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 | Wednesday Weekly Blog |

To Be More Like Christ 7/3/13

We returned Sunday evening from being gone for two weeks to our denominations General Assembly which takes place once every four years.  We were in Indianapolis 8 of those days, and then driving there and back.  As we went we were able to spend a night with Joe & Marge Thornton and then returning we performed a wedding in Oklahoma City.  While in OKC we were able to connect with Brent Graybeal, the leader of the Samaritan’s Purse team that was here at Angus last year when the Little Bear Fire hit us.  Brent and his team of volunteers were here for 6½ weeks last summer.  He has been in Moore, OK, just outside of OKC, for 6 weeks and will be there for about 2 more weeks.  It was wonderful to connect with him again and see how God continues to use Samaritan’s Purse.  They were used by God in an INCREDIBLE way to begin the healing here in Lincoln County, along with other organizations and groups. 

We have been PRIVILEGED to have a group of 95 young people and their sponsors from a Presbyterian youth group in New Jersey “living” here at our building for the last 6 days.  This is the last official act of the Little Bear Fire Recovery Center.  These young people and their sponsors have been working hard helping those who are still recovering from the fire.  Again, what an INCREDIBLE blessing they have been to us and to this community.  They blessed us by worshiping with us in the early worship service last Sunday morning as well as by their selfless giving.  They came here to work paying all of their own expenses to come.

Over the past year we have seen God at work in so many different ways.  We have seen Him through the work of these (and other) organizations that I have mentioned (and not mentioned) as well as the community here in Lincoln County.  We have seen individuals step up, give sacrificially, make themselves and their businesses available for those who are hurting and love their neighbors.  We have seen Christ, face to face, in the lives and the faces of so many individuals and groups.

It has challenged us to be more like Christ in all that we do.  We call ourselves the church; we are THE church when we act like Christ. 

I have been asking myself lately what more I can do, what more we as a church can do, to be more like Christ.  I should have known that if I was really asking sincerely that He was going to show me, and He did.

Saturday morning spending time with Brent and Samaritan’s Purse I saw some of the same people who were here last summer, now there with Samaritan’s Purse in Moore OK.  They greeted us with a hug and smile and told us that they would LOVE to come back and see what has happened here since the fire.  What impressed me most is that they were there, volunteering, giving of themselves.  One couple that was here last summer was there and they told us this is the 7th assignment they have taken with Samaritan’s Purse since they were here last June.  Christ challenged me that if I am going to be more like Him I have to be available to Him when He asks me to go.  That going may mean that I “go away” but it also might just mean that I go across the street and love my neighbor.

Saturday afternoon late, Sue and I made an appointment to spend a little time with a very close friend of mine that I went to college with and traveled with for 4 years in a ministry team.  I have always had the utmost respect for Bill and hadn’t seen him for several years.  I saw his brother at General Assembly (Dave and Kim Hane, missionaries to Taiwan who have been here at least twice and maybe 3 times in the last 8 years) and Dave gave me Bill’s phone number.  Bill changed his Saturday plans so we could spend a little time together.  We ended up sitting and talking for about two hours about some of the things that God has been talking to us about.  Sue and I shared some things with him and he shared with us.  As we got ready to leave he gave me a book that he had been reading that had challenged him and told me that he wanted me to have it.  It is a simple little book, 88 pages long, and I sat down and read all of it Tuesday afternoon in about 2 hours.  You will be hearing me talk a LOT more about that book in the coming weeks because the whole idea of the book is to make ourselves available to Christ to do what He wants to do through us.  Christ challenged me through that little book to pray more and spend more time listening to Him and calling others to do the same.

We drove to Clovis late Saturday night and Sunday morning went to church with my dad and brother at Living Stones Church in Clovis.  The pastor there, Darwin Speicher, preached a powerful message that I think God had planned just for me.  It had to do with learning to live more in the Word of God.  (By the way, the little book that Bill gave me, had a lot to say about that as well.)  God used Darwin to speak to me and challenge me that if I want to be more like Him, He has given me His very Word and that I need to spend more time reading it and listening to Him through it.

I am glad to be home.  For the foreseeable future I am not going ANYWHERE for more than a day or two at a time if I have anything to say about it.  I have missed being with you.  I miss seeing you and visiting with you on Sunday; I miss seeing you around town and stopping to talk to you; I missed you.  My Sabbatical was such a blessing from you and from the Lord and now that General Assembly is done and I am back I look forward to being with you.  This Sunday we will have great times of worship and praise as God’s people come together here.  I want to give you a special invitation to be here in one of our services this Sunday at 8:45, 10:30 or 4:00 o’clock for the Spanish service. 

The following weekend, July 12, 13 and 14, we have the PRIVILEGE of joining together with four other congregations, Grace Harvest, Gateway, Christ Community and Foot of the Cross for our Mountain Family Fellowship weekend at Bonita Park.  The schedule is below and I urge you strongly to make every effort to be at as many of those services that you can make.  This isn’t an opportunity to “skip out” it is an opportunity to come together with the larger Body of Christ and make a statement to our community that the Body of Christ is ONE here in Lincoln County. 

The following week, July 17-21, is Ranchman’s Camp on the Nogal Mesa.  Our son Brandon will be the main speaker for that week with other local area pastors preaching as well.  Again, what an incredible opportunity for the larger Body of Christ to come together and worship Him as One, and what more beautiful setting could we have than the Nogal Mesa?

Let’s make it our prayer to seek Christ and all that He wants to say and do in us, to us and with us.  If we ask Him, He WILL answer.  Looking forward to seeing you this Sunday.

Rick

Upcoming Activities

Sunday July 7 – Aside from our regular worship services, Sunday Activity Club is sponsoring a hike up to Nogal Peak.  We will meet at the church at 5 – we’d love to have you join us!

Monday July 8 – Our District Teen Camp begins here at Bonita Park – if you know of teens that need to go to camp it isn’t too late to send them.  Call the church office for more information.

Friday July 12-Sunday July 14 – Mountain Family Fellowship.  Friday night worship begins at 6:45 in Armstrong Tabernacle, just down the path from our gym.  Phil Appel is preaching that evening and following the service we will have the MFF Follies, a time of fun and fellowship, outside under the big tent!  Saturday morning worship begins at 9:30 and Ed Vinson will be preaching that morning.  Bonita Park will offer all of their activities that afternoon from noon until 5:00.  Evening worship begins at 6:45 and Brandon and I will be preaching together that evening.  Following the service we will have MFF Follies again and GREEN CHILI CHEESEBURGERS out under the big tent!  Sunday morning we will have a special worship time in our gym at 9:00 o’clock and Bobby Barnett will be preaching.  Worship in Armstrong Tabernacle begins at 10:00 o’clock and John Duncan in preaching the final service.  Following that our very own Ray Collier will be cooking an INCREDIBLE brisket dinner with all the trimmings out under the big tent (and there is a good possibility that we will be having the Flying J Wranglers doing some singing during the dinner).

Monday July 15 – Our District Children’s camp begins here at Bonita Park – If you know of children who need to go to camp it isn’t too late – call the church office for more information.

Wednesday July 17-Sunday July 21 – Ranchman’s Camp on the Nogal Mesa – we urge you to be a part of as much of this as you can.  Brandon Hutchison is the main speaker and different pastors from across Lincoln County will be speaking as well.  We will have the schedule for you next week.

Finally, please be in prayer for Don and Jean Parsons.  They are down in Del Rio TX where Jean is receiving treatment for stomach cancer.  Why not write them and let them know that you are praying for them and thinking about them?  Their address:

Don & Jean Parsons
c/o Hidden Valley RV Park
341 Bolner Lane
Del Rio TX 78840



Wednesday Weekly #106

It is Holy Week – There are special services tomorrow and Friday at St. Eleanor’s Catholic Church sponsored by the Lincoln County Mescalero Ministerial Alliance.  Pastor Charles Clary will be speaking tomorrow and I will be speaking on Friday.  The services begin at noon and there will be a meal for everyone to share following each service at approx. 12:30.  There are also special services on Maundy Thursday evening, Good Friday evening and there are Easter Vigils on Saturday evening of this week at various churches throughout the county.  Again I want to urge you to take part in one or more of these services – it will enhance your preparation for the most incredible day of the Christian calendar – Resurrection Sunday!

In John’s gospel account, chapter 18 verse 11, we have these words of Christ:  “Put your sword away!  Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”  This is or course in the Garden of Gethsemane when they have come to arrest Him and take Him for trial.  Simon Peter had drawn out his sword and cut off the right ear of the high priest’s servant.  This is the setting for Jesus’ words.

His question is not only for Peter and for His apostles, it is for us as well.  We can reference Isaiah 51:17 as a starting point for Christ’s words here.  Isaiah wrote, “Awake, awake!  Rise up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, you who have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes men stagger.” 

Christ willingly endured the wrath of God for your sin; for my sin.  Obviously, Peter was ready to fight, perhaps to die to stand up for His Lord.  But Jesus purposefully, blatantly, without reservation stops him. 

Please understand that sin always incurs God’s wrath.  It isn’t because He doesn’t love us; in fact it is because He loves us so much that Jesus willingly stepped in to take the wrath of God upon Himself.  Isaiah reminded us that this “goblet . . . makes men stagger.”  This is an incredible picture of the horror of sin.  These aren’t just adjectives trying to modify a noun; Isaiah was painting a picture to help us get a grasp on the unspeakable horror of sin, the incredible cost of sin; GOD’S WRATH! 

(Do NOT try these at home)  Put your thumb on the top of a bench and with your other hand take a hammer and with all of the force you can muster smash that thumb with the hammer.  There will be consequences; it is going to hurt!  Wait until the weather turns very, very cold again next winter.  On a snowy, icy day walk outside to a metal pole and stick your tongue out onto that pole.  There will be consequences; it is going to hurt!  Walk out onto the freeway or highway in the middle of the night with all dark clothing, put black shoe polish on your face and hands.  There will be consequences; at the very least it is going to hurt. 

Christ willingly took the wrath of God, He drank the cup of God’s wrath, the “cup the Father has given me” because He loved us so much and wanted us to find forgiveness.  There was no other way!  We aren’t going to find forgiveness any other way!  But forgiveness never meant that we could just go on and do whatever we want to do without consequences.  He will not force His forgiveness on us.

A woman was set up; the Bible tells us that she was literally caught in the act of adultery.  Now we’re all adults here, we know what that means.  We know that she was set up because to be caught in the act of adultery means that there were at least two people involved . . . where is the man that she was caught in the act of adultery with?  She was set up.  And she was set up not to get her, she is just a pawn in the whole charade.  She was set up to catch Jesus in a trap.  And it was the religious leaders of the day who did it!  (Does anyone else see the irony here?)  They probably dragged her from the bed and drug her naked in front of everyone to where Jesus was.  You see, women were just objects in that day and time.  It was Jesus who treated her as a person of worth, value & dignity!  When they brought her and threw her in front of Him they were trying to trap Him.  All of that is relevant, but it only gives more power and authority to what happens next.

Jesus challenged them, “Whoever is without sin can throw the first stone . . .”  The implication was that after that, everyone else could join in.  Well of course we know what happened; no one was willing to cast that first stone.  One author said that the thumping of the stones as they hit the ground was deafening!  THEN Jesus looked at the woman and said to her “Where are your accusers?”  She answered Him that they were gone and He said, “Neither do I accuse you.  Go and sin no more!”

When we truly see the horror of sin and recognize it for what it truly is, we will not treat sin lightly; we will not look at sin flippantly; we will repent.  Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.”  He wasn’t telling her to do something that was impossible; He shared mercy and grace and He reminded her that she has a part to play in this.  It is a lifestyle; it is acting and living in concert with Christ in our lives each and every day.  If we blatantly ignore Christ’s call, we will feel the consequences of sin.  There will be a day when God judges sin.  It isn’t because He doesn’t love us; He loved us so much He made a way for us to escape the eternal consequences.  If we will choose to receive the free gift; if we will choose to receive the love of God for our lives, then He has already drank from the cup of God’s wrath.  If we choose to ignore that gift, we choose to receive the consequences as surely as if we decide to hit our thumb with a hammer.

He asks us, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”  We decide, each one of us for ourselves.  He has done what is necessary, we choose if we will receive it or deny it.