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 | Wednesday Weekly Blog |

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!)



Available – 12/26/13

Another December 25th has come and gone on the calendar.  For some of you it was simply another day, perhaps spending some quiet time around the house, reading a favorite book or magazine, watching a favorite program or movie or catching up on some sleep.  For others perhaps it was a day filled with family, special food and fun, gifts and laughter, games and favorite family activities.  For us, we spent two nights in a motel in Tucson, AZ, half-way between here and San Diego where our kids live, with them and our grandson.  It was relaxing, it was warm in the desert, and it was about 40 of the best hours that I could have spent.  I love my children and as you are probably aware I think a lot of my grandson as well.

We had been with our kids just before Thanksgiving thinking that was the only time we would get to see them before sometime in 2014.  So we exchanged gifts, had our Thanksgiving dinner together and enjoyed that time.  When this opportunity came available for them and us we jumped at the chance to do it.

As is our custom in the Hutchison family, we read the Christmas story on Christmas day before we opened a few gifts and stockings.  This year we read it from a Children’s Bible.  Last year Brandon gave us this particular Bible because he had either received it as a gift for their son or he found it and bought it himself; whatever the case, it has an incredible grasp on retelling the Bible stories with an amazing sense of capturing the message in simple, child-like terms.  I LOVE this rendition and am excited that our children have this and will use it with our grandson as he grows. 

Anyway, we read the story and it was so fresh and new to me again.  I love reading the story at Christmas.  I love being reminded that God invaded humanity’s neat, tidy world and turned it all upside down, specifically and especially for us.  Mary and Joseph were going along, minding their own business (so-to-speak), preparing for marriage just like many, many other Jewish couples of that day.  Their upcoming marriage had probably been arranged by their parents, like so many others.  Their courtship and betrothal were normal, everyday rituals like so many others.  I believe they were in love; I believe they were excited about the upcoming marriage; I believe they planned on raising a family like so many other couples in their home town. 

And God invaded their neat, tidy plans.  An angel, Gabriel, visited Mary and told her that she was going to have a baby “by the Holy Spirit.”  WOW, that had never happened before.  And Mary, after some initial questions (and who wouldn’t have had questions?) accepted the angel’s words and God’s plans and prepared herself to birth Messiah.

Joseph was going about his normal routine, preparing their home, getting ready to be a husband, and eventually a father, when he found out that Mary was pregnant.  Have you ever wondered how he found out?  I can only imagine that it was Mary herself that told him and it is obvious that he didn’t believe her when it came to the “Holy Spirit” thing, and he decided to divorce her quietly.  His heart had to have broken painfully.  I believe he loved her deeply and probably was resigned to the fact that the rest of his life was going to be bitter disappointment and hurt because the woman that he loved so much had betrayed that love in an unthinkable way; she had been with another man and now was lying to cover it up.

And God invaded his pain, his anger, his hurt, his neat, tidy plans.  An angel, I believe it was Gabriel again, visited Joseph in a dream and told him everything was true, that the child was conceived “by the Holy Spirit” and that Joseph should go ahead with his plans to marry this girl that he loved so much.  And Joseph, after he woke up, did it.  Do you think that he immediately went over to Mary’s house and told her what had happened and that they got married immediately?  I do.  I think that there was some laughter; I think there were some tears . . . tears of joy, of excitement, of relief, of wonder and perhaps even a little fear at the unknown.  But Matthew tells us that when he woke up he took Mary home as his wife. 

I think that they both walked around with smiles on their faces for more than just a few weeks, making people wonder what was going on, what was happening, what they were hiding.  I think they endured their share of ridicule, of questions and shunning and I think that they spent a lot of time alone together, talking, sharing their questions and concerns, holding each other in their arms, crying, praying and planning.

After the birth, after the shepherd’s went home and Joseph and Mary decided to live in Bethlehem, at least for awhile, I have wondered what those first few years were like.  I believe he grew up just like a normal child.  Aside from the “surprises,” the Magi’s visit and the emergency trip to Egypt and then back again, I think life was pretty much normal for the ben David family (Joseph was from David’s family line).  At least as normal as being the parents of Messiah, and knowing it, could be.  I think Joseph taught Jesus his trade as a carpenter, that Mary wiped his nose and his bottom, that he grew up with the normal bumps and bruises children grow up with.

God invades our lives too.  Oh it isn’t with angel messages, more-than-likely, but He invades nonetheless.  He is watching you and me and He wants to get involved with our lives and use us if we will let Him.  Christmas is over once again, we’re 365 days from celebrating it again, and I believe life is going to be, at least for the most part, normal.  Oh there will be some “surprises” along the way.  Some of them won’t be very pleasant, and some will be down-right intrusive.  But for the most part, life is made up of the day-to-day, the routine, the normal  But God is waiting to invade our lives and the routine things, the normal activities of life can take on a whole new meaning if we will be available.

We’re going to talk about that this Sunday, December 29th.  We’re going to talk about what it means in the routines of life to be available to God and with that availability, what it can mean!  I believe that if we are available, every day, that God WILL use us.  I believe that if we are available, in the routine, in the normal things of life, every day, that God will find a way to do the miraculous.  We probably won’t see it, at least right away.  It’ll probably hit us somewhere later on when we are least expecting it and we’ll see how He did it!  And when the “surprises” come, and they will folks, because we have been available in the routine and normal times, we’ll handle it because God will be there. 

I don’t think that any of us are going to get “immaculate conception” news anytime soon; I doubt there’ll be many if any of us who’ll receive an angelic visitation during a dream this year.  BUT I do believe that God will invade our space; He will step in and speak to us through His Word, through a dream, through a song or a friend or a family member or a sermon or nature or bad news or good news or “surprises.”  And if we are available, I believe He will use us. 

“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him . . .”  Matthew 1:24

“‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered.  ‘May it be to me as you have said.’”  Luke 1:38

They were available . . . I pray that you and I will be too!

Rick

Upcoming Activities

Sunday December 29 – We will have our regular schedule of services with our casual service in the gym with breakfast at 8:45 a.m., our service in the sanctuary at 10:30 a.m. and our Hispanic service in the sanctuary at 4:00 p.m.  We hope you’ll come and be a part of one or more of these!

Wednesday January 1 – No Wednesday activities here at the church.  The church office will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday December 31 and January 1.

Saturday January 11 – We will be having a workday here at the church and we need men and women to help us out.  We have a number of projects that we need to finish here in the building.  These projects will help us to minister more effectively and make better use of our space here in the buildings.  WE NEED YOUR HELP!  Please make plans to be here on that day at 9:00 a.m. and we will have the projects lined up to finish on that day.  We’ll have lunch provided for all who show up.  AGAIN,  WE NEED ALL THE HELP WE CAN GETThank you!