Sunday, December 30, 2012

THE MAYAN'S WERE WRONG!


YES, THE MAYAN’S WERE WRONG, the world did not end on December 21, 2012, but let’s not be too rough on them . Lots of people have made predictions throughout the years regarding the end of the world. Thus far, none of them have been correct.

Here we sit saying farewell to 2012 and wondering what 2013 will bring to us. We don’t know what this year will bring. The end of the world, or worse? Will the jobless rate decline? Will housing prices rise? Will there be peace in the Middle East? Will there be an end to the war in Afghanistan? And closer to home, will the creek stay in its banks? Will the trees remain upright? Will the kids do well in school? Will the family remain intact?

So many questions and so few answers. People could drive themselves crazy just worrying about what today will bring, let alone tomorrow. We can plan and prepare. We can communicate and stay connected, but the reality is, no one knows what tomorrow holds.

No one except the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9; Isaiah 43:11-13), the One who declares that I am the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Is it any wonder then that Jesus tells His followers not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:28-34)? The One who is the I AM, is the only One who knows the fullness of eternity.

As in all things in the journey of following Christ, it comes down to a life of trust. In the movie, The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit, asked the wizard Gandalf if he could promise that he would come back alive from their great adventure, to which Gandalf responds with a decided, “No. But I can promise you an adventure.”  I often try to nail down the Lord with the same question, “Lord, will I make it through this in one piece?” His answer has often been to me, “Randy, it doesn’t matter. Be it life or death or something in between, I will be with you, and that is always enough.” (Joshua 1:7-9; Matthew 28:16-20)

I invite you to join with all the Lord’s people in the great adventure of seeing the Kingdom of God expanded, and quite an adventure it will be!  

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Monday, December 24, 2012

RE-GIFTING RE-IMAGINED


RE-GIFTING IS NOTHING NEW, my mother did years ago. She always had a closet full of gifts the various members of the family had previously received but either did not like, or did not need. My mom would even cut off the fronts of various cards she has received and used them as gift-tags. I suppose she learned this “art” by living through the Great Depression and World War 2. I realize that others have done this too, but my mom raised it to an art form.

I believe re-gifting is not the evil thing that some make it out to as long as you remember these tips: 1) Be sure to remove the gift tag. 2) Be sure not to give it back to the person from whom you received it, or their family members, or close friends. Of course, it could be kind of fun to leave the tags attached and see just how far the gift travels before it finds a permanent home!

Christmas is about re-gifting, is it not?  The Bible tells us that God so loved us He gave His Son (John 3:16). The Bible also tells us that Jesus so loved us, He willing laid down His life for us. (John 15:13) The Lord then tells us, His followers, that we are love each other and so prove to be His disciples. (John 13:34-35)  Finally, late in the Scriptures we read that our ability to love at all comes from the fact that God, who is love (1 John 4:8) loved us first (1 John 4:19). It seems that all this love we give is a re-gifting of that which was first given to us. This kind of re-gifting is not only good, it is encouraged. (Romans 13:8).

Therefore, this Advent season, and throughout the coming year, let us re-package and re-gift that which was first given to us. In fact, this is one of those times you might want to even leave the First-Giver’s gift tag in the “box.” (1 John 4:7-21) And this is one gift you can give back to the giver.

May our loving Lord grant you an increased awareness of His love as His special gift to you, Merry Christmas!

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Friday, December 21, 2012

SO MUCH CAN BE SAID..

WHEN I CONTEMPLATE THE HORRENDOUS EVENTS OF LAST FRIDAY, I realize that there is very little that can be said.

Biola University
Biola University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Therefore, I am thankful for people like Dr. Corey, President of Biola University, who shared the following entitled, "O Little Town of Newtown."   

Thank you, Dr. Corey.  May we all determine to be peace-makers in a world that waits for the second Advent of He who is the Prince of Peace.
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Monday, December 17, 2012

A FAMILY AFFAIR


LAST SUNDAY I TOOK AN INFORMAL SURVEY. I asked, “What aspect of Christmas do you enjoy the most?” The almost unanimous response was, “being with family.” Second highest response was eating holiday meals, which of course included being with family and friends around the holiday table.

It only makes sense that Christmas would be about family, since the event we celebrate as Christians revolves around a small family experiencing less than perfect conditions surrounding the birth of their first child. You know the story, no room in the inn, thus this unique birth takes place in a cattle stall. Cold, less than sanitary conditions, and removed from family and friends. A young couple becomes three, but not alone.

The child born to them is Emmanuel, God is with them. In a miraculous event the three in the barn are joined by the other members of the Three of eternity. Soon, the news of the birth of the long awaited Messiah is declared by heavenly host to lowly shepherds nestled among the hills of Bethlehem. The gathering in the lonely stall is now filled with awe, wonder and praise of the shepherds who responded to the angelic good news.

Family has always been part of God’s plan, even before the first family drew their first breaths in God’s Garden and family will remain God’s design even as we re-enter the Paradise of God at the culmination of all things.

This Advent season let’s ask the Lord to open our eyes to those around us who may need a family with which to celebrate and then let us open our hearts and homes and invite them in.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

GIVE MORE! LOVE ALL!

THIS COMING SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2012, I am to continue in our Advent series, "Turning Your Christmas Upside-Down." The theme this coming is Give More, and in light of today's tragedy in Newton, Conn. we might well be asking ourselves how we can Give More?

Well, as our President rightly said, we can hug our kids a little tighter tonight, and tell our family that we love them. 
We can give love, where anger may abound. We can give our prayers where peace is hard to be found.We can hug, and squeeze our children tight,And help them to know in this awful fright,That we are there all through their night.


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Monday, December 10, 2012

GIFTS OF LOVE LAST

CHRISTMAS 1980 WAS THE YEAR that Linda and I threw down the Christmas gauntlet to our family. We strongly suggested, dare I say, urged our extended family that all family gifts should be “made” and not “bought.” I do believe we allowed for some crafts supplies to be purchased, but the rule was to be that all things were to be “made.” Gifts could be something built, or clothes sewn, or a poem written, the field was wide open.  The whole purpose was to make Christmas a little more personal and a whole lot less expensive.

Some of the family members refused to comply. Some gave it a little effort, but spent more and bought extra stuff too. The one who came though the best was my dad. He made a toy box in the shape of Noah’s Ark all out of scrap lumber and hardware he had laying around the house. It was made for Trinity on her first Christmas, and it has been used by all the siblings since, and still holds a place of honor in our home…awaiting the next bunch of little ones (hint-hint).

The toy box has gone through some repairs through the 32 years it has been within our family. It has traveled from Felton to La Mirada to Cokato, Minnesota, to Crescent City, California and rests comfortably back in Felton once again. It has held stuffed-animals, My Little Ponies, doll clothes, blocks and Legos. It has been sat on and in and stood on a few times, too, and yet still serves its function well. What about the other Christmas gifts from 1980? To be honest I really can’t remember them, but I am sure Linda can…she’s better at that.

Now, I am not saying that all the other gifts our family has received throughout the years were not appreciated. Nope, we have received some great gifts over the years, but what grabs me here is that the gift that cost nothing but time and love is the gift that seems to have lasted the best. We really can spend less in order that we can give more so that we can love all and in doing so worship fully the God who gave His best. That’s what turning Christmas upside-down is all about.

If you're thinking about giving gifts that change lives consider Living Water International.


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Saturday, December 08, 2012

BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING

 HAVE YOU BEEN BLESSED THIS PAST YEAR? Would you like to be a blessing to someone who could use a true blessing? Are you looking for a way to give a Christmas gift that would  truly be a blessing on both sides of the gift-giving? A blessing to giver and receiver and even one in the middle?

Well, why not help me build a well?  Check out my "Gift-Site" and help me give a gift that will give in so many ways! Help me give cup after cup of clean water in Jesus' Name.

You can also see the good work that is being done in Jesus' Name through the ministry of Living Water International and Advent Conspiracy. Join us as we seek to "Turn Christmas Upside-Down" through learning to Worship Fully through Spending Less and Giving More so we can Love All in Jesus' Name and for God's glory!

What better way to celebrate Christmas?!?
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Friday, December 07, 2012

THE CHRISTMAS KISS -- Keeping It Seriously Simple

Keeping It Seriously Simple


ALL THE HUBBUB SURROUNDING CHRISTMAS can often lead to Christmas Humbugging. Being a “Christmas Humbugger” is not in the spirit of Christmas and it leaves the humbugger and the anyone around them feeling the joy of Christmas being sucked right out of the chilly winter air. I should know, I have been both the Humbugger and the one Humbugged. In order to change this seasonal situation I have come to discover a simple secret to maintaining the Christmas spirit, I can it is the Christmas KISS (Keeping It Seriously Simple.)

I discovered the example of the Christmas KISS in the giving of the original Christmas Gift, the Gift of the Christ Child. On the day the Jesus entered the world, He did so simply. Born to a young, traveling couple in a borrowed barn where His first bed was a feeding trough filled with hay.  Rather simple I would say, and yet, His simple arrival came with serious implications. This Child was born for one ultimate purpose which was to obediently offer His life was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. (Matthew 20:28)

Over the past few Christmas seasons I have sought to employ the model of Jesus in the giving and receiving of Christmas gifts. I have endeavored to give and receive that which is both simple (It does look like much. It doesn’t take wrapping paper. It may not even cost much) and yet it is very serious in its purpose and result.

My gift of choice is to follow the Heavenly Father’s giving in giving that brings life to those who need it most. Over the past few years I have both given and received the gift of clean water, through the aptly named Living Water International.

This Advent season I am once again putting forth the challenge I first heard proposed through the ministry known as The Advent Conspiracy. I am calling us, the recipients of God’s seriously simple gift, to help turn Christmas upside-down. The call is to worship more fully, to spend less while giving more all to the end of loving all. I believe it is the model exhibited in the life, death, and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus, God’s promised Messiah.
I encourage you to join me the Advent season as we seek to “Turn Christmas Upside-Down.” Our Sunday morning times of worship will focus upon the seriously simple Gift which God, our Father, gave 2000 years ago. I encourage you to not only come and sing the carols of the season, and reveal in the Christmas story, and enjoy the warmth of Christian fellowship, but also to consider how you can give in a more seriously simple way. You can discover some ways of seriously simple giving by clicking on the links in this Pastor’s Pondering. If you’re reading a hard-copy of the Chatter here are the websites to check out www.water.cc and www.adventconspiracy.org, both will give you great ways to give. You can also check out www.globalgiving.org for more ideas.
My prayer is that we will all push through the hubbub of the holidays and to give gifts that are full of the love of God and that bring the opportunity to worship Him more fully. Let’s together replace the humbugs with hallelujahs by giving gifts which honor God by giving to those who need it most. Let’s give the Christmas Kiss as we share the Savior’s love with all.

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Monday, December 03, 2012

THE UNUSUAL PLAN


THAT’S NOT THE WAY I WOULD HAVE PLANNED IT. I have said that statement numerous times throughout my life, and I have heard many others repeat it as well. Tonight, if all things go as planned, my daughter Trinity will marry Freddy Garcia.  As I can attest to, there have been many months of planning that have gone into this special evening of covenant-making and celebration. Over those months the plans have changed from time to time, but hopefully, by now all things are set and ready to go.
     All that being said, there is the possibility that not all things will go as planned, but we are praying that all our planning and designing and practicing will produce a memorable evening for all who attend, especially for the bride and groom.
     Two-thousand years ago there was another event that had been in the planning stages since before the beginning of time. Two millennia ago in a little village called Bethlehem the long-promised king of Israel was born. From the outsider’s view it could seem that things did not go as planned. This long-awaited king was not born in the capital city, but in a small village down the road. He was not born in a castle, but rather a cattle stall. He arrived not in a flare of majesty, but meekly, born to a young couple far away from home. Yes, to the outsider it looked like things did not go has planned.
     The reality is they did go exactly as planned, in fact the whole of His life which might have seemed at the time unplanned, and even tragic, was in fact, just as God had designed it to be. This humble and mainly unnoticed birth, took place at just the right moment in time. From our vantage point His life did not seem to take any of the usual paths that one who was to be king would take. His birth, His life, His sacrificial death, all of it was highly unusual. Not the way we would have planned it.
     Then of course, there was His resurrection. Once again, highly unusual!
     This Advent season I call you to explore those highly unusual aspects of the Savior’s birth. I challenge you to turn your Christmas upside-down by taking a look at it not from your vantage point, but from His. I encourage you to utter a simple prayer, “Lord, help me to see Christmas, the day we are to celebrate Your birth, from Your eyes.” And as you do, may your Christmas be anything but usual!
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Monday, November 26, 2012

LITTLE GIFTS


OUR GOAL FOR COLLECTING SHOE BOXES WAS 350. Honestly, my faith was a little weak regarding our meeting that goal. (Last year’s high was 270.) So, when we counted the boxes leaving the church we were just short (346) and when we re-counted the boxes at the drop-off site still 346. Truthfully, I wasn’t discouraged in fact I was pretty excited with how graciously God’s people gave.

Later that night, as Linda and I drove in the parking lot of the church, we saw three more boxes left at the door. Wow! Now we were just one short, but it might be too late to get these boxes to the drop-off site in time. We quickly made a phone call to the local area director for Operation Christmas Child and were told we could still get them in if we did so Monday morning. Whew!

A little while later, after posting to Face Book our numbers we got an AWANA mom asking if she could get us their box! Can you believe it? We hit 350 on the nose! Then another contact and we discovered three more boxes had been delivered to the drop-off from Felton Bible Church members. The count was now 353! Goal met! Goal surpassed!

All this got me thinking about a Bible verse the Holy Spirit has been impressing upon me over the past three weeks; the LORD told Zechariah, “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the LORD that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?” ( Zechariah 4:10 ) I have been learning that the Lord is often at work in the small places and in small ways but the end thereof will be great and to His glory, as it should be.

The Lord could have provided 353 boxes on Sunday morning and we would have rejoiced. But providing as He did, little by little, He was continually surprising us by His provision. He met our self-imposed goal and then some and He did it in a way that caused us to give Him glory over and over. It was the little number that made the bigger number that much bigger!

What is God doing in your life? Maybe it is not big and flashy. Maybe it seems small and insignificant to you, but it is often in the small and insignificant that the true blessing is found. Remember the manger? 

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Monday, November 19, 2012

CROSSING PATHS


IT IS SAFE TO SAY that back in our grade-school days most of us would not have guessed the various paths our lives have taken. We might have had plans and dreams of what we were going to be, or where we were going to live and maybe even who we were going to marry, but somewhere along the way the paths we thought we would take changed, morphed or maybe even crossed with other paths to brings us to where we are today.

Some of the paths we traveled where like gentle strolls along sunlit paths, others may have been long sweaty trudges up steep mountainsides. Some paths we may have journeyed with light-hearted friends and others we wandered alone through darkened valleys. Whatever those paths were like one thing is for certain here is where they brought us.

Since we cannot know, or for that matter even plan, our paths it is good to entrust our paths to the only One who knows the beginning from the end, the One who can see all the various twists and turns our lives will take. That One, of course, is the Lord of all creation and the Sovereign of eternity.

Personally, I could not have known the paths my life would take. Who, but the Lord could know that the very place that Linda and I hoped to retire to someday (Mount Hermon) would be the place where I would start my full-time ministry?  Who, except God, could have seen the gracious gift that would allow me to return to school (Biola University / Fuller Seminary?) Who could have foreseen, except for our all-knowing God, that the one instrumental to my first call to Felton (Dave Van Wingerden) would be the one to ask me to join him in ministry in Cokato, Minnesota? Who but God would have seen my path taking me to Crescent City to plant a church? And who could have ever seen the path that would bring me back to the church I had grown to love in those first years of my pastoral ministry? I could not have written the story of the journey God has led me upon, but thankfully God did.

Today we welcome back to our church the man who was instrumental in bringing me here back in 1977, Pastor Dave Van Wingerden and his wife Cherie. They too have traveled paths they could not dreamed of, and yet God has led them each step of the way; each path preparing them for the next. What a journey they have traveled. I encourage you to join them in their story. (See: Jesus in Haiti Ministries)

What path does the Lord have you on today? We certainly cannot know its twists and turns, but we can be sure of its final destination as we trust in the Good Shepherd who loves to lead us into green pastures and beside quiet waters. In Him put your trust and your travel plans.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

THE STORY=TELLER TELLS HIS STORY

A GOOD ILLUSTRATIVE REMINDER OF THE STORY AND ITS ONGOING POWER AND THE IMPORTANCE OF ITS RETELLING

Monday, November 05, 2012

DO IT NOW!


MY MOM WAS THE “THANK-YOU NOTE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF.” Almost as soon as the last friend had left my birthday party she was handing me a stack of thank-you cards to fill out and put in the mail. I know it sounds hard to believe, but sometimes I think she had thank-you cards filled out before she even got a gift from someone. Scary, I know.

The truth of the matter was this; my mom wanted me to express my gratefulness for a gift received promptly and even if I wasn’t too fond of the gift. There was a fine line between the telling of the truth about a gift and the greater importance of saying, “Thank you.” But the truth be known, I really do thank my mom for instilling in me the importance of maintaining and expressing a grateful heart. Her discipline has served me well over the years and now falls upon me to impress this important social etiquette to my children, who do pretty well and I am sure my mom is smiling down from heaven…with thankfulness, of course.

November is the month that our hearts turn toward giving thanks. I suppose it has something to do with a healthy dose of turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and Hallmark cards that keeps thankfulness ever before our eyes, but it should be more than that.

We are called to be thankful because of all that God has lavished upon us; from the food on our table to the air in our lungs The problem is, how do I get a thank-you card to God up in heaven? How does one give thanks for all the God has given to us? Allow me to share four places we can start:

Confession. Not of sin at this point but the confession that every good and perfect gift comes from God above. (James 1:17)

Contentment. Learning to be satisfied with what we have. Learning to live satisfied lives rather than satiated ones. (1 Timothy 6:6)

Consistency. Make giving thanks a regular part of your day. It’s one reason we say “Grace” before we eat. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-22)

Community. Be an active part of a thankful group of those who are following Jesus Christ. (Psalm 100 among others done within the Community of Faith.)

In this time of thanks-giving, I encourage you to take time each day to give thanks to the Lord, and it wouldn’t hurt to write a thank-you card to a friend either. 

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Thursday, November 01, 2012

THE MINNESOTA WAY


I AM A BORN AND RAISED SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BOY, and for the most part pretty proud of that fact. I was raised when there were still numerous orange groves in Orange County along with walnut orchards and acres of strawberry fields.  Even in suburbia almost every home had one or two fruit trees of various varieties and of course manicured lawns bordered by expanses of low-laying ivy. (Oh, how I hated weeding the ivy; way too many snails for my liking lurking below those waxy green leaves!)

I was not a farmer by any stretch of the imagination, but I did know how things grew. You tilled up the soil, planted the seeds and then turned the sprinklers on, and voila, things grew!  You don’t have to live in California very long before you understand how dependent we are on irrigation systems. Dams, canals, ditches, and pipes provide the vast amount of water we need to turn California into the land of bounty that it is.

Back in the late 1980’s I had the God-given opportunity to move from the golden state of California to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” more commonly referred to as Minnesota. I moved from now concrete-covered La Mirada (home to Biola and theFighting Eagles!) to the dark-earthed farming community of Cokato, Minnesota, (pop. 2,000, counting the fish in the local lakes.)  I had LOTS to learn about REAL farming, especially the planting and raising and harvesting of seed-corn. Did you know that there are male and female corn plants? It’s hard to explain so you’ll just have to trust me on that one.

One of the first things I learned as I followed the process of pulling rocks from the tilled soil, to planting of corn seeds, to the de- tasseling of the corn stalks , to the fall harvest, was that Minnesotan farmers do not irrigate their fields. They till, plant, weed, de-tassel and wait for the good Lord to send the rain, praying all along that the right amount would fall at the right time. Minnesota farming is a mixture of hard work and prayer.

As we enter our season of harvest and a time of thanksgiving for the bounty with which we have been blessed, my mind is drawn to the Lord Jesus’ words, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38) This year we have been praying for a rich harvest for the Lord. We even placed a number on it of 350 new souls brought under the grace of the Lord and into His kingdom. Thus, far It does not look like the harvest will meet with our expectations. To be honest, it is a little discouraging to this pastor and thus, I have been asking myself the question of “Why?”

Did we fail to till the soil well? Did we fail to plant enough seed? Did we fail to keep the weeds at bay? Did we fail to water the soil? It was that last question that got to my heart. As a California Christian I “farmed” like we farm in California. We till, we plant, we weed, we water, we harvest. But I see now that my Minnesota farming friends understood something about farming that I forgot (maybe many of us forgot) it is the Lord who sends the rain of His Spirit which causes the seed to germinate and grow. We think that we can do it all. We have the right ideas, motives and programs (those things that carry the water), we trust in our own ability to irrigate the fields, sadly leaving trust, faith and hope out of the equation.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, that he planted and Apollos watered it, but it was the Lord who caused the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6) 

For me, personally, it comes down to the area of prayer. How bruised are my knees from attending to the matter of fervent prayer for the Lord’s harvest here in our valley. Honestly? Not as much as I should. Did my lack of faith-driven fervent prayer hinder the harvest? I don’t know the answer to that question. Is it too late to pray for the harvest? NEVER! For I would say, as did our Lord, “Jesus said to them ,’My food is that I do the will of the one who sent me and complete his work.  Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months and the harvest comes’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, that they are white for harvest already. The one who reaps receives wages and gathers fruit for eternal life, in order that the one who sows and the one who reaps can rejoice together.  For in this instance the saying is true, ‘It is one who sows and another who reaps.’  I sent you to reap what you did not work for; others have worked, and you have entered into their work.’” (John 4:34-38)

In this month of giving thanks, I call each of us to go our knees for those needing to come to know the Lord as their Lord, Savior and God. As we look forward to the celebration of our Lord’s first advent, let us join hearts in praying for a bountiful harvest to present to Him when He returns to take home those that are His. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11) The Lord is faithful and He will do it. (Psalm 111; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5)

So, let us pray!
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

LOSING YOUR GRIP!


HAVE YOU EVER HELD ON to something tightly for a long period of time that when it came to letting loose of the item you had to literally peel your fingers open?  I have found myself in that position a couple of times, usually when bucking up a cord of wood. After a few hours of chainsaw and maul wielding the fingers seem permanently bent. You almost have to force your hand back open.

What is true in regards to tools in our hands can also be true of grudges and hurt feelings. Our Lord Jesus urged His disciples to forgive as they have been forgiven. (Mark 11:25) And if we fail to forgive, then we will be hindered in experiencing the full blessing that comes to us as we are forgiven of our sins in and through the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the cross. (Colossians 3:13)

Just like using a maul all day long can cause ones hands to cramp up, so does our unwillingness to forgive. In fact, the longer we wait to forgive the more difficult it becomes. It is good to note that the main part of the word “forgiveness” is “giveness.”  I know, it’s not really a word, but I think you get the idea. If you desire to know forgiveness you must first give something away. In line with our illustration, we need to let go of the very emotion or feeling on to which we have been holding. We need to loosen our grip.
We must let go of our rights, our grievances and even our pain, in order to freely forgive. This is in part what the Apostle Paul was addressing in Philippians 2:1-11. He calls us to have the same attitude that was found in Christ Jesus; that even though He was God, He gave up the rights therein so that He could become our forgiveness. (Ephesians 4:32; Acts 13:38)

I suppose we could see a simple three-step process. First, let go of your rights and grab on to Jesus. Second, let go of your hurt and grudges. Third, give that which you are now able to give because of Jesus; forgiveness, for in doing so you shall know more fully the forgiveness that is yours in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Come on, let go!

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Friday, October 26, 2012

A PRAYER FOR KINGDOM LIVING

IN LIGHT OF MY NEW SERMON SERIES: "What Does It Look Like to Follow Jesus"  I thought Abigail's Prayer for the Church and it's leaders appropriate to share today.

Abba...You have placed us in this world where we are called
to be salt and light.
Help us to serve You,
to love You,
to honor You
as we live in this world.

Abba, this world has so many things that can
grab hold of our hearts.
Although our bodies have to be here,
may we get our hearts out of this world
with its earthly way of doing things.

Help us to walk in Your ways,
to live according to Your purposes for us
and not the purposes the world wants for us.

Thank You for bringing us into Your Kingdom!
Thank You for creating us out of Your love for us.
Thank You for giving Your word to Israel
and through them to the rest of the world.
Thank You for Your gift of redemption through Yeshua.

Thank You for making it possible to live in this world
while not being of this world.
Thank You for setting us free so that we are no longer
slaves to sin.
Thank You for delivering us from death.

Abba, thank You for bringing Your Shalom to our hearts.
Please bring Your Shalom to Yerushalayim
and to Israel.
Please open the eyes of Your Chosen ones
to see Yeshua as Mashiach.
Please give the leaders of all the countries represented here
Your wisdom, strength and courage.
Please lead us and guide us.

May we learn to love You with
all of our hearts,
all of our souls,
all of our minds
and all of our strengths,
united as the body of Yeshua.

May we learn to love our neighbors as ourselves
and one another.

B'shem Yeshua.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Book Review: Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading"

Cover of "Leadership on the Line: Staying...
Cover via Amazon


Good stuff to get me thinking about how leadership within the church is sometimes a dangerous adventure. Have not finished the book, but I am learning somethings I wish I had known earlier in my pastoral/ministry life. Not a "Christian" book, but still holds good applications for any in leadership.

More later...now it's later...

Finished the book and for not being a "Christian" book it sure ended with a number of illustrations drawn from the life of Jesus. But, even without that I appreciated the ideas shared. I was challenged by the need to stay curious as I lead, as well as open and innocent. I would encourage others leaders, especially those of us who have led for awhile to put some of their thoughts into action.

I have purchased the follow-up book, "The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing your organization and the World." it's kind of like the lab class after the lecture. Looking forward to what the authors have to offer.


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Monday, October 22, 2012

THE BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL

English: The bug zapper in my backyard.
English: The bug zapper in my backyard. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BACK IN THE 1980’s while attending Biola University we lived in a house that included a “Bug-Zapper.” Some of you will remember when those cage-like electric bug killers were all the rage. I can even remember sitting outside in the evenings waiting for the next unsuspecting flying insect to be drawn to that mesmerizing blue light and then ZAP it became a crispy critter! I personally like it when a really big bug was drawn in and it would take more and longer zapping, it almost caused our house lights to go dim. I know, “Pastor Randy you need to get a life!” some of you are saying. Well, the evenings around the bug-zapper were memorable nights.

In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus tells His followers that we are the light of the world. It’s not that we ourselves have this light, but it is the light of Jesus shining in and through us. The problem that arises often is that we respond more like bug-zappers than lighthouses which direct people away from the rocks on destruction into the harbors of safety.

As lights, we are not called to blind but to illuminate the way of the Lord. As lights, we are not called to zap people into fear-driven belief, but rather we called to help lead them out of the dark and dangerous alleyways of life into places of the Lord’s life-giving light.

The question before me today, actually before all of us each day, is how am I letting my little light shine? Shall I hide it under a bushel? (NO!)  I must let it shine through the good and constructive work I do for the King and His kingdom. The work of letting my little light shine, not to gain the Lord’s blessing, but because I have already been blessed!

How will you let your light shine for His glory; zapper or light-giver? The choice is yours!

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