or anyone who sinned. But God is not fair in that after we sin he offers us a gift. “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

I have learned that God loves me and that love causes Him to be on my side. He does not want me to accept the wages that I earned. Instead he wants to give me a new dress clothes and bring me into the wedding party that is heaven—but he can’t make me accept his gift. Friends, the odds are ever in your favor with God! All you have to do is accept the free gift and trade in your wages of sin for a free ticket to eternal life. This next week let’s take time to thank Jesus for the odds ever being in our favor and let’s spend time getting to know him more.

Peace,

Andrew

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All You Need Is The Right Kind of Love

Originaly Posted on February 27, 2014

By Andrew Froemming

“Love one another in the same way I love you, you love one another.” John 13:34

This week I had several conversations with people about the word love, so I decided to research the topic. I know that we often tend to use the word love to mean different things but it had never really occurred to me that there are different kinds of love. In C.S. Lewis’ book The Four Loves, I read that we can express four different kinds of love: storge (affection), philia (friendship), eros (romance) and agape (unconditional love).

Jesus tells us a story in Luke 15 of a father and two sons—and unconditional love. The youngest son ask his father for his portion now of his father’s wealth that he should get when his father died. After receiving his inheritance he skips town and goes to a different country. There he makes friends that love living the high-roller life-style his wealth affords them. Soon the money dries up for this young man, and his “friends” leave him. Left with nothing the son is forced to work for a farmer. Because there was a famine in the country not even his work could keep him from going hungry. One day he thought, “I have hit rock bottom. If I stay here I will die from hunger. But if I go back to my dad’s place

I could ask to work as a servant on his farm. I know I don’t deserve to have any favors after the disgrace I put our family through but as a servant at least I will have food to eat.” So the son headed home. While the son was still a long way off his Father saw him and ran to him, hugged him and kissed him. He ordered that the finest clothes in the house be brought for his son and a party to be thrown in his honor.

Jesus told this story so that we would know how he sees us. We are like that son: we have often treated God as if God were dead. Despite such disrespect, God spends His days searching the horizon waiting to see a glimpse of me. When He does, God will run to us and tells His secretary to get the Gucci and Chanel that He had made for me in my size and God will call the event planners because I came home.

Each and every day God offers unconditional love to the world—and to you. God has laid His cards on the table. He sent His son to the world to pay the bill for all the damage that we have done. This was a death sentence for Jesus: He died so that we could receive the free gift of salvation. The Bible challenges us with these questions: What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us (Romans 8:31). If God is who God says He is then no one can be against us. With our struggle already won we are called to love each other as God loved us. What a joyful task! This next week, let’s live in victory and share God’s love with someone.

Peace,

Andrew

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Out of the Pit

Originaly Posted on February 8, 2014

By Rockne Dahl, Interim Pastor

One of my favorite scriptures is found in Psalm 40:1–3: “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” Verse 4 adds: “Blessed is the person who makes the LORD his trust.”

Many people struggle to get out of their own personal slimy pits such as drug de- pendency, depression, illness or chronic debt. A friend of mine, Pastor Jeff, felt called to the ministry so he enrolled at Pacific Union College. He and his wife had little money so they found a chicken coop which had been converted into a rental house. It was all they could afford. Jeff’s wife became very depressed. Maybe it was the fragrance of the chickens which had lived in their rented accommodations; maybe it was the distance she felt from her family home or their lack of money; no one ever knew exactly why she became depressed. But with severe depression comes a fall into helplessness. My friend’s wife became incapable of doing anything for herself. For an entire year he had to

feed her each and every meal. She was in a deep psy- chological pit.

Pastor Jeff tells the story of how he found the pas- sage quoted above in Psalm 40. He claimed this scripture as God’s very own promise to him and his wife. Every day he read it. Every day he prayed over it and claimed it as God’s word to him. Every day he took care of his wife. He fed her, bathed her, helped her get dressed and loved her the best he could even though despair sometimes crowded into his own heart—and gradually she got better. Gradually she got well as God lifted her out of the mud and mire and set her feet on a Rock.

The next time you meet someone stuck in a slimy pit read this scripture to them. Tell them that God will turn and help lift them up if they wait patiently and trust him. God may lift them up by means of earnest prayer, or a therapist, or self-help books, or the love of a friend or a support group, but he will lift them up—it’s a promise! Ellen White said that “God has a thousand ways to help us of which we know nothing.” The point of Psalm 40 is hope. God wants to help us find firm standing on the Rock. He wants to put a new song in our mouths.

Corrie Ten Boom wrote: “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”

Peace,

Rockne

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Finding What’s Possible in the Impossible

Originaly Posted on January 17, 2014

By Andrew Froemming

“I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me” Philippians 4:13.

Life is full of situations that seem impossible. When we look in the Bible we see many sto- ries of situations that seemed impossible until something changes and the whole dynamic of the story shifts. Exodus 14 is a story about the children of Israel. Up until this point the children of Israel have been slaves in Egypt. It seemed improbable that they would ever be anything other than free labor for Pharaoh’s building projects. In the middle of their pain and helplessness God stepped in and turned the tables, getting Pharaoh to let Israel go. In Exodus 14 Israel has left Egypt to set up camp near the Red Sea. Pharaoh, upset at losing his free slave labor, decided to take his army and bring the Israelites back to Egypt. When Israel saw Pharaoh’s army coming to trap them,

“[...] they were terribly frightened and cried out to the Lord to help them [...]. Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch, and you will see the wonderful way the Lord will rescue you today. The Egyptians you are looking at–you will never see them again. The Lord will fight for you, and you won’t need to lift a finger!’”

How Do I Face “Impossible” Situations in Life?

Do I make excuses or do I step out in faith? Many times when faced with what seem like impossible odds my first inclination is to simply head in the opposite direction. I relate to Moses in the beginning of Exodus when he was called by God to lead the children out of Egypt into the Promised Land. While he didn’t physically run away He did try to shake off his calling by offering excuses (Exodus 4:10–11).

Another example of trying to leave behind the impos- sible is seen in one of Jesus’ most well-known miracles: the feeding of the 5,000. Just prior to Christ’s miracle Jesus’ disciples analyze the situation (Matthew 14:15). To the disciples feeding the crowd seemed impossible. We must ask ourselves: what do we do when faced with a seemingly impossible obstacle? Do we have faith and step up and allow the “impossible” to become possible? God will not use us to accomplish impossible things if we are “unwilling”.

Doing the “impossible” isn’t necessarily about us. It’s more about God, so with that said we need to look at another question…

Do I Believe God Can Do The Impossible?

The Bible is full of examples of the impossible being done. Stories like David and Goliath, Jonah, Noah, Moses and more. Sometimes we need to ask ourselves, do we believe God can do the “impossible” through us? We have seen God work through people in ages past; but do we truly believe He can still do it today? It can be easy to say we have faith in God to do the “impossible.” However if we aren’t willing to take a risk and attempt the impossible, then our faith might be shallow.

One prime example of God working and being allowed to work though someone is in the life of the Apostle Paul. How could a man–often hungry and suffering from other great deprivations–exude joy instead of complaining? It was the inner power that came from God. Paul took no credit for what he accomplished but gave it to God. Paul’s statement in Philippians 4:13 must be understood in this context. There is no limit to God’s power but there are things that God did not and does not intend to do such as the removal of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7–9). Paul knew his strength for everything came from the One who continually empowered him.

God wants us to be desperate for His power. But as long as we think we can do things in our own strength, we will never be desperate for God. We will keep getting in the way of God’s empowerment rather than receiving it. Every miracle of God begins with an impossible situation. The storms and setbacks of life are opportunities for us to trust God. God rewards those who diligently seek after Him. We cannot attempt the impossible under our own strength. However when we seek the Lord in the midst of our impossible circumstances, He reveals His power and presence by accomplishing the impossible through us. When you step out on His strength, the impossible can become possible! Friends, let’s step out of the boat–it’s much safer on the water with Jesus than in our little boats without Him.

Andrew

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Arms of Love

Originaly Posted on September 20, 2013

“ARMS OF LOVE” BY ANDREW FROEMMING

When I sat down to write the journal this week I had terrible case of writers block. I could not even think of a topic to write about. I generally journal about what I am experiencing in my life but for some reason this past week seemed so uneventful for me. To some people a week of status quo is a dream come true! For me, however, an uneventful week left me uninspired.

While sitting here reflecting, I feel God gently whispering in my ear. “You have had an amazing experience this week that you need to write about.” You see, I am surrounded by the most intimate experience that one can have each day. Yet all too often I find that I take the experience of being wrapped in God’s Arms of Love for granted. So when nothing happened this week that I thought was noteworthy, God has to tap me on the shoulder and say, “What about my love? Isn’t that enough for you?”

Inside each of us God places a longing to be held by someone and a desire to feel the intimacy that relationship brings. Some of us are able to experience that intimacy in part with our loved ones. Others have never had the experience of relief and comfort that comes from being held by loved ones. Even more powerful than the touch of our loved ones is the embrace of Jesus. Jesus longs for us to ask to be wrapped in HIS arms. The Bible says that God so loved the world that He let His only son come to this earth to live and die to purchase me from the life of sin that I was indebted to. Jesus wants more than anything to hold me in his loving embrace.

Do you want to know the best part about being held in God’s loving embrace? It’s found in Romans 8:35, 37-39:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? […] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The best part is that unlike an earthly relationship where we might fight and break-up or lose the arms of love, the Bible says that no one can separate us from God’s arms of love.

This next week let’s all make a commitment to run to God’s arms of love that no one can separate us from. Let’s also remember that God’s arms of love are the most amazing thing that have ever happened to us and we need to remember to praise and thank God for the gift of his love.

—ANDREW

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When Jesus Got Wings

Originaly Posted on June 24, 2013

By Andrew Froemming

During my growing-up years I tended to think of Jesus in the abstract. I was told that there was a Jesus and that He had come to earth two thousand years ago to save me from my sin. I would hear stories of him recounted to me at church and in family worships. When I heard those stories it was easy for me to conjure up mental pictures of the stories.

As I became an adult, maintaining my spirituality based on the stories I had heard became difficult. I was being forced out of my childhood mental paradigm where everything was centered on the expectation that life was always rosy and you would always be provided for in a socially acceptable way.

Today when I read the Bible I understand it differently than I did as a kid. Growing up, Jesus was something of a superhero in the sense that He did all these great miracles with super-human power, even defeating the devil. But then He left earth and all I had were the stories that had been passed down through generations. Today as I read my Bible I still see Jesus as a spiritual superhero but I also see Jesus as much more than just an impersonal figure from long ago for me to idolize. I see a Jesus who did amazing works years ago and I see Jesus’ hands and feet (each one of us) doing amazing miracles today.

This week I received a call in the church office asking if I could come help a man whose wheelchair had broken down. I said I could go investigate and see if my basic mechanical skills could help at all. When I arrived and found “George”, he was sitting on the curb with his wheel- chair beside him. The rubber on the front wheels of his chair had worn through, forcing him to drag all of his belongings in shopping carts backwards along his recycling route. Now, all that dragging had worn the front wheels down to the rims and spokes.

George told me that he had asked a man nearby to call our church office because several years ago when he had another broken wheelchair, a kind person from our congregation came to his aid and fixed his chair. He told me that he had meet Jesus here at the Hollywood Adventist Church even though he’d never actually been to our building. He reached out to us, hoping for a miracle so that he could be mobile again. After taking a look at George’s chair I knew that I could get him up and going but it was clear that since it was the end of the day I would not be able to get the parts until the next day. I told George that I would come back the next day to fix his chair. When I returned and put new wheels on George’s chair he was so excited. After I finished he pulled himself up into his chair and went wheeling around the block with the biggest smile on his face. To George, those of us who helped him were miracles and glimpses of Jesus. For me, my interaction with George felt like I had just meet Jesus in a very personal way.

As an adult I’ve come to understand that Jesus is the most powerful superhero ever, but He still cares for me personally. As part of His care for me He gives me glimpses of Himself in the present tense through those that I interact with. I must also remember that I may be the only Jesus someone may every see and it is my challenge to represent Him well.

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Laughter and Action

Originaly Posted on June 7, 2013

BY LESLIE FOSTER

It’s dark outside. I can smell liquid on the Indonesian air, thick with humidity. My sister is asleep beside me, my parents quiet in the front seat of our van, as we sit surrounded by the lights of fellow travelers, all crawling towards home. The lights are ghostly, red and white, floating, unattached as they bump and hover over the asphalt. And I am laughing, laughing so hard tears are coming out of my eyes, because I’ve just touched the infinite.

I’m five years old and I’ve just tried to comprehend eternity. For a brief moment, I grasped something beyond words or cognitive thought and then it was gone. The only possible outcome to seeing the face of God may be madness for those who have left childhood behind, but when my five-year-old self touched the void, She made me laugh.

The older I get, the more I reach back to that five-year-old who understood far more than I certainly do now. I am trying to embrace the tension of releasing childish things while also trying to welcome the kingdom of God like a child. The older I get, the harder it is for me to visualize God as human. When I, as a visual person, sink into prayer, when I reach for the infinite the way I did that night, I see and feel God as action. A gentle breeze cartwheeling over soft grass, a fire-infused dust devil thundering towards me, a free fall through eternal space that is thick with darkness and is certainly not safe, but is the definition of good.

For me to allow this beautiful, dangerous God to reach into my world, I have to let go of the childish binaries and boxes in which I’ve attempted to chain Her, and be open to my child-like understanding of a vast and overwhelmingly complex array of possibilities. I have to let go and listen for that laughter, so I can find the places where She has already been.

—LESLIE

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