I was honored this week to visit with Yesenia, a young woman, age 43, in hospice house in Bellingham. When I went to see her on Tuesday, I spent an hour with her, just Yesenia and me. Yesenia was in the youth group when I first went to Nooksack as pastor. I’ve always appreciated Yesenia, her honesty. I reminded her of the time 25-26 years ago, she said, “I’m not ready to be a Christian because I know it means changes in my life and I am not ready to make those changes.”
Yesenia sat up in her bed when I arrived. I had an inspiration. Rather than asking her directly about her faith, her relationship with Jesus Christ, I decided to ask open questions so she could fill in the answers. I know her well enough I knew she would talk. First question: what do you think about?... Second question: what’s most important to you? She told me about her faith/her struggles/her children/her desires for her children. Last question: what do you want the world to know about Jesus Christ? Her honest answer: “keep trying. You may not get it at first, but keep trying.” We’d already talked about grace and she knew salvation wasn’t a reward for doing good things.
The questions are good for each of us, too: What do you think about? What is most important to you? What do you want the world to know about Jesus Christ?
“Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”
The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”
~ scene from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Where are you going? Many people don’t have direction. They don’t know where they are going so it really doesn’t matter what road they take. A huge problem is boredom ~ nothing to do/nowhere to go. No anchor. No purpose. No point. Suicide is way too common. Destruction. Posturing. Puffing.
I cannot force anyone to do anything. I have no power to change a person’s heart. But I CAN do something: I can testify of what gives ultimate meaning. I can testify of the truth that is found in Jesus Christ alone! The Cheshire Cat is clever as he tells Alice it really doesn’t matter what road she goes down since she doesn’t know where she wants to go. But if somebody sincerely asks me “What road do I take?” I’m gonna smile like the Cheshire Cat, I will point down the road that leads to Jesus Christ. The road of faith.
If you are lost/searching/floundering/feeling directionless… there is only one road that will bring meaning and satisfaction. Only one way to find ultimate peace.
I ran the mile and two mile race in track in H.S. The last event of every track meet was the 2-mile ~ 8 long laps around the track. I can still see a good number of people leaving the stands to go home during the course of the two mile race. Even many of the other athletes left to the locker room. Eight long laps. A few times, especially on cold wet windy rainy days in dule track meets, I’d hit the finish line to the applause of 4-5 people, including the coach and my father. Yay me! I won! In case you were wondering, my best time was something like 10:14 ~ I never did break the ten minute mark.
Today we focus on power and endurance ~ last week Chad talked about Wisdom as a need for the church. We are walking through Colossians. The scripture today is a prayer of purpose for the church. Listen to Col. 1:10. A monumental verse. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to apply this verse directly SACC. Let’s deliberately seek to live out our godly purpose us as a church, where we are going.
Introduction: (Top 10 things I have learned about Sumas)
Ten: Its Windy
Nine: You never get used to the poop smell
Eight: It rains a lot.
Seven: Everyone is related.
Six: It is the end of the world.
Five: The Sunsets off of the Mountains are beautiful
Four: Super-duper has everything you need
Three: Edaleen Ice Cream is the best
Two: We have a great Elementary School
One: Our church is healthy
The church at Colossae, to whom our text was also a healthy church. So healthy in fact that its reputation had reached Paul. In Paul’s greeting to the church, he says “For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints.” I think that could be said about our church. We are a church of strong faith in Christ and a deep love for each other. We are healthy.
The only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ. There is no philosophy with more wisdom, no world system that brings lasting satisfaction, no worldly power that can control destiny. Jesus Christ is above all, he has ultimate power, he loves us beyond measure, he is faithful and just. Jesus Christ will deliver on the promise of eternal life for all who receive Him through forgiveness of sins and commitment to a new life.
The world is getting crazier and crazier.//// People are discontent. Searching for answers to salvation/satisfaction/fulfillment. Paul has two words in the 2nd verse (Col. 1:2) that describe a great need and a great desire! Grace is the need. Peace is the desire.
The great need is GRACE. Most people try to navigate life without grace. A do it yourself, trying to figure out how to achieve success, satisfaction… We all need grace because we are not capable of controlling our destiny. We do not have the power or the wisdom. Our vision is limited. We need grace because we are sinners.
The great desire of all people: PEACE. “Grace and peace to you from our Father” (Col. 1:2). No drama. No conflict. No wars. No pain. Contentment. Purpose.
Grace and Peace are gifts from God. You will only be granted meaningful life changing grace and peace from our heavenly father!
Since the service was cancelled on Dec. 31 due to heavy ice in the parking lot, the message was delivered via a live feed on the Church FB Page. Enjoy!
End of Year Personal thoughts ~ Thanks to everyone for being a wonderful church family. Without downplaying the significance of each family’s loss/tragedy/changes in 2017, there has been a lot of death in our community, a lot of grieving, many changes… I am thrilled to be a pastor in such a time as this, but honestly, I get tired. 17 funerals in 2017, a dozen or more of them involved significant time, plus another 6-7 people where I did not officiate the funeral but I was there in the dying process. In addition, a couple weddings. Also more counseling than ever in specific situations. When I started as pastor the church asked me to keep track of visits and hospital visits. I haven’t added up, but I am guessing I saw 40+ people in the hospital this year. Wow! Then there is counseling. I used to not think of myself as a counselor, but now that I am old, people seem to think I have a bit of wisdom, words of encouragement ~ dozens of sit downs with people this year to listen to their situation. I am very grateful to Chad for being here to preach a dozen times or so this year. On a personal note, I have an amazing wife that continues to work, and has two parents with dementia that take a lot of her energy, in addition to other personal responsibilities. Sally and I were blessed with a grandchild. How awesome over Christmas to be with our whole family. In the week we were with Rowan, even though we aren’t there often, we got to see him develop from barely crawling, to a curiosity to go certain places, to scooting all over, to falling in love with the dishwasher…
There is time. The Lord is NOT giving up on you/ our community/ our world! As long as there is breath, there is time. Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call on Him while he is near. The Lord was near in the days of Isaiah and he is still near. This is the great invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ: Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call on Him while he is near. May this Christmas season be far more than a fun time, far more than the exchanging of the wonderful presents/blessings from those that love one another. There is still time.
I love the inspiring testimonies of people who do not give up on others, parents with children who fall away, friends. Those who refuse to give up. On Thursday I stopped to see a young couple I’ve known for years… they had all three of their children with them for a supervised visitation. They’ve made some hard choices over the years, but they have never quit loving their children ~ they are going through the system. One more level of progress has now been made to be reunited with their children. I am so proud of them and I told them so….I know other parents who have all but given up. They love their children but are not willing to do the hard work of changing their life and getting the children back out of the system How about your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. There is still time. He has not given up on you, don’t give up on yourself! Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call on Him while he is near. It’s a great invitation… it’s time to go home! It is time for the wandering child to go home. God loves you beyond measure. His arms are wide open. It’s not really a matter of giving up on God, the truth is that there is a natural longing for God. It’s really a matter of giving up on yourself and your ability to change and do the hard work and be a different person that accepts God in your life. Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call on Him while he is near.
Ever truly been thirsty? Many years ago I climbed Mt. Rainier. Above 10,000 feet I could no longer eat or drink. I foolishly kept going, hours in the sun, not eating or drinking. When I got back to a lower elevation, I drank the most amazing amount! Three huge size cups…. Have you ever truly been spiritually thirsty?
This month we are walking through Isaiah 55. The prophet is speaking to people that are in exile, broken: “Time to go home.” He is speaking to the thirsty… those yearning for their deepest needs to be quenched… It has been 70 years since the people of Israel have been taken into captivity by the Babylonians. Most of the people have been born captives, knowing nothing else. Only a small percentage of the very oldest among them have childhood memories… Isaiah is sent by God to tell the people it is time to go home ….
The best example I could think of to show the sweetness of returning home is the a soldiers surprise for his/her family. Hundreds to choose from on Youtube, here is a two minute video of [Youtube Video of One soldiers incredible homecoming]….
Welcome ~ Faith in Jesus Christ makes all the difference…you are here to honor, remember, and say good by to Myrna Wood. A quiet woman who wanted peace in her world, she loved her children, she spoke well of all, a simple and good woman. She was a woman of faith who quietly found a measure of assurance and confidence in God. That does not mean she never doubted or wished for a different path… several times in the last year she just did not understand why cancer visited her too many times and she did not always enjoy being tethered to the dialysis machine, but she returned to God time and time again… she cared about people… (Click the READ MORE for slideshow and text of the message)
When Sally saw the title to this message, she wondered why I was preaching about myself…..
Pure honey is considered the standard of sweetness by which all other sweetness is measured… What is more perfectly sweet? The word of God, the hope of Christ.
I am thankful on this Sunday before Thanksgiving for the revelation of Jesus Christ who has revealed Himself to those who have eyes to see. The message is shouted in the skies, deposited in our hearts, written in God’s Word. As we look at Psalm 19, may the Revelation of God cause you to see with greater clarity the Glory of God.
Ps. 19 can be divided into four parts:
Living in the already not yet of Gods kingdom…
In order to understand our text today we need to begin with a brief history of the Jewish understanding of the Kingdom of God at the time of Christ. We heard last week the Pharisees asking Jesus “when the kingdom of God was coming” This was a question that was in the minds of many Jews at the time of Christ for good reason. The Hebrew Scriptures predict the coming Rule of God in the world. If you bear with me I’ll read a couple passages to you.
In Isaiah 2…
“the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths. For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”