Until recently, I had not realized that one of the things Jesus does is use my encouragement for you not only today as you need it, but he saves it for tomorrow. That is such a comforting thought and it adds a new dimension to my work as a pastor. So today I would like to encourage you to invite someone to church for Easter, not just so that they can have a great Easter morning, but so that God can have an opportunity to alter their eternity. On Easter I will be sharing about how wisdom builds a house that lasts forever. Easer is the number one day people are willing to answer yes to your invitation to attend church. We have created beautiful invitation cards for you to use. We are going to have a great brunch as an opportunity for you to sit with your guests and for us to meet them with extreme hospitality. This is your chance to be involved in changing someone’s eternity. Bring someone on Easter. There will be two services: 9 am and 11:15 with brunch in between. Children’s promiseland at both services this Easter. Lets give God a great chance to get to work.
April 1, 2019
March 27, 2019
“We must not be led to believe that the Disciplines are only for spiritual giants and hence beyond our reach. Far from it. God intends the Disciplines of the spiritual life to be for ordinary human beings: people who have jobs, who care for children, who wash dishes and mow lawns.” Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline. I have had quite a few people respond to the sermon series on discipline from Luke. Several talk with me as though I am sharing something beyond their ability to either understand or accomplish. Nothing could be further from the truth. Take the example I used Sunday. Penny gave me a hug as soon as she saw me. I get to feel the hug and her love for me, and it feels good. What we fail to realize in the moment is that Jesus takes that act of love and saves it for me, for when I need it, in deep places, when life is hard. That is not so difficult to understand and any one of us can give someone a hug, send a card of encouragement to a friend, stand by someone when others leave. We can all do that. It is just discipline. Every meal Herman and the men make, every bag Jamie and Pack a Sack fills, every card you all sent to Brenda, all of it gets saved, stored up, lined up for a powerful moment of worship. We do not do these things to get a thank you from those we help. We do it because we never know which act of love is going to be remembered in deep dark places when someone needs God.
March 19, 2019
I am encouraged by my God. Every day! A great lesson for me right now is, “today is the only day you have right now, so make it a good one.” It is not like there are not days when I feel discouraged. There are. It is just that now I know what I need to do on those days. Wanna know? The whole of it lies in a simple word, trust. I have come to trust that today is a day the Lord has made, so I will rejoice and be glad in it. Even though my heart may be sad, my soul can rejoice. The reality of this overflows in all of scripture, old and new testaments, men and women, prophets, kings, slaves and priests. Nearly everyone comes to the same conclusion. And though each of us may travel a different difficult path to get to the answer, the answer is the same for all of us. So friends, this is the very best day God has in store for you. Make the most of it. Rejoice and be glad.
March 4, 2019
For Paul, each church he started has its own feel. The people in the church set the mood and the church rises and falls on the work of the people. Paul just loves the way the Philippian church works, the way the people make good things happen. He says, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Philippians 2:1-2 Any leaders’ greatest joy is watching his people succeed and work together on purpose. We have a sequence of planned opportunities that are all meant to work together so that we can connect with those longing for a relationship with Jesus. March 10 we will have a ministry fair in church as we form teams to create a Good Old Fashioned Easter. Everyone will have a chance to get on board and create an opportunity to connect with friends and neighbors on Easter. Then on March 16 we will have a get ready to go day here on campus and get the campus ready for our visitors. All hands on deck as there are many projects. Then on Easter we plan to have not only great services of celebration but an outstanding brunch, a fun photo op for families and some games and an egg hunt for the children. Join in the fun and make the joy of the Lord come alive for others.
~Grace & Peace~
February 25, 2019
How many times have you said to someone “I am afraid________?” I am afraid the meat was overcooked, or I am afraid I will be a bit late, or I am afraid I will never find a job. The more important the _________ is, perhaps the more afraid we are. So what does Jesus tell us when we are afraid? “Fear not.” And the more significant the __________, the more we need to hear those words. A friend recently reminded me of those very precious words, “fear not.” I hope you are able to gain strength from God’s confidence. God is indeed sovereign.
~Grace & Peace~
February 20, 2019
In the midst of life there are a few moments we remember vividly. Sometimes sparked by a sound or a smell, a photograph or a curve in the road, these memories come at us like a flood. As I watched Brenda struggle to regain some function, open her hand, move her foot, then her leg and last week finally stand, I remembered so many things, like a flood they washed over me: family car rides to see the Christmas lights and coming home to home made chicken pot pie, canning green beans, hundreds of cans, picking rhubarb for strawberry rhubarb pie, the smell of home made bread as I came home from church. All of it came to me in an instant and I realized just how grateful I am for a life well lived. So much joy. And I was reminded how valuable it is to live today to the fullest. Yesterday I took Ezekiel with me to see if we could get Brenda in our car. She got in, what a huge relief. This morning when I got up, Ezekiel was already in the kitchen getting his breakfast. “What are you having?” I asked. He said, “bread dipped in grape juice. I have been doing this ever since Mema went into the hospital and now I am having a Holy time with God because she is getting better.” Be encouraged. God is active in our lives.
~Grace & Peace~
February 13, 2019
We began to talk Sunday about having a Godly voice, one of authority. I suggested to everyone that it is ineffective to get louder and even called it ungodly. Then I shared the story of getting my NIV devotional text just as I was about to launch into a tirade. It read, “be still and know that I am God.” I was obedient. Since that time, Brenda has been referred to rehab; Aetna has agreed to pay for the rehab; we have gotten a hospital bed in the apartment, and I am simply overwhelmed with awe and gratitude. So here is my word of encouragement to you. The next time you are about to get loud because something is is just not right try this…be still and know God is there.
February 6, 2019
As I was sitting in the hospital working through setting up a safe environment for Brenda at home, my son Matthew sent me this article. I thought it might speak to many of us, so I wanted to share it:
January 21, 2019
I was encouraged Sunday by the number of folks who told me they were fasting and praying for wisdom, and I am sure there are twice as many who just did not want to say anything. As we turn our face to the Lord, I am reminded of Psalm 121, “I lift up my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip–he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you–the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” It is a great comfort to know my Lord is watching over my life, even the little things like waking up and going to sleep. This is the second great promise God gave me as I was fasting. He is watching over me, and Brenda, and Ashley, and the many I love who go thru so much in life, and yes, you. All I need do is look up, at any moment, and any place, under any circumstance, through all time, in joy and sorrow, celebration and grief. All I need do is look up.
~Grace & Peace~
January 15, 2019
John the Baptist sure was a character, simply waiting in the desert till he heard from God that it was time to fulfill his calling. No one really knows how long he waited, for some reason I think it was a very long time. Throughout the Bible, trips to the desert tended to be unpleasant: hot and dry, people were always complaining about not having enough to drink and the Israelites came right out and said they just wanted to “go back.” Of course, going back may be an option for some. The desert can be a tough place. We get through our own desert experiences the same way Moses did and the same way John the Baptist did. We set our hope on God’s promise. God promised Moses He would lead the people out of the desert into the promised land. He promised John he would be the one to prepare the way for the Lord. If you find yourself in a spiritual desert, a place where nothing seems to be going the right way, then it would be a good idea to follow the lead of Moses and John the Baptist: pray, give God time, and cling to a promise God has given you. Start with a really simple promise, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” You are never alone!
~Grace & Peace~