Monday, June 29, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, June 29, 2015

God Is Still Large and In Charge

In a recent New York Times editorial, the writer wondered why poor people do not rise up against the increasing inequality and the deterioration of their own situations from healthcare losses, job possibilities dwindling, educational costs rising, and other disappearing opportunities.  He responds, “The answer is that those bearing the most severe costs of inequality are irrelevant to the agenda-setters in both parties. …They may have a voice in urban politics, but on the national scene they no longer fit into the schema of the left or the right. They are pushed to the periphery except for a brief moment on Election Day when one party wants their votes counted, and the other doesn’t.”

As one who participated in the sixties direct action movements and who protested against the various isms of the age, I have also wondered why there isn’t more outrage against man’s inhumanity to man conducted bloodlessly through institutional arrangements that benefit some and hurt others.  But thank God, in spite of how it looks, we don’t have to rise up in arms; He is in control and not man.  Although injustice may permeate our system, our God has all of our leaders under His control (Proverbs 21:1).

The best thing is that we don’t have to rail against what is happening in society, God is working all of these events for our good (Romans 8:28).  No matter who is a billionaire or pauper, in power or out of power, we can safely and contentedly know that God is for me (Psalm 56:9).  We can also know that if we are willing and obedient, we will receive good things from Him (Isaiah 1:19).  God has instructed us not to worry or fret about people doing bad things as a group or individually (Psalm 37:1-2, Psalm 37:7-8).

We can rejoice knowing that, for those who love God, our life successes lie in obedience to Him and in praising and worshipping the only God our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 21:1
New International Version (NIV)
21 In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.

Romans 8:28
New International Version (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Psalm 56:9
New International Version (NIV)
Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me.

Isaiah 1:19
New International Version (NIV)
19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;

Psalm 37:1-2
New International Version (NIV)
1 Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away

Psalm 37:7-8
New International Version (NIV)
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, June 22, 2015

God Has Decided Who You Are

Recently the world heard about Bruce Jenner's transformation from a world-class male athlete into a woman named Caitlyn Jenner.  We were transfixed when the media exposed Rachel Dolezal as a white woman who pretended to be black for years.  Many people are coming forth stating they feel they were born in the wrong gendered body or are unclear about their identity.

Thank God our identity is in Christ.  The Christian, most importantly, identifies him or herself as a member of the body of Christ (Galatians 3:26, 28). We have this wonderful mystery, which is Christ inside of us who gives us our hope (Colossians 1:26-27). It is most important how He sees us.  He is greater than how the world sees us.  It is no more I but it is about Him that dwells in me (Galatians 2:20).

This is our constant, continuing, and comforting knowledge that we are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). Today, when people are changing what God calls them and deciding to be something else or someone else, let us confidently remember that we are not conforming to the world’s categories but our primary identity is in Christ. Let’s rejoice in knowing we are children of God through faith in Him (Galatians 3:26).

Galatians 3:26, 28
New International Version (NIV)
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,
28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 1:26-27
New International Version (NIV)
26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people.
27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Galatians 2:20
New International Version (NIV)
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

1 Corinthians 12:27
New International Version (NIV)
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, June 15, 2015

God Has A Great Future For You!

It is so thrilling to know that this existence is not all there is.  It is so wonderful to know that all that occurs in life is just temporary. We can enjoy the beauty of a sunset or the joy of a symphony or revel in a victory of our athletic team.  We can bask in the happiness over our children’s first steps, the giddiness of a romantic relationship, or the anticipation of our next promotion. 

As wonderful as these things are, they pale in comparison to the wonder and the beauty of the future of all those who love the Lord.  It is like the eager expectations of Christmas presents for children who cannot wait to get to the packages under the tree.  God has so many wonderful things to share with us that we cannot even imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9). He wants His good and pleasing and perfect will done in our lives (Romans 12:2). 

When things are challenging us to despair, worry, or get upset, we have to remember that our main blessings come in His kingdom. But His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).  He says that He is giving us a new heaven and earth so fabulous that we won’t even remember the old heaven or the old earth (Isaiah 65:17)! 

Let us go forth joyfully day-by-day knowing the best is yet to come!!!

1 Corinthians 2:9
New Living Translation (NLT)
That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Romans 12:2
New Living Translation (NLT)
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

John 18:36
New Living Translation (NLT)
36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

Isaiah 65:17
New Living Translation (NLT)
17 “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Pastor's Pondering, June 8, 2015

Speak Health To Our Bodies

As reported in Nature Journal, scientists have made a major discovery that there seems to be a direct connection between our brain and our immune system. Apparently vessels that are part of our immune system have been hidden in an area of the brain that is difficult for researchers to see.

Perhaps the Bible was alluding to this when it says that our words affect our health by giving life to our bodies (Proverbs 4:20-22).  Since our thoughts produce those words, the Bible further explains that we should only think thoughts that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or admirable (Philippians 4:8). The Bible also says that our words can give health to our bones (Proverbs 16:24) and we should guard our heart because it contains the basis of our lives (Proverbs 4:23).

Although modern science does not fully understand the biological connection between our hearts, our thoughts, our words and our health, let us strive to keep our thoughts and words focused on God. The Bible says God’s words are life (John 6:63) and He wants us to enjoy good health in our body and soul (3 John 1:2).

Let us think on His words and avoid words of condemnation, fear, doubt, and unbelief and think the words of God, which will bring us good health.

Proverbs 4:20-23
New International Version (NIV)
20 My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Philippians 4:8
New International Version (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Proverbs 16:24
New International Version (NIV)
24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

John 6:63
New International Version (NIV)
63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.

3 John 1:2
New International Version (NIV)
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Pastor's Ponderings, June 1, 2015

Honor Those Who Do Good

Recently a professional athlete demonstrated his honesty and goodness when he gave away his new car. On Monday, April 6, 2015, Russell Westbrook took the car he won with his All-Star Game Most Valuable Player award and donated it to a single mother named Kerstin Gonzales.  This was outstanding!  In a world where celebrities are noted for their selfishness and outlandish behavior, one cannot say that all celebrities are the same. Russell showed that he could be an example of exemplary behavior.

The Bible says that we should admire those who are honest and good and expect that they will have a good end (Psalm 37:37).  This is the type of standard that we should honor and publicize. Unfortunately, the acts of kindness do not sell papers or generate a lot of media buzz. Instead, the wicked, ruthless, and rebellious are everywhere luxuriating in their deceit and glorying in their challenges to society.  The Bible says that while they may do well for a while, in the end they will be destroyed (Psalm 37:35, 36, 38).

The world delights in the shocking shenanigans of the celebrated. However, the children of the God should not be upset that the wicked are more popular than the good.  God says they will soon go away (Psalm 37:1-2).

Let us continue to thank God for the known and unknown deeds of the good and honest and encourage others to forsake worldly praise and only seek God’s goodness.

Psalm 37:35-38 (NLT)
35 I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil.
36 But when I looked again, they were gone! Though I searched for them, I could not find them!
37 Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.
38 But the rebellious will be destroyed; they have no future.

Psalm 37:1-2 (NIV)
1 Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.