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 | Wednesday Weekly Blog |

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.



Sacrifices and Such . . . 9/10/14

In 1 Chronicles 21 we have the story of David’s sin and the consequence of that sin. David’s sin ultimately is relying on himself and his resources and not God’s. As a result of David’s sin, 70,000 Israelites died. It would be easy to look at this story and ask the question, “Why did God allow the consequences of David’s sin to be so drastic?” or we might ask “Why did Israel suffer and not David, since it was David’s sin and not the nation’s sin?” But I’d like to ask you for the next few moments this afternoon to put your “why” questions away and look at a couple of facts from this story.

The first fact that I’d like to ask you to consider is the fact that not only does all sin have consequences, but all sin affects more than just the person who has committed the sin. I have heard the excuses from all kinds of people, “It isn’t hurting anyone else . . . this only affects me . . . no one is getting hurt.” But the facts are that all sin affects so much more than just the person who has committed the sin.

Let me stop here and tell you that sin is NOT defined by what we think is wrong, what someone else thinks is wrong or by society. And, just because the majority doesn’t believe something is a sin does not make it so. Sin is defined by God and by God alone. God’s Word is very explicit about sin and it is very clear about the consequences of sin. ALL SIN HAS CONSEQUENCES. You are free to choose sin if that is what you desire, but you are NOT free to choose the consequences of your sin. And contrary to what you believe, when you sin it WILL affect others; it will affect your family, your spouse if you are married, your friends and it will affect the way that people perceive you. YOU ARE NOT FREE TO CHOOSE THE CONSEQUENCES OF SIN. ALL SIN HAS CONSEQUENCES. So why do we blame God when we sin and there are consequences that we have to pay? (As a side note, God has given us guidelines and direction as to what we should NOT be involved in, not to keep us from having fun or experiencing something that is pleasurable, but to PROTECT us.)

David learned first-hand that all sin has consequences and he wasn’t free to choose the consequences and who it affected.

But here is the second fact in this story that I don’t want you to miss. At the height of the consequence that slaughtered 70,000 Israelites, David begs God to be merciful and he prepares to make a sacrifice to God. It just so happens that this consequence is being administered by an angel of God and so the angel stops within view of Jerusalem on the threshing floor of Araunah. God directs David to build an altar and make a sacrifice right there, and so Araunah offers to give David the threshing floor and he also offers to provide the sacrifice.

WOW, that looks like an incredible offer. David is the king and what Araunah is doing seems to be an act or gesture of humility and homage to the king. BUT DAVID WILL HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. In The Message version, 1 Chronicles 21:24 reads, “David replied to Araunah, ‘No. I’m buying it from you, and at full market price. I’m not going to offer GOD sacrifices that are no sacrifice.’” The NIV reads, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” David understands that if we try to give something to God that doesn’t cost us something, we aren’t going to benefit from it and more than likely God won’t accept it.

We had our regular monthly Board meeting this past Monday evening. I met with our Board and talked to them about this issue of sacrifice. The gist of the conversation was about the fact that if something is worth doing or having or being a part of, then the sacrifice, whatever it takes to do that, is worth it. I talked to the Board about living for a cause that is worth the sacrifice and worth dying for. Paul had a cause that was worth living for and dying for; go and read Acts 21 and see what it was.

There are too many people today who have nothing worth dying for, MUCH LESS SOMETHING WORTH LIVING FOR! You see I believe it is a WHOLE LOT HARDER to “live for something” than it is to “die for something.” I’ve heard parents say that they would “die for their children” . . . but my question is, what about “living for your children”? What about doing what is right, because it is right, and setting an example? What about being credible, having character and making tough choices because it affects others?

What cause in your life is worth living for? What sacrifice are you willing to make? Do you have ANYTHING in your life worth living for, whatever the sacrifice?

I want to urge you to find a cause worth “living” for! I want to encourage you and challenge you that God has something for you, something that goes so far beyond what you could even ask or imagine . . . something that is so much bigger than you are . . . something not just worth dying for but something that is worth LIVING FOR! And then determine that you will not offer to God ANYTHING that costs you nothing!

I love you

Rick

Upcoming Activities

Today, September 10 – We have dinner tonight here at the church at 5:00 and then activities for children, teens, a Hispanic Bible study and an adult study – Why not come and be a part of it!

Sunday September 14 – We are going to be taking a second look at a very obscure figure in the Old Testament and see what it is that God is trying to say to us. (I have a feeling that this is going to have something to do with sacrifice . . . just sayin’) That takes place in both of our morning worship services at 8:45 in the gym and 10:30 in the sanctuary. And of course our Hispanic service is at 4:00 p.m.
At 2:00 p.m. we will be hosting a wedding shower for two of our young ladies and their fiancés that will be getting married in the next 5 weeks. Ladies you are invited and encouraged to come back on Sunday afternoon at 2 to be a part of this shower. The brides-to-be are Michelle Howard and Jessica Pape.

Saturday September 20 – Angus Church will be hosting the first District Teen Bible Quiz Saturday during the day. We invite you to come out sometime after 9:00 a.m. and see what this incredible ministry is all about.

Sunday September 21 – We will be privileged to have Dr. Bill Burch, a close personal friend and my mentor in ministry all of my pastoral life, here to speak to us. Bill will be speaking in both morning worship services on the 21st.

Finally, an update on two prayer requests.

Neva Ventura had surgery Tuesday for colon cancer. Neva had a tumor that had blocked off her ability to eat and gain nutrition. During surgery the doctors were able to free up her digestion system, but they were not able to remove the tumor because it is so big. Please pray for Neva and for the family as they will be meeting with an oncologist and seeking direction.

Becky Rush, Loren Rush’s mom, has been placed into a medically induced coma. Last Saturday Becky had a stroke and the doctors have determined that it was caused by an infection in her blood. This infection has attacked her heart and it has done some damage to her heart. She was placed in the coma so that her body could fight this infection and then on Friday the doctors will be doing surgery to repair the damage done to her heart.