Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, May 29, 2018

Treat Others With Compassion

Carla Herreria wrote an article in the May 26, 2018, Huffington Post, entitled, “Border Patrol Alters Account Of Guatemalan Woman’s Death.”It seems that the U.S. Border Patrol killed Gómez Gonzáles who had graduated from a program in Guatemala in forensic accounting in 2016. She came to the U.S. to look for a job to further her education. Her mother, Lidia Gonzáles, said, “We’re poor and there are no jobs here. That’s why she traveled to the U.S. But they killed her. Immigration killed her.”

It is heartbreaking to know that her quest for freedom from poverty and lack ended so abruptly in the “land of the free and home of the brave.”  Many in the world are willing to risk their lives because they are desperate for the freedom and opportunities that America offers. Sadly, many have had their dreams fail because of racism, poverty, human trafficking, ICE deportations, and despair. They cannot find freedom in their own country so they seek it where it can hopefully be found.

Whatever our political beliefs are about undocumented persons coming to our shores, we have a higher authority. The Bible says that when Jesus comes back to the earth, He will sit on his glorious throne and judge how we treated others (Matthew 25:31-32).  Did we help the hungry and thirsty?  Did we invite strangers in our homes or visit the sick and prisoners?  Or did we turn them away (Matthew 25:35, 36, 40)?  As we treat the least of others, we treat Jesus the same way.  Those who treat them badly may find Jesus is not pleased (Matthew 25:41).

There are many ways that we can help those who are striving for freedom. We can advocate for our cities to join others to become sanctuary cities. Food banks can use our contributions. There are medical facilities that can use voluntary help.  Organizations that support the undocumented can use our financial support and time. Let us not forget the Golden Rule that God would have us do unto others as we would want them to do unto us (Matthew 7:12).

Matthew 25:31-32 
New International Version (NIV)
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.
32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

Matthew 25:35, 36, 40
New International Version (NIV)
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:41
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Matthew 7:12
New International Version (NIV)
12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, May 21, 2018


Young people today suffer from unprecedented levels of anxiety.  The College Health Association reports that 62 percent of undergraduates in 2016 reported they had overwhelming anxiety. In high school students, anxiety has surpassed depression as the number one reason to seek mental health services. Young people are not the only ones suffering from anxiety.  Psychology Today reports that one-third of adults will suffer from some form of anxiety disorder in their lifetime.

When we are anxious we do not have the expectation of something good.   This is the opposite of hope.  Hope is powerful.  It causes action.  In the original Star Wars movie subtitled “A New Hope”, there is a princess named Leia who records a message to R2D2, a robot.  “Help me, Obi wan Kenobi.  You’re my only hope.”  Princess Leia is in a desperate situation where her enemy soon captures her when she makes this cry for help.  

We too can find ourselves in situations or even seasons where things are very difficult or impossible causing us to worry or bring us to despair. But unlike Princess Leia, as believers, we cry out to Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Jesus is our hope and hope does not disappoint. 

So what actions does hope cause?  Hope caused the friends of a paralytic to tear through a roof and lower him down to Jesus. (Mark 2:3-4).   Hope caused the disciples and Jesus’ family and other followers to wait and pray in Jerusalem for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, 12-14; Acts 2:1-5).  We are told in Revelation 20:4 that there will be those who refuse the mark of the beast and are martyred because of their hope in the salvation of God.  

So as time continues to get closer to the Great Tribulation and all the evil and judgment of that time, we must continue to put our hope in Jesus.  We act according to the hope that we are saved and will be delivered.  So, as we face our own personal difficulties let us not lose hope. Let us instead act. What action will you take?

Hebrews 12:2
New International Version (NIV)
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Psalm 107:28
New International Version (NIV)
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble and He brought them out of their distress.

Romans 5:3-5New International Version (NIV)
Not only so for we glory in our sufferings for, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 12:12
New International Version (NIV)
12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.

1 Peter 1:21
New International Version (NIV)
21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, May 14, 2018

Let Us Fall In Love With Jesus

Erica Campbell sings, “I love God.”  Some of the lyrics are, “I luh God. You don't luh God? What's wrong with chu?” For her, loving God is the natural, logical thing to do and if one does not love God, there must be something wrong with them.  Kirk Whalum sings, “Falling in love with Jesus was the best thing I've ever, ever done. In His arms…there is no place that I’d rather be.”  George Harrison sings, “I really want to see you, really want to be with you in “My Sweet Lord.” All of these songs speak of our love for an awesome God.

The world is full of songs of love, sacrifice, and commitment to our significant others, parents, and children. However, the greatest love is loving God with all of our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37, 38).  God is all powerful and He could command us to worship, adore, and praise Him, but He wants us to choose to love Him not simply because of what He has done for us, but because of who He is.  In the Bible, King David says that he just wants to live in His house and gaze at the beauty of God (Psalm 27:4). 

We love Him because He loved us first (1 John 4:19). He laid down His life for us in a terrible death because of His great love for us (Galatians 2:20). Although His human side recoiled from the suffering on the Cross (Matthew 26:39), Jesus looked forward to paying for our sins for the joy of it; He wanted to do it (Hebrews 12:2). Let us fall in love with Jesus over and over again.  He deserves our love, affection, and adoration!

Matthew 22:37, 38
New International Version (NIV)
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

Psalm 27:4
New International Version (NIV)
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

1 John 4:19
New International Version (NIV)
19 We love because he first loved us.

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.

Matthew 26:39
New International Version (NIV)
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Hebrews 12:2
New International Version (NIV)
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, May 7, 2018

Choose God’s Way and Receive Life

In the 1995 movie, Batman Forever, the character Two-Face answers his terrified victim’s question with, “Maybe, maybe not. You could say we're of two minds on the subject.”  In this world of fake news, outright political lies, and obfuscation, many voters choose neither of the above when making a choice. They may like some of this argument and some of that, but are double minded about the issues. Gregory Wallace, in a November 30, 2016 CNN article, wrote, “Voter turnout this year dipped to nearly its lowest point in two decades.” Many chose to not choose.

But the Bible tells us that a double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways (James 1:8). God wants us to choose whom we will serve (Joshua 24:15). We don’t have the option to be Mr. or Ms. In-Between.  God says that He would rather that we were hot or cold, but because we have chosen the “neither” option, He will choose for us and reject us with righteous loathing (Revelation 3:16).  Today, God is asking us to choose Him and live the abundant life with Him (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Compromise is the way things are done in the world system.  Both sides negotiate by giving up some of their positions and meet somewhere in the middle.  In God’s kingdom, there is no democracy, we don’t vote on the Ten Commandments, nor are their amendments to God’s laws.  God said it; that settles it. God tells us to come to Him by declaring our loyalty to Him and He will come to us (James 4:8). Because His way brings the abundant life, let us decide that we will choose His way and live. 

James 1:8
New International Version (NIV)
Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Joshua 24:15
New International Version (NIV)
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.”

Revelation 3:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Deuteronomy 30:19
New International Version (NIV)
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

James 4:8 
New Living Translation (NLT)
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.