Unlikely Rescue by PASTOR RON AULBACH BridgeWay Community Imagine yourself lying on the beach, watching the waves lap against the shore. It’s another record breaking day of heat and humidity, with no relief in sight. You decide it’s time to take a dip and cool off, but as you wade into the water a huge fish swims towards you. Just before it beaches, its’ enormous jaws open and out comes an ear deafening belch. The deep bellowing ‘burrrrp,’ produces a large amount of seaweed, several half digested fish, a volleyball named Wilson, and to your great surprise, a man who is barely alive. The smell is overwhelming, but the man reaches out his slimy hand and says, “Hi my name is Jonah. Man, is it good to be out of there!” It’s one of the strangest verses in the bible, “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jonah 2:10). I’m sorry if you are reading this while sipping a cup of coffee or eating a cinnamon roll, but I will never forget hearing this story as a little 6 year old in my Sunday School class. These are the stories adult teachers relish, “Do what God says, or a giant fish will eat you.” It was a toss up whether I was more scared of Jonah’s fish or a ferocious shark named Jaws. God wants our obedience, that’s true. But the really good news for Jonah is that God cared enough to rescue him the moment he asked. Jonah went from fish food to rescued the moment he cried out to God. Sure, it looked like vomit, but it was better than death. What would rescue look like for you? Maybe you’re like Jonah and the problems of life have absolutely swallowed you. The boss is unbearable. The kids are a mess. Financial burdens are weighing you down. Maybe your life is swallowed up by sin and disobedience. It’s never to late to call out for rescue. Deep in the belly of whale, God heard Jonah’s prayer “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, O Lord. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:7-8). May that be your prayer today, […]
Pastor Ron Aulbach
Midlife Crisis by PASTOR RON AULBACH BridgeWay Community Church There was a hit song by Paul Simon back in 1986 that can best be described as a man experiencing a midlife crisis. He’s walking down the street and his head full of unanswered questions. Why am I so soft in the middle? Why am I short of attention? Why are my nights so long? Where is my wife? My family? What if I die here? Who’ll be my bodyguard, now that my bodyguard is gone, gone? “You can call me Al” and if you feel like you are living more like Al than you’d care to admit, I’ve got good news for you. These are the questions that most ask. Research indicates that an actual “midlife crisis” is a myth. Not everyone that hits their 40’s and 50’s actually experience a crisis. They don’t all by Corvettes, timeshares and dream of breaking par. David Almeida, PhD at Penn State says the crisis is definitely a myth but “this certainly is a stressful time of life for most people.” These years bring affluence allowing you to finally afford the luxuries you’ve always dreamed of while at the same time having to navigate the heavier demands dealt out by the boss and family. Add to that the likelihood of having to also care for aging parents, and it feels like a midlife crisis is upon you. There is another way to look at the middle years of your life. I’m finding that there really is a difference between “living” my life, and just “doing” life. Doing life looks like a schedule that is consumed with things that have no purpose, and ultimately no passion behind them. Living life means you look for the opportunities that will bring greatest joy to both you and the people around you. Joshua was crystal clear on this, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, but for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Serving is living, and serving the Lord brings the greatest life. Let God be the object of your service, your bodyguard, and the answer to all your questions.
by PASTOR RON AULBACH BridgeWay Community Church The book “Unbroken” by Laura Hilenbrand, captures perfectly what it means to live a long, prosperous life. Louis Zamperini was a rebellious youth who found his gift in running. He was fast! Dashing records in the mile in high school, college at USC, and became the U.S. hopeful for Olympic gold. Until WWII broke out, and Louis would put his running career on hold to serve our country as a bomber in the Air Force. A perilous military assignment, to say the least, and after surviving several close calls, his B-24 bomber was shot down over the Pacific. Most of his crew were killed at impact, but Louis and two other servicemen survived. On a small raft adrift for over 2,000 miles with no food or water. Minimal rain and the occasional raw fish barely kept the men alive. The raft was a magnet for sharks, who constantly circled it, even lunging up onto its sides in attack. After 47 days, death was imminent, so Louis prayed in desperation: “God if you save me, I will dedicate the rest of my life to serving you.” The immediate answer seemed cruel as he was captured by the Japanese and placed in a prison camp. His wiry athletic frame wasted away, dropping from 150 to just over 70 pounds. One prison guard, nicknamed “The Bird,” stalked him and beat him every day. For two-and-a-half years, Louis was verbally assaulted, starved and beaten, but he was never broken. Then, the war ended. Post-War life wasn’t any easier for Louis. He had deep-seeded resentment toward the Japanese, became a raging alcoholic, struggled with his marriage, and had no money. Then, in 1949 he heard a young preacher named Billy Graham. The message was simply: “For God so loved the world that he gave his son Jesus.” Then Louis remembered that prayer on the raft. He gave his life to the Lord, and immediately felt the peace that had eluded him. He found instant relief from the addictions and went on a mission to forgive his enemies. I think it would be more accurate to label the book “Broken,” because that’s what Louis really was. And that’s exactly the kind of life God […]
Thankful by PASTOR RON AULBACH BridgeWay Community Church Johnny Carson may have said it best: “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.” Now, I hope that isn’t true for you. Beyond giving thanks for turkey, stuffing, banana cream pie, uncle Eddie’s unique personality, and a competitive Lions team, we need to be thankful for all ways we’ve been blessed. As easy as it is to say, “Be a thankful person,” there are real enemies that rob us. The first enemy is isolation. We were created for community and God says it is not good for us to be alone. When we isolate ourselves, we lose the connection we were created for and we forget how wonderful the people around us are. So, make time during these holidays to have coffee with an old friend or to call a relative you miss. Another enemy is busyness. The schedule can be so full, that getting through the day is all we feel like we can do. We’re told, “Busy people get the most done.” So we over commit and instead of being thankful, we resent our busy lives. As tempting as it is, resist the need to fill the calendar. Use the extra time to pray to God, and thank Him for the life you’ve been given. Finally, guard against the enemy of entitlement. It’s so easy to think that people are here to serve us. “I deserve it!” I order my coffee at Starbucks, where my addictions are most satisfied, and how do I respond? Am I thankful for the person who got up much earlier than I did to make it? I may have paid for it, but does my heart express with words how thankful I am? Followers of Jesus Christ should be the most thankful people anyone ever meets. God gave of His son, so that we might have eternal life. So “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and have a wonderful holiday season.
When God Says No by PASTOR RON AULBACH BridgeWay Community Church As a parent, sometimes you find that “No” is not only the best answer, but also your best friend. There are crazy requests: “No, you can’t jump out of your second-story bedroom window into the kiddy pool!” Sometimes it’s for practical reasons, like “No, you can’t have a cell phone, you’re too young.” Other times the answer saves you: “No, we can’t get a cat. Cats have fleas, they bite, and smell like spoiled milk.” As you can imagine, I’m not popular, but am successful at keeping cats out of our home. I’m a father, and often reminded that I’m far from perfect. But, what do you do when your perfect heavenly Father says “No”? We don’t like to hear “No.” Whether we are children or adults, our preoccupation is with hearing “Yes.” Yes, you can have a raise and a more comfortable lifestyle. Yes, you can have a dream house and a dream spouse, with dreamy obedient kids. We gasp to think we couldn’t have what we want. Then our dream job ends in corporate downsizing. A lifelong friend walks out. Someone we love dies of cancer. Our prayer requests seem to go unanswered. The “No” can leave us questioning if God is even out there. One of the greatest heroes of the bible heard “No” but learned the greater “Yes.” The apostle Paul describes a time in his life when he faced a severe physical issue, a proverbial “thorn” in the flesh. Three times he pleaded with God to remove the affliction, and the response was “No.” God actually answered him by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Beyond the “No,” God wanted Paul to rely on a greater strength. Your faith should not depend on how God answers your prayers. Instead, your faith rests in whether you trust his power in your weakness. When God says “No,” it’s your perfect Father in heaven wanting to use your greatest weakness to display His great strength.