Who We Are
Finding Hope in Jesus
Becoming a Christian is not simply a matter of ticking off a list of things to believe and do. Rather, we’re invited to come to Jesus – plain and simple. Jesus said Come to me, and you will find rest for your souls. Have you done that? Many people might respond that they’re not sure.
Well, if you want to either connect to God or reconnect to God, you have to do the same two things. The first is repent. According to Timothy Keller in his book, The Reason for God (1), the repentance that begins a new relationship with God is not primarily a matter of drawing up lists of specific sins you are sorry for and want to change. . . . behavioral changes alone will not make you a Christian. Repentance is not less than being sorry for individual sins, but it means much more.
The repentance that really changes your heart and your relationship with God begins when you recognize that your main sin, the sin under the rest of your sins, is your self-salvation project. . . . . In both our bad deeds and in our good deeds we are seeking to be our own Saviors and Lords. We have alternative trusts and gods, even though we do not call them that. We try to prove ourselves through our moral goodness or through achievement or family or career.
Repentance, then, is confessing the things besides God himself that you have been relying on for your hope, significance, and security.
The second we have to do is believe in Christ, but there’s a definite content to belief. We have to believe that Jesus was who He said he was, that we are sinners in need of forgiveness, that on the cross Jesus secured that salvation, and that He rose from the dead.
However, while life-changing Christian faith is not less than believing these things with your intellect, it is much more. The faith that changes life and connects to God is best conveyed by the word trust.
Imagine you are on a high cliff and you lose your footing and begin to fall. Just beside you as you fall is a branch sticking out of the very edge of the cliff. It is your only hope and it is more than strong enough to support your weight. How can it save you? If your mind is filled with intellectual certainty that the branch can support you, but you don’t actually reach out and grab it, you are lost. If your mind is instead filled with doubts and uncertainty that the branch can hold you, but you reach out and grab it anyway, you will be saved.
Why? It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you. Strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch. This means you don’t have to wait for all doubts and fears to go away to take hold of Christ. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have to banish all misgivings in order to meet God. That would turn your faith into one more way to be your own Savior.
It is not the depth and purity of your heart but the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf that saves us.
Want to find hope in Jesus? Here’s a prayer penned by Timothy Keller. Let it be your hearts’ cry to God.
Father, I’ve always believed in you and Jesus Christ, but my heart’s most fundamental trust was elsewhere – in my own competence and decency. This has only gotten me into trouble. As far as I know my own heart, today I give it to you, I transfer my trust to you, and ask that you would receive and accept me not for anything I have done but because of everything Christ has done for me.
(1 Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (Riverhead Books, 2008), pp. 243-245.)
What's the Big Deal About Church?
Eugene Peterson (2) wrote a brilliant description of the Christian Church in his introduction to the Biblical book of James. He writes:
When Christian believers gather in churches, everything that can go wrong sooner or later does. Outsiders, on observing this, conclude that there is nothing to the religion business except, perhaps, business – and dishonest business at that. Insiders see it differently. Just as a hospital collects the sick under one roof and labels them as such, the church collects sinners. Many of the people outside are every bit as sick as the ones inside, but their illnesses are either undiagnosed or disguised. It’s similar with sinners outside the church.
So Christian churches are not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior. They are, rather, places where human misbehavior is brought out in the open, faced, and dealt with.
So Ascension isn’t a place for perfect people, it’s a place for broken, wounded, searching souls seeking to discover the love, grace and mercy of Almighty God. Jesus always sought out the lost, the least, the last and the lowest; they’re the ones who were often the most open to His love. We count ourselves among them.
(2 Eugene Peterson, from introduction to James from The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (NavPres 2002), p. 1669.)
There are two regular worship services on the Sunday mornings
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Ascension Lutheran Church and Preschool
26231 Silver Spur Road
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
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The Church Office
Located on the lower leverl of the church at the far end of the patio, you can contact or stop by the church office if you have any questions, would like to register for events, get information for your next steps at Ascension, and more.
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Student & Family
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