LOVE GOD. LOVE OTHERS. SERVE.
Usually Jack Meehan writes this article for the newsletter. My only guess is that he wanted to share some of his glory with me with an invitation to mix it up and take turns bringing some encouraging thoughts to you in this space in the newsletter.
I'm sure he was in no way influenced at all by that Paper-Rock-Scissors game that I lost...
For those of you that do not get, or appreciate my humor, I apologize to you in advance, AND for the previous attempt.
Isn't it good to see the weather changing! Although fall is my favorite time of year, these spring days are a close second. And as I walk hand in hand with my wife,
in our yard,
looking at the trees,
arguing about how to properly prune a young tree,
- a tree is constantly growing, people! It's not going to look good when it's a bunch of spindly little sticks 3 inches off the ground! *Barney Fife voice* NIP IT IN THE BUD!
Spring time. It has a way of making you appreciate creation a little more.
A thought that comes to mind when looking at it comes from Hebrews 4:13 "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight." On a sunny day, with no wind, and birds chirping, I think – God made this. He sees all of this. And then I realize the rest of the verse says "Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."
We will have to give an account. What we do and say is permanent. And that is a sobering thought.
Don't worry. I didn't change this to "Elder's sobering thoughts" Because the encouraging part is on the way!
Verse 14-16 says "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
Now that is an encouragement to me. These verses tell us that Jesus was God and man in a clear way. We can't say to God, "You don't know what it's like!", because he knows exactly what it's like to be human.
Then it says that we can "approach the throne of grace with confidence". Who does that make you think of? We just learned about Esther in a sermon series. She boldly approached a throne to receive mercy and help in a time of great need.
So that's what I have for you. If you feel like you have fallen too far from God, or are feeling particularly unworthy, go read Hebrews 4:13-16.
Do you have a great need? (We all do. A need to escape what we deserve.) For the christian, we have an inside man who cares about the details of your life!
I know this sounds cliché, but it won't if you have a need. Jesus is here. Approach him with confidence! He will not turn you away.
The following words of encouragement was written by Max Lucado from his
book Unshakable Hope.
Be alert to the devil, but don’t be intimidated by him.
Learn to recognize his stench. Since he comes to steal, kill, and
destroy (John 10:10), wherever you see heists, death, and destruction,
turn to God in prayer. Since his name means “divider,” wherever you
see divorce, rejection, and isolation, you know the culprit. Go
immediately to Scripture. Stand on the promises of God regarding Satan:
The God who brings peace will soon defeat Satan and give you power over
him. (Rom. 16:20)
God’s Spirit, who is in you, is greater than the devil, who in in the
world. (1 John 4:4)
God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can
bear. (1 Cor. 10:13)
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
[The devil] is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is
short. (Rev. 12:12)
Put on God’s full armor...with the belt of truth tied around your waist
and the protection of right living on your chest. On you feet wear the
Good News of peace to help you stand strong. And also use the shield of
faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One.
Condensed from the book “Her Story” by Diana Lynn Severance.
“Hungry for the Word”
December 1784, Mary Jones was born to Jacob and Mary Jones, poor weavers in Wales. Mary’s father died shortly after her fourth birthday, and Mary and her mother faced hardship in the coming years. Mary soon learned to weave. Together they attended the local Methodist church, where Mary came to personal faith in Christ when she was eight. When she was ten a school was begun about two miles from Mary’s home, and Mary walked to school, eager to learn to read so she could read the Bible. When a Sunday school was established at the church Mary regularly attended, faithfully memorizing entire chapters of the Bible.
The only Bible in her Welsh community besides the one at the church belonged to a farm family two miles from Mary’s home. They gave Mary permission to come and read it whenever she liked. For six years at least once a week, Mary walked to the farmhouse to read and memorize portions of the Scripture.
During those six years Mary saved every penny she could with the hope of buying a Bible for herself. This was no small accomplishment considering her poverty. In 1800 Mary walked to Bala, twenty-five miles away, to purchase a Bible from Thomas Charles. She walked barefoot most of the way in order to save her shoes.
Mary’s desire for the Scriptures and the sacrifices she made to obtain her own personal copy of the Bible made a strong impression on Thomas Charles. He told Mary’s story to a meeting of the Religious Tract Society in London, and the committee began to consider founding a society to publish and distribute Bibles. Out of this meeting and discussion, the British and Foreign Bible Society was founded in 1804. For over two hundred years the Bible Society has published and distributed Bibles all over the world, believing everyone benefits from knowing and understanding the Scriptures.
When Mary died a widow in 1864, the Bible she had bought from Thomas Charles was on the table by her side. Today it is in the Library of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
An encouraging story, don’t you think? All Mary wanted to do was read God’s word. God created the circumstances using her desire to put His word into millions of peoples hands. Just read the Word and see what God can do through YOU!
I have a leadership book called Replenish, by Lance Witt that is written to pastors and church leaders about taking care of yourself so you can lead well. These are some thoughts from that book.
He throws out some statistics on pastors that are pretty sobering:
-1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America.
-80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles.
-70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.
Now I do not mean to imply, or put words in the mouth of Jason, Eric, or Kenzie, here. So let’s get that straight upfront!
I just read these words, and I think a lot of people can relate with them.
How about you? Do you feel discouraged in your roles? Do you have a close friend, confidant, or mentor?
… Heavy questions…
Before we all implode, end up listening to Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle”, and thinking we’re horrible people, listen to the thought in the forward of this book that reminds us that we do tend to romanticize Bible characters.
Eli was a colossal failure as a father. Samson was a womanizer. Moses was a fugitive. Elijah went through depression, and was suicidal. John the baptist was criticized that his congregation was shrinking. Paul ended up in prison.
So with that list of broken people in mind, let’s lift our eyes and remember that God used these people to do great things. They were “normal”, just like us, so don’t beat yourself up too bad.
In this book, he talks about the “front stage” and “back stage” of our lives. The front stage is how you interact with people, the back stage is usually dark and messy, with no spotlight, and no applause. My encouragement to you is to find someone (carefully) and give them a backstage pass. I like the part of the book where Witt says “Anybody who volunteers to keep you accountable probably isn’t the right person for the job.” So, obviously, when choosing someone to confide in, choose wisely.
It depends on your personality, but at least let someone know who you really are. I know that will stretch some of us.
I like this saying - “Introverts! Unite! …separately...in your own homes…” It makes me smile. These are my people!
Maybe this doesn’t speak to you or your situation. I suspicion that it does to some, though.
Have you ever heard the saying “If you want to go fast, go by yourself. If you want to go far, go with someone else.” I tell my wife that this especially applies to the grocery store, but it’s true in marriage, or any friendship. I’ve always said that the more people you involve, the less control you have in whatever it is you’re doing. But it is better by far to have less control, and more eyes watching your blind spots! ;)
Proverbs 11:14 says this, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in the abundance of counselors there is victory.”
An abundance of counselors is great… but it still takes discernment to sort out the wise voices in a crowd. It’s kind of like looking for information online in a forum!
I’m just trying to get us all to think about what’s going on in our own lives, and encourage you to be on the lookout for that person, or group, that won’t be afraid to give you good advice.
And with the help of the Holy Spirit, listen to them.
“The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.” Proverbs 15:31.
Shared by Daren: The following poem is written by Dacia Whiteley and is from God’s point of view showing how much He loves us.
I wish you could feel how deep my heart beats for you. How when it sees
your hurt it bleeds for you. That no matter where you go or where you
end up it belongs to you. There is an intensity in my heart not many can
withstand. It loves with every pulse, every valve every vein. It does
not stop with any command. As long as my heart beats the love remains.
Intense fierce, unstoppable, there is nothing that can divide. Nothing
can shake. Nothing can interrupt its work. It is fierce as a fire it
purifies with its touch. It's gentle as wind it heals the deepest cuts.
It is unconditional, unending. Step into it. Reach into it. Open your
eyes and see, the love that I have for thee. It beats eternall
I love being outdoors and as I enjoy the beauty the Lord has blessed us with, I absolutely am taken away. The trees are AMAZING! Next to God and humans, trees are mentioned in the Bible more than any other living thing. In Bible poetry, trees rejoice, dance, and clap their hands to worship God.
Trees are a great metaphor for followers of Jesus. If they are deeply rooted and have access to water, trees will flourish, they will bear
fruit, they will be healthy, and they will grow.
That's true for us, too. If we have deep roots (meaning we spend time with God, learning to know and love him more each day) and if we have access to "water" (meaning we are feeding our life of faith with the right things, like the Bible, prayer, worship, time with other Christians, serving), we will be healthy and will produce fruit.
Some think "doing good things" is the same as "producing good fruit." That's not necessarily true. If "doing good things" is a result of loving God and wanting to follow him, that's great. But "if doing good things" is a way of trying to earn God's love, that's not great. It's not the way God works. We don't need to earn his love. He offers it freely!
During our Kansas stormy spring season, the trees in my backyard sway wildly. Dead branches fly off. The trunks bend over until I'm sure they'll break off. Leaves fly through the air in spinning swirls. But the healthy trees don't fall over. They survive because their roots are deep, they have access to fresh water, and they soak up the sun's rays each day. I know these trees are healthy, even if it's not a season when they bear fruit, because they survive the bad storms. They flourish, even through difficulty and pain. Jesus makes that possible for us, too!