Bumper Sunday

 
During Summer BackPack Buddies ministry is collecting food for the new school year 2018-19. They are in need of: ramen noodles, spaghetti/ravioli, vienna sausages, granola/cereal bars, individual servings of cereal boxes, juices, crackers and cookies. Please leave donations at the bumper of your car and our volunteers will pick them up. (


June 18th, 2018

Love Like That: Approachable
 
Luke 6:27-36
 
If we are to ever love like Jesus, we have to push pride to the side and humble our hearts. That’s a given. But Jesus takes it a step further. He says that if we are to be truly approachable and not exclusive we must do something outrageous. He says we must love our enemies. He says it flat out: “I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you.”
 
I don’t know about you, but this is an incredibly though pill to swallow. My nature is inclined to retaliate against those who mistreat me. My impulse is to even the score and then some. I understand loving your neighbor, your friends, your family, and even strangers. But enemies?
 
If you’re thinking, like me, that Jesus may have said this flippantly, for shock value, think again. He says it more than once, and he underscores it with examples: “If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life.”
 
The servant life? This is taking “approachability” to a radical level, isn’t it? Of course. It’s not natural–it’s the very opposite of natural. That’s why Jesus also says we can only love in this radical way when we love out of our “God-created selves.” Then he tells us that “god give his best…to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.”
 
I get that. I’am not looking for run-of-the-mill. Like you, I aspire to love like Jesus. 
 
 


Pacesetters

 
Main course: fried chicken. Bring a side dishes, dessert and a friend. Pastor Ron will minister a word.


June 11th, 2018

Love Like That: Mindful
 
John 8:47
Psalms 46:10
James 1:5
 
If you’re not attuned to God or mindful of his presence, you miss out on the sacred gift. John, the author of several biblical writings, puts it bluntly;: “He who belongs to God hears what god says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” It’s echoed many times throughout the pages of the Bible: “Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.”…
 
How can we calm the chaos and complexity in our hurried heads and self-consuming agendas? The answer is actually quite simple. It’s found in this short sentence: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
 
I can almost hear you asking: “How in the world can I be still when life is so fast?” It’s a fair question. god does not expect us to be contemplative monks in order to hear his voice and love like Jesus. He merely asks that we be attuned to his presence–even in the calamity and chaos of our lives. Being still does not necessarily mean retreating to a quiet place. It means quieting our mind, even in the midst of chaos, by not striving so hard. It means putting your mind at ease and letting God be God. It means seeing what others don’t…
 
Try this. While your mind is consumed with the clutter of your ever-changing agenda–ask God for wisdom. Sounds too simple, I know. But I urge you to ask. In fact, ask boldly without a second thought. And make it a habit. The invitation is as clear as day: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously.”
 
When you still your mind enough to sense God, you begin to see what others don’t. You get wise to God’s promptings. Di you know the English word wisdom is derived from and old Anglo Saxon word meaning “to see”? And in Greek it means “clear”. Wisdom is what enables us to see the big picture clearly. It enables us to become proficient at hearing God’s whispers. Wisdom enables us to take off our proverbial shoes as we cross holy ground and learn to love like Jesus. 


June 4th, 2018

Everybody, Always
 
Matthew 28:16-20
 
What if I told you this was actually an intervention and all the people you know have been calling and asking me to break some news to you: that  you can no longer continue to be the person you’ve been? What are you going to let go of? Who is it you don’t get? Who don’t you understand? Who have you been playing it safe with, while politely keeping your distance? Who has been mean or rude or flat wrong or creeps you out? Don’t tell them all your opinions; give them all your love. I know it’s hard for you. It’s hard for me too. But I’m learning I have to follow Jesus’ example and follow His lead if I’m going to follow in His steps. Even when we feel like we can’t muster the strength and humility to love our enemies, the truth is we can. 
 
if you do this, I can promise two things will happen. First, it will be messy. Sometimes ugly messy. You’ll also be misunderstood–you might not even understand yourself anymore. The second thing is just as true: you’ll grow. And people who are growing fall forward and bump into Jesus all over again. 
 
Obeying Jesus when it comes to loving difficult people is hard. I’am still working on it. I’am sure it will take the rest of my life. The heavy lifting is worth it, though. Difficulties and setbacks will give us the chance to go back or lean forward. I’m convinced heaven is watching us, knowing full well all that will be left standing in the end is our love. I bet our spouses kids, and friends are watching too. 
 
If you want to become love, stop just agreeing with Jesus. Go call someone right now. Lift them up in ways they can’t lift themselves. Send them a text message and say you’re sorry. I know they don’t deserve it. You didn’t either. Don’t put a toe in the water with your love; grab your knees and do a cannonball. Move from the bleachers to the field, and you won’t be the same. 
 
Don’t just love the people who are easy to love; go love the difficult ones. 
 
If you do this, Jesus said two things would happen. First, He said you’d move forward in your journey toward being more like Him, and second, as you love everybody, always, you’ll turn into love along the way. 



May 29th, 2018

Everybody, Always
 
Matthew 16:13-20
 
One of the stories God tells in the Bible is much simpler than we sometimes make it. Jesus was with a few of His friends and He asked them who people thought He was. These friends had heard several different stories about who Jesus was. One person said Jesus was really a man named John who had been a friend of His. Another person said He was actually a person named Elijah, and someone else said He was someone named Jeremiah. These last two great mean had lived much earlier. Jesus pressed his friends a little further and asked them who they thought He was. 
 
It must have felt like a funny question for Jesus to ask His friends who had been with Him for a few years already. Peter spoke up first and said He thought Jesus was God. Jesus told him this wasn’t the kind of thing Peter could have figured out just because someone told him what to think. Instead, he said it’s something Peter would have only known because God told him. Jesus then told His friends something even more puzzling. He told them not to tell anyone who He was. At first this seems to go against the grain of the evangelistic model many of us have been exposed to, but I don’t think He was trying to keep His identity a secret. Just the opposite. Jesus probably wanted us to show people who He is by what we do, not just tell them what we think. 
 
I’ve sometimes thought I’d make a lousy evangelist because I don’t think we lead people to Jesus. I think Jesus leads people to Jesus. Sure, we can tell the people we meet about Jesus. I talk about Him all the time because my life is His, but I don’t trey to talk people into Him. When I’ve tried and it worked, what I often found is I’d led people to me, not Him. If we take Jesus at His word, people won’t know who Jesus is because we’ve told them; they’ll know because Jesus let them now. If you’re already friends with Jesus, don’t get in everyone else’s way as they figure it out with Him. If you’ve only heard of Him, ask Him who he is. I bet He’ll let you know. 


May 21st, 2018

Everybody, Always
 
Ephesians 4:1
 
Here’s the deal: when we act like someone we’re not, it’s because we’re not happy with who we are. We usually think we need other people’s permission or love or approval before we can live our lives and pursue our beautiful ambitions. It’s both good and bad. It’s good if it causes us to want to pursue Jesus’ love and approval more. But it’s bad if we miss out on who God uniquely made us to be so we can be who someone else thinks we should be. 
 
God has never looked in your mirror or mine and wished He saw someone else. 
 
Every time we fake it and aren’t authentic, we make God’s love for us look fake too. He doesn’t have a wax figure of us somewhere that looks smarter or taller or shorter or skinnier or more ripped than us. He doesn’t want us to just look different. He wants us to become love. It won’t be because we talked about who we wished we were over and over again or because we gave ourselves enough positive affirmations in the mirror. Only love has the power to get us there. God is not shaking His head in disapproval as we make our way toward Him. He’s got His arms outstretched, welcoming us home to Him with love. I bet if we could hear what He’s thinking, we’d hear Him whispering, “You’ve got this. Just keep moving toward Me.”
 
Do you want to do something amazing for God? Trade the appearance of being close to God for the power of actually being close to God. Quit talking a big fame and go live a big faith. One of Jesus’ friends said if we want to get it right, we need to live a life worthy of the calling we’ve received. The call is to love God and the people around us while we live into the most authentic version of ourselves. We weren’t just an idea God hoped would work out someday. We were one of His most creative expressions of love, ever. 
 
Lose the wax. Don’t fake it; sync it up. Go be you. 


May 14th, 2018

Everybody, Always
 
Colossians 3:12-17
 
Some of us have been told what we went our whole lives. We’ve been told we should want to go out for sports or not. We should want a college education or a graduate degree or a particular career. We should want to date this person and not the other one. None of it is mean-spirited, of course, and no one means any harm. It just doesn’t sit well with us. 
 
It happens in our churches and schools and faith communities too. We’re told by someone what God wants us to do and not do. We’re told we shouldn’t drink or cuss or watch certain movies. We’re told we should want to have “quiet times” in the mornings and talk to strangers about “a relationship with God.” We’re told we should want to go on “mission trips” and “witness” to people, so we do it even if we don’t really know what the words mean. But often just for a while. After long enough, what looks like faith isn’t really faith anymore. It’s just compliance. The problem with mere compliance is it turns us into posers. Rather than making decisions ourselves, we do what everyone we respects tells us we ought to do, and we sacrifice our ability to make choices of our own. The fix is as easy as the problem is hard. Instead of telling people what they want, we need to tell them who they are. This works every time. 
 
We’ll become in our lives whoever the people we love the most say we are. 
 
God did this constantly in the bible. He told Moses he was a leader and Moses became one. He told Noah he was a sailor and he became one. He told Sarah she was a mother and she became one. He told Peter he was a rock and he led the church. He told Jonah he’d be fish food and, well, he was. If we want to love people they way God loved people, let God’s Spirit do the talking when it comes to telling people what they want. 
 
All the directions we’re giving to each other aren’t getting people to the feet of Jesus. More often, the unintended result is they lead these people back to us. When we make ourselves the hall monitor of other people’s behavior, we risk having approval become more important than Jesus’ love. 


May 7th, 2018

Everybody, Always
 
John 13:34-35
 
It’s easy to love kind. lovely, humble people. I mean, who wouldn’t? These are the ones I’ve spent much of my life loving. Loving the people who are easy to love make me feel like I was really good at it. Because the people I loved were kind and wonderful, they made sure they told me what a great job I was doing loving them.
 
What I’ve come to realize, though, is that I was avoiding the people I didn’t understand and the ones who lived differently than me. Here’s why: some of them creep me out. Sure, I was polite to them, but sadly, I’ve spent my whole life avoiding the people Jesus spent His whole life engaging. God’s idea ins’t that we would just give and receive love but that we could actually become love. The way we do this can be summarized like this:
 
His plan is that we would love everybody, always. 
 
People who are becoming love see the beauty in others even when their off-putting behavior makes for a pretty weird mask. What Jesus told His friends can be summed up in this way: He wants us to love everybody, always–and start with the people who creep us out. The truth is, we probably creep them out as much as they do us. 
 
Are there people you should give a wide berth to? You bet. There are people in my life and yours who are unsafe, toxic, and delight in sowing discord wherever they go. God gave us discernment, and we should use it as we live our lives. He’s also given us love and understanding and kindness and the ability to forgive, which have power we often leave untapped. There’s a difference between good and judgment and living in judgment. The trick is to use lots of the first and to go little lighter on the second if we want to live the big life Jesus talked about. 


April 30th, 2018

A Right Spirit and the Future
 
Your spirit is the key to unlocking your life and your future. 
 
Proverbs 20:27 says, “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.”
 
God’s Spirit speaks to our spirit though His Word. Our spirit is where we hear God’s voice speaking to us and how we receive ‘light’ to illuminate or bring direction to our life’s path. If we are to hear God’s voice clearly then we must have a right spirit-uncluttered and unhindered. 
 
John 16:13 in the Amplified bible says:
 
“But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future].”
 
You can see why a right spirit is crucial to your future and why the devil does everything he can to derail it. Satan means adversary which means he opposes us but 2 Corinthians 2:11 tells us not be ignorant of his devices. Failure, success, somebody else’s spirit, an unteachable spirit or whatever it is that tries to rule our spirit, can I encourage you to take responsibility for it because my spirit is my responsibility and you spirit is your responsibility. 
 
As  you continue on your path into the future with God, remember to always guard and protect your spirit. God has only good things for  you, but remember you also have an enemy who will try to hijack your spirit and sabotage your future. Refuse to let that happen by taking responsibility for your own spirit because your future depends on it. 
 
PRAYER: Father God, thank you for the reminder that you alone are the captain of my soul, the protector of my heart and that you Holy Spirit dwells withing me. Teach me what it means to maintain a right heart and righteous spirit before you, and may the words of  my mouth and mediation of my heart continually bless your name. Amen.