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 | Wednesday Weekly Blog |

Close to Home 1/15/14

The closer to home, the more real it seems.  That could be said about so many things, but I am speaking specifically about the shooting at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell yesterday.  Evidently a 12 or 13 year old boy took a shotgun into his school and shot two students, a boy and a girl.  Thankfully, both students survived the initial attack and a teacher was able to talk the student who shot his classmates into surrendering his weapon and no one else was hurt.  We’re read about it, heard about it in other parts of our country, and now here it is approximately 75 miles from our front door.  The closer to home, the more real it seems.

I have followed this news with a lot of interest these last 24 hours.  I know a lot of people in Roswell; no one directly associated with the shooting, but people who are friends, people who are pastors and then I found out yesterday afternoon that the young girl was related to a man here in the Ruidoso area.  I have never met this man, but because of a third party, I have had some contact with this man through a completely different avenue.  The closer to home, the more real it seems.

Last night, less than 12 hours removed from the shooting, over 1500 people came together at the Civic Center in Roswell to pray.  I don’t know for sure, but I assume that there were people in that prayer gathering that I know because of the people that I know there.  As I said, I have pastor friends and friends who are Christians that live in Roswell that would more than likely have been a part of this gathering.  The closer to home, the more real it seems.

My prayer is that nothing like this ever happens any closer to home.  I have been praying for our schools in this area, Capitan, Carrizozo, Ruidoso, Hondo, Corona and Mescalero, a lot closer to home.  Yesterday as I heard the story developing I prayed for the victims and the families and the teachers and students, but one person that I didn’t pray for was the young man who perpetrated this act of violence.  I have since prayed for him but there have been a LOT of things that have gone through my mind in these last 24 hours.

The young man who shot his classmates probably would not have been considered this dangerous before the shooting.  Now you have to  understand that I don’t know anything about him, who he is, what the motive was, why he did this, if there were any warning signs, I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HIM.  I am only surmising the things that I am saying to you.  But because of past incidents that are at least similar to this, I think there probably would have been some signs that something was going on in this young man’s life that would have indicated a problem or problems that were there.  I AM NOT SAYING THAT EVERY PERSON WITH PROBLEMS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND DANGEROUS – I AM NOT SAYING THAT

What I am saying is that there are people all around us that are hurting and as Christians we need to be aware that God could use us to make a difference in someone’s life.  It probably wouldn’t be that we would be stopping a mass shooting or something to the level of this amount or type of violence, but there are people all around us who feel alone; people who feel like no one cares; people who feel like they have no real options in life; people who feel like there is no God, or if there is a God He either doesn’t care or can’t do anything to change their lives.

But we know that there is a God and that He does care deeply for every human being alive, no one excepted, and He can do some incredible things to change their lives.  I am saying to you this morning that as followers of Christ, we need to open our ears to the promptings of God every day, everywhere we go.  When we see someone going through a problem, someone who is hurting, someone who is perhaps doing something destructive to themselves or walking down a road that will lead to destruction in their lives, maybe we see them because God has put them into our path and given us this knowledge because He wants us to love them.

I KNOW BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT THAT HE DIDN’T SHOW THEM TO US SO THAT WE COULD TALK ABOUT THEM TO SOMEONE ELSE, GOSSIP . . . I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT WHEN WE SEE SOMEONE GOING THROUGH SOMETHING THAT IS OR COULD BE DESTRUCTIVE OR WHO IS HURTING, OR WHO IS IN A SITUATION THAT IS LESS THAN IDEAL THAT WE CANNOT BE JUDGMENTAL, WE MUST NOT WRITE THEM OFF!

Followers of Christ, whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you do, could this be a wakeup call to us to start every day with the prayer, “Father God, help me to listen to You today, to really listen to You today and when we see something to realize that it is more than likely You trying to prompt us to care, to love like you love”?

I am going to urge you to have a change of mind and purposefully begin to ask God to use you each day.  Ask God to show you what you need to see and when you see it, ask Him what He wants you to do AND THEN DO IT!  Don’t judge them, REGARDLESS!!!!!!!!!  Don’t go tell someone what you saw, as in gossip.  But listen to God and then do what He shows you to do.  Love like God loves you.  Care, as if their life depended upon it.  It just might . . .

The closer to home, the more real . . . let’s be real for someone God puts in our path!

I love you

Rick

Upcoming Activities

Today, Wednesday January 15 – Regular Wednesday activities beginning with dinner at 5

Sunday January 19 – We will have our worship services at 8:45 in the gym with breakfast, 10:30 in the sanctuary and 4:00 in the sanctuary for our Hispanic service.

 



What Have You Done for Me Lately? 1/8/14

Have you found yourself thinking, “So, what have you done for me lately?”  We hear it and see it everywhere – in business where employees haven’t produced like their bosses think they should; in the sports arena where athletes haven’t performed up to their expectations or past accomplishments; in the marketplace where a company or product hasn’t lived up to its hype or promises; sometimes, sadly, even at home where parents don’t think their children are trying hard enough or children who don’t think their parents are being nearly generous enough, and it goes on and on and on.

But let’s be honest; we’ve felt that way with God too, from time to time.  The breaks haven’t fallen to us as we think they should have; problems and situations that we just can’t seem to get a handle on are more and more frequent; it seems like we aren’t getting a “fair-shake” in the tilt-a-whirl ride that we call life.   “So God, what have you done for me lately?  Why does it seem like for every step I take forward there are three steps backward?  WHERE ARE YOU?”

I was just reading in a book that was given to me, Tangible:  Making God Known Through Deeds of Mercy and Words of Truth by Chris Sicks.  The author asks the question, “What’s In a Name?”  And then he writes:

“I once took a list of about four hundred names and descriptions of God in the Bible and divided them into two columns.  One column described who God is and the other what God does.  In the “who God is” column I put:  Holy One, Lord, Mighty God, and Sovereign Lord.  When I finished, I had about two hundred of those powerful, imposing, and majestic descriptions.  But they didn’t move me as much as the ones in the second column, where I put names and descriptions referring to God’s actions in our lives.  Some of my favorites from the two hundred on that list are:

  • Abba (Father) – Romans 8:14-17
  • Comforter – John 14:16, 26
  • Defender of Orphans – Psalm 10:14
  • Deliverer – Romans 11:26
  • Father of Mercies – 2 Corinthians 1:3
  • Father to His Children – Psalm 103:13-14, 17-18
  • God My Savior – Luke 1:47
  • God Who Sees Me – Genesis 16:13
  • Guarantee – Ephesians 1:14
  • Hiding Place – Psalm 32:7
  • Intercessor – Hebrews 7:25
  • Light That Leads to Life – John 8:12
  • The Lord My Fortress – Psalm 18:2
  • The Lord Who Provides – Genesis 22:14
  • Loving Ally – Psalm 144:2
  • Our Advocate – Hebrews 9:24; 1 John 2:1-2
  • Our Peace – Ephesians 2:14
  • Redeemer – Isaiah 59:20; Job 19:25-26
  • Refuge – Psalm 61:3
  • Savior in Times of Trouble – Jeremiah 14:8
  • Shelter – Isaiah 25:4
  • Strength and Song – Isaiah 12:2
  • Strong Fortress – Psalm 31:2
  • Unfailing Love – Psalm 59:10

“These descriptions of God tell us what He does for us.  God tailors His ministry to each of our needs, and He even uses you and me to carry out His ministry—perhaps in a way a doctor prescribes medication but a pharmacist dispenses it (see 1 Corinthians 3:6-7).”

Now I want to encourage you to take a few minutes while you are reading this and go back to that list and look up a few of those scripture references.  Come on, are you so busy right now that you can’t take the time to do that?

For example, Job 19:25-26 concerning the fact that God is our Redeemer:  “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.”  (Emphasis mine)

God as our Strength and our Song:  “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.  The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”

Okay, one more – God is our Intercessor in Hebrews 7:25:  “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”  (Emphasis mine)

It is human nature to get discouraged.  It is human nature to feel down from time to time.  It is normal and natural to feel like God has left you out there alone . . . but He hasn’t.  So when you are tempted and you feel like asking God, “So, what have you done for me lately?”, let me encourage you to go back and look at this list and remember not only what He has done for you, but also what He will do for you!

I love you

Rick

Upcoming Activities

 

Today, Wednesday January 8 – We will have our regular Wednesday teen and children’s activities tonight beginning with dinner at 5 for everyone.  For those of you who enjoy great music, classical, praise & worship, traditional, contemporary and having a lot of fun, Jerry Nelson, an incredible pianist, musician and composer will be giving a free concert here in the sanctuary at 7:00 p.m.  Jerry Nelson is here at Bonita Park this week working with our Nazarene Camping Association which is meeting here, and will be sharing this ministry in music for us all.  Again, the concert begins at 7:00 p.m. here in our sanctuary and it is free.  We will take a love offering for him at the end of the concert.  It will be a great worship experience and we will have a lot of fun too as he ministers to us.

Saturday January 11 – We will be having an all church work day here at the church beginning at 9:00 a.m.  We can use any- and everyone who is willing and able.  Come and “pitch in” where you are able and we’ll feed you a great lunch and have a great time of fellowship and work as we do some much needed updates on the building. 

Sunday January 12 – We will continue in our series on Stewardship on Sunday morning.  In our 8:45 a.m. service, which includes breakfast in the gym, and in our 10:30 a.m. service in the sanctuary we will look at church models from scripture in this area of Stewardship.  We learned a lot last week and hope you’ll be a part with us this week!

Monday January 13 – The Ladies small group meets 6:00 p.m. and are studying Beth Moore’s The Patriarchs.  This is an incredible study that will open your eyes to the wonders of God’s sovereignty and plan for your life.  All ladies are welcome.

Tuesday January 14 – The same study on The Patriarchs  takes place each Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. for men and women together.  Both of these small groups are open and all are welcome to attend.

Finally, we are putting together a small group for men that will begin sometime in February.  Men if you are interested in being a part of a group that will help you to grow and be challenged to be a better man, a better husband and/or father and a better son of God, THIS IS FOR YOU!  If you haven’t contacted me please do so and let me know you are interested and on Sunday we will begin to gather up responses as to the best times to meet.  We are initially looking at two groups, one that will meet in the mornings and one in the evenings.

 



Happy New Year 1/2/14

Well, it may take a few weeks to get used to it, but it is time to start writing “2014” on your checks, on the different documents that you’ll have to put together and on your calendar.  Interestingly, there are fewer and fewer people who have to make a conscious effort to write “2014” on anything because we have become so electronically savvy that our devices do it for us.  Whatever the case, welcome to the New Year and 2014 and all that lies ahead for us all!

About a week ago I finished reading a book, Jesus The Jewish Theologian by Brad Young.  It was a very interesting book, helping me to understand many of the things that Jesus taught and shared from a Jewish perspective.  We can’t forget that Jesus was Jewish, that He thought and spoke and taught as a Jew, from a Jewish perspective.  When we want to understand what He taught we need to consider things not from our perspective, but from the perspective of Hebrew thought.

In the last chapter of the book, “Jesus in the Company of Scholars and Theologians,” Young makes a couple of statements that go well with another book that I’m reading written by a Jewish Rabbi who is not Messianic, but is an orthodox Jew.  Young writes, “The religion of Judaism teaches a way of life to be lived more than it espouses a creed to be believed.  Faith is more concerned with action than belief.”  Then a couple of pages later he quotes from Solomon Schechter, a Jewish rabbi, “the true health of a religion is to have a theology without being aware of it.”  Young then adds, “The theological underpinning of Jewish thought guide the practice of Judaism.  But one should not be aware of the theology.  God is beyond finite comprehension.  Judaism focuses more on active obedience to God’s will as revealed in Torah than on theological reflection.”

Now please understand that Young is not saying that Judaism does not have a theology but that their theology isn’t concerned with simply learning about God, but more about living for God

The other book that I’ve been reading, Renewal by Shmuley Boteach, is his treatise on the differences between Judaism and other religions, with an emphasis on Christianity.  One of his major themes is that Christianity is so concerned with the afterlife, with heaven specifically, that there is little that is done here in this life; specifically that we miss the opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives today.  While Young doesn’t specifically write about or put things the way that Boteach’s premise is, he does emphasize Judaism’s priorities.  So what does any of this mean for us in 2014?

Let me begin what I’m about to say by saying that we need to be concerned with where people are going to spend eternity.  Life, at best, is short and eternity is, well, eternal.  But, if we are, as Christians, too concerned with heaven and not concerned enough with changing people’s lives while they are alive, and I do believe that at times many Christians are, then we are also missing the point.  Read what James writes to us in the biblical book that bears his name:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”  James 1:22  “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  James 2:14-17  (Wow, that is pretty easy to understand)  Finally, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”  James 3:17-18  (Great emphasis on “doing” there.)

I want to ask you to be aware of a couple of things in this new year that lies before us.

First, our faith needs to be concerned a little more with action that just belief.  Again, please don’t get me wrong, belief is important, but like James says, “faith by itself . . . is dead” (emphasis mine).  We need to have a solid theology of God, but it isn’t so that we can sit around and talk about, think about and confirm that God is good.  It should change us; it should motivate us; it should move us to action. 

Everywhere you go there are people who are hurting; there are people who need someone to show them that they are worthwhile and are loved.  I believe this is what we need to be about.  I think we need to be listening every single day to the voice of God because He knows who they are and He will tell us if we are willing to listen and then do something about it.  We need to be on the lookout for hurting people and see what we can do to help them.  Maybe you can do something personally; IF YOU CAN THEN DO IT!  If you can’t, contact the church and let’s see what we can do together. 

Second, (and I believe this is the second thing we do, in that order, and not instead of), pray for the people that God shows you need help.  AGAIN, THIS COMES AFTER WE HAVE DONE WHAT WE CAN TO HELP THEM.  Pray for them to know Christ; share Christ with them; pray for their needs; get to know them and love them like Christ loves them; walk with them, beside them.  LOVE THEM, TANGIBLY!

There is a saying that I love and believe is applicable to this and to us: 

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!”

Let’s care about others, let’s really care about them.

Rick

Upcoming Activities

 Sunday January 5 – We invite you to join us for worship on Sunday.  We have three services available:  8:45 a.m. in the gym, very casual and we have breakfast available; 10:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary, a little more traditional, and just so you know, we’re hoping in the near future to have a light breakfast available here, along with coffee; and then our Hispanic service at 4:00 p.m. and most of the time there is a meal or at least goodies after this service.

Wednesday January 8 – We will have our regular Wednesday evening activities beginning with dinner at 5:00, and we will also have a very special concert by Jerry Nelson, accomplished pianist and musician, in the sanctuary at 7:00 p.m.

Saturday January 11 – We will have a workday here at the church.  We are trying to finish up some projects, like expanding the kitchen, moving the clinic and a few other things, and WE NEED YOU!  Please plan on coming and giving us a few hours of your time, expertise and love and we’ll get this done in one day!  We’ll begin at 9:00 a.m. and we will provide lunch.

(Have you noticed that eating together seems to be a part of a lot of things that we do?  I think that is a good thing and especially a good thing to invite friends to!)