Monthly Archives: February 2017

EXTRODNINARY ORDINARY!

The Pastors Pen Logo smallDear Church Family,

I am looking so forward to the next few Sunday Night and Sunday Morning Worship services. God seems to me beginning a move in our midst which I hope we allow Him to continue. I am so excited about the messages God has laid on my heart for the next few weeks relating to His desire to bring revitalization to our church and how He desires to use us in His mission to this world, our world, our community. God want to do some Extra-Ordinary or Extraordinary things to turn our world upside down. But He uses Ordinary Christians to do His remarkable work. If you and I just lived the ordinary Christian Life we would be Extraordinary in our world.

I started sharing some insights into this last Sunday night as we focused on How God wants to make us a people, a church who care. The most vulnerable people are those with no one to love or care for them. Kids without parents and women mourning loss are among the most at-risk people in our world today. They often suffer from poverty, sickness, and even abuse. It’s those very people whom Scripture commands we reach out to. James wasn’t offering his audience something new as a matter of their worship practice. He’s reminding them of something very old, the heart of God as described by God’s Word.

12 I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to help him. 13 The blessing of him who was about to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. 14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. 15 I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. 16 I was a father to the needy, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know. JOB 29:12-16, ESV

Job refers to justice as a robe and turban that he puts on. Job is saying that he wears justice. He puts it on everyday. He lives with a social consciousness. The vulnerable are always on his mind and in his heart. His lifestyle reflects the character of God. Plainly put, it was obvious and easy to spot the kind of man Job was.

Spiritual maturity isn’t just something you do with your mind. It’s about how you live your life. One of the saddest indications of failure in the area of justice and mercy is our description of those who excel in doing justice. We describe them as radical, extraordinary. Yet as we read the Bible together, we find that it treats issues of mercy and justice as anything but extraordinary. Frankly, doing justice is just a normal part of the Christian life. It’s really easy to become part of a super-Christian subculture, comfortably embracing sensationalism. You can listen to Christian music, keep up with the latest Christian podcasts, and read Christian authors. You can engage in multiple Bible studies and serve on ministry teams, all the while never actually touching one of Scripture’s defining characteristics of God-honoring faith: justice.

Throughout history, the church has added value to the world. Most hospitals exist because of the church’s influence.

Many prestigious universities started as training grounds for people preparing for ministry. Till recently, science was dominated by people with a Christian worldview.

We need to ask ourselves, How valuable is your Church right now? How excited are you about your churches involvement in reaching our community? How many times have invited a friend, co-worker or family member to attend worship with you?

How many times have your friends told you about a great restaurant or sale? We should see just as much value in our church.

Let’s begin today to stop waiting on someone Extraordinary to do what God has called us to do as an Ordinary part of life. Let’s begin to talk about our church as a place where lives are being touched and changed; Youth are getting involved, People have been saved. Let’s do all we can to make our church a desirable destination. Lets let everyone who attends our church know that they are valued. How can we effectively minister to people we don’t value. Do we want guest and visitors to really become part of us? Then we must open up, show them how valuable they are and let them into our little circles.

Let’s begin to meet people where they are. If we want to see real growth in our church, we need to begin to cultivate an environment of growth in our congregation. This year, try offering life-changing Bible Studies and Sermon series aimed at:

  1. Improving marriages
  2. Creating stronger families
  3. Developing stronger character in children and young adults
  4. Overcoming past hurts
  5. Overcoming addictions
  6. Answering life’s tough questions

Just as our predecessors added value to the world with schools, hospitals and scientific discoveries, we can impact our culture and add value to our communities through the ministries of our church.

With Many Prayers and Christian Love,

Pastor Rick Signature

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GOD OFTEN BEGINS TO USE US IN OUR YOUTHFULNESS NOW LET’S NOT SETTLE

Dear Church Family,The Pastors Pen Logo small

We have been blessed lately with some youth who want to be more involved in not just attending church or belonging to the church but BEING THE CHURCH. We have often relegated youth to “The Church Of Tomorrow.” But the truth is, if youth are not an active part of the church today, they will not be in church tomorrow. Let’s involve our youth. God often starts using us when we are in our youthfulness. I really don’t think I am anything special. God began to work in my heart about His plan for my life when he saved me. And by age 12 I was beginning to feel the call of God on my life to the preaching ministry. By age 14 I was the captain of a large and active bus and van ministry. I was a regular on visitation, I was an assistant teacher in Sunday School and DT and was the VBS Director. At age 14 I surrendered to God’s call on my life to preach His Word.

I am sure the names of Moses, Joshua, Abraham, Joseph, Ruth and David are familiar to Jews and Christians alike. Pulpits worldwide proclaim these men and women of God who are found in the pages of the Old and New Testament. We often overlook, however, that God called these men and women as youth. Through their testimonies, we’re reminded that youth is an opportune time period for God to start the discipleship process. God loves to do the unexpected through youth and to challenge the false beliefs that only the older and wiser can be God’s special tools.

Joseph, was a “young man of 17” when God interrupted his sleep with some amazing dreams (Genesis 37:5). God eventually used Joseph to save the world from starvation and deliver his family, the bloodline of Christ, to prosperity in Egypt.

Joshua was Moses’ aid since “youth” (Numbers 11:28). When Moses interceded with God in the Tent of Meeting outside the camp, Joshua would go with him.

Samuel is another excellent example of God’s calling to young people. We read that the “boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli” (1 Samuel 3:1). He first heard God’s voice and call as a child. When Samuel was “old and gray,” he testified that it was from the time of his youth that he was a leader for the people of Israel (1 Samuel 12:2).

Ruth was still a young woman when she became a widow and followed Naomi to Bethlehem (Ruth 1).

David was a mere boy when he defeated Goliath and attracted the attention of the king. David’s character development and faith exploits began when he was a boy shepherd, caring for the sheep (1 Samuel 17).

Josiah was king at the age of eight, and by the time he was in his late teens, God used him to bring a rebellious nation back to God (2 Kings 22:1).

Daniel and his friends were probably teenagers when they were led across the Fertile Crescent into captivity. We can imagine them as young men, quite possibly in their late teens, as they testified to Yahweh and interpreted the king’s dreams (Daniel 1-5).

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a mere youth when the angel appeared to her with unprecedented news of her supernatural pregnancy (Luke 1:26-38).

Some have observed that Jesus led the original “youth group,” believing that Christ’s 12 disciples were probably under the age of 18. Christ’s choice of the 12 gives new meaning to youth ministry and motivation to disciple those who are young.

The Apostle Paul first began to work with Timothy when he was approximately 16 years old. Paul discipled Timothy and developed him to become the pastor in Ephesus, a very important church. He exhorted his young disciple, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). He then told Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

I love our youth! I think we are blessed to have Brother Shane and Sister Kelsey working with our youth, challenging them in their walk and service to the Lord. This may cause us some discomfort. Especially when we see them so active and egger while we are so inactive and passive. Maybe we have settled.

God does not want youth, adults nor churches to just settle!  Do you know what normalization of deviation means?

It’s when something is sub-par, but we decide it’s good enough. We say it’s the best we can do. After a while that sub-par “good enough” becomes the norm. The deviation is normalized.

It’s what happened to the Challenger Space Shuttle, according to Diane Vaughn. The O-ring risk was deemed to be acceptable. The ice factor was within an acceptable range. Until the unacceptable happened.

It happens in our churches, too. Sometimes doing the best with what we have means that we tolerate things left undone, we accept things poorly done, and we overlook things that are shoddy.

And then it becomes normal.

Becky and I visited churches like that a few times. A little church wasn’t set up to make visitors feel comfortable. They didn’t collect their contact information. Or worse yet, they collect it and never do anything with it. The nursery workers didn’t have good baby practices. The Sunday School teacher were late to class so parents felt uneasy about leaving their children there. The well-meaning believers in that church will never hear that what was normal to them was not attractive or even acceptable to a new, young family.

You can take a stand against “good enough ministry” in our church. Commit and Surrender to being Egger and Proactive. When you see something that needs to be done that is not done, don’t grip or gossip about it…Just Do It! Be active, be committed, do the little extra that makes you and the church stand out; and most of all, gives Glory to God!

Let’s not settle for just having youth who attend either. Let’s involve them and allow them to be used in their youthfulness as God has often done in the past, even through many of us.

With Many Prayers and Christian Love,

Pastor Rick Signature

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Ah, Love Is In The Air…And Other Places.

The Pastors Pen Logo smallDear Church Family,

A young man said to his father at breakfast one morning, “Dad, I’m going to get married.” “How do you know you’re ready to get married?” asked the father. “Are you in love?” “I sure am,” said the son. “How do you know you’re in love?” asked the father. “Last night as I was kissing my girlfriend good-night, her dog bit me and I didn’t feel the pain until I got home.”

Ah, Love is in the air. Wherever you look, you see colors of red, pink, and white. With Valentine’s Day less than a week away, it can be an exciting, romantic time, or it can be a difficult time of year. Whether we are holding back tears, or walking on clouds, we all have to admit that love is difficult. True, biblical love, is a tall order. We just need to read our favorite wedding passage (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) to be reminded of this. Remember that little part that says love keeps no record of wrongs? Tell me that’s not tough.

God’s Word is many things — instructive, historical, poetic. Yet the Bible is also an incredible love letter. In each of the 66 books of the Bible you see the Love of God. But right now I want to focus on just two of these books.

In Psalms My Good Shepherd Draws Me Close and Listens for My Voice

Shepherds still travel with their flocks across the arid landscape of Israel today. And just like the shepherds of old, today’s shepherds know their sheep. They know what scares them; they know when just one of the flock wanders off.

They guide and protect them because they are theirs.

David called the Lord “our Shepherd” because we are God’s sheep.

We are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. — Psalm 95:7 NKJV, he wrote.

And just like sheep we, too, need a shepherd to guide us and protect us. Without God’s guidance, we wander and get caught in the thistles of life. If He doesn’t lead us beside still waters, we will get spiritually dry and worn out. If He leaves us alone, the wolves of lies and evil will pounce on us and devour our faith and confidence.

God is the Good Shepherd — your Good Shepherd who draws you close and watches over you. He invites you to lie down in green pastures; He refreshes your soul and guides you along the right paths.

And even the darkness of the valley of the shadow of death doesn’t have to frighten you because God doesn’t ever leave you.

I will not be afraid, the Psalmist sang, for You are close beside me. — Psalm 23:4 NLT

Your Good Shepherd sees your tears and listens for your voice. Again, David cried,

You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them, and You listen to their cry. — Psalm 10:17

Let your Good Shepherd carry you today through the valleys or the victories. As you walk with Him, talk with Him. He knows you and loves you and hears you, and He wants His goodness and love [to] follow [you] all the days of [your] life. — Psalm 23:6.

In Proverbs God Offers Me Wisdom More Precious Than Rubies

The God of the universe calls you His own, His beloved child. And your heavenly Father has riches and wealth at His disposal. He could give you anything because nothing is too hard or too big for Him.

God could show you that He loves you by lavishing you with luxury, moving you into a new house, getting you out of debt, and making you a billionaire. But when God expresses His love to His child, he does it by offering you something far more valuable than gold, something more priceless than any precious gemstone. He gives you wisdom. Why? Because wisdom will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. — Proverbs 3:2.

If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. — Proverbs 9:12 NLT

God could give you anything, but He chooses to give you wisdom.

Wisdom is knowledge, with the spiritual insight to judge what really matters. And it is yours for the asking!

Just as God gave Solomon a wise and “discerning heart” (1 Kings 3:9) when he asked for it, God is leaning over the edge of heaven even now, listening for your request, just waiting to fill your heart with wisdom too. So if you lack wisdom, ask of God, who gives to all liberally — James 1:5.

God gives His most precious and valuable gifts to His children. That is ultimately why He gave you Jesus — and Jesus is the “wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24).

Thank God today for loving you so much that He only gives you the very best gifts — including that gift that is more precious than rubies.

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. — Proverbs 3:13–15 ESV

In every book of the Bible, God shows His love for you. Read Psalm 23 and proclaim His goodness over your life along with King David.

With Many Prayers and Christian Love,

Pastor Rick Signature

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