Day 40 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family!

Today’s Code Word is Wait.

We spend our lives waiting on something or someone.  We wait for spouses, children, family members, friends and colleagues.  We have all waited for the waiter at a restaurant to come and take our order. We have all spent many hours in the waiting rooms of doctors and hospitals over the years. And we all have waited at traffic signals and red lights more times than we can even remember.

The process of waiting is part of our lives whether we like it or not. Today, O.S. Hawkins points out what was probably one of the more lonely and painful periods of waiting in all of human history.  The disciples spent this Saturday, this Sabbath waiting for something that they did not even imagine.  The did not expect that Jesus would rise from the dead before sunrise the next day. O.S. Hawkins imagines their spirits during this Sabbath of waiting:  “Saturday. Silence. Jesus had died. He was in a sealed tomb.  His disciples and followers were beyond exhaustion, numb with sorrow and disappointment. They had forsaken Him and fled in the hour of His deepest need.  In the utter despair of the moment, they exclaimed, “We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21).

Today, we are waiting on Jesus. And Jesus is waiting too. Because of Resurrection Sunday, we know that the tomb was empty and Jesus is alive! He is with His Father in heaven waiting for the time when the Archangel shouts and the trumpet blows and He comes and takes His bride, the church, as we are caught up with Him in the air. (1 Thess. 4:13-17) This glorious event will be the last time His disciples then and now are waiting! For we will finally be with Jesus!

Apply this principle of waiting to your worship today. As you find yourself waiting on someone or something today, remember that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the Morning! (Psalm 30:5) Today’s key verse is from Isaiah 40:31, “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles.” See you tomorrow for our last devotion together in our Journey to the Cross!


Pastor Kevin


Day 39 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Aaron Hoogerwerf

Hello First Family,

Today’s Code Word Devotion comes from Pastor Aaron. Enjoy!


Code Word: “Sovereign”  

“Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer, You shield my head in the day of battle.” Psalm 140:7


If ever there was a time in history where God’s sovereignty was on full display, it was certainly on Good Friday – the day each year that Christians all over the world remember Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  On the night before, Jesus spent the evening having a meal with His disciples.  And on that night, He talked about His death and His betrayer Judas was revealed.  It was a very dark time and Jesus was clearly troubled as He went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane later that night.  In Matthew 26:38, Jesus told His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”


It is common for us to feel overwhelmed at times by the circumstances of life.  When we are under great stress and anxiety because of difficult trials, it can affect us in so many ways – both spiritually and physically.  But the great thing about our Savior is that He knows how we feel and He can identify with our suffering because He went through great suffering on the way to the cross.  Isaiah 53:3 says, “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”


We are living through trying times now in our world and there are challenging days ahead as we face difficulties that we have never seen before.  However, we have a blueprint directly from scripture on how we should handle times of anxiety, stress, and uncertainty.  Even through His deep sorrow and pain, Jesus demonstrated the proper response when He said with great humility in Matthew 26:39, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”


Jesus kept His eye on God’s purposes because He understood that God is sovereign over His creation.  God is in complete control and His plans are always perfect – even in the darkest of times.  So on this day when we remember what Jesus went through on the cross as He took the sins of the world upon Himself, let us also remember that our sorrows are temporary and that Jesus defeated the power of sin and death through His resurrection on Easter Sunday!!


“To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.” Jude 25


See you tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross,


Pastor Aaron


Day 38 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Hello First Family,

Today’s Code word is Relationships.

Relationships are a gift from God. Our friends add value and joy to our lives each and every day. A popular adage about true friends are that they know everything about you and like you anyways! In the context of these relationships we learn –  how to love, find true joy, push for peace, practice patience, exhibit kindness, generate goodness, grow in  gentleness, walk in faithfulness and strive for self-control.

We become more like Christ as we spend time, energy and effort practicing His teachings in the context of our relationships. Jesus had a great group of close friends that were His disciples. Eleven of them were loyal, faithful and true. One was not. Judas ended up betraying Jesus. Many scholars think that Judas was trying to manipulate Jesus into becoming the political Messiah that he had always dreamed about. But, Jesus was not that kind of Messiah. When Judas came into the Garden with the angry mob and the chief priests, Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Jesus was betrayed by His friends and persecuted by His enemies. He paid such a heavy price to save us from our sins. Our focus verse is John 15:15, “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
Today, as you think about your relationships, Thank God for those friends and family that challenge you to be closer to God. Then, thank the Lord that you have a Friend,  Jesus, who always “sticks closer than a brother.” See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross.


Pastor Kevin


Day 37 – Journey to the Cross – Mr. Ian Ham

Hello First Family,

Today’s Code Word comes from one of our Pastoral Communicators, Ian Ham. Ian teaches high school Bible at our Academy and also serves as Athletic Director and a member of the Administration Team. He is married to our church Financial Secretary, Adline Ham. He has a young daughter, Eliza, who just started to say “Da-Da” this week! Enjoy!


Code Word: Fragrance


When I think of the word fragrance, my mind tends to go towards something that has a pleasant aroma about it. Something pleasing to the senses that gives me a comforting feeling. That is why the candle industry spends so much money mixing and creating different scents that their customers will find pleasing. I don’t believe too many people will buy scents that make them cringe!

As we move towards Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, I want us to focus on how Paul talks about Jesus as a fragrance.

In Ephesians 5:2, Paul calls Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross a “fragrant offering.” In other words, something that pleased God. Then we see how in 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, Paul talks about Christ leading us in a “triumphal procession” as the “fragrance of the knowledge of him” spreads through us!

The sacrifice Christ did at Calvary had a pleasing fragrance to God and now knowledge of Him and his work spreads through US as a fragrance in this world! What a beautiful thought! The picture Paul is painting in 2 Corinthians is Christ leading us as a victorious General! On Palm Sunday, we see Jesus praised in a “triumphal entering” and a few short days later He is crucified by those same people. The pleasing fragrance of that death is coupled now with the fragrance of His victory that is spread through us, His followers. WOW!

I hope as we look to this Easter season and remember what Christ did for us, we remember that Christ’s death was pleasing to God and that His return will bring the ultimate victory as HIS fragrance is spread!

See you tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross!


Ian Ham


Day 36 – Journey to the Cross – Deacon Tom Cavey

Hello First Family! 

Today’s devotional thought comes from one of our Deacons, Tom Cavey. Enjoy! 


Hello First Family,

We only have four more days to go to finish our journey.  I pray you have been  enjoying each day’s journey.  It’s been a real blessing to me. Today’s code word is  PAIN.”

In Roman mythology, the word poena is the spirit of punishment. It is a noun and comes from the Latin word for pain which is “adflictio”.  In English it means to “make suffer or cause distress”.  In  John 19:1,  it describes the pain Jesus suffered for us.  Can you imagine being flogged by means of a leather whip with pieces of bone and medal imbedded  in its thongs?   The roman soldiers whipped him and when finished, they put a crown of thorns on His head as He endured all this pain (though innocent) for all of us  so we would have a way to heaven.  Remember God doesn’t always tell us the reason we are suffering or in pain, but He does promise to comfort us.   Also remember Jesus experienced unfathomable grief and pain for the sake of the world.  As the Author and Finisher of our faith, who would for the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross.

Praise be to God when we get to heaven!  He will wipe away all tears from our eyes, and there will be no more death, sorrow, and most of all, no more pain.

Praise  be  to  God! See you tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross.


Deacon Tom Cavey



Day 35 – Journey to the Cross – Deacon Jose Alcaraz

Hello First Family!

Today’s Code Word Devotional comes from one of our new Deacons, Jose Alcaraz. Enjoy!


Code Word: Money


Money is a current medium of exchange in the form of coins and banknotes.  It is a necessary commodity for people to exchange goods and services.  At a point in time, people exchanged commodities such as corn, wheat and livestock in order to purchase goods or services.  The availability of paper currency and coins made those exchanges a lot easier. 


Money is mentioned in the Bible in several instances.  It is a form of giving back to God a portion of what He has given to us.  In 2 Corinthians 9:7, it says “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”


Jesus had a special affinity for the poor.  He was born into the most humble of circumstances, lived His life taking care of the poor and died being crucified along with criminals.  He could have chosen to be born a powerful king and enjoyed the riches that accompany that status, but He chose the opposite.


In Matthew 21:12-13, we see when Jesus entered the Temple and saw the money changers, He became enraged.  They were turning His Father’s House into a marketplace.  Jesus’ indignation was over the way the poor were being charged exorbitant prices to purchase their items of sacrifice.  Once again, Jesus shows His compassion for the poor.


Money can be used for good or for bad.  It can be used to help the poor and spread God’s message, but it can also be used as an element of greed.


We misuse money when we treat it as something to be idolized or put it before God.  Like anything in this world, it should be used to further God’s kingdom and glorify God.


Today, as you use money to purchase something or even when you see some loose coins sitting in a bowl or on the table, let it remind you of Jesus’ caring love for the poor, and decide to be like Jesus in the same way. May God bless you all. See you tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross.


Deacon Jose Alcaraz


Day 33 – Journey to the Cross – Deacon Bob Wolfson

Today’s Code Word comes to us from one of our Deacons, Bob Wolfson. Enjoy!

Todays code word is – CHOICE

CHOICE is a noun describing – an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.  “The choice between good and evil.”


When GOD created us, He already planned out our life for us. He gave us a brain and a heart that would work together so we would make the right choice between good and evil. 

HIS desire is for us to make good choices in order to spend eternity with HIM. That is why HE gave us the TEN COMMANDMENTS to live by.

As we live our daily lives, do we always make the choice that will please GOD, or do we selfishly choose what we feel is good for us without first thinking?

The path of our lives has two roads along the way. Do we always choose the path that pleases our Heavenly Father?

Life is cruel and a lot of times our choices are based on what is best for us at the time without thinking how it may affect others or even how much it may hurt GOD to see us move in that direction.

How do we make the choice between good and evil?  Prayer and living by GOD’S commandments will always help us to make the right choice.

In John 15:16 Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name.”  That fruit is the Fruit of the Spirit.

The next time you must make a choice, remember this:

GOD made the most DIFFICULT CHOICE when he sent HIS SON JESUS to die on the cross for us.

Don’t you think, making the right choice as GOD’S disciple, in our daily life, is the right thing to do for HIM?

The next time you must make a choice, think about the choice GOD made for us. See you tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross.


Deacon Bob Wolfson


Day 32 – Journey to the Cross – Rev. Jimmy Freeland

Good day Church family!

Today’s code word is Mirror.

What comes to mind when you think of a mirror?  That’s right! A reflection!  Many times, as Christians, we neglect to stop and think about what we see when we look at ourselves in the mirror.  We all have busy lives, and as long as things seem to be moving along alright, then a quick glance in the mirror should be sufficient, right?  Let me remind you what James says in Chapter 1:23-24, “Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” With everything going on in our lives, we must take caution not to neglect the Lord and His will for our lives.  As Christians, we should always be intentional when it comes to our quiet time with the Lord in the same way He is intentional in pursuing us, even when we didn’t deserve to be pursued.

Mirrors are the tellers of things the way they are, but let me remind you that if you are in Christ, then it’s His reflection you’ll see when you gaze into your life’s mirror, not your own.


In Christ,

Pastor Jimmy Freeland


Day 31 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Aaron Hoogerwerf

Hello First Family!

Today’s Devotion comes from Pastor Aaron! Enjoy!


Code Word – “Bill”

“…And forgive us our debts….”  Matthew 6:12

If you’re anything like me, going to the mailbox isn’t always the most fun thing to do.  Of course, it’s always great to receive cards and letters and well wishes from your family and friends – even in this day of email and Facebook and other forms of social media.  But the mailbox is also known for something else: a reminder of what we owe to others.  You know. The dreaded “B” word. Bills!  They arrive like clockwork in your mailbox and they never go away until your debt is paid in full.

In Matthew 6 when Jesus prayed to the Father “…And forgive us our debts…”, it was a foreshadowing of what He would do on the cross.  2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made Him Who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”   Jesus took willingly the penalty for our sins and He paid our sin debt in full – a debt we could never repay – when He sacrificed Himself for the sins of the world.  He gave His life so that we may have eternal life.  Salvation is a free gift from God, but let us always be mindful that it came at great cost to our Savior.  When we humbly ask in faith for forgiveness our sins, they are forgiven forever and God remembers our sins no more! (Psalm 103:12)

What a joy it is to experience God’s forgiveness.  And what a blessing it is to know that our sin debt is paid so that we can live in the spiritual freedom that Jesus has graciously provided for each of us through His great mercy and love. 

See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross!


Pastor Aaron


Day 30 – Journey to the Cross – Pastor Jeff Dawsey

Hello First Family,

Today’s Devotional thought comes from our Youth Pastor, Jeff Dawsey. Enjoy!


Today’s Code word is PRICE TAG.

I spent most of 2008, living in Korea for the army. During this era, the hip-hop culture wore clothes and kept the price tags on them to show off how much money was paid for them. My cheap behind wouldn’t spend more than $30 on anything, so I never played the game, until I came upon a pair of pants that had an $835 price tag on them. Whoa! Did I really just pay that amount for those jeans? Of course not! But, when I got back to the states, my jeans became very popular, to the point that I sold them for well-over their true value.

              The reality is everything has a price tag. It represents what something is worth, it’s value. But, what most people don’t know is that this is how the word “worship” was created. It is Old English, and the root word is literally “worth.” So, when we worship someone/something, we are demonstrating his/its worth.

              The first commandment God gives deals with worship. He tells us that we “shall have no idols before” Him. In other words, we should never worship or esteem anyone/anything with more—or even similar—value as God. When this happens, we commit idolatry.

              One of the greatest pictures of true worship in the Bible comes from no other than a prostitute. Yes, a prostitute! In Matthew 26, Mark 14 and Luke 7 (maybe John 12 also), we learn that this woman creeps—uninvited—into the Pharisee’s house where Jesus was at the time. Crying, full of sin (Jesus makes this clear) and seeking His forgiveness from Him, she pulls out an expensive perfume that was worth a year’s wages. And, unbeknownst to everyone, she begins to pour it on Jesus’ feet, washing and kissing them with her hair and tears.

              Think about this: A prostitute’s biggest advantage is appearance. But, here, she showed that she no longer cared for it. She was met with angry eyes, as she crashed the party of “holy men.” She was met with hateful remarks, as she “wasted” her expensive perfume that she spent her life worshipping. And again, she was met with secret insults, as she kissed and dirtied her face and hair from Jesus’ filthy feet. Yet, she didn’t care because she attributed more worth to Jesus than everything else.

              As we draw near Resurrection Sunday, consider your worship. Is Jesus truly more valuable to you than anyone or anything? What’s your evidence? Is it mere lip service, or does your life easily show this?

Let’s no longer walk in idolatry, but let’s set a PRICE TAG on Jesus that far exceeds the value of anyone or anything in this life…like this prostitute!


See ya tomorrow on our Journey to the Cross!


Pastor Jeff