Knowing What We Need

I have recently been reading a book entitled Grow Your Church From the Outside In
by George Barna, who is an expert in church related statistical studies and analysis. In this book, Barna spends a lot of time comparing the churched and the unchurched. I was struck by the way he introduced a chapter about the faith of the unchurched:
 

“Every time they step on the brakes of their cars, they exhibit tremendous faith in gadgets that most of them know nothing about. Each time they go out in public, they demonstrate faith in the behavior and morals of humankind, believing they will not be shot or mugged. When they take a bite of food that has been prepared in a restaurant by a chef they never see or do not know, they show the faith that they possess, believing that it was properly cooked and not poisoned. Each time they make a bank deposit, they engage in an act of faith, believing that their money will be returned to them, perhaps with interest. The issue is not whether they have faith; rather, it is where they place their faith.”

That can be true of many of us too. We place our greatest faith in the wrong things. We can be blind to what we really need.

In Acts 3, we find the story of a beggar who was unable to walk and thought money was his greatest need. Peter and John did not have money to give, but they had something much greater to offer: healing. Instead of just getting a little more money to get by, his life was changed that day. His reaction in verse 8 is wonderful. “He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.” While the man focused on one need, Peter fulfilled a need that seemed unfixable. Are we placing our faith in the things of this world, or do we jump to our feet to praise the God who loves us and knows what we need?

 

Brian

 



Growing

Earlier this week, I was shocked when I saw two pictures of me and my sons. The first picture was taken three years ago this week when we dropped Stacey off at the airport to fly to Eugene to interview for her current job. In that photo David is barely above the height of my shoulder, and Nathan is a few inches below it. The second was taken this week during a day trip to Crater Lake.  In this one David is taller than me by 1/4 inch. He thinks it’s height, but I attribute it to thicker hair. Nathan is closing in on both of us. I’m glad they are growing, but the pictures really took me by surprise. There are people who are even more surprised though. Friends from Arkansas can’t believe it, because they saw those boys as toddlers and remember them as the guys in the first picture. The whole thing made me think about our spiritual growth. Would people around us or those who have not seen us for a while be amazed by our growth in our walk with God?

 

We read in Luke 2:52 that “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Even Jesus grew, and that growth was in ways much more important than height. Paul also considers maturing and growing in 1 Corinthians 13:11 where he writes, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” In Hebrews 5:12-14 we find an even more forceful message about growing: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Spiritual growth is even more important than our physical growth. Let’s keep GROWING, WORKING, SHARING…TOGETHER.
 
Brian

 



Remembering

A few years after the end of the Civil War, General John Logan gave the order that May 30 would be designated as Decoration Day it was intended to be a day to decorate the graves of soldiers who had given their lives in defense of country. About a century later that day would be moved to the last Monday in May and be known as Memorial Day. Days like these are important because of our need to remember and give honor.
 

As we continue our study of Genesis this week, we will share the story of Noah. In this account of ark building, rain, flood and destruction, it’s easy to forget that it is also a story of deliverance and faithfulness. Because of God’s grace through the ark, Noah and his family are given a new beginning. God remembers Noah at the beginning of chapter 8 as the flood nears its end. “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” (Genesis 8:1) Noah remembers God later in the chapter as he stands on dry land again. “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.” (Genesis 8:20)

Each week as we join in communion, we remember the grace of God that is offered to us through His Son’s sacrifice.  “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”  (1 Corinthians 11:23-25)  Let’s remember all that God has done in our lives and His love for us this week and every week.         
 
– Brian

 



Outside the Walls

May 7th is an unusual day for us. We will have an abbreviated worship and communion service this morning and opportunities to serve in our community as we go outside the walls of our church building. Most of what we are called to do as followers of Christ does not happen in this facility. It happens in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces and community. Jesus shows us through His example and teaching how important it is that we are good to our fellow man because we serve God. Today we have an opportunity to do just that. I hope that the only unusual thing about this Sunday is our schedule, because we need to be people who are living out our faith every day outside the walls.
 
We pray this is another way we can be a family that is GROWING, WORKING, SHARING…TOGETHER. 
 
Brian

 

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”   Matthew 5:14-16

 



The Rabble

In our Wednesday evening study of Moses and the Exodus, we came across a new word recently:  rabble.  “The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat!”  (Numbers 11:4) At the time the Israelites were blessed by food from God that literally rained down from the sky. The rabble put forward the idea that the same food day after day was getting tiresome. Their complaints took root in the people around them. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary describes the rabble as “a recurring source of complaints and trouble.”  Can we sometimes be the rabble?
 
It’s so easy for us to lose sight of the blessings of God and instead complain about the difficulties, inconveniences and frustrations of life. When it comes to the church, it’s easy for us to make things about our own wants instead of considering other church members or a world around us that needs the gospel. Even though God proves His love and His faithfulness time after time, we forget His provision or want more. Being the rabble takes us a step beyond that. We take those feelings of dissatisfaction or selfishness, and we plant those feelings in others. Let’s all do our best not to be the rabble. Then let’s honor God by taking the next step and being people who spread hope instead.       
 
– Brian

 

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”     1 Peter 3:15

 



Impossible

Impossible. I’ve run across either that word or the idea it conveys several times lately. It was part of a sermon title a few weeks ago. We will see it again next week in our reading in the book of Mark. We found it Wednesday night in our study of the life of Moses. It says something about human nature and our tendency to see limits of what can be done. There may be times in your own life that you have looked at a situation, hoped for a result and thought to yourself, “That’s impossible.” Sometimes that is the place where God likes to work.
 

Last Wednesday night, we found the Israelites freed from slavery and led by God via Moses and the pillar of cloud/fire to what looked like a dead end at the Red Sea. It was then that Pharaoh decided he was not quite ready to let the people go. He gave chase, and the Israelites thought they were trapped. There was no way out, because their only options were through Pharaoh’s army or into the see. Both of those were IMPOSSIBLE. And that’s exactly the way God does what He does. Of all the options they might consider, having the sea part so they could walk across on dry land was not one of them.  But that is exactly what happened.

What about us? How often do God-fearing people look at a situation and believe that it’s hopeless? Many of us have been guilty of that at one time or another, yet were serve the God who does the impossible. Let’s remember who He is and what he does before we think about the impossible.    – Brian

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20