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Giving Tuesday

I did not know the following until this morning as I was reading the Breakpoint email that I receive each weekday morning.  Today is called Giving Tuesday.  It is an international day focused on charitable giving.  It is a direct response to the consumer holy days of “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.”  I do not know the origins of this, who started it or how it became an “international day focused on charitable giving” but it is something that I wanted to share with you this morning.

This time of the year has become so focused on buying and spending money that we have lost our focus about what this season is all about.  Let me remind you again that this is the season of Advent.  Advent is the time set aside by the church to help believers prepare to receive the fullness of Jesus’ coming.  And it’s not just in remembrance of His incarnation, coming to Bethlehem as a baby in a manger, but it is also in anticipation of His return as the “Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory,” who will “send his angels to gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens” (Mark 13:26-27).

So I want to challenge you this morning to celebrate Giving Tuesday.  Many of us took advantage of “Black Friday” or perhaps “Cyber Monday” by making purchases for Christmas gifts or just scouting out “deals.”  I urge you to take today and find a place to give something charitable.  It might be time given to help others or it could be money given to help a favorite charity, church or organization that gives to others.  One of my favorite places to give is the Salvation Army Red Kettles – another place that I love to give is to Bonita Park Camp and Conference Center.  It doesn’t matter who, what matters is that we give.

Happy Giving Tuesday!  I’m going to make this a habit!

I love you

Rick



Thanksgiving 11/19/14

Good Morning!

I will be brief this morning but know that what I am sharing today is heavy on my heart.  For all of us who are here in the Ruidoso/Lincoln County area, I want to urge you with all that I can to be here and worship with us this Sunday morning, November 23.  We are finishing the four weeks on vision this Sunday and I cannot hardly wait to share with you what God has given to me.

This morning I am overwhelmed by the things that He is showing me.  I am so very excited to share with you on Sunday and I simply want to urge you to make an extra special effort to be here.  If you cannot be here we will post the podcast of the sermon online at our website (link at the bottom of the page here) by Monday or Tuesday.  I believe God’s timing is always perfect.

In a week we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  I will not spend a lot of time on this on Sunday so let me say a few words to you this morning.

I want ask you this question – WHO are you giving thanks to?  I know that this seems like a silly question coming from a pastor – everyone thinks, “Come on pastor, we know the answer that you want.”  Of course you do, but I am asking you again, WHO are you giving thanks to?  It is so very easy to “say” that we give thanks to God, but I am afraid that we give thanks this one day and then the rest of the time we move thanks to the back burner and concentrate on asking God to meet our needs first, bless our families second, and then, if we think about it, we thank Him for the day, or for the food, or for the things that are “good” in our life.  HE, God, deserves thanks every day, every time, in every way that we can.  Give thanks, ALL THE TIME to God.

Which leads me to the next thought – do we only give thanks when we get what we want?  I shared with some that one of our Nazarene Pastors on another continent where Christianity is not embraced, but actually is at least in many respects forbidden, one of our pastors was kidnapped last week and his kidnappers demanded ransom from the Church of the Nazarene.  Please know that the Church of the Nazarene does not pay ransoms.  The request for prayer went out and I saw an article today that this pastor was released the very next day.  Please know that I praise the Lord for this incredible answer to prayer, but after reading many . . . most . . . to be honest here, ALL of the comments that accompanied this article, ALL of the comments basically said, “Praise God He answered prayer!”  Do we only praise God when the outcome goes the way we want it to go?  Are we saying that God DIDN’T answer prayer when the loved one we prayed for dies . . . when the doctor’s report isn’t what we asked for or wanted to get . . . when there isn’t healing . . . when God says “no”?

I believe that God answers prayer EVERY TIME WE PRAY!  I am not going to say anything more here because this is way too sensitive, except to say I hope we give thanks REGARDLESS!

I love you

Rick

Upcoming Activities

Today, Wednesday November 19 – We will have our regular Wednesday evening
Activities starting with a Thanksgiving Dinner at 5:00 – please come and join with us.

Friday November 21 – Our Shabbat group will be showing the movie Gospel Road at
6:30 in the gym and you are invited to attend.

Sunday November 23 – Our regular service schedule with our morning services at 8:45 in the gym and 10:30 in the sanctuary and 4:00 p.m. for the Hispanic service.
6:00 p.m. we will join with the churches of Lincoln County for our Annual Thanksgiving Service at the Gateway Church of Christ.

Wednesday November 26 – The Church office will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday and we will NOT have any Wednesday activities next Wednesday!



Come and See 11/5/14

Like hundreds of thousands of people all across the nation last night I spent some time watching the election returns.  Evidently this was an historic election; the Republican party has taken control of the Senate for the first time in several years and they have taken more seats in the House of Representatives than at any time since WWII.  I read one pundit who says that this could change the makeup of politics for at least a generation.  I have friends in different parts of the country who have put completely different messages on Facebook and twitter accounts – everything from “Praise the Lord” to “Don’t worry, southern white Republicans will die.”

Can we please take a minute to acknowledge the fact that the answer to America’s problems, whatever you believe or know those problems to be, aren’t going to be solved by the Republicans or the Democrats?  I’ve listened to different leaders from both parties urging their fellow leaders to either “stand up, fight and sieze the day” or “settle down, keep your cool and realize that we can’t do everything overnight.”  The problem is not which party or person is in control of the White House, Senate and/or House of Representatives, the problem is that mankind is still in control.  Real change isn’t going to come through mankind and our solutions.  I am NOT advocating a Theocracy in our government, where “religion” is the issue of the day.  The answer isn’t in man’s abilities, even religion!  It is in a changed heart that can only be changed by God.  When God changes a heart it won’t be a me vs. you, us vs. them, Republicans vs. Democrats or any other “vs.” – when God changes the heart the issue will be, “God’s love will reign supreme.”  It will no longer be about politics, it will be about submission.  “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” Ephesians 5:21.

We have been reading the first 3 chapters of John every day for a week and a half now.  I challenged the church to read those 3 chapters every day throughout the four weeks that we are dealing with this issue of vision.  I have had some interesting conversations about these 3 chapters with a couple of people and God has stimulated my thinking as I have been reading them.  Let me explain . . .

In the last part of John 1 we have a story of two brothers and two friends.  The brothers are Andrew and Simon Peter.  Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist and was with John when John proclaimed, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (1:35), speaking of Jesus when he saw Him.  The apostle John, author of this book, tells us that “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah” (1:41). 

Then the day after that John tells us that Jesus found Philip after he left for Galilee and simply told him, “Follow me” (1:43).  We’re then told that Philip found his friend Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (1:45).  Nathanael’s answer intrigues me a lot – he said, “Nazareth!  Can anything good come from there?” (1:46).  Philip simply told him, in the same verse, “Come and see.”

If you’ve been reading the chapters, or if you simply remember the story, you know that Nathanael changed his tune quickly when he met Jesus himself.  And of course we ALL know about Simon Peter and what happened to him and how he became the leader of the 12.

So these two incidents have made me think about the elections that we’ve just gone through and once again what I said about real change.  Some people are going to ask, “Can anything good come out of Washington D.C. . . . or Iowa . . . or Santa Fe . . . or Alaska” . . . and we could go on and on.    Look at what happened in John’s account.

Andrew went to his brother and brought him to Christ.  Philip went to his friend and brought him to Christ.  When they came to Christ, that’s when change happened.  Simon went from being an arrogant, stick-your-foot-in-your-mouth-at-every-opportunity, pig-headed loud mouth, to an effective leader of the early church.  We don’t know much about Nathanael after this except that he was one of the men in the fishing boat to whom Jesus revealed himself after the resurrection and some scholars think that Nathanael and Bartholomew might be the same person.  But here is something else that intrigues me about Nathanael – what is the significance of the fig tree?  We can speculate about what it might have been, but I think Jesus gives us at least a small clue when He meets him and says of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false” (John 1:47).  One writer I read said that perhaps he was going through some kind of a spiritual crisis and when Philip introduced him to Christ he became a staunch follower of Christ.

Regardless of the periphery stuff that was going on with these 2, the fact remains that when they met Christ their lives were changed – dramatically.  And in both cases it wasn’t an argument or something persuasive that Andrew or Philip said, it was simply an invitation to “come and see for yourself.”

I’d like to think that this is the best way to bring people to Christ – “Why don’t you walk with me, watch me and just see for yourself the difference that Christ will make?”  It isn’t at all about what I say; it isn’t at all about “what I believe;” it is about the difference that Christ has made in my life and the fact that He can and will do the same for you.

Over the next 2 years we’re going to “see” what kind of a difference yesterday’s elections made.  This is one of the FEW places in my life where I am a skeptic, but I think that what we’re going to find out is that not much is going to change.  I hope I’m wrong.  I hope they prove me so wrong . . . but we’ll see.

But so much more important than the elections and the results, who have you invited to “come and see”?  I think there needs to be more Andrew and Philip in all of us, me first!

I love you

Rick

Upcoming Activities

Today, Wednesday November 5 – We invite you to join us for dinner here at 5 and our regular Wednesday evening activities.  For those who’ve been meeting with us in the Sanctuary at 6 we’re watching the fourth of our videos on Apologetics and the subject this evening will be interesting to say the least; the title is “Why Are Christians So Hypocritical?”  Ouch  There is a lot going on here on Wednesday evenings and lots of good things happening and we hope to see you here tonight!

Friday November 7 – Our Shabbat group meets each Friday evening here in the gym at 5:30 for dinner and a very special time of celebrating Shabbat every week.  Anyone is invited to come and be a part of this.

Saturday November 8 – We are hosting another District Teen Bible Quiz here this Saturday.  If you have never seen a Bible Quiz it is something that is definitely worth the time to come and watch.  There are teens from across the NM District that have memorized the Word of God and are putting it to good use in their lives.

Sunday November 9 – This Sunday we are continuing our look at Vision and this week we’re looking at John chapters 2 and 3 and talking about Trust!  We hope to see you here at our 8:45 a.m. service in the gym, the 10:30 service in the sanctuary or the 4:00 p.m. Hispanic service.

Monday November 10 – Our Church Board will have its regular monthly meeting at 6:00 p.m. on Monday

Wednesday November 12 – Regular Wednesday evening activities will be going on and at 6:00 in the Sanctuary we’ll be taking another look at missions work throughout the world!

Sunday November 16 – We will be having ONE COMBINED WORSHIP SERVICE ON THAT DAY with Dr. Erin Meier, our medical missionary from Papua New Guinea.  We will meet in the gym at 10:00 a.m. and we’ll be having a pot luck dinner following the service.  The church will be providing the main course and you are asked to bring side dishes, veggies and/or desserts!  Why not come about 9:15 or 9:30, have a cup of coffee and visit with new friends?

PRAYER NEED

I want to urge all of us to pray for our elected leaders; those newly elected and those who have and continue to hold office.  Pray for God’s touch on them and for hearts of submission.