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 | Wednesday Weekly Blog |

Is God’s Presence Practical?

Is God’s presence practical?  (Taken from What the Spirit is Saying to the Churches by Henry Blackaby)

“Often, when I talk to others about God’s being present and active and involved practically . . . in our work, someone will tell me I sound like a ‘mystic,’ like someone who isn’t practical.  Meanwhile, the self-described ‘practical’ person seems to be pursuing ministry by his own effort and means, then asking God to bless it.

“Was God’s presence practical in the parting of the Red Sea?  Was His presence practical for the children of Israel in providing them with manna and water, in defeating the Amalekites, and in guiding them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night?

“Was God’s presence in Jesus Christ practical in restoring sight to a blind man, in healing a leper, in stilling a storm, and in feeding the multitudes?

“Was the presence of God’s Spirit practical on the day of Pentecost and in releasing Peter from prison and in guiding Paul when he was shipwrecked?

“Is the presence of the living Christ practical as head over our churches in supplying our needs and giving us victories?”

Well, that’s the question church, when is God’s presence practical?  It isn’t.

The Word of God tells us that when we are weak that is when we are strong . . . it tells us that if we want to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven we have to be the servant of all . . . it tells us that the first will be last and that the last will be first . . . it tells us “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).  Not very practical if you ask me; we are so fickly, so hot and cold, with nothing at all to bring to Christ and yet when we were at our worst, He DIED for our sins; FOR US!

This past Sunday I shared with you that after listening to our missionary speaker at our District Assembly and hearing him tell about the miracles that are happening in the Horn of Africa, about the literally hundreds of thousands that have come to Christ over the past 11 years, that God asked me why that isn’t happening here. 

It isn’t practical, but I believe that God wants that to happen here; I’m not just talking about Angus, but I am talking about Angus.  I think we’ve gotten practical in our relationship with Christ and I don’t think that is a good thing.  I think that God wants us to trust Him when things don’t add up – (see the Battle of Jericho in Joshua 6; see Jonathan attacking the Philistines in 1 Samuel 14, “Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few” 1 Sam. 14:6; see a young boy take down a giant in 1 Samuel 17; see 5000-15000 fed with 5 small loaves of bread and two small fish; etc., etc., etc.)

I think that we have arrived at the place where we don’t expect for God to act, we just do what we’ve always done, the way we’ve learned to do it, that we’ve quit expecting for God to do the miraculous, and worse, we’ve quit asking for Him to do the miraculous.  I am just as guilty as you are!  But I’m tired of it and I have decided that I’m going to do something about it personally.  I want to invite you to join me; I want to invite you to be a part of this too; I want to invite you to expect more.

I’m going to urge you to ask God to show you something every time you read the Bible.  I know, that isn’t practical . . . I’m going to urge you to ask God to use you in a tangible way every day.  I know, that isn’t practical . . .  I’m going to ask you to not come (or go) to church each Sunday without first praying and asking God to do something miraculous, extraordinary, out of the normal routine AND THEN COME (OR GO) EXPECTING THAT HE WILL!  I know, that’s not practical . . .  Please understand that I am NOT telling us to ask God to bless “our plans” but for us to expect Him to do what He wants to do.

I know this isn’t practical, but have you stopped to consider that we are speaking of GOD?  We aren’t talking about a human being; we aren’t talking about someone who is on sometimes and “not-so-on” other times; we aren’t talking about someone who is fickle or who gets His feelings hurt.  We are speaking of GOD!  I don’t think we’re going to offend Him by asking Him to be Him!  I don’t think that it is stretching things to believe that God can show us something from His Word!  I don’t think it is going to be too hard for Him to use you and me in tangible ways every day.  I REALLY don’t think it’s asking too much for Him to do something that ONLY He can do when His body of believes comes together.  I think the challenge is NOT going to be what He can or wants to do but what we are WILLING to do to receive His leading/miracles/touch.

Some of you are just going to read this and dismiss it; some of you are actually going to roll your eyes and think that I’m getting fanatical; some of you are going to think about it but you aren’t going to actually do it.  I’m praying that some of us, five, ten, twenty, could there possibly be fifty, would SERIOUSLY believe that God WANTS to do here, at Angus or at your church, what He is doing on a regular basis in the Horn of Africa, in South America, in China, in the Middle East, in places where they don’t have anything but God and they have found out that God is enough.

I’m urging you to start RIGHT NOW!  I’m asking you to pray that this Sunday, here at Angus Church or there at your church, that something extraordinary takes place that we didn’t do but that ONLY God can do!  And know this, I’m not asking God to do this only here, I’m asking Him to do it all across Lincoln County.  I don’t want people to see Angus Church or see me, I want them to see God.  And I don’t care what He chooses to do, REGARDLESS of whether it fits in my box or not; in fact, I’m kind of hoping that He blows my box apart!

Will you join me?

Rick

Upcoming Activities

 

Sunday August 4 – We will have our regular worship services at 8:45 and 10:30 a.m., please pray with me that God will do what HE wants to do.  At 2:00 p.m. S.A.C. is sponsoring an afternoon at the pool at Bonita Park from 2-4.  Come over and swim and enjoy fellowship with one another.  4:00 o’clock is our Hispanic service, again, praying that God will do what HE wants to do!

Monday August 5 – Our NM District Nazarene Campmeeting begins at Bonita Park and the schedule is below.  We urge you to take advantage of the services.  There are two outstanding speakers, Gary Henecke and Tim Green who will be doing the preaching in the main services and both men are great men of God.  I hope you’ll MAKE the time to come and hear them.

Campmeeting Schedule – All services are in Armstrong Tabernacle
Meals are available at the Camp Dining Hall for a nominal fee; Breakfast 7:30, Lunch at noon and dinner at 5:30 each day beginning with dinner on Monday.  Contact the camp, 575 336-4404, for more information.  There will also be activities available each afternoon at the camp.

Monday
Evening service 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday – Friday
School of Prophets Classes 8-9 and 9-10 (Tues and Wed Stan Toler will be speaking; Thursday Tim Green; Friday Dennis & DeAnn Rushing)
Morning service 10:30 a.m.
Evening service 7:00 p.m.

Saturday
Missionary service 10:30 a.m. with Missionaries John and Shannon Herndon
Brick Ceremony at the Prayer Pond 2:00 p.m.
Evening service 7:00 p.m.

Sunday (AUGUST 11 – WE WILL NOT HAVE SERVICES AT OUR CHURCH AT EITHER 8:45 OR 10:30)
School of Prophets Class – 9:00 a.m.
Morning service – 10:30 a.m.



Wednesday July 24, 2013

We serve an incredible God!  I have seen His handiwork everywhere I’ve been today.  I had the privilege of going out to the Mescalero Care Center and leading a short service out there.  The people who attended are precious; there were smiles, words of love and thankfulness, it was a blessing.  We sang some old songs that have tremendous words; songs like “How Great Thou Art,” “It Is Well,” “The Old Rugged Cross” and “How Firm a Foundation.”  If you haven’t looked at those songs lately and read those words I would encourage you to do so.  They are POWERFUL!

I have been watching the rain off and on this afternoon and it is so beautiful.  Thank you Lord for the moisture that is so desperately needed and for the cool weather to go with it.

I am still rejoicing over the incredible Coronation service we had at the church yesterday for Joe Thornton.  It truly was a celebration of what God does in the life of someone who is willing to be used and Joe was one of those people.  We who were there had the awesome privilege of listening to Harmon Schmelzenbach, Joe’s son-in-law, share the most interesting and fun obituary I’ve ever heard done at a memorial or funeral service.  Then to get to hear Joe & Marge’s son Jim preach his dad’s funeral sermon, WOW!  And if you missed it, you missed out on free ice cream.  You’d better not miss things that go on around Angus Church, no telling what is going to happen!  J

What a beautiful verse of scripture, John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.  Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”  These are Jesus’ words and they are words to you and me.  In the book I’ve spoken of over the last several weeks, What the Spirit is Saying to the Churches by Henry Blackaby, he asks us to consider:  “We [have] to decide if we [believe] Him, if we [are] willing to adjust our lives to Him, and if we [will] trust Him to guide and provide for us as we [obey].”  (I simply changed the tenses, “believe” from “believed,” “are” from “were”, etc.)  A little bit later in the same chapter he writes, “The Father’s activity determined the Son’s direction and motivation.  The Father took the initiative to show the Son what He was doing, and Jesus then joined Him.  And so it should also be for us . . .”

Do you believe Him?   Notice that I did NOT say, “Do you believe in Him,” I am asking you if you believe Him.  If we believe Him then we must believe His words.  Look again at that verse, John 15:16 . . . He has chosen us!  He has appointed us to bear fruit that will last!  And then He said, “Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”  I didn’t say that, I didn’t make that up, JESUS SAID IT!  Do you believe Him?  Whether you believe it or not, I believe that God has some incredible things for His children here through Angus Church IF we will believe Him.  The question is, will we?  And, will we join Him in when He shows us what He is doing?

The next part of what Blackaby said there is that if we do believe Him then ARE WE WILLING TO ADJUST OUR LIVES TO HIM?  Are you?  Before you are too quick to answer that in the affirmative, let me tell you that this is an open-ended statement – we can’t tell Him how and where we are willing to adjust our lives; we can’t tell Him how much we are willing to adjust our lives.  You see the key here is ”adjusting our lives TO HIM!”  That “to Him” means that we are giving Him the permission to call the shots.  We are giving Him permission to do what He deems best and we are saying that we will do what He asks.

Finally, it says that we are going to trust Him TO GUIDE AND TO PROVIDE FOR US AS WE OBEY!  There are too many followers of Christ who want to obey God WHEN He shows us what to do.  That isn’t the way to do it – the key here is we are obeying FIRST and AS we are obeying He WILL guide and provide.

This is one of the keys to what we’ve been talking about when we’re talking about Puerto Esperanza.  After a very, very busy summer, in about 2 weeks we are going to begin in earnest moving ahead with this.  We AREN’T in a hurry, but we are going to proceed.  And we are going to let God figure out the timetable, the finances, the logistics and EVERYTHING else about this.  I want to finish by sharing with you something that could be a major part to this; I don’t know for sure yet but I’m trying to obey AS we go.

About 2 weeks ago I received an email from a gentlemen that, to my knowledge, I have never met or talked to before.  I’m not sure how he got my email address.  He owns a Bed and Breakfast at the top of Angus Hill, Casa del Cocinero, and he asked me in the email if we might be interested in looking at it because they are looking to sell it.  My immediate response was to write him back and say no, but God checked me immediately and reminded me of Puerto Esperanza.  I wrote him and told him I would love to see it.  After a miscommunication on my part we connected and last Monday afternoon I went and got the tour.  What I can say is WOW!  This could be a PERFECT place for Puerto Esperanza.  There are four buildings, each building having rooms, common areas and a kitchen, an outbuilding used for storage and water facilities, and beautiful land that it is sitting on.  There is little or no fire damage from the Little Bear fire a year ago; it is a beautiful piece of property.

I will tell you that there we don’t have the money to purchase this at the present time, but what I also know is that God has all of the resources that we need.  From the very beginning of this dream God has asked me and asked us to dream impossible dreams; dreams that we could NOT fulfill UNLESS He does the fulfilling – and this is and would be one of those dreams that would completely depend upon Him.  I am not saying that this is God’s direction or plan for us, but what I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that God prompted me to at least walk this far.  Would you please join me in prayer especially over the next couple of weeks concerning this opportunity.  That is all I’m asking you to do and as you pray would you pray that we can hear His voice unquestionably?  Thank you.

I want to join Him as He moves; I don’t want to ask Him to bless what we are doing.  I want to know His mind, His will, I want to hear from Him.  And the promise that HE gave:  “Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”

Listening to Him!

Rick

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES

 Thursday July 25 – NMI Convention in Roswell

 FRIDAY JULY 26 – The Ordination Service at Roswell First Church of the Nazarene, 501 N. Sycamore, begins at 7:00 p.m.  Betty Sanchez will be ordained in that service.  We are URGING everyone that can to come and be a part of this very special service and to show our love and support for Betty and Marco.  There will be a reception immediately following the service for all of the Ordinands.

August 5-11 – Our annual NM District Nazarene Family Camp will be held here at Bonita Park.  We will have a schedule for you next week and we encourage all who can to attend as many of the events and services as you can.



Wednesday July 17, 2013

Let me begin by saying how grateful to God I am for you.  I sent out the email yesterday about helping Harmon and Cindy come home for her dad’s funeral (more in a minute) and you responded OVERWHELMINGLY!  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You have already responded with over $2500 and that doesn’t include at least 4 more that have said they would be sending something as well.  I mentioned to you that it is going to take close to $4000 just for them to fly home for the funeral but that there are going to be more expenses as well that we want to help them with.  Our District has sent out a plea to churches and folks across our district and the NE OK District, where Joe & Marge’s son Jim pastors, is helping as well – THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!  You have shown this family how very, very special they are and how much you love them and I couldn’t be prouder of you as your pastor!  You can still help if you would like to do so.

Joe Thornton passed away this morning about 4:00 a.m. in Tulsa OK where he and Marge moved after the Little Bear fire last year.  Their son Jim pastors there and what an incredible privilege they have had being with their son and his family this past year.  I talked with Jim, a life-long friend, this morning and he said it was the most peaceful home-going they could have prayed for.  I believe Joe is dancing in heaven now; no more pain, no more suffering, but HOME! 

We will have a celebration of Joe’s life on Tuesday July 23rd at 2:00 p.m. here at Angus Church.  The family will all be here for this incredible celebration of God’s grace, mercy and love.  We will be preparing a meal for the family and friends at noon on that day and if you would like to come and join with the family for the meal here in the gym we would love to have you come.  Again, it will be at 12:00 noon, next Tuesday, July 23.  The service will follow in the sanctuary at 2:00 p.m.

I’m going to make this a personal email today in honor of Joe’s life.

I have known Joe and Marge Thornton almost all of my life.  They went to the church that my family began to attend when I was 5 years old and they became close personal friends of my mom and dad.  We spent a lot of time together; there were many families that had kids close to the same age and went to church together and many, many times we were in each other’s homes, eating together, being together, playing together, being family.  They are family to me.

Their daughter Cindy and son Jim, as I said earlier, have been life-long friends.  We grew up together.  When I was in High School my family made a move from Albuquerque to Clovis in large part due to Joe and Marge.  My dad made a job change and it was Joe and Marge who had a HUGE part in that decision.  I remember when my dad when to interview that we stayed in their home and when we moved to Clovis a few months later they were of course the first ones there to help us unpack and welcome us to a brand new life. 

As I grew up I came to admire and love Joe and Marge a lot.  Joe was a man of quiet but sound, secure faith in God.  He was willing to do anything.  I remember my dad telling me that when they were both still in Albuquerque he and Joe would meet every morning before they went to work for prayer; sometimes at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning, at the church.  The pastor didn’t make the arrangements; there wasn’t any “organized” time to pray together, just two men who loved the Lord who knew that they needed to be accountable to each other and to the Lord and so they met together to pray.

Joe managed Bonita Park Camp for a number of years and was instrumental in taking Bonita Park to a new level as far as groups that use the camp now on a year-round basis.  Joe and Marge loved this camp so very, very much; it was home to them.  About 5 or 6 years ago, if my memory serves me correctly, they moved back here and I had the incredible privilege of being their pastor for a few years.  I enjoyed going up to sit in their home and visit; something that I didn’t get to do enough.  I loved the privilege of praying for them and being their pastor.  Joe and Marge always had such encouraging things to say to me, letting me know they loved me and prayed for me.  They knew me as a kid and yet I have had the privilege of having them call me pastor; there is no higher compliment folks that I receive from any and all of you.  That you call me pastor is a humbling privilege that I don’t take lightly.

Many of you know that Joe suffered terribly with rheumatoid arthritis several years of his life.  It took a huge toll on his body but Joe would never complain.  He always had a smile and a word of encouragement whenever I’d ask him how he was doing.  Sue and I had the distinct privilege of spending a couple of hours with Joe a few weeks ago.  We were on our way to General Assembly in Indianapolis and we purposefully stopped in Tulsa and spent the night with Marge and went to see Joe in the Assisted Living home he was living in.  We ate cake together, laughed and talked and reminisced about some old times.  When we said goodbye that evening I suspected that it would be the last time we’d see each other here on earth, but I KNOW that it wasn’t the last time we’ll see each other again; that will be for eternity.

I told you I was going to be personal with this email and I don’t apologize at all.  I love this man and his family very much; they are family to me.  There have been two or three times this morning when I’ve caught myself talking about him and I’ve gotten choked up.  I’m sure I’ll shed a few tears, but not for Joe, it’ll be for me, and probably for Marge.  You see, Joe isn’t suffering anymore.  There is no more arthritis, no more physical limitations at all.  And BEST OF ALL, he is with Jesus; face-to-face.

Now I don’t mean to fantasize or make Joe seem perfect.  He wasn’t perfect; NONE OF US ARE.  He made mistakes, he was human, but he loved the Lord and there was never any question of that.  He isn’t in heaven because he was perfect, because he was good, or because of anything at all he did.  He is in heaven because he accepted the grace and forgiveness that God offers to each and every one of us.  This is always a good time for us to ask ourselves the question, have we accepted God’s grace and forgiveness?  Every one of us have to have that grace and forgiveness but the GREAT GOOD NEWS is that God gives it freely to ANY who ask. 

On Tuesday we are going to celebrate Joe’s coronation.  There will be some tears shed; it’ll be because we miss him; because we have to go on.  But we’re going to celebrate for him because He has heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”   I hope you can join with us on Tuesday and let’s love on Marge, Cindy and Harmon and Jim and Kristy and all their kids!  Let’s celebrate together!

I love Him and you!

Rick

Upcoming Events

Today, Wednesday July 17-Sunday July 21 – Ranchman’s Camp on the Nogal Mesa.  It begins this evening with supper at 6:30 p.m. and then the service at 7:30 p.m.  Thursday, Friday and Saturday the schedule includes services at 9:00, 11:00, 3:00 and 7:30 each day and then on Sunday at 9:30 and 11:00 a.m.  They serve breakfast, lunch and supper each day, you can take your camper or tent and go out and camp or just come and go as you are able.  Brandon Hutchison is the main speaker this year and will be speaking tonight, tomorrow at 9:00 and 3:00 and on Friday at 11:00 and 7:30.  Local pastors and preachers will be speaking at the other service times.  We hope everyone can go out and enjoy this great opportunity for Christian fellowship and worship!

Sunday July 21 – We will be having our regular Worship services here this Sunday morning at 8:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.  If you aren’t involved or out at Ranchman’s Camp we hope to see you here.

Sunday Adventure Club is going to White Sands this upcoming Sunday evening. The full moon walk is completely booked at this point, so we are going to meet at the visitors center just outside of the park entrance at 6:30 pm and participate in the Sunset Stroll at 7 pm. Then, we will play on the dunes and watch the sun set. Korey and Lauren can be reached by cell phone if you have any questions; Lauren 505-328-5525. Korey 505-328-0208.

July 25-27 – Our District Assembly and Conventions will take place in Roswell on these three days at the First Church of the Nazarene, 501 N. Sycamore.  THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE ASSEMBLY will be on Friday evening when our own Betty Sanchez will be ordained.  The Ordination service begins at 7:00 p.m. and we hope to have a great group of our people there to help them celebrate!  If you need information or directions please come by or call the church office and let’s get a great group there to support and celebrate with Betty and Marco and their kids!

August 5-11 – Our NM District Nazarene Campmeeting will take place here at Bonita Park.  We will have many more details to follow but we hope you’ll be a part of this great week!