Thursday, December 29, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, December 29, 2022

Let Us Start Anew in 2023


In the last Pastor’s Pondering entry of 2022, we are looking forward to 2023 and remembering 2022.  We have a feeling of being Janus-faced.  According to the dictionary, it means “having two faces, one looking forward, one looking backward, as the Roman deity Janus.” What did we accomplish in 2022 and what do we look forward to accomplishing in 2023?


The Bible says that we must keep the perspective of looking towards the future.  We are to forget the past and to press forward toward a future with Christ (Philippians 3:13-14).  For example, in the 1994 musical, Lion King, the character Rafiki says, “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”  Will we take the lessons from the past, hold onto the hurts, despair, and suffering or will we decide that the old things have passed away and now all things are new (2 Corinthians 5:17)? 


While it may be true that those who are close to you may make it their business to remind you of who you were and what you did, you must investigate God’s word and know that you are what He says you are and can do what He says you can do. The Bible tells us that God’s mercies are renewed every morning so every morning we can rise know that whatever we did yesterday, we can repent, ask forgiveness, and receive His fresh mercy (Lamentations 3:22-23). 


Despite challenges in one’s life, the Bible says we should know that God loves us, has prepared a place for us with Christ Jesus, and wants to demonstrate the incomparable riches of His grace in the future (Ephesians 2:4-7). Let us go boldly forward into 2023 knowing that God loves His children and has great plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11).


Philippians 3:13-14

New International Version

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


2 Corinthians 5:17

New International Version

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here


Lamentations 3:22-23

New King James Version

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.

23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.


Ephesians 2:4-7

New International Version

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 
5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 
7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.


Jeremiah 29:11

New International Version

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.







Saturday, December 24, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, December 24, 2022

Let Us Rejoice In Him Anyway


The first two lines from the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling reads, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…”. We live in a world where time honored traditions are being upended, common sense seems irrelevant, and we seem to be in a Hobbesian world involving unrestrained, selfish, and uncivilized competition among participants.  


Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, is threatening to use nuclear weapons.  Our newspapers broadcast more and more bad news. Although our world is challenged with uncivilized behavior, our God is still with us. He promised even though water, flooding, and fire are in our lives, He will be with us (Isaiah 43:2).  Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He will be with us (Psalm 23:4).  Despite the worldly challenges, God said that He would accompany us from the front and will go behind us (Isaiah 52:12).  


It would be easy to simply give up, hunker down and wait until destruction is at our doorsteps or we can go to God, receive our marching orders, and walk in His authority and power.  Today and every day, let us rejoice and be glad in Him (Psalm 118:24).


Isaiah 43:2

New International Version

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.


Psalm 23:4

New International Version

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me


Isaiah 52:12

New International Version

12 But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.


Psalm 118:24

New International Version

24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.








Monday, December 12, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, December 12, 2022

Let Us Thank Others

I recently made a purchase at a local restaurant for a breakfast pickup.  When I added the tip to the receipt, the lady at the cash register said, “Thank you, I appreciate it.”  Her reply surprised me.  While the tip was only a few dollars, her thank you and appreciation was unusual.  In this time of COVID-19 and horrible challenges worldwide, it is so nice to feel appreciated.


How do you treat others when they have helped you?  Do you just assume that that is what they are supposed to do and ignore them or do you respect their commitment to doing their jobs?  The Bible says that we should do unto others as we would have them to do to us (Luke 6:31).  The Bible further says that we will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7).  


Even when we approach God, we are not to simply approach Him with a list of what we want but should approach Him with thanksgiving and praise (Psalm 100:4).  We should have an attitude of gratitude.  We should be nice, thankful, and grateful to one another for all the little things that others do to help us.  Let us be nice and thankful to all and brighten their day just like we want our days brightened.

Luke 6:31

New International Version

31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.


Galatians 6:7

New International Version

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.


Psalm 100:4

New International Version

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.







Friday, December 9, 2022

Let Us Thank God For Salvation

Let Us Thank God For Salvation


What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? We just returned from our sixty-eighth annual Thanksgiving reunion of the Mitchell-Brown family in Chicago, Illinois.  It was a wonderful occasion where we were able to thank God for His blessings, for those who have passed on, for the accomplishments of our relatives, for our future generations, and for the awesome dinner. 


There are so many things that we can be thankful for.  We know that all good things come from God (James 1:17).  We do not have to be anxious for anything, but we can ask God for everything and thank Him for what we receive (Philippians 4:6). In everything that we do, we can thank God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:17).  God is so gracious and loving; we should thank Him because He satisfies the thirsty and the hungry and does wonderful deeds for mankind (Psalm 107:8-9).


God has done great things for us that we can thank Him for, but one of the most important things that He has done is expressed in the lyrics of the song written by Malcolm Speed, entitled, “When I Think (Of the Goodness of Jesus).” Some of the lyrics are, “When I think of the goodness of Jesus and all He's done for me, my soul, my soul cries out ‘Hallelujah, hallelujah, I thank God for saving me.’”


During this holiday season, we have many things for which we can give thanks. However, the most important gift He has given us is when He died on the cross for our salvation. Let us thank God for saving us!


James 1:17

New International Version (NIV)

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.


Philippians 4:6 

New International Version (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.


Colossians 3:17

New International Version (NIV)

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


Psalm 107:8-9 

New International Version (NIV)

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing loveand his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things


James 1:5

New International Version

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, November 30, 2022

We Were Born To Accomplish 

Miles Munroe, OBE was a Bahamian evangelist and ordained minister, avid professor of the Kingdom of God, author, speaker, and leadership consultant.  He wrote, “You weren't born just to live a life and to die; you were born to accomplish something specifically. Matter of fact, success is making it to the end of your purpose; that is success... Success is not just existing. Success is making it to the end of why you were born.” 


Have you ever asked why you were born?  The Bible says that we are to work God’s work (John 9:4).  When Jesus’ parents lost Him, they found Him with the priests in the Temple. Jesus declared to them that He had to be about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49).  What did Jesus say about His own purpose? He said that He came to seek and save those who are lost from God (Luke 19:10).


It is not a good use of time to pine away for the mistakes of the past, to be paralyzed by the challenges of the present, and to fantasize about the future.  If we don’t know our purpose, we should go back to our Father.  We were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) to seek His will, His way, and His word (Matthew 6:33, 2 Chronicles 7:14)


If you need guidance and wisdom, the Bible says we should ask God who will let us know our purpose (James 1:5).  Let us not waste another moment spinning our wheels, sitting by the dock of the bay, or bemoaning our fate. Now is the time to fulfill the purpose that God has for us.  Let us learn our purpose and bring it about.


John 9:4

New International Version

As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.


Luke 2:49
New King James Version

49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”


Luke 19:10

New International Version

10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”


Genesis 1:27

New International Version

27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.


Matthew 6:33

New International Version

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.


2 Chronicles 7:14

New International Version

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land


James 1:5

New International Version

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.








Friday, November 25, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, November 25, 2022

God Wants Us Healed

The American Medication Association website had an article entitled, “Trends in health care spending.”  The article indicated that health spending in the U.S. increased by 9.7% in 2020 to $4.1 trillion.  Sickness and disease have a major impact upon our lives.  However, we must know our Lord wants us healed (Psalm 147:3, Matthew 8:17).  He does not want any to perish (2 Peter 3:9).


The Bible says that during His earthly journey, Jesus’ suffering was for our healing (Isaiah 53:5).  He wants us healthy (3 John 2).  He told the Israelites that He is the God that heals (Exodus 15:26). The evil one has a far different agenda to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10) while Jesus wants an abundant life for us in Him.


While many are never healed, we must know the will of God.  The Bible declares that death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).  The Bible says that if any among you are sick, we should call for the spiritual leaders.  They will pray, anoint them with oil and the prayer of faith will restore them (James 5:14-15).  Believers should lay their hands on the sick and they will recover (Mark 16:18b).


We are in a dire healthcare crisis.  The plague of COVID-19 and its long term effects, heart disease, diabetes and others seem intractable. The Bible says the heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much (James 5:16b).  Now is the time to pray to God who is the healer, who wants us healed and wants us to share with the world that our health is in God.


Psalm 147:3

New International Version
3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds


Matthew 8:17

New International Version

17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”


2 Peter 3:9

New International Version

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.


Isaiah 53:5

New International Version

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.


3 John 2

New International Version

2 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.


Exodus 15:26

New International Version

26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”


John 10:10

New International Version

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.


Proverbs 18:21

Amplified Bible

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.

James 5:14-15

Amplified Bible

14 Is anyone among you sick? He must call for the elders (spiritual leaders) of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 
15 and the prayer of faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.


Mark 16:18b

New International Version

18 … they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”


James 5:16b

Amplified Bible

16 … The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].








Saturday, November 19, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, November 19, 2022

God Presides Over Our Leaders


We are blessed to live in a country that allows civil liberties and free political participation.  Laurenz Gehrke wrote an article in the January 22, 2020 Politico, entitled, Democracy ‘in retreat’ globally, report warns.    The article further warned that, “The Democracy Index for 2019 found that democratic backsliding across the world has led to the worst score since the index was first produced in 2006, with only 5.7 percent of the global population living in what could be considered a “full democracy.”


Much of the media for the last few months has focused on who will oversee the United States of America’s destiny.  In the recent election, the expected results did not go as expected.  Upsets abounded and predictions were inaccurate. No doubt we will see surprises over the next few months as we make further political decisions.


Will we focus on the future, on past candidates or will we decide that as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord? (Joshua 24:15). It is important that people choose their leaders in our democracy, but we must understand that God is totally in charge.  He raises some and puts down others (Psalm 75:6-7).  He controls even the hearts of our leaders (Proverbs 21:1).


What should those who love the Lord do during the ebbs and flows of politics?  We should pray for all people, especially those in authority so that we can live quiet lives (1 Timothy 2:1-3).  As God leads us, we should be good citizens and make our opinions known through support, organizing, voting but most of all making intercession for wisdom for those above. God wants us to ask Him for wisdom, but we must remember our Father is in charge.


Joshua 24:15

New International Version

15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”


Psalm 75:6-7

New International Version

6 No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves.

7 It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another


Proverbs 21:1

New International Version

1 In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.


1 Timothy 2:1-3

New International Version

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 
for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 
3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,







Friday, November 11, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, November 11, 2022

We Have Already Won The Eternal Lottery!


Amelia Josephson wrote an article in the October 2, 2022, SmartAsset website entitled, “The Economics of the Lottery in the U.S.” She wrote, “In 2021, Americans spent $105.26 billion on lottery tickets, making it the most popular form of gambling. That’s more than the total spending on music, books, sports teams, movies, and video games combined.”


Clearly the American public enjoys taking chances with a very low possibility of winning.  But God wants everyone to know that we all have a guaranteed chance of winning with Him.  In fact, he already paid the price of His Son so that we don’t have to risk our assets (John 3:16).  He has already given us everything that pertains unto life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Unlike the lottery, He gives riches and adds no sorrow with it (Proverbs 10:22).  


We don’t have to go to the store for a lottery ticket and treasure it until the winnings are announced.  He has promised us a mansion in heaven (John 14:2).  We have residence in a city that man’s hands have not created and the street of God’s city is paved with gold (Revelation 21:21).

Let’s not worry about winnings that perish. We have the promise of eternal life to enjoy Him and to worship Him always. Remember we are eternal winners with God!


John 3:16

New International Version

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.


2 Peter 1:3

New International Version

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.


Proverbs 10:22

New International Version

22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.


John 14:2

King James Version

2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.


Revelation 21:21

New International Version

21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.








Friday, November 4, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, November 4, 2022

God’s Joy Is Our Strength


What brings you joy today?  Is it your career, your family, your resources, contacts, education or is it the God of your salvation? Today, we have another opportunity in which to enjoy and encourage ourselves. We have much to be thankful for and to be happy about, but we tend to focus on the bad things, the failures, disappointments, discouragements, detours, and distractions.  


The Bible says we should rejoice (Philippians 4:4).  This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).  Some may say that we are being cockeyed optimists. We should be realistic.  They say our enemies are about to launch nuclear weapons. They declare our country is headed toward a Handmaid's Tale’s dystopian future.  This is not to say that people are not suffering horribly because of man’s inhumanity to man.  But God is still good.


Leona Von Brethorst wrote the lyrics to, “I Will Enter His Gates.”  Some of the lyrics are, “I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart; I will enter His courts with praise. I will say this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice for He has made me glad. 


Today let us remind everyone that God oversees our world. His joy is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). God commands us to rejoice and be very glad even when we are being attacked (Matthew 5:12). Let us all rejoice in Him today. .


Philippians 4:4

New International Version

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!


Psalm 118:24

King James Version

24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.


Nehemiah 8:10

New International Version

10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”


Matthew 5:12

New International Version

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.







Friday, October 28, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, October 28, 2022

Christ Is Our Attorney

We are hearing a lot about the courts because many are being charged with crimes and face substantial penalties.  It seems that “lawyering up” is a term that we must know because of the dangers of violating a law.  Doctors need lawyers as well as medical knowledge, politicians need lawyers as well as votes, and educators need lawyers as well as students.

While lawyers are important in the natural world, we need a lawyer in the spiritual world. We know everyone has sinned and the devil wants God and the whole world to know it.  However, the Bible says that those who love the Lord have an advocate, Jesus Christ, who will argue their case in the Father’s court (1 John 2:1, 2).  Jesus Christ will intercede for us whenever we sin (Hebrews 7:25).  But thanks to God, this accuser, the devil, will be struck down (Revelation 12:10).

We can feel confident that we have Jesus who will be a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (Psalm 119:105). In other words, He is watching out for us.  He does not want any to suffer for their sins and when we repent, He will forgive us and cleanse from evil (1 John 1:9).  Just like powerful people can be strong in the courtroom and be found not guilty, we have an eternal advocate, Jesus Christ, who has never lost a case. We can cast all of our cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7) and can be assured because of His eternal defense.

1 John 2:1, 2

New International Version

1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 
2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.


Hebrews 7:25

New International Version

25 Therefore he is able to save completely[a] those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.


Revelation 12:10

New International Version

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.


Psalm 119:105
New International Version

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.


1 John 1:9

New International Version

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.


1 Peter 5:7

New International Version

7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.







Thursday, October 20, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, October 20, 2022

Christ Is The Answer To All Our Questions

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?  Where do you go when you are lost? How do you feel when life has numbed you from feeling?  Who do you turn to when all have turned away from you?  

Some of the lyrics to “I Go To The Rock” written by Dottie Rambo and famously sung by Whitney Houston, provides an answer.  “I go to The Rock for my salvation. I go to the stone that the builders rejected. I run to the Mountain and the Mountain stands by me. When the earth all around me is sinking sand, on Christ, the solid rock I stand. When I need a shelter, when I need a friend, I go to The Rock.”

It is wonderful to know that when I have come to the end of my rope and I have more questions than answers, more problems than solutions, and more obstacles than opportunities, I know there is One that knows what to do.  Jesus knows the way because He is the Way (John 14:6).  He is a help when we are in trouble, a solace for our pain and support when all seems hopeless.

Today God wants us to take a leap of faith in Him.  We have tried the rest, now let us try the Best.  He is our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1). He is our Comforter.  He is our wisdom, and we are made righteous in Him (Romans 5:1).  He speaks to us when we lie down and greets us when we awake.  Idols are pretenders, but He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, a shield, a battle axe (Jeremiah 51:20). He can do anything but fail (Luke 18:27).

Today when we are surrounded by confusion, doubt, and fear let us see Jesus, let us give Him our cares (1 Peter 5:7) and let Him lead us in every area of our lives.

John 14:6

New International Version

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.


Psalm 23:1

New International Version

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.


Romans 5:1

Common English Bible

Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Jeremiah 51:20

New King James Version

20 “You are My battle-ax and weapons of war: For with you I will break the nation in pieces; With you I will destroy kingdoms;


Luke 18:27

New International Version

27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”


1 Peter 5:7

New International Version

7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.