Pastor’s Blog: Your Words, Your Witness

tongues-of-fire-by-johannes-stafuffer-free-photo-5906If I asked you to describe a word picture of a famous “epic battle”, who would it depict?  There are many.  David and Goliath?  The duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton?  Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader ? Maybe Harry Potter and Voldemort.  One common thread to all of these battles is that they involved weapons.  A slingshot, pistols, lightsabers and wands.  None of these involved the most powerful weapon known to mankind: words.  In perhaps the most epic battle of all time, words were the featured weapon between the combatants.  That battle was between Jesus and the Devil during Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the wilderness.  Luke 4:1-13.  Time and again, the devil used words to tempt Jesus and our savior fought back with the Word.  Words are powerful — they were for Jesus and they are for you as well.

Read these words from St. James:   “A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!  It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.  James 3:4-6.

We are called to be witnesses in our community to the glory of Christ.  1 Peter 2:9-10  Our words are very important.  What words have you spoken recently and what would they reflect about your relationship with Christ?  James’ message to early Christians is equally relevant to Christians today — what you say reflects not only upon you but also upon Christ.  This is not to say that you should hold your tongue  under all circumstances.  However it does mean that what you say — and when and how you say it — are very important in carrying out your call as a witness to Christ.

Pastor’s Blog: Repent! (Do you even know what that means?)

fig treeThe very first of Luther’s 95 theses was “our Lord and Master Jesus Christ . . . willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”  Not exactly a line that’s going to attract lots of customers! He seems to be saying that Christians aren’t doing so well in living a Godly life.  But that wasn’t his point at all.  Rather, he was saying that repentance is the way we make progress in the Christian life.  Indeed repentance is the gateway to everything that the Christian life is all about.  It’s the best sign that we are growing deeply and rapidly into the character of Jesus.

Jesus alluded to the two different types of repentance in Luke 13:1-9.  One kind is that which is necessary to keep God happy so he will keep us away from calamity and answer our prayers.  This type of repentance is selfish, self-righteous and eventually leads to bitterness.  It is as barren as the fig tree that bore no fruit.  True repentance, Jesus tells us, is that which is intended to tap into the joy of our union with Christ in order to weaken our need to do anything contrary to God’s heart.  We repent when bad things happen and we repent when we’re a little too full of ourselves when times are good too.  Take all things with repentance — and feel your relationship with Christ blossom.

Pastor’s Blog: We Are Citizens of Heaven

It is so easy to become discouraged by the world around us.  So much sin, deceit, corruption and ugly hatred.  This is the way of this world — even in the days when the Apostle Paul walked the earth.  His message to fellow believers, to you,citizens-20of-20heaven_t_nv-1040x780 is this:  do not be discouraged!  Keep your eyes fixed on the world to come but while in this world, do not abandon it.  Rather, bear witness to the world to come — to the day that Christ will come again and transform us into glorious beings like Him.  We have a role — to point others to the truth and away from the discouragement that abounds in this world.  Don’t waver. Stay on track, steady in God.  Philippians 3:17-4:1

Pastor’s Blog: Transformational Prayer

transfigurationLast week my meditation was on the Transfiguration of Jesus from the account in Luke 9:28-36.  Three of the gospels have accounts of the scene but it is only Luke who informs us that Jesus’ purpose was to engage in prayer (9:28), and again only in Luke (9:29) are we told that it was while Jesus was praying to his Father that he experienced the Transfiguration, that ‘the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white’ (9:29).  The importance of prayer in our savior’s life readily emerges from Luke’s account. He went to the mountain to pray.  Jesus was praying for a long time — so long that Peter, James and John all fell asleep and were awoken by the dazzling light.  While he was in prayer, he was transformed.  It’s this last point to which I want to draw your attention.

Prayer, in its broadest definition, is a conversation with God.  Jesus was talking to God.  God has given us the gift of prayer so that we may know and have the way to call upon Him for help to do the things He has commanded us to do, and so that, in turn, He Himself may bless us and others in our doing of them.  Through prayer, God calls us into a relationship with Him.  From that relationship we can gain unbelievable strength to deal with the struggles in our everyday lives.  Problems in our relationships.  Problems at work.  Problems with sin.  Whatever it is — big or small — prayer is a way to gain strength.  Through a regular prayer life we too can be “transformed” — changed from the inside out.  Romans 12:2.  God will help to bring out the best in you — that’s a promise you can count on.

 

Christian Seder Meal

March 23, 2016 at 5:30 PM

SederMealAscension Lutheran Church is hosting a Passover meal similar to the one Jesus and His disciples shared the night before He became our Paschal Sacrifice. Pastor Nathan Puro from the Shoresh David Messianic Congregation will facilitate our celebration of this traditional meal. Invite your friends, family, and neighbors to experience what Jesus and His disciples shared at their last meal together. We will see how the rituals and traditions God commanded His people to follow in the Old Testament lead us to a deeper love and understanding of Yeshua the Son of God sent by the Father to be our Savior. In addition to that, we will have an excellent meal, delicious desserts, and a great social time!

We will begin promptly at 5:30 on March 23rd. There is no charge but a freewill offering will be accepted.

You can use the contact form below to register or call Vicki at 724-816-0413. Space is limited so please register early to be sure you don’t miss out on this special event.

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Pastor’s Blog: Jesus Came for the Poor. Did He Come for You?

Jesus, during his sermon at the temple in Nazareth, made clear who He came for — the poor, the blind and the prisoners. (Luke 4:16-30). Does that describe you? Many readers’ first answer is likely “no”. paupers-2You may be financially comfortable and have more than enough to eat and keep warm. You may be in good heatlh. Most are not in jail of any kind. But apart from the salvation that Christ brings, you are poor, you are a prisoner, you are blind and oppressed. Do you realize there are no personal resources to which you can turn, no amount of good deeds or rule following that can solve your imminent deadly dilemma. You must come to see the truth of these things in order to turn to the One who can deliver you. Those listening to Jesus’ sermon that day did not see themselves that way and they drove Jesus from the temple and threatened his life. Will you drive him out too?

YOUTH GROUPS — COME TO ASCENSION’S “GLOW” EVENT JANUARY 2015

The ALC Youth Group is hosting an exciting lock-in event. January 29, 7:00 pm – January 30, 7:00 pm. We invite all denominations of high school and college teens to come and enjoy 24 hours of great food, Christian fellowship, exciting music, a movie, a talent show and four inspiring messages from nationally renowned youth speaker Ben Regensburg! (http://pfcministries.weebly.com) Ben’s messages connect with teens – right where they are – and he helps them to realize they are all struggling with many of the same things. He will inspire them and encourage them to grow in their faith.

Come alone, with a friend, or bring your whole Youth Group.
Bring your sleeping bag and plan on staying until 7 pm Saturday night. We’ll have snacks on Friday and 3 meals on Saturday.  You won’t want to miss this!

Please contact Amy Diak at abdiak@comcast.net or 412-931-2315 for more information or to RSVP

Pastor’s Blog: God Shares His Secret to a Successful Marriage

Submit to One AnotherThe world and God have different views on the recipe for a good marriage. The world might say that couples need “chemistry”. God takes a different view. He says the covenant that men and women make with one another is what a good marriage is based upon. Spouses honor one another and God by understanding and honoring that covenant.

God is constantly trying to change us into the persons He created us to be. He uses marriage for this purpose. Recognizing these things provides an entirely new perspective on marriage. Marriage is a unique, intense form of Christian fellowship. Spouses are called upon to submit their self-interests in deference for God’s purpose and for one another. That certainly is not easy – especially with the world trying to influence how spouses view their marriage roles and what to expect. Focusing on God and His purpose for spouses is a tremendous help in weathering the inevitable challenges of marriage.

Ephesians 5:22-33. #marriage

ASCENSION YOUTH TRIP — CEDAR POINT

Cedar Point/Point Fest is coming up on Saturday, September 19. This is going go be a blast!!!!! We get to ride all day, plus concerts will be going on all day as well on the stage set up by Soak City.  More info here.  Wanna go?  Email us at info@ascensionpgh.com.

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Pastor’s Blog: Put On Your New Self

clothed-in-christNeed to make some changes in your life?  Big changes?  Do you even know what changes you need?  If you feel deep down that something isn’t right, that your life is unhappy in a fundamental way or that you are lacking deep satisfaction, you probably know that something needs to change.    God wants us to change from the inside.  He wants us to “put off” our old self and “put on” our new self.  Ephesians 4:22-24.  That new self involves a life in active relationship with God.  Change is easier said than done, right?  Absolutely.  But not only has Christ made your new self already possible and attainable, He gives you the resources to make the changes.  He’s inviting you to have the joy and satisfaction that you are seeking.  Will you accept His invitation?