Don’t Be Afraid…

Isaiah 41:10, “Do not be afraid – I am with you! I am your God – let nothing terrify you! I will make you strong and help you; I will protect you and save you.”

IMAG0020We live in a fallen world, and the world gives us many painful experiences. Just take your pick among the many tragedies, trends, and painful experiences, and it’s easy to get negative, depressed, and hopeless. This pain is never truly soothed by the wisdom of people, or by engaging in distractions, or even by putting on the power of positive thinking. Instead, the worries of the world are only quieted through a vibrant, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

God gives Isaiah words of hope and a future found only through His comfort: “Do not be afraid – I am with you!” It is amazing when we think about the greatness of God and the immensity of His creation…and yet He is the God of intricate details. in other words, He doesn’t leave things to chance in His world – He has it all in His wonderful, sovereign, and perfect will. You have nothing to fear: God will never leave you nor forsake you.

Whenever you are afraid, worried, frustrated, or feeling hopeless, remember the promises of God. You may still find yourself going through the valley, and you might even think you are alone, but you’re not: if you are His, God is has never left your side, and He will walk with you through this season. While this happens, He will use this time to shape you and grow you, to help you trust in Him more and more each day. Remember that every valley is an opportunity for a mountaintop experience with God. Take God at His Word, rest in Him, allow Him to walk with you and love you through the good times and bad.

Pastor Fran

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The Cross

rugged-cross (1)Galatians 6:14  But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

A few years ago, a woman was critical of me and how I was dressed (I had no suit and tie on). She quickly pointed out that without my suit and tie, no one would know who the pastor is. At the time, I thought that this was a good argument. However, I thought about it a bit more and realized that this is a problem. No one should care who the pastor is, but everyone should care who Jesus is. It doesn’t matter if people know me or not, but it does matter if people know Jesus or not. I should never stand in front of Jesus, but He should be first in all things.

The truth is, I don’t want our church to be known as “Fran Trascritti’s Church,” but instead it should be known as “Jesus’ Church.” I have purposely not put my name on the new digital sign, because this shouldn’t matter anyway. I would much rather that the community knows who we are as people who love Christ than who the pastor is anyway. After all, the church should not rise and fall on the pastor, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. After all, Christ is our rock who we will praise forever.

If you are in Christ, God has a seal on you that identifies you as His own. You have been given a new identity, an identity that you are a child of God. Your love for God and your passion to exalt Him in your life is what God wants. In fact, your fame, fortune, and position in life means nothing if Christ is not in it. Don’t fall into the trap of proclaiming you and not Jesus- you are loved, and God wants His love to shine through you as you trust and rely on Him daily. Boast in nothing but the cross, allowing Christ to be known through you!

Pastor Fran

Finishing Well…

FinishingIn November of this year, I am planning to run my first ever half marathon (13.1 miles). To do this, I have to train faithfully, pushing myself beyond what I have ever done before. I will be pacing myself, adjusting my stride, mentally monitoring my pace and staying focused along the way. My wife, Teresa, will be with me along the way as she also runs in this event and I hope that we will be able to encourage each other. All in all, my hope is not to start the race well, but to finish it well.

On a similar note, Teresa and I will be attending a state convention sponsored conference soon to help us in our spiritual walk. The Finishing Well Boot Camp is a conference designed to minister to a small group of pastors and their wives. It is a chance for each of us to assess and evaluate our ministry through the eyes of Christ, to encourage us as we look to finish well in him, and to find ways to expand and pass on the ministry to the next generation of leaders. Being that this year marks my twentieth year of ministry in the Lord, this is such appropriate timing!

I am excited about the opportunity that we have to grow in God’s grace as we serve Him. Romans 1:17 says, “This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life” (NLT). This reminds me that we are all a work in progress, and we are all growing in our faith. And as we go through life, God works on us to make us right in His sight, from start to finish, by faith.

Training, whether physical, mental, or spiritual, amounts to a degree of dedication and discipline. The same questions that applies to us should also apply to you: How dedicated are you to grow? Are you growing in Christ? Are you making adjustments in your life so that you are finishing well?

Let me encourage you to assess your own walk in the Lord, see where you need to make adjustments, and run with strength and confidence in Him. In Christ, we are all in the same race, the race of life, and the prize of the upward calling in Him is what we strive for as we hear the wonderful words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” May God do a continued work in each of us!

Pastor Fran

Why Am I Discouraged?

38696_1529145115233_1432873828_31339927_4328909_nPsalm 42:5-6, 8: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God…each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.”

Many of us suffer from the roller coaster syndrome of our faith. We have up seasons in the Lord, as we develop a closeness to Him and feel His presence constantly. We also have down times, times when we are dry, almost estranged from our relationship with God. This is a confusing period, and though we may know in our heads that God will never leave us nor forsake us, we still feel so alone.

Let me encourage you: God has never left you. He is still here, and He is still present. He pours His love in abundance, a love that lets you know that even when you don’t understand the reasons, the circumstances, or the future, you still have Him. It’s a love beyond understanding, a love greater than words.

If you are struggling with discouragement, maybe it’s time to let God take control of your burdens. Maybe it’s time to pour out your heart to Him and trust in His will. God will answer in just the right way and at just the right time of the day or night- He always does. I pray that you will do as the psalmist did and place your hope in God- as you do this, may you enjoy His presence and His incredible love for you!

Pastor Fran

Worship in Pajamas?!?

Well, with worship cancelled due to the ice and awful driving conditions, I thought that I would try to do something different. I went ahead and had a Google Hangout Air with as many people as wanted to come to study the Word. Here’s the link of the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mkG6ydyoiU

All in all, it was fun. Yeah, we had a troll come on and try to distract the study from the topic at hand, but it was still very worthwhile. I can see application of this tool for a variety of bible studies and content delivery for the church. With a little practice, I foresee us using Hangouts for several applications. Keep in mind that won’t replace live, person to person interaction, but it is a good alternative in circumstances like what we had or if people have to travel long distances.

So let me ask- what ways can you see this tool used for the Kingdom? If so, how?

Devotion: Comfort in the Midst of Crisis

2 Corinthians 1:3-5, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.  For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.”

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When tragedy strikes, people need comfort. Sometimes people need hugs, words of kindness, a smile, a tear, or just a sympathetic ear. There’s something to be said about the power of encouragement, as the loving presence of a loved one can change another’s overall outlook for hours, days, or even years.

Yet there is a greater comfort that is available for Christians: the comfort of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that if you are a believer and are hurting, He groans, He prays, He brings peace to you. Comfort, true permanent comfort, is found through the healing touch, the cool refreshing water of the Holy Spirit. It is an internal joy that comes from Him, knowing that although the situation seems impossible and the hurt seems limitless, the presence of God is still with you.

King David wrote in Psalm 30:5 that “weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” There is a joy promised, a hope before you, and a love around you. It may not feel like that right now, but God is surely with you, never to leave nor forsake you, never to forget your pain. Remember this as you suffer through the pain found in this fallen world.

May the power of God’s love surround you, and may the comfort of the Holy Spirit be with you in this time!

Pastor Fran

A Prowling Lion…

Satan knows how to get at us. He watches, studies, plans, and tempts each believer in every way, looking for a way to make each of us ineffective and destroy our testimony. When one thing doesn’t work, he tries something else. He uses the fallen world, the lost soul, even his demons and minions to take an already fallen human and spiritually ground them into powder. 

If you try to fight Satan with your own wisdom, power, and will, you don’t stand a chance. The only way to fight a spiritual battle is with a spiritual armor, a spiritual shield, a spiritual sword. And it begins with your faith in Jesus Christ. If your faith is in Jesus, your status before God has changed: you are His. He indwells in you. He guides you. He prays for you even when you don’t realize it. 

Your battle is not your own, it is the Lord’s battle. Be encouraged: even when you are knocked down, you are never out. The God that is in you will complete the work until the day of Christ’s return. Stand firm against the attacks of the devil, and as you do, it will result in praise and glory due His name!

A Battle of Worldviews

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The debate about creationism vs evolution last Tuesday night was a blessing. Ken Ham and Bill Nye presented their arguments to a live audience, in an attempt to advance their views on the viability of Creationism. But what was the debate really about? I believe that the debate was really about two opposing worldviews- naturalism and supernaturalism.

Naturalism assumes that nothing miraculous can occur, and so any evidence that they see is explained through the lens of the natural. Christians, on the contrary, consider both the natural and the supernatural, including the view that God is and always has been at work in creation. This difference is huge, and it is why the both men can look at the same evidence and arrive at different conclusions. This is also why that philosophical bias was the real issue behind the debate- Ken Ham’s assertion from the very start.

Now as to the facts and figures: there were many points that Bill Nye presented that have long been dealt with on the Answers in Genesis website. If you want to hear more about how Answers in Genesis looks at the scientific evidence, click here. For more on their view on Greenland ice ring formations and the age of the earth, click here. For a good follow up discussion video with Dr. Georgia Purdue and Ken Ham, please click here. I think that these links and others on the Answers in Genesis website will be helpful as you do reflect on the presented facts in the debate.

Be encouraged and be in prayer, because even in this venue, there were many positive advances. First, pray that the gospel of Jesus Christ penetrate the hearts of the millions that watched. Second, pray that people might see that naturalism is indeed a worldview. Last, pray for the follow up discussions that are occurring- that civilized, godly men and women engage in discussion done both in truth and love. May God use these discussions for His glory!

Pastor Fran

Helping God's church make disciples

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