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    Pastor's Posts

    Pastor David's Blog

    Thursday
    Nov302017

    Soul Exercises Revisited

    May I assume if you are reading this, you have committed yourself to “training your soul?” If you continue to read, I will assume a positive answer. Furthermore, I would encourage you to continue creating space for your five minutes of quite before the Lord each day. Today, I want to add to your training with the second “exercise” listed above – counting your blessings, counting five blessing a day to be precise. Last week, most of us celebrated the holiday of Thanksgiving. Thankfulness, or gratitude is essential in regards to our relationship with God. Ingratitude, I believe, is at the heart of a lot of pain and misery in our world today. What a shame! We have so much for which to be thankful!

     

    Life is filled with blessings, more blessings than we can could! However, I’d like you to give it a try. Now, I don’t want you to sit down and try to count them all at once; that would take too much time. But how easy would it be to count just five blessings? If you’re reading this, you have the blessing of internet access (well, that’s a blessing and a curse!). Second, you are blessed because you have a computer that gives you access to the internet! Third, you have the blessing of being able to see! Fourth, you are blessed with the ability to read! Fifth, you have life within you allowing you to read! See how easy that was!

     

    The second “soul” exercise on our list is beginning each day by counting five blessings, just five! You might want to start a list. I had one person, who was struggling with his current situation, and I encouraged him to start a list, and add five blessings each day. After a couple of weeks, his attitude shifted significantly! If you’re not a list writer, then train yourself to think of five blessings before you get out of bed in the morning. That’s  a great way to start the day. You might want to name your blessings before you spend your five minutes being still before the Lord in prayer. Ask God to help you think of all blessings he has given you, and just be quiet before him and listen!

     

    Counting your blessings, even just five a day, will make a huge difference in your life. It is a small exercise that pays big dividends. Remember, each exercise you incorporate into your life helps transform you into a closer representative of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

     

    Grace and peace,

     

    Pastor David

    Tuesday
    Nov072017

    Prayers for Sutherland Springs and more!

    The seeds of anger are planted very early in a person’s life. Disappointment, unmet expectations, blocked goals, fear and lack of control often lurk beneath the surface of one who is angry. If left unchecked, anger takes on a life of its own, and it becomes very destructive. It seems as if unbridled anger was at the core of Sunday’s horrific attack on the worshipping community in Sutherland Springs, Texas. I have no doubt that Jesus is still weeping, not just from this event, but all events where innocent lives are taken by misguided, hurting, angry, delusional individuals or groups. The question always comes up in times like this, “Where was God?”

     

    God is everywhere. God was present Sunday morning in that worshipping community. Why didn’t God prevent such an atrocity? That is a question I cannot answer. I am not God. However, I believe in a trajectory of history, a plan set in place before God spoke, “Let there be light.” I believe God is at work in and through history even when terrible things happen. No doubt, history is filled with examples of societies turning away from God and paying a tremendous price. When this happens, even the innocent are swept up in the path of evil and destruction. We can speculate on the nature of this murderer’s upbringing, and of those who contributed to his twisted and warped heart and mind, but that doesn’t bring back those whose lives were brutally cut short at a time of sacred worship.

     

    I would rather ask all who read these words to pray for that little worshipping community in Sutherland Springs; but let’s not forget last week’s tragedy in New York City. Nor the devastating events in Las Vegas, or the growing number of victims from such events throughout history! There is an answer – Jesus. As we who are apprentices of Jesus continue to be transformed into His image, pray for eyes to see those who are hurting. Pray for hearts willing to reach out to those in pain, and just maybe, we’ll find ourselves as part of the solution. Jesus said, “A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Let us commit our hearts and minds to this command, and trust that God is able to redeem even the most horrific acts for His glory and honor. Let us pray…

    Wednesday
    Nov012017

    Soul Exercises Revisited!

    As we close in on the year, I find myself reflecting back on the “Great Questions from the Bible” that have given shape to my preaching this year. While I’ve received lots of positive feedback on the series, I want to make sure we haven’t lost focus on our primary goal of becoming better apprentices of Jesus.  I like the word “apprentice” because it speaks to a relationship with a “Master.” For an apprentice to commit to a “Master,” an express intentionality is assumed. I want to be an apprentice to Jesus. I want my life to reflect the qualities I see in Jesus as I study the four Gospels. Jesus was never in a hurry; He always had time for others. Jesus was kind, thoughtful, and intentional in His relationships. I strive for such qualities. I freely admit, I am a work in progress. But as I said to someone recently, the best piano player in the world started by plunking a finger on a single key.

     

    So what “key” do I find myself plunking these days?

     

    Awhile back, I posted 15 “soul exercises” to encourage folk. Here they are, if you missed them:

    1. I will be still before God for 5 minutes a day
    2. I will begin each day by counting five blessings  
    3. I will read Scripture intentionally
    4. I will pray through Psalm 23 regularly
    5. I will pray for an enemy
    6. I will unplug occasionally (live a day without screens)
    7. I will slow down (ruthlessly eliminate hurry)
    8. I will remember to Play (keeping the Sabbath)
    9. I will reach out to someone beyond my comfort zone
    10. I will do something kind for someone who doesn’t like me
    11. I will share my faith with someone
    12. I will refuse to gossip
    13. I will be generous
    14. I will practice forgiveness
    15. I will trust God for all outcomes and stop worrying

     

    I thought I’d review each exercise in the weeks and months ahead starting with the first one: I will be still before God for 5 minutes a day.

     

    It sounds like an easy exercise unless you’re like me, a extrovert with A.D.D. tendencies. Being “still” is challenging for me.  What I have started doing is engaging in this exercise before I eat breakfast each morning. I sit quietly, acknowledge God’s presence, and pray for four things: Lord, help be draw closer to you; help me draw closer to my wife; help me be more effective for Your Kingdom; please let people see Jesus in me.  After I pray those four things, I simply ask, “How can I do that today?” Then I stop and listen. I listen for as long as I can or until my mind starts to wander. Sometimes God nudges me in a particular direction. Sometimes I get nothing. (Except a few minutes of being still before God!) At that point, I say “Thank you, Lord,” and I eat my breakfast! I find it is a great way to start my morning, being intentional in my “apprenticeship with Jesus.”

     

    I hope this encourages you to review the exercises above, pick one and start “plunking!”

    Wednesday
    Mar082017

    More on Prayer and Fasting!

     

    I am deeply gratified to discover some 50 people from our community committing to praying and fasting at this time. We are praying for denominational discernment and personal renewal/revival. Denominational discernment might also include community healing. I am finding there are good people who are struggling with both sides of the denominational issue, and that creates hard feelings within the community. That’s the last thing I want!  Yet, I can’t help but think God will reach out in response to our prayers and fasting with answers and solutions that will bring healing and renewal/revival to our community!

     

    I’m finding a theme in my Lenten reading this year – the active ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. From the daily Biola Lent readings,  http://ccca.biola.edu/lent/  to a book I am re-reading by A.W. Tozer, https://www.amazon.com/Pursuit-God-W-Tozer/dp/153689785X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1489002911&sr=8-3&keywords=aw+tozer  (available for Kindle for only 99 cents!) and my ongoing work with Ignatian spirituality, it seems God is encouraging me to encourage others to seek God and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in ways that have been available to the Church from the beginning. Everywhere I turn, I am reading about the anemic church, filled with “casual Christians,”  while God longs to fill our lives abundantly with the Holy Spirit!

     

    As “brokers of reconciliation,” we are called to be “Christ’s presence” wherever we go, and especially as we, the Church, gather to worship. We worship for what we can give, not get. We get to be the hands, the feet, the ears and sometimes even the voice of Jesus. Looking for Jesus every day while desiring that people see Jesus in us, is part of what it means to be the Church, to be followers, apprentices, disciples of Jesus. We are living in such definitional time, and the witness of the Church has never been more important.

     

    As we continue through the Lent season, as we continue praying and fasting for discernment, healing, renewal/revival, let us proceed expectantly, trusting that God longs for us to reach out and experience God’s presence in our lives with greater intimacy day by day!

     

                  Grace and peace,

     

                           Pastor David

    Wednesday
    Mar012017

    Prayer and Fasting (Continued)

    Yesterday, we continued our “Tuesday” prayer and fast. We are intentionally coming before the Lord with two requests – denominational resolution and personal renewal. Unfortunately, neither one of these prayers is likely to be answered quickly, but I hope we will continue our fasting and praying until we see the hand of the Lord move in our midst.

     

    Today is the first day of the Lenten season.  Lent is the liturgical season leading up to the Resurrection. It serves as a way for us to identify with the struggles of Jesus’ earthly ministry as He headed to the cross. In spite of the fact that we use the phrase, “It’s just my cross to bear,” referring to something or someone that poses a challenge for us, few of us will ever actually be called upon to bear the cross. Jesus did it. He did it for you and me.

     

    For many, Lent conjures up the memory of “giving something up.” I recently read that rather than stop doing something you’re going to pick up again after Easter (like, I’m giving up chocolate for Lent), why not use the Lenten season to increase a spiritual activity that will draw us closer to God! Perhaps a little extra Bible reading each day is in order.  (You could start reading through Proverbs, one a day until Easter!) Maybe supplement your weekly fast and prayer time by adding five minutes of prayer only before lunch three days a week, praying for personal renewal.  These are two suggestions. I'm sure you can think of some other ways to "step up" your faith journey if you put your mind to it. Share your thoughts with others, and encourage them to join you!

     

    We have so much for which to be thankful. Be intentional this Lenten season to let God (and others) know just how thankful you are!

     

    Grace and peace,

     

     Pastor David