Pastor's Monthly Message

Pastor's Monthly Message June 2013

Remember the Living

The reply of Jesus to the potential disciple who asked Jesus to wait for Him to bury his father, “Let the dead bury the dead” Matt 8:27 seems very harsh, especially harsh at this time of the year as we celebrate Memorial Day and remember departed friends, relatives and military casualties. It was not disrespect for the dead but, rather ultimate respect for the living that prompted the words of Jesus. It is respect for the simple truth of life that service rendered is of little value to those we love when they are dead. Kindness that is shown to those who have passed on to eternal life is like the rain which comes after the crops have been destroyed by the summer heat.
The love we offer to the dead, the eulogies, the wreaths and the epitaphs do little to bless the lives of the departed. We should remember them with great fondness, but how much better would be memory if we had shared our fond thoughts about them while they were still living. Most often we withhold our encouragement and affection from the living, waiting for the right moment to express our love, waiting, procrastinating, keeping ourselves busy with the irrelevancies of life until the last moment which we could do something is gone. The flowers which we could have given are now bought as wreaths, appreciation we could have shared with our parents are now a part of a funeral eulogy and the undelivered expressions of love which could have made somebody’s day are now engraved on gravestones.
George Childs made this challenge to us. “Do not keep alabaster to boxes of your love and tenderness sealed up until your parents and friends are dead. Fill their lives with sweetness. Speak approving, cheering words while their ears can hear them; and their hearts can be thrilled and made happier by them.”

Pastor's Monthly Message May 2013

Let Faith Replace Fear

In this country, as in most of our world we have become increasingly fearful about the health of our economic system. So many factors have eaten away at our confidence and have affected the currencies in almost every nation. In our own country the value of our dollar continues to decline and incomes have either not risen, or in many cases, declined or ceased.
The consequence of the economic sickness will affect almost everyone; the young couple’s dream of owning a house may be postponed. Meeting the educational needs of children is becoming more difficult for their parents, and the retirement hopes of the elderly are being used up to pay for the more expense demands of present day living.
As it is with the diseases that attack the human body, the causes of the economics cancer are more complex. Without question, the deficit spending of governments and by individuals is partly to blame. Declines in the rate of worker production along with the great number of individuals in our society who consume without producing must also bear some of the responsibilities for these uncertain economic times. These contributing factors must be dealt with in the same way that the causes of many diseases are handled; they must be isolated and eliminated as much as possible.
There is one other factor that is more problematic to the economic system than those I have just mentioned., and that factor is fear; fear that the future will not alter the problems of the past, fear that the economic system will collapse, the fear that the traditional values which have made our nation a strong and vibrant economic system are no longer relevant. Fear itself is the greatest threat to our economic system.

Pastor's Monthly Message April 2013

Spring, the Season of Resurrection

With Easter, the seasons of the year change and the cold, dull grey of winter turns to spring. We celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior and we also celebrate the resurrection and renewal of God's creation, the earth, the planet which we inhabit.

Flowers put forth their roots and shoots and the grasses which were dull, grey or brown turn green again and we sense the renewal of life.

In the North, the snow melts and becomes the life giving rivers of water which bring new life to the seeds the farmers plant. For those who believe, the regeneration of spring is also a witness to the divine creator. In the spring, death gives way to life; and all the resurrections of the season reveal a more abundant world, more filled with hope with a promise of a new harvest to come.

The evidence of God's love and plans should not only be evident in the season but also in each of us. We are witnesses to the truth of spring, but our lives are also a renewing testimony of the God who gave them. Isn't it strange, then, that many of the same people whose lives testify of God do themselves deny him? Many people look at the miracle of Easter and the annual renewal of the earth and do not see any divine plan. They see instead a mere work of change, a random association of some natural selection. How strange it is that the handiwork should deny the hand that the created should deny the creator. How incredible that men should look on Spring and not see in it the miracle of God's creation? How incredible that men can look at Easter and not see the hope of salvation.

Pastor's Monthly Message March 2013

Pursuit of Joy

The great musical work by Johan S. Bach “Jesu, Joy of Men’s Desiring” is one of the best known musical works in the Christian church. It has been the processional march for thousands of brides for their weddings. I think one of the reasons it is so well loved is because it captures the thought and hope that every human heart responds to, the pursuit of joy.
When we look at the life of Jesus, we may well wonder how the life of Jesus could serve as a model for joy. He was born poor, the son of a village carpenter, the resident of a tiny town in the rural area of an occupied nation Isaiah. The prophet, described him as “a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief and suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). When He attempted to preach love and compassion to his own people, His life was cut short in the most humiliating manner possible in His day.
So we ask where was His joy? By our standards, He really never had a responsible job. He did not convert great multitudes. Jesus, however, did not measure His life in terms of economic or numerical success. He was ultimately concerned with the quality of light and truth that He could bring to human souls.
He really did not enjoy the things of this world. He was not wealthy in a material sense. What He did enjoy were the beautiful gifts of God in this world. “Consider the lilies of the field” He said, “even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these”. (Matt 6:29)
He really did not experience much friendship. People came to Him, to hear Him, to use Him, to get something from Him, but they were equally willing to leave Him when He needed them. In His darkest hour in Gethsemane, He was totally alone. The most important friendship was with His father in heaven and that never failed Him. His friendship with His Father sustained Him through His trials and crucifixion.

Pastor's Monthly Message February 2013

Love Over Duty

We do many things in life out of a sense of duty. We obey speed limits, come back to to work after the weekend, observe the laws of Nation and State. All of this is out of a sense of duty. There are many Christians who also see their relationship with God as acting out of a sense of duty. We worry that He is stalking us, peeking around some corner ready to "get even" if we do too many bad things. So with grim resolve we are determined to read the Bible, go to church, give our offerings while we mentally check off our list of Christian attributes.

Duty certainly has a place in everyone's life. We admire it for what it is. It is a wonderful teacher, a bell that wakes us up from moral slumber. It is a stick that prods us on and reminds us that life is greater than our own small passions. Like children, we would rather play than work, and therefore, need something to motivate us into more noble living.

However, we should not be bullied into thinking that duty alone is enough to transform us, cleanse our hearts and lead us back to God. It is not strong enough for that. At some point, it is love that must transform duty. We should obey God, not because we fear him, or even because it is "the right thing to do". In the end we need to obey him because we love him. We should ache to serve him. We should yearn to be like the one who is the center of our highest ideals and fondest affection.

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness". We understand "hunger" and "thirst". Perhaps the most real things we experience are "hunger" and "thirst". "Love" is another work which breaks through the barriers of the heart and moves us like nothing else can.

Pastor's Monthly Message January 2013

A Promise of a Future

We spend a great deal of our time, especially in the church, trying to protect our past. We worry about old things being "done away" with. Certainly, we want to honor tradition and keep things of value to us as long as we can. However, sometimes our fear of losing something robs us of our enjoyment of them.

Most of us have seen people with new furniture, cars or clothes who choose not to use them much or at all because they are afraid of wearing them out. The fear is not only about the possible loss of new things or familiar possessions, but that they won't be new again. A similar situation exists in our personal relationships with loved ones.
Life is an ongoing process. It started before our birth and it will continue after we pass. In a word, life is eternal. But sometimes we become so attached to the present that we began to fear the future. It is understandable that we would like to stop life at its most pleasant moment, to cherish that time and live the happiness forever. Most brides and grooms would like to constantly experience the excitement of their wedding day, but the reality is that life must go on and there is a need to find new excitement in the routines of daily living. The purpose of life is not to hold on to a moment but move forward into the promises of the future. There is a danger in the natural desire to hold on to a pleasant enjoyable time and let it distort our vision for the future.

Pastor's Monthly Message June 2012

A Word for Wisdom

A noted philosopher once wrote, “Nothing in the world has been accomplished without passion”. A second said, “When passions become masters, they are vices”. The poet, Emerson, made the observation that “passion is a powerful spring”.

The book Lost Horizon deals with a fictional place called Shangri-La. The message of this book was that wisdom begins when our passions are spent. The point was that passion can interfere with good judgment.

Much evil has been created from unrestrained passion. What harm and misery has been created by the passion for power, case in point, and our political process. However, passion for power is not only reserved for politicians, it is a passion that can infect any of us. The desire to rule and control others is almost a universal desire.
Then there is the passion for possessions, which probably is one of the great diseases of our time. Our directive from God was to use things and love people, and many times we have chosen to love things and use people.

There is also the passion for self-indulgence. “I want to do my own thing” we cry. Most of the time this is only an excuse for irresponsible behavior. It is behavior that ignores the fact that our behavior affects other people.
But, because uncontrolled passion can bring discord and misery is no reason to eliminate it as only evil. Passion – Like fire – is dangerous but yet has great value.

What sort of country would we have without the passion for democracy, where passion infects the soul of men and women? What would life be like without the passion for truth and honesty; neither soul of men and women? What would life be like without passion for truth and honesty; neither would we like a land without the passion for justice? What about the passion for beauty? Would there be a great painting, a great book of hymns or beautiful churches like our own?

Pastor's Monthly Message April 2012

A Need for Balance

As strangers in this world, we find that life requires a balanced effort. We must take part in many events if we are going to fulfill all that we were intended to be. If we are to excel in one area of life, we will surely fall shot in others. Only by approaching our lives with a sense of balance can we be truly successful.

If we overspend, we are spend thrifts; but too little spending can make us stingy and we are called misers. If we laugh too much we can be silly but if we cannot find humor we are very dull. If we talk too much we're overbearing; if we say too little, we're thought of as boring. Some eat too much while some not enough. Some sleep too much while others lack rest. Some ignore proper body care and exercise while others can worship the body.

Balance has an application in everything that we do. The ambitious executive may sacrifice marriage, family, friends, and church - things which matter the most in the long run, in order to achieve things like wealth, fame and power. In this lost condition we hear the Savior's words, "For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul".

God expects us to use wisdom and common sense. He asks for balance and moderation, thoughtfully applying all the truths we know, not emphasizing one at the expense of others.

We need the opportunity to play, and we benefit from hard work, but neither should overshadow the responsibilities to family and our spiritual development. Too much excitement at work or play, like too much of anything, becomes an addiction. It creates a situation in which the stimulus needs to be stronger and stronger in order to provide the thrills that have come to be thought of as an essential part of pleasure. Too much excitement undermines health and dulls the palate for every kind of pleasure.

Pastor's Monthly Message March 2012

A Simple Story

It was a story that was written over 140 years ago. A pioneer family was traveling west in a handcart company. One night as a storm came up, the family made camp. It was then that the family discovered that their six year old son, Arthur, was missing. The parents spread the alarm to the rest of the camp. Someone remembered that earlier in the day they had seen a little boy sitting down to rest in a wooded area. He had been exhausted from the trip.

The following two days were spent by the men of the camp searching for the missing child. And then, with no alternative for the good of the camp, the company continued to move west. The father, Robert Parker, went back by himself to continue to search. As he left, his wife, Anne, pinned a red shawl around his shoulders. She told him that if he found the child dead, he should use the shawl to bury him, but if he was alive to signal them as he came back to camp.

For three nights, Anne, the boy's mother, and her other children watched, and finally just as the sun was setting on the next night, they caught a glimpse of the shawl waving in the last sun rays of the day.

Robert's journal records, "Great joy throughout the camp. The mother's joy, I cannot describe." A nameless woodsman found the terrified boy and cared for him until his father came. Somebody later related the story and asked the question "How would you, if you were in the mother's place, feel about the nameless woodsman who had saved your little son? Would there be anything that he could desire that you could give him that you wouldn't give?"

To sense what those parents felt is to get a clearer idea of what the Lord must feel when we serve and love his children.

Pastor's Monthly Message for June 2011

Avoid Stagnation

Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies of life is stagnation. All else is bearable; poverty can be overcome, ill health can be endured as long as the mind is strong and time can heal misfortune and personal hurts. Stagnation, however, destroys beyond repair; it brings meaningful life to an end, makes happiness impossible, ravages thought and intelligence and sabotages creativity.

Nature herself has issued the decree and has placed a cause on all inactivity. The pond where motion has ceased becomes a stagnant marsh without a sign of life. The species which fails to adopt and develop with changing conditions soon becomes extinct.

The same law applied to human beings; where motion ceases, desolation begins. Our mental, physical, and spiritual well being are dependant on this very principle. All withers and dies without growth. So, progress is not a luxury but a necessity, for the person who stands still goes backwards.

We have forgotten the principle of our creation and birth if we forget how to grow. We were Dorn to grow, to reach out, to develop on a daily basis.
But this is philosophy and philosophy is less painful than reality. Reality is that we all choose to stagnateto some degree. We may remain in a workplace long after development, learning and enjoyment have ceased. Word, such as security, tenure, and
pay scales keep us there, while words such as fulfillment, sappiness and achievement slide into our past.

We might gain a college degree or some other mark of scholarly attainment and then cease formal learning. Altogether, only to learn that it was not reaching the objector that gave us joy but the pursuit.
Ponder life, think of ofhappiness, recall its placein your day toe day activity- in business, marriage, in raising of children, at school; and you will discover that progress and development, challenge and struggle have been synonymous with happiness.