the rock is

The Rock is a causal contemporary church that values authenticity. We meet at West Acres Cinema at 10 am each Sunday. This is the Personal blog of Pastor Scott J Kruse.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Deeper Rock - Show me Your Blood

Deeper Rock - Show me Your Blood

Hebrews 12:4–6 (NLT) — 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. 5 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. 6 For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”

In verse 4, the word used for “struggle” occurs only here in the Greek. It is a term that suggests combative competition and bloodshed. Of course, the only one who has prevailed against sin with his blood is Jesus. The writer of Hebrews is reminding his readers of their dependence on God.

We are reminded not to make light of God's discipline. It is so typical to see people hurting under the weight of their sins, without realizing that it is discipline. They make light of it, thinking that they don't have to change.

Other times, people want to give up, believing that God does not love them. It brings to mind a child who thinks his parent doesn't love him because he is being disciplined. In the kid's imagination, his parent likes to punish him. I remember telling my junior high students that they were a real pain in the butt to discipline. I asked them, "Do you really think you're nice to have around when you're grounded? Your grumpy days moping around the house, slamming doors, and pouting are not fun for me either!"

I have seen parents who did not love their children enough to discipline them. Growing up, one of my best friends had parents who did not discipline him. At age 12, he became drunk without any consequences. At the time, I thought that was pretty cool that he had a lot of freedom. Now I know that it is very sad that nobody cared about him enough to discipline him.

God disciplines those he loves. I have often found myself praying with a parent who has an adult child, and my prayer goes something like this: "Lord, I pray that you would put a hedge of thorns around Billy. I pray that his sin would hurt him, but not destroy him. I ask that you would make him uncomfortable enough to look for help."

I have seen God answer those prayers. I think it's a great way to pray. It's when God is really reaching for us and drawing us to himself that he makes sin really uncomfortable.

Please come visit us at The Rock, so that we can help you be all that God created you to be.

Pastor Scott J Kruse

Deeper Rock: Rich & Satisfying Life John 10:10

Deeper Rock: Rich & Satisfying Life John 10:10 

John 10:10 (NLT) —“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

I know a couple of things about you. I know that the call of God is on your life. I know that there is a you-shaped hole in our world. There are blessings that God intends people to have that only you can give.

I know that there is a thief and a liar who also has a plan for your life. His plan is simply to kill you and destroy your soul in hell.

In this verse, we see the contrast between Satan's plan for your life and God's plan for your life. The thief's purpose for you is to steal every good thing that God ever intended for you. He wants to kill your joy and take away all the flavor from your life. He wants to leave you always searching and never finding peace.

In contrast, we see what Jesus wants for you. He wants to see you spiritually rich and satisfied. He wants you to know the richness that is laughter and joy. He wants you to know a life full of his love. The life that Jesus intends for you is full of grace and peace and joy and and passion.

As if that's not enough, Jesus promises a satisfying life. He can say that with boldness, because he knows that becoming what you were created to be is the only way you will ever find satisfaction. In the words of the Rolling Stones, "I can't get no satisfaction, but I try." God created you specifically and uniquely for his purpose. Satisfaction comes by knowing you are living out that purpose.

It doesn't come from being better than somebody else. It doesn't come from attaining some goal. Satisfaction comes from being who you were created to be. God does not need my talent. He does not need my creative ideas or ambitious plans. All he wants from me is my devotion and obedience.

That's how I can rest and be satisfied. I can close my eyes with a smile on my face, knowing I did the best I could to serve him. In that, I am satisfied.

I hope that, soon, you'll be able to visit us at the Rock and become all that you were created to be.

May the Lord richly bless you, and I hope to see you in church on Sunday.

Pastor Scott J Kruse

Rock Talk Write Up: “I am the Good Shepherd.”

Rock Talk Write Up: “I am the Good Shepherd.”

Jesus makes some powerful "I am" statements in the Bible. One of them is found in John chapter 10, verse 11. It reads, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

The fact that Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd,” suggests that there are bad shepherds out there. There are those trying to lead the sheep in the wrong direction.

John chapter 10, verse one states, "I tell you the truth. Anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber!”

Jesus is talking about Satan, the enemy of your soul. I can tell you today that Satan has a plan for your life. It's a simple plan, and he's passionate about accomplishing it.

John chapter 10, verse 10 tell us, "The thief's purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich satisfying life.”

Satan doesn't have a problem with you personally. It's really not your fault that he hates you so much. The reason that Satan hates you is because God loves you. Satan hates God. The problem that Satan faces is that he can't hurt God, no matter what he does. It's like a map trying to inflict pain on a mountain. The only way Satan can hurt God is to hurt the things that he loves. God loves you more deeply and intimately than you ever could imagine. So, Satan's tactic is this:To steal from you, kill you, and utterly destroy you.

Sheep are mentioned around 200 times in the Bible, much more than any other animal. Dogs are mentioned about 44 times. Cats, on the other hand, are not mentioned once in the Bible (unless you count lions). Furthermore, we know that the Bible says that Satan is like a roaring lion. So, the only reference to cats in the Bible is to say that they are Satan. Just saying.

In the Scriptures - and particularly in the New Testament - we are compared to sheep. It would be appropriate for you to feel offended. After all, sheep are stupid. 

Have you ever gone to the circus to seed trained sheep perform? Have you ever seen a sheep trained to play dead?

There are challenges with being a sheep. And, unfortunately, the Bible says that we are sheep.

1. Sheep get lost easily.

I know something about getting lost easily. I can be driving down the road, looking at the sky, and find myself in a different state. The problem is that we have two interstates that run through our city. One goes north and south, while the other goes east and west. So, it's very easy to get on the wrong one. I once tried to drive to Castleton and found myself in South Dakota. I didn't realize it until I saw a big sign that said, "Welcome to South Dakota!" People, like sheep, get distracted. Just when we get our priorities right, a butterfly comes by, and we are wandering off the path.

2. Sheep are defenseless.

On their own, sheep are weak. They are vulnerable to wolves and bears and anything else that needs lunch. Around my wife's hometown in Norway, there is a nonprofit organization that will pay for your sheep after a wolf eats it. The frustrating thing is that the wolves don't even eat the whole sheep. The eat out the guts and leave the rest. Without a shepherd, sheep don't have a chance against the wolves.

3. Sheep are very stubborn.

Do you know any stubborn sheep? It's been said that if two sheep try to walk through a narrow doorway at the same time and get stuck, they will make all kinds of noise, but neither will back up. Sheep, apparently, don't have a reverse gear.

4. Sheep are filthy.

Sheep flocks are not like the white fluffy ones you see on TV. They get dirty. They will not clean themselves. Just like sheep can't clean themselves, we can't clean ourselves. We need the forgiveness of our Shepherd Jesus Christ.

What does the Good Shepherd do?

A. He guides.

Psalm chapter 23, verse three, says, "He guides me along the right paths, for his name's sake.”

John chapter 10, verses three through four, says, "The gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice."

Do you know the Shepherd's voice? If you are in a crowded room full of 50 women, and you hear your wife laugh, you know exactly who was laughing. It's because you know her voice. Of all the voices in the room, you know her's the best. If you don't know what the voice of God sounds like, it is because you have not spent time with him. When Jesus is your shepherd, you learn to hear and know his voice.

Your God is a relational God, and he wants you to know his voice. He longs for you to know his voice.

If thinking about your spouse's voice in a crowd doesn't make sense to you, then think of this instead: Pretend you have brought your dog to a friend's house, and your dog is playing with all of your friend's dogs. Even when you hear all of the dogs barking at once, I know you know which one is yours!

B. He provides.

Psalm chapter 23, verses one through three, state, "The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul.”

I find it interesting that this verse says that he makes us to lie down in green pastures. Sheep won't lie down if they are hungry or afraid. Our shepherd leads us beside still waters. Sheep won't drink from water that is moving. Think about it: They might slip in, and then all that will be seen is a cotton ball bouncing down the river. Do you know what wool is like when it's wet? It is heavy!

If you are not feeling refreshed today, I have good news for you. The plan God has for you is one you get to live feeling fed, feeling safe, and feeling rested. If you don't feel fed, safe, or rested, you are missing out on some blessing God has for you.

C. He corrects.

Wandering sheep don't like this.

Job chapter 5, verse 17 through 18, says, "Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal."

It has been said that lambs like to runaway. There are many dangers in the forest for lambs who run away. A shepherd who really cares about his lamb will take that Lamb in his hands and break his leg. He then puts a splint on the leg and puts the Lamb on his shoulders. The shepherd carries the lamb until his leg is healed.

I have never heard somebody say, "Praise God! I'm being disciplined!" However, we know that the Scriptures say that God disciplines those he loves. Just like a shepherd, it is out of love that he sometimes applies pressure. Have you ever taken a child to get his or her one-year vaccinations? I remember when it was that time for Elizabeth. Inger Lise made sure that I was the one that Elizabeth was looking at! We were laughing and smiling at each other, and then the needle went in. The look on her face was terror and a feeling of betrayal. She could not understand that it was because I loved her that I was forcing this momentary pain on her. The most loving thing that God can do for us is to allow sin to hurt. It hurts because of the consequences that naturally follow our sinful choices.

Hebrews chapter 12, verse 11, says, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

D. He protects.

Psalms 23:4-6 tells, "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

This verse does not tell us that we will never feel pain. Rather, it assures us that we will never be alone.

Luke 15:4-6 says, "Suppose one of you has 100 sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the 99 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."

Our Shepherd's heart is most concerned about the sheep that has wandered away. Perhaps you have things in your life that keep you up at night. I can tell you what keeps Jesus up at night. He longs for you! When you have drifted away from him, you are at the front of his mind.

Have you ever lost a child in a place that was very crowded? Take a moment and picture yourself with your child. Pretend you're at the state fair in Minnesota, where there are 50,000 people. You turn for a moment to look at something, and when you turn back, your child is gone. You begin to look around, and as the minutes tick by, you get more and more frantic. Fear grips your heart that your child might have been kidnapped, or that somebody might be hurting him. You can see in your mind's eye the fear they are experiencing because they are lost. The emotion that your Jesus feels for you when you wandered away is far more intense than that!

Today, if you find that you are a sheep that has gone astray, you are the one that Jesus is thinking about right now. Sure, he loves those who are following him, but he's more concerned about you! All of his energy and attention is focused on being reunited with you!

Jesus went to the cross on Easter for one reason: that you would know his voice, that he could have a relationship with you that is so beautiful, so intimate, that he can whisper, and you would hear him. He's here for you today, if you will have him.

This Sunday, I want to invite you to The Rock, so that we can help each other be everything we were created to be. May the Lord richly bless you, and I hope to see you in church on Sunday.

Pastor Scott J Kruse

Monday, March 31, 2014

Deeper Rock - Jesus Slaps You In The Forehead John 14:15

Deeper Rock - Jesus slaps you in the forehead John 14:15

John 14:15 (NLT) — 15 “If you love me, obey my commandments.

This has to be the most abrupt verse in the Bible. Only seven words long it smacks you in the four head with it an inescapable truth. With no preamble or wiggle room Jesus says "if you love me you will obey my commandments." Yet there are so many that call themselves Christians and do not obey Jesus. It must be very frustrating for our Lord. In my imagination I see Jesus singing an old Knight Ranger song. "Don't tell me you love me, don't tell me you love me, don't tell me you love me, I don't want to know." We can lie to ourselves and tell ourselves that we love Jesus even if we’re not doing what he says. But he's not buying it.

Love is a verb and requires some action. If I said I love my wife and constantly ignored her that would not be love. What you do is more important than what you say.

Good news! It is a lot easier than it sounds. Because when you love of Jesus it is easy to obey him. I can hear you saying “that it's not easy and the pastor Scott has been smoking dope.” I can assure you, that I have not been smoking dope. When I love him, I spend time with him. He is my best friend and greatest ally. As I spend time with him I get to know him. And the more I get to know him the more I trust him. So when I look at one of his commands I don’t see it as a way to have less fun. I don't see his commands as a punishment. Rather, I see in his commands the path to true freedom. In keeping his commandments I become the man that he created me to be. Because I love him there is nothing I desire more than to make him proud. Obeying my Jesus is easy because I love him, know him, and trust him.

Sometimes I fail in obeying him but I can honestly say that my heart longs to obey him more and more every day. The more I know him the easier it is and life is more fun like this. His life is adventurous. It is a struggle yes, but it's worth it.

Some Sunday would you visit us at the Rock? I want to see you become all that God created you to be. May the Lord richly bless you and I hope to see you in church on Sunday.

Pastor Scott J Kruse

Deeper Rock Luke 6:43-45 Praying With A flying F-bomb

Deeper Rock Luke 6:43-45 Praying With A flying F-bomb

Luke 6:43–45 (NLT) — 43 “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 44 A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. 45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

Here we see the good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and actually cannot produce good fruit. You know the tree by its fruit. Likewise, you are known by what you do. How many times do people see themselves one way, good, kind, but because of what they do others don't see them that way. It's not what you want to do that determines whether you're a good or bad tree. It is what you do.

What you do is the real you. You can tell me to managing your finances is important to you, but find that boat with an 8% loan tells a different story. You can tell your family comes first, but the fact that you haven't missed made one game this year tells a different story. You can tell me that church is important to you, but then why is your lazy can in bed three out of four Sundays? You can tell me that your spiritual life is important to you, but then why haven't you talk to God for years? You can tell me that being why this is important to you, but then why haven't you ever read your Bible.

If you thought that was harsh this is even more so. Jesus tells us "what you say flows from what is in your heart." Has your mouth ever surprised you? I sometimes use the expression that my mouth moves faster than my brain. But the reality is actually found in this verse. It's what's in my heart that splashes out when I get bumped.

I was 16, and most likely dumber than a lot of 16-year-olds in a lot of ways. I had just got my driver’s license, and was driving my mom’s 1972 Cutlass supreme. It had a 350 4 barrel on it and I discovered that if you floored at sitting at a stoplight you could spin the tires for about 10 seconds and not even move. Well, I was trying to merge I 94 and I had to hurry up to get into traffic. But that's okay I have a car with a lot of power, bless God. So merging into traffic I floored it. That big engine roared, and the back tires swung back and forth, creating what I learned later to be called a fishtail. With the backend of my car swinging from side to side, I had set up circumstances that would earn me a place on the 10 o'clock news. The news crews were there for the police officers. There were five cars and one semi involved in that wreck. I know it still hurts my mom's heart think about it.

I tell that story to illustrate an important point. At 16 years old I loved Jesus with all my heart. I was stupid but I loved Jesus. And I don't think anybody has ever sworn and cussed so much in a prayer before. See, when life bumped into me, what was in my heart came out. Now I'm glad I prayed because that shows that there was some God in my heart. But I admit that the flying F-bomb that was being screamed in the cab of that car was contrary to the witness I was trying to portray.

People don't know you by who you want to be. They know you by what you do. If what you do represents who you really are I have a question for you. Does what you do project the values you want to have. If they don't, I have good news for you. Jesus always knew you were going to come up short of your own expectations. And furthermore, he knew that you were going to come up short of his expectations. He made away you could be friends with him. Perhaps you're like me and is like got inside of you and you need God's help to be different. It's really very exciting, because when he makes you different you act different. When he makes you a new creation, that is almost unrecognizable from what was there before you and your family will be the last.

Thank you for reading my little article. I want to invite you to rock church where you can be all your created. May the Lord richly bless you and I hope to see you in church on Sunday.

Pastor Scott J Kruse

Deeper Rock Mt 7:17-19 Rotten Fruit, Its Everywhere

Deeper Rock Mt 7:17-19 Rotten Fruit, Its Everywhere

Matthew 7:17–19 (NLT) — 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.

The context of this verse is Jesus warning against false teachers. He makes the point that you can identify these false prophets by the fruit that they produce. He says over and over again, in a few different ways that you can tell whether or not it is a false prophet by the fruit that he produces.

I have sometimes observed ministries that I was uncomfortable with but this seems to produce good fruit. I am one who believes that the ends almost always justify the means. One of our values at rock church is that we will do anything short of sin to tell somebody about Jesus. If I thought I could see more people come to know Jesus by having a tattoo of Mother Teresa on my forehead I would do it. Thankfully that's not my opinion. My wife is thankful that is not my opinion.

It's important to keep in mind whose job it was to fell trees. If you parallel these few verses with others in the Bible God is viewed as the gardener. I want to tell you that I think it's his job to tear down ministries if they need tailoring down.

There are some preachers out there that are doing things that I would never do. And I have heard other preachers railed against them from the pulpit. I personally think that this is grossly inappropriate. What kind of ministry do you have, if you believe your ministry is tearing down other people's ministries. Some very small people have made careers out of tearing down some of my heroes.

If you are seeking God, and you are loving the things that he loves. If your priorities are the same priorities that Jesus has, that will go a long way to keeping your doctrine, and theology on a firm foundation.

When I was younger I didn't have a lot of guidance in Christian doctrine. (I was 14) whenever I would get off in something fruity the thing that always pulled me back to center was those things stood in the way of people receiving Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Frankly, I think people are saying God is doing some things that he's not doing. The reason I think that is I don't see those things wedding centers to faith in Christ.

However, on the day I stand before my Lord I will only be answering for my ministry. I will not tear down their ministries. God, the great gardener is able and willing to bring them down. Pastor so-and-so, if you want to pretend there is no such thing as sin, that's your business. I won't be in the room when you stand the answer for what you did.

I don't need to focus on false prophets. My focus is, and always should be, my mantra. If you don't know my mantra is this:

Jesus help me, to be what you want me to be, do what you want me to do, because people without you go to hell.

I will not cheapen and grace by winking at sin. I will not be politically correct and pretend there is no hell. But if you want to that's your prerogative. God is the chopper of fruit trees not me.

Deeper Rock Gal 5:13-26 Flesh Man vs. Spirit Man!

Deeper Rock Gal 5:13-26 Flesh man vs. Spirit Man!

Galatians 5:13–26 (NLT) — 13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. 16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us chokedres that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the Law of Moses. 19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. 

In this collection of verses we find one of the great wrestling matches in Scripture. You have a great champion freedom on one side. On the other you have that old oafish scoundrel legalism on the other. We have two sets of desires. What the flesh wants, and what the Spirit wants. The things that the flesh produces, anger, selfishness, division are not things we want in our lives. That is the result when we are living away from God. How do we get the good stuff? Love, joy, peace, patience, that’s what I want.

We find in verse 22 that it is the Holy Spirit that produces that proved in our lives. It does not come from us because we are corrupted by our sin.

I have never done a very good job of using self-control to curb my sinful desires. The only tactic that has ever worked for me is to push good stuff into my life. Whichever man I feed more, spirit man or flesh man, is the one who rules my mind. Here are some things that I do to keep that fleshy jerk down.

First, you have to be praying. It's amazing to me how many Christians miss out on the highest honor they have as children of God. Don't they realize that that's why Jesus died on the cross, so we could talk to God? Before Jesus died on the cross a priest had to do it, and he can only do it once a year. I don't think God cares very much what your prayer time looks like. He just wants your attention. You can sing, you can talk, you can write in a journal, and you can even take a walk with him. He simply wants your undivided attention. Jesus died on the cross so he could be your friend. What kinds of friend are we being if we refuse to even talk to him.

The next thing that you have to do to feel yourself up with good stuff is to read the Bible. During this season of Lent I'm reading the entire Bible in 40 days. I have never read the Bible this quickly before. It has really been fun; I have gotten to look at the Scripture from a different perspective than I ever have before. It is about 30 chapters I day, but it takes less time than I expected. I can honestly say that my mind is filled with good stuff. While wow I'm pointing God's word into my life I have cut out watching TV. And I can tell you that I really like to watch TV. I'm recording my favorite shows like to watch them later. :-) When you want to get close to God fill yourself with the word get rid of stuff from the world.

Finally, the hardest and most powerful way to feed your spirit man, while starving your flesh man, is fasting. I don't mind telling you that there are times that fasting is an awful experience. But that is kind of the point. With every hunger pang I am reminded that during this period of time God is my priority. It is difficult to articulate intimacy I get to experience with my Jesus while I am fasting. I think of fasting as my trump card so I can tell the Lord that I'm doing all I know how to do to be close to him.

The way of the sinful man leads to bondage. But when I feed my spirit man I find energy, passion, and a reason to live. Dear Jesus, help me to know and love you.

I'd like to invite you to rock church so you can be all that God created you to be. May the Lord richly bless you and I hope to see you in church on Sunday.

Pastor Scott J Kruse

Deeper Rock John 15:9-17 Make Your Faith Easy Easy Easy "Remain in Me"

Deeper Rock John 15:9-17

 “I have loved you even as the father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my love. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: love each other the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because I mastered doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now I call you friends, since I have told you everything the father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce a lasting fruit, so that the father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name this is my command love each other.”

Jesus loves us like the father loves him. God loves Jesus as his only begotten son. We are to obey Jesus just like Jesus obeyed the father. The reason he did this is so that we could need filled with joy. He says that our joy over well! We’re not just slaves. We are the friends of God.

As friends of God we are going to produce lasting fruit. And now we get another fantastic promise. God will give us anything we ask using Jesus’s name. And all this from loving each other like Jesus loved us.

I don’t know about you, but Jesus calling me a friend puts a smile on my face. When the world is against me, and everybody seems upset with me, I have a place of peace and safety in the loving friendship of my Lord. When I’m close to my Jesus, when I am abiding in him, I could hear his voice and feel his acceptance.

When it seems like the whole world is against you it is a maze in how powerful it is to know that you are a friend of God. There is a confidence it comes to take on great challenges knowing that God has your back. There is a tenacity that comes that the God of the universe, that way that the oceans in his hand, is on your side.

If God seems far away, if when you think of you have an image of someone who is mad at you, or disappointed, your view of God is wrong. The answer is to buy in Jesus. In that place you will find tenacity, strength, passion, and a reason to live.

Join us at the rock so you can be all that God created you to be. May the Lord richly bless you and I hope to see you in church on Sunday

Pastor Scott J Kruse

Deeper Rock John 15:5-8 Jesus knows nothing about marketing

Deeper Rock John 15:5-8 Jesus knows nothing about marketing 

 John 15:5-8“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile and burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great joy to my father.”

Jesus says, “Anyone that does not remain in me is thrown away.” The stakes are really high. God created you to bear fruit. And he’s saying if you don’t bear fruit you’ll be caught off so the branches that do want to bear fruit have room to thrive. But then there is a fantastic promise. When we remain in him we can ask for anything we want, and it will be granted.

You might say to me, “I asked God for a Cadillac and I didn’t get so this verse is wrong!” The catch is, if you are remaining in Jesus, what’s important to him is going to be important to you. God is not concerned with nice stuff here on earth. God’s perspective is much more eternal than that and Cadillac’s rust and break. When you love would Jesus loves, the thing that you’re going to desire is people.

When the things that are important to Jesus are important to you, your fruit is going to be more disciples for Jesus. And we find out at the end of verse nine “this brings great glory to my father.”

The reason Jesus can brag that you can have anything you want, is when you’re close to him you’re going to want pure and holy eternal things.

If God was to grant you a wish, what you wish for. Maybe take a moment close your eyes and think about it, allow yourself to daydream. What would you want more than anything else? After you have that in your mind, ask yourself “self, is this the same thing Jesus would’ve asked for had he been in my same position?” If your answer is not the same as his, I would argue you need to get closer to the vine.

As always I would like to invite you to rock church, so you can be all that God created you to be. May the Lord richly bless you and I hope to see you in church on Sunday.

Pastor Scott J Kruse

Deeper Rock John 14:1-4 Feeling clipped? You've been pruned!

Deeper Rock John 15:1-4 Feeling clipped? You’ve been pruned!

In John chapter 15 we find Jesus sitting at the last supper with his disciples. He continues to teach them about what it is to be a Christian and how to change the world.

John 15:1 - 4  “I am the true grapevine, and my father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” 

In this verse we find that God has two responsibilities. First, he cuts off branches that do not produce. Next he prunes the branches that remain. The factor that determines whether you get cut or prune is whether or not the branch bears fruit. 

Speaking to his disciples, Jesus reassures them that they had been pruned and purified. Now, the key to being fruitful is to remain in Jesus.

Oh, how I want to be qualified for his pruning. Pruning can be uncomfortable but it is a whole lot better than getting cut off. When he prunes he purifies and that process hurts. My job is to remain in him. First I have to do what he says. If I don’t do what he says it ends there. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” So if I have areas of my life that are in disobedience to him, I am in danger of being caught off by the father. 

Next I need to be where he is. Jesus said “where two or more are gathered with me there I am in the mists of them”. If you want to remain in Jesus you have to spend time with other Christians. Can you be a Christian and not go to church? Yes I think you can, but you will never be the Christian God intended it to be. 

Finally we have to love what he loves. And what is the thing that Jesus loves more than anything else? It’s people. If you love people like Jesus loved people you will serve people like Jesus search people. That makes that he said this he watched the disciple’s feet. And eventually would lay down his life completely for them. That is what it is to love like Jesus loves. If you love people like Jesus loves people it will keep your priorities straight. If you love people like Jesus loves people it'll keep your theology straight.

 Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.  I want to invite you to come to the rock, and be all that God created you to be. May the Lord richly bless you, and I hope to see you in church on Sunday.

Pastor Scott J Kruse

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

To Take A Stand - Abortion

I really enjoyed our Rock Talk last Sunday, “Energy the Power of Excellence Part 4 Spiritual” We looked at Dietrich Bonhoeffer and how, because of his true understanding of “costly grace," was able to stand against the German Lutheran Nazi-church and his country.  He was very loyal to both his Lutheran church and his country, which made it personally difficult.  As I was preparing the talk, I saw on the news that ND is working to have the strictest abortion laws in the country.  

I think the Church should stay out of politics for the most part. I do not think you can say for sure what economic system God thinks is best. (I do tend to think he agrees with me, however, jk).  I do not think that it is my place to tell people who to vote for. It is my place though, to be a voice for, as Bonhoeffer said, "those who can not speak out for themselves”.

There are a number of ways to look at this issue.

  1. There is no God therefore there is nothing wrong with killing someone weaker than yourself for the sake of convenience. For instance, if that baby has a future of down's syndrome, a physical handicap, the wrong sex, or would be just more hassle than the mother and father want to deal with, no harm is done.
  2. Imagine a reality in which we, not God, decide when someone is alive. According to Scripture, God knew us in the womb. Our ability to convince ourselves of a lie to make ourselves feel better is tragic.
  3. If you believe the Bible's claim that God views unborn children as people, then you have to look at the horror that abortion really is.

If you have had, or have paid for an abortion, I hope you get to experience the love and forgiveness of a God who longs to know and heal you. We are all broken and desperately in need of God to make us right.

After studying Bonhoeffer I was compelled because during World War II, 6 million Jews were tragically murdered. Since abortion was legalized in the US, 56 million lives have been lost. 56 million more people would be in our country today than what are here now. There are 313 million people living in the United States. We have disposed of 15% of our entire population. Almost 2 out of every 10 people, gone.

The Church should stay out of politics, but needs to be God’s voice on this earth. It is the Church's job to stand up for those who can not.

If there was a candidate whom I passionately disagreed with in terms of foreign policy, economics and free trade, but would take a stand for the 15% of Americans who are silent victims of convenience, I like to think I would vote against my self-interest and vote for that person, regardless of party.

If you believe the Bible, which says God knew you in the womb, and that murder is a sin, you should be proud of ND and be praying that this silent, legal, genocide stops.

Links used in this article in case they are not clickable where you are reading.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rock Money Pledge "I will not manipulate"

In my previous post I layed out how I think the bad behavior of some preachers have made it hard to talk about something Jesus talked about, Money. I laid out my three part pledge”

  1. I will not use emotion to manipulate our church into giving.
  2. I will not lead where I will not go.
  3. I will not rob you of God’s best for your life by not talking about money.

Here I am going to expand further on the first one:
I will not use emotion to manipulate our church to give.

If you have been around me much you have most likely heard me say that the ends justify the means almost all the time. So some would say that if you have an important cause that needs funding you should use all means necessary to get that money. I actually don’t disagree with that, if it worked.

If we as preachers train our people to give based on emotion, guilt, or peer pressure, rather than out of obedience it robs them of the maturity that comes with giving even when we are not crying for a starving child. I don’t give because someone needs my money. I give because God wants me to.

Think about that for a minute, it is profoundly different reasons for giving. I don’t give because the need, I give because God owns me, completely.

Jesus said 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt 6:21

When I look at my time, energy, and money God does not just own part of it, He owns all of it. I believe that scripture teaches that 10% is the starting point for what we should give. That does not mean that is all he owns. He owns all of me.

If we have to push and manipulate people to give with powerful emotion to get them to give to the ministry, Jesus does not own their heart yet, and we have a far larger problem than our ministry being underfunded.

Here are things that happen when giving happens out of emotion.
  • People give to a cause rather than out of obedience to God. If the cause does not move them they will not give.
  • Because the giving is toward a cause rather than out of obedience it stunts their spiritual growth.
  • Like the tortoise and the hare overall their giving can become sporadic depending on all kinds of reasons.

I was at a youth conference and they were taking offerings for missions. The speakers got the kids to give all the money they had with them, including any money they had to eat on the way home. I later heard them talking and thinking it was so funny that youth pastors would have to pay for all of their meals. I did not think it was funny as I had a bunch of kids to pay for. They did not teach those kids how to give. They taught them how to be impulsive.

When I lost my job at a Church we continued to tithe there even though I was hurt and passionately disagreed with the decisions they were  making.(ie firing me) If I was dependant on my emotion to make me want to give I would have missed out on some of the most important lessons and character building experiences of my life.

I want you to aspire to give in a mature way that is not dependent on your emotions. When we all do that the kingdom of God will go forward in a more powerful way than if we simply did it when “convinced”.

So, I will not manipulate you to get you to give.

May the Lord richly bless you and I hope to see you at the Rock on Sunday.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Rock Money Pledge "I will not rob you by not talking about money"

The Third part of my money pledge is I will not rob those at Rock by not talking about money.

I love the scripture and believe it is though that wisdom that God longs to bless us. Contained in his word

- advice about saving
- advice about lending
- advice about working
- advice about accouning
- advice about giving
- advice about receiving

Remember our first blog in this series where I told you

3 of every 4 parables dealt with $ & possessions

In the Gospels, 1 of 10 verses deal directly with money.

2300 verses in the Bible. 5 times as many as prayer and faith.

Check out this verse Mal 3.10
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease.* Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

Holy Bible: New Living Translation

God is so Bold here! It is the only place he says test me.

If God is so bold, who am I  to centure God. No, if I am to be a preacher of His word that is what I am going to do.

Furthermore, having found the incredible blessing that has come from handling my finances God’s way, particularly in tithing, how big of jerk would I have to be to refuse to expose those I love to that truth for fear that they may misunderstand my intentions. You see, it is pride and insecurity that tries to prevent preachers from telling the truth about tithing. We fear that you will think we are trying to take advantage of you.

I will not do it, I love my people to much to hold back the blessing that I have found in my own life in the area of finances. Even if that means that because of the reputation that others have earned some may think ill of me and my intentions.

I will not rob you of God’s blessing by not talking about finances. I love you to much.

May the Lord richly bless you and I hope to see at the Rock on Sunday.

Pastor Scott J Kruse

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Rock Money Pledge "I will not lead where I won't go"

I will not lead where I won’t go!

The second of my pledges concerning money is: I will not lead where I won’t go. I have seen pastors and evangelists preach on finances and giving but were not using their own advice. They encourage people to give but they themselves are not giving. Or they encourage people to get their budgets under control but their own finances are a mess.

I wish I was perfect, that way it would be easy to preach the truth without  being a hypocrite. However I am not perfect, and I strive for transparency in all things.

I have put myself on a budget and forgotten to look at it and thereby making it a total waste of time. Knowing that it is about progress, not perfection, I therefore go back to it again and again. And yes, we have made progress and are getting more healthy all the time. I do have a lot of empathy for people that struggle with their finances. It takes work and we owe it to ourselves, our family and most of all, our God, to strive toward that perfection.

There are a couple of things that my wife and I have done that has really protected us from our shortcomings. You can’t lead where you won’t go, and you can’t lead if you did not tell anyone where you went. So with that in mind, here are some things that we did, in obedience to God, that has blessed us beyond what we can measure.

1. Save
With my first professional paycheck at 22 years old, I started investing. Most years I would split any pay increase and have half go toward raising my standard of living and half going into my 501 retirement plan. Including a company match of 5%, at the end of 8 years I was putting 25% of my salary into investments. When hard times came and I was not making any money, I simply stopped investing and allowed the money to grow.

2. Tithe
The most important thing my wife and I have done is that we have always tithed. That is we give the first 10% to the church before we look at any other bills. On opposite sides of the world from each other (my wife grew up in Norway), starting with our very first jobs, two jr. highers were giving from every paycheck. And true to his Word, God has taken very good care of us, seeing us through good times and bad.

3. Give more than what we tithe
About two years ago we got to hear Pastor Rick Warren, author of the Purpose Driven Life, speak at the Assemblies of God General Council. He shared how he had increased his giving, starting at 10%, by a margin every year. Like me, he started out with a very small pastor salary but by the time he wrote the Purpose Driven Life, he was giving 40% of his income on a Pastor’s salary. Therefore, when he got a 40 million dollar paycheck it was easy to give it away. God knew he could trust him with those resources.

I had done a similar thing with saving money but it had never occurred to me to apply the same principle to my giving. After hearing pastor Warren we are up to 17% and have dreams of doing more for God’s kingdom. We did kind of cheat though since around that time, my wife got a promotion and a good raise and we applied almost all of it to our giving.

May the Lord richly bless you and I hope to see you in Church on Sunday.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Rock Money Pledge

Lots of people do not like hearing about money in church, and in lots of cases I don’t blame them.  I too have seen televangelist try and swindle little old ladies out of their social security check. Only God knows the hearts of men but it sure seems like many of these prosperity preachers are very self serving when they talk about money. Like for you, it turns my stomach and I believe it is a perversion of the principles found in Scripture.

I remember being in a service when I was about 17, and becoming very offended. Now, just so you know, I tithed on the very first paycheck I ever got and have never stopped. So I was not offended by the idea of giving but rather the manipulation they used to make you give.

The cause was a good one and one that I have supported since and will again. A dynamic preacher spoke for an hour on why we should give and give a lot. At the end of the service an altar call was given for us to give money, then we were to go to the wall of posters with different of amounts of money ranging from 20 to 5,000 dollars. We were instructed to get up, before we knew why, walk over to the wall and claim a poster and lay our hand on it. People were moving toward the wall before they knew why and the pressure was immense.

I realized what they were doing and having the confidence that I was already a giver, I went back to my seat and sat down. Then the preacher went on to try and make anyone still sitting feel like dirt. I sat for a long time and finally was so embarrassed and got up and walked over to the wall where I found all the 20 dollar posters were gone, only posters 500 dollars and up were still there, I sat back down.

The ends justify the means except when they don’t. This type of pressure to give trains christians to be immature children in the area of giving and steals the true blessing God intends. I know preachers who preach a mini-sermon every week because that is the only time people give. If that is the case you have trained your people to be moved by manipulation and emotion rather than what Scripture says.

I was leading worship at a camp meeting once where the camp needed money for a tax bill they were not expecting, of 8,000 dollars. Again, the speaker was very dynamic and took the offering over and over, using different gimmicks until that audience of 120 people gave the entire amount. That small crowd paid the whole bill. Two months later they sent out a newsletter and guess what, they were asking for 8,000 dollars for the same tax bill. I understand how complex cash flow problems can be but the reality is they lacked integrity and then broadcasted it for everyone to see.

There has been a lot of bad behavior in the church in the area of finances. So much so that part of me would prefer, like a lot of preachers, to just not talk about it. However, I can’t claim to preach the Word and not talk about money in church, because:

3 of every 4 parables dealt with $ & possessions
In the Gospels, 1 of 10 verses deal directly with money.
2300 verses in the Bible. 5 times as many as prayer and faith.

I can not, with integrity, claim to preach the Word and not talk about money. So I have come up with a pledge that I make to you, it has three parts.

  1. I will not use emotion to manipulate you to give.
  2. I will not lead where I will not go.
  3. I will not rob you of God’s best for your life by not talking about money.

Over the next few blog plosts/videos, I am going to talk about each of these pledges and hope you will allow me to share with you how you can handle everything God puts in your hands for his Glory.

May the Lord richly bless you and I hope to see you in Church on Sunday.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Apologize to Sodom

"If God doesn't judge America he is going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah."

I have heard this statement many times in many contexts.  I find the statement to be irresponsible and inflammatory. Whether it was the intention or not, it is taken to mean that it is as a result of sexual sin God destroyed those two cities and that the current acceptence of homsexualtiy  in America is going to bring the wrath of God.

Every time there is a natural disaster I hear some major "Christian leader" pointing at people's sexuality as the cause.

If you have not already done so please take a look at my post about where I stand on the issue. I believe that homosexuality is sin but am very humble about it and don't claim to have all the answers. I also believe that many evangelical Christians have acted in a very non-Christlike way in relating to the LGBT community.

Here is why I think this statement is wrong.

Gen 18:32 God promises not to judge Sodom if 10 righteous people can be found. While in Church this last Sunday at the Rock I was amazed at the beautiful pure hearted Christians I have the privilege of doing life with. Just in our little group there are indeed more than 10 who are righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Not only do we have more people who fear God, but the level of depravity that was socially acceptable was far more extreme in Sodom.

Gen 19:5
5 They shouted to Lot, "Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!"
Tyndale House Publishers. (2007). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (3rd ed.) (Ge 19:5).

Has it reached that level where you live? How afraid must Lot have been to do what he did next. I hope I would have that kind of courage.

Gen 19:7-8
 8 Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection."
Tyndale House Publishers. (2007). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (3rd ed.) (Ge 19:7--8).

Nope, I daresay that where there is certainly horrible things happening, murder and rape is not socially accepted in our culture yet.

That being the case, is it any surprise that people living in a gay relationship are offended?  I have an ugly word for you that I think is true. When "Christians" (I use quotations because I don't think Christ would ever act this way or make these claims) That word is bigot, when you take out of context scripture to attempted to prove your stance and look down on a community of people I think it is well earned.

We have earned their offense, it truly angers me that I have to share a reputation with those who have expressed their faith in  such a bigoted, hateful and un-Christlike way.

Every time I interact with someone who is either part of the LGBT community, or is a friend of someone in that lifestyle I have to overcome that reputation and work twice as hard to show them I care and accept them as they are for who they are.

Now some of you are freaking out, "if you love them you are condoning what they are doing." Ok lets follow your logic, are you perfect? No? Ok do you still sin?. Jesus loves us in our sin and brings us out of it. If you came to faith as an adult, were you convinced to stop all of your sin the first time you came to Church? If so you are a major minority.

People typically change slowly and God is the one who does it.

May the Lord richly bless you and I hope to see you in Church on Sunday.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I am preaching on Homosexuality this Sunday. In all my years I have never heard a sermon on the subject. It is so controversial that I think preachers would like to just skip it. However at the Rock we want to take hard issues head on and go to scripture to see what it really says.