Applause to God

On our recent return to the States, we took advantage of a seven-hour layover in Rio, to visit Sugarloaf Mountain. It was late afternoon by the time we got there, and when we arrived at the peak, we quickly joined an international audience of a couple hundred people to watch an amazing sunset. Countless pictures were taken, but otherwise people were unusually quiet. We all seemed to be mesmerized by the big orange ball that was painting the sky with indescribable color. After several minutes, the silence broke: As the sun dipped below the horizon, this randomly gathered group of global strangers began to applaud. It was pretty cool.

Later I wondered “who” people were applauding- the sun, mother nature, a cosmic connection of some sort? I truly believe it was a spontaneous, innate reaction of human creation doing exactly what they were created to do- worship God. It was as if they had to respond, for we were made to worship God. It’s our ultimate purpose. “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.” (Psalm 47:1)

Life might not look like a breath-taking sunset all the time, but let me encourage you this week to see your family, friends, co-workers, your house, your health, your stuff, the beauty around us…and give God a heartfelt round of applause. He deserves to get it, and we were made to give it.

Enjoy the Journey!
Pastor Dave

Outdo!

Next Sunday I will have the honor of marrying our oldest son Caleb to his new bride Kati. (Please pray for Sharon and I as we travel to the States, and for God’s blessing on our family.) In preparation for the ceremony I’ve been thinking about this passage of Scripture: “Love one another deeply… Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10 CSB) This word “outdo” is truly unique.  In the entire Bible, this is the only time the word is used. It has the literal meaning of “taking the lead, and staying ahead”. In other words, if showing honor were a race, God would want us to win…every time.

The world encourages us to get ahead, but usually with the thought of gaining honor instead of giving honor. Can you imagine what a different place the world would be if everyone was trying to outdo the other in showing honor! More importantly, think how different your marriage, your job, your church, your family might look if you were taking the lead, and outdoing others in showing honor.

Loving deeply and showing honor are not easy things to do, but they are certainly worthy things to do. This week let me encourage you to choose three or four of the most prominent people in your life (e.g. a spouse, boss, co-worker…), and determine to take the lead in showing them honor.

Outdo!

Pr. Dave

 

Let Your Gentleness Be Evident to All

As I was reading this week from the conclusion of Paul’s letter, I was struck by one of his final instructions:  Let your gentleness be evident to all.” (Philippians 4:5) Seems like of all the qualities Paul could have emphasized, that gentleness isn’t really that important. Then I started thinking about the opposite of gentleness, and how that pervasive “not gentle” is: harshness, critical, unkindness, rudeness, insensitivity, self-promotion, and hatred seem to rule the day.

If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t give a lot of thought to being gentle. Perhaps we identify gentleness with weakness, and therefore think it is something to be avoided. In reality, however, gentleness requires great strength. To choose tenderness, self-control, love, kindness, empathy, understanding- all of the things that define gentleness, demands great courage.

Jesus was described as follows: “He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged…”

(Isaiah 42:2-4) This week might we be a force of gentleness. Our world will notice, and be better for it.

Peace,

Pr. Dave

There Will Always Be A Reason

 

I was reminded this week of an interesting verse from the Bible: “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” Ecclesiastes 11:4 (These words were penned by Solomon, who though he was the richest and wisest man on earth, had undertaken a pursuit to discover life’s meaning.  It’s a great read.) So what is he getting at? I believe what he is saying is that there will always be a reason not to do what needs to be done. There are never “perfect” conditions.

Often times we fail to do what we know to be the right thing, because the timings not right, the settings not right, our attitudes not right… An endless list of what’s not right will always prevent us from doing what is right.  What is the last thing that God has prompted you to do: give, forgive, serve, pray, confess, let go? Have you done it? Let me encourage you to stop waiting on “perfect conditions”, and act.  James 4:17 reminds us: “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” (NLT)  Pretty strong words.

Have a great week!

Pr. Dave

S.P.E.A.K

During the month of June we are reading the book of Philippians together as a church, as we seek to live, love and lead like Christ. Of course it takes more than reading God’s Word to see change take place in our lives, there has to be a responding to God’s Word. Sometimes I use a simple tool called S.P.E.A.K to help me to interact and respond with the Scripture that I am reading:

Sin to Confess: Does what I’m reading convict me of a sin or shortcoming in my life that I need to confess and address?
Promise or Praise: Is the passage I’m reading revealing a promise from God I need to claim, or praise I need to offer?
Example to follow: Is the Bible reading showing me an example that I need to imitate, or an example I need to avoid?
Attitude to adjust: Attitude shapes our actions! As I’m reading the Bible, are there attitudes that I need to embrace (e.g. forgiveness, humility, etc.)
Knowledge to apply: The Bible is a book of profound wisdom, relevant to every facet of our lives. As you read search for what is to be learned.

As you sit down to read God’s Word this week (Philippians 2), begin with a simple prayer: God, would you speak to me, and help me to respond to you.

Enjoy the Journey!
Pr. Dave

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day! What would our world and lives be like without the sacrificial love of moms? If your mom, or someone who has been like a mom to you, is still part of your life, I hope you will celebrate them today and throughout the year. I shared the following thoughts several months ago, and felt like they were especially appropriate as we celebrate Mothers today.

I was reading Luke 1 this week, and was impressed by the faith of Elizabeth and Mary, who would become the moms of John the Baptist and Jesus. In Elizabeth, we have an elderly woman who can’t have a child because her “time” is past, and in Mary, we have a young betrothed bride who can’t have a child because her “time” has yet to come. They both become pregnant and their worlds, and ours, are changed forever!

Have you ever discovered that God’s timing and plans can differ from your own? We get everything worked out, and then we invite God to show up- when we’re ready. And if God happens to show up early or late, well we can become everything from annoyed to angry. What I love about Elizabeth and Mary is that when their plans were delayed or interrupted by God’s plans, they embraced it. They celebrated. They were available. They gave thanks, and they praised God. (Mom’s are awesome!)

The reality is, God’s timing is perfect. We may not always see it that way, but God is never late, and he is never early. If God’s “schedule” has you waiting, wondering or worrying, let me encourage you to let go. God says: “At the time I have decided, my words will come true. You can trust what I say about the future.” (Habakkuk 2:3 CEV) Exhale. Rest. Trust Him!

Enjoy the Journey!
Pr. Dave

CHRIST IS RISEN!

CHRIST IS RISEN! These three words, and the truth they proclaim, change everything. When these words began to spread that first Easter morning, sorrow turned to joy, fear gave way to faith, and crucifixion was overcome by resurrection.

An email I received last week offered these very true words: “It has been said that graveyards remind us of the brevity of life. Jesus’ resurrection reminds us of the brevity of death. His death and resurrection offer us endless hope instead of a hopeless end.”

HE IS RISEN INDEED!
Pr. Dave

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“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see…” –Matthew 28:6 NIV

Holy Week…

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT) As we start a new week, be encouraged by God’s love and mercy that never.

Today begins what is most commonly known in the Christian world as “Holy Week”. The events of this week are recorded in John 12-20, and I’d strongly encourage you to read this passage of Scripture, and reflect on the words and ways of Jesus Christ. In these chapters we see Jesus praised and applauded, ridiculed and rejected, executed and resurrected. It was a week unlike any other before or since. It was a week that changed the world and change eternity, and in the midst of it all Jesus never stopped loving.

In the days leading up to this week, Jesus knew the suffering that awaited him, but instead of avoiding it, he moved toward it. In fact the Bible says Jesus “steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem”. (Luke 9:51 KJV) What compelled Jesus to be so resolved? It was a desire to honor his heavenly Father, fulfill his purpose, and demonstrate love and forgiveness to others.

As we reflect on the sacrifice of Christ this week, a good question to consider is what do you have your face set toward? Whatever it is, may we seek to follow the example of Christ, and be compelled by a desire to honor God and love others.

Peace,
Pastor Dave

Looking Forward…

I have found myself missing my kids a bit more than usual of late.  (I know that God has my family just where he wants us, but sometimes I wish we could be in one country instead of what will soon be four.) This has me looking even more forward to our son’s wedding in July, when we will all be together again. Having things to look forward to is good, it’s just waiting for them to arrive that can be a challenge.

Sometimes I want God to speed things up a bit, and not only give me what I want, but give it to me now. Looking forward is good, as it fills us with hope, but waiting is necessary as well, because it keeps us in the moment.  Heaven is one of those things that can seem a long way off. Paul wrote, “The Spirit makes us sure about what we will be in the future. But now we groan silently, while we wait for God to show that we are his children.”  (Romans 8:23 NCV)

Whatever you find yourself longing to receive from God in the future, don’t forget the waiting on God that is required in the present.

Peace,

Pr. Dave

Sharing our Faith

These last ten days of our 40 days of Good News focus, we will be reading together the Gospel of John. John was known as the “beloved disciple”, as his relationship with Jesus was especially close. It is a very different and intimate portrayal of Christ, and a great read.

As I read the first chapter of John, I’m struck by all the introductions taking place that point people to Jesus. John the Baptist pointed Andrew to Jesus, and the first thing Andrew does is to introduce his brother Peter. Later Jesus encounters Philip, and the first thing Philip does is to find his friend Nathanael to say: “you’ve got to come and meet this guy named Jesus…” (John 1:35-49)

Do you see yourself as someone whose life points others to Christ? I know sometimes we can get hung up on sharing our faith, thinking that’s a “private thing”, or “who am I to talk about God”, but God wants to use us through the natural course of relationship and life to point others to Christ. It might be as simple as an invitation to church, telling someone you are praying for them, or responding with unusual love and kindness.

As people cross your paths this week, and conversations come up, be mindful of how you might point someone toward Christ. God wants to use you!
Peace,
Pr. Dave

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