Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 3:38 PM

We've been having a wonderful time this week at Vacation Bible School.  The theme is "Shipwrecked" and the lesson each night is that when we're lonely... when we worry... when we struggle... when we do wrong... - Jesus rescues!  These are all very practical issues young people wrestle with and it's good to know that Jesus cares about us and rescues us.  He's always there in our times of need.

This Sunday in worship , you'll see some of what happened this week in Vacation Bible School.  In my sermon I will tell the story of Dismas, the thief on cross next to Jesus.  Dismas did a lot of things in his life that were very wrong.  He found himself hung to a cross to pay for his mistakes.  But in Jesus he found a man who claimed to be the Messiah, the Son of God, who was loving and compassionate.  Dismas asks Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom.  Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in Paradise."  In the last minutes of his life, Dismas turned to Jesus in faith, and found his sins forgiven and he was saved.

All of us have done a lot of wrong things in this life. We rebel against God, doing things we know we shouldn't do and not doing things God has clearly told us to do.  We've hurt other people, maybe even those we love the most.  We're selfish and do what we want even when we know it isn't right.  None of us deserve forgiveness.  None of us are good enough in this lifetime to deserve to be saved.  However, at any point in our lives, if we turn to Jesus, confess our sins, and put our faith in Jesus, he forgives us and saves us.  What a wonderful promise!

Even Christians do wrong things.  We feel guilty and unworthy to receive God's grace.  When that happens we need to hear once again the message of hope and salvation.  if Jesus could forgive Dismas for the things he did wrong, he can and will forgive us.  If you're looking for hope and encouragement, you'll find it this Sunday when we worship at First Baptist Riverside.  Join us at our Traditional Worship (hymns and choir) at 9:00 a.m. or Contemporary Worship (worship team and praise music) at 10:45 a.m. 


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 3:07 PM

This Sunday we honor our fathers and give thanks for their love and the things they taught us.  No human father is perfect.  We try to be the best husband and father as possible, and then we rely on the grace of God and the forgiveness of our wife and kids when we fall short.  Fathers who love their children and stay involved in their lives are worthy of respect and honor.  Father's Day is a great time to honor our dads and or to remember our dads if they're no longer with us.

The Bible has some examples of great fathers.  This Sunday we'll look at three fathers in the  New Testament that can be held up as role models of what a good father looks like.  If you're a father or grandfather, in the message this Sunday, you'll learn about some of the qualities a great father figure can aspire to develop.  I hope you'll worship with us as we gather in a combined worship service for Father's Day at 9:00 a.m. and then go out and spend the day honoring your father and loving on your family.

Fatherhood is a high calling because we're taught in the Bible that God is our Father.  God is a perfect father, the only perfect dad who has ever existed.  So as fathers, we follow his example.  We make it a high priority to honor God on this Father's Day because he has been a good Father to us.  He is gracious, loving, and forgiving.  God is a Father who is always there for his children when we need him and we can talk to him anytime we want to.   He encourages us and gives us hope.  He is patient with us.  God provides every good gift to his children.  God is a Father that we should devote our lives to loving and serving.  So this Sunday, honor your dads, and worship God your Father and acknowledge him as your Savior and Lord.

A MESSAGE FOR GRADUATES (and anyone else who wants to succeed in life)

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Thursday, June 7, 2018 @ 2:29 PM

This Sunday is Graduation Sunday at First Baptist Riverside.  We'll celebrate with those in our families and church family who've accomplished an important goal and graduated from 6th grade, middle school, high school or college.  There's a lot of wisdom in Scripture for how to succeed in life, and these young people need to know what God says to them before they move on to whatever the next goal is they'll try to achieve.

All of us want to have successful lives.  God wants that for us too!  When Jesus came to this world, he came so, "That you might have life and have it to the full."  We all want a full life.  Other Bible translations translate a full life as "abundant life."  We want abundant life.  Unfortunately abundant life doesn't come naturally.  There are things God gives us that enable our lives to be full.  Other words for "full" might be meaningful, purposeful, and significant.  That's life!

This Sunday in my sermon I'll talk about three things God tells us we need to do if we want to live full and happy lives.  These the lessons not only apply to graduates, but to all of us who want to succeed in life.  That includes all of us, right?  So join us at 9:00 a.m. (Traditional Worship) or 10:45 a.m. (Contemporary Worship) to find out how you can be happy and succeed in life.


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 @ 6:50 AM

We all have plans for our lives, things we want to do and the places we want to go. Unfortunately our plans are always fallible and shortsighted.  We make plans based on what we want in the moment and the best information we have right now.  We don't know what the future holds.  And truth be told, we don't know what possibilities could be ours if we could only take the right steps today.  Our plans may be good, but God's plans are better.

When I was a teenager a friend told me, "God has a wonderful plan for your life."  I believed him, and 40 years later I'm more convinced than ever he was right.  God has opened doors, done things, and made things possible for me that I never would have imagined all those years ago.  In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"  This promise God made to the Israelite exiles in Babylon is still his promise for  us today. 

God has a plan for your life and mine.  The question is, "How to do we know what God's plan for us?"  There are certain parts of God's plan that we can be absolutely confident in.  God wants us to believe in him and make Jesus Christ Lord of our lives.  God wants us to grow in our faith and live a life that pleases him.  God wants us to serve him and show mercy to others.  These are things we're certain of, and if we don't do them, then we'll never experience the wonder of God's plan for our lives.

In addition to these things, God has much more specific plans for our lives, and this Sunday at First Baptist I'll talk about how we can know his plans.  Many of his plans for our lives can be found in Scripture.  As believers, the Holy Spirit lives in us and reveals more of God's unique and specific plans to us.  Decisions we make every day will affect God's plans for our future, so we pray about them and seek his will.  I hope you'll join us in worship this Sunday at our Traditional Worship at 9:00 a.m. or our Contemporary Worship at 10:45 a.m. where I'll talk about things we can do to determine God's plans for our lives.

In the same way God has a plan for our lives, he has a plan for our church.  This weekend our pastoral staff, Deacons and some other's in our church family will be engaged in a strategic planning event guided by consultants from Transformation Ministries.  God has a plan for our church and for our lives that are intertwined and complementary.  Please be in prayer for our church leaders as we seek God's will for our church and for the future of the ministry he has for us in Riverside.


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 12:27 PM

This Memorial Day weekend we remember those who fought and died for our freedom.  It is because of these heroes and the sacrifice they made that we are able to enjoy the benefits of living in this wonderful country.

On Memorial Day many of us will pause to remember loved ones who have passed away.  Many of us have experienced the sting of death when someone we cared deeply about died.  Others of us have looked death square in the eye because of a health emergency or a diagnosis of cancer or some other life threatening disease.  The truth is death is a reality we all have to face, whether we're grieving for a loved one or facing our own mortality.  Each of us will one day die unless Jesus returns before then.

There's a depressing thought.  None of us wants to think about death, and yet it's essential we be prepared for it.  The good news is that we can be prepared and there is hope for all of us.  This Sunday I will preach about "Our Hope," the hope we have for salvation and eternal life if we believe in Jesus.  We'll look at the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and remember that Jesus has power over death.  He is, as he said, "I am the resurrection an the life."  If we put our hope in Jesus, then we need not fear death.  In fact, in Jesus we will not know death because the moment we close our eyes in death on this earth we will find ourselves in the presence of Jesus in heaven.

In Jesus Christ we have hope.  We activate that hope by putting our faith in Jesus Christ.  We believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth as a man.  After a three year teaching ministry Jesus died on a cross and there paid the price for our sins.  Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven where he reigns at the right hand of God the Father.  Because of his sacrifice, Jesus has the power to forgive our sins, save us, and give us eternal life.  But you must choose to put your hope in Jesus.  We are saved by grace, salvation is God's gift to us, but that gift is activated by our faith in Jesus Christ.  Believe in Jesus and follow him today.

As a pastor who has performed hundreds of funerals, I want to tell you about an incredible hope you can give to your lived ones before you die.  I talk to so many family members, who when planning a funeral, say, "I don't know if my loved one ever accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior."  Forever they will wonder what happened to their loved one or if they have any hope of seeing that person again in eternity.  Make the decision to put your faith in Jesus today.  Tell your family and friends about your decision.  When you die your celebration of life (your funeral) can be a celebration that is filled with hope that the loss they feel is temporary and that they will see you again in heaven.

If you have questions about life and death and want to know more about "Our Hope," come join us for worship at First Baptist Riverside this Sunday.  Our Traditional Worship with hymns, organ and choir begins at 9:00 a.m. and our Contemporary Worship led by our worship band is at 10:45.  Discover hope for yourself and for your loved ones this Sunday at First Baptist.


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 @ 2:51 PM

In the Biblical account of creation, after making the universe and everything in it the first six days of the week, on the seventh day God rested.  That's a pattern people have followed ever since.   However, in our busy world, we fill all of our days with activity.  We work hard five or six days a week and then play hard on the seventh day.  Eventually that schedule is destined to wear us down.  If we don't get regular Sabbath (weekly) rest, it will take a physical, emotional and spiritual toll.  I think much of the depression and discouragement people deal with is the result of being exhausted.

In Mark 2:27 Jesus says, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."  God's original plan for us includes a regular, weekly time of rest.  But the Sabbath (one day a week) is also set aside to be a day of spiritual enrichment, a time to worship God, study his word, reflect on the meaning of life and see what God has planned for us.  A life spent without reflection often ends up with us busily going nowhere.  A day of Sabbath Rest is as important for our spiritual well-being as a good night's sleep is necessary for our physical well-being.

I hope you'll join us this Sunday at First Baptist Riverside as we learn about "The Importance of Sabbath Rest."  We'll have one combined worship service at 9:00 a.m. in Riverside this Sunday, as part of our congregation will be in San Diego at our church's annual Camping Weekend.  Find out how you were designed for Sabbath Rest and what a refreshing Sabbath Rest might look like for you!

Hope for Our Familes

Posted by Joseph Lutz on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 @ 12:27 PM

This Sunday we’ll celebrate Mother’s Day and honor mothers in our worship service. Being a mother today is filled with many challenges, balancing the requirements of a job and career with raising kids. Some moms find themselves in the “sandwich generation,” caring for aging parents while also raising their children. Many single moms bear the sole responsibility of parenting.

The family itself is changing in our modern culture. There are traditional husband and wife with children families. Single parent families. Blended families. Cohabiting with children families. Children have access to influences like social media and the internet and in some ways seem to be growing up faster than ever before. I read in a book recently that said in some ways 15 is the new 25 and yet in other ways, 25 is the new 15.

The question is, what does Christianity and the church have to say to and offer for families in today’s world. There are certain values taught in Scripture that have forever been the foundation for healthy and flourishing families. Those values are every bit as important in the 21st century as they have been for the last 20 centuries. If we instill these values into parents and teach them to our children, we will have “Hope for Our Families.”

I hope you’ll choose to come worship with us at First Baptist Riverside on Mother’s Day. This Sunday we will have a special schedule with one combined worship service for everyone at 9:00 a.m. We will have Nursery and classes for preschoolers and younger elementary children at 9:00 a.m., but no classes for adults. After worship, go out and celebrate with your mothers! I’ll be preaching on “Hope for Our Families.” There is hope for your family, no matter what’s going on.


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 @ 4:25 PM

The people whose lives are described in Scripture are fascinating.  As I read their stories I like to do character studies, to see if I can get inside their heads and understand what they're thinking and what they're feeling in the moment.  This Sunday, as we bring our study of Genesis to a close, I'm going to preach the message as Joseph reflecting back over the stories in Genesis and the events in his life.  What did Joseph learn, and what did he think about God, based on his life experiences?

My sermon title tells you what I think Joseph discovered - "It's All About God!"  It's a lesson we all need to learn.  Our culture tells us that life is all about us.  It tells us to do whatever we want, go for the gusto, live for today because tomorrow we will die.  But when we know God, we know he created us for a reason.  The most important purpose for our lives comes because God created us as individuals to be his precious children, therefore we are here to live in a relationship with God.  We can't understand life and we have no ultimate purpose in living apart from God. 

God also has a specific plan for each of our lives.  It's a good plan, a plan to prosper us and not harm us, to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  Many of the things that happen in our lives are not coincidences, they occur to prepare and position us to be able to achieve God's purposes.  If we don't know God's plan, then we won't understand the significance of these events.  So the question is:  how do we know God's plan for us?  His basic plan for every believer is found in Scripture, that's why it's so important for us to read and study the Bible.  But the rest of his plan is unique to us.  We need to learn to apply what we know of God's will to the circumstances of our lives, and with the wisdom and leading the Holy Spirit supplies we can know God's specific plan for us.  And the specific plan for our lives - it's all about God!

I hope your excited and anxious to discover God's plan for your life.  If you worship with us this Sunday you'll hear Joseph reflect on God's plan for his life and how he discovered what it was.  You're welcome to attend our traditional worship service using hymns and a little more formal style at 9:00 a.m. and our contemporary worship featuring our worship band and informal style is at 10:45 a.m.  We would love to see you in church this Sunday!


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 7:56 AM

The Christian faith isn't just about eternal life and getting us into heaven when we die.  God has a great plan for our lives here on earth right now.  Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)  But if we want to have a "full" life, then it is essential that we learn to live right.  Many Christians are not experiencing the fullness of life because they're living the wrong way.

As we continue our study of Genesis in chapter 45, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers.  If you know the story, you'll remember Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery as a teenager because they couldn't stand his arrogance and bragging and the fact that their father loved Joseph more than them.  But life in slavery and in an Egyptian prison had taught Joseph some important life lessons.  While Joseph reveals himself to his brother, he is a entirely different man than the one they wanted to get rid of years before.

Joseph was now living right!  He had learned to love the people who were in his life.  He was willing to forgive those who wronged him.  He figured out God's plan for his life and was contentedly living out that plan.  Instead of being entitled, Joseph was thankful for everything God had done for him and he lived his life to bless other people.  So many people are unhappy because they have not learned to love and forgive and value their important relationships.  They have no idea what God's plan is for their life and they're living for themselves instead of seeking to serve God and bless others.

If you'd like to learn more about the joy of "Living Right," I hope you'll worship with us this Sunday at First Baptist Riverside.  I'll be speaking in much more detail about the lessons Joseph learned that allowed him to experience the full life God wants for all his people.  You can attend worship at 9:00 a.m. (Traditional Service) or at 10:45 a.m. (Contemporary Service).  I hope to see you there.


Posted by Joseph Lutz on Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 2:44 PM

In our study of Genesis, the last important character we're introduced to is Joseph.  God reveals in dreams that Joseph is destined for greatness, but his life doesn't start out that way.  Because of his arrogance and bragging, his brothers hate him.  They sell him as a slave into Egypt.  He serves in Potiphar's household until he's unjustly accused of attempting to rape Potiphar's wife.  He's thrown into prison for several years and becomes the warden's servant. 

Joseph becomes known as a man with the insight to interpret dreams, and Pharaoh's has a couple of dreams that perplex him.  In one dream Pharaoh is standing on the bank of the Nile River and out of the river comes seven fat cows followed by seven scrawny cows that then eat the fat cows.  In the next dream Pharaoh sees seven heads of grain, full and good, growing from one stalk.  After them seven other heads sprout that are withered and thin and they swallow up the good heads of grain.  No one can explain Pharaoh's dream until his cupbearer remembers Joseph, who interpreted his dream years before when he was in prison.  Joseph is brought to Pharaoh and interprets the dream as a warning that there will be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.  Joseph explains to Pharaoh what he must do to provide for his people.  To make a long story short, Pharaoh appoints Joseph as administrator over his kingdom to collect food in the good times so there will be food during the famine.  Joseph becomes the second most important person in Egypt after Pharaoh.

The lesson in this story that's important for us is that Joseph learns to serve the Lord in all seasons of his life, in the good times and bad times, during the seasons when he's a nobody and when he's a respected leader in Egypt.  The truth is, we all have various seasons in our lives, in our families, in our careers - things are good or bad or something in between - are we ready in all those seasons to be the person God needs us to be?  This Sunday in my message we'll learn how to serve the Lord wherever we find ourselves in the seasons of our lives.  I hope you'll join us in worship at 9:00 or 10:45 a.m.

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