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 | Wednesday Weekly Blog |

Happy Thanksgiving 11/26/13

I wanted to get my “Wednesday” email out a day early this week.  Of course we will celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday – for some it will be a very traditional celebration – for others it will be just another day – for some perhaps it will be something brand new – but for all of us I pray that it will be a day when we will stop and truly take a moment to give thanks.

As most of you know last week Sue and I had the privilege of being with our kids.  Because we knew that we wouldn’t be together for Thanksgiving we had our “traditional” Thanksgiving meal last Saturday.  Our daughter Shannon took charge of the entire meal and didn’t let Sue do any of it.  The turkey and dressing were incredible – the brussel sprouts were different (I am not a big brussel sprouts fan, but these weren’t bad, just different) the potatoes and gravy were delicious and dessert was mouthwatering.  But the best part wasn’t a meal, although it was amazing, the best part was being with our kids and some new friends, getting to spend a week with our grandson and children, and being with the love of my life.  (This Friday we will celebrate 33 years of marriage and it was BY FAR the best decision I have ever made.)

I love Thanksgiving; and it isn’t because of the meal; it isn’t even because of family; it is because it is a reminder to me that I need to be more purposeful about being thankful.  I had lunch with one of my good pastor friends on Monday and he told me about a book he was reading, 1000 Gifts, written by a woman who was challenged to write down 1000 things that she was thankful for.  He has taken that challenge and he was telling me that his daughter, still at home, had taken it as well because of his talking about it with his congregation and already her list was longer than his.  All of it was just another reminder to me that it isn’t about a day, but it is about an attitude.

I love to read after Charles Swindoll and in two of his books that I have he tells a story of a Thanksgiving that he remembers as a child.  Let me share a little of it with you.

“I will never forget that Thanksgiving.

“I will never forget standing erect in my classroom, my hand over my heart, as I repeated the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag.

“Our nation was at war and times were hard.

“My teacher had lost her husband on the bloodwashed shores of Normandy.  After we had saluted the flag, we bowed our heads for prayer.  As we did, she began to weep.  I did too.  All the class joined in.  Then she stumbled through one of the most moving expressions of gratitude and praise that I have ever heard emerge from a soul plunged in pain.

“At that moment in my young life I fell in love with Thanksgiving.

“Lost in sympathy and a boy’s pity for his teacher, I walked home very slowly that afternoon.  Although only a child, I had profound feelings of gratitude for my country . . . my friends . . . my school . . . my church . . . my family.”

I too find that I have some profound feelings of gratitude this morning and I too have fallen in love with Thanksgiving.

I am extremely grateful for my country.  It isn’t perfect and there are things that I wish were different, but I live in a country where I am free to worship God as I choose to worship Him and for that I am extremely grateful.  I am grateful for all of the men and women who have served our country to protect that freedom.  My dad is a WWII veteran, my father-in-law was a Korean War veteran, my brother served in the US Coast Guard and I have had numerous aunts, uncles and other family members who have served our nation through the armed forces.  “Thank you” seems so woefully inadequate but today it is what I want to express.  I am grateful.

I am extremely grateful for my family.  I have a wife who loves me and has stood with me for 33 years.  I have two incredible children, a beautiful daughter-in-law and a grandson who brings joy like I’ve never known into my life.  My family loves me.  I am truly a blessed man.

I am extremely grateful for the people that I have known over the years who have allowed me to be their pastor.  These are some of the most amazing people in the world.  In spite of my shortcomings, hundreds of people have loved me, put up with those shortcomings and called me pastor.  Many of you are among that group of people and I want you to know that I am so grateful to you for allowing me this privilege.  I am reminded today that I am a very blessed man because of all of you. 

I am extremely grateful for my friends.  Wow, I have been thinking about so many of you and so many others over the years who have called and still call me friend.  Some have been and are friendships that aren’t necessarily close or frequent, others are much more so and a few, many more than I deserve, are very close friendships.  But all of them, all of you, have added to my life.  I am a richer more blessed man because of each and every one of you!  Thank you.

I am extremely grateful for grace.  That God would love me, UNCONDITIONALLY, is beyond my being able to fathom.  I don’t deserve it; I can’t earn it; I have let Him down and messed up, but His love has never, never, never, never, never stopped.  I am blessed beyond words.

I stopped and looked back at what I’d written and I used the phrase unintentionally at first and of course intentionally after I re-read it, “I am extremely grateful . . .”  I am not trying to be overly emotional or trying to use hyperbole – I mean each word. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this each and every week.  Thank you for being a part of my life.  Thank you for walking this journey with me.  Thank you!  I am THE most blessed man that I know because of God and because of you.

I love you

Rick

Upcoming Activities

 

We will NOT have our Wednesday evening activities this week, November 27th here at Angus Church.  We encourage you to spend time with your family and friends.

Thursday November 28 – HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sunday December 1 – We being our Advent Celebration on Sunday morning.  We have a number of small groups that will be meeting purposefully through the first three weeks of Advent.  If you aren’t a part of a small group yet there is still time.  This Sunday morning in both worship services and in our Hispanic Service that afternoon we will give anyone the opportunity join in!

We want to URGE everyone to get one of the devotional books that will go right along with our Advent Celebration.  The devotional thoughts have been written by many of you and as I’ve read a few of them I have laughed, smiled and been touched by the thoughts that you have put on paper.  I think these devotional books will be the BEST part of our Advent Celebration.  If you don’t live here but would like to have one, please let Shelly know by emailing her at anguchurch@valornet.com and she will email it to you.

 



Impossible! 11/13/13

I’d like to ask you to consider something this morning.  I believe that there are things that God has for us to do and to us it seems impossible.  There isn’t any way that we can see to get it done.  I have been carrying on a conversation with a friend that is facing, what to them seems to be an impossible task.  They see no way to do what they know they need to do.  Maybe you are facing some of the same challenges in your life.  If you aren’t then you probably have or you can bet that you will one day.  So because that is the case, let’s consider some things and I’m going to quote from David Platt’s book Radical.

“In direct contradiction to the American dream, God actually delights in exalting our inability.  He intentionally puts his people in situations where they come face to face with their need for him.  In the process he powerfully demonstrates his ability to provide everything his people need in ways they could never have mustered up or imagined.  And in the end, he makes much of his own name.  (Emphasis mine)

“Consider the story of Joshua outside Jericho, a strong city with massive walls surrounding it.  Certainly Joshua was anxious about leading the people of God in his first battle as commander.  I can only imagine the sense of inadequacy he felt as he contemplated the task before him.”

In the late 1980’s we lived in White Rock, NM and pastored the La Vista Church.  (White Rock is in Los Alamos County, considered the Los Alamos area.)  We had the opportunity to hear the singing group The Continentals at the Baptist church there in White Rock.  This was a group of college age young people who traveled around the world.  Their concerts were always a lot of fun; a lot of choreography and instruments and great talent.  I will never forget that year that they sang a song Jericho about the battle of Jericho.  They did the song with a soloist taking the role of a reporter as he told the story.

In Joshua 5 we have the story of Joshua by himself near the city of Jericho, probably contemplating the battle plan.  It says that “when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand.  Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’”  Well in the song that they sang that night the singers sang out, “Now a man stood before him with his sword drawn high.  ‘Are you for us or against us?’ was Joshua’s cry.  ‘Neither for him or against him but commanded from the Lord; you will fight and you will win but you will never lift a sword.”  ( I love that song; I bought a tape and have since transferred it to CD and then to my iPod so I still listen to it a lot!)

Now we know the story but let me put it down for you again here.

“Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.  March around the city once with all the armed men.  Do this for six days.  Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark.  On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets.  When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in’” (Joshua 6:2-5).

First, notice in the second verse that God tells Joshua, “I have delivered Jericho into your hands . . .”  It wasn’t, “I will . . .” it was “I have!”  God had already done it.  I think Joshua caught that because note that he never argued with God or asked why, and if you ask me, there was a LOT to ask why about.  God didn’t tell them to draw up a battle plan; He didn’t tell them to besiege the city; He didn’t tell them to launch a frontal assault or attack from all sides, He told them to march around the city blowing trumpets and shouting!  Let’s go back to Platt again . . .

“Let’s be honest, That’s weird.  If you’re Joshua, you’re wanting a second opinion at this point.”

I agree and that’s the point of this email this morning.  We would NEVER have done things that way.  We would NEVER have thought of capturing a city that way.  But again, that’s just the point. 

I started by asking you if you were facing some impossible situation today.  Some of you, no doubt, are.  You know what you need to do but there aren’t any resources to get from here to there.  There isn’t anything that you have that’s going to give you success.  There isn’t a thing in your arsenal that’s going to give you victory.  Well friends, if it is God who has brought you to this point, asking you to do what seems impossible, then I believe He is saying to you, “I have delivered [your] Jericho into your hands!”  You see, God NEVER asks us to do something without supplying the resources to do it.  You may not see them right now; you may not have a clue where they are going to come from; you may not think you can do it; but if God has brought you to that situation, He will provide what you need.  Let’s go back one more time to David Platt.

“Why did God design this battle plan for taking the first city in the Promised Land?  Don’t miss what God was doing.  He was divinely orchestrating the events of his people so that in the end only he could get the glory for what would happen.  Read the rest of Joshua 6, and you will see them take the city of Jericho just as God had outlined.  But notice carefully what you don’t see.  You don’t see all the Israelites going up to the trumpet players and telling them what an incredible job they did that day.  I can almost hear them now:  ‘Abishai, I’ve never heard you play that well.’  ‘Nimrod, when you hit the high C, that was beautiful, man.’  No.  Instead you see the people of Israel realizing that only God could have done this.

“This is how God works.  He puts his people in positions where they are desperate for his power, and then he shows his provision in ways that display his greatness.”

I believe that God wants to display His greatness through you.  It might be today; it might be next week; it might be in the situation that you’re facing right now that seems impossible.  It might be a hundred thousand different things, but I believe that God wants to display His greatness through you.  And He isn’t going to do it so that you get the credit.  He isn’t going to lift you up; He wants to draw people to Him and not to you and the Bible very clearly tells us that when He is lifted up that He will draw people to himself!

So please don’t despair.  Listen to Him and when He tells you to “march around the city,” well then, don’t argue and start marching.  And remember, they did it for 7 straight days.  Do you think that some of the people might have wondered if Joshua had gone off of his rocker?  Do you think on about day 5 they might have wondered if he was really the leader they thought he was going to be?  Probably so.  Will some wonder about you?  Probably so, but still keep on marching.

I love you.  Keep on marching!

Rick

Upcoming Activities

Today, Wednesday November 13 – Come out and join us for dinner this evening.  We have our children and teen activities going on as usual, our Hispanic Bible study and prayer group as well.  After our prayer group we are going to head over to the pool building because we have a man that wants to be baptized, so if you don’t have anything else going on you could join us for that!

Sunday November 17 – In September we looked at the Fall Feasts of the Lord.  This week we are going to be looking at what the Word has to say about Hanukkah, The Festival of Lights.  This is going to be good!  We have our 8:45 and 10:30 a.m. services and the Hispanic service at 4:00

Also on Sunday our small group leaders will be working to fill up their groups.  If you aren’t part of a small group for the first 3 weeks of December YOU NEED TO BE!  Come out and find out how!

Sunday November 24 – Pastor Phil is going to be preaching in both services; you DON’T want to miss this!

December 1 – We will begin our Advent series Celebrate and our small groups.  We hope you’ll be a part of this exciting month!



Extending God’s Glory 11/6/13

I got to watch a really neat 3-4 minute video on my computer this morning.  I’ll admit that I like sports, although a whole, whole lot less than I did a few years back.  But this is one sports video that I think everyone ought to watch.  I hope that even if you don’t like sports you’ll go ahead and take a few minutes and read this because it really isn’t about sports.

The video tells the story of a middle school football team; MIDDLE SCHOOL mind you, boys who are 12, 13, 14 years of age acting more adult than way, way too many adults.  These middle school football players, every one of them on the team made a decision without the knowledge of their coaches that was incredible.

There is a young man who is developmentally and physically disabled who went out for the football team and was made a member of the team.  As you can imagine he doesn’t play much because physically and mentally he doesn’t have the capacity.  However he was made a part of the team and every member of the team has accepted him and includes him just as if he were the most important member of the team.

A few weeks ago, again without any of their coaches’ knowledge, the team had made a decision that if they got an opportunity to score an easy touchdown that whomever had the ball would purposefully take a knee on the 1 yard line and not score . . . on purpose.  Then, they would bring the aforementioned disabled young man onto the field and they would make sure that he scored the touchdown.  Which is exactly what they did. 

It was interesting to me that whomever was making the video of the two plays that I’ve mentioned and that were shown on the video clip that I saw, also had the sound of the fans included as well.  On the first play, when the ballplayer with the ball ran toward the goal line and was assured of easily scoring, when he purposefully took a knee at the 1 yard line and did not score, the fans, whose voices could be heard on the video, weren’t happy.  But that didn’t matter to the team.  They made sure the disabled young man then came into the game and every one of those other 10 young men on the field surrounded that boy and made sure that he scored the touchdown.  As you can imagine, the disabled young man was overjoyed and ecstatic when he was interviewed about what it meant to score the touchdown.

All of that was incredible and those young men on that football team are amazing.  But what touched me more than any of that was when they interviewed one of those young men on the football team.  He admitted that it was not his idea; he admitted that before all of this took place that basically all he cared about was himself and his friends.  But as the newsperson interviewed him about this decision and resulting incident this young man, with tears running down his face, talked about how his whole perspective had changed.  THAT was amazing.

For those of you who are sports fans, this story is even more amazing considering what has been going on in the “adult” world of the National Football League over the last week; DISGUSTING!

I told you that this really isn’t about sports, so let me change gears just a little here.  I’m going to go back to David Platt’s book Radical again to talk about us, you and me and what we are doing in our little corner of the world.  In his chapter on “The Great Why of God” Platt is talking about God’s grace and blessings.  I’m going to copy and quote a couple of his paragraphs.  He writes:

“On one hand, we were created by God to enjoy his grace.  Apart from everything else God created, we were made in his image (Genesis 1:26-27).  We alone have the capacity to enjoy God in intimate relationship with him.  The first word the Bible uses to describe that relationship is blessing.  God blessed the human race, not because of any merit or inherent worth in us, but simply out of pure, unadulterated grace.  God created humankind to enjoy his grace.

“But that was not the end of the story, because on the other hand, God immediately followed his blessing with a command.  ‘God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:28).  God gave his people his image for a reason—so that they might multiply his image throughout the world.  He created human beings, not only to enjoy his grace in a relationship with him, but also to extend his glory to the ends of the earth.”

Now in light of what I’ve written here today, I submit to you, that is what those middle school boys on that football team were doing.  There was no mention of Christ in the video; I don’t know if the young man or men who thought of doing what they did were Christians, had Christ in mind when they did that or not.  But what I do know is that they were extending the glory of God to the ends of “their” corner of the earth whether they know it or not.

The thing is, that most all of us who are reading this, at the very least call ourselves Christians.  Most all of us who are reading this love to enjoy God’s grace in a relationship with Him.  Most all of us who are reading this claim to believe the Bible is the Word of God.  So I want to ask all of us, myself most of all, what are we doing to extend His glory to the ends of “our” corner of the earth?  I think you know me well enough to know that I’m not talking about preaching a sermon; I’m not talking about talking to someone about Jesus.  (By the way, both of those things are good things, but the problem is that sometimes we limit our idea of “extending God’s glory” to things that we classify as “church stuff” just like I’m talking about.) 

I purposefully shared the story of the middle school football team and more purposefully told you that there wasn’t anything in that video that talked about God or church or witnessing or sermons or anything in the world like that!  These were just boys playing football.  There are boys, who are created in the image of God, who are extending the glory of God to the ends of the earth in their little corner whether they know it or not.  You and I are created in the image of God and MOST of what we do doesn’t have anything to do with church or witnessing or sermons or anything in the world like that!  BUT THAT DOESN’T CHANGE THE FACT THAT WE ARE CALLED TO EXTEND GOD’S GLORY TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH IN OUR LITTLE CORNER every-day of our lives, every-where that we go, to every-one that we meet!  (I did that “hyphen” thing on purpose trying to emphasize the “every” in them!) 

Of all people, we who have tasted the glory and grace of God ought to be the first ones to be extending His glory.

Here at Angus Church last Sunday we talked a very little bit about what we are going to be doing during the Advent Season this year to do just a little bit of that.  I hope that you are planning on being a part of that.  I hope that you will plan on doing everything that you can to make sure that you are a part of extending His glory to the ends of Lincoln County during the Advent Season.  It starts this Sunday with folks who are going to be small group leaders and they’re going to be talking to you and asking you to be a part of their small group for 3 weeks during the first 3 weeks of December – wow, I hope you’ll be a part of this.

Are you extending His glory to the ends of the earth in your corner today . . . at work . . . at the grocery store . . . in your neighborhood . . . with the server who is waiting on you . . . with the driver who cuts you off in traffic . . . with the neighbor who loves to do everything that they can to irritate you . . . well . . . are you . . . will you?

Rick

Upcoming Activities

 

Today, Wednesday November 6 – Why not join us this afternoon around 5 o’clock for dinner here in the gym?  It’s a great time to fellowship and enjoy some good company and if you aren’t involved in the teens or children’s activities then you could join either our Hispanic study or our prayer group in the sanctuary.

Sunday November 10 – We will have a wonderful day of worship and praise.  We will begin to put small groups together for our celebration of Advent so that we can extend His glory and we hope you’ll be a part of that.  And for those who want some exercise and fellowship, our Sunday Adventure Club is going on a walk at the Links in Ruidoso, meeting near the picnic tables and the parking lot at the White Mountain Complex at 2:30. 

Thank you for your continued prayers for Johnny Bundick.  Johnny had a stroke on Sunday morning and was rushed to the hospital and eventually moved to Albuquerque.  Johnny is doing wonderfully well; he has some weakness in his right leg but otherwise is doing very well.  He will be in Albuquerque for a few days for rehab and we thank God for His touch on Johnny!