Learning                                                     09/15/16

For years Andy Rooney wrapped up the 60 Minutes television program with a short comment. He was known as "a man who had the gift of saying so much with so few words." His many one-liners made a lot of sense. Here are some he called, "What I have learned."

I've learned that the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I've learned that when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

I've learned that we should be glad that God doesn't give us everything we ask for.

His list continues, but reading this makes you think what have I leaned? What does my list look like? Or… when do I learn? And do I place myself in situations to learn?

Do I listen to those that I may not agree with to get another point of view, or do I just listen to people that agree with me? Paul cautions his son-in-the-faith Timothy about people who only enjoy hearing what they want to hear!
Most of Mr. Rooney's statements can be based on a verse or two from Scripture. One that I particularly enjoyed was, "I've learned that to ignore the facts does not change the facts." How true.

John records Jesus' words, "…I am the way the truth and the life…". That is plenty to digest, but digest it we must. All information must be filtered through the Word of God, which is the truth of God. How incredible that Jesus personified the truth for us.

It is so much easier to relate to Him as a person than just as a concept. He did say "learn of me…" KJV.

Pastor Don

Law                                                         09/08/16

How are we believers to regard the moral commandments of the Bible? With tremendous respect! We look at them and sense the holiness of God. We see a picture of perfection. No wonder we find them standing against us if we wander into sin. The problem is they will not help us become good: so what good are they?

The best thing about the law is that it drives us to Jesus! Because of this perfect law we realize we need a savior who totally fulfilled the law to the letter! And Jesus did exactly that! He died on the cross and delivered us from the curse of the law.

We must know that our help comes from trusting in Jesus and His work. It does not come from relying on our own strength and ingenuity. When we read 'do not' or 'do' in scripture, we should praise God, for we see the kind of people He intends us to be and helps us to become. How wonderful it is to have a mirror to look into that is truthful and accurate. We discover we need the law. Yes, it is good but it also has its limitations.

Ultimately we trust in Jesus. We reach out to Him and He performs His work in us. We find the Spirit transforming us and through us doing things we could not do on our own.

As we grow in loving God and others, we suddenly realize an amazing truth. The requirements of the law are finding expression in our lives—and not because we are trying to be good, but because the love of Jesus is working to transform us from within. The Holy Spirit is prompting us to acts of love that fulfill every demand of the law!

God is amazing! He delivered a perfect law and then fulfilled it for us…in Jesus!

No wonder we worship.


Walk the line                                          09/01/16

These can be confusing times. Allow me to suggest a few conversation starters. Politics! It makes for very interesting give and take at my coffee shop these days. Religion is another major topic of interest. Gender identification? New York State at present recognizes thirty-one of them. Lives that 'Matter' - which lives? Don't all lives matter? Is it ok to stand up for some and not for others? Does abortion even belong in this discussion? Do I stand for the national anthem? Can I honor my country and still realize we are not perfect? How about military intervention? 

I can wade into these conversations but it ultimately comes back to my responsibility and my actions. How do I stay focused and on track? The Gospel is the key. Let me explain.

The really short answer is "walk the line." The Apostle Peter got confused in Galatians 2. A major leader of the church, but still he slipped back into prejudice! Peter refused to eat with Gentiles. The Apostle Paul confronted him, but Paul didn't call it prejudice. He said Peter was… "not acting in line with the truth of the gospel." (NIV)

"Walking in line with the gospel" keeps us in check. The Gospel is the transforming power that constantly reminds us of valuable, indispensable truths.

Peter forgot! Peter got off track. So what is the line?
Jesus died and was raised for us, and by so doing purchased us with His precious blood. We are not our own! The Gospel makes it clear we needed redemption and we need a direction. We need a path to walk - a line, a trajectory - to proceed down. The Gospel provides this for us.

The Gospel makes clear we are broken and need to be delivered. Yes, we have a tendency to get off track, just like Peter! The Gospel also says we are loved more than we could ever imagine. So the Gospel helps us with our equilibrium; it is like a shepherd for our souls.

It is the transforming power we need. We need this power to deal with any relationship, each and every crisis and even prosperity!

Jesus knew we needed this greatest of all news, the good news that keeps on giving - Him.

Pastor Don

Prayer                                                     08/25/16

Do you have trouble being consistent in prayer? Me too.

Prayer remains one of the mysteries of our faith. Yet prayer is a simple act and a comfort to believers, who from the beginning have turned with confidence and faith to God.

The mysteries are theoretical: How can prayer 'change' the mind of God or 'modify' events? How does prayer relate to divine sovereignty? Scripture hardly notices such questions.

Instead, the Bible emphasizes the simplicity of prayer. Believers are to pray about everything, confident that God hears prayers, cares and is able to act.

Jamie Dunlop says, "Prayer is an ordinary means to accomplish supernatural ends." So if we gather as a church how can we ignore prayer? Of course we cannot! We find corporate prayer in many places in the New Testament. What a model for us all! We believe praying together is a means for His glory to be revealed.
Every Christian knows they need to pray. My goal is not to heap on guilt. My goal is to motivate my own heart to look to God.

One aid to our prayer life is to pray with others! When Jesus taught His disciples about prayer He seems to encourage them to pray together. "Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors." Paul assumes that believers' meetings together include corporate prayer. (1 Corinthians 14)

When Peter was put in prison the church gathered to pray; and they prayed fervently.  Was their faith perfect? No! They were surprised when he was released, but they prayed. So we continue in a long line of believers who prayed individually, and also corporately, for miracles and for His glory to be revealed!

Pastor Don

Hungering and thirsting                           08/18/16

What do I want for myself? What do I want for the church? When Jesus was asked, "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?" He responded, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind." Jesus told it plain and simple; keep and maintain your love for God.

The church has a long history of adding other things, even good things, in front of this ultimate thing!

Blaise Pascal said, "People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive."

What does this look like? How does this work in my heart? How do I keep Him front and center and not other things? One way to see how I'm doing is to ask: what do I desire? Or what do I really want? My wants emerge from my heart. No wonder Solomon said "guard your hearts, for everything you do flows from it."

What is flowing from my heart? The Christian life is more than Bible study, and going to church is a matter of 'hungering' and 'thirsting.' Is that happening in my heart? Is there an active love? A real pursuing of Christ going on in my heart?

Knowing and believing are important, but 'hungering' and 'thirsting' reveal what my desires really are!

The Scriptures are vital. They reveal Christ to me and keep me from straying. I will hunger and thirst for the wrong things without the Bible.

Yes, I'll read and meditate on Scripture, but for them to be life and health for me I must first love the Lord with all my heart!

When Jesus appeared to Peter after His resurrection He asked Peter one thing, "Do you love me?"

Pastor Don

Truth                                                       08/11/16

To Jesus, Pilate asked "what is truth." That question is still important today. What is it? Perhaps the best understanding from Scripture is the word is "reliable." That which is reliable can be counted on, and is trustworthy.

So what does that mean to me? Where do I place my feet? What is the foundation that will last?

Plain and simple it means I accept His truth, His view of moral realities and act in harmony with His Word. Yes, I accept His Word, but David saw something else that he called "truth in the inner parts." Psalm 51:6. Since we were created by God, David realized there was something in him, that longed to know and understand how to live according to truth.

How do we process that?

This is living honestly with God and self. It is being honest about our failures and our struggles and the longing for truth in us. (See 1 John 1).

So there is the objective truth, His Word outside us that is steadfast and sure. In a word reliable.  Then there is man, broken and searching for truth in many places because of the fact we were created to know.

Enter a most important person: The Holy Spirit. He is the one that takes this external objective truth, Jesus and His Word and unites it, sets it on fire in our heart so that we 'know' what truth is. He is the one that makes Jesus alive in us and unites it is us.

Perhaps the best place this is seen in Luke 24. When the two on the Emmaus Road said when Jesus taught them, "were not our hearts burning within us."

Clearly a work of the Holy Spirit. Taking truth and making it real to the heart!

Pastor Don

Beauty                                                    08/04/16

This is such a big word. We tend to use it in a number of contexts to describe what we like. Whether we are referring to sunsets, cars, art, or people there are a vast array of ways to use this word.

The Bible also uses it in a variety of ways. It refers to people that are beautiful - both men and women. We even read of the 'beauty of holiness' referring to an ethical beauty.

My favorite reference to beauty in the Bible is by David.

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple. Psalm 27:4

Many of us go to great lengths and travel great distances to behold beauty. Bucket lists are formed around the pursuit of beauty. And why not? God created these things for our enjoyment. So whether you want to look through a microscope or a telescope you can enjoy the beauty of our creator's handiwork.

But David longed to see not just His handiwork but Him. He is the ultimate beauty. David made it first a prayer and then a pursuit. The joy and longing of his heart is carried out as he meditates on the Lord.

The pursuit of seeing the beauty of the Lord will be an eternal venture! Here is what Paul says in Ephesians 2:7 "…so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

David started on a journey that will never end! A pursuit of the beauty of the universe: Jesus Christ.

Pastor Don

A Sea of Information                              07/29/16

We are living in an age when we are drowning in words and information, but thirsting for truth. How do I discover what is truly real? Do I have to go to multiple web-sites and explore book after book and then what? Who has the last word? When someone puts up a 'theory' on the internet how do I get to the bottom and discover 'Is it really the truth?'

I am tiring of Facebook articles using superlative words to lure you into a certain site, I suppose to get more hits for advertisement purposes.

It is easy to drown in the sea of words while watching people make up truth for themselves, so what do I do?

In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus spoke to this issue. When referring to words, He speaks about how important real truth is. And instead of pushing truth aside He personifies truth! And then states, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished."

Jesus says the very words and even 'strokes' which are like a dot over an i, are preserved until all is accomplished.

Solomon reminds us "there is nothing new under the sun" so various ways to pervert 'truth' have come and gone. But one thing remains: He is the Truth! Truth is a person - One that is holy and One that can be counted on when everything else is adrift in a sea of words.
He remains steadfast and sure and truthful!
Pastor Don

Fakes                                                 07/21/16

Chuck Swindoll tells a story about a friend of his eating dog food at a party!  This friend was attending an elegant reception at a physician's home near Miami. The dog food was served on a delicate little cracker with a wedge of imported cheese, bacon chips, an olive, and a sliver of pimento on top. Think about it, it was hors d'oeuvres à la Alpo!

The hostess had just graduated from a gourmet cooking class and decided to test her skills. Oddly enough, Chuck's friend continued to revisit the silver tray and couldn't get enough of this little delicacy.

There are other kinds of fakes!

Did you know that most of the books at the end of the New Testament deal with false teachers and false teaching? John wrote, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." 1 John 4:1.

Paul agreed. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths." 2 Timothy 4:3.

There are some masters of deceit serving up delectable dishes camouflaged in so-called logic. After all, if you want to counterfeit money you don't use construction paper and run it off on your printer. Deception comes in convincing fashion, wearing the garb of authenticity, supported by the credentials of intelligence, popularity, and even a touch of elegance.

How sad when the real Truth is thoroughly satisfying and healthy.  Note words from Psalms 119.

"How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way."

What a wonderful antidote to foul food!
Meditate on His Word.
Pastor Don

Hosea and Gomer                                 07/14/16

There is a wonderful drama in the prophecy of Hosea that captures the essence of redemption like no other portion of scripture.

God instructs His prophet Hosea to marry Gomer, a prostitute of all things! And through successive infidelities, he is to pursue her with unfailing love, even to the point of paying her bills through all her illicit partners. Finally, Gomer sank so low that she became a slave and was put up for sale on the auction block. Hosea is instructed to buy her back.  Here is how Hosea tells it.

Then the Lord said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the sons of Israel…" So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley. Then I said to her, "You shall stay with me for many days.      You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you." 3:1-3.

Such is God's love for Israel, and for us, that He pursues us and buys us back out of the deepest slavery of sin. Hosea's name means deliverer and rescuer, or savior, and is closely related to the names "Joshua" and "Jesus."

The story of Hosea and Gomer foreshadows a greater 'romance of redemption' seen against the dark background of Satan's sadistic scheme to hold us captive and blinded. Enter Jesus! A greater than Hosea is here! He came into the market place of sin through His birth and purchased us with His own precious blood through His death.

What a beautiful picture of redemption! He purchased us! We are His!

What a savior.
Pastor Don

My friend Alvin                                      07/07/16

Almost thirty years ago Al and I had early breakfast meetings so that he could work out 'his' theology. He was the head psychologist of our school district and a recent graduate of Long Beach State. I was the new pastor of The Neighborhood Church. We went through many books together and I am not sure who was disciplining whom. We both were greatly blessed.

In May I needed some time away so I headed to my good friends Al and Leslie Sasuga's home in Bishop.  I found it to be, as always, a healing place.

He is now retired and continues to have many hobbies and pursuits. He flies cross-country to fish and even travels to learn how to better tie flies! He is a bicyclist, with all the gear. He is an avid reader of all sorts of books. He heads up a counseling clinic part-time. He volunteers in community events, such as helping seniors do their taxes. He has used his giftedness in Africa on a few occasions. He also has more gadgets than I do!

Al's wife Leslie has her own pursuits and stays busy in various ministries, one of which is hospitality. There is a constant flow of people through their home. I was blessed to be one of those folks.

Al just finished a five-year term on the elder board of his church. He and Leslie are both involved in ministries and Bible studies there.

They are also grandparents to special needs twins.

How does this all work? How does life work out for all of us?

In one word: Jesus!

After living there for over a week it was clear to me Jesus was the reason, the means and the foundation of this family. Their pursuits are great, but their main focus, their center, their hope is all in Him.

How refreshing to see all this activity spring from a worship of the One who is all-in-all.

My heart needs to keep hearing it and seeing it as well. Jesus!
Pastor Don

Nothing                                                  06/30/16

What an interesting concept - 'nothing.' Jesus made the world out of nothing! No raw materials, no builders or helpers. He just spoke and it was so. John 1:3 states, "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."

What an amazing God! He made something special and beautiful out of absolutely nothing. He is a creative artist, both with His creation and His creatures -  that's us! Later John uses the same word in the context of fruit bearing. Here are his words, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

We can do nothing! What an affront to us who see ourselves as resourceful and bursting with abilities. But we can do some things. So what is Jesus saying? Things that really count, that have an eternal impact, can only be done in His strength.

I remember giving my sons money so they could purchase gifts for me. God must be thinking the same thing. He gives the gift of life and the gift of salvation - which results in an eternity with Him. Yes, we accept the gift of salvation but is that really our accomplishment?

At present God has provided the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to work in and through us! That is what He is asking of us. Be dependent, be trusting, and God says He will powerfully work through us. 

We can do nothing on our own. But by means of God's Spirit indwelling us we have a river of life flowing through us - how powerful and precious! When we are renewed and refreshed and used for the glory of God we come to understand why we were created and how we can glorify Him!

Pastor Don

What do I love?                                     06/23/16

I have been challenged with a provocative question. What do I really want? What is it that fills my thoughts and longings? What does our thinking gravitate to when we are alone? What is it that is trying to capture our time and attention?

John Calvin once described our hearts as 'idol factories'. If this is true, which I believe it is, then we need to focus deliberately on things that are beneficial. But how do we do that? How do we humans, who tend to wander, stay focused? That is a significant question.

Understanding ourselves is key here. God said we were made for Him. And if we try to find fulfillment in anything other than Him, we will get off course. Idols abound. He is the only one that can captivate our hearts with His beauty, His wisdom to guide us and His power to provide a peace that passes all understanding.

Jesus, who made us and provided salvation for us, said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment." This may sound restrictive but it is quite the opposite. He is the only one who guides the human heart with complete understanding and sacrificial love!

One song writer penned a great line, "Oh for a Love That Will Not Let Me Go."

Jesus has provided Himself to us! He is the life-giver, the one who knows us and knows how to develop us and guide us even in a broken world. This great Shepherd is certainly worthy of our devotion and love!

Pastor Don

Good News!                                              06/16/16

The definition of the gospel is 'good news.' Perhaps we read this and think about the many times we have received good news. How wonderful are all the blessings in life! But this good news of the gospel has a dynamic to hold us steady throughout our lives! This is not just the good news of becoming a new creature in Christ, it also includes the way we live and experience the gospel played out in the entirety of our lives.

This good news helps us deal with all facets of life. Yes, all the joys and all the sorrows. It is such great news that its power can hold us steady when life 'rocks our world.' The gospel keeps us in touch with ourselves. It is a constant reminder of who we are at our very core. Though broken by sin, which keeps us humble, we are incredibly loved by God, which carries us through the trials of life. This gospel helps us to understand the depths of God's care for us in all the details of life.

It is God's way of embracing us and helping us with every season in life. This good news doesn't fade. It has the power to transform, to help through life's addictions and also to console and heal through night watches and dark nights of the soul.

The power of the gospel steers us home. It is "the power of God unto salvation…" This good news is so profound that it will usher us into the very presence of God, and at the same time keep us in touch with who we are and how much we need Him in all of life.

This gospel is good news and has the power to shepherd our hearts as God embraces each of us with the greatest of all news!

Pastor Don

Fit                                                          06/10/16

A few months ago I purchased a Fitbit. It is basically a computer watch that interacts with my cell phone and tracks fitness data. Among other things, it provides the time, heart rate and steps. This data comes as 'real numbers.' On my computer, Fitbit provides a dashboard where I can see all the totals. After a few months there is plenty of information.

Since the purchase I have found myself parking a little farther from my destination just to help with a few extra steps. I have been challenged by some in our church to increase those numbers and hopefully improve my overall health. The 'real numbers' seem to help.

I tend to view the physical discipline of exercise and the spiritual disciplines as similar in many ways. I need to do both. The beauty of my exercise routine is I can pray and meditate while doing it. Yes, the spiritual aspect of my life takes precedence but the body is also important!  Of course my Fitbit got me thinking about those 'real numbers'.

What does my spiritual dashboard look like?  What are its 'real numbers'? I have shied away from tracking that data due to my legalistic upbringing, but the spiritual disciplines are not only helpful, they are vital! I don't want to neglect the beauty of the Lord and the treasures in His Word. Spending time with Jesus and feeding my soul through study are delights!

Prayer, meditation, fasting and Bible reading are absolutely necessary for me. They are lifelines! I can sense when something is missing and I have failed to do what I need to do. I believe the 'real numbers' matter, but I don't want just to log chapters and count hours spent in prayer to achieve those numbers. I do want to spend time with Jesus! Yes, at times it requires pure discipline, but the benefits are incalculable.

Staying 'fit' spiritually - and physically - honors and glorifies Him.
Pastor Don

Jesus                                                       06/01/16

Richard Nixon got carried away with excitement in 1969 when the Apollo astronauts first landed on the moon. "It's the greatest day since Creation!" stated the president, until Billy Graham solemnly reminded him of Christmas and Easter. By any measure of history Graham was right. This Galilean, who in His lifetime spoke to fewer people than would fill a sports stadium today, changed the world more than any other person.

People today use His name as a curse word. How strange would it sound to hear a golfer, when missing a short putt, yell out the name of a sports figure? I have never once heard anything like that! The name Jesus gets strange attention at times. And yet all over the world churches fill to honor and worship this man - not just His memory - but His living presence.
Jesus not only entered this earthly realm, but became its main historic focus. He stands alone at the crossroads of history. More importantly for each of us, He stands at the crossroads of our lives. But He doesn't stand aloof. He stepped into my life and, at your invitation, He also stepped into yours! To this day He is adored by followers from all nations and tongues. These believers serve and give in the name of Jesus, making the world a much better place. The impact of this one man is bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth!

Yes, we live in a broken world, but His living presence dwells in us as believers. His birth and resurrection make it all possible!

Billy was right!
Pastor Don

Decisions                                                  05/26/16

We all make them. Choosing wisely is the key.

Moses made a decision that is recorded in Hebrews 11. "By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward."

Greg Gutfeld says that most people today are choosing what is 'cool' rather than base their decisions on principles and values. Moses disassociated himself with the path he saw as hurtful and chose a more difficult road that he believed would lead to greater riches.

He chooses ill-treatment and reproach! Make no mistake though, sin is fun. It is pleasurable, but Moses also knew it was a passing pleasure and that sin leads to consequences that must be dealt with.

Moses was wise. This huge decision was based upon "seeing him who is unseen."  Moses had an anchor, a landmark, a foundation on which to base his decision. In spite of seeming insurmountable difficulties he made an historic decision. He chose to follow God and to suffer ill-treatment rather than to pursue the pleasures of Egypt.

Moses was not perfect. He didn't always choose wisely, but this decision to follow "him who is unseen" served him well. It was his rock. It too is ours!

Moses experienced the wilderness. He also witnessed bread from heaven and water from a rock. Choosing Egypt would seem to have been easier. But, like Moses, in following God we not only experience His help and His blessing, but most of all we get Him! We get to know God! What a decision - choosing the best, not the easiest!

That is what we were made for: Him.
Pastor Don

Clean                                                   05/19/16
"Cleanliness is next to Godliness" is an old slogan. As a youth, I was surprised to find it not in the Bible after all. Mom quoted it like it was!

But there are a number of verses that do speak of cleanliness. One of the classic verses that comes to mind is 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." A friend of mine called this verse the 'bar of soap' of Scripture.
Cleanse - what a great word! We go to great lengths to achieve cleanliness. We recently purchased a dishwasher as well as a washer and dryer. Why? We wanted clean! Clean is good.

I recently read about the lymph node system of our bodies. One writer simply described it as the body's drainage system. It is the body's amazing way of keeping itself clean.

In our neighborhood Thursday is trash collection day. This system was devised to keep the community clean - to dispose of what is unnecessary. Clean is good!

I once walked down the detergent aisle of a super market and listed each and every item on the shelves. I was surprised to note how many said "new and improved." We like clean and will pay for it. Advertising makes the most of our search for "new and improved."

But the best cleansing I know, and have experienced, is what the writer of the Hebrews calls a cleansed conscience! According to Hebrews 9:14, "…how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"

A clean conscience is possible for us by applying the blood of Jesus! It is one thing to clean the outside using a man-made detergent, but how do you cleanse the conscience? How do you reach the unreachable?

Use the best ever detergent - that needs no improvement - the blood of Christ!

Pastor Don

Encouraging Words                                05/11/16

I read this translation of Psalm 27:7-8 this morning and loved it so much I wanted to share it.
"Hear me as I pray, O LORD. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, 'Come and talk with me.' And my heart responds, 'LORD, I am coming.'"

This is a deep call from the Lord to spend some time. Our hearts 'know' that He is calling! We get calls on a cell phone and because of caller ID we can reject or ignore the call. But how do we respond to a call from God?

"Come talk with me." How special to have an audience with our Creator and Savior, the one who really knows us and has saved us. David 'knows' that there are answers found in Him. God knows about us. He knows about our births, both natural and spiritual. In fact He saw us in eternal past. He knows.

And now He says let's spend some time. Whether it is disciplined time, formal time or casual time, we are hearing Him say, "Come." We were made for this - made to have fellowship with God. And no, He is not some busy executive that we have to wait for while He runs the universe. He has time.

At times I feel my heart arrested, needing to stop my busyness and feel that deep connection to this wise, loving and gracious person that has extended His mercy to me. This is real communion.

Again He says, "Come!"

Pastor Don

Wise                                                     05/05/16

Who is wise? Is it the well-read, information gatherer? Is it the person who wins at Jeopardy? Is it the person who has a 'feel' for history with a deeper understanding than just facts and dates? Is it the one with the highest GPA or I.Q? Or perhaps it is the savvy one who knows how things work. Are any, or all, of these folks wise or is wisdom based on something totally different?

In Matthew, Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount with a thought about wisdom. A wise person builds their house on the rock. House is certainly a metaphor for life. How do we construct a life that will stand against the storms that will eventually come so that we can remain steadfast and strong?

I have been a fact-gatherer, trying to amass knowledge, which is a worthy pursuit. And yes, I love Jeopardy. But note what Jesus says, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock."

Want to be wise? Hear His words and do them. Want to be foolish? Hear His words and fail to act on them. It seems fairly simple. The difference shows up in the test results. Both examples were subjected to the very same tests. The wise man's house simply did not fall! The foolish man's house fell and "…great was its fall."

The difference is in what we do with His Word. Tests will come. The life spent following and obeying His Word will be the one that weathers the storms. So being wise comes to this: Hear His Words and act on them! If you read James, the half-brother of Jesus, he says exactly the same thing!

After recording Jesus' sermon, Matthew observed that Jesus was unlike any other teacher "…because He taught as one with authority." Jesus knew precisely what it takes for us to be wise. Hear His Word and act.

Pastor Don

Tribulation                                               04/28/16

This word can bring up mixed emotions. Who wants it? Is this something to avoid at all costs? Is it reserved for the end of time, to what has been called "the great tribulation"? But we all have had experiences that would perhaps fit into a category called tribulation. So how do we handle or even understand it?

Paul gives us a foundation for handling tribulation. To believers he says, "…not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations." (Romans 5:3) He proceeds to say that tribulations do a work in us that produces results for our good!

What precedes this statement? What is in us that helps us handle tribulation? What is so powerful in our lives that it helps us to stand firm? Here are Paul's own words…

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:1-2

Let's think through this process. Paul says we have been declared righteous. We stand in grace. We exult - that is rejoice - in God. Then Paul says we exult in tribulation!

Apply this to your heart when you have been disappointed or crushed, or when things simply are not working out. The reason we can exult, even in tribulation, is that God is working in us and is using tribulation to bring about a result that He wants to see in all of us.

What traits is God developing in us? They are perseverance, proven character, and hope. The next question is how are these developed? Again, here are Paul's words, "…because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit..." (Romans 5:5)

God is overcoming the difficulties in our lives with - Himself! God did not just give answers, He gave Himself.

No wonder the writer of Hebrews said to fix your eyes on Him even - or especially - in tribulation!

Pastor Don

The Word                                            04/21/16

The last chapter of Paul's last book contains a charge to his young 'son in the faith' Timothy. "I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." 2 Timothy 4:1 & 2

God's Word is loved and revered by many but ignored, or even rejected, by others. Why would it arouse such opposing reactions? Based on the verses quoted above, it's not hard to see why some have turned away from the eternal Word of God.

Being reproved or rebuked is not a comfortable experience. But it's true that both these processes are necessary to prepares us for meeting God! Opening our hearts to this truth allows the Holy Spirit to do that necessary work. The Word is invaluable as we look ahead to that great meeting with Him. Where else can we go to get the truth about - and the help to prepare for - the one appointment no one will miss?

Jesus spoke more about hell than anyone else in Scripture. He taught that it is a real place and warned His listeners to avoid it at any cost - but how? The Scriptures are clear. He is the only way, the only door we must all enter to reach eternal rest and avoid eternal punishment. Why is it such a narrow path to God's home? For this reason - Jesus alone made the full payment for our sins. Receiving His payment of our ransom assures our entry to an eternity with Him.

Jesus provided this singular way. Solely on the basis of what He has done, He declares righteous anyone who believes in Him. This is serious. No wonder Paul charged Timothy with a solemn oath to preach it and declare it.

This awesome hope is found only in Jesus. Yes, we may be reproved and rebuked along the way, but God is a loving Father who corrects us and helps us to grow and prepare for that day!

Pastor Don

"The Jesus I Never Knew"                            04/14/16
Philip Yancey wrote this book over twenty years ago. He challenges our view of Jesus and makes some difficult observations.
Two words that can never be assigned to Jesus, he writes, are "…boring and predictable. How is it, then that the church has tamed such a character?"

For 500 years the church debated how to present this person! Was He fully human? Was He fully divine? Was He really like us, or was He something 'different'? For most, He is just something different. But the Scriptures teach that He was just like us. He was a human being, a Jew raised in Nazareth with a name and a family, just like everyone else. And yet we know that He was unlike anyone who has ever lived on the earth before or since.

We celebrate this incredible person by remembering His death. During a Good Friday Service we meditate on His crucifixion and see that He was like us. He died. Then we celebrate Resurrection Sunday. He defeated death! That makes Him like no other.

No wonder Jesus gave us the Lord's Table so we will remember! Remember this person. Meditate on Him. By doing so we are remembering His death. Our God came, took on flesh and actually died for us. That death was beneficial and necessary for our salvation. And by remembering, we also look to His return. He has a plan that will finally come to pass, and it will end brilliantly for those who know Him!

No, He is not boring, nor predictable, but He is incredibly faithful. We look to Him, lean on Him and worship Him. There has never been anyone like Him. And to think He has focused His love and grace on us!

That is hard to figure! But true.

Pastor Don

Drifting                                            04/07/16

Philosopher Charles Taylor asked, "Why was it virtually impossible not to believe in God in say, 1500 in our western society, while in 2000 many of us find this not only easy, but even inescapable?" This shift has been a gradual for over 500 years! What were once faith-filled and religious societies in Western cultures have slowly become quite secular.

Reading the book of Judges reveals the very same shift. Humanity tends to drift away from God. Even the writer of the book of Hebrews tells us to be careful! "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it." Hebrews 2:1

We need a clear understanding of what to do to prevent this drift. It takes more than just completing a checklist. We need to cultivate a vibrant relationship with God. But that requires our active participation, or we will find ourselves drifting from the one we love.

I have tried not to be a legalist. I grew up on the do's and don'ts of Christianity - actually mostly the don'ts! But we need to be vigilant in pursuit of our God. We need to really 'hear' as the writer states it!

Developing personal time with Him and with His saints is crucial. Fasting and prayer are also important. I could make a 'list' but as I have stated it takes more than following a list. Often important things are let go, and as they slide we find ourselves in the 'drift' that Hebrews speaks about.

Pay close attention. Our Western culture's drift is easily seen; our own is less obvious.

So love Him, follow Him, hear from Him, and avoid the drift!
Pastor Don

Celebrate the win                                     03/31/16

'Celebrate the win' was a line, or perhaps a chapter, out of a book our Board read years ago. I am too quick to move on, to go to the next subject or project and not celebrate the really good things that have just taken place.

Some really, really good things happened this past week!

Reading the Gospels every day for forty days set me up for the Good Friday Service. I enjoyed leaving the building in mid-story and then thinking all day on Saturday, "If this were the first Passion Week, He is still in the tomb. Jesus would be dead." That Friday service triggered so many thoughts on Saturday. Meditation took place in my heart even though it was a busy day. Scripture flooded my soul.

And then there were the pictures that were posted on Facebook. We got to see the church walls go up and realize the enormous undertaking of this short trip to Mexico. So much was accomplished. This project changed a community and it is a huge win! Pastor Guy shared, "We did not build it for them; we built it with them."  That is a win!

And then of course we celebrated the biggest win: Jesus. He is the biggest reason to celebrate on many levels. He does help on trips because He is alive and active today. He does hear our cries and is present with us and in us every day.

I do not want to bypass these incredible blessings even though I know He is with me every day, blesses every day, and that He is working every day.  I am reminding myself, "Celebrate the win!"
Because of what Jesus did, hope has been born in our hearts. No one ever has beaten death - no one but Jesus! There is no better reason to celebrate. After all, we believers are just 'following our leader.' And He is the ultimate winner.

Pastor Don

Good Friday                                             03/24/16

How can a brutal death two centuries ago be called 'good'? The only answer that satisfies - it would have to accomplish something. And it did accomplish something major. It was historic. It satisfied the wrath of God! It took care of the sin problem!  It brought us who believe into a relationship with the Father. It secured us the destiny of everlasting life in His presence. It also brought peace with the Father and an assurance of hope. After considering this great event and pondering all the benefits, perhaps the word 'good' is not strong enough!
Little wonder Good Friday services are being planned all over the world. I cannot imagine having a funeral service for Jesus every year unless we realize what He did about death. He defeated death! He destroyed our great enemy. So no wonder we celebrate.

From the internet, I got a concise history of Good Friday services and their meaning.

A worship service of Tenebrae, from the Latin word for "shadows" or "darkness," has been observed in the Church since the fourth century, on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. Tenebrae is a service in which the Scripture readings-and the songs-trace the events of Christ's passion. Through the service we ponder the cost of our salvation by meditating on the depth of Christ's suffering, his crucifixion, death and burial. Though the Friday service ends with solemnity we know also of Sunday's resurrection morning. Thus we may call this evening 'Good.'

What special days, all because we have a God who saw our dilemma and perfectly solved the problem of sin, death and hell, in one person. His name is Jesus!

Pastor Don 

The Good Fight                                       03/17/16

Last week I wrote about joy. What a great word. But you must fight for it! Perhaps another way to look at this is to ask ourselves two questions, "What does my heart really love? What do I deeply desire?"
We can discipline ourselves to a point, choosing a particular pursuit. Olympians go after the gold. Others pursue money. Still others chase fame or power. The list goes on and on. But do these pursuits provide the joy that our souls are longing for? Are we pursuing the right thing? Or are we driving down a long, scenic road that ultimately does not get us to the meaning we are looking for? Do we end up just wasting time, distracted by trivial things?

Yes, we have many admirable endeavors and may even be torn - looking in two different directions! But Jesus said to seek Him first. Paul told Timothy to fight the good fight.  Let's meditate on these great verses…

My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken.

Psalm 62:5-6

John Piper points out, "The problem with the devil is not his theology, but his desires." We can have a great belief system, but it is our desires that will lead us astray.

May fighting for joy envelop our desires so they are directed to the one who created us in the first place: God. He is the ultimate fulfillment of all my desires.

Pastor Don

Joy                                                           03/09/16

Sometimes it can be profitable to focus on a word, just one simple word, from Scripture. It is amazing how a single word can carry so much 'freight' and deliver so much truth.

Joy had been defined as "a positive attitude or pleasant emotion and delight." Many kinds of joy are reported in the Bible. Even the wicked are said to experience joy in their triumphs over the righteous (Revelation 11:10). Many levels of joy are also described, including gladness, contentment and cheerfulness.

But the joy which the people of God have is really 'out of this world.'  This joy rises above circumstances and focuses on the very character of God. In the Psalms, for example, the psalmist rejoices over God's righteousness (71:14-16), salvation (21:1; 71:23), mercy (31:7), creation (148:5), word (119:14,162) and faithfulness (33:1-6). God's character as well as His acts are cause for rejoicing. What richness is found in these verses.

This joy is produced by the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22). It looks beyond the present to our future salvation (Romans 5:2; 8:18; 1 Peter 1:4,6) and to our sovereign God, who works out all things for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28-30). This joy is distinct from mere happiness. Joy like this is possible, even in the midst of sorrow (1 Corinthians 12:26; 2 Corinthians 6:10; 7:4).

Meditating on this one word yields such delight. No wonder David rejoiced over God's laws, His Word, in Psalm 19:10. "They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb."

Pastor Don

Wrestling with God                                03/03/16

Wrestling with God - does it help? Recently I read a blog about this and it started me thinking. Do I just accept what is happening or do I wrestle with God, trying to set a new course? Do I fast and pray and struggle with God or simply rest in His control? Which is it? Or is it a blending of both?

In Genesis 32 Jacob wrestled with the 'Angel of the Lord' for most of the night. Jacob started off fearful and uncertain of his future and badly needing help. At the end of the night he was renewed and ready to face the future.

So what happened? This time God didn't just speak to Jacob and answer the situation verbally as He had in the past. This time it was much more involved. No doubt this seemed odd to Jacob. But God knew something deeper had to take place. There were some definite benefits! After the wrestling match, Jacob knew God much better. Jacob was touched - physically and spiritually - more deeply. He left that encounter a different person and the trajectory of his life headed in a different direction. How masterful of our God, who knows how to deal with all of us!

Plus, Jacob's real desires emerged. He stated, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." And then Jacob says, "What is your name?" Something profound happened that night to that old deceiver as he pursued God! His desire to really know God is revealed. His old name Jacob - deceiver, heel-gripper - is changed to Israel - wrestler with God.

Jacob leaves the scene limping for life, weakened physically but strengthened spiritually. He had wrestled with God and even his identity had been changed!

At times we rest in the quietness of His peace. At other times we do battle, we wrestle! May we walk by the Spirit as we wisely choose His path for us!

Pastor Don

A Parable                                                 02/25/16
"Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow." This is an incredible story about soils, a metaphor for hearts. Jesus would say later, "He that hath an ear let him hear."
So what do we do with this 'seed' of the Word?

Jesus sows the seed on various types of soil. And there are reasons why it does not flourish. It is plucked away by Satan, choked out by the cares of life, or only there temporarily due to a shallowness of soil. How unfortunate, since the Word, when it is planted in good soil, "…bears fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold." (Mark 4:20) The good soil hears the Word and accepts it! The seed is powerful in that it yields a great harvest and is wonderfully beneficial to one's life.

So what is the problem? Why does the 'seed' seem to have such a difficult time gaining root and flourishing? Why do some think Jesus is speaking about farming while others 'hear' and then 'do' the Word and then are wonderfully blessed?

Satan, cares of life, shallowness are all the reasons Jesus gives for lack of growth. But Jesus also says,

"…when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away." (Mark 4:17) The Word causes a stir. It comforts but it also confronts. Hebrews calls it a two-edged sword! It will reveal things that are hard and difficult. But again the end result is a wonderful, bountiful harvest.

No wonder the Psalmist described His words like this...

They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Psalm 19:10-11

Pastor Don

Tension                                                         02/18/16

Keeping things in proper balance is a valuable asset. The word retro has been defined as looking two ways at once. It means going forward with a design of the past. It is like driving a 'classic' car with cutting edge technology, thus the best of both.

While reading Joshua I found that God told him to be "strong and courageous", repeating it three times in chapter one! Then in chapter seven Israel is defeated at Ai and thirty-six men die. Joshua questions God. "Did you bring us over to here to destroy us?"

Joshua was looking ahead, he was being courageous but he forgot a very important matter. That important matter is God wants us dependent on Him. It is a tension that is so very valuable. Yes grow, develop, mature but also know this - you will always and continually need God.

This is where the retro aspect comes in. New and vibrant. We use new methods and ways of doing things but the foundation of all of it rests on Jesus. We are completely dependent on Him. Joshua 1:8 is always in the list of verses to memorize because it is a classic.

"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success."

Joshua failed to check in after Jericho before attacking Ai. That cost the Israelites dearly. May we learn from this valuable lesson of looking ahead and being courageous, but may we also feel the tension of prayerfully looking to our God.

When God gave Joshua the strategy to take the city of Ai, Joshua obeyed and they prevailed.

Be courageous and be dependent. What a combination!
Pastor Don

Character                                            02/11/16

Character has been defined as strength of moral fiber. After all character is the sum of our disposition, thoughts, desires and actions. It is developed - not automatic! D. L. Moody stated it simply. "Character is what you are in the dark."

Character is influenced and developed by our choices. Character in turn influences our choices. Solomon wrote, "The integrity of the upright guides him."(Proverbs 11:3) Character will help us weather the storms of life and keep us from sin. (Proverbs 10:9). What a grand global positioning tools are integrity and character. They really do help us in situations, giving guidance that can save our souls.

God's purpose is to develop His character is us, but how does He do it? "The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart." (Proverbs 17:3). God sometimes uses trials to strengthen character. Paul wrote, "…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Romans 5:3-4)

The Lord is pleased when His children grow in character. "You test the heart and are pleased with integrity." (1 Chronicles 29:17) This great guidance system can be developed by…

controlling our thoughts. (Philippians 4:8)

practicing Christian virtues. (2 Peter 1:5-6)

guarding our hearts. (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 15:18-20)

keeping good company. (1 Corinthians 15:33)

According to Titus 2:7-8, men and women of model character will set good examples for others to follow and their godly reputation will be evident to all. Thus our good character glorifies God, blesses us and sets an example for others. What a great thing good character is!
Our world needs people that are honest and full of integrity. We want our leaders to have good character, but James says, as we look into the mirror of God's Word, He wants us to be people of integrity also.

Pastor Don

Comfortable                                02/04/16

I watched a Frances Chan video this morning and it was convicting! He centered on Revelation 21:8.

But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

The word that pierced his heart (and mine!) was the word "cowardly".

Perhaps this shows up in the way we make decisions. If the younger generation makes decisions by judging whether it's 'cool', does the older generation make decisions based on whether it's 'comfortable'? And then do both standards divert us from seeking Him first? After all, no one wants to be called a coward, especially by Jesus!

Following Jesus is an all-inclusive lifestyle. He demands our everything. We know that we tend to wander. We can easily get complacent, finding rest in our own comfort zones, but Jesus told us to take up our cross and follow Him.

Here is the entire verse. "And He was saying to them all, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23

Following our leader, He often leads us into unchartered areas. We must continue to trust Him wherever we are in our walk with Him. Someone said it is scary and exhilarating at the same time! Picture a young bird struggling to stay in the nest while the parent is pushing it out so that it can learn to soar. Fully trusting Jesus is a great place to be.

By the way, the video was called "If Jesus were the pastor of your church you probably wouldn't go there."

God help us on this adventurous Christian life - to live it for Him and His glory!

Pastor Don

Tight spots                                       01/28/16

God led Israel into a box canyon. What in the world was He doing?  The Egyptians were pursing from the rear and the Red Sea stretched in front of them. Israel was in a tight spot.

" But Moses said to the people, 'Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.'"
In a place of weakness and despair Israel saw God's strength and power at work while they kept silent!

In the very next chapter (Exodus 15) Moses writes the song that they sang - one of deep praise and adoration to God. In this same way the gospel is played out in us. We are confronted by our weaknesses and vulnerabilities but then we experience His strength and His might. We cannot help but sing and worship this same God!

Our God knows that the best possible focus we can have is Him. Seek me first He tells us. Know me, love me with all your heart and trust me! Even in the difficult places.

These tight places set us up to see His power and glory, so that the true response of our hearts will be worship and seeking Him. Yes, we worship as a spiritual discipline, but we also worship with great delight in response to His power and might!

After all, He has opened our personal Red Seas and made us walk on dry ground.  How awesome is He!

No wonder we have to sing and worship, like Israel did.

Pastor Don

Affection for God                                      01/21/16

How are you doing when it comes to loving God?  How can generation after generation turn away and insist on idols instead of this amazing God? So how are you doing?

How do you keep and maintain your affection for God? I would say you first need to better understand His affection for you and accept His love!

Without this, all the other spiritual exercises you could possibly integrate into your personal life will quickly disintegrate.

God loves you so much. He loves you. He sings songs about you. "The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)

It's easy to trust an assumption that God is big, therefore He's removed, distant, has better things to do than care about your daily anxieties. Sure, he "cares" about you. But he cares about everyone. So this generic providence can feel empty. Don't believe that lie!

The beauty of God's love is that it survives spiritual dry times. Don't let the lie sink into your mind that He is too big or distant. Spiritual dryness does not indicate that God has gotten over you, or that he's tired of working with you. God's love transcends spiritual dryness.

God is beyond and above romantic love. Romantic love just begins to depict the commitment and intensity of God's love. "God is in love with you" but He is also devoted to you - forever!

You don't need more good news than this, whether it's the first day you belong to Christ or the fiftieth year you walk with him. "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10)

Propitiation means God is fully satisfied with Jesus' payment, and therefore He now fully accepts us!

Oh, such transforming love.
Pastor Don

"Others May…You Cannot!"                    01/14/16

C. S. Lewis admonished readers to read something old. So here goes. Many have loved this article from George D. Watson (1845-1924).

"If God has called you to be really like Jesus He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. God's call will put such demands of obedience on you that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians. At times, He will let other people do things which He will not let you do.

Other Christians who seem very religious will push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans. You cannot, and if you attempt it, you will meet with failure and rebuke from the Lord.

Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their successes, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you to despise yourself and all your good works.

Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor. God wants you to have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence upon Him, that He may demonstrate His faithful love for you in supplying your needs day by day.

God may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden in obscurity in order to produce some fragrant fruit for His coming glory which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you small. He may let others do a work for Him and get the credit for it now. The reward for your work is held in the hands of Jesus and you will not see it until He comes.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you with a jealous love. He will rebuke you for the little words and feelings or for wasting your time. So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own. He does not owe you an explanation of these mysteries. But if you give yourself to be His child, He will wrap you up in a jealous love, and give you the precious blessings for those who belong, heart and soul, to Him.

Settle it forever, then, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit. It is His option to tie your tongue, or chain your hand, or close your eyes in ways that He does not seem to use with others. And when you are so possessed by the living God that your heart delights over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of Heaven."

Paul said it well, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."

God knows what He is doing! Let's continue to follow Him.
Pastor Don

I did it my way?                                     01/07/16

Few of us get stripped of everything like Job did. Even God said he was a righteous man and yet for a period of time Job lost most everything he had. He was alone and hurting when his friends show up bringing their terrible theology as comfort.

So what do we require to be healthy? Let's look at the generation in Exodus. They decided to live their lives on their own. For forty years they saw amazing things - bread from heaven and water from rocks - and yet they were arrogant and stiff-necked! So God moved on to the next generation.

A New Testament generation looked at life very differently. They knew there were things they needed to do to stay healthy. They knew they needed good sound teaching. Luke called it 'The Apostles teaching.' They knew they needed each other so they spent time together. They ate together and had genuine fellowship. They prayed together, knowing they had needs that should be given to the Lord.

That generation also shared the Lord's Table, a celebration of the New Covenant that Jesus had made with His people.  They realized how precious it was to keep something so valuable, so meaningful in front of them. They understood the need to remember and worship Him for what He had done for them.

I have written about this before. But when I read reports of addiction and major difficulties that people are experiencing I see a need to say it again. The downward cycle usually starts because of loneliness and isolation. There's a mind-set that 'I can go it alone.' Arrogance and pride emerge and God is pushed aside along with everyone else.  Are we afraid to let people see we too have difficulties and problems?

However, that New Testament generation prayed together, had fellowship together and touched a world for God - together!

We need each other more than we know. After all, Paul calls us a body - His body!

Let's do things His way and for His glory!