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Sacrifices and Such . . . 9/10/14

In 1 Chronicles 21 we have the story of David’s sin and the consequence of that sin. David’s sin ultimately is relying on himself and his resources and not God’s. As a result of David’s sin, 70,000 Israelites died. It would be easy to look at this story and ask the question, “Why did God allow the consequences of David’s sin to be so drastic?” or we might ask “Why did Israel suffer and not David, since it was David’s sin and not the nation’s sin?” But I’d like to ask you for the next few moments this afternoon to put your “why” questions away and look at a couple of facts from this story.

The first fact that I’d like to ask you to consider is the fact that not only does all sin have consequences, but all sin affects more than just the person who has committed the sin. I have heard the excuses from all kinds of people, “It isn’t hurting anyone else . . . this only affects me . . . no one is getting hurt.” But the facts are that all sin affects so much more than just the person who has committed the sin.

Let me stop here and tell you that sin is NOT defined by what we think is wrong, what someone else thinks is wrong or by society. And, just because the majority doesn’t believe something is a sin does not make it so. Sin is defined by God and by God alone. God’s Word is very explicit about sin and it is very clear about the consequences of sin. ALL SIN HAS CONSEQUENCES. You are free to choose sin if that is what you desire, but you are NOT free to choose the consequences of your sin. And contrary to what you believe, when you sin it WILL affect others; it will affect your family, your spouse if you are married, your friends and it will affect the way that people perceive you. YOU ARE NOT FREE TO CHOOSE THE CONSEQUENCES OF SIN. ALL SIN HAS CONSEQUENCES. So why do we blame God when we sin and there are consequences that we have to pay? (As a side note, God has given us guidelines and direction as to what we should NOT be involved in, not to keep us from having fun or experiencing something that is pleasurable, but to PROTECT us.)

David learned first-hand that all sin has consequences and he wasn’t free to choose the consequences and who it affected.

But here is the second fact in this story that I don’t want you to miss. At the height of the consequence that slaughtered 70,000 Israelites, David begs God to be merciful and he prepares to make a sacrifice to God. It just so happens that this consequence is being administered by an angel of God and so the angel stops within view of Jerusalem on the threshing floor of Araunah. God directs David to build an altar and make a sacrifice right there, and so Araunah offers to give David the threshing floor and he also offers to provide the sacrifice.

WOW, that looks like an incredible offer. David is the king and what Araunah is doing seems to be an act or gesture of humility and homage to the king. BUT DAVID WILL HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. In The Message version, 1 Chronicles 21:24 reads, “David replied to Araunah, ‘No. I’m buying it from you, and at full market price. I’m not going to offer GOD sacrifices that are no sacrifice.’” The NIV reads, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” David understands that if we try to give something to God that doesn’t cost us something, we aren’t going to benefit from it and more than likely God won’t accept it.

We had our regular monthly Board meeting this past Monday evening. I met with our Board and talked to them about this issue of sacrifice. The gist of the conversation was about the fact that if something is worth doing or having or being a part of, then the sacrifice, whatever it takes to do that, is worth it. I talked to the Board about living for a cause that is worth the sacrifice and worth dying for. Paul had a cause that was worth living for and dying for; go and read Acts 21 and see what it was.

There are too many people today who have nothing worth dying for, MUCH LESS SOMETHING WORTH LIVING FOR! You see I believe it is a WHOLE LOT HARDER to “live for something” than it is to “die for something.” I’ve heard parents say that they would “die for their children” . . . but my question is, what about “living for your children”? What about doing what is right, because it is right, and setting an example? What about being credible, having character and making tough choices because it affects others?

What cause in your life is worth living for? What sacrifice are you willing to make? Do you have ANYTHING in your life worth living for, whatever the sacrifice?

I want to urge you to find a cause worth “living” for! I want to encourage you and challenge you that God has something for you, something that goes so far beyond what you could even ask or imagine . . . something that is so much bigger than you are . . . something not just worth dying for but something that is worth LIVING FOR! And then determine that you will not offer to God ANYTHING that costs you nothing!

I love you


Upcoming Activities

Today, September 10 – We have dinner tonight here at the church at 5:00 and then activities for children, teens, a Hispanic Bible study and an adult study – Why not come and be a part of it!

Sunday September 14 – We are going to be taking a second look at a very obscure figure in the Old Testament and see what it is that God is trying to say to us. (I have a feeling that this is going to have something to do with sacrifice . . . just sayin’) That takes place in both of our morning worship services at 8:45 in the gym and 10:30 in the sanctuary. And of course our Hispanic service is at 4:00 p.m.
At 2:00 p.m. we will be hosting a wedding shower for two of our young ladies and their fiancés that will be getting married in the next 5 weeks. Ladies you are invited and encouraged to come back on Sunday afternoon at 2 to be a part of this shower. The brides-to-be are Michelle Howard and Jessica Pape.

Saturday September 20 – Angus Church will be hosting the first District Teen Bible Quiz Saturday during the day. We invite you to come out sometime after 9:00 a.m. and see what this incredible ministry is all about.

Sunday September 21 – We will be privileged to have Dr. Bill Burch, a close personal friend and my mentor in ministry all of my pastoral life, here to speak to us. Bill will be speaking in both morning worship services on the 21st.

Finally, an update on two prayer requests.

Neva Ventura had surgery Tuesday for colon cancer. Neva had a tumor that had blocked off her ability to eat and gain nutrition. During surgery the doctors were able to free up her digestion system, but they were not able to remove the tumor because it is so big. Please pray for Neva and for the family as they will be meeting with an oncologist and seeking direction.

Becky Rush, Loren Rush’s mom, has been placed into a medically induced coma. Last Saturday Becky had a stroke and the doctors have determined that it was caused by an infection in her blood. This infection has attacked her heart and it has done some damage to her heart. She was placed in the coma so that her body could fight this infection and then on Friday the doctors will be doing surgery to repair the damage done to her heart.

Oh the Depths of God’s Love 9/3/14

“Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out. Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice? Everything comes from him; everything happens through him; everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes.” (Romans 11:33-36 The Message)

The scripture above is labeled a “Doxology” in the NIV. The dictionary defines “doxology” as “a hymn or form of words containing an ascription of praise to God.” I think it’s important for us to remember that this doxology comes at the end of three chapters where Paul is writing specifically about the nation of Israel. In Romans 9 he begins with “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” (9:2). He is lamenting the fact that Israel is God’s chosen nation; they had the advantage of “the adoption to sonship; divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah . . .” (9:4-5). But his anguish is the fact that most of Israel had not recognized Jesus as Messiah. He prays that they will be saved, because “As Scriptures says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame’” (10:11).

Then, in the 11th chapter he begins to talk to us, the Gentiles, about Israel and reminds us that we have been “grafted into” our salvation because of Israel. This didn’t happen because of our goodness, righteousness or holiness; it is only by God’s grace. He then sets forth the hope that “if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!” (11:24). The “natural branches” refers to Israel. In other words, he says that we cannot count them out. It would be foolish to say that they have no chance . . . or, simply put, God isn’t finished with them yet!

And then we come to that beautiful doxology, the ascription of praise to God. Our God is a generous God; in fact, perhaps that word “generous” doesn’t really catch the whole meaning. There is really no way at all to plumb the depths of that generosity; why, it is so big that we can’t even follow it all the way to the end. The mind of God is so incredible that we’ll never comprehend it and how could we even think that we could tell God what to do, what He should do, why He should or shouldn’t do anything and what makes us think that He should listen to our advice in the first place?

“For from him and through him and for him are all things” (11:36 NIV). Or another way to say it, “Everything comes from him; everything happens through him; everything ends up in him” (11:36 Message).

If you’ve been thinking that God doesn’t know your situation, or that He doesn’t care about you, or even that there just isn’t anything that God can do . . . you can’t even begin to comprehend just how valuable you are to Him, just how much He loves you and what He has in store for you.

“This is how God showed his love among us; He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. . . . And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:9-10, 16 NIV).

Hold on, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!


Upcoming Activities

Today, Wednesday September 4 – Why not join us for dinner at 5 in the gym and then if you aren’t involved in a Bible study or with the teens or children you can come into the sanctuary at 6:00 and we’ll look at the second video session on Simplifying our Lives

Sunday September 7, 14 & 28 – Three of the next four Sundays we are going to be looking at very obscure people from the Bible, probably you don’t remember some or all of them at all. And yet what God did in their lives is a reminder to us that no one is too small or insignificant for God. He knows you; He knows where you are. I hope you’ll be here this Sunday as we see God’s covenant love in action; 8:45 in the gym and 10:30 in the sanctuary. Of course you don’t want to forget our Hispanic service at 4:00 in the sanctuary each Sunday as well.

Sunday September 14 – We will be hosting a double wedding shower for Michelle Howard and for Jessica Pape at 2:00 p.m. in the Sunday school room. The weddings are at the end of September and in October. We want to encourage all ladies that you are welcome and encouraged to come to the shower on the 14th.

Sunday September 21 – We are privileged to have Dr. Bill Burch with us on Sunday morning September 14. Bill is the former District Superintendent of the Arizona District and a very close personal friend of mine and Sue’s. Bill has been a mentor to me all of my ministry life as I have the privilege of serving under his leadership in Oklahoma and Arizona. His preaching makes the Word of God come alive and will challenge us to walk closer to the Lord. You don’t want to miss this incredible opportunity to hear this man of God open the Word to us! Bill will be speaking in both of our morning worship services on the 14th.

Music, Music, Music June 11, 2014

Evidently, I need to begin by clearing something up.  This morning we were told that an email had been sent out that had my name and Phil’s name on it and it said that if we continue with the music that we have in the first service, the church is going to die.  It was sent out, as I understand, like Phil and I were saying that.

I want to be very clear here – that email is NOT from me and it is NOT from Phil.  I also want to be very clear that I LOVE what the praise team is doing with our music in the first service AND in the second service each week.  Phil has a group of musicians whose hearts are tuned to sign the praise and adoration of the Savior.  The same goes for Brenda in the second service.  This past Sunday morning, June 8, the music in the first service couldn’t have been more incredible.  The Spirit of the Lord was present in an amazing way and as we sang and worshiped it was such an incredible blessing to us.  In the second service this past week the music was amazing and incredible and God’s Spirit blessed us.  IT IS LIKE THAT EVERY WEEK IN BOTH SERVICES!

So, if this was a joke or if someone intends to try and make waves I hope this will put it to rest.  If there is some concern that you have with the church or with me, let me tell you that my door is always open to anyone who wants to come and talk to me, and especially if you have a concern about something.  I do not want to try and run away from any problems or any issues and I’m happy to set up an appointment with anyone to talk.  The office number is 575 336-8032 and my personal cell phone number is 575 937-4929.  Now I need to tell you that I will be out of contact for the next couple of weeks due to the fact that I will be having knee replacement surgery next Monday, June 16th and so if you need an appointment we might need to put it off for a couple of weeks.  Thank you for your prayers and understanding.

Isn’t it interesting how satan will stop at nothing to try and distract us from what God is doing?  I sincerely hope this is nothing more than a misunderstanding or a practical joke, but if it is something more than that then please know that it is NOT of the Lord.  Just so I’m clear here, if someone is doing this because they don’t like the music in the first service, THIS IS NOT OF THE LORD!  God does not deceive people, i.e., sending out an email with someone else’s name on it or trying to hide their identity.  In fact God is very open with what He says and I try to be as well.  I believe very strongly that we all should be.  If someone has an issue with me then I think they ought to talk with me.  If I have an issue with someone I’m certainly supposed to talk with them. 

satan would LOVE to throw us into an uproar arguing or fighting or disagreeing about things that are so inconsequential as music.  The Bible calls satan “the father of lies” and he tries to convince us that things or styles, that stuff and the like are more important than people. 

I have been listening through, for the second time now after also reading it, the CD’s from the book The Shack.  If you have never read it I would challenge you to put aside your preconceived ideas about God, about life and about religion, and dare to read it (or listen to it).  I told you this is my third time through it and as I was listening to it over the last week in my car I have come away more convinced than ever before that God is about relationships.  He ISN’T about religion.  He ISN’T about styles of music or worship or whatever you want to call it.  He ISN’T about my opinion or your opinion, He IS about relationships.  He IS about people.

I know people who have read the book, or at least a portion of the book, and come away so mad that they almost can’t be civil.  I am not going to ruin the book for you if you haven’t read it but let me just tell you that the way that it characterizes God is NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING like you have ever seen before.  And I think it is PERFECT, SPOT ON, EXACTLY what we need to see.  The reason, you might ask, because some of you who have read it and are undecided about it . . . why would I say what I just said?  Well the reason is because I think God doesn’t want to be put into a box and I think He likes it when we not only get out of the box, but we try and blow the box up and start with something completely new or at least a brand new way of thinking (thanks Meghan). 

I believe that God is looking for us to get serious about people.  I don’t think God cares about our building; I don’t think God gives any thought to the car we drive, the clothes that we wear, the way we fix our hair or put on our makeup, the house we live in or the food that we eat.  I think He cares very much about how we treat people – ALL PEOPLE – PEOPLE WHO AREN’T LIKE US – PEOPLE WHO ARE LIKE US – PEOPLE.  I think He cares about the way that we spend our money if it keeps us from focusing on PEOPLE!  You aren’t going to take your car, your clothes, your makeup or your house to heaven – but you can take your neighbor – you can take that person who is hooked on drugs or the guy or gal who cuts your hair, or the cashier who checks you out at the grocery store, or the server who waits on you at the restaurant, or the neighbor whose dog is forever keeping you up at night, or the persons whose tattoos are on every part of their skin that you can see, or the alcoholic or the person who flipped you off on the highway, or the person who cussed you out in the mall, or the person who hurt you, or the person that lives in a box, or the person who drives an SUV or Hummer, or the person . . . . . . . . . do you get where I’m going here?  GOD IS ABOUT PEOPLE – THAT IS WHAT CONCERNS HIM!

I am not real sure that He cares about our music – man that makes some of you uncomfortable – but I’m not sure He does.  Have you ever watched people that aren’t like you, and I’m talking about both ends of the spectrum here folks, that praise the Lord as their style of music is being played or sung or led? 

I love you.  I want to give Phil who leads our music in the first service and Brenda who leads our music in the second service, a HUGE, BIG THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU because in both of our worship services every Sunday morning I have the PRIVILEGE or worshiping, of lifting my hands and praising God, of singing at the top of my lungs and clapping my hands and sometimes crying and sometimes laughing and sometimes “lifting my hands and spinning around” and always praising the Lord!  I let them choose the music because they listen to the voice of the Lord and the music in both services is always AMAZING!  So, as I started to say, if you are having a problem with my music then let’s talk.  Please don’t say that “I said” something when I didn’t say it.  And if someone is just pulling off a practical joke, then at least you’ve given me a chance to give my kudos to Phil and Brenda and our Praise teams in both worship services.

I love you


Upcoming Activities

Today, Wednesday June 11 – We would love to invite you to come and join us for dinner tonight here at the church – it won’t cost you a thing and it’ll be great.  It starts at 5 and then we’ll have our regular activities!

Sunday June 15 – We invite you to come and worship with us this Sunday morning at 8:45 a.m. in the gym or at 10:30 in the Sanctuary or if you like the Hispanic service at 4:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary.  We’re going to be looking at Colossians 2:20-3:1 in the morning services and Pastor Marco will have a Biblical message in the afternoon!

Monday June 16 – I told you that I’ll be having knee replacement surgery this coming Monday.  I’m going to be in the hospital for a few days and then out of commission for a couple of weeks, but if you need me call the office and Shelly will know how to get hold of me.  Thanks for your prayers and because so many people have asked, this doesn’t have anything to do with the deer running into me a few years ago – it is the other knee.

Sunday June 22 – We are PRIVILEGED to have Korey Frazier preaching for us in the morning worship services on that Sunday.  Let me tell you, you don’t want to miss that Sunday.  Korey is becoming a great man of the Word of God and He will bring it that morning.

June 26-28 – We will be involved with our Nazarene NM District Assembly and Conventions at Clovis on that weekend.  Korey Frazier will be ordained in the Friday evening service at 7:00 p.m. at the Living Stones Church of the Nazarene in Clovis at 1800 Norris Street.  If you can come to that service you will be blessed and we can all bless Korey and Lauren on this milestone.

Sunday June 29 – We are PRIVILEGED  to have Phil Jones preaching for us in the morning worship services on that Sunday.  Again, you DON’T want to miss that Sunday.  Phil has been preaching the Word with power and conviction these 9 years that he has been on staff with us and He will bring the Word that morning!

To put on your radar – Tuesday July 29th we are hosting a blood drive here at our facility.  It will run from 12:30 until 5:00 p.m.  We will be putting up posters and giving people the opportunity to sign up to donate their blood.  Please, if you are a regular blood donor, make plans to donate here on that day.  If you have never donated blood, or if it’s been awhile, why not take this opportunity to give the gift of life!