pastor's corner - January 26th
Humanity is prone to make mistakes. The Bible teaches us that when we ignore God’s instruction we actually become “accidents waiting to happen.” To make matters worse our mistakes and our sins cause brokenness in our lives. But the Lord doesn’t leave us stranded. In Psalm 130 we discover that God will come to our aid. “Like a good neighbor, the Lord is there”. The one who arrives to assess the damage we’ve done it the one who redeems and restores us.
Here are some helpful ways to live into the truths of Psalm 130:
Acknowledge. Be honest about your errors and mistakes. Blaming others for our troubles hampers our ability to turn away from bad habits and choices. Confession is the first step toward restoration. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9)
Let go. Give God all of your sins. Jesus died for all our sins, so we ought not hold unto any of them. "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12)
Embrace restoration. Jesus wants to make all things new and that includes you! Jesus wants to free you from that vice, addiction or personality flaw you’ve been holding unto for what seems like forever. Every day is a chance to be born again. Read and follow God’s Word, so he can guide you towards a newer and better you. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror" (James 1:22-23).
Share your struggles with others for accountability and encouragement. We were never meant to go it alone. "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ" (Eph 4:15).
Rinse and Repeat. If the New Testament teaches us anything about our daily walk with Christ- we live in this cycle of confession, repentance, transformation until the kingdom come. Many of our struggles happen because we get off this track and fail to “rinse and repeat”.
Grace and peace,
Previous Pastor Corner Blogs
Even with traffic reports, caution signs and navigation systems it’s hard to predict what dangers lie ahead. The same could be said of life. Careful planning and preparations will only go so far. In the end we have to admit that even saline eyes fail to see all the obstacles and accidents around us. But Psalm 121 reminds us that the Lord watches over our coming and going both day and night. The providence of God has no blind spots.
Here are four ways to cultivate trust in the providence of God in our daily lives:
1. Begin and end your day in the Word. Stress and anxiety often sets in when life feels out of control. But scripture reminds us that the Lord is in control. Reading a Psalm or two can increase our awareness of a world being ordered by God. Personally I sleep better when I am reminded of that reality.
2. Be still. It is natural for disappointment to set in when a plan falls apart. Finding a quiet space with God can do wonders to how we respond to disappointment and failure in life.
3. Go for a walk with friend. Life was never meant to be a solo endeavor. As strange as it sounds talking with another brother or sister in Christ can make us feel heard by God. Also, having someone to spur us onward can remind us that God is always with us.
4. Write it down. Journaling our prayers and experiences can provide a great release. But my favorite part is going back and reminiscing over those old entries. They often reveal the many ways God was in “the driver's seat” and his plans were better than my plans.
The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” This was a hot topic for so many people in the 1st century Jewish world. It's no surprise, Jesus answers this culturally and politically charged question with a parable packed with incredible meaning. His short story about a good Samaritan answers the “who, what and how” of neighboring both then and now. It reminds us that loving God and our neighbors is actually something we put into action. Jesus wants us to love with abandon because when we do that we "truly live". Below are some helpful ways to fulfill the two greatest commandments (i.e. loving God and loving our neighbors). Though these practices we hope that you discover that this parable is the gift that keeps giving.
Listen. Before your day begins ask the Spirit to reveal those who you will love like neighbors today.
Converse. When you are at work, school, or the store etc. speak to the Lord about what you see, hear and experience. God is always with us. We often neglect to join our never-ending chat with him.
Include. I believe this story reminds us that the Lord wants to increase our relationship bandwidth. This often involves befriending those who think, live and look different than ourselves.
Slow down. Many people are often in a hurry or too busy to be good Samaritans. Sometimes we have to put down the good things in our life for the great things of God.
Share. When God uses us we ought to share our testimony with others. Not to boast in ourselves but to humbly celebrate the ways the Lord is at work in our lives. "Let me tell you what God did today..."
The New Year is here! Folks have begun their resolutions for 2020. But instead of a new diet or gym membership what if we considered something more fruitful? What if 2020 was the year our families grew deeper in their faith in Jesus? This week we have 5 more things from Faith Alive Christian Resources to help our families grow in 2020!
Faith Alive Christian Resources “Ten Ways to Help Your Family Grow in Faith”
6. Celebrate Milestones- Baptisms, birthdays, graduations, and personal “firsts” are all milestones that families can mark together in ways that point to God. Gather for a prayer of thanks, and bless the person who has reached a milestone. Record the milestone in a family milestone journal or scrapbook along with photos. Give a special gift that commemorates the milestone. And have cake!
7. Reach Out- Becoming more like Jesus means weaving service and hospitality into your family life. Reach out beyond your usual social circle and open your doors and hearts to others. There are so many ways to do this! Volunteer together for people and causes you care about. Get to know the people in your neighborhood. Care for members of your church and community who are hurting. Be the hands and feet of Jesus.
8. Take A Rest- God wants us to do his work in the world, but God also knows that rest is important for our physical and spiritual health. Develop some family Sabbath practices as you carve out regular time for rest and recreation. Worship together. Play together. Turn the technology o for a while. Go on a picnic. Read good books to each other. Recharge your batteries.
9. Stay Warm- “In a comprehensive study of relational dynamics in more than 300 families spanning 35 years, family warmth was more correlated with faith transmission than any other relational factor,” say the folks at the Fuller Youth Institute. Let your kids know that your family is a safe place where they are loved and where they can explore faith questions and doubts. No question or problem is too big for God or for your family to explore together.
10. Fill Your Toolbox- Whether you learn best by reading, listening, or doing, there are lots of great family faith formation resources out there, including books, podcasts, blogs, and parent groups. You’ll find many of them in the Family Faith Formation toolkit (crcna.org/FaithFormation/toolkits) and at tinyurl.com/FamilyFaithResources.
The New Year is near! Folks are already beginning to brainstorm resolutions for 2020. But instead of a new diet or gym membership what if we considered something more fruitful? What if 2020 was the year our families grew deeper in their faith in Jesus? For the next few weeks we will post 5 things recommended by Faith Alive’s Christian Resources “Ten Ways to Help Your Family Grow in Faith” we can commit to doing more of in 2020!
Faith Alive’s Christian Resources “Ten Ways to Help Your Family Grow in Faith”
1. Be A Signpost-Your job as a Christian parent is to point your family toward God. Look for opportunities to do that in your daily life together. Whenever you see something true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8), take special notice. Thank God together for that person, place, or thing.
2. Explore God’s Story- If it’s hard to gather the whole family for after-dinner devotions, find other ways and times to explore God’s story together. For example, pick up a pack of the excellent God’s Big Story cards (FaithAliveResources.org) and use them as discussion starters. Consider choosing, memorizing, and displaying a family “theme verse.” Or post a short passage on your refrigerator on Sunday morning, and then talk about it at the end of the week after you’ve had time to “live into it” together.
3. Share Your Stories- Sharing faith stories with family, friends, and church members is one of the best ways to grow in faith. To get the ball rolling, ask questions like these: Where did you see God today? Tell about a time when you felt that God was really close to you. Tell about a turning point in your life and how God was involved.
4. Grow With God’s People- God created us as people who need community. Show your kids that the body of Christ is an important part of your life by spending time with other members of your faith family as you worship, serve, learn, and have fun together.
5. Find Your Faithful Five- Growing faith takes a village. Your extended family, your friends, and your church family can have a profound impact on your children’s faith. In fact, according to the folks at Fuller Youth Institute, the involvement of at least five non-family adults is key to kids’ faith formation. Who are (or who could be) your kids’ “faithful five”?